Weekly Round-Up, 28 July – 3 August 2021: Pokemon Unite’s Predatory Monetization, Anime Licensing Fees, and COVID in Japan

By: Anime Feminist August 3, 20210 Comments
a tiny Catarina with a tiny Sophia and Mary cligning to either arm, from My Next Life as a Villainess

AniFem Round-Up

How fan service can attract or repel an audience, and how to tell the difference

In this blast from the AniFem past, Lauren Orsini offers her perspective on fanservice shows vs. shows with fanservice and why one may work while the other falls flat.

What We Owe to Creators: Burnout in manga artists and how to prevent it

With recent headlines on abuse in the anime and games industry and Miura’s untimely death, Priya Sridhar’s piece on the punishing state of the industry feels more relevant than ever.

The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated! – Episode 1

How much this one works for you will depend on how much “characters yelling” appeals as a comedy, and how suspicious you are about the pantsless character design turning creepy in future.

Chatty AF 144: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Rewatchalong – Episodes 1-6

Alex, Mercedez, and Vrai revisit the magical girl juggernaut for its tenth anniversary to see if it holds up.

What terrible wish have you gotten from the anime monkey’s paw?

Yes, this is about the My Hero Academia memes.

Beyond AniFem

Anime & The Apocalypse: Finding Catharsis in the End of Everything (Anime News Network, Lynzee Loveridge)

Meditations on three anime about the end of the world, and the relief that might be found there.

The idea of the “end of days” is usually a concept saved for the ultimate consequence if the villain wins. The scrappy party, the strong-headed protagonist, namely the “good guys” want to prevent this event by any means necessary. The destruction of life as we know it is the ultimate Bad End. To whit I say, “but have you seen the news?” As a particularly plugged-in journalist with too much access to the never ending horror show that is humanity on planet Earth, I wouldn’t mind cutting the cord when it all gets to be way too much. It’s possible that I, like many others soaking in the constant real world tragedies unfolding in front of us, are suffering from compassion fatigue. My search for temporary relief has found me enamored with the idea that at some point this suffering will end and nature will retake our remnants. I’ve found solace in the end and catharsis in fictional depictions of its destruction.

If this sounds completely far out, I ask that you reconsider for a minute that a multitude of stories, anime included, have hinged their climax on this exact emotion. (Or maybe the rest of you were sad instead of satisfied and I’m a giant weirdo). These aren’t the stories that start in a post-apocalyptic world (usually) where humans are pulling themselves up by their bootstraps to eke out an existence with a smile on their face. These aren’t the “everything’s ok when we try hard enough” stories. These are the “thank god it’s over” stories, the being washed over with relief stories, the you can rest now stories. This is End of Evangelion, The Adolescence of Utena, and Girls’ Last Tour. This essay is for all of us who look to retreat into the end of everything. Get in the car, loser, we’re escaping into the apocalypse.

The Story of Animerama: Belladonna of Sadness (Renaissance Josei, Megan D)

The production history of the visually stunning 1973 rape-revenge film.

What is unusual about Belladonna is the level of sympathy and sensitivity it has for Jeanne and her plight.  Her rape is not played for tawdry fanservice, but instead uses imagery of demons, bats, blood and tearing to symbolically convey Jeanne’s fear and trauma in a fashion that allowed it to get past the film censors without losing any of the impact.  Her nudity in the film’s second half isn’t just for sex appeal, but also symbolizes her freedom from the restrictions of civilization and her newfound connection to the natural world as a witch.  Sex in this film can often be traumatic and transactional as the men around Jeanne make demands of her and her body, but it can also be beautiful and tender or wild and transgressive.  In this sense, Belladonna managed to achieve what the other two Animerama films could not: it told a story that was not just mature in content, but also dealt with mature themes in substantial and artful ways.

As production on Belladonna of Sadness continued, Yamamoto would make one more fateful choice about its production.  He had seen first-hand how much stress crunch time had added to the previous two Animerama films.  He had seen how it had hindered the quality of the animation as well as how much it had negatively affected the morale of the animators.  As far as he was concerned, you could get the same results from 10 artists working for 10 months as you could from 100 people working nonstop for a single month.  Thus, he gave his team all the time they needed to complete their work, to the point where the film went 10 months over its original production deadline.  This was an unusually humane and ethical choice on his part, but it was also a risky one considering that Mushi’s fortunes continued to decline with each new month.  Yamamoto wasn’t worried about that, though.  He was determined to make something truly unique in whatever fashion he saw fit, no matter how long it might take.

Yuricon Celebrates 20 Years with Free Virtual Event (Yuri Mother)

The featured speakers at the August 14th event are listed at the source.

The event, which is based on a similar event held during the Mechademia International Academic Conference, will see three panelists discussing Yuri and its fandom across the globe. The event is free but there is limited space. Attendees can register online at https://www.yuricon.com/essays/yuricon20th/

As athletes open up on mental health, Japan’s Olympians tell harrowing tales (The Washington Post, Simon Denyer and Julia Mio Inuma)

Many critical of this year’s games have elected to lash out at athletes rather than organizers, leading to even harsher stress loads for competitors.

“It’s really difficult for athletes to come forward and talk about mental health or to say they are mentally unwell or unstable,” said Masami Horikawa, a sports psychology researcher at the Kwansei Gakuin University, adding that in her experience, athletes’ own teammates are often “strict” and unsympathetic if anyone faces mental health problems.

“Not all the pressure is bad, but as a culture, Japanese people expect that individuals can accomplish everything, and perfectionism is seen as a beauty,” she said. “So as a culture, we expect and praise individuals who are able to succeed all on their own without any help.”

The pressures on Japanese competitors and the stigma around mental health came out online this week when Naomi Osaka was knocked out in the third round of the women’s tennis tournament. Like Simone Biles, Osaka has spoken out about mental health and the pressure of the global media glare.

How Much Does It Cost to License Anime Series? (Anime News Network, Christopher Macdonald)

A breakdown of the current cost models in licensing, for no particular reason.

All of this affects not only the price, but also the structure of the payments. The most common licensing model for new shows is royalty-based with a “minimum guarantee” (MG). The MG is the bare minimum that the licensee guarantees to pay. Sometimes, the MG ends up being the only payment made. Licensors generally look for an MG that is sufficient to make the deal “worth it,” even if additional royalties are never paid. On the other hand, a flat rate fee is where the licensee pays a fixed amount for the series, and no royalties. Flat rate deals are almost unheard of among anime companies such as Funimation and Crunchyroll these days (they were more common in the VHS era), but they are very common with mainstream platforms such as Netflix and Disney. Flat rate deals are simpler because the licensee does not have to report any details about performance to the licensor. Even though these mainstream platforms like flat fees, licensors don’t like them, particularly in relation to A+ shows, and have been known to turn down significant flat fee offers on licenses they believe have the highest earning potential. Keep in mind, many “Netflix Originals,” and similar titles on other platforms aren’t licensed at all; the US studio merely contracts an anime studio to produce the anime for them.

Historically, flat rate or MG licensing fees may have been paid upfront, but that hasn’t been the case in decades. With today’s high licensing fees for simulcasts, the flat rate and MGs are usually paid over a schedule, particularly in the case of extremely expensive licenses. More powerful and trusted licensees are more likely to be able to pay over time, typically over 12 to 24 months, but as long as 10 years in some rare cases. A third model, “revenue share,” is more common with catalog content, smaller markets (ie: non-English speaking), and non-exclusive titles. With a revenue share agreement, the licensee does not guarantee any payment, but instead agrees to share a certain percentage of revenue (eg: 50%) over the license period. As with a royalty model, the licensee must provide regular reporting on the revenue earned, and make regular (eg: quarterly) payments.

Sex Ed in Japan: TV Doing More for Teens than the Ministry of Education (Unseen Japan, Julia Okada)

A brief summary of the history and current state of sex education in schools, and the sex ed show 17.3.

Starting in 2021, Japan will finally see a revised version of sexual education, called 生命の安全教育. (Inochi no Anzenkyouiku, or Life Safety Education.) This new program is intended to teach students of all ages how to protect themselves and others from sexual violence, like coercion or the circulation of private photos. In an interview with Toyo Keizai Online, Tashiro Mieko, a professor of sexual education history and gender at Saitama University, points out that while several media outlets have been calling this new program sex-ed, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) itself does not.

As Tashiro further explains, many teachers or decision-makers in education find actual logistics of sexual intercourse, contraception, or sexually transmitted diseases hard to talk about. Due to this, even with this new revision, there remains a large gap of young people who have not received comprehensive sex ed in school. These youth are left to their own devices or the unreliable information they may find on the internet.

The lack of education leaves young Japanese adults in the dark. Take, for example, a chat room staffed by midwives in Osaka, founded to answer questions about sex-related topics. On some days, the chat room receives over 800 messages from users asking what to do about unwanted pregnancies. Midwife Hiroko Uehara tells NHK: “I am surprised by the large number of people who believe the things they read on the internet, which can appear true, but are often wrong.” While teachers acknowledge the necessity of combating misinformation, the new guidelines issued by MEXT do not give them any guidance on doing so.

VIDEO: A brief history of the Takarazuka Revue and its connections to Kageki Shojo!.

VIDEO: Breakdown of the predatory monetization of Pokemon Unite, which continues an established pattern in Nintendo’s mobile games and arguably the Pokemon franchise at large.

THREAD: On the current restrictions preventing intersex athletes from competing in the Olympics.

THREAD: As Covid cases reach new heights in Japan, Tokyo governor Koike has urged individuals to “stay home” if they’re sick.

AniFem Community

Should….should we stop hoping for things?

All those times I wished for more Free! after Eternal Summer because I still thought it was all gonna go somewhere and it just. Won't. STOP.
"Wow, I can't wait to see more seasons of The Promised Neverland! It'd be great if it could fix up some of the pacing problems the last part of the series suffered from. :)"

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