Weekly Round-Up, 29 April – 5 May 2020: Toxic Masculinity, COVID-19 in the Adult Entertainment Industry, and Free BL Manga

By: Anime Feminist May 5, 20200 Comments
two chibi characters, one explaining seriously while the other looks over with question marks above her

AniFem Round-Up

2020 Spring Three-Episode Check-In

The team checks in with the current season a quarter of the way in, including a few delayed productions.

Home is Where Your Friend Is: Embracing diverse female friendships in Satoko and Nada

Carrie McClain spotlights a manga about two exchange students in America—Japanese Satoko and Saudi Arabian Nada—and how the series celebrates cross-cultural bonding.

Drifting Dragons – Episode 1

A competent CGI ensemble show recently released from Netflix jail that loses its shine once its parallels to the real-world whaling industry come into play.

Do you prefer digital or physical manga?

At this point there are a variety of options in both formats.

Beyond AniFem

Woman opens up on long road to self-acceptance as a young carer in Japan (The Mainichi, Young Carers Reporting Group)

The recent college graduate cared for her mother growing up and continues to do so while also reaching out to others who grew up in similar situations.

Although Yui had heard the term “young carer” when she was younger, she never thought of associating herself with the label. She had a father who worked diligently and enjoyed tennis for the disabled even without a left arm. Keeping her mother company was also a natural part of Yui’s daily life. Yui disliked the word “young carer,” as it sounded condescending and made it seem like parents and family members were merely the subject of care.

At the same time, there was a conflicting side of Yui that wished to meet those in the same situation as her. Yui had a phase during high school where she would repeat the process of writing and then subsequently deleting entries for an anonymous online blog. In July 2018, Yui finally set out to attend a symposium for young carers in Tokyo, and was able to connect with young adults who had similar experiences.

“It’s my mission to lean on the term ‘young carer’ to find others in the same situation,” she resolved. Junko’s stair accident came shortly afterward.

Thoughts on … Guts, and Masculinity (Jackson P Brown)

Analysis of Berserk’s protagonist and how later chapters of the manga unpack and critique the early story’s hyper-masculinity.

With Guts, Miura has not only created a foil to the ultra-masculine archetype, but has enhanced what masculinity should mean for us today. It abnormal for a character of Guts’s manly dominance to also be a survivor of rape and child abuse, a victim of betrayal, a man hopelessly in love and in want of companions. As he navigates the world nursing the effects of PTSD, Guts challenges the unrealistic portrayals of men in mainstream media. This is not to say that sympathetic stories about males are nonexistent. Shoto Todoroki from My Hero Academia is a quiet, detached character and a child abuse survivor. Furthermore, Yuki and Kyo Sohma from the wonderful Fruits Basket are also child abuse survivors, and their character traits (Yuki’s quiet, sombre demeanour contrasted by Kyo’s uncontrollable aggression) are direct results of this. But these characters are all teenage boys in teenage-level stories, existing in a context where emotional issues are anticipated amongst hormonal changes and general school drama—couple these aspects with child abuse, and the mental/emotional responses are expected to be more severe.

Amid call spike, some Japan mental health hotlines shorten hours, close due to virus (The Mainichi, Miyama Toshiki)

This is the first time in 48 years the center has been unable to operate on a 24-hour schedule.

Of the 50 call centers affiliated with the Federation of Inochi no Denwa (literally “telephone of life”), 13 have shut down after the government declared a nationwide state of emergency. Some of the centers say they closed because of shortages of volunteer counselors caused by the request to refrain from traveling and going outdoors. Others said they have suspended operation to protect volunteers — who must work on-site to prevent private information leaks — from getting infected.

“We are very sorry to the people who are trying to reach us,” said the secretariat of Tokyo Tama Inochi no Denwa, one of the currently shuttered centers.


A discussion of grief, ableism, and managing self-image.

It’s okay if you gain weight during quarantine or any other time. You do not need to obsessively track your food intake, especially if you are currently experiencing food scarcity. It can lead you into an even more unhealthy and detrimental relationship with food. Step off the scale. Stop poking at your midsection and frowning at yourself in the mirror. Weight gain is not unhealthy, obsessing over your weight is. You do not need to over-exercise while in quarantine. Don’t punish yourself because it’s not safe to go to the gym right now. It’s okay if you lose some progress on fitness goals you were already working towards. Progress doesn’t have to be linear anyway. You haven’t failed. You are never obligated to “work” on your body, but especially not during a pandemic. 

Coronavirus leaves struggling western Japan strip theater facing some naked truths (The Mainichi)

The club has managed to raise enough funds to stay open thanks to crowdfunding support.

Kimura took over as the theater’s manager from a friend around 15 years ago. As many other strip clubs in Japan closed, he tried to drum up business through a trial and error process.

“In order to survive, we tried to clean-up our image so more women could enjoy our shows,” the 55-year-old said.

The theater has worked toward including unique events, such as “nude art” where an artist paints dancers, as well as band and horror shows with other performers, which have helped expand its customer base.

COVID-19 outbreak raises uncomfortable questions about Japan’s adult entertainment industry (The Japan Times, Philip Brasor)

Many working in entertainment industries that often implicitly but not explicitly include sexual services are unable to work or gain unemployment funds.

Takenobu says women are disproportionately disadvantaged by the COVID-19 shutdown for several reasons. Unlike the 2008 recession, which mainly disadvantaged nonregular male laborers because factories cut back on production, the coronavirus crisis has mostly affected women who carry out physically difficult caregiving tasks, as well as women in “entertainment” trades that are closing. Like the factory workers in 2008, most entertainment workers are wage-earners, meaning if they lose work they are immediately plunged into poverty unless they receive some kind of public assistance.

What’s more, discrimination isn’t limited to hostesses and sex service workers. Single mothers in general don’t always qualify for work-related welfare due to the government’s bias in favor of “traditional families.” According to a survey by the support group Single Mothers Forum, 48.6 percent of single mothers expect their income to drop since schools closed, while 5.8 percent expect to have no income at all.

Cloud Threatens Gender Norms Through Way More Than Cross Dressing (Into the Spine, Stacey Henley)

Framing Cloud’s character arc as a critique of toxic masculinity.

Cloud begins the game as a fairly typical merc, just there for the money, not the cause. Though he does have a more lithe, androgynous design – especially shorn of the blocky polygons of 1997 – Cloud’s approach to problems is to hit them with a sword. His stoic, angsty persona fits firmly in the realm of classic video game protagonist archetypes. If anything, it’s Barrett who most challenges gender stereotypes, showing care for the environment and a love of nature. This is the slimmest of praise though; Barrett expresses this care in a hyper masculine, bullets solve all your problems way, wrapped up in a Mr T, blaxploitation style delivery. There is more to Barrett’s character than this (his role as a father and father figure, the way he has turned his disability into a strength…), but as the game begins it seems very much like two typical masculine video game protagonists. While they display different shades of masculinity, both of them solve their problems with violence and have an emotional range which consists only of various degrees of anger.

As the game progresses however, Cloud shows more of his hand, and moves away from these stereotypically masculine traits.

VIDEO: A response to the gatekeeping and misogynoir faced by Black marginalized genders in anime fandom.

TWEET: BL manga library offering titles for free until the end of May.

THREAD: Introduction to Japanese Feminist author Ohba Minako.

AniFem Community

A lot of good thoughts to consider for both options. Thanks, AniFam!

While I do like to read stuff digitally, I prefer owning physical copies whenever possible. I've never been comfortable with owning digital copies of things; they've always felt less safe. There's so many ways to lose digital products; hard drive failures, subscription services or cloud servers shutting down, proprietary filetypes/software becoming obsolete... I may have to pay more for physical copies, and have enough space to store them, but I feel it's worth the comfort of knowing I'm not going to unexpectedly lose access to them. Also, I'm a big fan of both sharing books and buying used, both of which are hard to do digitally.
Physical manga. I've always preferred having something in my hands. Even with the pandemic, I'd rather wait longer for a physical release.  If I had to use digital manga, I'd rather buy copies individually. A rental service has too much uncertainty, you never know if one day your favorite manga will just disappear.

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