Navigating patriarchal institutions and personal power in Ōoku
Alison Tam spotlights celebrated josei mangaka Yoshinaga Fumi and her alternate history manga about a women-led shogunate.
Misery Porn in Another World: The failed fantasy of JK Haru is a Sex Worker
Alexis Marigold examines this LN’s attempts to bring dignity to its heroine and her fellow sex workers and the way its satire of hentai gets dragged down into replicating tropes.
What Winter 2022 anime are you most excited for?
Because oh no, it’s already premiere time again.
Help us Sue Japanese Gov’t: Gender and Marriage (GoFundMe)
A couple is hoping to sue for legal recognition of their marriage and one partner’s gender, which is currently barred because they married before one of the women came out as trans. This situation has been ongoing since 2020.
Episode 419 – A Tale as Old as Time (Isaac Meyer)
Historian podcast looking into the origins of the Tale of the Heike.
For our final episode of 2021, we’re looking at the origin of one of Japan’s most famous pieces of literature: the war epic known as the Heike Monogatari, or Tale of Heike. How did a story about a single conflict in Japanese history become one of the best known chronicles in the entirety of Japan’s history, and what did the story tap into to attain that status?
Farewell, My Dear Cramer Review (Anime News Network, Caitlin Moore)
Anime focusing on how the show’s production lets down its strong narrative.
It’s extraordinarily frustrating, not just because of the thematic irony of a production about how women’s sports are neglected by society being neglected by its own studio. I wanted the world for the main trio of Sumire, Midori, and Nozomi, or at least a watchable anime. All three have strong personalities, and it’s so fun watching them interact with each other, their teammates, coaches, rivals, and the rest of the world around them. They’re weirdos! Not in the exaggeratedly comedic way of, say, the cast of Asobi Asobase, but in the way that unbridled passion tends to make people weird. It’s gratifying to see characters like this existing and thriving, unsexualized and without being required to make gestures at cuteness or femininity to make them appealing and unthreatening, a struggle that even real-life high school athletes face in Japan. The supporting cast is sizable, and if not every one of them was memorable, the few that were stand out just as much.
It’s through their eyes that we see just how disrespected women’s soccer is, as they search for opportunities to play and a space to practice, constantly muscled out of the way for resources by the boys’ team. It’s a harsh reflection of gender dynamics that are common in sports across the world, where even championship-winning female athletes rarely receive the recognition, pay, or access to resources that their male counterparts do. It’s in their voices that they plead for a better future, one where girls can be themselves and love soccer without constantly having to fight for their right to exist. The only reason they aren’t broken by the current system is their own resilience and stubbornness, and at the same time they feel the weight of the pressure on their shoulders as representatives of their sport and are trying their best not to crack under it.
Mental health issues show women bear brunt of Japan monarchy system (The Mainichi)
On the disproportionate scrutiny placed on the women of the royal family (whether they’re commoners marrying into the family or family members who lose their status on marriage), and its mental toll.
After the former emperor’s accession to the throne in January 1989, she became the focus of a backlash in weekly magazines triggered by his cultivation of a more approachable image compared to his father Emperor Hirohito, who had taken the throne before World War II when emperors were still regarded as living gods.
On the day of her 59th birthday in October 1993, the former empress collapsed and lost her voice due to psychogenic aphasia.
“The emperor is the symbol of Japan, and the monarchy is a symbol of patriarchy. Therefore, discrimination against women is most pronounced in the imperial family,” Nobuta said, adding that such an environment makes it difficult for bright women to survive.
Nobuta said that former princess Mako, who grew up watching these events and had studied at International Christian University in Tokyo as well as in Britain, must have felt the only way to truly live her life was to leave Japan.
“For former princess Mako, escaping was her main goal, and I think she chose Komuro as the man who could help her achieve this goal,” Nobuta said.
The couple left Japan shortly after registering their marriage to start a new life in New York, where Komuro works as a law clerk at a legal firm.
$1K for Abortion Pill? Proposal in Japan Fuels Outrage (Unseen Japan, Jay Allen)
Overview of comments by the head of Japan’s OB/GYN association and the backlash to them.
The abortion pill is available in over 80 countries worldwide. If approved, it would dramatically lower the cost and ease access to abortion for women in Japan. It would also provide a less painful and safer alternative to surgical abortion.
However, not everyone’s happy about it. One of the people not happy about it? Kinoshita Katsuyuki, the head of Japan’s OB/GYN association.
In comments to NHK News, Kinoshita said, “I’m worried that women will use it easily for abortion.” As a deterrent, he recommended making the medication as expensive as surgery: 100,000 yen – or close to USD $1,000. It normally sells for around USD $7.
For some reason, Japan’s head OB/GYN always seems to be (1) a man who (2) doesn’t think women in Japan can be trusted with anything. I previously wrote about the former head of the OB/GYN association, who came under fire for his comments on the morning-after pill. Women lambasted Maeda Tsukio after he said that women’s sexual education in Japan was too low to trust them with the OTC morning-after pill.
COVID and women in poverty: Many at consultation event at Tokyo park needed winter clothes (The Mainichi, Satoshi Tokairin)
Short write-up about a recent consultation event for women living in poverty.
Though the women who came to the event ranged in age from their teens to their 80s, there were especially a lot in the prime working years of their 40s, the committee said. At least one woman who sought help had had her work hours and thus pay drastically reduced because of the coronavirus, which forced her to live on small government loans to get through the crisis, but she had no idea how she was going to pay them back.
“Women have been in precarious employment and living hand-to-mouth since before (the pandemic),” journalist and organizing committee member Chie Matsumoto told the Mainichi Shimbun. “It really hit me that we need to solve deep-rooted problems with employment and other facets of society.”
The Complicated Queerness in Breath of the Wild (Videodame, Natalie Schriefer)
A look at two specific queer-coded NPCs in the game.
For Phillips, the problem with Vilia isn’t her character, or even the beard punchline, but the larger Gerudo quest. “Transphobic discourse is based largely on the harmful fantasy that trans women are pretending to be women in order to infiltrate women’s spaces,” Phillips explained. These imposters then need to be ejected for the sake of “real” women, and Gerudo Town sticks precisely to this script.
Even the Gerudo Vai [female] outfit is problematic: It can’t be upgraded by the Great Fairies, and it offers only partial heat resistance (not full). “Link’s gender experimentation is purely about deception,” Phillips said. “If the outfit doubled as useful armor like the Desert Voe [male] outfit, I might be more receptive to a different reading.”
Though Phillips described the scene with Vilia as “compromised,” her character isn’t completely irredeemable. When Link models the Gerudo Vai outfit, Vilia squeals over him, and Link, in the cutscene, seems to enjoy both the attention and the clothes. The exchange is bashful, even cute.
“It feels like a moment of recognition and even sisterhood rather than scheming,” Phillips said.
VIDEO: Line-by-line breakdown of the Square Enix announcement that they’ll be pursuing NFTs with future games.
THREAD: Places to preorder the upcoming memoir Piccolo is Black.
TWEET: Info on 2021 Shakespeare translator and 2021 Asahi Prize honoree Kazuko Matsuoka.
It’s looking to be a quiet season but there are some bright spots sticking out.
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