Weekly Round-Up, 30 November – 6 December 2022: Sex Education Petition, Video Game Unions, and Shoujo Scarcity

By: Anime Feminist December 6, 20220 Comments
chibi Bocchi listening to music on a laptop

AniFem Round-Up

“If I Was Born As A Girl…”: Transfeminine desire in Stop!! Hibari-Kun

This landmark ’80s will-they-won’t-they rom-com, which featured a sympathetic trans heroine, has tragically never been licensed in English.

Girls Doing Stuff: Agency and motivation in girls’ hobby shows

The best series focus on young women who have strong motivations and the freedom to pursue them, often with more focus on friendship than (cishet) romance.

What’s your favorite anime to show newbies?

These days a wide variety of anime is more accessible than ever.

Beyond AniFem

The rise of the video game union (Polygon, Nicole Carpenter)

A zine, with printable PDF, about the history of unions and how to start one in your workplace.

A union isn’t a third party that comes in to fix things. It’s the very people at the company who are making games. It’s artists, programmers, and QA testers; writers, user interface designers, and systems engineers. Unions are how gaming workers believe they can wrest back some power and agency. Together. Because that’s how solidarity works — when workers have each other’s backs, their power combines.

As journalists, our responsibility is to bring awareness to systemic injustice, hold the powerful accountable, foster transparency, and provide the public with the information and tools necessary to improve their lives, their workplace, and the world. [Ed. note: Polygon is part of the Vox Media Union under the Writers Guild of America, East.] That is why we feel it’s our obligation to share the story of game creators in the thick of this process — to provide service journalism in the same way we seek out collectibles and achievements in the industry’s biggest games. This is simply a recognition that, for workers across the industry, the status quo has failed.

This pamphlet is neither an all-encompassing instruction manual, nor legal guidance, nor a demand that every studio unionize. What we have assembled is purely information, and for many, inspiration for a potentially better way. This is, for those interested, an overdue first step in the marathon. And those who are indeed interested should seek direct guidance from labor relations professionals, like lawyers and union organizations noted here and elsewhere.

Ramayana: The Anime Film that Changed Indian Animation Forever (Anime Herald, Aniket Singh Chauhan)

The film’s origins from folktales and documentary to the finished beloved classic.

The 1990s were politically unstable and religiously charged times for India. Riots after the Babri Mosque demolition on religious lines had rocked the country. On the other end of production, the sarin nerve gas attack in Tokyo by the Aum Shinrikyo cult created an environment against Hinduism and its symbols like “Aum” (ॐ) that appeared very prominently in the film[7]. And in such an atmosphere, the film saw very limited releases both in India as well as Japan when it was theatrically released in 1997. The film wasn’t widely promoted,  in fears of an uptick in violence. As such, the majority of people didn’t even know about its release[8]. Its releases in western markets couldn’t get much buzz either. Although the movie was acclaimed at film festivals including the Santa Clarita International Family Film Festival and was even in the race to be nominated for the 2001 Academy awards[8]. Though the film saw few brief premiers abroad, its distribution was limited due to the creators’ insistence on sticking to the plot. In one instance, an American studio had even suggested changing the 14-year exile theme into an extended honeymoon of Rama and Sita[6].

Both Ram Mohan and Yugo Sako were heartbroken by the film’s performance. However, just like its creator, the film, too, was indomitable. After the box office disaster, the anime’s television rights were bought by Cartoon Network’s India unit and aired regularly on TV[9]. This was the turning point in the film’s history. Following its feature on television, the film gained a cult following in India and went on to become one of a favourite among Indian kids. By the early 2000s, it felt like there was absolutely no one (myself included) who hadn’t seen the film. Yet none of us knew about its fascinating history or the fact that a Japanese man gave his life to create this masterpiece. Sako gave Indian children a film we could relate to and knew about, from the stories told by our grandparents.

YouTube takes down 200 videos discriminating against ‘buraku’ (The Asahi Shimbun)

The petition to remove the videos also called for a Buraku anti-discrimination rule to be instituted on YouTube.

Buraku are a social outcast group that have experienced discrimination in Japan dating back to feudal times.

The discrimination is largely tied to their regional locations and occupations once seen as unclean that deal with dead bodies, such as leather tanners and undertakers. The social prejudice extends to their descendants.

The videos, which were posted by a man who heads a publishing company, disclosed the names of places, gravestones and maps, which could be used to identify people as buraku and make them targets of discrimination.

The man who posted these videos had also posted a list of names of places of former buraku online in 2016, and at one point was sued by the Buraku Liberation League and its members, who demanded he remove the list.

Japan court upholds ban on same-sex marriage but voices rights concern (Reuters, Elaine Lies)

Two more courses are still pending following this ruling.

In Wednesday’s ruling, the Tokyo district court said the ban was constitutional, but added that the absence of a legal system to protect same-sex families infringed their human rights.

“This is actually a fairly positive ruling,” said Nobuhito Sawasaki, one of the lawyers involved in the case.

“While marriage remains between a man and a woman, and the ruling supported that, it also said that the current situation with no legal protections for same-sex families is not good, and suggested something must be done about it,” he told Reuters.

43,000 signatures seeking review of sex education at Japanese schools submitted (The Mainichi, Ai Kunimoto)

The number of signatures on the petition doubled over the last two months.

In human rights-based comprehensive sex education, students learn not only about human anatomy and the reproduction system, but also about relationships, sexual diversity and gender equality in an extensive and systematic manner. In the comprehensive sex education guidance compiled by UNESCO and other groups in 2009, education on sex and contraception were to be provided to children aged between 9 and 12.

In Japan, meanwhile, the official junior high school curriculum guidelines say “the process of pregnancy is not taught” at schools, and in general children do not learn about subjects including sex and contraception in compulsory education, or from first to ninth grade. At the same time, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the number of abortions among those aged between 10 and 19 was over 10,000 in fiscal 2020.

During a news conference after the petition was submitted on Nov. 30, it was revealed that when the group asked an education ministry official how the controversial provision came about, they said, “There are no proceeding records left (on the provision) and nothing that explicitly states (how it was created).”

Someya pointed out, “We suspect that the education ministry has the provision in place based on the assumption that junior high and high school children don’t have sex. But that’s just not the reality.” She demanded that the provision be revised, saying, “Regardless of the child’s interest in sex, I want authorities to create an environment where they can learn and protect their own body, and also respect the body of the other individual.”

The Powerful Queer Horror of Rule of Rose (Paste, Madeline Blondeau)

The game continued to hold a cult following despite its abysmally poor sales on release. Article includes discussion of child sexual assault.

It’s tempting to read Rule of Rose as analogous with texts like Lord of the Flies, in how it frequently mines children’s cruelty for horror. But where Flies is obsessed with Calvinist doctrine about man’s inherent wickedness, Tomo Ikeda’s script is built around a delicate and deliberate empathy. Bullies are depicted not as senseless aggressors, but as fragile children clinging onto what little power they have.

Take HBIC Diana—Duchess of the Red Crayon—for instance. The catty teen is responsible for some of the most reprehensible actions in the game, from constant verbal degradation to detached violence towards living creatures. She’s a budding psychopath if there ever was one. Yet an encounter with the orphanage’s headmaster flips the script. The confirmed pedophile corners her, then caresses her body from hip to head. It’s a violating moment. We see her power drain in seconds, and understand that she’s beholden to a higher, more malevolent power—the power of an old, wealthy, white pedophile. Diana immediately lashes out at Jennifer, blinded by her own pain.

Heterosexual and cisnormative doctrines are a threat to Rule of Rose’s sapphic garden. Gender is played with and broken consistently throughout the story. Most of the child characters are openly gay. Cis men tend to be grubby pedos or craven child murderers, with little wiggle room. Patriarchy is a destructive force towards each of the principal players in some way. Identities are abolished, relationships destroyed by men eager to claim young femme flesh as their own. Even in all its cruelty, the world of children is freer and less bound by the cultural norms of the game’s 1930s setting.

Mother of late reality show star Hana Kimura sues producers (The Asahi Shimbun, Kyota Tanaka and Takuro Negishi)

Kimura died by suicide after intense harassment online, much of it related to her mixed-race heritage.

In March 2021, the Broadcast and Human Rights Committee of the Broadcasting Ethics and Program Improvement Organization (BPO) highlighted ethical problems with the program. But it stopped short of concluding that Hana’s human rights had been violated because some action had been taken, such as providing mental health care before the show aired.

The lawsuit said cast members who viewed and reacted to footage from the show in the studio would frequently make negative comments about what Hana did or said in the program and that had encouraged the backlash on social media.

Kimura said she felt the producers treated the cast members like they were disposable.

“(If I were in their position,) I would not have been able to do the same thing if a family member or someone I loved appeared on the program,” Kimura said. “I wanted the producers to treat the cast members as human beings.”

What Happened to Shoujo Anime? (Anime News Network, Kim Morrissy)

Musing on the downturn in shoujo series from the ‘90s to now.

One possible factor is the changing trends in female-targeted media. Game franchises like Touken Ranbu, IDOLiSH7, and Disney Twisted-Wonderland eschew the traditional romance and women-centric narratives of shoujo manga to focus on the inner lives and relationships between attractive male characters. Boys-Love manga is also seeing a boom, resulting in a small uptick of anime adaptations. The same applies to Korean webtoons and Japanese web manga, which eschew the traditional shounen/shoujo labeling, but are a thriving space for artists to tell stories about what it’s like to be a woman.

But this doesn’t mean that there is less demand for the old-school boy-meets-girl shoujo anime adaptations. At a 2021 business seminar, Crunchyroll remarked that what shoujo titles do exist tend to over-perform. It’s even possible that the booming popularity of shounen anime romcoms like My Dress-Up Darling and Kaguya-sama: Love is War is partially a result of anime fans trying to fill the shoujo-shaped hole in their hearts.

At least some of the scarcity can be put down to the male-dominated world of anime business overlooking the needs of a historically marginalized demographic. Nowadays, a number of popular shoujo and josei (women) manga are being adapted as live-action films or TV shows, bypassing the anime sphere altogether. Look no further than Cartoon Network‘s controversial comment in June that girls “graduate” out of animation for an example of the short-sighted thinking that undermines animation for girls. The shoujo anime genre absolutely has the legs to grow if producers give it a chance.

Japan nonprofit introduces evacuation shelter booklet with foreign nationals’ insights (The Mainichi, Yasutoshi Tsurumi)

The book is meant to make it easier for foreign nationals to get the resources they need during disaster evacuations.

The booklet includes pointers and notes from foreigners living in Japan, and is hoped to help local governments and other groups across Japan create or review their evacuation shelter management manuals. The nonprofit Matsuyama Sakanoue Japanese Language School that’s behind the booklet told the Mainichi Shimbun, “We hope this will be an opportunity for people to think about building a new type of ‘bosai’ (disaster prevention) with foreign residents in the community to prepare for major disasters like a Nankai Trough megaquake.”

The 19-page booklet titled “Thinking about Multicultural Coexistence in Evacuation Centers” covers various topics that foreigners are expected to have difficulties with, such as “lifestyle,” “diet,” “prayers” and “information,” and introduces them in Japanese, English and other languages with illustrations and photos. About 10 international students in the city of Matsuyama from South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, the United States and Algeria contributed to the booklet.

It lists things that foreign residents want others to be aware of when they need to stay at evacuation shelters, such as how some people can’t bathe with others, some can’t eat pork or drink alcohol and others need a quiet place for them to pray. The booklet also introduces measures that can be taken to help those who don’t speak or read Japanese well obtain necessary information in times of disasters, including sending out essential information in English, and with pictures, and marking important locations in times of emergency.

VIDEO: Interview with Erica Friedman about her book on the first hundred years of yuri manga.

AniFem Community

Not every person went right to Cowboy Bebop. Times have truly changed.

Right now my top recommendation to anime newbies is Spy X Family - I think it's just about a perfect intro show for newcomers. In the past, I've also recommended FMA: Brotherhood, and Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro. However, the three people that I've helped get into anime were hooked by 1) My Next Life as a Villainess (HameFura), 2) Death Note, and 3) Air, so I can't say there's any real consistency to what might appeal to one person or another.
I am gonna say Yuri On Ice. Yuri on Ice pulled me back into the animesphere, and what more surprising is a sport anime, a genre that I am not a biggest fan of, among all the other anime out there. I think it is a very good introduction for anime newbies because it has a lot of love and it has a beautiful representation of queer love. It is not perfect, but it got me hooked and I will cherish that moment of watching it forever.

We Need Your Help!

We’re dedicated to paying our contributors and staff members fairly for their work—but we can’t do it alone.

You can become a patron for as little as $1 a month, and every single penny goes to the people and services that keep Anime Feminist running. Please help us pay more people to make great content!

Comments are open! Please read our comments policy before joining the conversation and contact us if you have any problems.

%d bloggers like this: