Weekly Round-Up, 31 May – 6 June 2023: Director Utsumi Hiroko, Crunchyroll vs Unions (Again), and Anti-Racism in Game Design

By: Anime Feminist June 6, 20230 Comments
Kogaine Koito rushing away from Elda in a panic

AniFem Round-Up

Site Update: New Shoujo-Inspired Merchandise at the AniFem Store!

The new “Needs More Shoujo” designs over at our store.

She Has Two Hands! Room For non-monogamous love in yuri

Alexis Sara discusses polyamory versus love triangles and spotlights several current manga with non-monogamous romance.

Who was the first LGBTQ+ animanga character you connected with?

A little nostalgia to kick off Pride.

Beyond AniFem

Kimonos and Cornrows ebook: “Celebrating Diversity Through Hair and Culture” (Kickstarter)

Kickstarter for a watercolor children’s picture book.

Recently, a mixed race high school student was excluded from his graduation ceremony because of his cornrow hairstyle. This type of discrimination is unacceptable, and we want to fight it by spreading awareness and empowering young readers with positive representation.

As educators, parents, and caring adults, it is our duty to teach and inspire the next generation of teachers, caring adults and children in Japan to embrace diversity and individuality. 

That’s why we are proud to present Kimonos and Cornrows, a captivating children’s ebook that celebrates uniqueness and encourages children to find pride in who they are.

Reviews for refugee status criticized as arbitrary, unfair (The Asahi Shimbun, Kazumichi Kubota)

One case worker claims to have reviewed almost 20% of existing applications. 5500 recently marched to protest the bill as well.

Counselor Yasuzo Kitamura, a professor emeritus at Chuo University, said he has issued opinions recommending refugee status to foreigners who had initially waived face-to-face reviews.

He questioned the push for swift decisions.

“What’s the point of having a team that just zips through the cases?” he said.

Another counselor, lawyer Takashi Ito, said he reviewed 49 cases over the past two years and recommended granting refugee status in nine of them.

He said he is concerned about situations where the immigration agency first allocates the cases.

“If (the cases) are being ‘packaged’ and processed swiftly, the question is, ‘Who is making that decision?’” he said.

Refugee support groups have criticized the revision bill, saying Japan could end up deporting people who will face persecution.

Life GN 2-3 (Anime News Network, Rebecca Silverman)

The 2000s shoujo manga deals with bullying, sexual assault, and self-harm.

It’s hard to overstate just how vicious the experiences Ayumu goes through are. As with the first volume of the series, it’s tempting to write everything off as melodrama because Ayumu never gets a break. Even when things seem to be looking up, she gets slammed back down, and it’s overwhelming to read about. But it’s also important because these experiences truly happen to some of us. Even if what we go through isn’t quite as intense as what happens to Ayumu, it often does feel that way. Any of the things she goes through could break a person, but the fact that she is inundated with all of them makes reading even more challenging. However, Ayumu is, in many ways, an everygirl character (or perhaps every child; gender and bullying are unrelated). We have a window into what schools often prefer to sweep under the rug through her experiences. Life brings those experiences into the light, and if it’s a lot to put on Ayumu, it’s worth it to acknowledge what can happen.

Ayumu’s cutting takes a bit of a backseat in these volumes as she begins to feel even more ashamed of her scars. It’s also not providing her the same relief it did in volume one. At one point, she tries cutting her thighs to both have an easier place to hide the scarring and recapture the release that came with letting her blood. Her self-consciousness is worsened by two specific people, which also contributes to the cutting no longer bringing her relief: her mother makes a comment during a news report on cutting, deeming it “gross,” and later Katsumi while assaulting her, spots her scars and makes fun of her.

Indian community in Kobe built by those who fled 1923 Kanto quake (The Mainichi)

This year marks a century since that resettlement.

Records in the Yokohama Archives of History go as far as to call the Indians who had gone to Kobe “indispensable for the economic recovery” of Yokohama, the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture, lying along Tokyo Bay.

But over the years, many stayed in Kobe. Having Japan’s oldest Islamic place of worship, the Kobe Mosque, which opened in 1935, as well as social clubs, the city became “a good place to live” for Indians who valued tradition, Toorabally said.

Sikh and Jain temples were also built, and the Indian population in Kobe reached about 1,000 in the 1980s — at one time, the largest Indian community in Japan. After the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, Toorbally and others cooked curry for the disaster victims.

“In Japan, the only places Indians weren’t rare were Roppongi and Kobe,” Kiran Sethi, 57, a turban-wearing trader who lives in Kobe, said with a laugh, referring to Tokyo’s popular nightclub scene filled with bars and hostess clubs.

Nepal man’s life worth $7,000? Ruling called discriminatory (The Asahi Shimbun, Kyota Tanaka)

The 1 million yen ruling could have been ten times greater or more had the victim been a Japanese national; however, laws are based on how much a Japanese person would be awarded in the victim’s home country.

Article 17 of the Constitution states, “Every person may sue for redress as provided by law from the State or a public entity, in case he has suffered damage through illegal act of any public official.”

However, the State Redress Law imposes certain limits on non-Japanese people.

Masanori Okada, a professor of administrative law at Waseda University, said he was surprised by the ruling.

He said the court strictly applied the principle of reciprocity to calculate the compensation amount even after the principle has been criticized as inconsistent with the Constitution.

He said the ruling could force foreign victims seeking state compensation in Japan to research and show how much compensation Japanese nationals could receive in similar cases in the plaintiffs’ home countries.

“It would impose an excessive burden on victims,” Okada said. “It could also lead to the exclusion of foreign nationals, which would contradict the purpose of Article 17 of the Constitution, which holds the state responsible for compensation also for foreign nationals. This is not a measure an advanced nation should take.”

Top Reasons to Watch Skip and Loafer (Anime News Network, Nicholas Dupree and Steve Jones)

The sweetest rom-com of the season.

Steve: Yeah, it’s a surprisingly tough series to describe without just sitting someone down to watch it. Because it’d be really easy to get the impression that Skip and Loafer is saccharine and frictionless when it’s much more nuanced than that, it is ultimately healing, and that’s one of its strongest qualities. Still, it takes some big bites to get there. It wrestles with a lot of the nasty and/or cringey stuff that haunts people’s adolescences. Because, for better or worse, those makeup most of our defining experiences, and Skip and Loafer often argues it can be for the better.

Nick: Speaking of, I’d be remiss not to highlight Mitsumi’s aunt, Nao-chan, as a wonderful and grounded trans character. Even just supporting Mitsumi and the other kids, she’s an absolute delight whenever she’s on-screen.

Steve: Oh, for sure, Nao-chan calls for a Pride-appropriate shoutout. And she’s a great example of the careful and compassionate line that the show toes. Because there are scenes when the writing acknowledges some of the frictions and injustices society imposes on trans people. It’s not all idealized. But in the end, Skip and Loafer always champions kindness and honesty, and that direction feels more genuine in the face of those realities.

Fewer women choose to have children despite societal pressure (The Asahi Shimbun, Natsuki Edogawa, Yosuke Watanabe and Erina Ito)

Interviews with two women in their 40s who came to being childfree from very different directions.

In a 2021 survey by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, of the single women from 18 to 34 polled, 36.6 percent think they should have children once they get married. The ratio was almost half compared to the previous survey six years earlier.

It showed that more women are prioritizing their own lives or the lives of their spouses.

Junko Sakai, an essayist, believes society should value those who raise children. She coined the word “makeinu” (loser dogs) as a self-deprecating way to refer to unmarried, childless women over 30.

“When the voices to increase the birthrate grow louder, some of those who don’t or can’t have children may end up looking down out of embarrassment,” Sakai said.

“It’s fine to have various forms of families, not only legal marriages but also singles, common-law marriages and same-sex marriages,” she said. “The government should create a system to recognize diversity, which would lead to the elimination of the mentality that ‘we have to do this.’”

The Brilliant Scholar Who’s Challenging Racism In Game Design (Kotaku, Carolyn Petit)

Profile of professor and consultant Dr. Kishonna Gray.

She connected with a group of Black teens who agreed to meet her in Grant Park to show her how the game works. However, the young men were rebuffed by security in the area, their numbers and their Blackness disruptive, Gray said, to the white sensibilities of that part of the city. So the teens began heading back home to the predominantly Black neighborhood of Englewood.

Dr. Gray instead headed out to Englewood to meet them. After all, couldn’t Pokémon Go be played anywhere? Wasn’t this one of its selling points, part of what made it so exciting? “I couldn’t have been more wrong,” Gray told the conference. “When I went out there to try to find a [Pokéstop], there were none around.” She shows a slide contrasting a cluster of interactable points in the game in and around Grant Park with the dearth of them in Englewood. Well, okay, she admits, there were not quite none. “There was one,” she says. “It was a statue in the park. And it was a Confederate statue.”

This contrast between the wealth of Pokéstops in one part of Chicago and the near-complete absence of them in another wasn’t just some random fluke, Gray said. It was a game—a hugely popular game, played by millions of people—reflecting disparities in the real world. “There is a racialized legacy of why this is happening,” Gray, an impassioned and charismatic speaker, told the audience. “The legacies of redlining. The legacies of slavery and Jim Crow. Those things are alive and well across our cities…in the United States. They are alive and well.”

Too often, Gray argues, the creators of games and technology ignore these kinds of real-world factors, considering them irrelevant to their work, and because they don’t consciously take them into account, they wind up perpetuating those same disparities in the digital space. People making games “can’t just all of a sudden say, ‘Oh yeah, segregation doesn’t matter because whatever we create will be distributed equally across all populations.’ That’s just not true.” She says companies routinely pay lip service to concepts like diversity and intersectionality, but often fail to actually do the work and have the necessary conversations to avoid replicating real-world inequalities.

VIDEO: Career overview of director Utsumi Hiroko.

THREAD: Allegations that Crunchyroll prevented the original Tower of God dub cast from being reused in the (union) video game for the series.


AniFem Community

Some nice shoutouts for the days when rep was….rougher? more scarce? In addition to recent gains.

As a trans feminine non-binary, I always looking for trans characters like me. Hana from Tokyo Godfathers is my favorite and the first LGBTQ+ character that I am resonated with. Even though she is kind of stereotypical, but she is fun, rich, and complex. I think this is also one of the strengths of the movie and the director, Satoshi Kon himself, that the story more interested to portraying her as a character rather than gimmick or jock. Hana helped me a lot in my transitioning and she is the character that helped me overcome transphobia and realizing that I am trans, for that I owe so much to her.
Going a bit obscure here, but Sara from Ai no Shintairiku was the first trans character I ever saw, and while the manga is a cheesy mess, it was important to me when I was first coming out.  In terms of problematic faves and just my outright favorite, Fueko from Watashi no Sekai o Kousei Suru Chiri no You na Nani ka is not exactly supposed to be an aspirational character, but she's the first ace lesbian I saw in a manga and hot damn do I relate to her as a perpetually tired ace lesbian.
This fellow (Jakotsu from Inuyasha) did things to my tiny Christian brain
I didn't grow up with Utena, Sailor Moon and the likes due to my country. Instead, I first found the courage to discover my identity in early 2010s thanks to these two from Strawberry Panic!.... which ended with me being homeless and disowned by my family in 2015. Still worth it.

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