Weekly Round-Up, 4-10 August 2021: Defining Otome Games, Union-Busting at Square Enix, and Conspiracy Theorist Konaka

By: Anime Feminist August 10, 20210 Comments
a shocked Sarasa (Kageki Shojo) drawn in the style of classic shoujo

AniFem Round-Up

2021 Summer Three-Episode Check-In

The team checks in on a somewhat light season.

When the Most Precious Diamond is Not a Piece of Jewelry: MAJOR 2ND and female baseball players’ struggles in a male-dominated sport

Marina Lins shares the long-running baseball anime that lets its female players and their struggles shine.

Shaman King – Episode 1

A polished-up checklist of the material rather than a welcome for new fans.

What’s your favorite pre-1990 anime?

Yes, we’re still emotional about the Gunbuster announcement.

Beyond AniFem

Digimon Tamers Writer Chiaki J. Konaka Responds to Overseas Backlash Over 20th Anniversary Stage Play (Anime News Network, Kim Morrissy)

The play led to the discovery of the Serial Experiments Lain series composer’s blog by English-speaking fans, which included writings in support of right-wing conspiracy theories.

“Some of the words I used were controversial,” he wrote. “However, I did not intend to condemn any particular person or group in this drama.” He also denied expressing any particular political beliefs.

Nevertheless, Konaka admitted that his feelings regarding the mass media’s exclusion of “alternative journalists” during the COVID-19 pandemic were “reflected in Yamaki’s strong words.”

“When the pandemic started, I stopped opening Twitter for about a year. I also stopped watching CNN/US, which I had subscribed to on cable to see what was really going on. And I’ve been reading what independent alternative journalists are gathering from open sources, referring to links as I go,” he wrote. Konaka wrote that in his opinion COVID-19 is real but incorrectly claimed that “SARS-CoV-2 has not been isolated and segregated.”

That claim is false according to Reuters fact checkers. The false claim spread via social media last year as a method to question the validity of the COVID vaccines.

The Unwelcome State for Disabled Gamers of Color (Can I Play That, Tubi Hamid)

Reflections on living at multiple intersections of marginalized identity and how those experiences are rarely reflected in online spaces.

On the other side of the matter, gaming communities, outlets, and projects for people of color must embrace accessibility or they risk denying disabled people of color a place in their spaces. Even if we are not actively claiming our disability as a point of pride or part of our identity, our access needs remain.

Neither of these exclusions are some secret malicious plan to keep out disabled people of color, for I know that both do welcome us, or would if they had more awareness. The root of these exclusions comes down to money. Funding, or the lack of it. With proper funding, gaming podcasts for and by people of color could transcribe their episodes. With proper funding, white-staffed sites like Can I Play That? could hire and pay people of color as editors, creating a more welcoming environment for writers of color.

Creative work from BIPOC is undervalued, under-appreciated, and woefully underfunded. Accessibility is expensive. When you barely have an operating budget, it is natural that you would prioritize your own access needs. I know that if I created video content it would likely be in Turkish and if I was receiving no funding, I would not prioritize English captions. And as Courtney and Stacey teach in their Accessible Community Management Workshop, creating content focused on our own consumption needs is a bias we all have.

Creative work from disabled people is undervalued, under-appreciated, and woefully underfunded. This leaves the work for those with the ability to do free and often emotional labor. Too often those who are privileged enough to do free and emotional labor are white people. But when disabled people of color see a sea of white faces, history has taught us that our stories are not wanted unless they fit the white-centric narrative.

Is This Otome? – Inclusivity in the Otome Games Fandom (Blerdy Otome, Naja)

Discussion of the widening umbrella usage of “otome” as a genre.

Unlike otome games that focus specifically on a female protagonist romancing hot guys, joseimuke is a much broader term that encompasses all media targeted towards women. It covers everything from boys love media to card-raising games, and yes, even otome games. But, what’s great about joseimuke is that it can be used for things like shojo manga and anime as well.

Joseimuke is a catch all term, so it’s much more fluid in how it can be used or interpreted—with the only hard and fast rule being that the media in question has to have been created with a female audience in mind. But, that’s not to say that only women can enjoy the media. Defining something isn’t meant to facilitate exclusion or gatekeeping, but rather as a way to help people find media that appeals to them quickly and efficiently. For example, someone looking for an otome game, with branching routes and a focus on romance isn’t going to be thrilled with games like A3! where gameplay is focused on actor training and any romance is implied (and there’s even some suggestive BL content).

But, even with all these terms and definitions, there are still a few games that fit into more than one category. Games like Ayakashi Romance Reborn feature card-raising elements AND branching romance routes, which makes it both an otome and a joseimuke, if we’re going with the above definitions. And then there’s non-Japanese games inspired otome games—where do those fit in?

Rotten Eggs and Adult Agendas: How Girlhood is Constructed in Wonder Egg Priority (The Afictionado, Alex Henderson)

The dilemma of adults constructing adolescent fiction and the crucial ingredient of empathy that WEGG is missing.

Clues to Wonder Egg Priority’s target demographic can be found in practical things like its airtime and the rating it receives on international streaming services. In the Australian rating system, Egg gets a whopping R18+ and counts as restricted mature content on the Aus Funimation platform (presumably for the combination of bloody violence and frank discussion, and at one point brief depiction, of sexual assault). So, certifiably not for kids, and not even for teenagers.

However, this doesn’t mean it’s absolved from examination and critique when it comes to the depiction of young people within the show. As I noted above, Wonder Egg‘s plot and themes clearly have a vested interest in examining Adolescence, which places it in an overlapping Venn diagram with YA and other bildungsroman type stories, regardless of their target demographic. While the language of children’s literature studies doesn’t track onto this adult-aimed anime series 1:1, borrowing from it will help get to the heart of why Wonder Egg left such a toxic taste in so many viewers’ mouths. It has to do with those questions of “adult narrative voice” and empathy that I mentioned above, but chiefly it has to do with the construction of adolescence within the series.

In the podcast I mentioned “the hidden adult”, a phrase borrowed from a 2008 book (with an unintentionally hilarious cover) by Perry Nodelman. As Nodelman and many others have addressed, the conundrum (or in Jacqueline Rose’s case, the impossibility) of children’s fiction is that it isn’t written by children. Unless you have an Alice Oseman scenario—who got her first YA book deal at 17 and first publication at 19—the stories we market towards children and adolescents are all made by adults.

Ergo, even the most “authentic”-feeling adolescent perspective is obscuring an adult author. This is an important thing to acknowledge, not as a “gotcha” that calls out these stories as fake and manufactured, but because it opens the door for analysts to consider the adult biases, agendas, and ideas that are influencing the text in subtle or not-so-subtle ways.

Knife attacker on Tokyo commuter train wanted to kill ‘happy women’- NHK (Reuters, Mari Saito)

The assailant injured ten people before being arrested; link includes video.

The man alleged to have wounded 10 people in a knife attack on a Tokyo commuter train late on Friday told police he became incensed when he saw women who “looked happy” and wanted to kill them, Japanese media reported on Saturday.

Police arrested the 36-year-old man in another part of Tokyo after he slashed and stabbed people in the attack at about 8:40 pm (1140 GMT) on Friday on a train on the Odakyu Line in the western part of the city, media reported.

One victim, a female university student, was seriously wounded, while the rest suffered less severe injuries.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is a Manmade Disaster (Tokyo Review, Tom Le)

An attempted digest of the many factors that led to the disastrous Tokyo Olympics.

Waving away these issues as “weird Japan” risks missing the lesson that the problems of vested interests are endemic and not uniquely Japanese.

Beyond the pandemic, another part of the issue is due to problems endemic to hosting the Games. Although to a degree less than Brazil, Japanese residents have been displaced, and officials have been caught in bribery investigations. Nor are the Games as sustainable as purported. Public support has wavered too; when Japan was awarded the games in 2013, the government found 70 percent public support in IOC polling, although there was a small yet vocal opposition questioning the need to host the games when Japan was still recovering from the 3/11 triple disaster. That sentiment has increased, and one poll by the Asahi Shimbun in May found opposition to hosting the Olympics in the middle of a global pandemic as high as 83 percent. More recent polls show a more divided public, but still concerned about safety.  

Finally, the elite hubris, vested interests, and slow-footedness that plagues governance in Japan deserves blame as well. Less than a week before the opening ceremony, Oyamada Keigo stepped down as composer due to criticism on social media over resurfaced interviews of the musician bragging about bullying of children with disabilities in his youth. Oyamada was the fourth major resignation following creative director Sasaki Hiroshi resigning over insensitive comments and president of the organizing committee, and former prime minister Mori Yoshiro, stepping down for sexist remarks. Mori’s resignation was surprising in that it did not happen sooner. The gaffe-prone Mori demonstrated his lack of qualifications to host the international event early in his tenure by refusing to use English during a press conference, referring to it to the “enemy’s language.” The government’s lack of vetting and tendency to place well-connected men in high positions came to the forefront again less than a day before the opening ceremony when comedian Kobayashi Kentaro was removed as director of the Olympics ceremony because of recently resurfaced footage of an offensive comedy act on the Holocaust. The public was also incensed over a private welcome party attended by 40 people for IOC director Thomas Bach, especially given the government’s public social distancing orders and less than stellar vaccination rollout.

THREAD: History (with photos) about the Korean victims of the A-bombs and the silencing of their stories.

TWEET: Link to a text examining the overlooked suffering of Nagasaki post-WWII.

TWEET: Update on the limited-license status of Ikeda Ryoko work Dear Brother.

TWEET: Info on recent insidious union-busting practices at Square Enix.

AniFem Round-Up

This is another one with a lot of great recommendations if you’ve been intimidated on where to start with classic anime.

Kimagure Orange Road. The best anime romcom ever made, with one of the finest soundtracks, as well. There are seemingly thousands of anime about adolescents coming-of-age, but trust me when I say none of them feels more real than this wacky story whose protagonist is an esper!  KOR probably already felt nostalgic the day after each episode aired in the late 1980s; today, it just kind of feels timeless.

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