Generally competent with one major shadow hanging over it.
Dazzling yuri fantasy series with a lot of potential to grow.
Relying on “girl is misgendered for not being feminine enough” as the main joke hurts the stronger elements.
Cozy WorkCom with a Wotakoi-esque vibe.
Just okay idol series with a pretty wild gimmick.
Urobuchi brings back the ‘00s samurai revenge drama. It’s…fine.
Sleazy to the point of undermining any of the premise’s gender euphoria.
Has more self-awareness than some but every step in its take on “slavery anime” is a minefield.
A hobby anime completely disinterested in what makes the genre tick.
Practically auto generated it’s so unremarkable.
Hard to read since it’s almost all setup.
Certified delight adapted by one of the most veteran shoujo anime writers in the game.
Disjointed and confused about what it wants to do.
Easy recommendation for action fans with some odd quirks for returning viewers.
Tonal whiplash undermines investment from the jump.
At least has a unique backstory for its overpowered protagonist.
Adapts a work inherently ill-suited to a passive medium.
Well-made action comfort food.
Both poorly adapted and totally impenetrable.
Utterly dull (and fanservicey) in execution.
Exceptionally promising male idol series.
So many heteronormative gender roles.
Come get your food, sports fans.
The word here is “adolescent.”
Especially your mileage may vary on the humor.
Definitely the best gender-bender series of the season.
Firmly fanservice-driven schlock.
Interesting in theory, dull in execution.
Strictly for people really into the “teasing as flirting” subgenre.
Standout “chill” isekai of the season.
Downright desperate for you to think it’s cool.
Vrai, Peter, and Dee try their best to wrap-up the thematically dense Fall 2022 season!
It was quite the year for sequels.
Hirano Aya’s Harassment in the Anime Industry All Too Common (Unseen Japan, Alyssa Pearl Fusek)
Actresses face both threats from fans and harassment from fellow members of the industry.
Amidst media buzz about anti-harassment legislation that passed in May 2019, Buzzfeed Japan sat down with a veteran voice actress to talk about her experiences with harassment in the industry . According to the anonymous actress Ms. K, “I doubt there’s a female voice actress out there who hasn’t been sexually harassed.”
While she already had an inkling of the industry’s bad reputation prior to entering, she never thought she’d be a target of harassment. “I believed sexual harassment would be aimed at girls much prettier than me.” Ms. K also shared how a lot of clients would say things like “‘You want this job, right? It’s your dream, right?’ and ‘I won’t do anything to you, so let’s go to a hotel.’”
If voice actresses felt like they had no voice before, the #MeToo movement certainly inspired many to take theirs back. In a now-deleted Twitter thread, Enomoto Atsuko admitted to wanting to quit her job only a few years after her debut due to the mental anguish from the power and sexual harassment she endured . She feels she has a duty to look after younger women, just like the senior voice actresses who looked out for her.
Konishi Hiroko also shared how her refusal to join Fruits Basket director Daichi Akitaro in a mixed bathing spring led to losing out on acting roles . She also spoke to the hustle culture and the expectation to “sell yourself” for roles — which often included providing “service” to male staff. The pressure on voice actors to commodity their voice leaves them open to being taken advantage of — and when you’re a freelance contractor, it can be really hard to say no to a job.
Japan survey on asexual, aromantic people reveals the terms are not black and white (The Mainichi, Kotaro Chigira)
The organization “As Loop” was founded in 2018 to provide educational information about and combatting stigma against the ace/aro community.
Last year’s survey took place in June, and its findings were published in December. It asked participants around 100 questions, such as about their self-identified sexual orientation, whether they were seeking a romantic partner, and whether they felt any sexual desire. The survey received around 2,300 responses.
The survey found that 90% of aromantic respondents answered “no” or “not really” when asked whether they would like to date someone. When asked whether they think they have any sexual desire, 69% of asexuals answered, “I think so,” or “I kind of think so,” however 92% responded either “no” or “not really” when asked if they ever feel like getting sexually involved with someone else. The survey showed that many asexual people do feel sexual desire, even if they do not feel a need for anyone else.
The survey also asked whether participants wished for a partner to have a romantic or sexual relationship, and 71% responded that they do not. However, a majority gave affirmative answers when asked if they hoped for some form of non-romantic and non-sexual partner. Those hoping for a single such partner comprised 43%, those hoping for multiple such partners stood at 8%, while 15% hoped to find a group, showing that there is a variety of partnerships sought by these individuals.
Tenmaku no Jadoogar: A Witch’s Life in Mongol – 天幕のジャードゥーガル (Saffron Apple Pie Manga Recs)
Rec and cultural context of a series about a 13th century Irani girl captured by the Mongol empire, which recently won the “Kono Manga Ga Sugoi!” award for female readers.
I found out while researching for this post that this story is in fact based on a real person in history! Here’s the Wikipedia page, more info here by Dr. Jack Weatherford who wrote a book that I’m totally going to read once I can get my hands on it. I think this manga is going in a similar vein as Vinland Saga where the events are real historical events, and some characters were actual people in history, but the author is going to take creative liberties. (Check out Merphy Napier and Philip Chase’s Vinland Saga discussions. They’re great and Philip has a lot of historical knowledge relevant to that series that’s super informative!)
The characters are lovable and interesting. I like Sitara’s spunk, Mohamed’s thoughtfulness, and Fatima’s gentle nature, just to name a few. The relationship Sitara has with Mohamed and Fatima was very sweet. I’m interested to see how the relationship that I mentioned at the end of chapter 5 goes. Also intrigued by the bits of relationship dynamics with the Mongolian characters we have so far.
I got super excited when the theme of “learning/education” came up. Seeing how that looked back in 13th-century Persia, which was a hotspot for advances in many fields, is so cool! This story led me to do some research and asking around on topics I was familiar with, but not an expert on, and I learned things about my own culture/religion. More on learning and education later. But overall, a strong start and I can’t wait to read more!
Podcast discussion of the Takaya Natsuki series.
Welcome, hoejos, to the first Shojo and Tell episode of 2023, with special guest Colleen. We’re here to discuss Natsuki Takaya’s TWINKLE STARS, which is the only series Takaya has completed since she finished this little series called FRUITS BASKET. (That is, aside from Furuba spinoffs.) Prepare your tear ducts, because it dives just as hard — if not harder — into twisted family dynamics like Furuba. We answer burning listener questions like “which page made you cry the most?”, marvel at the star imagery, and of course, make endless comparisons to FRUITS BASKET. Which Takaya series is better? You’ll have to listen to find out. CONTENT WARNING: Suicide
Voice actors reflect on Bayonetta 3 controversy – has anything changed? (GamesHub, Tahlia Norrish)
Many report that nothing has changed, but that it has brought the issue back into conversation.
All of the VA professionals we spoke to touched upon the fact that while the Bayonetta 3 controversy had shone a (long overdue) light on the issue of fair pay, ‘more transparency’ in general is still needed.
For Winter, this is apparent in the pervasive attitude that ‘anyone’ can do voice acting work.
‘Nowadays, there is work for voices of any accent or tone – you don’t have to have a particular “sound” – but what you do need is the dedication and investment in your skills to treat voice acting as a business. Voicing for games – with all the extremes that come with it – can be the equivalent of doing vocal stunts. But we don’t assume that “anyone with a body” can safely perform falling down the stairs without training, or [possess] the networking skills to get the work in the first place.’
From Samuel’s side of the table, more transparency would be welcomed in the information she and her clients receive. ‘Often, I send artists into recording sessions with only the barest information about the game and the roles they’ll play. Due to the nature of the gaming industry, secrecy is often vital, but no one likes to go into a job completely blind.’
‘Because of codenames and the way in which game releases change, finding out what game they worked on involves going back months or even years later. At the moment, only my most “game savvy” artists ever find the finished product of the games they work on, and the majority don’t even get the real game name – much less the character name – to add to their CVs.
‘It would be entirely possible for an artist to have an iconic role and never even know.’
How Gender Bias Keeps Japanese Girls Out of STEM (Unseen Japan, Yuko Tamura)
Discussion of gender biases in messages conveyed to children.
Last summer, 4 high school students uploaded a series of 5 YouTube videos in which they recreated scenes from their experience of dealing with the gender stereotypes that they regularly encounter at school. One video portrayed a teacher’s dismissal of a female student who wishes to be an engineer. Listening to the student’s hope to choose science-focused classes, her teacher says, “When it comes to girls, they usually choose humanities,” and, “Is ‘rikejo (リケジョ)’ trending? That’s an unusual choice.”
Rikejo is an abbreviation for rikei-joshi (理系女子), which means women who seek careers in science. Although some women use this term voluntarily, it is undeniable that the word connotes a mocking nuance. And there’s no word in the lexicon that corresponds to men in the science field.
In this video, the student asks her teacher why only girls are called “rikejo” if they go into science. She demands her teacher should stop calling her rikejo because she’s serious about her dream just like male students. The message has sparked intense debate on social media and has been widely reported on by Japanese mainstream media outlets.
Politicians describe sexist biases they’ve faced in their careers.
“Some voters said to me, ‘What can a woman do?’ and (called me a) ’39-year-old little girl,'” said Noriko Suematsu, the mayor of Suzuka, Mie Prefecture, reflecting back on her time in the prefectural assembly.
“Even if people garnered hope for me while I was a member of the prefectural assembly, it differed when I stood as a leader,” the now 52-year-old said.
Suematsu decided to run for mayor at the age of 39 after winning the prefectural seat for two consecutive terms and clinched the post for the first time in 2011 when she was 40.
But her victory felt shallow when people questioned her about topics unrelated to policies, from her manner of speaking, lipstick color and type of accessories. At one point, she was called “shameful” when she bowed and part of her blouse peeked out from the back of her jacket.
Exclusive: N LITE Produces ‘Afro-Anime’ Film MFINDA in Japan (Anime News Network, Alex Mateo)
Promo images were included along with the announcement.
Christiano Malik Terry, founder of N LITE, also leads N LITE Japan with Shin Koyamada (The Last Samurai, Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior) and Shigeru Igari (former CEO of Atlus). N LITE is producing MFINDA in Japan. Donald H. Hewitt (Spirited Away‘s English screenplay) and MFINDA creator Patience Lekien are writing the screenplay. The production credits Lekien and Terry with the story.
N LITE Japan teased that it will announce its partnership with a Japanese producer and international Oscar-nominated production team next month.
N LITE aims to bring black and indigenous stories in partnership with global creators. AFRIME, or afro-anime, is its hand-drawn 2D animation. The company plans to produce AFRIME films and television series. N LITE Japan is working on upcoming projects based on anime and manga IP.
87% in Japan Say Sexual Diversity Should Be Honored: Survey (Unseen Japan)
Neo Marketing “Internet survey of 1,000 men and women ages 20 to 69 in Japan over three days. Of those, 200 identified as LGBTQ+; 300 identified as knowing someone who is LGBTQ+; and 500 identified as not knowing an LGBTQ+ person.”
The survey also asked respondents what they think of businesses that showed consideration towards LGBTQ+ people in their promotional materials. Of the 563 people who responded to the question, 32.2% said their positive feelings about such companies increased. And 26.6% said they would want to support such companies in the future. (Interestingly, the group that most said their positive feelings would increase was the group that said they knew LGBTQ+ people in their lives.)
Neo Marketing asked the same question regarding materials that touch upon gender equality. Here, it found 30% felt better about such companies but only 21% would be more willing to support them.
In both cases, the group that most dragged down these results was the group that didn’t know any LGBTQ+ people in their lives. Only around 21% of them would think better of a company that supported LGBTQ+ people and only 15.3% would support them. The numbers for gender equality support – 18.3% and 13.6%, respectively – were even worse. This speaks perhaps to the overarching difficulty that feminists have promoting their message in Japan.
In response to both questions, a majority across all categories said that LGBTQ+-friendly messaging didn’t impact their attitudes one way or another. Again, this trend was more pronounced amongst those who didn’t know anyone in their lives who is LGBTQ+.
VIDEO: The Year 24 Group and BL’s influence on shounen manga.
Reader awards before we shift gears into doing staff recommendations!