Weekly Round-Up, 5-11 May 2021: Olympics Protests, Tokyo Revengers, and Anti-Muslim Discrimination

By: Anime Feminist May 11, 20210 Comments
A woman with a spear and a young girl silhouetted against a red and gold sunset

AniFem Round-Up

The Spell of Self-Assurance: How Howl’s Moving Castle challenges myths about youth and beauty

Nicci Attfield revisits the 2004 film and the ways its female cast reject the notion that older women are unsightly or useless.

My Fave is Problematic: Yu Yu Hakusho

Jessica Justice celebrates YYH’s infectious energy and lovable cast while acknowledging the places where it shortchanges its female characters.

Chatty AF 139: 2021 Spring Mid-season Check-in

Mercedez, Peter, and Caitlin check in on an extremely full season.

What’s your favorite series starring adult women?

And why aren’t there more of these?

Beyond AniFem

Tohru is Tohru: the Onigiri Who Finds her Place (Anime News Network, Rebecca Silverman)

A celebration of Fruits Basket’s heroine.

Why is Tohru so afraid of taking up space in the first place? Why does she put others above herself to the degree that she can’t bring herself to just accept hospitality or kindness unless she’s doing something in return? Lisa Wade notes in “Gender and the Body Language of Power” that “[a] feminine person keeps her body small and contained; she makes sure that it doesn’t take up to much space or impose itself. She walks and sits in tightly packaged ways. She doesn’t cover the breadth of the sidewalk or expand herself beyond the chair she occupies.” For Tohru, these issues appear to have started after her father’s death, when family members at the funeral accused her mother, Kyoko, of having an affair which produced Tohru. Even if we ignore the slut-shaming and assumptions made about Kyoko based upon her past and appearance, what Tohru internalizes is the idea that she is not welcome in the Honda family. When Kyoko later thinks about committing suicide, and thus abandoning her daughter, Tohru develops a further fear that she will not merit love and a home without her mother’s presence. This means that when Kyoko does eventually die in an accident, Tohru feels as if her right to exist, to belong anywhere, has been revoked. She would rather work for her tuition money than bother her relatives (or trust that they would think she deserves an education; high school is not compulsory in Japan), and she would rather live in a tent than draw herself up into the smallest package possible in a relative’s house.

One Marriage, Two Last Names: A Landmark Decision (Unseen Japan, Thalia Harris)

The couple married in the US and kept separate surnames, but their marriage was recognized back home in Japan.

The reason why this is notable is due to a controversial law in Japan. This law states that married couples must share the same last name in order to be recorded in the koseki, or the family register. The koseki system is a common point of contention when it comes to domestic affairs in Japan, as it is used to denote family trees, marriage, death and inheritance.

One of the major flaws of the koseki is that it assumes that every family was born into what we would now call a “nuclear family”. Moreover, many civil rights are tied into the conditions of registration itself. For example, if one is unregistered — also known as a mukousekika — then they have no legal proof of identity or Japanese citizenship. As such, they are virtually ineligible for passports, national health insurance, enrollment in public schools, etc.

Tokyo Revengers Episode 5 (Anime News Network, Nicholas Dupree)

In which the series still has trouble with using women’s suffering to spark manpain and also contends with a lot of Manji imagery.

Alright, I’ve put it off long enough – let’s talk about the Manji. So quick and dirty breakdown: Manji is a widely known symbol with various religious and spiritual meanings attached to it throughout Eurasia for centuries, appropriated by the Nazis and consequently forever tied to a fascist empire of eugenicists in the minds of most Americans. In Japan, however, it’s still prevalent for its significance in Buddhism and thus still makes appearances in anime and manga that are often quietly edited for international release to avoid causing too much of a stir. Revengers, though, is in an awkward spot where the Manji is integral to its visual and narrative identity. The symbol features in some fashion on nearly all of the manga’s volume covers, as well as every Toman member’s jacket. Oh, and “Manji” is half of the gang’s name for good measure. This presents a bit of a localization problem.

Look, I get it. There’s probably no graceful way to handle this. The symbol is too integrated into the show to just edit everything into Xs or whatever. Removing it entirely would almost certainly be against the original creator’s wish considering just how prominent it is. Stapling on some translator’s note or a disclaimer at the start of episodes is perhaps the most effective solution I can think of, but that still has its drawbacks. In the era of social media and constant barrages of neo-nazi dogwhistles, having your characters sport symbols that, to most English-speaking viewers, looks like one of the most infamous emblems of hate in history is a bad look. Just last season people mistakenly thought Crunchyroll was censoring a lesbian kiss in EX-ARM, so you can only imagine what kind of internet telephone could happen here. So it makes sense to, say, redesign the series’ logo for the anime so any random viewer doesn’t think Crunchyroll is bankrolling alt-right propaganda. But the way this episode – or at least the release of this episode that’s available in my region, I have no idea if there are other versions elsewhere – deals with that makes it borderline unwatchable for several minutes.

My Proposal for an Interethnic Marriage Was Refused (Grassroots Operations of the Japanese Empire)

Translated letter from 1934.

This source is a letter to a personal advice column, which ran in the popular Japanese-language newspaper Taiwan nichinichi shinpō [Taiwan Daily News] in 1934. The column, like contemporary ‘agony aunt’-style columns, provided advice for individuals who were facing personal or romantic dilemmas. This particular letter is from a Japanese youth who is seeking advice after his marriage proposal to a Taiwanese woman he had been courting was unexpectedly turned down. The letter reflects racial anxieties surrounding interethnic marriage as well as the reality of discrimination. The Japanese youth is referred to in the correspondence as a naichijin [metropolitan person], reflecting the parlance of the day, while the Taiwanese woman is referred to as an islander [hontōjin]. Colonial discourse typically avoided using the term nihonjin [Japanese] to refer to ethnic Japanese. Legally, Taiwanese and Koreans were considered to be Japanese subjects [nihonjin] at this time according the 1899 Nationality Law.

VIDEO: Listicle/recommendations of cool women in anime.

THREAD: Representative sample of one section of the Burakumin article discussed last week breaking down what makes it so dangerous and racist.

THREAD: Analysis of 2018-2019 data from Urumichi chronicling anti-Muslim racism by police.

TWEET: Japanese petition to halt the 2021 Olympics as a matter of public safety.

THREAD: Context of a recent two-page newspaper ad decrying politician inaction in the face of rising COVID deaths.

TWEET: Intro tweet for an educator making short Japanese-language videos introducing intersectional feminist topics.

AniFem Community

It’s kind of distressing how hard it is to name shows about grown women, huh?

Favorite Overall Series: Shirobako has this in the bag.  Favorite Genre Series with Awesome Adult Female Characters: Hmm. I guess for historical fantasy, I would pick Maria the Virgin Witch with so many great witches. For urban supernatural, I'm waffling between Baccano (particularly for the immortal and very dumb Miria) and Blood Blockade Battlefront with its lady sniper and werewolves. For scifi, since I haven't watched Dirty Pair yet, I suppose I'll go with Bodacious Space Pirates for the very competent crew.  Favorite Slice of Life with Awesome Adult Female Characters: other than my top pick above, I guess Moyashimon if it counts as SoL... And even though only one character in Wakoko-zake matters, Wakako is stellar.  Favorite Adult Female Character in an Ensemble Show: Satori's mother Sachiko, from Erased. The very best of anime moms!
Sakura Quest really captures the Millennial malaise, while also being full of intergenerational empathy. It's refreshingly low on tropes and fanservice, and the main characters each have a lot of unique depth to them. I feel like it's quite underrated, especially compared with its predecessor Shirobako.

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