Weekly Round-Up, 6-12 December 2023: Anime Worker Depression, LGBTQ+ Gains, and Shoujosei Manga Awards

By: Anime Feminist December 12, 20230 Comments

AniFem Round-Up

Transmasculinity and queer sexuality in the works of Ikeda Riyoko

While her works are nearing 50 years old, Ikeda’s characters still resonate as explorations of gender nonconforming and transmasculine identity.

Love Y’all: Lonely catgirl seeks decently written anime polycule

There’s been a modest, promising boom in stories about polyamory recently; Chiaki has the breakdown on where these mostly male-centered stories still fall short.

Chatty AF 197: Scott Pilgrim Takes Off Retrospective

Alex, Caitlin, and Toni talk the new Scott Pilgrim Takes Off anime, how it stacks up for newcomers, and how it gels as a new take on the almost 20-year-old comic.

What non-Japanese work would you like to see adapted as an anime?

There’re plenty of great contenders across the world.

November 2023 Patron Newsletter and Staff Recommendations

We have a combo of niche classics and brand-new cult hits.

Beyond AniFem

Shoujosei of the Year (Colleen’s Manga Recs)

Voting card for favorite manga across several major categories (since we all know there isn’t going to be a strong shoujosei showing at the Crunchyroll Awards).Bottom of Form

17 percent of anime workers in survey have/have possibly had depression, other mental issues (SoraNews24, Casey Baseel)

The survey results seem to be increasingly reinforced by stories from animators.

The Japan Animation Creators Association, also known as JAniCA, conducts annual surveys of working conditions in the anime industry. Wanting to investigate the health issues its members face, inquiries about mental and physical well-being were added to the most recent iteration. Responses from 429 anime workers were collected, and when the replies were tallied, the association found that 66 percent of the respondents feel that they are suffering from physical fatigue, and even more, 68 percent, feel mentally fatigued. Arguably the most alarming data point from the survey, however, is that 17 percent of the participants said they “have, or have possibly, suffered from depression or other emotional sickness.”

The complete survey results do not appear to be publicly available, with the above statistics being initially reported by Japanese public broadcaster NHK, who says the decision to add the health-related questions to the survey was made “last year,” without specifying if that is referring to the calendar year of the business year, the latter of which typically starts in the spring in Japan. As such, the exact timing of the survey responses is hard to pin down, but with no dramatic shifts in how anime is produced and distributed over the past few months, it’s a safe bet that the respondents who said their mental and physical health is suffering because of their working conditions haven’t had things get significantly easier since they took the survey in terms of workloads and deadlines.

Exploring Gender Expression and Attraction in ‘Cinderella’s Closet’ (Black Nerd Problems, Carrie McClain)

Three volumes are now available in English.

I also find this recurring theme of meaningful friendships and deepening relationships that is worth following in Cinderella’s Closet. Hikaru–who comes across as cold and uncaring at first–is a young person who doesn’t have many, if any, close friends or romantic prospects. He finds that he is someone who matters to Haruka, who is so very heart on her sleeve about him and everyone else in her life. In both his femme presenting self and his male presenting self, he finds surprising sides to these two new people in his life: Haruka and Kurotaki. 

He’s falling in love with Haruka while promising to be her side as her confidant and friend while finding that Kurotaki is actually a decent guy that he’d be friends with in another life. At the end of volume two, he finds that he’s spent time with Kurotaki in both versions of himself and that he treated him with respect and consideration–even though Kutotaki hasn’t put it together that Hikaru and “Kou”–the name he came up with on the fly, are the same person. 

Seeing Hikaru be able to explore his feelings of not just falling in love (and trying to figure out what to do with those feelings) but being welcomed, invited, and cared for by a friend adds to the story here as he’s a character that I want to see more growth from. Seeing his character evolve on the page as someone who is realizing he’s cared for and loved is sincerely worth reading and pouring over as they are new to him as a young adult.

Tokyo’s Ni-Chome LGBTQ+ area sees surge to open new bars (The Asahi Shimbun)

Ni-Chome only covers about five blocks, with about 400 bars.

There have long been a number of lesbian bars, but Ni-chome may now be growing less male-dominated and more diverse.

“Women, lesbians and trans people are becoming more visible,” said Hideki Sunagawa, a cultural anthropologist who has studied the area.

“It’s a place people aspire to and gather in,” he said. “Ni-chome remains symbolic throughout Japan.”

But the buildings that house many of these bars, often several establishments per floor, are ageing, with issues such as water leaks increasing.

Though current landlords might rebuild with the same tenants, Futamura said that once their children inherit there were no guarantees they would be interested in hosting the same sorts of businesses, raising questions about the area’s long-term future.

He pointed to a nearby building going up that is probably going to be a long-stay hotel as an example of how things could change.

Despite the possible clouds on the horizon, in September Futamura had 20 to 30 people waiting for Ni-chome properties to become available. Many had worked in gay bars before and ranged from their 20s to their 50s – with one using retirement money from a previous job. 

Though clusters of LGBTQ+ bars are opening elsewhere in Tokyo, most would-be tenants insist on properties officially within Ni-chome. Even crossing a street that forms a boundary to another area is a step too far.

“They can be open about everything. And if you’re running a gay bar, there really is only Ni-chome,” said Futamura. “Most of the people who came felt if it isn’t Ni-chome, it’s no good.”

Review: Yukar from the Abyss Otome Game Blends Ainu Culture and Romance (Siliconera, Jenni Lada)

The indie game is out on PC and Switch.

Because Yukar of the Abyss is a Switch otome game grounded in Ainu mythology, it means its love interests tie into that too. For example, Mosirecik is a reference to one such. The nickname for one love interest is Pewrep, which actually is the term for a bear cub. References to the language, deities, and culture, right down to even how the protagonist would pay proper respects to these gods, constantly come up. While there’s the in-context clues and game to help with learning about it, it all also made me want to learn more in a way other sorts of visual novels hadn’t. I honestly wish the Dictionary went more in-depth about details. (Also, that it didn’t sometimes make the game crash due to an error.)

Japanese Publisher Kadokawa Cancels Release Of Anti-Trans US Book (Unseen Japan, Himari Semans)

It was heartwarming to see professionals in US and Japanese circles speak out against the announcement prior to the cancellation.

The book in Japanese form understandably brought Kadokawa immense pushback from social media critics and its own employees.

Over 30 employees working at the Kadokawa wrote and submitted a letter of opinion in Japanese on Monday, a day before the company unveiled the cancellation.

With it, they sent 36 “personal comments from publishing industry professionals around the world” to the company, according to Emily Balistrieri on X, a translator of over 102 books in Japanese into English.

Kobayashi Emi, editor and representative of the Japanese publisher/bookshop Yohaku-sha, posted the letter of opinion on X, which Balistrieri reposted with an English translation.

Japanese manga bringing realities of fertility treatment to mass audience (The Mainichi)

The article doesn’t note whether the series touches on IVF sought by single people or queer couples.

For Okazaki, who had depicted the love lives of working women among other topics in her previous work, the word and profession embryologist was new.

“I thought, I’d like to try this,” she said, adding she received encouragement to take on the project from her daughter in college.

Embryologists are responsible for culturing eggs collected by physicians, testing sperm, and cryopreserving fertilized eggs. They must have dexterous hands to perform intracytoplasmic sperm injections, or ICSI, in which they inject sperm into an egg while looking through a microscope. Although the profession is accredited by two academic societies, there is no national certification.

For the series, Okazaki and her team visited several clinics and interviewed about 20 couples. They took thousands of photographs. Although the manga’s characters are original, each episode is interspersed with stories of real couples.

All 47 prefectures to have same-sex partnership systems in 2024 (The Asahi Shimbun, Shoko Rikimaru)

Fukushima is the last prefecture to start working on its partnership system.

Gay marriage is still not legally recognized on the national level, so local ordinances and systems on same-sex partnerships are not legally binding.

But the local programs make it easier for same-sex and other sexual minority couples to receive benefits and services from the public and private sectors.

Couples wanting to use Date’s system must first submit an oath to the city government, which will then issue certification cards and other documents for the partnerships.

Those approved by the city can move into municipal housing and receive up to 900,000 yen ($6,100) from a subsidies program that helps newlyweds buy homes, pay rent or cover moving costs.

According to municipal officials, adult couples who live together in Date or are planning to move to the city within two weeks are eligible for the program.

The Date city government will also start a “familyship” system next month to recognize children and parents of sexual minority couples as their family members.

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off Interview: Mary Elizabeth Winstead & Ellen Wong On Bringing New Experiences To Revisited Characters (Screen Rant, Owen Danoff)

The interview includes spoilers for the new series.

Ellen, we get Scott saying, “Apparently a 23-year-old dating a high schooler is frowned on in society,” this time around, which feels like progress, kind of. How did you feel about the way Scott’s relationship with Knives was framed and done with this show?

Ellen Wong: I love that Knives gets to go off on her own and find herself outside of needing to be with Scott. I think that the feature kind of alludes to that a little bit with the way that it ends, but you just don’t get to see what happens after. In the anime, you get to see that with Knives. She gets to grieve in her very dramatic Knives-esque way, but she then gets to go and heal those wounds inside of herself and she can find the things that bring her joy—the real true loves in her life—and it doesn’t have to be about Scott; it doesn’t have to be about a guy. It’s about, “What does she want to do?” and, “What does she care about?” and I think that’s a huge growth curve for Knives. I love that we get to see her be her own person.

3 former Japan SDF members convicted in high-profile sexual indecency case (The Mainichi)

The article includes detailed discussion of the harassment Gonoi endured; the ruling is hoped to be an encouraging sign for other victims who might wish to speak out.

The Fukushima District Court handed the men two years in prison, suspended for four years, for the assault on Rina Gonoi, 24, in the high-profile case that brought the culture of harassment in Japan’s armed forces to public attention.

Gonoi’s accusations prompted the Defense Ministry to dishonorably discharge Shutaro Shibuya, 31, Akito Sekine, 29, and Yusuke Kimezawa, 29, as well as two others and increase its efforts to address harassment issues.

“I would like the three of them to feel remorse,” said Gonoi following the decision. “I’m satisfied because I feel that the ruling will help prevent more people from becoming victims (of sexual abuse) like me.”

Prosecutors had sought two-year jail terms for the three accused men while their defense requested acquittals.

AniFem Community

If nothing else, y’all might find some cool stuff in other mediums to check out.

The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, three excellent fantasy novels set in Tang-era China about investigations that get our heroes tangled up with gods and legends.  Put Yokote Michiko in charge of the scripts and the rest should take care of itself.
I have this fantasy of a Shera style adaptation of the Wizard of Oz books. It’s weird, visually interesting, and it speaks to the queers for a reason (cough *trans princess* cough)
your throne" my beloved... the ultimate "i support women's rights but more importantly i support women's wrongs" series

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