Weekly Round-Up, 6-12 January 2021: Winter Premieres, Ensemble Stars, and Upcoming Diverse Indie Games

By: Anime Feminist January 12, 20210 Comments
a girl in glasses raising her first in triumph and crying exaggerated tears

AniFem Round-Up

I★CHU – Episode 1

Male idol series currently plagued by Too Many Boys.

Hortensia SAGA – Episode 1

Tropey but promising “crossdressing secret princess” fantasy series.

LBX Girls – Episode 1

Elaborate commercial for toy robots.

Heaven’s Design Team – Episode 1

Charming edutainment series with one frustrating casting decision.

Cells at Work! CODE BLACK – Episode 1

Solid satire of overwork burdened by upcoming manga issues.

So I’m a Spider, So What? – Episode 1

Isekai off to a strong start with a great lead.

2.43: Seiin High School Boys Volleyball Team – Episode 1

Beautiful character drama that has sports more than a structural Sports Anime.

WIXOSS DiVA(A)LIVE – Episode 1

Confusing and off-putting for franchise newcomers.

Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki – Episode 1

Rom-com with a repugnant lead but room for growth.

The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter – Episode 1

Sleazy camera paired with a pretty unsexy plot.

Scar on the Praeter – Episode 1

GoHands reaches the heights of “basically competent.”

Horimiya – Episode 1

Rom-com with great production and leads; shame about the teacher.

BACK ARROW – Episode 1

Gurren Lagann’s writer playing with Escaflowne-ish fantasy mecha.

Dr. Ramune: Mysterious Disease Specialist – Episode 1

Medical case-of-the-week series with a lot of tonal weirdness.

Sk8 the Infinity – Episode 1

Incredibly fun and stylish but doesn’t treat its few female characters well.

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation – Episode 1

Isekai but the protagonist is a pedophile this time.

Kemono Jihen – Episode 1

Haunting supernatural mystery show about found family.

Ex-Arm – Episode 1

Honestly such a trainwreck it’s endearing.

WAVE!! Let’s go surfing!! Episode – 1

Extremely “meh” sports show with some dodgy CG.

Idoly Pride – Episode 1

Too Many Girls and a dodgy twist throw it off the rails.

What’s your favorite anime of 2020?

Before we unveil our picks, we’d like to hear yours.

Beyond AniFem

Diverse Games to Keep an Eye Out for in 2021 (Blerdy Otome)

A gathering of over a dozen games (mostly, but not all, visual novels) slated to premiere this year.

As a black female gamer, I am always on the look out for games created by and featuring characters of color and of course that sweet, sweet LGBTQIA rep! The gaming community is made up of all sorts of people, so don’t you think the games we play should be representative of the people that play them? Well, I do! And I’ve made it my mission here at Blerdy Otome to create a space where we celebrate diverse games and creators. Every Monday I spotlight one game that tell stories centering on characters of color or from the LGBTQIA community.

But, this week I wanted to shake things up a bit by not just spotlighting one game, rather I wanted to bring attention to several diverse games making their debut in 2021! However, I am just one person, so I did an open call on Twitter for diverse indie games set to be released in 2021… and boy did you guys come out in full force!!

Flower Language in Wonder Egg Priority (Atelier Emily)

Analyzing flower imagery in the new series’ premiere.

It’s no coincidence that the first large flower reference we see is a white lily — outside of cherry blossoms, white lilies are one of the most ubiquitous and obvious flower references in anime. Above all else, a white lily in a Japanese animated television series typically points to one, if not more, of the women in said anime being lesbians (or at the very least, realizing their attraction to other women). A white lily, or yuri, became a moniker for the entire girls-love genre. More generally, white lilies mean purity and chastity in Japanese flower language. Similarly in Victorian flower language, a white lily meant innocence, modesty, and virtue. They’ve become funeral flowers as a way to represent one’s return to innocence in death.

Coupled with a few off-handed remarks from Ai about another girl at the end of the episode, and the nature of her relationship with her now-deceased best friend Koito, it’s probably safe to assume from the appearance of this lily in a prominent place, that Ai is not straight. Furthermore, a connection can potentially be drawn from the lily, to the obvious bullying that happened — particularly in a flashback where Ai claims that people shouldn’t get involved with her because she’s “ugly” — that Ai’s sexuality has something to do with the treatment she received at school. White lilies also appear in the doorway through which Ai remembers her friend’s death as funerary flowers.

Only 30% of Fukushima residents happy with disaster recovery progress (The Mainichi)

Many face steep costs to rebuild, coupled with uncertain job markets.

“My hometown is full of vacant plots of land,” said a man in his 50s who evacuated from Futaba, which hosts the Fukushima Daiichi plant, to Iwaki in Fukushima Prefecture. “I cannot imagine the town becoming a place we can return to.”

Many respondents appreciated the rebuilding of infrastructure, but some said it has taken too much time. Among Fukushima residents unhappy with the reconstruction progress, many said they are disappointed that they are still not allowed to return to their hometowns due to radioactive contamination and that townscapes have not been restored.

Across the three prefectures, 66 percent said their lives were back on track as they were able either to move to public housing for disaster victims or build new homes. By prefecture, the rate was 80 percent in Miyagi and 70 percent in Iwate but significantly lower at 49 percent in Fukushima.

Ensemble Stars! Blu-Ray Parts 1 & 2 Review (Anime News Network, Caitlin Moore)

Reviewing idol boys as hyperreal.

Ensemble Stars! puts me in mind of the philosophical concept of the simulacrum, a thing that imitates something real but is itself artificial, such as the themed casinos of Las Vegas. Idols themselves, with their highly-polished public personas meant to be as charming and marketable as possible, are themselves simulacra; they engage with their audiences not with their authentic personalities but versions of themselves that recite charming lines and banter with their audience which may or may not resemble who they are offstage. The way they engage is artificial and constructed, and that’s what their fans are looking for.

Ensemble Stars! is a simulacrum of a simulacrum. It takes those cheesy lines and false personas and extends them to every aspect of its characters’ lives. Every line of dialogue, every choice, every motivation feels like it was written by an alien who learned about human culture purely by watching videos of idols onstage or doing talk shows. Cause and effect exist, but don’t seem to operate on the same rules as real-life cause and effect. Teenage boys, in this world, are always impeccably coiffed and given to making speeches about sparkling. Their rebellions consist of singing songs about twinkling. There is nothing real about these boys; they are at least two levels removed from reality, objects for the audience to watch instead of subjects to relate to.

Twittering Birds Never Fly is Engrossing Gay Yakuza Melodrama (Fanbyte, Vrai Kaiser)

It’s the first of BL label Blue Lynx’s projects to receive an English release.

The last point is particularly noteworthy given how notorious the BL (boys’ love) genre is for romanticizing sexual assault. While the landscape has changed in the manga world, the most popular adapted titles often play “no means yes” completely straight, as though they can’t think of a consensual way for two dudes to bang the first time. Twittering Birds isn’t entirely free of power imbalances (and it also sets a few annoying flags about how kink enthusiast Yashiro has never actually had sex with anyone he loves before), but it also builds an examination of consent into its narrative. It’s a story with a lot of explicit sex, much of which is played as deliberately awkward or comedic so that the few sparks of genuine intimacy between Yashiro and Domeki stand out.

But when the story delves into assault — including several characters who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse — it plays them with the draining horror they deserve. It makes for a heavy film, as you might expect, one that emphasizes characters sitting around and talking above all else. At times the plot rides on the edge of being comical in the amount of lurid grit it piles on, and yet the moments of horror still manage to hit right in the gut.

Domestic violence cases in Japan hit record high in FY 2020 (The Mainichi)

Roughly 60% of cases were thought to involve child abuse.

There were over 15,000 cases per month between April and November, with numbers particularly high in May and June, the Cabinet Office survey showed.

“The number of violent cases increased as people spent longer periods of time at home and got more stressed and worried about life,” a Cabinet Office official said.

Speaking at a press conference, Seiko Hashimoto, minister for gender equality, said, “We need to keep a close watch on the situation and strengthen measures after the government declared a second state of emergency over the coronavirus.”

According to the survey, there were 119,276 domestic violence cases in fiscal 2019, which ended in March 2020, with Tokyo leading the way with 19,868.

Japanese Junior High Student Wins Silver at IEYI for Inventing Detachable Metal Bars in Response to Kyoto Animation Arson (Crunchyroll, Daryl Harding)

Barred windows prevented many from escaping when the KyoAni studio was set on fire.

The mechanism works by pulling on the orange tabs which then releases the security bars, making for an easy escape through the window. The tab is apparently so easy to pull, even a primary school student can use the new invention to escape through the window. Currently, the security bar on windows in Japan is fixed onto the outside of buildings with glue and is acceptable by Japanese building fire codes, which in the case of an actual fire, renders the windows useless as an escape route.

TWEET: Announcement of upcoming video discussion series featuring Japanese women authors.

THREAD: Info on recent successful court case by Korean “comfort women” against the Japanese government.

TWEET: Google Doc for disabled content creators to collectivize their work.

AniFem Community

The replies here are a great chance to check out stuff you might’ve missed from the past year.

I hope history remembers Eizouken as the best anime of 2020 but for my money nothing beats how fun of a time it was watching Villainess
Overall Favorite of 2020: Hmm. Let me split this by season, because otherwise I will be caught in Analysis Paralysis. Winter 2020: Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun. Spring 2020: Princess Connect Re:Dive. Summer 2020: Appare-Ranman. Fall 2020: it technically doesn't count, but roughly 12 episodes aired in the fall, so Idolish7 Second Beat!... which is also the winner of the year as a whole.  More People Should Be Talking About: Same seasonal deal. Winter 2020: Uchitama!? Where is My Tama?. Spring 2020: Kakushigoto. Summer 2020: not applicable - plenty of people talked about Deca-Dence and iirc I only watched two summer shows. Fall 2020: if it counts, The King's Avatar 2; if it doesn't, Golden Kamuy 3.  Just Disappointed, Really: There's not enough of these to do seasonals, thankfully. Wandering Witch: Journey of Elaina sticks out. Distant runner's up would be Arte and By the Grace of the Gods for being historically inaccurate and boring, respectively.

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