Weekly Round-Up, 6-12 July 2022: Abe Shinzo’s Legacy, Masculinity in Yakuza, and Blue Reflection Ray

By: Anime Feminist July 12, 20220 Comments
a blobby little chimimoryo napping on top of a sleepy cat

AniFem Round-Up

Vermeil in Gold – Episode 1

Skeezy ecchi about an adult woman hitting on a teenage boy.

Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World – Episode 1

At best, it’s bland as a communion wafer, and at its worst, gives two thumbs up to sexual slavery.

CHIMIMO – Episode 1

Not gonna light the world on fire, but it’s a soothing watch.

My Stepmom’s Daughter is My Ex – Episode 1

Written with more humanity than you might expect from the title.

Call of the Night – Episode 1

A decent premise buried in shounen bullshit.

Smile of the Arsnotoria the Animation – Episode 1

Drags its feet clumsily for 19 minutes before doing the grimdark reveal.

The Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting – Episode 1

The found family elements are nice, but it can’t commit to its own premise.

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer – Episode 1

The writing is promising, but it’s stiff and awkward to look at.

When Will Ayumu Make His Move? – Episode 1

Can’t sell the reason they don’t just confess, so it comes off contrived and dull.

Bastard!! -Heavy Metal, Dark Fantasy- – Episode 1

Still feels like the 90s in 2022.

Prima Doll – Episode 1

Both the cuteness and the tragedy feel cynically manufactured.

Shine On! Bakumatsu Bad Boys! – Episode 1

Fun, goofy and colorful action title.

Black Summoner – Episode 1

Everything about it is a copy of other existing isekai series.

Extreme Hearts – Episode 1

Promising and hopefully won’t collapse from trying to balance idol and extreme sports elements.

Chatty AF 165: 2022 Spring Wrap-Up

You truly don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.

Parallel World Pharmacy – Episode 1

Wows by clearing the low genre bar of establishing tension and stakes.

Vampire in the Garden – Episode 1

The script’s predictable but the execution is superb.

SPRIGGAN – Episode 1

An interesting capsule of its Cold War origins.

What was your favorite Spring 2022 anime?

Let’s just really soak up all the good anime we had in Spring.

Beyond AniFem

Shinzo Abe: the disputed legacy of a politician who dominated public life in Japan after WWII (The Conversation, Saori Shibata)

An overview of Abe’s political legacy in the wake of his assassination last Friday.

Nevertheless, Abe’s nationalist tone often destabilised Japan’s diplomatic relations, especially with neighbours China and South Korea. Japan had a major disagreement with South Korea over the vexed issue of the former’s use of sex slaves, often referred to as “comfort women”, during the second world war.

This came to a head in 2015 over Japan’s attempts to request a US publisher to revise the passages in history textbooks about the issue. The row eventually led to a major trade dispute, resulting in limiting bilateral trade.

Likewise, Abe’s refusal to apologise for the the mass rape of Chinese women in Nanking in 2015 also severely damaged relations with China.

Abe will also be remembered for the considerable control and influence he had over the media in Japan, which had led to him being accused of undermining press freedom. There were allegations that he orchestrated the removal of controversial television presenters who dared to voice criticism of his domestic and foreign policies.

There were also accusations that the Liberal Democratic Party rigged press conferences to prioritise questions from journalists favourable to the party. Abe’s government was accused of appointing like-minded figures to senior ranks within the state broadcaster, NHK. Press critics and some foreign journalists complained of intimidating government behaviour. The relentless pressure from Abe and his government has led many critics to accuse Japanese media of subsiding into a state of self-censorship.

Harassment of female candidates a growing issue in Japanese politics (The Japan Times, Tomoko Otake)

Sexist comments, slurs, and even threats follow politicians from the local level up to the highest offices of parliament.

Yet many female politicians and political candidates shy away from going public with even the most egregious acts of abuse. According to Hamada, they avoid addressing it for several reasons. For one, they fear being victimized further or becoming a target for retaliation if they confront constituents and other supporters. They also worry that if they make harassment claims, they might be considered too thin-skinned to be a politician, she says. Furthermore, they are bound by the notion that politicians are public figures and therefore should surrender at least part of their privacy.

And lastly, Hamada says, female politicians feel pressured to grin and bear it and play along with the gender-based expectations that women should stay above the fray.

“Many of them feel they shouldn’t get angry or complain because they are told (by other politicians and supporters) that female politicians should keep smiling.”

Sawako Naito, the 38-year-old mayor of the city of Tokushima, says she has also experienced harassment — sexual and otherwise — since her mayoral race two years ago. Born the daughter of a local iron factory owner and educated at the University of Tokyo, she was new to politics. During the campaign, she recalls being physically touched on her thigh by a male supporter, and she was even advised that to win as many votes as possible, she should hold the hands of male voters and bring them close to her chest.

She adds that much of a smear campaign against her, ostensibly from her older male political opponent, was tinged with sexual overtones.

“When I gained a bit of weight, I was rumored to be pregnant with a child of the Tokushima governor,” she said. “Groundless gossip also went around saying I was having affairs with the governor and his son at the same time.”

Grief, Translation, and the “Asian American Woman” in Hong Kong (prism, Grace En-Yi Ting)

The author reflects on her experiences as a scholar in Japanese studies in the wake of the Atlanta shootings and reckoning with the trauma of anti-Asian violence.

Not all forms of engagement are mutual, nor are such attempts defined only by success. A side story to my account of teaching in Hong Kong is the hurt I felt when witnessing the silence of feminist, queer, anti-racist accounts on Japanese-language Twitter concerning the Atlanta shootings. If I, as a Japanese studies scholar, had devoted the past decade of my life to conducting research using queer and feminist perspectives related to a country where Asian Americans remained illegible and uncared for, was it now time for me to reconsider my priorities? In contrast to the overall lack of interest in anti-Asian violence, I saw numerous tweets about the Oscar-winning 2020 film Minari directed by Korean American Lee Isaac Chung. It was unthinkable to me how it could be possible to consume Asian American popular culture with no thought concerning the many Asian Americans living in fear on a daily basis. As Setsu Shigematsu asks from the perspective of critical transnational feminism, “To what extent do the majority of feminists in Japan, as members of the ethnically and racially dominant group within the country, occupy a positionality analogous to that of white feminists in the United States?”20 I ask that Japanese feminist and queer scholars, writers, and activists examine their complicity with multiple forms of colonization and imperialism in everyday contexts.

I can never claim that coming undone—especially in ways defying what keeps us apart—is easy. Fujiwara and Roshanravan critique views of Asian American studies and women of color feminisms that push them aside for “a more sophisticated and encompassing ‘transnational’ or ‘global,’” which can act as a method of evading difficult questions concerning complicity in injustice at home in the United States.21 But for some of us, if we are always yet never at home in our movement between places, sometimes unrecognized and unseen in the periphery, our efforts might seem too distant from the particularities of work based in the United States, while also being barred from local spaces. I am not willing to always be a bridge.22 In thinking about the ways in which grief has marked and created who I am in Hong Kong, in a queer feminist narrative that moves between English and Japanese, Mandarin and Cantonese, as a placeholder I might say that I am a translator. And in this moment that we share together, I would say to Hong Kong: “I cannot muster the ‘we’ except by finding the way in which I am tied to ‘you,’ by trying to translate but finding that my own language must break up and yield if I am to know you. You are what I gain through this disorientation and loss.”

Osaka students ask parties about improving lives of single moms (The Asahi Shimbun, Azusa Kato)

Osaka Prefectural Nishinari High School is designed for students who have had long absences from other schools, and many of them also come from single-parent homes.

The Civil Law says that parents getting divorced should agree on how they will share the expenses for raising their children. That provision, however, is not legally enforceable.

Slightly less than 90 percent of all divorces are settled by mutual agreement, without the intervention of a court. That means few of the couples getting divorced make formal arrangements on child support payments through mediation by a court or other procedures.

In some countries outside Japan, child support payments are collected by administrative organs in certain cases.

“There should be a system for making sure that child support is paid,” the student said. “I have come to think it is important to raise our voices so officials will think about policy measures from the viewpoint of children as well.”

The curriculum of the “anti-poverty learning” program is the brainchild of Akio Hige, another teacher at Nishinari High School.

“Our program is aimed at helping the students see their own lives in light of society, take notice of the issue of social structures and thereby grow into a protagonist who will make active approaches to society,” said Hige, 62.

Blue Reflection Ray Review (Anime News Network, James Beckett)

The adaptation of the magical girl video game has finished its two-cour run, but takes almost half that run to get going.

Soon, we discover that many of our heroine’s foes have struggled with extensive poverty, abuse from their parents, rampant neglect, mental health issues, problems coming to terms with their own sexuality, and so on. By the time the series reaches its ultimate climax, it is much easier to see that BRR really does have something that it wants to say. Previously one-note villains like Niina and Shino become multi-faceted characters with genuinely complex goals, and even though the back half of the series still takes its damn time to spell out what everything is about, the process of moving through the story is nowhere near as much of a chore as it once was. To be clear, the story never hits the dramatic heights of something like Madoka Magica — even when the plot kicks into high gear, BRR is often too melodramatic and sloppy to keep you from completely casting aside your reservations — but the show definitely improves as it goes on.

Well, it improves in the writing department, anyways. The one area where the show never quite finds its footing is in its visuals. Director Risako Yoshida and the crew at J.C. Staff clearly have some ambitious ideas for giving the series a fairy-tale, paper-doll sort of vibe, and in giving the otherworldly battleground of The Common a distinct and striking aesthetic. The problem, as always, likes in the execution. Blue Reflection Ray is, simply put, not a pretty anime. Characters look washed out and flat whether they’re at school or in magical girl mode, the animation itself is stiff and unconvincing even in the best episodes, and The Common all too often devolves into a parade of visual noise that reminded me just a little bit of that all-time great visual disasterpiece, Hand Shakers. The English Dub isn’t stellar by any means, since the characters all fall into the exact same vocal clichés that we’ve heard for decades at this point, but I would still consider it the best way for English speakers to watch BRR, because it means you can get away with giving your eyes a break every now and then without missing out on the story. The music is also pretty good, so that’s a plus.

A Neurodivergent Examination of Eizouken’s Asakusa Midori (Anime Herald, Patricia C Baxter)

On why Asakusa resonates so strongly with neurodiverse, especially ADHD, viewers.

This is part of the reason why Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is such a revitalizing series for neurodivergent viewers.  Eizouken is one of the few examples of a manga created by an openly neurodivergent author, Oowara Sumito, who has publicly discussed his learning disabilities and diagnoses of autism and ADHD.  Furthermore, Oowara has confirmed in an interview with Livedoor that the series partially reflects his high school experiences, giving a neurodivergent reading of the source material and adaptations greater legitimacy.  

The series follows the lives of three high school girls who set out to create a club, the film studies club or “Eizouken” as it is known among international fans, to create animation.  As the series progresses, they begin to develop their skills, both individual and collective, to not only produce animation they are proud of but also to improve themselves by pushing their boundaries further.

LGBTQ Anime to Watch for (Almost) Every Mood (Fanbyte, Vrai Kaiser)

Title suggestions organized by genre and/or vibe.

Fairy Ranmaru  A group of fairies are sent to Earth to farm “Attachment,” an unspecified force that will supposedly heal their dying kingdom. Accomplishing this task requires magical boy transformations with a lot of crotch thrusting, once-per-episode musical numbers, battles in Madoka Magica-esque battle arenas, and sexy posing. It’s ridiculous on every level; it’s also 100% sincere, using its episodic storylines to tackle social issues even when it ends up punching above its weight class and showing up lesser, more cowardly anime by 100% committing to the homoerotic vibes it doles out early on. I can’t possibly sum it up in one paragraph, but it was one of my favorite shows of 2021.

17 years ago, Yakuza reinvented video game masculinity (Inverse, Cian Maher)

The series’ protagonists all, as player characters, show open emotionality and respect for women.

Kiryu’s tenderness in Yakuza 0 allows the major emotional beats of Yakuza Kiwami — a remake of the original game from 2005 that stars a 37-year-old Kiryu — to hit even harder. Yakuza Kiwami sees Kiryu protect an orphaned girl named Haruka, and the care he shows for her is a direct reflection of the love Kazama showed him. His mentor’s demise calls back to that fateful night where Kiryu cried out to him in the rain about orphans deserving the right to dream.

“It’s okay, pops,” Kiryu says, cradling Kazama as he draws his final breath. “To me… you were my true father!” Once again, our hero is left crying in the night.

Throughout the series, Kiryu bawls, howls, and weeps — all the while utterly unconcerned with how that might appear to those around him. To many of his fellow Yakuza, this is (wrongly) perceived as a sign of weakness. Nishiki is a perfect counterpoint — the good-natured young man who had been Kiryu’s adoptive brother in Yakuza 0 changes dramatically by Yakuza Kiwami. He becomes cold and clinical, subbing out his flashy suit and bob cut for a white two-piece and slicked-back hair — and speaks to women with sneering condescension.

VIDEO: Q&A panel discussion “Advancing News Diversity in Asia.”

TWEET: Upcoming academic book, Madness in the Family – Women, Care, and Illness in Japan.

AniFem Community

We might have been the only ones who watched BIRDIE WING, AniFam, but we watched it hard.

Favorite sequel: Love Live Nijigasaki. The first season was my introduction to the Love Live empire, and I even have a name twin among the Niji crew, so I like them very much and it was great to see them again. I was glad that a lot of the antagonism from the R3BIRTH girls was sanded down - in the game, they were incredibly harsh!  Favorite show: Aharen-san! I carefully gave it a try after the AF review, and I was worried, but it was so funny and cute and nothing like what I worried about. My husband even watched it all with me! And we both laughed out loud multiple times each episode, not just the little quiet snorting noise. (When the teacher casually heel-toes her Honda Odyssey minivan around a curving mountain road in ep10, that got a big pop from him because he's a car guy.)  Negative surprise: Heroines Run the Show. Like the AF wrap up podcast said, the show didn't care at all about Hiyori as an athlete, and I hated the way it handled the reveal about Chizuru and then narratively sided with her after she literally beats up Hiyori for daring to work with her oshi. The finale tried to wrap everything up and sort of forget that all happened, but the bad taste was in my mouth and wouldn't leave at that point. Which is a shame because Hiyori is such a precious pumpkin and I liked Juri too!
Kaguya-sama definitely! I was already a manga reader going into that season, so I knew exactly how it would end and I was excited to see that whole cultural festival arc animated! It might be the best season yet. They even took chapters from the manga that I didn't care about and make great episodes with them. I will still say that Kaguya-sama is one of the best, if not the best, anime adaptations I've ever seen.

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