Weekly Round-Up, 6-12 May 2020: FF7R Interview, New Re:ZERO OVA, and Lesbian Writers

By: Anime Feminist May 12, 20200 Comments
A deadpan boy sticking out of a giant set of animal jaws

AniFem Round-Up

A Tale of Two Nanas: The fuzzy line between homoromantic subtext and queerbaiting in Nana

Roy Lemmons discusses the josei classic and the difficulties in analyzing the intent behind their romance-coded bond when the series may never have an ending.

“A Man Who Can Experience His Feelings”: Fruits Basket, toxic masculinity, and mental health

Katie Randazzo explores the series’ three leads, their struggles with trauma and mental illness, and how they act as support for one another.

Chatty AF 115: Toradora! Watchalong – Episodes 20-25 [FINAL]

Caitlin, Dee, and Vrai say a few (slightly misty-eyed) goodbyes to some good kids and talk out the overall highs and lows of this beloved school rom-com.

Which anime and manga handle depictions of mental illness well?

As it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, it feels like as good a time as any to discuss media representation.

Beyond AniFem

Games Criticism Is A Kindness (Kotaku, Heather Alexandra)

A thesis on the importance of earnest, thoughtful criticism.

That last question is difficult because it is subject to the biases and personal history of the critic. When we ask “what is being said?” there is a piece of the puzzle that also raises the question “what is being heard?” More often than not, this is where critics and gamers diverge. Holistic criticism understands that it is possible for many things to be said, some intentional and some unintended. There are messages placed in games by their creators and, more often than not, in the broader culture, these messages are given primacy. They have the weight of authorial intent and in certain cases hold the authority of “canon” in the balance. Poe Dameron is not gay. Disney said so. If this were the start and end of criticism, art would be in a dire place.

This is because art speaks by itself irrespective of the intent of the author. Dungeon and Dragons codes orcs within a visual language that echoes real life racist rhetoric. Orcs are the dark-skinned invaders at our gates, and they are crafted in a way that evokes historical rhetoric about “savages” that was deployed against black and native peoples. This is a truth of the text regardless of author intention—doubly so if your orcs get stat boosts to strength and, say, penalties to intelligence. The Elder Scrolls has a race of criminal cat-gypsies who are inherently better at being sneaky. I can’t ignore how this plays into real world persecution of peoples like the Romani, and yet I love Morrowind with all my heart and have played hundreds of hours of Skyrim.

Rainbow Releases: Winter 2020 (Coherent Cats, Karleen and Malia)

A round-up of LGBTQ+ anime/manga from the last few months.

Kuro Nohara’s Staring at Your Back began as a one-shot commissioned for 10 Starts, a Japanese organization supporting gay youth, and has since grown into a story with eight chapters. Like Gengoroh Tagame of My Brother’s Husband fame, Kuro Nohara is an openly gay mangaka whose career began in gay magazines such as Barazoku. He creates geicomi for a gay male audience as well as manga with gay characters aimed at everyone. See his interview with bunk., an online showcase of homoerotic artwork, for more about his life and art.

Review: Netflix’s ‘Drifting Dragons’ romanticizes commercial whaling (The Daily Dot, Caitlin Moore)

Caitlin’s full-series review of the Netflix series.

Humans, by and large, seem to view the dragons as somewhere between a threat and a commodity, and while the drakers make lip service to loving the vast creatures, they continue to slaughter them. In one arc, Takita adopts a baby dragon after killing its mother, and feeds it mayonnaise made from its mother’s body. That’s not respectful; it’s macabre.

With the lack of clear cultural context within the show, we viewers have no choice but to substitute our own. I’m not vegan, and I understand the necessity of certain kinds of hunting. But Drifting Dragons isn’t about that kind of hunting; it’s about whaling and the thrill of taking down big game and triumphing over something much greater and powerful than yourself. It romanticizes a particularly controversial topic, and a form of hunting that still has potential to drive several species to extinction and cause untold environmental devastation. The dragon meat even looks like whale meat.

Child abuse cases climb 10-20% in Japan as families stay home more (The Asahi Shimbun, Tanaka Toko and Hatayama Atsuko)

A compilation of data from the past several months.

Though reported child abuse cases rose between January and March, it is unclear if the impact of the virus was entirely responsible, since cases in Japan were already rising each year, the ministry said.

Child protection workers have voiced strong concerns that cases of child abuse could increase due to prolonged school closures and parents losing their incomes as many people are forced to stay at home amid the outbreak.

The Sapporo child consultation center said it received 146 reports of child abuse in March from police and residents living near families with children, about 1.5 times the number recorded in the same period last year.

The center said cases of psychological abuse, in which children are traumatized by seeing their parents arguing, were high among the reported cases.

Is Re:Zero Better Without Subaru? (Anime News Network, Nick Dupree and Michelle Liu)

Discussion of the fantasy isekai’s new OVA focusing on Emilia.

Nick: She just wants to be acknowledged for her person – not what she represents, what species she happens to be, or who she reminds people of, but for Emilia. That’s something nobody but Puck has ever given her.

Micchy: Heck, even her other allies in the show mostly seem to see her as useful chess piece in a larger game. So it makes sense she’d be hurt to find out the first person who seemed to want to help her without ulterior motives was actually just suicidally devoted to an imagined version of her he made up in his dumb, dumb head.

Nick: It goes pretty far to humanize her! She never asked to be either “the witch” (as most people see her) or an all-compassionate madonna (as Subaru sees her); she’s just a person like anybody else, elf lineage aside. She may not love Subaru unconditionally like Rem does (who is, might I add, a made-up cartoon maid), but she’s all the more ‘real’ for her refusal to be slotted into a role.

Foreign students in Japan losing jobs, chances and hope in pandemic (The Asahi Shimbun)

Unable to work part-time due to shutdowns, students are losing the ability to support themselves and practice language skills.

When they could not cover the rent for April, the landlord charged them only half the amount but cut off the wireless LAN service that was included in the rent.

To continue taking university classes offered online, the students ended up paying for a new wireless service out of their pockets.

Foreign students who have registered at municipal offices are eligible for the 100,000-yen cash relief handouts from the government.

“It’ll be of help,” Rakibul said.

But after subtracting food and other daily expenses, they still will not have enough left to cover the tuition.

VIDEO: Interview with John Eric Bentley, the voice of Barrett in Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

THREAD: Discussion of whether it’s appropriate for non-Japanese individuals to wear a kimono.

THREAD: Translation of an interview with Japanese queer activists about BL.

THREAD: Introduction to lesbian writer Matsuura Rieko.

AniFem Community

It’s nice to see a range of both series and mental health issues mentioned here.

Banana Fish has the best depiction of PTSD that I’ve even seen in anime. Most anime would only have maybe one big dramatic scene of the character having a nightmare about their trauma and leave it at that, but the effort Banana Fish puts into depicting the little things, like Ash flinching when he is touched, or how he wakes up on high alert even when it isn’t necessary to move the plot along really make the depiction feel like it had a lot of care put into it. It was actually due to the fact that while watching Banana Fish and noticing that I saw myself in so much of Ash’s body language even in the early episodes that I came to terms with the fact that I likely also have PTSD and was able to subsequently get diagnosed.
March Comes in Like a Lion for sure. The manner it depicts Rei's depression with regards to both his internal thoughts/emotions and its practical impacts on his life spoke so truthfully to me. Furthermore, knowing how Rei feels/thinks and empathizing with him -- and then seeing the kindness he receives from his friends is so impactful that at times it was almost painful for me.  I also have a soft spot for how anxiety is depicted in Tsuritama, in a literal sense and a metaphoric sense. Yuki "drowns" in water when he feels anxious, and watching him learn to keep his head over water over the course of the series is very rewarding.

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