Weekly Round-Up, 7-13 July 2021: Anime Tube Autopsy, Doki Doki Literature Club’s Content Warnings, and Ainu Folklore

By: Anime Feminist July 13, 20210 Comments
the members of Catarina Claus' brain council happily playing band instruments

AniFem Round-Up

Tsukimichi -Moonlit Fantasy- — Episode 1

Mostly funny isekai if not for the frustrating slavery jokes.

Drug Store in Another World: The Slow Life of a Cheat Pharmacist – Episode 1

Too shrill to be soothing and old-school sexist.

The Aquatope on White Sand – Episode 1

Quiet, lovely looking character drama with yuri vibes.

The Dungeon of Black Company – Episode 1

Capitalism isekai would be more fun if the protagonist wasn’t intolerable.

D_Cide Traumerei the Animation – Episode 1

Stylish CG action with an unremarkable plot.

Battle Game in 5 Seconds – Episode 1

Dull battle royale that treats the ladies like garbage.

What was your favorite Spring 2021 anime?

Summer is thin and there’s plenty of quality backlog.

Beyond AniFem

The Anime Tube Kickstarter Is Not the Sound Investment it Claims to Be [UPDATE] (Otaquest, Alicia Haddick)

Summary of the past weekend’s scandal around a Kickstarter claiming to be starting a new, independent streaming service with plans for hundreds of licenses and assessment of the viability of said Kickstarter’s claims.

This expanded goal includes $100,000 for CMS fees and an additional $100,000 for web application development. In the new campaign, these costs have seemingly been brought together under the $40,000 target the company has on their ongoing campaign. $50,000 would have been set aside for business development, with just $20,000 being set aside for travel to Japan to speak with licensors.

Needless to say, such a low amount would struggle to license up to 5,000 anime at a price as low as $4 per show (or as high as $200 per show with 100 anime licensed at launch). Just $10,000 has been set aside for legal fees, finance and translation costs for the shows being licensed in this original plan, an amount that would come out at just $2 per complete anime. While the undervaluing of the costs associated with licensing and translating is one issue with this original campaign, it only raises further concerns on the new campaign when this new campaign has no provision for any of these costs.

What becomes clear when exploring further into the ambitious plans of Game Face LLC and Anime Tube is the unlikely ability that the company can achieve its lofty goals without external investment far beyond what the Kickstarter could provide. Looking further into the claims made by the company showcases a lack of experience required to launch an all-new streaming service and acquire the list of titles necessary to fulfill their aims as stated on their website and in their ongoing campaign.

Kickstarter Shuts Down Anime Streaming App That Seemed Too Good to Be True (Vice, Gita Jackson)

Post-fallout article discussing the fundraiser’s shutdown that includes quotes from the Kickstarter’s creators and several industry professionals.

Kickstarter told Motherboard that it was “actively reviewing the issues that have been raised about this project against our policies.” It later told Motherboard that it had suspended funding for the campaign.

George Weller, the founder of Anime Tube’s developer Gameface LLC, and his business partner Hironori Zusho, told Motherboard that they plan to appeal Kickstarter’s decision, and that they object to the characterization of Anime Tube as a scam. This is the second Kickstarter for Anime Tube; another campaign with a higher funding goal in June was canceled. If you go to the page for it now, it says that it is “subject of an intellectual property dispute.”

“The definition of scam is like, a dishonest act, some of that ‘wish’ and ‘trying to’ is not really dishonest,” Zusho said. “We are still trying to do it—it’s not impossible—because people are saying that’s a scam.”

Shawne Kleckner, CEO of Right Stuf, told Motherboard that they were not in talks with Anime Tube about licensing their titles to the platform. The list that was originally linked to on Anime Tube’s kickstarter included Revolutionary Girl Utena, as well as other titles licensed by Right Stuf.

“I had also inquired if any of our industry partners had heard from these folks and no one had,” Kleckner told Motherboard. “I feel that it was disingenuous to show this long list that people would likely feel that they would be getting if they supported the Kickstarter.”

How Ableism Can Manifest in Fandom—and How to End It (Teen Vogue, Stitch)

Explorations of how ableism can present in fan works and interactions.

Ableism in fandom can also look like mocking someone for their triggers or spamming them with triggering content (such as gifs with upsetting content or flashing lights to trigger epilepsy). It can look like calling someone a freak as an insult. Even conversations about media within fandom can expose people to ableism. Often, if someone writes a post about what they see as ableism or, conversely, positive disability representation in a given piece of media (like the conversations about Kaz Brekker that have rekindled after Shadow and Bone aired on Netflix or this piece on disability and ableism in My Hero Academia) the response to those fans can be incredibly aggressive.

Even the conversations that cropped up after our previous Fan Service column on the fandom reaction to the Ayo and Bucky fight in Falcon and the Winter Soldier episode four had ableist notes to them. Plenty of people refused to acknowledge that Black people — me writing the piece, and Black fans in the fandom and sharing it positively — could be disabled in the first place, centering themselves (and Bucky’s very fictional feelings) while ignoring that the ableism of the MCU was being called out as much as the misogynoir of the fandom.

When it comes to fanworks, like art and fan fiction, ableism can be a little harder to clock. Just as disability representation is hit or miss in movies and on TV, so it is in fan-created content where disability can be treated like a trope. “Disability fic” is where a character is rewritten to be explicitly physically disabled or neurodivergent in some way, or their canon disability/neurodivergence is highlighted. Like racebending has provided representation for fans of color, writing or drawing disabled characters can be a way to introduce necessary representation to fandom spaces or media that lacks it.

The Life and Legacy of Ainu-Japanese Translator Chiri Yukie (Unseen Japan, Alyssa Pearl Fusek)

Yukie created the first published record of Ainu customs and folklore before passing tragically at age 19.

Chiri began her work in earnest after graduating in 1920. Kindaichi had already returned to Tokyo but sent Chiri blank notebooks for her to fill with whatever she pleased. She wrote down, among other oral works, urekreku (riddles), utashkar (children’s word games), and upopo (festival songs). Chiri also provided Kindaichi with a few yukar, long heroic narratives both Matsu and Monashnouk were well-versed in. Some of these yukar would later appear in more polished form in the Ainu Shin’yoshu.

Just as it is now, transcribing and translating was no simple task. Because the Ainu language has no official written system, Chiri first transcribed the oral tales into the Latin alphabet, which she most likely learned from the mission school-educated Matsu. From there, she translated into Japanese. She had no access to a dictionary in Chikabumi, not even the missionary John Batchelor’s rudimentary Ainu-Japanese-English copy. When stumped on how to translate a word, she jotted her questions to Kindaichi in the notebook’s margins.

Compiling the Ainu Shin’yoshu

Kindaichi’s postcards to Chiri were full of high praise for her work, and he made her another proposition: to compile and publish a collection of Ainu legends for a larger, less scholarly audience. Chiri agreed. Out of the vast wealth of Ainu chants and tales she transcribed, she focused on yukar, specifically kamui yukar, tales told from the first-person perspective of kamui. Chiri probably didn’t have access to the earlier drafts of these yukar, having mailed them off to Kindaichi, so she essentially had to translate from scratch.

Twin Peaks season one and Those Snow White Notes (Taiiku Podcast)

Mercedez stopped in on this podcast to discuss her skills with the shamisen and the Spring anime centered around the instrument.

Women in the Japanese New Left w/ Chelsea Szendi Schieder (Against Japanism)

Podcast history of the New Left in Japan and women’s role in the movement.

We discuss the case of Kanba Michiko, a 22 year old student activist who died on June 15, 1960 during the mass protest against the US-Japan Security Treaty. Despite her own philosophical outlook as a dialectical materialist and political commitment as a revolutionary communist, she was portrayed by the media as a passive victim of police violence or innocent bystander, as a “maiden sacrifice for postwar democracy.” 

Another important figure of this period was Tokoro Mitsuko, an activist and theorist who critiqued the masculinism she saw as inherent in capitalism. As an alternative, she proposed the logic of care and nurturing, and horizontalism and “endless debate” as a form of direct democracy that reflects this supposedly feminine logic.  While Tokoro’s characterization of this logic as “women’s logic” is undeniably essentialist, her philosophy was a product of its time when women’s work was devalued not only by Japan’s revitalized capitalist economy, but also within the student movement itself where women performed most of the care work such as cooking and cleaning, while men took the leadership positions and engaged in militant confrontations with the police. We discuss this tension within the framework of the debate between prefigurative and instrumental politics and the question of gendered division of labour within the leftist spaces today. 

REVIEW: ‘Stranger by Shore’ is Stunningly Beautiful (But Why Tho?, Kate Sánchez)

This is the final currently released Blue Lynx film to be made available in English.

Shun Hashimoto is a gay novelist living in Okinawa, estranged from his parents after coming out. Mio Chibana is a recently orphaned high school student living with his relatives after his mother’s death. Although their beginning conversations are awkward, each responding to the other while carrying their own trauma, they click, growing closer over time despite the age gap. But, after confessing that he likes Mio, it’s clear that they can’t progress, solidified as Mio shares that he is moving to the city. Three years later, though, Mio suddenly moves back and confesses he is in love with Shun. Instead of being the warm welcoming of two people who can finally be together, Shun is instead overcome with guilt thinking that he deprived Mio of a “normal” life by confessing to him.

What follows is the crux of Stranger by the Shore. Shun grows to accept himself and to trust that Mio’s words and intention are honest and born out of love, not out of curiosity or confusion. The film may only be one hour, but it’s a stunning one. Mio’s determination and love are seen throughout the film, but beyond that, we also get to see how he became so sure through flashbacks. We see his grief over losing his mother, how he discovers himself after Shun’s declaration, and ultimately who he is as a person, even outside of love. On Shun’s part, flashbacks offer context to his apprehension by showing moments of the homophobic bullying he dealt with as a teen and his coming out that led him to fear his own identity.

What the Hell Happened to Wonder Egg Priority? (Fanbyte, Vrai Kaiser)

Autopsy of the structural and production failures that led to the promising anime’s collapse.

The ripple effect of this narrative decision feels almost too gargantuan to unpack. There is first the fact that teachers are dismissed annually in the hundreds for sex crimes against students, a number which only accounts for successfully levied punishments and not perfectly legal actions like checking students’ underwear, which was only successfully outlawed in one prefecture this year; or even anecdotal cases like a teacher who recorded his students in the bathroom and didn’t lose his license. With such a massive power imbalance built into the existing system, not only in Japan but all over the world, it feels grossly irresponsible to paint adult men as the helpless, goodhearted victims of scheming teenage girls, particularly in a show that set itself up to mull over, representationally, the question of why those Teenage Girls™ kill themselves.

Up to [Episode 12], week by week, Ai and the other girls were empowered to fight a physical manifestation of a monstrous abuser, one that now looked as ugly on the outside as it was on the inside. The catharsis of those fights came from the rock-solid certainty that we were meant to be in sympathy with these teens and the systemic abuses that killed them — an entire episode was dedicated to a victim whose torment centered around not being believed. By making Sawaki the final Wonder Killer, the show finally had an opportunity to show the audience what the impact those representational struggles could have in the real world, when fought by a girl who lived to tell the tale. Instead it chickens out, and the result is Ai fighting off her own anxieties of how, just as she might have died, Sawaki “might have” been a bad person — while cementing “our” Sawaki as a man who could well have the sun shining out of his rectum. And while it’s at it, this revelation that anxieties can play into the monster’s form casts implicit doubt on every victim’s story that came before. It is at this point that calling for the grace of “unreliable narration” feels, at best, unearned. 

It doesn’t matter that this likely wasn’t the show’s attempted statement — more than likely, it was simply that the script’s odd and somewhat stomach-churning attachment to Sawaki as a sympathetic character butted up against the need for Ai to overcome him as an antagonist, and the result was an abstract rendition of “Not All Men” in a series that had never at any point previous claimed — at least textually — that it had any interest in adult men being a central part of the story. With the introduction of dreamstalker Frill and exoneration of Sawaki, Wonder Egg Priority is no longer a grand metaphor about societal evils but a tangible science project about two eternally middle-aged dudes turning teen girls into science projects. 

VIDEO: News story about an out 12-year-old trans boy, now with English subtitles.

VIDEO: Discussion of the rocky implementation of content warnings in Doki Doki Literature Club’s new Switch port.

AniFem Community

Last season was so full of good shows we can barely count them all.

I watched I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years & Maxed Out My Level, Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 3, So I’m A Spider, So What?, and Shadows House. I thoroughly enjoyed all of these shows from beginning to end (with a sprinkling of feminist-flavoured caveats for Slimes and Thunderbolt Fantasy, and despite Spider's animation issues) but Shadows House emerged my favourite. Shadows House is just extremely my aesthetic, it's such a good low-key to high-key queer brand of fantasy/horror, I hope it gets another season.
My favorite was definitely Let's Make a Mug Too. A lovely combination of girls learning how to make pottery and deal with grief. Plus the live action bits following the main voice actors as they explore the city the show is based on were actually really fun, even if that sounded like a weird concept at first.  I'm a little disappointed by the slow pace of Kiyo in Kyoto because it's such a nice and fun little show as well. I thought it would be a weekly show but it seems to be a monthly one instead!

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