Weekly Round-Up, 7-13 September 2022: BL in Italy, Marriage Equality in Harvest Moon, and Misogyny in Manga Discussion

By: Anime Feminist September 13, 20220 Comments
A blond girl shouting and stressed at her redheaded classmate

AniFem Round-Up

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure actor Tiana Camacho discusses her favorite shoujo and systemic casting hurdles for actors of color

Vrai sat down with Camacho at Otakon 2022 to ask her about her influences, her dream role, and the expectation put on marginalized public figures to act as educators.

Good Soil Makes a Good Crop: The Story of Saiunkoku and the myth of meritocracy

This hidden shoujo gem about an aspiring scholar emphasizes how the marginalized are expected to be better than the best to even be allowed to participate.

What hobby or edutainment anime have you learned the most from?

The subgenre tackles a robust number of subjects.

Beyond AniFem

The Abe Legacy: A Compendium (The Asia-Pacific Journal, Ed. David McNeill)

Collection of short articles from journal contributors assessing the impact of Abe’s time in power.

Political ties to the Church range from being interviewed in a publication of a ‘friendly organisation’ of the Church, attendance in the Church’s or one of the related organisations’ events, to being a member of the Church and its related organisations and receiving support for their election campaigns. The close relationships of Abe and politicians in the Abe faction of the LDP with the Unification Church in particular stand out. Abe’s video speech at the UPF event was symbolic of these ties and his endorsement of its related organisations’ activities. 

This growing influence of the Unification Church on Japanese politics has had important implications for Japan’s policies on gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights. As the ‘anti-communism’ agenda of the Church lost its impact with the end of the cold war, the organisation shifted emphasis to family values. In practice, this meant a renewed attention to issues of gender and sexuality, such as blocking the introduction of separate surnames for married spouses, attacking sex education in schools, and resisting legalisation of same-sex marriage and partnerships. In his video speech, Abe also stated that he appreciated the family values promoted by the UFP, saying the family is the fundamental unit of society. 

Abe opposed policies promoting gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights. He led the LDP’s backlash against feminism, as the chair of the LDP’s ‘Project Team to Investigate the Real Situations of Extreme Sex Education and Gender-free Education’ established in 2005. During his first administration, his government passed the revision of the Fundamental Law of Education in 2006, which includes Article 10 on ‘family education’. That paved the way for various policies that feminists and others have criticised as government intrusion into the private sphere because they impose state ideals family and parenting. His promotion of ‘womenomics’ when he returned to power in 2012 was an economic policy and had nothing to do with changing discriminatory laws and practices against women. He had always been against the introduction of separate surnames for married couples, and marriage equality. 

Boys’ Love, Fandom, and Italy: A Passionate Affair (Anime Herald, Cami)

Brief history of the fandom’s growth and development since the 90s.

Still, BL and its fans continue to be heavily stigmatized, though, by a greater society that didn’t understand such a specific type of fiction. Underground spaces, a usually very territorial field for male (cisgender, heterosexual) nerds and otaku, also harshly criticized BL content and mocked yaoi fans, considering the genre as the derogatory “erotica for women,” or as straight-up trash.

Much of the repulsion Italian male nerds felt toward BL was related to Italy’s (still) deeply machista, queerphobic and patriarchal society. Seeing two androgynous characters acting in a “non-heterosexual” way was challenging the accepted “status quo” definition of masculinity.

The male-dominated nerd space felt attacked by such a small group of women, who were now putting their feet down by showing their love for BL media, without any shame, also in virtue of their young age. Problems arose once yaoi fans felt as much an outcast as actual queer people, sometimes behaving inappropriately, both offline and online.

The fetishisation of gay men was, and still is, a problem that runs high among BL fans. During that period especially, many of the popular stereotypes (rape, sexual assault, unhealthy BDSM practices, etc.) seen in BL comics or dōjinshi were regarded as “actual gay behaviour”, further alienating Italian queer readers, especially gay men.

To this day, Italy struggles with LGBTQ+ rights. Civil partnership happened in 2016, though adoption is not allowed, for example. In some ways, the landscape is a mirror image of Japan. Regardless, publishers began releasing more and more titles to stores to please an ever-growing fandom that peaked around 2015-2016, and ultimately stabilized around the end of the 2010s.

Court orders medical school to pay damages for rigged exams (The Asahi Shimbun, Kyota Tanaka and Aya Shioiri)

18 million yen was awarded to 27 women who were unjustly rejected from medical school between 2006 and 2018 because the tests were rigged in favor of male applicants.

 At a news conference following the ruling, Hasegawa said she wanted the public to reflect on the fact that persistent discrimination against women is still prevalent. She explained that some patients insist on having a male doctor examine them.

“Reducing the number of female doctors will not resolve the problem,” she said. “That is wrong and what should be corrected is a working environment that does not seek out female doctors.”

Lawyer Yukiko Tsunoda was critical of the low amount of compensation ordered by the court.

Tsunoda explained that she wanted each plaintiff to receive 2 million yen for each entrance exam they took as well as 5 million yen for those who should have passed had the exam not been rigged.

“Although gender inequality still underlies society, the court did not pay adequate interest to that factor,” Tsunoda said. “It should have ordered a compensation amount that would have had a greater deterrent effect.”

Chobits (with Asher Sofman) [Seinen Exception #2] (Shojo & Tell)

Podcast discussion of CLAMP’s echii android rom-com.

We’re continuing our journey through CLAMP with their most provocative, perverted, and problematic series yet: The sci-fi series CHOBITS, where personal computers (persocoms) take the form of cute high school girls with cat ears. Hideki, peak schmuck boy, finds a free one in the trash, and he names her Chi, and then he may or may not fall in love with her, even though she behaves like a child. Talk about awkward. Asher and Ashley have A LOT of feelings about the moral implications of the relationships between humans and persocoms that are presented by each character arc, the way artificial intelligence and computer memory is discussed, and about the handling of the sexual topics. Look. CLAMP apparently isn’t saying it’s okay to marry Hatsune Miku. But your love of Hatsune Miku is real love. Ashley’s still waiting for the “so what?” of it all.

Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life will be LGBTQ+ friendly (Gayming Magazine, Ty Galiz-Rowe)

This is a remake of the PS2 Harvest Moon title.

“With the option to play as a male, female, or non-binary protagonist, as well as all eligible marriage candidates available for romance regardless of that choice, you can truly be who you want to be.”

This is exciting for many LGBTQ+ fans. Past Story of Seasons games like Pioneers of Olive Town allowed players limited same-sex relationships, but this is the biggest swing the series has taken in terms of giving players control over their characters’ gender and sexuality within the game. It will be interesting to see what the game offers in terms of pronoun customization and clothing options when it releases as well.

Ibaraki, Saga officials will help LGBT couples when they move (The Asahi Shimbun, Haruhiro Hirahata and Shun Hayashi)

The goal is for this initial framework to serve as guidelines for other areas around Japan.

As the central government has not put a comprehensive framework into place, those in a same-sex partnership who move to a new area have to again show required documents to local governments in their new homes.

The agreement, signed on Aug. 18, is expected to allow sexual minorities to skip the procedure when they relocate between Ibaraki Prefecture and Saga Prefecture.

It marked the first time for prefectural governments to cooperate on their programs that recognize same-sex partnerships as equivalent to marriages between opposite sexes.

Preparing the required forms under the recognition system entails a lot of time and labor, Namekawa said. 

“I expect more local governments to incorporate partnership systems following the agreement,” she said.

VIDEO: Discussion of misogyny in the discourse around shoujosei titles.

THREAD: Numbers speculation on the dwindling number of shoujosei titles being put out annually in English.

THREAD: Info on THE TRANSGENDER ISSUE by Shon Faye being translated into Japanese with new chapters.

TWEET: In memorium of Kobayashi Shichiro, art director for many classic anime including Revolutionary Girl Utena.

AniFem Community

Sometimes it’s nice to hang out and maybe come away with some factoids.

Cells at Work is great fun but I’m already a microbiologist.  Heaven’s Design Team taught me lots, even about one of my country’s national animals, the Koala, which it turns out is a nightmare beast.  And I think I learned a bit from Super Cub, but that was a mix of interesting hobby information and also how to be very serene for half an hour each week.
Let's see if I can add anything new to the conversation...  What Appeals to Me About Edutainment: I love to learn, even when it's not a subject I'm inherently interested in - although I tend to prefer useful knowledge and weird trivia. Edutainment provides that, along with the other half of its name.  Favorite Edutainment Anime: I'll cosign Heaven's Design Team, Cells at Work and those specific bookmaking episodes of Ascendance of a Bookworm. I think that sufficiently clear instructions in a cooking show count, so I will add Sweetness and Lightning, Bartender and - on the farm production end - Silver Spoon. I learned about mountain climbing from Encouragement of Climb and camping from Laid Back Camp. I have a better idea about how the shounen manga industry works from Bakuman, and the crunch of the anime industry from Shirobako. Also, I will plug After School Dice Club as a means for hearing about games I might want to try.  How I Recommend Them: they're often family friendly, often anime newbie friendly, and often relaxing, so I would recommend them to potential audiences looking for those traits in a show (and the ones that don't fit those descriptors to Edutainment fans looking for something different).

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