Weekly Round-Up, 8-14 July 2020: BNA as Queer Allegory, Black Anime Podcasts, and Ghosts of Tsushima

By: Anime Feminist July 14, 20200 Comments
headshots of Jesse, James, and Meowth from Team Rocket, looking like gremlins

AniFem Round-Up

The Misfit King of Demon King Academy – Episode 1

Painfully dull fantasy series with flat characters.

Deca-Dence – Episode 1

Post-apocalyptic sci-fi that executes familiar beats beautifully.

Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! – Episode 1

Shrill, painfully unfunny, and agonizing for introverts.

Rent-a-Girlfriend – Episode 1

The turnaround the incel hero makes by end of episode shows promise for this rom-com.

Japan Sinks: 2020 – Episodes 1-2

Relentlessly brutal disaster story in an already brutal year.

Resources and Fundraisers: July 2020

Carrying on the news updates as a monthly feature.

Beyond AniFem

一本木蛮のまんが家日記ep2(英語版)BangIppongi’s MANGA Diary (Note, 一本木蛮)

Manga essay about life as an artist and Dr. Eugene Aksenoff.

Deciphering Japan: Ep 1: A Woman’s Role (Channel News Asia)

Documentary of a journalist investigating modern women’s lives in Japan.

Journalist Yumi Araki explores her home country as it enters an era of great social and political transformation. She explores the hot-button issues tha (t have both galvanised and polarised the nation, and meets the people at the forefront of change. 

In the first episode, Yumi meets the women who are re-defining their roles in Japan’s patriarchal society, and the men forced to re-orientate themselves in this new social order. In episode two, Yumi dives into the country’s extreme work culture, visiting obsessive farmers, overworked salarymen and the therapists trying to keep them sane. Next, Yumi visits hip hop dancing grannies and other members of the nation’s sunset generation to find out how this fast-ageing country is coping with unprecedented demographic change. In the final episode, Yumi hangs out with bartending Buddhist monks, psychedelic pop artists, and shunned biracial communities to explore a national identity in flux and to decipher what it means to be Japanese today. 

Let’s Hold Hands: On Allyship and Assimilation in BNA (AniGay, Rebecca Black)

Reading BNA as a queer allegory and examining its portrayal of performative allyship.

I’ve written extensively about the deeply anti-assimilationist ethos of Promare, how thoroughly and unabashedly it rejects “can’t you just live like normal people?” as a solution, rejects the entire society that would ask such a question, rejects the very concept of “normal.” Of course, Promare being Promare, while all of this is extremely unsubtle and in-your-face, it’s also wrapped up in layers of visual symbolism and metaphor and giant robot battles. BNA does away with most of those layers, leaving only the extremely thin “metaphor” of the beastmen standing in for the societally marginalized. And so when BNA talks to us about assimilation, it comes in the form of Pingua, an old-school beastman rights activist, spelling out explicitly to us (and to Michiru) that “equality” can be bittersweet.

The Appropriation of Avatar (Harvard Political Review, Winona Guo)

Parsing the legacy of ATLA as an Asian-American viewer.

Indeed, they did their homework. When I watch ATLA, I feel seen. I feel that every one of the few shows which achieve this for Asian Americans must be protected. And yet, I find it hard to reconcile my love of ATLA with the sobering fact that the show has still been transmuted through the White imagination of White creators, White actors, White producers. Its empire of White profit still rests upon centuries of culture that belong to someone else. And while White artists succeed — applauded, for their “creativity” — Asian folks are still kept out of an American industry made nearly as impenetrable to them as the walls of Ba Sing Se. Asian cultures are celebrated. Asian people are not. How is this a world free of Whiteness? 

American culture likes to identify its heroes and villains; Koniezko and DiMartino are neither. For me, they are not “canceled.” But contrary to public worship, their work bears harm, too. They have left Asian Americans to help White fans understand that ATLA is not their easy pathway to understanding the East. This show is not theirs. This culture is not theirs. Asian Americans are not reducible to a stiff wedge between White and Black in the American racial dichotomy, or to an “Asiatic-like” cartoon for consumption by everyone. 

How Cardcaptor Sakura Was Cancelled in the Philippines (Anime News Network, Andrew Osmond)

The channel due to air the series became the target of political silencing.

The reason is bound up with a long-running feud between the ABS-CBN network and the country’s leader, President Rodrigo Duterte. According to a New York Times report, ABS-CBN has closely followed Duterte’s bloody war on drugs; the report also says the President has made open death threats against reporters. In 2016, Duterte was infuriated when the network refused to run his campaign ads. In return, ABS-CBN issued an apology while also stating the network aired most of Duterte’s campaign ads.

On May 5, ABS-CBN was ordered by the National Telecommunications Commission to shut down. The network had been waiting for its license to be renewed by Congress, the national legislature of the Philippines. ABS-CBN claimed it had been told it could continue broadcasting, but the National Telecommunications Commission’s cease-and-desist order ultimately forced the network off the air. Duterte had previously said that he would not allow the network’s license to be renewed.

In Ascendance of a Bookworm, “Women’s Work” Changes the World (Fanbyte, Vrai Kaiser)

Analysis of the first two seasons as anti-capitalist text.

While there is a certain wish-fulfillment element to Bookworm’s story, what’s interesting is the value it places on traditionally feminine pursuits: Main is essentially able to game the market because she was a crafter in her previous life, and items like crocheted hair pins and oil-based shampoos quickly become bartering tools she can use to secure her family’s wellbeing. The writing labors lovingly over small details of “women’s work” and how those things make society turn, and every success feels earned because of how many failures Main has to push through to get there. Sure, she has all this pre-stored knowledge that her walled city hasn’t encountered, but she’s forced to be constantly mindful of how much she can safely divulge without having her ideas stolen or putting herself and her family in danger.

THREAD: Discussion of the missed opportunity to let a writer of color cover Ghosts of Tsushima.

THREAD: On the low number of COVID cases reported in Japan and their tie to low number of autopsies performed.

TWEET: Link to a directory of anime podcasts hosted by Black creators.

TWEET: Link to style guide for journalists on how to write about trans issues.

AniFem Community

Halfway through the weirdest premiere season of all time, listeners. Please enjoy this cat.

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