Weekly Round-Up, 8-14 June 2022: Translation Critique, Persona Mods, and the History of Kawaii Culture

By: Anime Feminist June 14, 20220 Comments
anya wearing a red headband and frowning in determination, hair blowing in the wind

AniFem Round-Up

Personifying and relating to neurodiversity in Love, Chuunibyou and Other Delusions

“Middle schooler disease” might not be an actual illness, but Carmen Antreasian touches on how Takanashi Rikka’s chuuni journey resonates as a PTSD coping mechanism.

Comedic Highs and Objectified Lows: The girls of The Disastrous Life of Saiki K

At its best, the series lets its girls be multifaceted and hilariously weird; at its worst, it sinks into tired jokes about weight and harassment that undermine its strengths.

Chatty AF 164: Dear Brother Watchalong – Episodes 32-39

The team mulls over the flawed ending to a powerful classic.

What LGBTQ+ manga would you like to see get an anime?

The excitement from the upcoming Yuri is My Job is high.

Beyond AniFem

Dear Modders: Help Me Date All the Guys in Persona on PC (Fanbyte, Kenneth Shepard)

The doors are open since the Hashino-era games will now be available on PC.

Persona has always had a weird relationship with queerness. And by weird, I mean extremely shitty. Queer characters only ever appear to be the butt of jokes, even if it’s completely antithetical to its larger ethos of standing up for people oppressed by the system or accepting parts of yourself you were once ashamed of. Despite that, there’s a lot of romantic tension to its various social routes, even with other men. To the point where I’ve simply convinced myself that my characters’ guy friends are just real stupid and don’t realize I’m hitting on them throughout their story. Joker and Ryuji are already dating in Persona 5, as far as I’m concerned. But now that all the games are coming to PC, it would be a great opportunity for the community to take the step Atlus has refused to over the years.

The romantic arcs in Persona games are often almost identical to the friendship path, so it would mainly just be a matter of tweaking some written dialogue and flags to let characters appear in certain scenes to solidify the relationship. So relative to games with more elaborate animation and voiced dialogue, modding gay relationships into Persona games would be a light lift. And really, it’s hardly game breaking when so many of those romantic relationships would feel like natural extensions of Persona’s social elements already.

On Translation Errors & Criticism (Revue, Meru)

Musings from a working translator on common patterns in social media translation backlashes.

One of the comments I see cropping up a lot is that translators are not open to criticism of their work. In response to that, I would argue that most people don’t know how to provide relevant, useful criticism, or, as the French like to say, critique.

If you can’t read the Japanese, I can’t in good conscience take on board your opinion on how the Japanese should be interpreted. You can tell me you read the English and you didn’t like it, but you can’t tell me that it doesn’t match the Japanese. This goes for praise, too, by the way; someone who doesn’t understand Japanese telling me that I accurately reflected the original is really nice, but it’s not actionable feedback.

People like to pull out the old “wow, are you saying I can’t complain if my burger is undercooked at McDonald’s?”, but to build upon that metaphor, I’d say that you certainly can, and they should get you a fresh, properly cooked burger. But if you go up and tell them you don’t like the taste of their burgers, what do you expect them to do? Change the recipe for you?

And to continue with the food analogy; we’re now at a super fancy restaurant instead of McDonald’s. I’m not a chef, and I don’t know much about cooking. I eat my meal, and I don’t really like the taste. I can either think “hmm, not for me” and perhaps leave a review saying it wasn’t to my tastes. Or I can go tell the chef that they suck at their job and that they’re clearly not cooking the recipe, which I’ve never even seen for myself, correctly, and maybe finish it off by calling for them to be fired. In scenario two, I become what some people might call an asshole.

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 is a dead end of an adaptation (Polygon, Claire Napier)

A rundown of the failings of the CGI sequel to the beloved cyberpunk series.

In SAC_2045, Togusa is divorced. Changing such a critical part of a character’s identity is a bold choice, and one that invites questions from the audience. If Togusa is divorced, we want to know that it’s for some purpose. Why change an element without purpose, even in adaptation? In practice the answer could be that it removed the necessity for any scenes in which Section 9 has to contact Togusa’s wife while he is missing for several months. But what narrative potential could exist in this creative choice? Could this be an opportunity to examine Togusa’s performance of masculinity, both in his personal and professional lives, and the role of masculinity in the Ghost in the Shell universe more broadly?

In practice however, the second season of SAC_2045 removes every drop of the masculine idealism from its altered-reality radicals. Togusa’s story goes nowhere; girls are foregrounded as agents or puppets of the mysterious collective force “N” amongst a mixed-gender background. In execution, it doesn’t offer much to think about, despite the critical potential of its premise. And in the absence of an examination of masculine toxicity, there’s nothing to balance out the eerie, low-calorie misogyny the show’s creators chose to include instead.

Major Kusanagi is the most iconic character from the Ghost in the Shell franchise. But SAC_2045’s interest in her is as minimal as the series’ interest in any of the other members of Section 9, giving her no personal arc, minimal interiority, and barely any episodic relevance. Her presence is felt the most at the end of every episode, where you can look at her being cute instead of the credits, and at the end of the season, where responsibility for the developmental direction of the human race (the entire human race) and its future falls to her. Every time an ethical ultimatum falls on her, Ghost in the Shell gets a little more domestic.

The Major is replaced, figuratively and literally, by a 22-year-old “moe” girl named Purin with an almost identical and highly condensed boring character arc, whose compromised nudity is introduced in service of tired brand motifs and nothing else. There’s a “funny” thread about her adoring Batou to the point of sexually harassing him that develops into an empty revelation that he rescued her as a child after her family was murdered, and a moment where he touches her arm and comments how her body, now fully prosthetic, is “just like” the Major’s. Stand Alone Complex already established that Batou desires the Major. So, what, now he’s got a “new” Major he can sleep with? Why have him touch her? Why have a conflict over her earlier comments being workplace sexual harassment, if this is where they wanted this to go? These creative choices might sound innocuous to you. They do not sound innocuous to me.

Tokyo company sells genderless school swimwear, reflecting student concerns (The Mainichi, Maki Nakajima)

The suits have trunks and a long-sleeved top, and will be an option alongside traditional school swimwear.

This year, the genderless swimsuits are only available for schools, but the company plans to start selling them to the general public through its online store next year. A representative of the company’s product development staff said, “We hope that by wearing these swimsuits, students will be able to dispel their anxiety about swimwear, and we will be able to help them tackle their swimming lessons in a positive manner. And if this leads to the acquisition of swimming skills, which is the original purpose of the lessons, we would have no greater pleasure than this.”

School swimsuits, which used to be mostly one-piece designs for girls and trunks or shorts for boys, began to change in the 2000s. According to Yuko Yoshikawa of the company’s public relations department, long-length swimsuits that covered the thighs and two-piece swimsuits were first introduced for women. After this, boys’ swimsuits also became longer, and in 2010, the company began selling long-sleeved jackets for both men and women that could hide the upper body and provide UV protection.

In a product development project undertaken with junior high school students in 2015, a male student proposed a swimsuit with a tank-top and pants that extended down to the ankles. The company realized that there was also demand from boys who also wanted to reduce their skin exposure.

In addition to the desire for less exposure, the genderless swimsuits were inspired by communication from schools conveying the voices of children with “gender dysphoria” — a difference between the sex they were registered as at birth and the sex they self-identify as.

How DARLING in the FRANXX Inspired a New York Times Bestselling YA Novel (Anime News Network, Kim Morrissy)

The origin behind Xiran Jay Zhao’s sci-fi YA novel Iron Widow.

That’s where Iron Widow‘s plot similarities to FRANXX end. Zhao took only the core setup in order to write their own story laser-focused on deconstructing the patriarchy. This part wasn’t particularly inspired by FRANXX or any frustrations with it so much as the wider world we live in.

Although some anime viewers have expressed criticisms about FRANXX‘s handling of gender and sexuality, Zhao said they don’t have any major objections to FRANXX, commenting that the themes made sense within the scope of its narrative. “I thought it was a neat allegory for how adults try their hardest to hide [sexuality] from children,” they remarked. “Even the blatant fanservice made sense in the context of its world, which was part of what impressed me.”

Iron Widow, on the other hand, is fundamentally different in that the teenagers are aware of sexuality, but girls are disproportionately shamed into not acknowledging it exists. The presentation is less metaphorical and instead more direct, more confrontational. The heroine spends much of the book angrily objecting to the double standards she perceives. “I wouldn’t say one [style of worldbuilding] is better or worse,” Zhao said. “I did what I personally wanted to see in a story with a boy-girl piloting setup, which isn’t for everyone.”

‘Revue Starlight the Movie’ is the Best-Looking Film This Year (Fanbyte, Vrai Kaiser)

On the film’s emotional closure and a missed opportunity.

Revue Starlight the Movie is one of the most breathtaking films I’ve seen in a long while. The duels were always the highlight of the TV series, but here they’re electrifying spectacles that lovingly wear homage on their sleeves, from Adolescence of Utena to Mad Max: Fury Road to the Arcimboldo painting “Vertumnus.” Each fight feels like a short film unto itself, packed to the gills with details meant to convey the stories of each girl. The musical duets are stirring and memorable, harkening back to the genres that represented each girl in the show while evolving those familiar sounds with new complexities.

The script doesn’t exactly stop mattering at these points, but it becomes firmly secondary. The words are intoned in the same ritualistic, repetitive way as the historic and much-reused script of “Starlight,” less important in themselves than for the history they connect back to. In other words, prepare to hear the phrase “I’m going on to my next stage” about a dozen times. Each interlude among the secondary cast concludes uniquely, but with a unified sense of hope. It’s ultimately a story about trying again, and learning that there’s life beyond high school, and when those chords hit, they’re bigger than life and tenderly sincere.

There are a few sour notes scattered throughout Revue Starlight the Movie. Anyone who’s been involved in the world of theater knows that precious few actors are able to make a living from it, and while the script nods to both Nana and Junna having theatrical interests beyond acting on stage, they’re at best sidelined or at worst treated like a weakness or failing. It’s a shame, since anime has always been good about showing the heart and passion in seemingly unglamorous jobs, but it’s also somewhat understandable that the script elides it given that two-hour runtime. What lingers more is the resolution of Hikari and Karen’s conflict.

How LGBTQ+ stories have evolved and flourished in manga (Popverse, Latonya Pennington)

A historical overview of yuri and BL from the classic to today.

In addition to creating Rose of Versailles, Riyoko Ikeda also made another manga titled Claudine. Originally published in 1978, this single volume manga is a tragic story about a transgender man named Claude living in the 20th century. It is considered to be one of the earliest manga to feature a transgender protagonist.

Another mangaka considered part of the Forty-Niners is Keiko Takemiya, who created the yaoi story In The Sunroom. Published in 1970 in the shoujo magazine Bessatsu Shoujo Comic, the comic would be the first shoujo comic to feature a kiss between two male characters. While the comic would end in tragedy for the characters, it laid the groundwork for future yaoi works.

In addition to works by the Forty-Niners, the social and political activism of lesbians in the ’70s would also be the roots for yuri manga. In fact, the term ‘yuri’, has its origins in the first formal lesbian community known as Wakakusa no Kai (Fresh Green Club) and Japan’s first commercial gay magazine Barazoku. Both were established in 1971, and the latter would expand in 1976 to include a page for lesbians called ‘Yurizoku no Heya’ which means the ‘Lily Tribe’s Room’. This is where the term ‘yuri’ would get its name from, both definition wise and symbolically.

In contrast, the term ‘yaoi’ was coined in the ’80s by self-published Japanese fanzine writers Yasuko Sakata and Akiko Hatsu. Yaoi was abbreviated from the phrase ‘Yama nashi, ochi nashi, imi nashi’, which means ‘no climax, no punch line, no meaning’. Additionally, the yaoi fanzines became known as doujinshi and began to be distributed via conventions such as Comiket in 1975. In the late ’80s, the manga Patalliro would be one of the first yaoi manga to receive an anime adaptation.

TWEET: A note of Ubukata Tow’s involvement in an upcoming Netflix series; Ubukata, who will also be writing the upcoming RWBY anime, was arrested on (later dropped) charges of domestic violence in 2015. RWBY voice actor Arryn Zechs expressed discomfort with Ubukata’s involvement as a domestic abuse survivor; the issue was reportedly resolved internally, with Zechs deciding to donate her payment for the series to charity.

THREAD: Translation of a historical photo post of a young Ryukyuan being shamed in class for speaking his native language.

TWEET: Sign up for a free lecture/panel discussion on the emergence and importance of kawaii in girls’ pop culture.

AniFem Community

We’re also waiting for an Our Dreams at Dusk adaptation.

There's already a lot of great suggestions in the comments (Bloom Into You S2 being one of them!), but also Love After World Domination airing this season makes me long for heroine x villainess yuri sentai Superwomen In Love to receive an anime adaptation. Also I want a full length Kase-san anime rather than just the OVA it received.
Definitely Milk Morinaga's "Girl Friends". It's not only one of the best of the best yuri manga, it's never been adapted. As for studio. I would nominate: AIC (Sasameki Koto, Hourou Musuko), JC Staff (Aoi Hana), Qualia Animation (HoneyWorks' Kokuhaku series, or P.A. Works (lately, Shiroi Suna no Akuatōpu).

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