Boys Run the Riot, Visual Kei, and Gender Euphoria Through Fashion
Kazuma Hashimoto spotlights a new fashion manga with a trans protagonist and how the world of visual kei helped him with his own coming out.
Tanushri Shah champions the Swimming Anime’s lasting appeal and strong character writing while taking a critical look at the constant fanservice and non-committal ship-teasing that often gets the franchise dismissed.
What was your under-the-radar fave of 2020?
From COVID delays to licensing weirdness, a lot of good shows have ended up unnoticed.
Speaking From The Chest: Streamer Receives Death Threats After Holding Console Makers To Account (Kotaku, Ash Parrish)
Hardware reviewer Natasha Zinda questioned the lack of Black women being given official content such as consoles for review despite Xbox and Playstation’s tweets proclaiming support for BLM, and has received a wall of online harassment.
“Where are people who look like me reviewing tech?” Zinda asked herself as she watched influencers, reviewers, and fellow streamers get Xboxes and later PlayStations. “Where are the Black women?”
This conversation wasn’t new to Zinda. It’s one she’s frequently had with peers over who gets access in the video game industry and why. “‘These people are bigger than you guys. You guys shouldn’t get them first,’” she said, repeating arguments people offered in response to her questions of why the streamers chosen to review consoles are overwhelmingly white and male. “And I’m like, bigger doesn’t matter because I believe in impact over numbers. It’s something that we believe in very much. And how did these guys get so big? Having access to stuff like this does give you a competitive edge.”
Zinda is describing a kind of feedback loop that works to keep marginalized creators shut out of the opportunities that allow them to grow. If a console maker only chooses to support the biggest streamers with the biggest followings, who again skew white, able-bodied, cis and male—that exclusive access increases the profile of those streamers, further guaranteeing only streamers who are white, able-bodied, cis, and male will continue to recieve those opportunities. By choosing to support marginalized creators—Black folk, queer folk, disabled folk—console makers can break the loop and affect the change they seem to desperately want, yet can never show progress toward whenever its time to show a diversity report.
Since she was a highly visible Black woman with the credentials and the experience to review a console, if console makers wanted to support Black creators like they keep saying they want to, why not start with her?
A Profile of the Sparkling Life of Shojo Manga Pioneer Eiko Hanamura (Anime News Network, Lynzee Loveridge & Matthieu Pinon)
Tribute to the influential artist who passed away at 93 this month.
Hanamura enrolled in the Joshibi University of Art and Design in Tokyo’s Suginami ward in hopes of pursuing an artistic career, but found romance instead. She met stage actor Eiji Hanamura, dropped out of college, got married, and moved to Osaka with him while he pursued his theater career. The two began living in an apartment above a bookstore that rented manga to customers, including works by Osamu Tezuka and Sanpei Shirato. In the late 1950s, manga was considered a burgeoning medium and even the bookstore owner Toshihiko Fujiwara was drawing his own Kashihon manga. Book rentals, including manga rentals, soared in post-war Japan. Fujiwara recruited Hanamura to help him with his comics and payed her…far more than she was previously earning.
In that bookstore in Osaka in 1959, she made her debut as a manga artist with her story Purple Fairy. Her story was groundbreaking; even though shōjo manga was in its infancy, the genre was already dominated by male artists. In 1964, her work moved out of the bookstore rental shelves and into Nakayoshi with the publication of Shiroi Hana ni Tsuzuku Michi (A Road to White Flowers). Her popularity continued to grow when, in 1966, Weekly Margaret magazine introduced The Girl in the Fog (Kiri no Naka no Shōjo). The story grabbed teen readers’ attention with its depiction of a relationship between a girl and her mother and drama between classmates. The series was adapted into a live-action show in 1975 titled Katei no Himitsu (Family Secrets).
How homogeneous is Japan? (Noahpinion, Noah Smith)
A brief cultural context on how Japan quantifies cultural and ethnic identity.
In fact, this impulse toward homogeneity doesn’t just work at the level of nationhood, but in terms of ethnicity as well. Just as many Americans whose ancestors have been in the country for a long time come to identify as “white”, Japanese people whose ancestors have lived in Japan for a while come to identify as “Yamato”. Race and nationhood are even more intertwined in Japan than in the U.S. The minorities that exist — Koreans, Brazilians, and so on — are generally excluded based on citizenship status rather than linguistic or physical differences. Japan doesn’t have birthright citizenship, so many native-born residents of Japan, who speak no language other than Japanese, hold foreign passports.
This is how Japan tends toward homogeneity as time goes on. Zainichi Koreans, Japan’s largest and most prominent minority, have been steadily becoming Japanese through intermarriage and naturalization.
Of course, here’s where visual distinctiveness does end up mattering. If a guy who looks like this tells you he’s “Japanese”, it’s pretty easy to just accept that as fact.
In fact, Masayoshi Son IS a Japanese citizen, and the only reason people think of him as being part of the Korean minority is that he’s famous enough that the media looked up and reported his ancestry.
But for someone like Ariana Miyamoto, it’s a lot harder for some Japanese people to accept that she’s “Japanese.”
In fact, when Miyamoto won the Miss Universe beauty pageant in 2015, there was a ferocious racist backlash, leading other Japanese people to jump in and defend her.
In other words, the rise of visually distinctive Japanese nationals is now forcing Japan to struggle with some of the same issues of appearance, race, identity, and nationhood that other rich nations are now dealing with. For a good in-depth coverage of these issues and struggles, I recommend the 2013 documentary “Hafu: The Mixed-Race Experience in Japan”. Encouragingly, racial exclusion seems to be losing the debate in Japan for now, as evidenced by the far smaller backlash against Japan’s second mixed-race beauty queen, Priyanka Yoshikawa.
FOCUS: Genderless uniforms spread in Japan as LGBT students gain notice (Kyodo News)
The push for across-the-board change is to keep trans students from potentially becoming easily identifiable targets for bullying.
Kyodo News surveys of education boards found that more than 600 prefecture-run schools in at least 19 of Japan’s 47 prefectures have relaxed restrictions regarding uniform dress codes, such as permitting girls to wear trousers instead of skirts.
Some schools in the 28 other prefectures have followed suit, although definitive data is not available from their education boards. Nevertheless, inquiries by Kyodo News found that school uniform choices will be expanded nationwide to all prefectural high schools starting next spring.
Clothes once viewed as “standard attire” on school campuses have caused mental anguish for students who identify as transgender, as well as in some cases for lesbian, gay and bisexual students.
25 Days of Manga, Day 8 of 25 – My Broken Mariko (Review) (Backlit Pixels, Mercedez Clewis)
A review touching in particular on the manga’s handling of suicide.
TL;DR: My Broken Mariko is a heartwrenching, heartbreaking, and soul shattering story about death, abuse, grief, and healing. It’s also a story about love and friendship and affection and continuing to live with others in mind. With a dose of comedy, a heck of a lot of heart, and a resolution that will leave you sobbing, My Broken Mariko is one of the best manga of 2020. Read with care, but if you can, please don’t pass up such an important josei title in localization and manga in general.
Read If You Like…
* Stories about queer and sapphic characters
* Stories about grief and healing
* Stories with frank looks at suicide and suicidality
* Stories about female friendship and relationships
* Josei manga
VIDEO: On trauma and masculinity in FLCL.
VIDEO: On the push-pull between Like a Dragon’s earnest plot and its throwaway punchlines about the unhoused.
TWEET: Short jacket designed for wheelchair users.
TWEET: Report of domestic violence by A3! actor Ozawa Ren.
THREAD: Looking specifically at the anti-Japanese racism of Cyberpunk 2077.
We’ll have another chance to talk 2020 faves soon, but this seemed like a good opening salvo.
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