Continuing our 2017 yearbook.
In March 2017 we covered moe, fanservice, and magical girls—and survived.
It was a special month for me because we cleared what felt like two major milestones: Elisabeth O’Neill’s piece in defence of moe and Alex Henderson’s piece on dark magical girls. Both had pitched these pieces when we were not offering pay, and authors and editors alike had spent months refining and working on them.
I first instituted the editorial system in 2016, once I realised the team were keen to help more than I was letting them, but it evolved substantially between November 2016 and February 2017. It’s a highly collaborative process anyway, but as Elisabeth and Alex had been caught up in the system’s evolution, their pieces took longer to edit than they would have today. However, they were each extremely patient, engaged and lovely to work with, and I encouraged both of them to pitch again (which they did!).
It was really meaningful to me that I edit Elisabeth’s piece, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I had made my name as somebody who dislikes moe (this is still true). It felt important to demonstrate that I could be a balanced editor – hopefully proving that I could be a fair editor-in-chief. Secondly, I had edited Lauren’s piece on sexual fanservice (which I also continue to dislike) and found the process extremely valuable. Taking a topic I personally dislike and finding common ground with someone who feels positively about it has not only been rewarding, but also sparked some thought-provoking discussions amongst our readers.
Speaking of thought-provoking discussions, Alex’s piece on magical girls kicked off a big discussion in the wider community. (Though my memories of it are mostly that doing the final edit and uploading Alex’s piece to the site meant I completely spoiled myself for Madoka Magica, which I still haven’t seen. Occupational hazard!) It’s always interesting to see AniFem posts pop up in my social media from sources I wouldn’t have expected, and that definitely happened with this one.
We also featured our second ever My Fave is Problematic post, by Annie Hackney. This is such an important category for me. The longer I spent in anime fandom, the more I realised that one person’s pit of misogyny is another person’s source of feminist empowerment. I created the category hoping to showcase more of these shows and was delighted when Annie offered such a perfect candidate for it.
In the meantime, the team was settling into what has become a familiar routine: someone asks in group chat “Can I do this?” and almost always gets told “Go for it!” The members of Team AniFem always have priority over the feature slots, because they put in so, so many unpaid hours before finally receiving minimum wage for their efforts. I think we maintain a good balance of team vs non-team posts, but it’s one benefit that they can use this platform to share work they want more widely read, as Vrai did this week.
Other than that, this was a month where we pretty much kept on top of everything—all the Talk posts and Links posts are up, we had three Throwback posts and two podcasts, which were fortnightly at the time. But what a two podcasts they were.
The Ghost in the Shell episode was a triumph for me, as author Brian Ruh and film critic Valerie Complex agreed to be guests on our very new podcast. Brian had followed the AniFem Twitter account early on and I knew from his public statements that he was sympathetic to us. Valerie I had only heard talking about Ghost in the Shell on an ANNCast. I was (and still am) keen to feature more Black voices in AniFem, so contacted her about that and she was immensely supportive and warm.
Both Brian and Valerie were lovely to speak to, and I had a wonderful time talking about a franchise that, quite honestly, bores me to tears. We discussed returning for a follow-up after seeing the Hollywood remake—which I still haven’t seen, and would still be up for podcasting on.
It was also probably Peter’s biggest technical triumph to date on Chatty AF. Peter took on editing our podcast with little experience, and this episode was a baptism of fire. Plagued with technical difficulties, it took him a good deal of time to cobble together the franken-recordings. We discussed dropping the episode entirely a few times, but he persevered. That we ended up with a coherent episode is entirely thanks to his refusal to drop it—despite not yet being paid.
I’ve mentioned before that Re:ZERO is incredibly important to me, partly because it was my first time immersing in a specific show’s fandom for the first time in 10 years, but mainly because it’s how I met both Peter and Kim. I was delighted to be able to podcast on it, and knowing it so well made it easy to talk about.
Where our first podcast had four participants and was my first time trying to navigate the technology and facilitate discussion, this time we cut the numbers to three and I felt the flow of a podcast working for the first time. (Four participants is fine, but harder to facilitate – too many polite pauses!) I had a lot of fun, and for the first time I listened to a podcast featuring my own voice more than once, just because I enjoyed the conversation so much.
This was also the podcast that reinforced an idea I’d had for a watchalong format, which will show up a little later in the yearbook. (If any feminists out there haven’t seen Re:ZERO and would like to, I would love to podcast on it again in the current watchalong format!)
Read the rest of our 2017 Yearbook
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