Your Happening World (March 16nd)

  • What’s the Deal with Kemono Friends?– I wasn’t even paying enough attention to the announcements or the upcoming anime charts to know that what would become the Japanese anime fandom’s biggest anime of Winter 2017—a moe animal girls show based off of a defunct mobile game rendered in exceedingly poor CG—even existed. But here we are
  • A letter to Apex editors re: the intersectional SFF roundtable – It is not your choice to publish RH that I find appalling, but your specific choice to ask her to contribute to a roundtable on, of all things, intersectionality.
  • The Anti-Library of Kemono Friends: Fans, Theories, and Everything in Between – With a plot like that, it’s easy to think of the show as a Dora the Explorer thing — except it aired as a late night anime. The more you watch the show too, the more you realize the Japanese fanbase might be onto something. There seems to be a cynical, dark past to Japari Park amidst all this cute girls doing cute things crap.
  • Being an itemised list of disagreements – The main reason RH/BS was able to bully people with impunity for such a long time was because it looked, from the outside, as though the SFF community condoned her behaviour. You’d see a Known Cool Person chatting with her on Twitter as though it was OK for RH to chase people around on the Internet having a go at them,
  • Forgotten Realms: The Isekai Boom of the 90’s – The main difference between isekai then and isekai now is the intended audience – 25 years ago, it was a staple of the shoujo demographic, rather than today’s escapist playgrounds for young men. Ordinary young women were pulled into alternate worlds where attractive young men told them they had a special destiny to fulfill. They went on grand adventures and usually – though not always – fell in love along the way.
  • The 2017 Hugo Awards: Why Hugo? – So no, nominating for the Hugos this year is not an act of resistance. But I think that it can be an act of affirmation. A reminder that just because the world is going crazy around us, doesn’t mean we’re not going to hold on to what’s ours. That just because we seem to be surrounded (and governed) by people who care about nothing and no one, doesn’t mean we’re not going to keep caring about things ourselves–even when they are completely trivial–and keep working to preserve them.
  • Peter Chung on Japanese animation theory – It’s very easy for even a casual viewer to notice that Japanese animation has a different “feel” than American animation. Usually the difference is attributed to a divergent cultural viewpoint. What most viewers don’t realize is how much it actually comes down to the physical differences in the technical processes.
  • Breaking Gender Norms, Healing Trauma and Finding Acceptance in PriPara – It’s never stated that Love is trans, but it’s very easy to make the connection between her self-image to that of many trans women. I personally couldn’t help but view her as trans as I watched the episode the first time and the same goes for later episodes and rewatches. Intentional or not, PriPara made what might be the most positive and accepting portrayal of trans women in anime with Love’s character. Nobody ever bashes Love for her build, not during her reveal or later episodes. She’s always looked up to by the people around her as a beautiful woman whose height and etc. only enhances her lovely appearance.

Fifteen years later & still not famous

Fifteen years ago I wrote the first post on this blog as a way of getting me to shout at my television less often. It worked. These days I shout at Twitter.

A lot happened in those fifteen years. I moved jobs three-four times (once involuntarily), got three cats and lost one, started living together with Sandra, bought our first house together, donated a kidney to her, spent two years struggling to ger her healthy again, failed, learned to live alone again. The blog meanwhile continued steadily, madly swerving in content as well as blogging system every few years, from pure reacting to the news using blosxom (as recommended by Charlie Stross) to finally settling down to WordPress with mostly anime, taking my cue in this if nothing else from Steve Den Beste. Its archives are now a vast warehouse of half assed ideas and temporary obsessions and every so often I look at them and despair.

The world has changed a lot since 2002 too as well. We got a mad Republican regime hell bent in driving its own country to destruction while sowing the seeds for war, pandering to a following of out and out racists and assholes who don’t care how bad it gets, as long as those people get what’s coming. The UK meanwhile is not much better, with a sycophantic prime minister happy to lick US arse and pretending there’s such a thing as a Special Relationship while flogging of the country to whoever wants it. And in the Netherlands some xenophobic wanker is poised to win big in the upcoming national elections while establishment parties can only countered with a watered down version of same.

Sometimes you wonder why you get out of bed.

Naoki Urasawa’s Manga Exertions

Urasawa Naoki no Manben is a NHK documentary series in which mangaka Urasawa Naoki (20th Century Boys, Yawara, Master Keaton) goes around talking to and filming other cartoonists at work. There has been one special and two seasons of each four episodes so far:

  • Pilot: featuring Urasawa himself as well as Kawaguchi Kaiji (Zipang) and Yamashita Kazumi (The Life of Genius Professor Yanagizawa)
  • S01E01: Higashimura Akiko (Princess Jellyfish)
  • S01E02: Fujita Kazuhiro (Ushio and Tora)
  • S01E03: Asano Inio (Dead Dead Demon’s De De De De Destruction)
  • S01E04: Saitō Takao (Golgo 13)
  • S02E01: Hagio Moto (They Were Eleven)
  • S02E02: Hanazawa Kengo (Boys on the Run)
  • S02E03: Igarashi Daisuke (Children of the Sea)
  • S02E04: Furuya Usamaru (Lychee Light Club) NO English subtitles

Urasawa was inspired by an 1985 documentary the NHK broadcasted about Tezuka Osamu, the God of Manga. A third season of Manben was scheduled to run in September 2016.

Originally published at Metafilter.

Why you should watch Youjo Senki in one scene

Japanese salaryman turned ten year old warrior mage in an alternate, 1920ties Germany uses his/her little girl voice to obey the letter, if not the spirit of international war crime law, then bombards the undefended capital of the enemy. So edgy you can cut yourself, but the series so far manage to balance Tanya’s coolness and bad-ass attitude with how sick (s)he is not to mention how fucked over by the god that landed him/her in this predicament. This could’ve been fodder for the anime reichwing, but the occassional Trump meme video notwithstanding, it seems to have managed to escape that fate, even though blonde, murderous under age girls are like catnip to that crowd normally.

I’ve worked with Kobayashi-san

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon: Kobayashi-san at work

I’ve worked with Kobayashi-san. Not literally of course, but with women like her, testers and developers in an overwhelmingly male workplace, often the only woman in a department or team, sometimes pioneers. In the almost twenty years I’ve been working in IT I’ve seen a fair few of them and while the numbers of women in IT has crept up, my current team of fourteen still only has two female developers. Sometimes it seems IT has actually regressed in this regards, software development becoming more male dominated rather than less.

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon: our typical IT workplace

As we’ve seen throughout the series so far is that Kobayashi-san doesn’t dress very girly, shall we say. At home she wears comfortable, somewhat slobby clothes, jeans and sweaters. At work she dresses like her male colleagues, shirt and tie, not overly formal, but good enough for IT work. She gives the impression of not overtly caring about how she looks, other than being neat enough for the office. It stands in sharp contrast to the usual office lady we see in anime, dressed in a work uniform or at the very least in skirt and blouse; Kobayashi-san must be deliberately dressing as one of the boys, to not stand out or perhaps to not be mistaken for a secretary. You wonder what her co-workers make of her behind her back.

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon: being asked for advice

In episode five Tohru goes to visit Kobayashi-san in her workplace, giving us the first extended look at her work life. What struck me immediately was that she seemed slightly older and more experienced than her co-workers. She’s acknowledged as such too by the people she works with. Takiya ask her for help with his own projects and a little bit later we see her advicing two other co-workers, not to mention that she has to take over the project of a co-worker off sick in order to solve a problem that cropped up in production. Her expertise is at least unquestioned, but at the same time her nominal boss sees her as an easy target, expecting her to do his work, demeaning and belittling her and blind to the more important work she’s already doing. Not that Kobayashi is defenceless: we later find out that somebody dobbed her boss in with his superiors about his work ethics, getting him fired…

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon: bullied by the boss

The mangaka behind the original manga apparantly drew inspiration from his own work experience in IT, which tells me some experiences are universal, because everything I mentioned above I’ve seen with female co-workers of mine. AsI said, I’ve worked with a fair few of slightly older, much more experienced and knowledgable, tough as nails women like Kobayashi-san. Not always appreciated them, but still.