Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

First of all, many thanks to the audience member who attended Kathryn‘s and my Sakuracon panel “Cross-dressing for Fun and Profit in Anime and Manga”! You were all great, and we enjoyed your questions and feedback. We’re planning on publishing a version of our presentation on our blogs (and hopefully elsewhere if we’re lucky) complete with images and hyperlinks, so stay tuned.

Hiraga Gennai, or "Flail Hard with a Vengeance, a novel by me" (Vol. 10, p. 104)

Hiraga Gennai, though (Vol. 10, p. 104)

Although we ended up having to rush through the section on Ôoku, there seemed to be a lot of interest in the series. I realized when I was writing down information on Ôoku for a lovely con-goer who approached us afterward to chat about the series and Hiraga Gennai that I really, really needed to better organize my Ôoku posts instead of sending people to the category, which is starting to get rather large.  (more…)

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Introduction here. Spoilers for the Iemitsu (vol 2-4) and Tsunayoshi arcs (vol. 4-6), including the drama and the Ôoku: Eien film. Warnings: the plot of this story arc contains sexual assault and abuse, dubious consent, suicide, murder, and all the back-stabbing. I’ve kept the mostly images PG-13 (there’s a little gore in one) but the content is not safe for work.

"I'm not like the former Shogun, who agreed to anything." Vol. 183.

“I’m not like the former Shogun, who agreed to anything.” Vol. 183.

Brought to you by the Bechdel test

Let’s start with the most obvious point: Tsunayoshi can be a morally reprehensible woman precisely because the Ôoku has equal gender representation, both in her story arc and the work at large. (more…)

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Spoilers for the Iemitsu (vol 2-4) and  Tsunayoshi arcs (vol. 4-5), including the drama and the Ôoku: Eien film.

I have been thinking about this post for three years.

Vol. 4, p. 123. "Bored! Bored! Bored!" and sick of all her concubines.

Vol. 4, p. 123. “Bored! Bored! Bored!” and sick of all her concubines.

Initially, when I finished reading the Iemitsu-Arikoto story arc (see here for manga and here for drama recaps), I was emotionally raw. (more…)

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Ooku, Vol. 8, p. 188. Yoshimune and Hisamichi

Vol. 8, p. 188. Yoshimune and Hisamichi

I know most of my readers are familiar with Yoshinaga Fumi’s Ôoku, but in case you’re new here or would like to recommend the manga to a friend, I wrote a guest post over on Have You Nerd? introducing the English-version of the manga.

In 1716, Tokugawa Yoshimune, the great-granddaughter of the first Tokugawa shogun, become shogun herself, despite being the third daughter of a branch family and having a low-ranking concubine as a father. During her reign as Shogun, Yoshimune enacted a number of reforms, though she maintained Japan’s closed-country status for fear of a foreign invasion if anyone learned that the country was actually run by women.

Not the version of Japanese history you learned in school? Then get thee to a purveyor of fine manga, for you have much to study.

Full article: “History Lessons from the Tokugawa Matriarchy: Ôoku: The Inner Chambers” on Have You Nerd?

If you’d like to read my more in-depth analyses of the Japanese version, check out my Ôoku category here on the blog or start here.

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you enjoy the final tragic episode of Ôoku: Tanjô, a.k.a. a preponderance of nope. This recap contains (major) spoilers for the drama and the manga. Episode 9 recap here; manga analysis hereÔoku category (film, manga, and drama) here.

Aired Dec. 14, 2012 on TBS.


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Regarding the education system and social “common knowledge” that leads to ignorance and erasure, check out this post on the causes and effects of the ANA commercial from the perspective of a writer who doesn’t fit neatly into the “gaijin-san” stereotypes. Reblogged with permission and my gratitude.

Originally posted on Lucky ☆ Hill:

This is a very long post. To summarize for the TL;DR crowd, what I’m getting at is that the stereotype of “Gaijin-san” doesn’t exist in a vacuum, that there is a host of racial problems in Japan and that’s part of what makes Gaijin-san so aggravating.

Recently I found out about All Nippon Airways’ unfortunate decision to air an ad featuring a man in Japan’s ubiquitous “Gaijin-san” costume: a large nose and a blond wig. Honestly it left me stupefied because 1. the nose used was extremely large even by Gaijin-san costume standards, and 2. I had come to believe that the Gaijin-san costume was fading out of use. I remember seeing it in the variety shop InCube, being sold with Halloween costumes in 2009, but never again after that year in that store. I’d always check for it because the first time I saw it I was blown away…

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Note: this post has been updated a couple times, and while I don’t agree with all the points in arguments I’ve seen regarding xenophobia vs. racism, some have a lot of merit, and I do appreciate constructive criticism. The major updates I’ve made are marked as addenda/editorial notes throughout.

Some things to consider for those writing about the ANA commercial:

I get that if you’re looking at the commercial from the perspective of a person who lives in a country with a white majority that the commercial may appear to be turning the tables on white racism, and that white Americans certainly have a long, embarrassing history of racism, including yellow-face, black-face, and red-face. In fact, How I Met Your Mother just had a similar issue with some “kung-fu slap” “homage” to martial arts movies, and Katy Perry’s problematic AMA performance in November got a lot of well deserved condemnation.

My main beef is that the people claiming that the commercial isn’t racist is that, in Japan, a combo racism* and xenophobia against white people, Black people, non-Japanese Asian people, and multiracial people, and well, literally anyone who doesn’t appear “Japanese” enough,” is a real, institutionalized and socialized thing that actually affects people, particularly long-term workers, permanent residents, and their families, especially their children (see: Half/ハーフ: Mixed Race in Japan and “White Japanese People”).

*Addendum: I would say that, upon closer scrutiny, white “gaijin” costumes and using white people as props in commercials is a large part of the xenophobia problem because it establishes “white” as “this is what a ‘foreigner’ looks like,” which also erases the experiences of non-white-appearing non-Japanese in Japan. However, I would draw a distinction between the xenophobia that scholars, travelers, short-term workers (like JETs), and immigrants coming from a more privileged position (in terms of race, appearance, and often finances) in their home country experience and the racism experienced by people who become permanent residents, stay long-term, raise children (multiracial or otherwise), or grow up in Japan as “non-Japanese” because of legal (non-citizens and especially non-permanent residents) reasons or appearance. I would also posit that the xenophobia directed that the former impacts the racism directed at the latter more, as it feeds the ideas of what “foreign” looks like vs. who is “really” Japanese.

Image from Japan Probe. (Article recommended!)

“Hello Gaijin-San” costume. Image from Japan Probe. (Article recommended!)


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If you need a palate-cleanser, I wrote a guest post about Welcome to Night Vale over on Have You Nerd?

Originally posted on Have You Nerd:

All Hail the Glow Cloud:

How Welcome to Night Vale Won My Heart

By: Leah Zoller

I tend to describe the podcast Welcome to Night Vale as a surrealist fantasy version of Prairie Home Companion. Each 20-25-minute episode is narrated by Night Vale Community Radio host Cecil Gershwin Palmer (voiced by Cecil Baldwin), who gives community updates for the rural desert town of Night Vale, where John Peters–you know, the farmer?–grows imaginary corn; a floating cat hangs out in the radio station men’s bathroom; wheat and wheat byproducts may attack; and a five-headed dragon is running for office.

night vale

In addition to community updates, the weather report features music from an eclectic variety of artists, and the (fake) sponsorships have been targeted to serve the needs of the community:

Step into your nearest Subway restaurant today, and try their new 6-inch mashed potato sub! Top it with a delicious assortment of…

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In this gender reader: more on Abenomics, Disney dimorphism, video games before gendered marketing, and more.

I have never met a person who could completely cover my hands in theirs. I'd be making that face, too. Image from Frozen via Family Inequality.

HULK SMASH YOUR DELICATE LADY HAND. Image from Frozen via Family Inequality.


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Last month, four Swedish cinemas decided to start adding Bechdel-test ratings for movies in order to address gender parity in the film industry.*

Bechdel-test champion Miyazaki consistently has female representation in films.  Enjoy this screenshot from my senior thesis(!)

Enjoy this screenshot from my senior thesis! Bechdel-test champion Miyazaki consistently has female representation in films, and not just in the form of antagonists like San and Eboshi from Mononoke-hime, but real female friends (not frenemies), allies, coworkers, and sisters. Why, it’s almost as if female characters were capable of having as many different types of relationships as male ones…

The Bechdel Test, as we know, is simply a way to evaluate female representation in a film. It is not a test of quality or of feminist themes, only of female representation (or racial representation for Racial Bechdel). (more…)

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