Without any doubt, I didn’t talk about nearly as many things as I wanted to this year. Of course, there’s only so much I can fit in a year and as much of a priority as I’ve made writing for this blog, there are still things that come first, so it was only a matter of time that something like this happened, but nonetheless there was still things I wished I could talk about. Sometimes the topic I had on hand was too short to go on for the usual length I like my posts to be, sometimes I thought I had something I wanted to talk about and ended up having nothing beyond an idea, and sometimes I just didn’t have the time to write about them. Of course, I won’t touch on all of the ideas I’ve had this year because I do still need material for 2018, but today in celebration of New Year’s Eve, let’s touch on a few of my short lived ideas from 2017.
With 2017 being a year in which Netflix and Amazon started playing our game by their rules, I even talked about Amazon’s abomination a handful of times and while I feel like the anime community at large drove them into the ground to the point where their social media team has abandoned their Twitter account since July at the time of writing, there was a handful of incidents I wasn’t able to cover and by now people who know much more about the subject and have said everything I want to say and more on the topic: Those surrounding a few of FUNimation’s “simuldubs” and their scripts.
The main outrage started with the dub for this Winter’s Kobayashi-san Chi no Maidragon, or Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid in English, and a change miss Jamie Marchi claimed responsibility for in a line changed by the character she voiced. There had already been a bit of warm water the dub staff was sitting in due to a less major change about how the main character, Kobayashi, outright stated her sexual preference whereas the Japanese version never did, and when Marchi’s change hit, there was mas outrage.
The scene in question was when a fanservice bait character, Quetzalcoatl, arrives at the home of Kobayashi in a much more conservative outfit than what she usually wears. While in the Japanese version when Quetzalcoatl is asked about her change in outfit she says something along the lines of people always saying things to her about what she was wearing, so she changed to one with less exposure. However, in the English version, Marchi changed the line to “Oh, those pesky patriarchal societal demands were getting on my nerves, so I changed clothes.” While, obviously, that’s a bit of a leap, and my pointing out of one of Marchi’s future unnecessary missteps both got me blocked by her and got her to subtweet me, there wasn’t much to add to an already furious conversation.
More than anything, the issue from everyone was that in this instance was that Marchi’s changes felt like the entire dub team if not the entirety of FUNimation was pushing a feminist agenda in a context where one did not previously exist, inside of a show where such subject matter was previously absent. I don’t hate FUNimation by any means I honestly don’t think there was any ill will in the dub team’s intentions, the move they decided to make hit them hard and they felt it. Future lines in the dub’s production made the characters and the show in general feel much different in tone, and for some people ruined the show entirely. With the dub script straight-washing characters, pushing a feminist agenda, and then going on to stick by these changes, it dug itself a proper grave. While I’d love to talk about this topic, several things prevented me from doing so back when it was relevant, and now a fantastic video from The Cartoon Cipher on YouTube covers everything I’d likely say and then some and is honestly worth checking out here.
Fast forward a little into the Summer season and say hello to another, yes another, entree into the Fate franchise, Fate/Apocrypha. As a fan of the original light novel and having looked forward to an anime adaptation for Apocrypha since anime adaptations for Fate started kicking up in production, I was a little disappointed to see that the series was grabbed by Netflix and wouldn’t be simulcasted. But, that’s not what I want to focus on, and instead I wanted to put a spotlight on the internet’s new favourite tomgirl, Astolfo.
While the idea for the post mainly spawned from a combination of frustration and people being stupid about something trivial, I quickly realised in it’s current state there was very little I could say about the topic. Due to the ever-growing popularity of the Fate franchise, and due to the internet’s love-hate relationship with the tomgirl trope, Astolfo simultaneously became extremely popular and extremely hated. Fan art of Astolfo started coming from every corner of Twitter and pixiv, but with it came a distaste for the trope and Astolfo in general like I’ve never seen before and a growth in a question that was both a meme and a genuine mindset of whether or not it was gay to like a tomgirl as a man.
The mindset and questioning of something relatively extremely trivial has been around for much longer than just this one instance, but this time it bit with a much larger set of fangs and brought an incredibly insensitive term used to describe the trope into the spotlight of some sections of the anime community. From my perspective, however, it created more of a question of “Does it really matter?” For every person who shouted from the rooftops that it was a completely heterosexual thing to want to sleep with a tomgirl from a Japanese cartoon, all I saw was someone so uncomfortable with their own sexuality that they had to start petty arguments and repeat their sexual orientation more times than anyone ever asked to convince themselves they were what they saw as normal.
It was almost amusing how a boy in a skirt with a ponytail and pink hair could make everyone question whether or not something a girl in all ways but gender and sex that was also fictional made them homosexual. Fate/Apocrypha comes to an end today in Japan so with enough luck the stigma will vanish until another tomgirl rolls along for a single cour production, but overall Astolfo kicked up some dirt in the air that created a small level of low-key homophobia and transphobia that was eye-rolling worthy for some people and genuinely upsetting for others to see on a regular occurrence. Despite my ability to sit back and see this mainly as something amusing, there’s no denying that it woke up a few unfriendly fellows that could have stayed asleep for a bit longer — this is even putting aside people that hated Astolfo and anyone who liked him merely because of his attachment to a production under the Fate label and even though half the people complaining have never seen Fate/Apocrypha, let alone have experienced anything within Fate.
Putting aside future rant material, the last untouched topic I want to look at was brought by the Fall season’s Net-juu no Susume or Recovery of an MMO Junkie in English. Much to my surprise, a show I honestly expected to be bad ended up pleasing some of the people I considered to be borderline unpleasable from my Twitter timeline for multiple weeks, so I decided to dive in and was pleasantly surprised. Net-juu no Susume was about a 30 year-old woman becoming a hikikomori and devolved her life into staying inside and playing an MMO all day every day. What I didn’t expect was the show’s display of an online relationship.
Making friends and especially meeting romantic partners through the Internet has more or less always had a bit of stigma around them, especially by older generations. The idea of meeting complete strangers online and getting to know them through video games or message forums, or anything else exclusively online and then getting to become close friends with them exclusively through online interactions and having never seen these individuals in real life sounds like pure madness to older folks. So when a show came along and was able to very tastefully show how these online friendships develop and even romantic undertones can begin to form exclusively through online interactions, I was quite happy.
The show definitely had it’s faults and by the end of the production I felt like overall the show could have both done better and explored it’s subject matter better, but the fact that a show was able to show the creation of these kinds of creations that didn’t seem too boiled down and then on top of that create a narrative that properly explored the importance of these online interactions with online friends to people. It was able to properly paint the level of concern online friend circles have for one another, which was rare in media in general let alone in anime at the time of it’s airing. The main reason I never talked about this was because there was only so many times I could say I enjoyed how the show expressed something very real in a very good way, and most of the times I started mapping out the editorial in my head it slowly just turned into me talking about the show in general, however my approval of what Net-juu no Susume did felt like it needed to be made public.
So those were a few topics I never got to touch in 2017. Here’s looking forward to 2018 and all of the topics it will bring.
I wish I had done more editorials this year than I ended up doing. Along with something Nick’s recommended me, I decided I’m going to make my New Year’s resolution to get back on the ball with releasing these weekly and on time. I hope you all liked this week’s post, and if you have anything to say about any of the topics I briefly touched on, feel free to leave them in the comments; I read each one I get. Also, if you’d like to see what I’m up to whenever I’m not writing for this blog you can follow me on Twitter. Happy New Year’s Eve, and I’ll see you all on Friday.
The featured image for this post was drawn by soyatu.