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This Week in Anime - Stars Align is Here and It's Hella Queer


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#874695



Joined: 07 Sep 2017
Posts: 14
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:01 pm Reply with quote
Sometimes you gotta ask youself...
How are japanese authors, that live in an ultra conservative society, capable of delivering good queer stories without feeling forced?

Meanwhile Americans just.... Try to stick to an agenda instead of telling good stories with those queer elements. I dont know man haha

Also I love this show, Im not a queer person and I really don't care a lot about that stuff, but I like it when some stories manage to add those elements in a satisfactory way
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FilthyCasual



Joined: 01 Jun 2015
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:39 pm Reply with quote
Half of those subs are completely unreadable.
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wolf10



Joined: 23 Jan 2016
Posts: 386
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:40 pm Reply with quote
And then I guiltily remember putting off watching this show because I was so sure that no matter how much "representation" it seemed to include, it would certainly end up shitting the bed and leaving me feeling bad about having watched it. The only thing that hurts worse than no representation is bad representation, after all, which anime is unfortunately really good at. But I'll always have Haruchika.

(Totally unrelated, but about half of the subs on Andy's screencaps are borderline illegible.)
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octopodpie
ANN Managing Editor


Joined: 02 May 2011
Posts: 1904
Location: Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:56 pm Reply with quote
^ hopefully we'll get those replaced soon. You can thank Funi for its white subs.

EDIT: It's updated with legible pictures!
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FireChick



Joined: 26 Mar 2006
Posts: 1619
Location: United States
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2019 6:17 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
Meanwhile Americans just.... Try to stick to an agenda instead of telling good stories with those queer elements. I dont know man haha


Do you have any examples of shows that do that? I keep hearing this get thrown around at nearly every new show that comes out, but I have yet to find any evidence of such.

Honestly, the only thing I read that tried to promote an agenda was Elsie Dinsmore, this super old children's book series that tried way too hard to convince little girls to be passive, submissive, Jesus-loving automatons who must always obey their parents and treat their words as law, even if they're wrong or are abusing you.
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kotomikun



Joined: 06 May 2013
Posts: 842
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2019 6:20 pm Reply with quote
#874695 wrote:
How are japanese authors, that live in an ultra conservative society, capable of delivering good queer stories without feeling forced?

Meanwhile Americans just.... Try to stick to an agenda instead of telling good stories with those queer elements. I dont know man haha


Well... in a society less open to these things, you're less likely to see deliberately in-your-face cases of it. Mostly, though, I think those of us in the US and/or the heavily-Americanized internet have just been conditioned to see anything remotely progressive as "having an agenda."

We have an extremely polarized culture--Japan may be more conservative overall, but they don't seem to have the endless civil war that we're stuck in. Half the population doesn't completely lose their minds every time there's a gay guy on TV, or a woman in charge of something, or whatever. Many of them don't like such things, of course, but that "nail that sticks out" mentality swings both ways, and keeps their conservatives from being as vicious as ours. Whereas everything in our culture is to some degree a backlash against something someone on the other side did, making it louder and more aggressive... and more preaching to the choir, making the polarization gradually worsen.

I'm still not really sure which mindset works better for social change. Kind of a tortoise and the hare situation. Just depends how much time the hare spends trying to kick the crap out of the one who won the previous race.
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Princess_Irene



Joined: 16 Dec 2008
Posts: 1876
Location: The castle beyond the Goblin City
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2019 6:29 pm Reply with quote
FireChick wrote:


Honestly, the only thing I read that tried to promote an agenda was Elsie Dinsmore, this super old children's book series that tried way too hard to convince little girls to be passive, submissive, Jesus-loving automatons who must always obey their parents and treat their words as law, even if they're wrong or are abusing you.


A fellow Elsie Dinsmore survivor! Damn, those books are awful, but yes, they are the perfect example of a series trying to promote an agenda.
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yuna49



Joined: 27 Aug 2008
Posts: 3181
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2019 7:21 pm Reply with quote
After this week's episode I can't tell whether Akane is trying to make a statement about the poor state of Japanese parenting or the trials and tribulations of coming to grips with an LGBTQ identity. Obviously both themes are at work here, but the parenting issues have been in the forefront for the last couple of episodes now. One has to wonder what Akane's own childhood was like to create a show like this.

Noein didn't have the best of parents either, especially Yuu's brittle and controlling mother who has similarities to Nao's. But Haruka's mom was a decent person, as was Miho's mother despite her flakiness. Divorce was also an issue in that show as it is here. In Stars Align, though, I can't find a single admirable parent.

kotomikun wrote:
We have an extremely polarized culture--Japan may be more conservative overall, but they don't seem to have the endless civil war that we're stuck in. Half the population doesn't completely lose their minds every time there's a gay guy on TV, or a woman in charge of something, or whatever.

I think this is way overstated. I grew up in the fifties and early sixties when every television show and commercial showed white-bread families. I don't watch mainstream television, but advertising has come a long way in a very short period of time. It's not uncommon to see mixed-race couples in commercials these days. They have been joined by gay couples of both genders including ones in families with children. That acknowledgement of the diversity of American life has happened quickly over the past decade. Generational differences in attitudes about social issues have also proceeded apace. I recommend this article from the Pew Research Center on such generational changes: https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2019/01/17/generation-z-looks-a-lot-like-millennials-on-key-social-and-political-issues/


Last edited by yuna49 on Thu Dec 05, 2019 7:39 pm; edited 2 times in total
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leongsh



Joined: 30 Sep 2006
Posts: 151
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2019 7:28 pm Reply with quote
yuna49 wrote:
In Stars Align, though, I can't find a single admirable parent.

You're not paying attention then - Rintaro's parents love him unconditionally and support him. He just feels bad from thinking he is a burden because that is Japanese group think.
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yuna49



Joined: 27 Aug 2008
Posts: 3181
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2019 7:35 pm Reply with quote
leongsh wrote:
yuna49 wrote:
In Stars Align, though, I can't find a single admirable parent.

You're not paying attention then - Rintaro's parents love him unconditionally and support him. He just feels bad from thinking he is a burden because that is Japanese group think.

You're right. I find it hard to keep track of all the families in a show with such a large cast. What does it say, though, that he's the one who was adopted.
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Doodleboy



Joined: 23 Dec 2013
Posts: 275
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2019 10:40 pm Reply with quote
I imagine the inspiration of Stars Align came from the creator working on the bajillionth anime teenager living a rose-coloured campus life with a single parent, with the family situation not impacting the character in any way and wanting to write that talks about family in a way that felt more truthful to their experiences.

So we have a series that explores different types of familial dysfunction with all the complexities and multitudes within it. Different types of relationships, different types of abuse, and different children ways of coping. A rebellion on how anime high-school can flatten these relationships and characters.

I just wish it had more episodes to explore itself though. Sometimes a character's arc feels like a quick summary rather than a full-arc and it doesn't happen often but at worse it can feel like an after-school special. In a fairer world we'd be following these characters through at least two cours or ideally several seasons, because I really do like what the series is doing.

As for the LGBT representation, talking in good faith, it does seem to be part of the series goal of taking this flattening that anime does and rebelling against it. Gay people exist, trans people exist, non-binary people exist and if stories are made to reflect reality then they have to be part of those stories.

Anyhow also Mitsue's the best. She should keep drawing, she's an artistic prodigy. She could be doing concept art at square-enix or something for a career.
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Alexis.Anagram



Joined: 26 Jan 2011
Posts: 257
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:35 am Reply with quote
Doodleboy wrote:
it can feel like an after-school special.

This is how I would describe the tone of the show, and I like it a lot less for it. The premise is great (queer-inclusive ensemble sports drama has been on my wishlist for a while now) and the episodes are enjoyable enough, but the way these specific issues are framed feels remote, as the characters are problematized with a level of circumspection that kind of flattens and compartmentalizes their narratives. Maybe the worst example of this is when Rintaro just monologues through his entire character history in one breathless sprint without any real substantive work done to offer some sort of basis in character for it (not really clear why he's talking to Toma about it, for one thing); such that it feels like the value of these characters is derived directly from the degree to which they are troubled by their circumstances, as opposed to maybe providing them with a unifying goal that might make their struggles compelling. I think if Stars Align had taken more of a Haikyuu!! approach and centered a collective orientation to tackling the woes of adolescence, rather than breaking these kids off into pairs and atomizing their personal stories into piecemeal, episodic trickles of melodrama, it would feel more engaging.

And then there's the other problem, which is that when the show isn't being dramatically flat but palatable, it's obnoxiously overreaching. Maki's dad isn't a credible antagonist, he's a cartoon, and it's asking a lot for me to lean into these scenes where he's just like *dutch angled sinister cackling* and feel for Maki and that trauma he's encountering in those moments at the same time. The other parents are similarly unsubtle. Was I supposed to roll my eyes when Yu's mom turns out to have a serious problem with them exploring their gender presentation, because that will definitely necessitate a conversation about how hard it is for a parent to "let go" of their child's assigned gender and see them for who they really are? Because. I did.

Doodleboy wrote:
Anyhow also Mitsue's the best.

Yes. Mitsue is the best.
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Zunda-mochi



Joined: 19 Aug 2016
Posts: 36
Location: めっちゃうるさい東京都
PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:53 am Reply with quote
#874695 wrote:
Sometimes you gotta ask youself...
How are japanese authors, that live in an ultra conservative society, capable of delivering good queer stories without feeling forced?

Meanwhile Americans just.... Try to stick to an agenda instead of telling good stories with those queer elements. I dont know man haha

Also I love this show, Im not a queer person and I really don't care a lot about that stuff, but I like it when some stories manage to add those elements in a satisfactory way


As a queer Japanese here, I have to LAUGH at your comment here, because it just reeks of a LOT of ignorance and just lack of insight and knowledge in general.

Ultra conservative? Not all of us are ultra conservative here, and there are plenty of us that hate this kind of mindset, especially me and the younger generations here.
Like, FYI we DID HAVE a good history of Japanese queer culture here but you western imperialists come in, tell US that us being queer is bad, and ever since then everyone here had to live in the closet until THIS CENTURY now. There is still homophobia and transphobia here, but at least we are slowly getting accepted, getting same-sex partnership in a growing number of prefectures, and weeding out those 'ultra conservatives and bigots' in our country as well as actually CALLING them out on it!
I still remember the time there were people who THOUGHT that Japan was accepting of us queers just because of BL portraying it as a non-issue, but when I told them no, there ARE people that hate us here in Japan, I got told I was some 'fake Japanese' because I didn't 'act like a typical Japanese.' ...Even though I am and live here!
And uh, in the past, Japanese entertainment, especially anime too, HAS made fun of us A LOT but again, nowadays THAT'S slowly changing.
Basically we HAVE had a queer culture, we have had it for a VERY long time here in Japan, but it was NOT as open and talked about until recently, and it's thanks to the internet.

What I have seen in the US regarding queer representation, is that most MAJOR entertainment companies just want to eat our queer cake but leave only VERY little crumbs for us in terms of any kind of humanized representation. In fact, it's just no surprise that either it's the executives and producers who call the shots to bait us, OR you just have a team of only straight writers in the production. Which is why I prefer reading a lot of independent works by actual queer artists and authors, as well a carefully picking out certain BL and GL manga (and finding out if they are written by a queer mangaka because I want to support them more really) that I can enjoy reading without getting that awful feeling of being some punching bag to some cis-straight author.
Which is why I enjoy watching this anime A LOT because FINALLY! Some good queer representation in Japan that doesn't treat us (as well as queer kids that are in the middle of exploring themselves too) as being abnormal!

My rant over, back to Stars Align and the subject of adoption that caught my eye:

As told by my mom when I asked (during watching a drama with a women OBSESSED with having a baby), was that in Japan, adoption is not considered or even taken seriously as an option to have a kid is because of the strong belief of genetic bloodlines and that a kid that is NOT related to you genetically is like...'inferior.' (Which, honestly, I think is a bunch of BS).
We have foster care and child care institutions, but apparently they aren't in good condition because I government here just doesn't care about them. As well as, it made me realize why the hell whenever I see the news here about why a kid always ends up dead in the end: it's because they ALWAYS end up BACK to the abusive parents rather then get taken away by them despite the evidence and situation presented to them, as well as due to the lack of protection for them (A good article about all this can be found here which is where I found out about this).

So seeing Rintaro's situation and stuff just feels like a breath of fresh air and great they actually show someone like him... Because almost the mindset in Japan about adoption is negative and LOT of Japanese media doesn't ever portray adopted kids or kids in child care institutions with sympathy at all.
Also, most of the mom's, as well as parenting in general portrayed in this show while negative, is sadly true in Japanese social situations in households as well as globally where it's ALWAYS 'pushed on' to the mother/women's JOB to be maintaining the house as well as the kids. Like honestly also, except for Maki's mom's trans male friend, who I think is more of a better dad to him, some of the fathers (unless they are not mentioned or don't exist) in this show are terrible too since either they just don't help with the child rearing, are abusive also, or let the mother run the show without telling her that it's NOT good for their son, is what I'm seeing in all this.
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Violet Park



Joined: 18 Jul 2018
Posts: 45
PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2019 4:18 am Reply with quote
FireChick wrote:
Quote:
Meanwhile Americans just.... Try to stick to an agenda instead of telling good stories with those queer elements. I dont know man haha


Do you have any examples of shows that do that? I keep hearing this get thrown around at nearly every new show that comes out, but I have yet to find any evidence of such.


I'd say they are one of those people who see any kind of representation as "pandering"...but they are also praising Stars Align, that is (with good reason) more in your face than Steven Universe, The Dragon Prince or She Ra. Those shows don't mention sexuality simply because homophobia and transphobia aren't a thing in their world, so the LGBTQIA+ characters are treated the same as the cis straight characters.
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Commander Cluck



Joined: 02 May 2019
Posts: 123
PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2019 5:38 am Reply with quote
kotomikun wrote:
Well... in a society less open to these things, you're less likely to see deliberately in-your-face cases of it. Mostly, though, I think those of us in the US and/or the heavily-Americanized internet have just been conditioned to see anything remotely progressive as "having an agenda."

We have an extremely polarized culture--Japan may be more conservative overall, but they don't seem to have the endless civil war that we're stuck in. Half the population doesn't completely lose their minds every time there's a gay guy on TV, or a woman in charge of something, or whatever. Many of them don't like such things, of course, but that "nail that sticks out" mentality swings both ways, and keeps their conservatives from being as vicious as ours. Whereas everything in our culture is to some degree a backlash against something someone on the other side did, making it louder and more aggressive... and more preaching to the choir, making the polarization gradually worsen.


Let's be fair here, it wasn't the conservative anime fans who got upset at Shield Hero, Goblin Slayer, Fire Force, or any of the other anime behind the big controversies in the west It's also not the conservatives sending death threats to mangaka whenever they draw their own characters in revealing outfits like the whole RPG Momo fiasco. Nor are they the ones who complain about yaoi and yuri anime in general, ironically enough.

There's plenty of reasons why this kind of discourse doesn't happen in Japan like it does here, but the main factor is all the pushback in the west always occurs when you get established franchises like Ghostbusters, Marvel/DC, Star Wars, or whatever else suddenly changes and tries to appeal to a new audience which will of course lead to backlash from the fans already there. That pretty much never happens in Japan because of how big the industry is into creator rights and artistic freedom, so the chances of someone else stepping in to take control over someone else's franchise and completely changing it is very low, and in the rare cases it does happen, it's almost always done with respect for the original.
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