Episode 10 - Fantastic Planet and Project A-Ko

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We’ve got animation from across the globe for you this week! Fantastic Planet from 1973 will make you laugh! It will make you cry! It will make you think someone might have put something in your Fruity Pebbles! After that, recapture the feeling of looking for Japanese boobie cartoons in a shabby video store while we look back on 1986's Project A-Ko! [ 1:16:28 ]


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  • 2 weeks later...

The thing about the depictions of queerness in anime and Japanese media is that it's historically treated differently than when compared to America. Homosexuality in Japan hasn't been a crime since 1880, and through media near the end of the 20th century and into the 21st, it's been increasingly popularized as a romance drama in manga. At Barnes and Noble, we're been getting dozens and dozens of Boys Love and Yuri titles, in addition to more expansive stories depicting main characters who are non-binary or trans. And those aren't comedies, they're every bit as penetrative and reflective of a community as our modern day YA Fiction is by comparison. 

The weird thing about it is that earlier this year Japan reiterated that their constitution does not recognize same-sex couples as eligible for marriage. There are currently gay politicians in the country fighting to change this, but ultimately queerness in media and even in communities is seen as harmless but also non-serious. Like, it's not viewed as something to sufficiently respect in regards to every single natural right in Japan. But it is different than here in America in that it's not been used as much of a fear-mongering, fundamentalist Christian bogeyman. 

So in anime, even as far back as Project A-Ko, and continuing into the 1990s with Sailor Moon, Yu Yu Hakusho and into the 2000s with stuff like Code Geass, queerness and homosexuality is recognized as a thing embodied by people. But because the representation is in manga, it's only seen as so respectable, similar to how even now most people in America only take the concept of comic books so seriously. 

Regarding the racial element with the Fist of the North Star parody, I think Mari was rendered tanned because the series she's parodying takes place in the Post-Apocalypse, where everyone is sun-kissed. I say that because I've seen much more pointed, negligent but by no means less offensive depictions and references to black people in anime, even if the intent seems benign. It's generally a type of Will Eisner kind of thing, much of it was the style at the time. It wouldn't be until the late 90s where shows like Afro Samurai and Cowboy Bebop would bring anime out of that, and that's because Japan would be exposed to more American media that would feature stronger depictions of black people for them to get educated on. 

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  • Missy changed the title to Channel 37's Midnight Movie Show:
  • Missy changed the title to Episode 10 - Fantastic Planet and Project A-Ko

Thanks for your insight, Donovan. Obviously Japan doesn't have the same history with the depiction of Black characters in media that we do here, and I rarely feel like it's done out of malice when I see it in anime or manga, but that still doesn't make it acceptable or fun to see. And the backstory regarding Fist of the North Star definitely lends a different perspective on the depiction of Mari.

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