Though we've averted ourselves from one disaster, there are plenty of others lined up to keep us busy. Throughout this persistent dread, I often wonder how writing about anime and games of all things helps. For me, at least, Chairo+ is a space filled with connections: between media, between myself and my friends and readers, between the worlds I experience through 20-minute episodes and the one where I live. And the more of these connections I can make, I think, the more ways I can access the problems we witness every day.
I'm starting this newsletter to include some of my day-to-day discoveries that have yet to make it to Chairo+. But I'd love to know what would you like this space to be. Whether that's a moment's reprieve in a busy day, a letter from a friend, or a list of recommendations, let me know how I can help!
"Big Tech & Workers' Rights in Little Witch Academia": Episode 14 of Little Witch Academia offers an apt portrayal of the tech industry's opportunism in labor rights. I consider how the industry profits off of exploitation in anime production under the guise of creative innovation.
What I'm Watching
Jujutsu Kaisen: The more I watch this show, the more I get Konoha Team 7 vibes from this squad of three teenage sorcerers and their laid-back teacher with billowy white hair. Without taking any of its archetypes too seriously, however, the first-years of Jujutsu High introduce some improvements to the formula that their ninja relatives had once pioneered. I may not be hooked by its "gotta beat 'em all" plot, but the charming cast makes each episode enjoyable.
Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: In spite of what you can assume from the title, this adaptation of a light novel series features rather likeable characters, a satisfying underdog arc, and immersive worldbuilding that doesn't get distracted by its MMORPG inspirations. While there's nothing particularly innovative about the series, its glimpse into the politics of a world cohabited by humans and gods provides food for thought between the monster-slaying, boob jokes, and sudden confessions of love.
What I'm Reading
Golden Kamuy, by Satoru Noda: As someone who reads and writes regularly about Ainu and anime, even I find it surprising that I'm not yet caught up on Golden Kamuy. The manga takes great care to accurately represent Ainu language, food, and customs, even featuring short explanations within the frame whenever something new is introduced, throughout its story about war veteran Sugimoto and Ainu huntress Asirpa's search for stolen Ainu gold. Ainu language linguist Dr. Hiroshi Nakagawa serves as the series' language supervisor, and has even written a book explaining Ainu culture using scenes of the manga.
Breasts and Eggs, by Mieko Kawakami: I'd first learned about Kawakami after coming across articles about her interviews with Haruki Murakami, whom she confronted about his sexist portrayal of women throughout his novels. In Breast and Eggs, published in 2008 and awarded Japan's most prestigious literary award the 138th Akutagawa Prize, Kawakami invites us into the minds of novelist Natsuko, her sister and hostess Makiko, and niece Midoriko, as they each experience their bodies change with age.
I picked up the Japanese version myself, but its new English translation has seen much praise, and also includes a second part set seven years later, where Natsuko confides in other women about their experiences with motherhood as she considers artificial insemination herself. I might read it again to gather the pieces I didn't quite understand, though I wonder to what extent the translation captures these three characters and their insecurities, especially given that the two translators are men?