The classic series Ghost in the Shell makes a comeback on Netflix, while some companies and comedians face criticism for the mistreatment of people.
This Week In Japan: A Classic Anime Revives and A Black Company Falls
1. Ghost In The Shell Returns with New Netflix Anime Series
The cult classic sci-fi anime Ghost in the Shell has returned with a brand-new series. This new story, called Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045, takes place quite sometime after the events of the original anime series. At the start of the show, our favorite government special ops task force, Section 9, has been disbanded. The world is now making a living off things called “sustainable wars,” and the majority of the former Section 9 members join in these wars as mercenaries. However, the inclusion of a time skip, new plot, and different setting does not take away from the technological, cyberpunk world of the future. The show is still filled with prosthetic bodies, cyber brains, and, of course, hacking that Ghost in the Shell fans will know and love.
Regarding the reception of 2045, opinions are still being weighed. Before the show even premiered, there was criticism of the animation style shown in the trailer. Unlike the original movies and anime series, which used 2D animation, 2045 is using a 3D CGI style of animation, which is often said to be clunkier and less-detailed. After watching the first handful of episodes, I was pleased to say that the action scenes looked well, even with the CGI animation. However, I will leave any opinions on the character models up to the viewer. The show is planned for at least two seasons with 12 episodes each.
2. NOVA Corporation and Black Companies
The NOVA corporation, a famous eikwaia company in Japan, has recently come under fire for it’s workplace conditions and treatment of employees during the Corona pandemic. Over 50 foreign teachers within NOVA have come together to lodge various complaints to the company. These include forcing a number of teachers to share one small room at a time when working, a refusal from NOVA to implement telework, and penalizing teachers for taking holidays. Not only do teachers not receive paid leave, but they are charged handling fees for their requested time off. These conditions would be terrible even under normal circumstances. The danger of spreading or catching Corona only magnifies employee discontent. The group of teachers is now considering going on strike to receive better conditions.
This is a perfect example of what is called a black company in Japan. A black company typically has one, if not multiple, lousy working conditions. This can range from working unpaid or extremely long hours to physical or verbal workplace harassment. While black companies are unfortunately frequent in Japan, thanks to the rise of internet job boards and review sites, the reputation of many of these companies’ conditions are being spread.
3. Japanese Comedian Takashi Okamura Under Fire for Insensitive Remarks about Women and the Corona Virus
Takashi Okamura is a popular Japanese comedian and a host of numerous shows, including the long-running program Ninety-Nine All Night Nippon. The name of the show is derived from his comedy duo, which goes by the name of Ninety-nine. Okamura plays the outlandish idiot of the duo, also known as the boke. This is a common practice among comedy pairs and counters well with the more serious straight man, known as tsukkomi.
However, Okamura’s boke demeanor may have lead to some serious trouble. Last Thursday, on the 23rd, during a broadcast of Ninety-Nine All Night Nippon, a question from a listener asked Okamura is he would be taking a long break from visiting brothels during the Corona outbreak. He responded by saying he is patient at the moment and that it will be interesting after Corona calms down. Okamura follows up by saying many cute girls will have to become prostitutes since they will have no money from losing their jobs. He continued by jokingly adding how the girls will be unbelievably cute for prostitutes and told listeners to be patient and save up for now. The insensitivity of Okamura and his appalling words soon spread around the internet. Since the broadcast, Okamura has made a public apology saying his statements lacked consideration and were inappropriate. He also said that he would make another apology for the next broadcasting, which took place today. In the meantime, it seems Okamura will continue to work as regular without any punishment, aside from that done to his public image.
4. College Students Contemplate Dropping Out Due to COVID-19
As people struggle to keep their jobs and save up money during the Corona pandemic, college students in Japan are faced with the dilemma that they might need to drop out. Recent surveys have found that 1 in every 13 students is having to consider quitting school due to a lack of funds. A study conducted by the student-led group called Free found that 60% of students have experienced a loss of income and that 40% have experienced a loss of income from their financial supporters like their parents. Even with financial support, students are beginning to see the pressures that a Corona-economy mixed with college tuition is bringing on their families. One student included in his survey that his family business has lost over 80% of sales and that he worries about having to quit school. Many college students that are financially independent depend on working part-time jobs to support paying their tuition and their daily lives. The same study also found that around 37% of part-time working students reported a loss in their hours and income. The job aspects available in an economy that is cutting jobs has become another worry for students as well.
While dropping out of school is a difficult decision that might become necessary for students, perseverance is also crucial in this situation. Financial support from the government may be just around the corner. Free has already made requests to the government to cut tuition in half for students, noting that an end to the Corona pandemic is unpredictable, and students must have support. Households that have suffered income loss are to receive 300,000 yen from the government, potentially buying some time for students to see how the overall scenario will unfold.
Hosts of Ryu Tokyo Podcast
Julian Domanski: Born in England, Julian is a writer, videographer & musician living in Tokyo. When he’s not drinking copious amounts of English Tea, he can be found studying Japanese or trying to master the surprisingly complex basics of the Jiuta Shamisen.
Yasuharu Matsuno: Founder of Ryu Tokyo. Japanese-born entrepreneur. Yasu spent his life around the globe – Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, Australia, and the U.S. He hopes he had more time to play Japanese RPGs. MBA from Columbia University in the City of New York.