Otona Joshi no Anime Time & the state of women in Japan

other two The other two shorts fared a bit better. Yet cooking and being a good (house)wife as motives permeated them as well. Life’s Best Ten is about Hatoko, a working woman who is a bit indecisive and who although nearing 40 she has no lover. She fondly remembers her life’s most striking experiences and the one being constantly on top is when she daringly asked out the boy she loved in her middle school. She now goes to a reunion in order to meet again with her old love and she gets to have a night with him only to be fooled into buying a pot set and later learning he wasn’t who he claimed to be. Nevertheless that night when she felt in charge of her love life became her next best experience.

Here are the problematic parts:

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“… We’ll love our partner so passionately that we get married! Before thirty I’ll have a kid, and by the time I’m forty, I’ll be the type of mother who’s friends with her child. And in the end I’ll skip around with my husband with his head of white hair.”

"... After I get married, I want to eat her food at least once a day"

“… After I get married, I want to eat her food at least once a day”

After buying the pot set, Hatoko put them to good use in order to have Kishida taste her food.

After buying the pot set, Hatoko put it to good use in order to have Kishida taste her food. She serves her friends here.

I found it sad that Hatoko’s best experiences and the way she saw herself as brave were related only to men. She literally had no good work-related memories and she seems to have influenced no one’s life. I can sympathize with the fact that loneliness is a tough disease to deal with, especially as you grow older, but it’s remarkable how everything spins around men, marriage and cooking at the bottom line. She started cooking for the dream of a man and not for herself, she gets flattered when her friends praise her dishes as a certificate for marriage-ability and somehow she got exalted having slept with a stranger that deceived her.

I still liked Life Best Ten‘s for having a working woman, who, even briefly, was shown to be troubled about the way things work in her career life, for Hatoko making the first step in her romance- and sex-related moments, and for the inventive depiction of how a reunion party feels like. Hatoko’s doubts and worries along with her generation’s short characterisation were very interesting as well. The commentary about everyone wearing labels of things they don’t really possess is my favorite part of this short, though.

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The last story, Not Somewhere But Here, succeeds in what Dinner fails. Although the protagonist’s life is miserable, she makes a decision to change and not to remain passive, trying to please everyone without getting anything in return. She worries about her daughter who doesn’t stand her and leaves the house, she babysits her old mother who only complains, she is forced to work part-time, since her husband lost his job and wanders around aimlessly like the wimp he is, and her son does nothing for her either. On top of it, she gets pressed into going out with a collegue and that is the turning point: she reacts and wins her life back little by little. It’s refreshing watching her raising her voice and making her existence matter.

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8 thoughts on “Otona Joshi no Anime Time & the state of women in Japan

  1. I said I was going to post a comment for laughs and here it is:
    The term “they grow up so fast” has never been more true until I read the first paragraph by this talented blogger. A 24 year old beauty with the mind of a 57 year old. Women really do mature faster than men…for better or worse.

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  2. Wah, great article! The first story seems really disturbing and god the part where Kou called her an animal makes me think that maybe the anime is meant to be satirical. How true that in some places women simply think that their life has to revolve around men, and the men just take it for granted.

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  3. I appreciated your view of this anime, and I have just as much to say about your post that you have written. Your post sort of opened my mind to how Japanese women are treated in the workforce, but I disagree with your perspective on housewives. I sure hope you were only speaking in terms of your research on Japanese women, but even so… It seems that you see it as a negative thing, when in fact it isn’t. Your notion that stay-at-home women, despite the fact of possibly having gone to post-secondary, have limited education and social skills is very wrong. First off, a post secondary experience (not only the education) expands your mind to different issues & cultures to begin with. And saying that someone’s education is limited is very vague; everyone’s knowledge is limited, the question is limited in what? Is a scientist going to know everything about architecture, and is a PR consultant going to know anything about plumbing, because they’re in the workforce? A housewife with a well-rounded education is just as smart and brilliant as any of these professionals, and maybe even more. She herself is a professional, but her position is not in the workforce. There’s knowledge in taking care of your family and raising children well. Being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean you’re stuck at home, you never go out & learn new things, or have a social life. Come on now. I especially see your view on housewives as negative because you only talk about how they do chores. There’s much more to them than that. For example, there are plenty of women in charge of the money their husbands gain. My mother for example was one of these women, and I’m not the only one. Being in control of the family’s money, that’s a form of power. Have you ever heard that saying “behind every great man, is an even greater woman”? The woman is the head of the family, while the man is only the neck, yet it doesn’t seem that way. A woman’s power is not determined in the boardroom, it’s a matter of character and how in charge you are of your life, no matter your role. She’s absolutely able to speak her mind, and is not always controlled by the man contrary to what you most people think or what the man himself may think. I’d also like to add that they absolutely contribute to society, and it doesn’t always mean being active in the workforce; that is, making money.They contribute by raising children, who are the future generation of the society. Life isn’t about making money anyways. Lastly, if a woman decides to stay home after university, it’s her choice. A lot of the time for these women, getting a degree is a backup, or life happens and she decides she wants to stay home and devote her time to raise her family. If she wants, she can contribute to the workforce. There’s nothing wrong with that, so don’t get upset because it’s not what you would choose to do.

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    • “Your notion that stay-at-home women, despite the fact of possibly having gone to post-secondary, have limited education and social skills is very wrong.” – I obviously didn’t make a very clear differentiation. I talked about limited education mainly for people who haven’t had post-secondary education. About those who have I think it’s a shame they let their knowledge and skills go to waste or get rusty. Have you seen Mona Lisa Smile – that’s what I had in mind. As for the theory of having a degree as a back-up, I’m not sure that is very common, much more applicable, if you consider that an employer would rather have someone striving to improve their knowledge constantly than someone who after many years of disinterest and ‘negligence’ decided that wants to get in the working force.

      Continuing though your train of thought about post-secondary education, I’ll have to mark that the experience, knowledge and skills you get during university -let’s say- isn’t the same within that of a workplace. I don’t know about your age and occupation but I’m working right now and I can certainly see the difference. I’m forced to organize things for others and I’m not even allowed to do it in my way. I have to lie and compromise my morals with my survival. I am scolded when a customer is displeased even when it’s irrational or doesn’t know better. I have to cope with many different people most of which I can’t avoid. It wasn’t like this during education. Of course, you couldn’t avoid some hyperbolically or crazily demanding professors, yet you could work in your own way as long as the outcome was fine. You needn’t cope with peers you didn’t like necessarily.

      As for the ‘limited knowlege’ part, I see your point, but I think it’s irrelevant. I perhaps tried to avoid talking about it because morals are a very different thing for everyone, though I kinda implied it. For me a ‘good person’ is one that is open-minded and isn’t hostile against women, lgbtq individuals, and other minorities. I’m referring to that ‘lack of prejudice’ on Maslow’s pyramid. I also think that such people are happier since they don’t harm other people and don’t leak poison; hatred is something that poisons the person bearing it, too. I was able to overcome many prejudices of mine throughout university and people I’ve met online in places where polyphony dominated. That is not that easy when you have a very specific clique and you don’t have to put up and come in contact with people you’d otherwise ignore.

      “Being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean you’re stuck at home, you never go out & learn new things, or have a social life.” Ok, it’s not the way things are all the time. It’s still the rule though. And then there is how one defines ‘social life’, because going out to bars on the one hand does involve social interactions on the other under the usual bar circumstances I’m not sure something productive comes out. Where you live also makes a difference. I do think though that people who choose to be housewives don’t usually live in big cities, which can offer a lot of educational and entertainment choices.

      “there are plenty of women in charge of the money their husbands gain.”- Right, it’s their husbands’ money not theirs. The fact that they decide what to do with them doesn’t cancel my arguments about pride and emergency cases.

      “They contribute by raising children, who are the future generation of the society.” – Women who work still take care of their children and housework. I know that some don’t pay enough attention, but it’s not a matter of how much time you spend with your children as how quality time this is. I have seen some working women’s children who are very clever and know how to take care of themselves way better than me who was pampered by my parents who try to spend lots of time with us doing many things for us instead of us thinking they grant us happiness -while on the contrary they suffocate and impair us. And they were working before going into retirement. I don’t want to think what they’d do, if they didn’t work… As I mentioned in the post I know 2 cases where the stay-at-home mom did more harm than good due to jealousy, latching onto their children and planting guilty in them for various things.

      “Life isn’t about making money anyways.” I don’t disagree at all. I never said otherwise. Nevertheless, I claimed that money is a very important means -among others- to reach your goals, achieve your independence and happiness.

      I’m sorry to say that I still stand by my opinion. I don’t intend on offending your mother specifically by being negative about the notion of housewife generally. I’m really glad you came out and voiced your opinion and thus contributed to the discussion 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

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      • Thanks for replying. I just needed to voice my opinion in hopes of opening your mind even a little. We could go on about this, but I’ll end it here. About Otona Joshi no Anime Time specifically, you pointed out a lot of things I hadn’t even noticed so thanks for that.

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  4. A very thoughtful and thought provoking post. Being a male, I don’t have much room to comment. It does trouble me how these episodes seem to portray shallow characters. Personally, I would find a wife/girlfriend who didn’t have hobbies, a career, and goals for herself unattractive. There isn’t anything wrong with wanting to take care of someone else; I don’t think I would mind being a stay-at-home husband. However, making someone else your “all” is co-dependency and not healthy at all.

    I liked how you added the last bit of information about traditional Japanese society. While they are heavily Westernized, they still retain their own mores and norms.

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    • Thanks for sitting through it. It got bigger than I thought and wondered if would be any good. I’m happy that you liked it.

      I think it’s fine to stay at home for some period of your life, especially for the first 3 years of your baby and granted that the state doesn’t give you many other options. But otherwise it can be boring apart from unhealthy.

      Also, some further reading you might find interesting:

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