It took 29 years, but someone in the pastry world has at last realized the untapped marketing potential of an official Simpsons doughnut. Alas, that someone was Krispy Kreme Australia, and why America’s favorite doughnut chain would partner with America’s favorite animated series on the opposite end of the...More »
Ongoing Investigations: Red-colored Elegy, Lu Over the Wall, Generally Cute, Free! Take Your Marks, The Great Passage.
Song: The Great Passage OP “Shiokaze” by Taiiku Okazaki
Food for Thought: What unfinished anime would you like to see more of?
Topics: Kunihiko Ikuhara Reveals Sarazanmai Anime, Shinichiro Watanabe Reveals Carol & Tuesday Anime, HIDIVE Comes Out of Beta, My Anime List Adds Digital Manga Store, Digital Manga Sales Beat Print for the First Time.
In 2017 October I had five free days between consecutive weekend events in Kyoto, and decided it was a good time to make my first visit to Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands and the only one I hadn’t yet traveled to. The first stop on my loop was Kagawa Prefecture, where I planned two days to check out Takamatsu (高松) and nearby Shōdoshima (小豆島), looking for settings used in anime series Udon no Kuni no Kin’iro Kemari (うどんの国の金色毛鞠)—released in English-speaking markets as Poco’s Udon World. Though I did a little research before arriving, my goal for this visit was not to prepare a report of comparison images, so I didn’t collect a set of screen captures to hunt, though I ended up photographing a few scenes anyway. I mostly hoped to use Udon no Kuni as a pretext to explore new places. It was also on this stop in Kagawa that I wanted to make good on a promise to visit an important friend.
I visited on 2017 October 23-24 and referred to blog posts and a map created by butaitanbou (scene hunting) practitioner Lidges (リジス @lidges) to guide myself around Udon no Kuni settings in Takamatsu and Shōdoshima.
Due to a typhoon passing through the night before, my morning shinkansen leaving Kyoto is delayed, but I’m eventually on my way. As in the opening scene of the series, my first glimpses of passing from Honshū to Shikoku are looking out across the Seto Inland Sea (瀬戸内海) from the JR Marine Liner as it crosses the Great Seto Bridge (瀬戸大橋).
The train crosses into Shikoku at Sakaide before turning east toward Takamatsu. At some point I might like to stop in Sakaide to do a pilgrimage for the Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru series, but for now this is as close as I get.
I leave my bag in a locker at Takamatsu Station and hop on the Kotoden Kotohira Line to head toward what is now a late lunch. The lines operated by the Takamatsu-Kotohira Electric Railroad are a fun way to get around town. When I’m in Takamatsu again, I’ll make a point of riding more of them and photographing them. Though the lines use full size carriages, all of those I observed run two car trains, and the right-of-way is narrow and directly abuts roadways, so it operates more like a tram.
Even with Kotoden it’s a bit of a hike to the place I want to go, so I keep telling myself there is a tasty bowl of udon waiting for me.
Bukkake Udon Daien (ぶっかけうどん大円) features in the second scene of the first episode, where Sōta and Shinobu meet for lunch.
Ha! A special closing—no Daien for me today. There is a shop of huge udon chain Hanamaru a little further along the road, so I don’t go hungry—though since I can eat Hanamaru up the street from my apartment in Shanghai, this kind of misses the point of coming to the home of udon. Kagawa is referred to as Udon Prefecture in some tourism marketing campaigns.
I walk back in the direction I came and continue on to Ritsurin Garden (栗林公園) one of the main tourism sites in Takamatsu.
Scenes of the garden appear in the series opening credits and several episodes.
After I check in my hotel and rest a bit, I take a late afternoon walk past the train station and around the port, catching great clouds and a sunset while I’m at it. Post typhoon weather often leads to unique and photogenic atmospheric conditions.
In the series and in real life, this pier is a popular fishing spot. At the end is the Takamatsu Port Tamamo Breakwater Lighthouse (高松港玉藻防波堤灯台)—often called the Red Lighthouse (赤灯台). A lighthouse was originally put into service here in 1964, though the current tower, the first lighthouse in the world to emit light from its entire structure, was built in 1998.
The pier is normally open to the public, but is closed due to the previous day’s severe weather, so I can only see the lighthouse from a distance on the first night.
Lidges was one of the first butaitanbou practitioners I encountered years ago. It was through his eyes that I learned many of my early lessons about anime tourism and the community of people who engage in it. Over time I understood that, though everyone has valuable and interesting material to share, Lidges’ approach of putting quality and depth as priorities in his reporting on his blog Tsurebashi (つればし) and printed dōjinshi established him as an authority on the topic. Even now, as newer writers from in and outside the core interest community pick up the beat, and there is a general shift toward speed and quantity of output at the expense of depth, Lidges remains adamant about taking as much time as needed to create anime tourism reporting that offers deep background discussion on the creative work and communities.
From time to time, Lidges and I have misunderstandings. Sometimes these are over small things, sometimes larger issues, but we always talk them out. This has led to good discussions about the anime tourism community and its norms, social issues in Japan, and friction that can arise during cross-cultural exchange. As a result, I feel I have a closer relationship with Lidges, having hacked our way out of the weeds in these conversations.
I have met Lidges face-to-face quite a few times. He is a permanent fixture at butaitanbou community events, and we once happened to both be going to Takehara, Hiroshima Prefecture on the same day. The last few meetings always ended with the same question, from him to me, of when I was ever going to come to Shikoku. I was honest that there were a lot of places above it in my queue, but that I would eventually get there. After the anime adaptation of Udon no Kuni was announced, I promised that after the series was finished I would come to Kagawa Prefecture, where he lives, and share a meal with him.
When we planned this dinner during my visit, I told him I was happy to take a train over to the west side of Kagawa, where he lives and works. Not necessary, he said. Then I suggested we meet at an equidistant point between us. He told me that if Takamatsu was where I would be, then that is where he would come to see me. On a weeknight. I continue to be awestruck by the generosity of others in the butaitanbou community toward me.
We’ve come to the Yashima shop of Ikkaku (一鶴 屋島店), which serves honetsukidori (骨付鳥), a local specialty of bone-in roasted chicken leg.
In Udon no Kuni, Sōta, Shinobu and Poko come here for lunch.
A meal of honetsukidori is a good way to find out how comfortable you are with your friends. There are no utensils, no graceful way to approach it, you just grab this large hunk of meat using the bone as a handle, find a spot to sink your teeth, and rip it apart caveman-style.
With that as an opening, we knock out a handful of anime tourism related topics that have come up over the past year, Lidges shows me the dōjinshi he’s working on, and I float some of my ideas about the story I would like to tell through a documentary film about anime tourism. We talk about being an otaku in Japan versus overseas, how the term is defined differently by non-Japanese who use it. Ultimately—and this is my favorite thing to do when I spend time with otaku friends—we leave behind the world of pop culture and talk about existential matters of importance—careers, families, Lidges’ cat, the less than inspiring breakfast at the Toyoko Inn. When most of your interactions with someone are through tweets, it’s necessary and reassuring to be reminded that there is a human being who is trying his best to get through life on the other side of the avatar.
I’m up early the next morning for what I think is going to be a visit to Yashima, only to find a notice at the bus stop across from Kotoden-Yashima Station saying the driveway had been washed out during the typhoon and bus service would be suspended until repairs are made. I could have walked around Shikoku-mura at the base of the mountain, which also appears in Udon no Kuni, but I kind of had my heart set on throwing clay tiles from the top of the mountain, so I decide I’ll save it all for another visit. The upside is I now have time to look around the city center some more.
Takamatsu Tokiwachō Shōtengai (高松常磐町商店街) and Sanbiki no Kobuta (三びきの子ぶた) appear in Episode 2.
Takamatsu Marugamemachi Shōtengai (高松丸亀町商店街) appears briefly in the opening credits.
These are just two arcades out of a network of covered and open air shopping streets that crisscross the center of Takamatsu. I wind my way around as many as time allows and make mental notes of places I’d like to investigate further in the future. Walking and photographing shōtengai is my other primary research beat, so this is a lot of fun for me.
This is also a chance to hit up Sanuki Rock (讃岐ロック), a shoyu ramen shop recommended by Brian at Ramen Adventures.
It may not be udon, but the shoyu used to flavor the soup comes from Shōdoshima and every part of the bowl is excellent. I’m going to declare that this washes away my sin of eating Hanamaru the previous day.
After all of the walking, I think I’ve earned a slice of cake back at Sanbiki no Kobuta.
Shikoku Ferry operates two kinds of boat services between Takamatsu Port and Tonoshō Port (土庄港) on Shōdoshima. In Udon no Kuni, Sōta and Poko take the larger ferry, which can carry cars and is a one hour trip. I opt for the speedboat ferry, which cuts travel time in half.
As the ferry approaches Tonoshō, my nose picks up a strangely familiar smell, which turns out to be roasting sesame seeds at the Kadoya sesame oil plant. This would be the same Kadoya I used to buy at the supermarket when I lived in the United States. Small world. Shōdoshima’s most well-known exports are olives and olive oil, but other oils and soy sauces are also produced here.
From Tonoshō port, there are public buses, rental cars, and rental bikes in the town nearby, but I like to use just my feet if distances allow. It’s a half hour walk from the port to the shore on the south side of the town.
Because of the curve in the road, at first I only see the narrow tunnel for cars, stopping in my tracks and wondering if I’ll be able to find a safer way through the rocks without backtracking too far. Then I see someone coming toward me and I walk ahead to discover there is also a pedestrian tunnel, just out of view. All is well.
The tide is in when I reach Angel Road (エンジェルロード), so I don’t have the chance to walk out to Yoshino on the exposed sandbar. Most people are smarter than me and check the tide schedule before coming. Though with few people around at high tide, it’s a nice place to meditate and take in the Seto Inland Sea. I get into a conversation with a guy who had come for fishing when we’re both seduced by a very affectionate homeless cat.
The ride back to Takamatsu becomes the best part of the day, watching another sunset ending in a pink sky over the water.
With calm seas again, access to the Red Lighthouse is restored.
As I go into trance staring up at the lighthouse, I reflect on how restorative and calming the two days have been. A main theme of Udon no Kuni, consistent with my experience on the ground, is that life unfolds at a gentler pace here than in the large cities—which sometimes is exactly what you need.
I searched for a recommended udon shop for my last meal in central Takamatsu, but couldn’t come up with anything that was convincing. The best I could do was a chain shop near Takamatsu Station that, while a little better than Hanamaru, is probably nothing like the udon euphoria fans seek out at unique makers in far-flung locations. Lidges-senpai, you’re going to have to get me straightened out the next time I come to Udon Prefecture.
* * * * * *
You're reading Pilgrimage to Takamatsu and Shodoshima for Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari by Michael Vito, originally posted at likeafishinwater.com. This post may be reused under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, which requires crediting Michael Vito as the author, linking to the original post, the absence of any commercial purpose, such as banner and link advertising, and including the same Creative Commons license in the derivative work or reprint.
The eighth season of the mobbed outdoor food market starts March 31
The viral novelty foods, carefully curated bites, and long lines of outdoor Brooklyn food market Smorgasburg return on March 31 with new additions ranging from the uber-trendy Japanese shaved ice treat kakigori to whole grilled lobsters.
There will be 100 food vendors at both the OG Williamsburg and Prospect Park sites, with old favorites like Bolivian Llama Party, Ramen Burger, and the Good Batch returning. In the new category, Asian food reigns supreme: Korean fried chicken, Japanese shaved ice, Sichuan rice noodles, and seafood donburi bowls all join the lineup. There’s also Lebanese food from Brooklyn Heights restaurant Boutros, baked goods from an Eleven Madison Park alum, and that aforementioned whole grilled lobster, topped with garlic butter, lemon and parsley, and served over noodles. A full new vendor list is below.
Though it does still regularly launch new brands and give a widespread platform to food entrepreneurs, Smorgasburg is certifiably no longer the scrappy market from its early days. Tourists and locals stream in by the hundreds every weekend, and the market has expanded to Industry City in Sunset Park, Los Angeles, and even Osaka, Japan in pop-up form. It also had a brief, failed foray into Soho in 2017.
Williamsburg + Prospect Park
504 HN Market: Honduran baleadas, made with flour tortillas and topped with refried beans, Honduran cheese, cream, and avocado. Other varieties include eggs and chorizo.
Big Mozz x DO: Deep-fried cookie dough from Big Mozz and DO.
Bonsai Kakigori: Japanese shaved ice, flavored with strawberries & cream or matcha persimmon.
Btarts: Butter tarts, a Canadian specialty, made with butter, eggs, and Canadian maple syrup.
Dashi Fried Chicken: Korean fried chicken
Frico Italia: Italian “pie” made with potatoes and three Italian cheeses
King St. Kitchen: Baked goods from a former pastry chef at Eleven Madison Park, including a peanut butter and chocolate fudge brownie, golden oat cookies, and gluten-free olive oil citrus bundt
Lobsterdamus: One of Smorgasburg LA’s most popular stands for its mesquite-grilled whole lobsters topped with garlic butter, lemon and parsley, and served over noodles. There’s also lobster truffle fries and lobster nachos.
PopdUp: Cold brew teas, sourced from Taiwan
Ya Ya Noodz: Sichuan rice noodles steamed and rolled with shrimp, pork, or butternut squash.
Boutros: This Cobble Hill restaurant will be serving pork shawarma tacos and bulger fried rice
Bread & Monkey: A high school freshman selling banana bread
Himalayan Horizon: A Himalayan street food known as shabaley, or fried circular pockets of dough filled with buffalo, beef, or potatoes and served with ginger-scallion and tomato-fenugreek sauces
Yoshimoto Fish Company: Donburi bowls, with sushi rice and fish imported from Japan. Toppings include fatty tuna, herring roe, uni, and red snapper. Bowls start at $30 each.
Are you so ramen-obsessed that you feel the need to publicly declare your allegiance to Menya Musashi’s tsukemen over rival Tokyo chain Setagaya’s? Of course you are. Now, Uniqlo has come to your rescue. The clothing chain just released a collection of tees with graphics honoring Japan’s top ramen...More »
Henry Selick. Key and Peele. Netflix. "Wendell and Wild" is a one-of-a-kind animated feature.
The post Netflix To Produce Henry Selick’s ‘Wendell and Wild’ Starring Key & Peele appeared first on Cartoon Brew.
Lucasfilm announced today that a live-action Star Wars television series is in the works, to be helmed by Jon Favreau. The actor and director, who helped launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2008’s Iron Man, will serve as executive producer for the series in what sounds like a showrunner capacity: writing and producing, while overseeing a stable of writers.
“I couldn’t be more excited about Jon coming on board to produce and write for the new direct-to-consumer platform,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in the official announcement. “Jon brings the perfect mix of producing and writing talent, combined with a fluency in the Star Wars universe. This series will allow Jon the chance to work with a diverse group of writers and directors and give Lucasfilm the opportunity to build a robust talent base.” May we suggest some contenders?
In addition to his work within the MCU, Favreau has also gotten to play in the Star Wars universe, with roles in the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series (as Pre Vizsla) and the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story (in an unidentified role). “If you told me at 11 years old that I would be getting to tell stories in the Star Wars universe,” he said in the announcement, “I wouldn’t have believed you. I can’t wait to embark upon this exciting adventure.”
No word yet on plot or title, but last week CinemaBlend reported on how Lucasfilm had, curiously, filed a bunch of trademarks for something called Star Wars Resistance. Considering that they likely waited to drop this news until right after Star Wars: Rebels wrapped, one wonders if all of this is connected…
The series will premiere on Disney’s new direct-to-consumer platform—that is, the streaming service announced in late 2017. No release date has yet been set for Favreau’s series, but it wouldn’t premiere before 2019, which is when the streaming service is expected to launch. Favreau’s project joins a number of other new Star Wars stories in progress, including new movie trilogies from Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
To keep its head above water, the Coca-Cola Company over the years has experimented with energy drinks, seltzers, fruit juices, bottled coffees, and even milks (as well as “milk flavored” products, such as Fanta Lactic). But until now, Coke has steered clear of booze. That seems to...More »
Child actress Yuzuki Shiraishi chooses this hashtag for her Instagram post that depicts a fairly candid shot of her stepping away from an older woman splashing water and onto a cat. The woman is Shirase Kobuchizawa’s grandmother. Yuzuki is on her way to request that Shirase take over her job as “high school girl reporter” along for the ride in the Challenge for the Antarctic expedition.
A well-known actress who according to Mari Tamaki’s (Kimari) internet research has 38,000 followers, Yuzuki shouldn’t have to beg for followers in a hashtag. It doesn’t matter that her idol debut was with a horrendously-titled song, “The Follow-backs Don’t Stop,” there’s no world where someone as popular as Yuzuki should be begging for followers, never mind promising to follow them back, which is often seen as social media suicide. Yet she does, in this post that only has two likes, two reblogs, and zero comments, less engagement than I received last night for random musings about Madeline L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door.
The image doubles as A Place Further Than the Universe‘s third episode introduction, an episode where Yuzuki will later learn that she has made friends without having to try — also that having friends doesn’t mean that said friends will be the sycophants she’s used to, which is actually a very good thing. #IFollowEveryoneWhoFollowsMe might be Yuzuki’s #brand, but it doubles as a reflection of her personal insecurities, distain for certain aspects of her job, and desperate desire to have real friends. Yuzuki opens the episode by trying to pass off her job to the ill-equipped Shirase in order to lead a more normal high school life with her classmates. She ends the episode with three new friends — Hinata Miyake, Kimari, and Shirase — and a promise to go to Antarctica together.
A Place Further Than the Universe director Atsuko Ishizuka is no stranger to pointed visual trappings and unique color filters. She’s used a myriad of clever visual tricks in her previous series — most recently Hanayamata, No Game No Life, and Price of Stride: Alternative. This also isn’t the first anime to use SNS/Instagram to focus on themes of ephemerality and time. Sayo Yamamoto framed the entirety of Yuri!!! On Ice through social media, both in the series ending sequence and later in a major plot twist that recontextualizes the entire show.
Although Instagram isn’t the most prevalent social media platform in Japan, it’s the one with the highest growth rate over the past year or so. It’s easy to see why Kimari and company would choose this microblogging platform to document their daily lives as well as their trip to Antarctica — in fact, once they partner with Yuzuki and her project, it’s part of their job. Ishizuka uses this to focus on certain thematic elements in each episode while also poking fun at her characters.
The title of each episode is introduced by a social media post identifying one or more of the main characters doing something fun, training, or working on the ship. It’s an evolved form of photo booth purikura, where the girls add the episode title and doodles of penguins in the margins (this is also present in the series’ ending, drawings appear next to the characters). Every post has more to it than meets the eye, and ties into dramatic elements or themes of the show.
In the image above, Kimari is having tea with her best friend, Megumi Takahashi. In most of the series’ social media posts, a looping animation occurs and this one seems no different. Kimari continues to put sugar in her tea multiple times in what appears to be a similar animation loop. Only right before the image cuts to the show does Megumi’s arm reach out and stop Kimari from adding more. A Place Further Than the Universe uses this simple image to explain the dynamics of Kimari and Megumi’s relationship — one that will be challenged in this episode and is ultimately left ambiguous due to Kimari’s departure. Kimari overly-relied on Megumi in the past which led to a toxic co-dependency. Megumi enjoyed the fact that Kimari relied on her so much and Kimari used Megumi’s friendship as a crutch to not move forward in life. The Antarctica trip, and Kimari’s new friend group, break this cycle, leading to a rift between the two that isn’t wholly resolved before Kimari leaves.
A Place Further Than the Universe isn’t a comedic slice-of-life series as much as it is a coming-of-age drama that also manages to hit comedic beat after beat to lighten the mood. Ishizuka’s masterful attention to detail, especially in these social media posts, adds both comic relief and melancholy transience to what is ultimately looking like a story about Shirase coming to terms with her mother’s death. After all, it takes a talent like Ishizuka to turn an episode titled, “The Follow-backs Don’t Stop” into a poignant reflection on friendship.
Two entertainment conglomerates - Walt Disney Company and Viacom - have revealed the first details about their streaming plans. Here's a look at what they're planning to each offer.
The post The Streaming Wars Are Here: Disney And Viacom Offer First Details About Their Services appeared first on Cartoon Brew.
Two new series from "Gravity Falls" artists have been greenlit at Disney.
The post Disney TV Animation Will Produce 2 New Series: ‘Amphibia’ and ‘The Owl House’ appeared first on Cartoon Brew.
In the 68-year history of the Berlin Film Festival, Wes Anderson is the first person to win the best director award for directing an animated feature.
The post Wes Anderson Makes History At Berlin With Best Director Win; Reka Bucsi Wins Short Film Award appeared first on Cartoon Brew.
BBC Studios and Narrativia are teaming up to bring Terry Pratchett’s Discworld to television, starting with a six-part series titled The Watch.
Deadline has reported that after plentiful rumors, Discworld will undergo a brand new adaptation for the small screen, produced by BBC Studios and Narrativia, the production company founded by Pratchett and currently run by his daughter Rhianna and business partner Rob Wilkins. Simon Allen (Strike Back, The Musketeers) is writing the series under the working title of The Watch.
This should excite Discworld fans, particularly those who are fond of Sam Vimes and the City Watch. It’s likely that the series will center around Ankh-Morpork’s police, which would be an excellent way of introducing new fans to the Disc and all its denizens. This is just a preliminary piece of news, with no actors or dates set for the production, but it’s good to know that we can expect more Discworld in our futures.
Before this glorious age of alt-milks, lactose-intolerant and other milk-averse customers had to resign themselves to hot chocolate that was thinner and less rich than it might otherwise be. No more: It’s a new era of macadamia, oat, and almond milks, all of which are deeply appealing with warm, melted...More »
The landlord claims the family-run shop is using too much water
The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory — one of New York’s oldest and finest ice cream shops — is fighting an eviction notice from its landlord. The Post reports that the owner of the building at 65 Bayard St., between Mott and Elizabeth streets, has been trying to push out the famed family-owned spot for allegedly using too much water.
But the Seid family, which has run the shop since 1978, says it’s a farce. Landlord Nolan Cheng — not the ice cream factory tenant — is responsible for water bills, the Seid family claims in a lawsuit filed this month. “My landlord is just really unbearable,” co-owner Christina Seid tells The Post. “He is doing anything he can to get us out to get a higher rent.”
The Seids and Cheng have been fighting about the water bills for years, with court cases dating back to 2011. As part of the dispute, Cheng claimed that the ice cream family was maliciously wasting water to rack up bills, while the Seids allege that they’re inappropriately being pushed out of the low-rent spot that costs $1,000 per month. The landlord purchased the building from the Seid family in 2005 for $3.8 million, according to Department of Finance records.
The narrow ice cream shop is known for celebrating flavors more common in China than the U.S., such as durian, red bean, and lychee. It’s been in the same family since it opened about four decades ago.
Little Witch Academia has been out on Netflix since last year, and it’s a wonderful show worth everyone’s time. Having watched it with English subtitles, I’ve noticed a few hiccups here and there when it comes to the translation. These are not deal breakers, but it does speak to how translation is more art than science, and it’s worth looking into the fact that translating for anime and manga comes with its own share of unique pitfalls.
One unusual aspect of the translation that even non-Japanese speakers might notice is a tendency to avoid repetition despite it being present in the original Japanese. For example, a character might say, “Witches.” Then another character would ask “Witches?,” in response. In the subtitles, the first character would still say “Witches,” but the second might respond, “What are you talking about?”
This has partly to do with the fact that using the same word over and over again is not necessarily considered bad writing in Japanese, but in English (which is famous for its sheer amount of synonyms), this can make dialogue sound extremely awkward and unnatural. Changing up the vocabulary for English not in itself a bad idea, but it can run the risk of introducing ideas or words into a character’s speech that might not reflect who they are or what they would say. It creates room for inaccuracy even as it ends up sounding a little more natural, and it’s a tricky balance to maintain.
What’s worse is that sometimes the desire to make the English sound good can backfire. Anime and manga come out on a pretty constant schedule, with little lead time between chapters and episodes. Japanese as a language thrives on context to shape meaning, and terms or phrases are often left intentionally ambiguous, becoming clearer as the series goes on. Sometimes a phrase can be so awkwardly ambiguous when translated directly that a translator might feel compelled to massage it, only for it to bite them in the ass down the line. For example, a character whose gender is unknown can get away with never being referred to by gender in Japanese pretty naturally, but someone who doesn’t know this is an important plot point might assign a gender because gender-neutral pronouns in English are not entrenched into the language.
In Little Witch Academia, to a certain extent, one of the series is a quote from the character Shiny Chariot, which translates literally as “A believing heart is your magic.” It sometimes appears in the show itself, in English, so a simple solution would have been to use that directly, but it does sound a bit clumsy. The translator decided to go with “Believing in yourself is your magic.” Initially, this makes sense, as what exactly the heart believes in is unclear, and the heroine Akko uses it as a refrain to keep soldiering on. However, by the end of the series, this turns out to be somewhat inaccurate; it’s not necessarily that Akko believes in herself, but that she is able to believe in what’s possible.
Given that Little Witch Academia was released all at once on Netflix, there was the potential to go back and fix this, but I don’t blame the translator for not doing so. I don’t know what the schedule or system is like for subtitling on Netflix. It’s just a strong case of why translating is a tricky beast.
As it stands, most will make under the minimum wage while on leave — something NYC’s mayor should fix
- New York State employers must now grant workers eight weeks of paid, protected leave. That will rise to 12 weeks in 2021.
- Many restaurant staffers on leave will earn less than the minimum wage under this payroll tax-funded program, which pays one-half to two-thirds of a worker’s salary.
- There could be a fix for high-cost areas like New York City: San Francisco, for example, requires employers to share the burden of leave pay with the state program, ensuring that most workers earn their full salary while at home. NYC should do the same.
The United States remains the only major industrialized country without a paid parental leave program, and given President Donald Trump’s vague support for the issue in last week’s State of the Union address, the status quo does not appear to be in jeopardy.
Some of the country’s biggest corporations have stepped in to fill the benefits void: Starbucks offers six weeks of fully paid leave to baristas, Anheuser-Busch offers 16 weeks, and Netflix actually offers a full year. But in the greater hospitality industry — one of the country’s largest employers — just 6 percent of workers in 2016 reported having access to any form of paid leave, less than half of the national average.
The consequences of this reality are nothing short of devastating: The bulk of the nation’s culinary talent can find both their finances and job at risk if they perform the very basic and biological act of having a family.
A new law in New York, spearheaded by Governor Andrew Cuomo, will start to make things a little easier on new parents — but it’s still not enough, especially for lower- and middle-income restaurant workers.
Here’s the TL;DR on parental leave benefits in New York
As of January, most new parents in New York, or those caring for a sick relative, can take up to two months of job-protected leave while collecting up to half of their paychecks. By 2021, parents will receive up to two-thirds of their paychecks, and the leave time will increase to three months. The program is funded by employee payroll deductions, capped at $85/year.
The operative phrase is “up to.” The maximum weekly benefit, which will be earned by anyone making more than $68,000 a year, is $653/week. So an executive chef with an annual salary of $95,000 — well above average but not out of line for a top culinary professional — will only earn the equivalent of $16.30/hour, based on a 40-hour work week. That’s just 36 percent of her income, not ideal considering her rent doesn’t drop by 64 percent when she has a kid (the gender pay gap becomes a lot more real when the state cuts your wages in half).
On the lower side of the income spectrum, many waiters and cooks bonding with a newborn will earn well under the NYC minimum wage, which would make it nearly impossible for a single person to live in the city, never mind protect a new parent facing a world of financial obligations.
Is this better than nothing? Of course it is. But the state plan brings up the question of whether these policies are generous enough to actually allow metropolitan-area hospitality industry employees to take advantage of them at all. The answer is no, they’re not, which is why restaurants should be required by law to supplement the state leave program — just as they do in San Francisco.
No one should earn less than the minimum wage on leave
A little context first: Restaurant workers in any state are allowed to take unpaid leave, if they can afford to do so, and if they meet the strict qualifications of the federal Family Leave Medical Act. That law, which turns 25 this week, guarantees that new parents can stay at home for at least 12 weeks and then return to their job or a similar one. The catch is that it only applies to full-time staffers who have spent at least a year working for venues with 50 or more employees.
Translation: Many waiters, cooks, and bussers who hold multiple, part-time jobs to make ends meet, are left out.
The lack of federal paid leave, made worse by the FMLA’s insane eligibility requirements, is an “astonishingly unprogressive policy,” Eater’s editor-in-chief Amanda Kludt wrote in her 2016 inquiry, “The Restaurant Industry’s Motherhood Trap.”
Indeed, this hostile environment toward childbearing, combined with gender pay disparities and systematic sexual harassment and abuse in the hospitality industry, explain why women have a hard time rising to some of the highest-paying jobs in restaurant kitchens. Under 20 percent of the country’s head chefs are women, and those top female chefs earn on average just 78 cents for every dollar a male head chef earns — compared with 88 cents in 2014 or 97 cents in 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Governor Cuomo’s new initiative deserves credit for plugging up weak spots in the FMLA. In addition to covering full-time employees at businesses of any size, the state leave program is open to freelancers and part-timers who work fewer than 20 hours per week. And there is no requirement to have worked for a full year before taking off; the threshold is 26 consecutive weeks for full-time employees, or 175 non-consecutive days for part-timers. Citizenship or immigration status does not affect eligibility. And employers must maintain an employee’s health insurance during the leave program. That’s really great news.
The not-so-great news is that scores of restaurant workers will still receive unacceptably low pay while on leave.
Consider the case of a cook in New York City, who makes the local average of $577/week. Under Cuomo’s plan, that cook would make half that, or $289/week during leave in 2018. That works out to just $7.27/hour, far below the prevailing minimum wage.
And these rates will go down even further after taxes are withheld. (Yes, parental leave pay is taxable income.)
These ignominies highlight a particular problem of the New York parental leave plan: Unlike the minimum wage, which currently varies from Long Island to New York City to upstate, the parental leave plan does not contain adjustments for the higher costs of living in certain regions.
To drive home how tough it would be to survive on the new leave plan, consider the following. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the monthly costs for a family of two with one child in New York City, after rent ($1,400 — good luck finding that apartment), health care ($1,030), child care ($1,045) and other expenses come to about $6,811. For our purposes we’ll subtract the child care number, lowering the total to $5,766; the point is to think about the period during which a father or mother is bonding with the child at home.
Let’s assume the cook earning $577/week, or $2,308/month, has a partner making $3,468/month, the NYC average for an experienced bartender. Even at full salary, the parents will be barely scratching by. Things will become a heck of a lot tougher with one parent’s pay cut in half, putting the couple’s monthly wages at well over $1,000 short of what they’d need.
And if they have another child in 2021 when the program is fully implemented, the mother’s pay rate will be about $9.65/hour, still well less than the future minimum of $15/hour.
Cuomo is surely aware that his program needs to be beefed up; that will take resources and time. But for now here’s a practical suggestion, albeit one that will also require resources: No one should earn less than the minimum wage while on leave. That needs to be fixed immediately.
San Francisco requires restaurants to pay parental leave
New York City, under the leadership of Mayor Bill de Blasio, could still do a lot to help fill the gaps that the state is leaving. The key is to take the right lessons from a city with a slightly different (and unfortunately shorter) leave policy: San Francisco.
Former SF city supervisor Scott Wiener realized that middle- and lower-income families ended up foregoing leave because the California state program, which pays roughly 60 percent of a worker’s salary for six weeks, wasn’t sufficient for the high-cost Bay Area. So he authored a bill that let San Francisco do what the city does best: It puts some of the burden on employers. Restaurants and other businesses with 20 or more employees are required to make up the 40 percent difference that workers are losing from the state program.
Quite simply: In San Francisco, a worker’s leave pay is equal to her regular pay — up to a certain point. And the “up to” part of the equation is a lot more generous than in New York State; that California figure currently stands at $105,404. That means even wait captains and executive chefs can end up earning their full salary during leave.
De Blasio should consider a similar plan: Anyone on leave at a restaurant or other business with, say, 11 or more employees — the limit that determines the appropriate minimum wage — should receive their full salary, with employers paying out whatever staffers lose through the state program. And the parental leave pay cap should rise from $68,000 to a number that’s a bit closer to San Francisco’s — at least $95,000.
To be fair, anything that increases the cost of doing business could be passed along to the consumer in the form of a price hike, and restaurants both in NY and SF say they’re already struggling to keep pace with a slew of new regulations, from the rising minimum wage, to the Affordable Health Care Act’s employer mandate, to mandatory sick leave, to the very real prospect of the state eliminating the lower tipped minimum wage.
But for what it’s worth, San Francisco’s restaurant worker population remains at a 10-year high — despite not having a tip credit, despite the city’s $15 minimum wage, despite the city’s leave program, which has been in place for over a year, and despite the state’s larger leave program, which came into effect over a decade ago.
This risk of repeating this experiment in New York is worth it.
NYC restaurants should share the parental leave burden, too
Some New York City employers are already making changes. As of 2017, all employees who have worked at Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group for at least a year will be eligible for 100 percent of their full salary during the first four weeks of parental leave, and 60 percent for the second four weeks.
Claus Meyer, who runs Agern and Great Northern Food Hall, has recently bumped up his own family leave program to 50 percent of an employee’s wage at eight weeks paternity and 12 weeks maternity leave, with double that time available as unpaid leave.
The two Meyers surely have more resources than others to implement this policy. But it’s hard to believe other high-profile restaurant groups, which can afford to spend steep sums on say, publicists and social media coordinators, can’t figure out a way to make some form of parental leave sustainably work as a published, transparent benefit.
Talk to a high-profile restaurateur these days and one of the things they’ll eventually tell you is how the industry is being over-regulated. But there’s a reason for that over-regulation. The restaurant industry, despite its rising status, continues to provide some of the lowest-paying jobs in the country (and New York) and remains one of the biggest violators of wage laws.
If the largely male class of chef-owners and operators truly care about the professionalization of their industry, one of the smallest and most reasonable measures they could take is to contribute to the pay of their mostly female colleagues taking leave, colleagues who are already underpaid vis-a-vis their male counterparts. The fact that they haven’t consistently done this yet suggests that the only course of action is a legal requirement for sharing the burden on paid leave.
If San Francisco can handle it, New York can handle it.
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