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The Rising of the Shield Hero: The Author’s Gender is Officially Not Your Business

raphtalia

This is just a quick PSA to address a misconception that’s been floating around for the past few days.

I’ll go over the context first. The Rising of the Shield Hero is a light novel series that originally began as a web novel posted on Shoutesuka ni Narou! (“Let’s become a novelist!”) in 2012. The author’s pen name is Aneko Yusagi. There are three reasons why this is not considered the real name of the author:

  1. Aneko Yusagi is not at all a common Japanese name
  2. It is written in katakana, which is commonly used to indicate pen name status
  3. Almost all the authors on Narou use pen names. Even Tappei Nagatsuki used to identify solely by the pseudonym Nezumiironeko before the Re:ZERO series got a print release. The same thing applies to Sword Art Online’s Reki Kawahara, who used to call himself Fumio Kunori. However, many web novel authors choose to retain their pen names even after getting a publishing deal.

It’s a common trend among light novel authors in general to use pen names. Natsume Akatsuki, Chugaku Akamatsu, Shirow Shiratori… none of those are traditional Japanese names. This is due to a culture of anonymity on the Japanese web, as well as the fact that many authors prefer to keep their writing separate from their real life. (The majority of light novel and web novel authors are not full-time writers.)

Long story short, hardly anything about Aneko Yusagi is actually known. Not their age, occupation, or even their gender. This is clearly the author’s wish, so it would be unfair to assume anything about their identity.

Some have asked, “Why do they use such a feminine-sounding pen name?” There could be any number of reasons for this. For example, Natsume Akatsuki once said that the “Akatsuki” part of his pen name comes from Kancolle, which he was really into at the time. The reasoning could be as innocuous as that. It is not in itself a statement of gender identity.

This is far from the first time anime fans have made assumptions about an author’s identity. In the case of Natsume Akatsuki, fans speculated for years that he was a woman. It was only when he was interviewed by The Anime Man was it clear that he was a man (even if his face was covered during the interview).

The reason I am bringing all of this up is because quite a few people as of late have been asserting that Aneko Yusagi is a woman. Normally, I find speculations about an anonymous author’s gender to be intrusive, but not actively malicious. Sometimes, you simply hear a rumour often enough that you start to think it is true. But I find this case with Aneko Yusagi to be concerning, mostly because of the context in which the claim has surfaced.

That is to say, it has come up primarily as a rebuttal against those who criticised the series for being sexist.

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You’ll find more posts like these if you search “Aneko Yusagi woman” on Google or Twitter, all of them only a few days old. Meanwhile, if you search the equivalent in Japanese (アネコユサギ 女性), you won’t find any mentions or speculations about the author’s gender. This is a completely manufactured controversy.

Now, regardless whether you believe that The Rising of the Shield Hero is sexist, the author’s gender has nothing to do with the content itself. Because women can be sexist (just like men can be sexist), stating that Aneko Yusagi is a woman is not a convincing rebuttal to the claim. There’s no point in bringing up the author’s gender in a discussion purely about the story itself.

In other words, stating “Aneko Yusagi is a woman” as fact simply to win an internet argument does nobody any favours. More than anything, it’s misinformation and an invasion of the author’s privacy.

On a similar note, the fact that the author’s gender is officially unconfirmed also means that it is also unfair to state definitively that Aneko Yusagi is a man. Sometimes, people can’t help but unconsciously use gendered pronouns for people whose identity they aren’t aware of, and they often mean no harm in that, but if you see someone make assumptions about the author’s gender and outlook based purely on conjecture around the story, like “This guy must hate women,” then please remind them that they are going too far.

In short, regardless of how you feel about the The Rising of the Shield Hero, there’s no need to make baseless assumptions about the author or to state those assumptions as facts. Please have respect for Aneko Yusagi’s anonymity and don’t spread misinformation.

Thanks!

raphtalia2

P.S. This has nothing to do with the topic, but Raphtalia is cute, so I’m going to finish this post with another picture of her.

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Posted on January 11, 2019, in Anime Analysis and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. You are 100% right

    Raphtalia is cute.

    But yeah, when the gender of the person is still a mystery, we should just be referring to them as Yusagi-sensei.

  2. Im always confused when people are up in arms about a writing or piece of media being sexist.

    Should authors be censored or prevented for even writing sexist fictional media? Should imagination be limited to things that only uphold the utmost in “good” morality and ethics and are purehearted and kind?

    additionally feels like its getting old that peopl, who are already against these type of anime, still watch the 1st episodes, then still get up and arms and bring up the same points over and over again. Its kind of why Im glad Im on the periphery of whatever the animetwitter/reddit/facebook/what have you is.

    • This isn’t what happened, though. The same person gave good ratings to other shows that were harem or fanservice. So it’s about the specific depiction that set him off, not the broader topic overall.

  3. People need to stop acting like immoral topics in fiction is somehow an endorsement of them.

  4. I completely agree with you. Yes, women can be sexist, and yes, the author’s gender (by birth or identification) is no one’s business.

  5. Will you denounce and correct your fellow ANN staff for making those very same assumptions?

    • The reviewers and editorial staff at ANN know what my stance on the matter is, and I think that’s enough. I don’t like to make callout posts about individuals.

  6. Agreed. Unless the author decides to reveal their gender, it doesn’t really matter.

  7. The thing is that the reason this is even used as a rebuttal in the first place is bc it would directly contradict how the Journalists are automatically assuming that the Author is a dude with a paranoid sexist incel view of the world. Simply putting it, them saying that the author’s a girl is supposed to contradict the people assuming that the author is a man and calling them out for being complete sexist hypocrites themselves. But even then, it doesn’t even matter in the end bc the Journalists are still sexist themselves nonetheless.

  8. Nice to read a calm, reasoned take on this show!

  9. I read the manga up till its latest chapter. The first arch basically ended with the lesson that just because the main character has met an manipulative *spoiler* doesn’t mean that all women are like that. Also his problems extend to the king and the other heroes. He’s basically distrustful of every new person. Especially after *spoiler* in like chapter 44 when. well spoilers? I guess he’s going to stay like that for a while.

    But basically I don’t see the sexism since men are treated pretty much the same. I think CERTAIN people are just pissed a woman is portrayed like that because they’d rather ignore any negative traits (even though a small number of women have actually done this) and see them as holy creatures without fault and not actual humans with their own faults.

    Pretty pathetic (no offence)

  10. Beautiful.

    Oh, and your blog post was too. This whole thing was a ridiculous hypocrisy, which ended up spurring hypocrisy in kind.
    It’s not fair to Aneko, and it’s not fair to Rising of the Shield Hero.

  11. And this is why you’re the best Frog-kun! I’m also of the opinion that authors should not be attacked for their fictional stories at all. Regardless of gender/political affiliation/sexual orientation, you are free to attack their work, but attacking the author for a fictional work just endorses this lynch mob mentality we so commonly see on social media.

  12. Fantastic post!!! Seen a lot of comments made about the author’s gender to dismiss a lot of things and it’s mind boggling. Who cares what the author’s gender is?

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