Rated Reads shares our pick of the best articles from around the web. This week: the unstoppable rise of anime and an exhibition dedicated to the impact of Asian artists.


Streaming and covid-19 have entrenched anime’s global popularity

Who hasn’t watched every single Studio Ghibli since they arrived on Netflix? The Economist looks at the gradual supremacy of anime, from being targeted at niche (and often nerdy) audiences to becoming globally beloved.

“Now, gushes Muto Takashi, who runs Dentsu Japanimation Studio, ‘anime is no longer a subculture; it is a major culture.’ In 2019 anime-related revenues from tv, streaming and gaming rights, live entertainment, cinema tickets and merchandise sales hit ¥2.5trn ($24bn). Just under half came from abroad, where the anime market has almost quintupled in size over the past decade.”

Whether anime will continue to rise, or – now that live-action is back – fall, remains to be seen.


‘We Do Not Dream Alone’ Seeks to Champion Representation for Contemporary Asian Artists

“Yoko Ono’s seminal artist’s book, Grapefruit (1964), is a trove of aphoristic nuggets, for example: ‘A dream you dream alone may be a dream, but a dream two people dream together is a reality.’ The title of the Asia Society’s inaugural triennial in New York, ‘We Do Not Dream Alone’, riffs on this quote.”

Lauren Kane in Frieze reviews Part II of the exhibition in the Asia Society’s Park Avenue location in New York. From the work past and present of Nandalal Bose, to Natee Utarit, to Hamra Abbas, this read has us wishing we could catch a flight to the big apple.


‘This sounds like a human synthesiser’: the evolution of rap, one verse at a time

Rap coach Drew Morisey and voice analyst Dr Calbert Graham of the University of Cambridge Language Sciences Centre come together to examine 40 years of rap. What they discover is both surprising and compelling, from detected roots in disco, jazz and funk, to the evolution into rap as “human synthesiser”.

Along the way, there are some gemstone insights into rap technique and musical influences.


Why Bratz are still our fave fashion influencers

Celebrating 20 years of Bratz – yes, those iconic early noughties dolls, a bold and off-proportion answer to the Barbies – Dazed reflects on how they have shaped fashion history and inspired the Zillenial genereation.

‘”They gave me a chance to explore femininity,’ [writer Louis Glazzard] recalls. ‘You don’t think about it when you’re a child but I was very lucky that my mum gave me a chance to play with dolls. I used to make up plays with my dolls. I’m a writer now so maybe that space for creativity is where some of it started. Having that space to explore definitely influenced me and made more sense later on when I realised I was queer.'”

An ode to all that’s great about Bratz, from their racial diversity, to their symbolic female empowerment, to their freedom of expression which has enabled some to freely express their own sexuality, Sophie Wilson looks at why they have so many present-day TikTokers hooked.


The sky pool is a symbol of a greater housing scandal

More of a serious read this time, but following that sky pool doing the rounds on Twitter, Aydin Dikerdem in Huck has looked at the build as symptomatic of a wider issue of prioritization of private developers financial gain over the public good. “Nine Elms was a prime site for a comprehensive house building programme and urban regeneration. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to help tackle the housing crisis that Londoners know all to well”.

Yet, the new development has left a sadly low percentage of affordable housing. Dikerdem looks back at the history of why this may be.


An ode to pre-pandemic nightlife and queer spaces, James Bartolacci returns with a new set of paintings

In It’s Nice That, Ayla Angelos chats to James Bartolacci about his first solo show, a delve into the queer nightlife sphere. Intimate paintings in neon, lurid colours show James’ affection for the New York after-dark scene: “This was something I thought a lot about during the pandemic, since nightlight was shut down. The absence of nightlight left a huge void in terms of socialising and connection, which felt significant to me.”

The twist is that James’ paintings take his friend’s bedrooms as his muse. The artist brings the colours of the clubs inside: “It used to be that I would go to a party and then make a painting about it, but I didn’t want my new work to feel only nostalgic for pre-pandemic partying. I wanted to expand the work beyond the dance floor.”


The worst fashion disasters in fiction

Admit it, at some point in our lives, we’ve all turned up to a party and instantly realized that we’re wearing the wrong clothes. Rosalind Jana talks us through the best instances of this in fiction, from Molly Keane’s Good Behaviour, a lot of which is dedicated to the issue, to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. 

On these reads, Jana muses: “They understand that to exist in public is to potentially feel vulnerable, and that a dress really can make or ruin an evening.” We’re glad we’re not alone.

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