Heroine Problem at the Conventions, 2017 Edition

I planned for last year to be my final Otakon. It would be bidding a fond farewell to Baltimore and the summers of college, taking a final chance to go to the aquarium, and just a final coda to my relationship with east coast conventions.

Then I had so much fun seeing my friends and hanging out with interesting people that I said, “Fuck that” and booked a hotel room for next year.

And then. And then! Anime Fest announced that Sayo Yamamoto and Mitsuro Kubo would be guests, and I had sworn to myself years ago that I would hop on a plane to any convention that had Yamamoto as a guest. And it was the weekend after Otakon. So my extended weekend turned into a week and a half.

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Fushigi Yugi 13-14: For the Sake of Love/Wolf in the Fortress

Content warnings for homophobia and sexual assault

Previous

Episode 13: For the Sake of Love

Last time on Fushigi Yugi: Taiitsukun forces Miaka to watch Yui’s rape, and also to face reality. Hotohori and Tamahome have a macho dick-waving contest.

I’ll be real y’all: I don’t have THAT much snark for these episodes. Turns out, the second quarter of Fushigi Yugi is the show at its absolute best, when the characters are at their most sympathetic and the plot moves at a brisk pace. Their choices are in-character and make sense and the story progression is logical. Enjoy it, but I may not be as crabby about it as usual.

Keisuke reads The Universe of the Four Gods back in reality, somewhat uncomfortable about how all the boys want to sex up his little sister. Lucky for him and everyone else involved, before Miaka and Tamahome can get their sloppy makeouts going, Hotohori busts in, shouting about sensing evil. To prove he’s not just cockblocking, a threatening voice comes out of nowhere, informing them that Kutou has sleeper agents everywhere and could totally defeat Konan whenever they want. Why haven’t they yet? Because their priestess is horny for Tamahome. To prevent her from destroying the country out of sheer sexual frustration, they must deliver Tamahome to Kutou. I guess it’s always been the case that sex plays a major role in international conflict, but it’s funny to see international relations dictated by hormonal teenagers.

Continue reading “Fushigi Yugi 13-14: For the Sake of Love/Wolf in the Fortress”

Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers Week 2

Hey Caitlin.

Yes?

Why are you such a misogynist?

Wait what?

Why do you hate stories written by women?

I don’t –

Why do you think women and girls are too stupid to tell reality from fantasy?

Why would you think –

That’s the only thing I can assume from this blog!

*sigh* Okay.

Apparently my continued pursuit of this topic, along with my lack of more positive coverage of shoujo, has given some people the deeply mistaken impression that I am suspicious or disdainful of it and that I only read shoujo manga with this aspect in mind. In retrospect, I can see where that impression comes from. This has become something of a passion project for me. It’s a topic I consider deeply important, so it’s only natural that I give it a lot of focus. However, because of a number of factors, I haven’t written as much as I wanted to on other, more positive aspects of the demographic. In order to combat this perception, I’m going to include in these posts short essays about shoujo manga and my relationship with it that I hope will clarify things.

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Confronting Biases in My Hero Academia

In the months since I’ve started watching it, My Hero Academia has quickly become my favorite battle shonen series. It’s not particularly mold-breaking; it uses the same genre tropes as most other series of its ilk. Its main strength is that it brings the genre’s strengths to the forefront, with a supremely likable ensemble cast and exciting battles, while leaving behind many of the genre’s typical weaknesses. One of battle shonen’s greatest struggles has long been how to incorporate its female characters, and My Hero Academia handles the situation with rare grace and aplomb. However, no work of art is free of biases, and while My Hero Academia avoids many issues associated with the genre, there are still many sexist biases deeply encoded in the series.

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Abusive Relationships in Shoujo by the Numbers: Introduction and Week One

The response to my “Romance and Abuse in Shoujo” panel has been consistently overwhelming. The transcripts from my Sakura Con 2016 get new pageviews every day, and every time I present it, I get people approaching me afterward telling me how meaningful they found it. I’m incredibly proud to have put together something that touches people’s lives and resonates with their experiences so strongly.

Many of the series I used in my presentation are older, because those were the ones that made me take notice of this issue years ago. However, I’m not sure how relevant this is to current audiences – how many people sitting and listening are familiar with Boys Over Flowers or Hot Gimmick? New volumes of shoujo manga come out every week, thanks to the hardworking localizers at companies like Viz, Seven Seas, and many others. I curate my reading list pretty carefully, so for years I’ve made a point of looking for series with healthy relationships, or series that are aware of the abusive dynamics they contain. Starting work on this project forced me to engage with series I actively avoided, but what about the ones I just never heard of?

So I started wondering, how do the numbers break down? How many of the series that make it to US shores really do romanticize abuse, and how many don’t? In search of these answers, I’ve started a new side project: “Abusive Relationships in Shoujo by the Numbers.”

Continue reading “Abusive Relationships in Shoujo by the Numbers: Introduction and Week One”

Dragon Ladies from Another World: Foreigner Identity in Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

It wouldn’t be far from the truth to describe Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid as reverse-isekai show – Tohru has, after all, been sent to another world and must learn to live in a world where the rules are entirely different. However, its slice-of-life nature separates it from the likes of Fushigi Yugi or Re:Zero, where quests and other plot demands direct the flow of the narrative. Rather, Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid has a gentle pace, portraying the everyday life of Kobayashi, Tohru, and their friends with plenty of bawdy comedy and only a few occasional hints at a greater plot. The slice-of-life approach creates opportunities for quiet contemplation, even under the fan service and sexual jokes, and delivers a charming message about adapting to a new life in a new culture and found families.

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Popular Isekai Light Novel Adaptations as Guys Who Lived in Your Freshman Dorm

Sword Art Online is Kyle

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Kyle is really into respecting women, and he wants everyone to know about it. He likes to say that his greatest role model is his mom, because she worked so hard to raise him and his sister without any handouts. His real role model is Jean Claude van Damme, but he doesn’t tell anyone that. He doesn’t believe in the wage gap – it only seems that way, but if you really look at the data, it’s because women have different priorities in life. Besides, he wouldn’t want his wife to earn more than him because what would they do when she left her job to raise their kids? He talks a lot about his girlfriend back home, but she can’t come visit because she’s really busy. Oh, and she doesn’t use Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. She does use Twitter, mostly to agree with his tweets, and never posts selfies because she’s not vain like that. He is lowkey convinced that all his female friends are actually in love with him, because male-female friendship is always at least a little about attraction. People seem to really like him, but you don’t get it.

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A Sincere Apology + Upcoming

Where has the time gone? Where have I been the last few weeks?

Well, not really much of anywhere.

I decided I was going to power through Persona 5 and it ended up swallowing my life for way longer than expected… especially since I decided to replay Persona 3 right after. I’ll be writing a post about them eventually, so it’s justified, right? Right?

…Wrong.

Once that happened, I also entered into my avoidance phase and didn’t even touch my computer for the better part of three weeks. I’ve neglected pretty much all my blogging duties, both for this and for AniFem. Posts have gone unedited, outlines unsubmitted, and generally I’m just a mess.

I have no excuse, and I’m sorry.

But! BUT! There is good news!

Two of my panels have been APPROVED for Anime Fest in August: Romance and Abuse in Shoujo Manga and Is This Feminist Or Not? I’m super excited to be presenting them to a new audience, and I hope to see some of you there in six weeks!

Six weeks?

OH GOD SIX WEEKS.

Fushigi Yuugi 11-12: Priestess of Seiryuu/Only You

STRONG content warning for sexual assault, self-harm, and attempted suicide

Episode 11: Priestess of Seiryuu

There’s a lot of plot happening in this one, folks, so buckle in.

Last time on Fushigi Yugi: Miaka narrowly avoided getting killed, despite making a lot of terribly irresponsible decisions, and found Yui. Funnily, the opening narration says it’s “as if through the divine intervention of Suzaku”, making it quite clear that this plot contrivance is a huge stretch!

The first rule of entering enemy territory is to be careful and keep your wits about you. Miaka has fairly little in the way of wits to begin with, so she makes the careless mistake of dropping her bag on the floor and revealing that she has the scroll marking her as the Priestess of Suzaku. The emperor calls for the guards, so Miaka shows self-preservation instincts for the first time in several episodes, grabs Yui, and takes off running. Continue reading “Fushigi Yuugi 11-12: Priestess of Seiryuu/Only You”

Updated Recommendations

Over the past few days, I’ve been updating the “Recommendations” page with movies and shows I’ve watched in the past few months. These are the new entries:

Only Yesterday

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Twenty-seven-year-old Taeko Okajima dreams of the countryside. Despite being born and raised in Tokyo, she has always longed for a small hometown to return to like her classmates’ families. Now, she’s taking a trip to Yamagata to help with the safflower harvest and experience rural life for herself. While on the train, she begins to remember her childhood, and the memories continue flow as she settles into her temporary home.

For many years, Only Yesterday sat in licensing hell, held by a Disney that was mainly interested in the marketability of Hayao Miyazaki’s fantastical, family-friendly worlds while Isao Takahata’s more grounded stories remained in limbo. Now GKids possesses the license, and they have thankfully put in the effort to bring these movies the attention they deserve, including dubs and theatrical releases. Only Yesterday depicts a young woman who feels alienated and dissatisfied with city life, and as the movie examines her adolescence, it becomes clear that she has never truly felt at home. Taeko felt misunderstood by her sisters and stifled by her loving but overly stern father. The bumps and bruises of adolescence, both physical and psychological, are depicted with a sort of softness that doesn’t reduce them but makes them feel more relatable as Taeko reflects on the experiences that made her the woman she is today. Country life is quite romanticized when compared to the disconnect Taeko feels with her city origins, but viewed as a personal journey rather than an indictment of urban lifestyles, it makes for a beautiful, satisfying story.

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