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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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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Interviews with Monster Girls: Succubus-san is Guilty until Proven Innocent

Content Warnings: Ace erasure, sexual assault, victim blaming

When Interviews with Monster Girls premiered two months ago, it surprised many fans by treating its subject, demi-humans, as an allegory for disability rather than fetishistized harem material. The first episode treated the concept with unusual sensitivity for the genre, highlighting how the girls’ unique needs must be accommodated to ensure equality, rather than treating everyone exactly the same way. Since then, the series has made a number of missteps, despite what I can only assume are the best of intentions, but its well-meaning sincerity generally makes up for it.

The seventh episode, “Succubus-san is Inquisitive,” features Sakie Satou, a succubus trying to live in the mainstream as a teacher despite how she involuntarily arouses men simply by existing, and Detective Ugaki, the police officer who has been tracking her for most of her life. Because of the poorly-handled inclusion of real-life issues such as covert photography and train molestation, this is easily the most awkward and uncomfortable episode yet.

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[Link] Chatty AF

Hey guys!

This week, Anime Feminist kicked of the first episode of our podcast, Chatty AF! (Autoplay warning) In this episode, we discuss the current season of anime thus far: what we’re watching, why we’re watching it, and how we feel about their representations of women. Participating are editor-in-chief AmeliaLauren Orsini, Peter Fobian, and yours truly.

It was a lot of fun to record, and I hope you enjoy listening to it! Please leave any feedback here or at Anime Feminist.

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu Sukeroku Hen 1-5: The Why and What of “Wa”

Thank you to Michelle for your help in researching female rakugoka!

About a year ago, I wrote about Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu’s Konatsu. A young woman born into the all-male performing art of rakugo, she was cursed to be an outsider in the only world she knew. Her bitterness was further fueled by her toxic relationship with Yakumo, her emotionally distant foster father whom she believed killed her biological father. However, the show’s first season focused on Konatsu’s father and Yakumo, so we didn’t get to see how Konatsu’s arc would play out. The show’s sequel, Sukeroku-hen, is running this season. It brings the focus back to Konatsu, her hapless husband Yotaro, their son Shinnosuke, and the bitter, elderly Yakumo. The Konatsu of the second season, thus far, is recognizable, but a major shift in her attitude makes me wonder where the show is going.

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Sexual Assault and Subversiveness in Kiss Him, Not Me

Summary: Obese otaku Kae Serinuma loves one thing above all else: witnessing intense bonds between men. Whether it’s fictional boys of anime or her handsome male classmates, she lives for the moment where they share a significant glance or touch. When her favorite anime character dies, Kae locks herself in her room for two weeks without food. When she emerges and returns to school, she’s lost all the extra weight. Suddenly, the boys that wouldn’t give her the time of day want nothing more than her attention, but she’d rather they pay more attention to each other!

Content warnings: weight loss/gain, strong trigger warning for sexual assault

 

My expectations going into Kiss Him, Not Me were low, to say the least. Despite my own fondness for seeing boys kiss, I view fujoshi culture with an extremely critical eye. That is, after all, the reason garbage like Super Lovers and Junjou Romantica keeps getting made. I’m also not a fan of shipping real people or the idea that a girl only needs to lose weight to be lovable. When I actually gave the series a try, I was surprised to find it actually has something of a subversive bent, taking shots at romantic shoujo tropes without turning into outright parody. It’s a romantic comedy with very little romance; it’s a harem show where the heroine has more interest in the unattainability of fictional characters. However, that subversiveness is inconsistent and regularly mixed in with the typical shoujo cliches, making it hard to take the message seriously.

The premise of the show alone raises eyebrows. Manga about some kind of personal transformation are fairly common, such as Blue Spring Ride and High School Debut, and almost always revolve around the idea that daintiness and prettiness are more feminine and thus desirable. Kae, however, has absolutely zero interest in changing. The weight loss was purely accidental and she was plenty happy how she was. Her love of anime and BL still dictates most of her actions, and she doesn’t much care whether or not her harem decides to join her at things like Comiket or picking up the latest character goods at Animate. Kae’s ability to stay true to herself is remarkable, as is the boys’ willingness to accept her for who she is. It’s easy for a manga to convey the message to be yourself, but Kiss Him, Not Me dares readers to embrace their socially unacceptable qualities.

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Missing Miss Hokusai

Most people are familiar with the works of Katsushika Hokusai, particularly the iconic “Great Wave off Kanagawa” ukiyo-e print, but few know that his daughter, Katsushika O-Ei, was a talented artist in her own right. She spent most of her life assisting and working with her father and was best known for her prints of beautiful women. Miss Hokusai, based on the manga Sarusuberi by Hinako Sugiura, tells a fictionalized version of her life, one characterized by her devotion to her blind younger sister as well as to her art.

Miss Hokusai eschews a traditional narrative structure, instead opting for an episodic approach. It’s an unusual approach to a film, one that has been widely criticized, but I thought it worked beautifully for the subject matter. The vignettes provide a more complete picture of O-Ei as a person; without having to unite them through a story, it gives snapshots of her personal and professional life and relationships. We see how she relates to her father, to her colleagues, to her sister, and to her art, without her being defined by any one aspect. O-Ei is certainly a woman who defies simple definition. From the very outset, she makes it clear that she is a woman with little interest in traditional femininity. She strides across a bridge over the Sumida River with her arms at her side, rather than the delicate, pigeon-toed gait with hands folded in front favored for women at the time. Instead of maintaining the home, as would be her expected role, she works side by side with Hokusai, explaining that neither of them cooks or cleans; rather, they just move when things get unlivable.

Historical fiction rarely focuses on women, so I especially applaud the decision to tell O-Ei’s story rather than that of her legendary father. That’s part of why I was so baffled by the number of reviewers who came away with the impression that the movie was about Hokusai himself, rather than the title character. This review by Brian Tallerico on rogerebert.com exemplifies that mistake. Tallerico seems unable to conceive that the movie is not Hokusai’s story told through the eyes of his daughter, but her own story. He claims the film “allows us to see him through his daughter’s eyes.” Hokusai is a prominent character and influence in her story, but make no mistake – O-Ei is the one driving the action in every scene. The dissonance between expectation and reality makes it difficult for Tallerico to fully immerse himself in the world of the movie and enjoy it for its own qualities.

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Baku-“Man have drive, woman give in easy”

Summary: Mashiro and Takagi have decided to devote their energies toward a mainstream battle manga, despite their editor advising them against it. Miyoshi continues to insinuate herself between the two as her relationship with Takagi deepens. Meanwhile, Miho starts to see some modest success, but at what cost?

Content Warnings: Lots of jokes about Miyoshi’s big boobs, but not much otherwise.

Part 3: Baku-“Man Dream Big, Need Supportive Woman”

Remember when I said I liked Miyoshi a lot? And that I was gearing up for her downfall? Well, turns out it took a lot less time than I thought!

The third volume of Bakuman opens with Mashiro and Takagi brainstorming a new concept for their mainstream battle manga they’ve decided to make. Miyoshi remarks on their work ethic, “You guys really are something… How can you be so positive about your chasing your dream?” She tells them about how despite her success at competitive martial arts, she quit in middle school when she discovered how many people were better than her.  It’s a relatable enough concept, feeling discouraged and quitting because you feel like you’ll never be the best.

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Fall 2016 First Look

Sigh.

It seems like every other season, I tell myself that I’m going to find a new way to keep current on the blog, to find a way to discuss my thoughts and impressions of the shows I’m watching that week, and it somehow always falls through. It may be because life happens or I get busy, or because I decide that I don’t have something new to say about each show each week, or I decide I’m going to work on my backlog that season, or I just don’t have it in me to write 1000 words each about every show I’m watching. No matter what, I end up struggling to keep up with the shows that season.

So, of course that means it’s time to try again with a new format!

So here’s the new format: every week, I’ll post my thoughts, impressions, and predictions of each new episode that I’ve watched. If something relevant happens in the anime news, I may post my take on that as well. I’m not wasting my time sampling every new show; last time I tried that, it was exhausting and a lot of time and effort for not much reward. Instead, I’m only going to watch the ones that pique my interest and I think the readers of this blog will be interested in. Let’s see how this goes. So without further ado…

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