Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers: Week 11

No big intro this week, but I’d love to get some reader perspectives! If possible, could you drop a comment answering any (or even all) of these questions:

  1. Were you familiar with any of these series before, and has this column changed your perspective on them?
  2. Have you decided to pick up series I was writing about?
  3. Have you decided AGAINST picking up any series I was writing about?
  4. How do you personally feel about the way shoujo manga depicts these relationships?
  5. Do you have any subjects you’d like to see me write about in the intro?

This week:
Black Bird vol. 11
Boys Over Flowers vol. 9
Dawn of the Arcana vol. 6
Demon Love Spell vol. 5
The Demon Prince of Momochi House vol. 3
Dengeki Daisy vol. 2
The Devil and Her Love Song vol. 1

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Abuse in Shoujo Manga by the Numbers: Week 10

This Week:
Black Bird vol. 10
Boys Over Flowers vol. 8
Dawn of the Arcana vol. 5
Demon Love Spell vol. 4
The Demon Prince of Momochi House vol. 2
Dengeki Daisy vol. 1

On Holding Up

I was visiting my family a few days ago, and my mom hauled out a crate of my old manga to pick through. There was some stuff in there that I had no real desire to revisit – why did I have a book that was just frames from the Chobits anime with the dialogue in word balloons? – but I did manage to scrounge up a couple volumes of Mars – 3 and 6, to be exact. The series is long out of print and I haven’t read it in years, but I remembered the series fondly and was curious about whether it would hold up.

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Abuse in Shoujo by the Numbers: Week 8

Geek Girl Con Report

Last weekend, I attended my final convention of the year: Geek Girl Con. I imagine quite a few of you know of it mainly from the controversy earlier this year when several board members publicly and dramatically quit, but in reality it’s a lovely, small-but-growing convention in Seattle that focuses not on any specific fandom but on creating a space for inclusivity, diversity, and intersectionality in a variety of geeky spaces. This year, they included more anime-related programming than they have in the past, including my panel!

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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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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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Forgotten Realms: The Isekai Boom of the 90’s

There’s no denying it: isekai is the genre of the moment in Japanese nerd culture. The loanword identifying the genre literally means “different world”, and it features a protagonist from our own world suddenly finding themselves trapped in an alternate world, usually one dominated by Western fantasy tropes. The trend reached the US in the early 2010’s with Sword Art Online, with its protagonist Kirito trapped in an MMORPG. Isekai are generally adaptation of light novels, where they are so prominent that last summer, a short story contest banned entries featuring alternate worlds. Like most light novel anime, they’re usually aimed at young men already immersed in the genre, and their protagonists tend to have a degree of self-awareness about their situation.

Despite their recent surge of popularity, isekai series have been around for quite a while. Recently, I stumbled on an article that claimed that the genre barely existed until a 1983 children’s show called Manga Aesop Monogatari and the anime adaptation of Inuyasha, which began in the year 2000. This article is, to put it bluntly, dead wrong. One of the earliest examples of the genre is Crest of the Royal Family, a 1976 shoujo manga that is still running to this day. Inuyasha may have been a breakout hit, but isekai anime and manga thrived during the 90’s. US fans didn’t have a name for it at the time – we generally referred to it as “‘trapped in another world’ anime”. The main difference between isekai then and isekai now is the intended audience – 25 years ago, it was a staple of the shoujo demographic, rather than today’s escapist playgrounds for young men. Ordinary young women were pulled into alternate worlds where attractive young men told them they had a special destiny to fulfill. They went on grand adventures and usually – though not always – fell in love along the way.

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