Escape from Yuri Hell: FLIP FLAPPERS’ critique of the Class S genre

YuriHell 5

FLIP FLAPPERS is many things: a magical girl adventure through visually stunning fantasy lands, a multi-layered exploration of its characters and the nature of perception, a problematic fave, and a queer coming-of-age story about an insecure girl who’s just trying to figure herself out. The story follows Cocona, a (seemingly) ordinary girl who gets swept up in a quest to collect wish-granting “fragments” in Pure Illusion, a magical dream-space that changes to reflect the psyche of those who enter it.

Each visit to Pure Illusion is both a genre homage and a character exploration, often touching on themes of coming-of-age and the complicated business of sexual maturation. As part of this trend, Episode Five, “Pure Echo,” develops and explores our heroes and the trials of adolescence by throwing them into a world that combines Class S, a genre of sweet yuri romance, with horror. Now, what in the world could that strange combination be trying to tell us?

Head to AniFem for the full article!

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When Michael Met Mina: Actually, Yes, Let’s Make It About Race

When Michael Met Mina

But the thing is, I wear my politics like hand-me-down clothes: some bits feel like they don’t fit properly, but I expect I’ll grow into them, trusting that because they’re from my parents they’ve come from a good source.

-P.32

When Michael Met Mina is a novel about realising that sometimes the people you love have unforgivable shitty opinions. Or at least, I feel like that’s the most poignant theme of the novel, and the one that is most resonant and relevant in our current social and political climate. Michael, one of the story’s two narrators, is not a bad person by any stretch of the imagination, he’s just an average teenaged boy from Sydney who likes sports and video games and also believes that Muslims are terrible and refugees shouldn’t be protected by the government. His parents, the founders of the Aussie Values political party, are also not bad people necessarily, in fact they’re really quite lovely people, they’re also just horribly and vocally bigoted. As Michael says, “The scariest thing about people like […] my parents is not that they can be cruel. It’s that they can be kind too.” And boy, isn’t that the Realest thing ever? Continue reading

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Aced It: October ’17 Roundup

isaac and miria

It’s October, the scariest time of year… thesis finishing time! Oh, and Halloween I guess. It’s not a super big deal over here, which is mostly a shame because our retailers skip straight to Christmas. Come on dudes, it’s not even November… I can feel the mounting stress of retail employees on the breeze with the jingling of bells.

In any case, it’s been another busy and exciting month of writing and editing and proofreading, and watching bucketloads of anime to empty my brain in the in-between moments. A charming yet rowdy cat has also joined the household; I am still trying to teach him that computer keyboards are not a place to sit and that feet are not things to nibble on.

On the blog this month:

Baccano! Vol. 2: All Aboard, We’re Going to Hell (in which a whole new madcap band of immortals, gangsters, and immortal gangsters fight over a train)

Oh Riverdale, You Beautiful Neon-Lit Garbage Fire (in which I lament the death of coherence and my interest in a show that started out with such promise, but in the end essentially served to remind me why I don’t watch a lot of American live-action TV anymore)

On Lady Geek Girl and Friends:

Asexual Awareness Week: Two YA Novels with Complex, Geeky, Lovable Demi Protagonists (in which I tell the world about my beautiful children Darcy Patel and Aled Last, in honour of Asexual Awareness Week)

What are we reading this month?

2017-10-22 (4)

It was anime premiere season again (already? God, it feels like the summer previews were only the other day) which means it was premiere blogging season. Notoriously bad as I am at keeping up with shows week-by-week (or rather, I’m just so much better at watching stuff when I have a pile of episodes to get sucked into, rather than bite-sized amounts), there are actually enough simulcasts piquing my interest this time round that I’ve re-subscribed to Crunchyroll. Multiple paid subscriptions! How extravagant!! At least, until you consider how much content you’re getting access to for the cost of maybe half a DVD. We really are living in a golden age.

Anyway, I said all that last time, so let’s move onto the other internet discussions that captured my interest this month:

That time the Guardians of the Galaxy fought Cú Chulainn and found the Book of Kells – while researching contemporary adaptations of the Ulster Cycle and its characters, I found a report on a particularly wild Marvel comics arc from the ‘90s where… well, the title says it all. It was the most baffling and entertaining way that research could have gone

The Real-Life Importance of Happy Endings for Queer Characters – a wonderfully written examination of tropes and history and how they affect the way LGBTQ+ folks see themselves

Brainiacs Need Useless Girls: Analysis of the Popular Romantic Trope – exactly what it says on the tin, looking at manga and drama as particularly bad perpetrators of this gendered setup

Gallery of the Unknowns – for the art history lovers amoung you, a blog that specialises in paintings with some degree of mystery to them, be it work by an unknown artist, portraits of unknown sitters, or artworks that just kind of showed up at the back of an auction house somewhere and may or may not be worth millions

My Girlfriend is a ShoBitch and What We Teach Teen Girls About Sex – this anime has by far the most skeezy and bizarre title of the season, but in amongst its horny-and-corny-comedy premise is some important commentary on the expectations media feeds teenagers about sexuality

A thread about Death of the Author as it relates to marginalised communities – a Twitter series about authorial intent vs audience seeing themselves in a work of fiction, and how underrepresented groups have trained themselves to hunt for subtext

Made in Abyss: A History of Going Down – still haven’t been able to watch this show, but the meta on it continues to be great. This post examines Made in Abyss in the context of a long history of stories about worlds beneath the world and what that represents to the human psyche

The New Inquiry issue on fanfiction – contains some great quotes and insight about fanfic and fan creations as criticism

Summer Anime Overview: ReCreators – an analysis of where ReCreators went so wrong with its potentially fascinating premise, mostly in the realm of picking the wrong protagonist for the job

The Failed Feminism of 18if – yet more great analysis of a show I did not watch, in this case discussing how this dreamworld-hopping fantasy anime shoots itself in the foot by setting out to tell stories about women overcoming patriarchal pressures and then… having all those stories revolve around the main male character?

Now alas, I have no new podcasts to show off this month. But I have been having a wonderful time with Our Fake History again, especially the “Was there a real Trojan War?” series (which has been very useful prep for a certain retelling of The Iliad that you will probably see reviewed here soon-ish) and the two-parter on the bizarre life and death of Rasputin.

Since people enjoyed the Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am clip I posted way back when (a.k.a. The Period Rap), I thought I’d take this chance to instead showcase some more indie Australian comedy (which is, come to think of it, most of the live-action TV I’ve been watching these days. That, and endless rewatches of Arrested Development).

Without further ado, Get Krackin: in which the ladies of The Katering Show (a web series that shouldn’t be region-locked, if you’re craving more of them) expand from making fun of cooking shows to making fun of breakfast talk shows, with a healthy dose of pseudo-science trend-shaming (my housemates and I had seen an ad telling us how great tumeric was that very day, and we Just Lost It when this came on):

And with that, I sign off for the month. Take care everyone!

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Oh Riverdale, You Beautiful Neon-Lit Garbage Fire

Riverdale

Riverdale sure is… a show that I somehow watched approximately thirteen hours of. It is a fictional work of a slippery and frustrating breed: a show that hooks you, steals your heart, then tosses it lazily out a window as it spirals downwards into utterly disappointing muddiness. It is a work with an intriguing premise and a strong premiere, a work that got into my head and had me on the edge of my seat, gripped by the vivid visuals and the delightfully tangled mystery it seemed to promise. It is a work that ultimately wasted all this potential and ran away from the strong parts of its own story while making a long, drawn-out fart noise directly at me.

Riverdale is the breed of show that, though it’s lying somewhere in a dumpster puddle, still has your heart, having worked so hard and so well to win it, and so you can’t help but be enraged by this TV show that you might have otherwise just forgotten about.  Given that I have no knowledge of the comics, I can’t speak of Riverdale in terms of how it succeeds and fails as an Archie adaptation; but I can, and will, speak of Riverdale in terms of how it succeeds and fails in being a mystery-centred character drama. Continue reading

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Asexual Awareness Week: Two YA Novels with Complex, Geeky, Lovable Demi Protagonists

Radio Silence Afterworlds

It’s Asexual Awareness Week, which means that though I’d do it any time of the year, it’s the optimal time of the year to recommend and gather recommendations of media with asexual protagonists. Today I want to talk about two brilliant geeky YA novels with main characters that are not only relatable, complicated, and funny, but sit on a perhaps lesser-known place on the asexual spectrum: these are two characters who are confirmed as demisexual.

Demisexuality is when you only begin to feel sexually attracted to people once you form a strong emotional bond with them. The most common misconceptions about it tend to be that the demi in question is just “picky” and chooses to get to know people first, or that they’re no longer, or never really were, asexual at all once they find someone they like enough to be attracted to. As with the many grey areas along the ace spectrum, it can be a tricky thing to both explain to people and define for yourself, especially given how society so easily conflates romantic, aesthetic, and sexual attraction all together as one big amorphous thing when they’re really separate and very different feelings—and, as always, different for every individual person!

I know that I’m somewhere under the ace umbrella, but finding an exact word to define my unique, personal scenario has kind of felt like I’m a sleep-deprived detective staring at a conspiracy board trying to link evidence together with bits of string. While I’m still bumbling along trying to figure myself out, it was immensely rewarding and heartwarming to read these two books where characters (who are younger than me, mind you) get to not only find happiness in their ace identities and have fulfilling relationships, but get to be the stars of moving and engaging stories.

Head to Lady Geek Girl and Friends for the full post!

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Baccano! Vol. 2: All Aboard, We’re Going to Hell

baccano vol 2Off the bat, this book is a bit of an oddball to review. Baccano! volume two is a completely new story to the self-contained first instalment, leaving New York and detailing the terrible adventure that takes place when a cacophony of robbers, mafioso, terrorists, and a monster of urban myth all find themselves trapped together on the same cross-continental train. It’s also the first of a two-parter, but it doesn’t drop its “to be continued” halfway through the story: it delivers the train safely (relatively speaking) to the station, and some characters out of the sprawling cast to their destination… and promises to loop back and retell the same sequence of events but from different perspectives in volume three. This is a slightly befuddling creative choice, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t create intrigue. And in the end, effective intrigue among all that larger-than-life chaos is what makes Baccano! good.

So, while volume two—The Grand Punk Railroad: Local—is very much and very deliberately not the whole story, let’s barrel ahead with Isaac-and-Miria-like gusto and talk about the pieces of the puzzle that we did experience. It sure is something, let me tell you. Continue reading

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Flip Flap, Flip Flap: September ’17 Roundup

flip flap

Hey Alex, how do you produce So Much Content?

Well, the first and easiest answer is that if I’m not writing and creating content I will literally dissolve.

The second and possibly less unsettling answer is that most posts are scheduled at least a month in advance, so generally I’m not actually churning out five whole posts each four-week period (to use this month as an example). My AniFem piece was also in the editing pipeline for a couple of months (due to a combination of the editors being uber busy with convention season and the piece going through a rigorous and amazing editing process. Seriously, Caitlin and Dee are powerful and work very hard to make the articles that go up the best they can be!) so the only posts I generally write the month of publication are for Lady Geek Girl, since those are pitched on a monthly basis.

That said, I’m still working hard to write the posts to put in the queue for the next few months, so maybe I do end up writing an equivalent of five posts every four-week period… it would depend on the period in question, what else I have going on, et cetera. This ties neatly back into the first answer.

You’re writing about a helluva lot of anime these days, aren’t you?

Jeez, I sure am. There are a couple of factors behind this: first, that anime is so very, deliciously accessible these days with the rise of legal streaming sites. It’s such a blessed change from even five years ago! I’m also much more plugged into the anime blogging community than I have been before, so I can keep an eye out for recommendations of what exactly to try out. Bobbing in a pool of writers publishing fun and insightful articles about anime also inspires me to do the same, and of course watching and thinking about anime gives me potential pitches for both AniFem (obviously) and Lady Geek Girl (where I am one of a small fraction of weebs on the writing staff, which means anime reviews and discussion are a less common angle and subject matter, so I can safely pitch knowing it’s less likely to have been written about before).

The last reason is that I’ve been doing a lot of reading, reading, reading this year, so visual media has been the way to go when I’m trying to unwind! (Yes, I know, I have the subtitles to read, but it’s a wholly different experience)

Is it difficult balancing a thesis with blogging for fun and writing for other websites?

You just have to manage your time well. Again, if I’m not writing I will become a puddle of a human being, so having that drive definitely helps. For the love of goodness don’t sign up for any kind of higher degree if you don’t love reading a lot and writing a lot.

Alex you dweeb, are you just writing gay mythology fanfiction for your thesis? How did you get away with this?

Well, yes and no. As I said in my three-minute presentation I’m responding to Campbell’s assumptions and other scholars’ critique of his work with a “reimagining” of an old story: an original narrative in its own world that borrows The Hero’s Journey structure, rather than a direct retelling of a myth but with the hero’s gender simply switched out. As well as giving me more wriggle-room to build the world and the supporting cast around the point this project is trying to make, this is basically so readers don’t need to know the myth it’s based on to understand and enjoy the story. Obviously it’s being written to come parcelled with the academic exegesis explaining all the research and intent behind it, but it’s also super important that it’s just an engaging and accessible story. With heroic lesbians!

Anyway, everything’s a little bit fanfiction, and there’s nothing wrong with that–in fact, it’s a perfectly valid form of creative response in the field of academia (though obviously you have to make sure your copyright stuff is all in order. Ancient myths written down by monks: not such a big deal. Contemporary fiction: have a long talk with your supervisor first). I have a barrel full of sources talking about how revision of myths, fairy tales, and other familiar cultural stories for the purpose of reflecting or inviting cultural change is a much-loved and progressive practice, but since I’m miraculously still excited to talk about this project rather than exhausted with it, I’ll save all that for another post.

You finished watching both Flip Flappers and Revolutionary Girl Utena this month. Have you overdosed on metaphor-laden queer coming of age story?

…just a little bit

You didn’t get sick this month! Congratulations!

Don’t jinx it!!

anguishhh

On the blog:

Baccano! vol. 1: Live Forever or Die Trying (in which I read a light novel for the first time. People get shot)

The Death of Innocence and Rebirth of the Hero in Revolutionary Girl Utena (in which I realise that Utena is exactly my jam in so many thematic ways)

On AniFem:

Adding Salt to Sweet Vanilla: The Complex Women of ToraDora! (in which you were incorrect if you thought I’d finished having thoughts and feelings about this show and these characters)

On Lady Geek Girl:

The Garden of Words: A Masterpiece, But Did It Have to Be a Love Story? (well? Did it???)

Magical Mondays: A Journey Inside the Mind with Madoka Magica and Flip Flappers (in which two magical girl series delve into the inner worlds of their characters and results may vary)

Cool Links

I have never watched The Big Bang Theory, so it’s nice to have someone else so eloquently explain why the whole vibe of it upsets me so much:

Here, Cracked argues that Game of Thrones has finally been screwed over by the conflicting laws of genre it’s trying to play with

Here, a lovely personal piece about anime, personal growth and nostalgia

Here, The Fandomentals discuss and define “superhero fatigue” and ponder that Wonder Woman’s success was probably because it was, finally, something different, in having a woman in its starring role of course but also by attempting to be optimistic in a world of Nolan-esque Batmen, hitting this particular nail on the head:

Here’s the thing, grimdark for the sake of “edginess” is a privilege. Our own reality has become quite bleak over the years and most of us have to deal with some sort of oppression, hate, or prejudice. Pretending to live in a Crapsack World is no longer that fun or relevant. But stories? Stories are more relevant than ever. They’re a powerful tool to keep us going in times like these, to resist and refill our hearts with hope and positivity.

Here, a reflection on non-binary identity and the magical girl genre: “If gender isn’t binary, then being magical isn’t either”

Here, a post about hunting for ace representation in the media you love (and maybe, just maybe, finding it in My Love Story!)

Here, Artemis and Watson continue their slog through the series voted Worst Anime Ever with the baffling concept of Vampire Holmes

And here, a post about three different food-focussed series and how to strike the perfect balance between being a story about delicious edible goods and a story about people

Alas, I don’t have any new podcasts to recommend this month, but Chatty AF suffered through both Netflix’s Death Note and Neo Yokio to come out with some great discussion and insight that is definitely worth a listen to. Travis and Theresa were also particularly adorable in the Shmanners episode about eloping.

As always, take care out there everybody. Stay safe, stay hydrated, stay rad.

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