Flying Witch and Magical Realism

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Flying Witch did for witches what Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid did for dragons: just had them be kinda there, going about their daily business instead of getting wrapped up in some sort of epic fantasy plot. Makoto, the protagonist of Flying Witch, is a young witch completing her training, but is she rollicking along on some sort of Harry Potter-ish adventure attending a haunted magic school and defeating evil incarnate? No, she’s just doing the gardening. Occasionally she unearths a howling mandrake and disturbs her friends and neighbors, but otherwise she lives a relatively conflict-free existence, sitting where she does in the place where the “supernatural” and “slice-of-life” genres meet. Which is, it turns out, pretty near the dreamy land of magical realism.

Head to Lady Geek Girl for the full post!

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The Bittersweet Taste of Orange

2017-04-09

If you could write a letter to your younger self, what would you say? “It will get better”? “Don’t stress too much about fitting in”? “Yes, what you’re feeling is love, and that’s okay”? “The future is awful and sad and I want you to work tirelessly to make sure you don’t end up a regret-stricken wreck like me”? Orange takes this last approach, and the result is a series that I have a barrel full of mixed feelings about.

Spoilers and content warning for suicide ahead.

On the first day of the new school year, protagonist Naho finds a strange letter addressed to her, which was apparently sent from herself, ten years in the future. Naho is confused and dubious that such a thing can be real, but then the events the letter describes start coming true: the letter tells her that a new student, a boy named Kakeru, will be joining their class that day, and he’ll sit next to Naho. Naho’s friends will attempt to be welcoming and invite the new kid to hang out once school is over, but, the letter warns, they should absolutely not do that. Not that day, at least.

Naho soon realizes that the letters are full of specific advice from her future self, chiefly about things that Future Naho regrets and wants to change. These mostly concern Kakeru, since, as Naho is shocked to find out, ten years in the future Kakeru is no longer alive. In Future Naho’s world, Kakeru died—in an accident later discovered to be suicide—when he was seventeen, and she’s sending these letters back in time to try and stop that from happening.

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

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A Magical Girl Education: Sailor Moon

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It occurred to me while outlining my article about the dark and gritty reboot of the magical girl genre that I’ve spent more time reading meta, analysis, and personal pieces about the iconic power of Sailor Moon than actually watching the show itself. While I know a lot about it, I’ve never seen all of it first hand—at least, not in order, and certainly not in its original undubbed and uncut form.

I caught the occasional episode on TV when I was a kid and was kind of intrigued but never entirely won over (thanks to that whole “it’s obviously for girls And That’s Bad” mentality), and years later, borrowed and rewatched to near memorising the DVDs from CP… the only trouble there being that CP only owned volume 1, 2, and 8. Anime DVDs seem expensive to me now, but they were practically diamonds to our fourteen-year-old selves, and a pain to hunt down as well. Skipping straight to volume 8 dumped me in season two with no context, but we all just sort of rolled with it at the time. It was fun, that was the most important thing.

A few months ago, in the midst of editing and completing said dark magical girl article, my right arm flared up with what was probably RSI. Given time off work (hooray!) but effectively forbidden to type (the horror!), I sat down and dived into Sailor Moon season one. Animelab, as a tie-in with the remastered re-release, was hosting 89 of the episodes for gloriously free, legal streaming. I, of course, wiped my brow and said “Wow, 89 is a lot! But I can commit!” before being told that 89 is only the first two seasons. I have a lot to learn, as you can see. Continue reading

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Trash & Treasures

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“A bunch of friends who might not be film experts, but sure do have funny opinions, watch bad movies and rag on them” is a podcasting trope by now, if such a thing can exist. How do you wade through the sea of cinematic chit-chat to find one you know will be good? That’s not actually a question I can answer, since I was lucky enough to stumble into Trash & Treasures sideways, but I can help by assuring you that Trash & Treasures is one worth checking out.

Trash & Treasures is where self-described “three weirdos,” Vrai, Dorothy, and Chris, watch movies and sometimes TV series that have been lost down the back of the pop culture couch. Maybe they’re a product of Disney’s awkward and edgy dark era where the company was low on funds and fighting with Don Bluth, maybe they’re an obscure single-release piece of queer action cinema, maybe they’re… just plain bad. Each episode is devoted to a different piece of media, and the trio discuss the plot, context and history of how this movie came to be and how they came to find it, and which parts of it are terrible and which parts are actually, maybe, kind of good.

Read the full post on Lady Geek Girl and Friends!

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Sense8ional: A Sense8 Review (Repost)

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[This review was originally posted on Popgates. It is being re-posted here on a reader’s request, since Popgates has discontinued its pop culture column and thus deleted the original post.

And hey, just in time for season two…]

What do…

A troubled Icelandic DJ trying to get by in London

A San Francisco hacktivist celebrating Pride with her girlfriend

An action-movie-loving bus driver from Nairobi

A German safecracker trying to get out of his mobster family’s shadow

A closeted melodrama actor living in Mexico City

A Korean businesswoman/part-time martial artist trying to keep her family company afloat

An Indian scientist preparing to marry a man she’s not in love with

And a Chicago cop with a heart of gold and parental issues

…have in common?

Well, nothing much at all, until they all witness the suicide of a mysterious, almost angelic woman in white. From that moment on, they start noticing strange things: they can taste what someone else is eating on the other side of the world, hear the thoughts and emotions of people they’ve never met, and master skills they’ve never even tried to learn. They’re a cluster of Sensates, spread across the globe but linked by a psychic connection. Continue reading

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ToraDora! Wrap Up Post

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So, ToraDora! A show about coming of age, love, heartbreak, and a bird that swears.

Overall, I enjoyed rewatching this beautiful beastie a lot—it struck the right balance between being nostalgic and impressing me afresh, and it was nice to know that for the most part it’s still as fun and engaging as it was when I first watched it in early high school and it lodged itself in my brain. I’d like to thank everyone who read along each week, and leave you with a few final assorted thoughts and retrospectives… Continue reading

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Don’t Drill a Hole in Your Head: April ’17 Roundup

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What have I learned this month? Don’t leave your assignments to the last minute, don’t underestimate the power and influence of the Victorians, don’t drill a hole in your head, and for the love of goodness, don’t stick a spanner in an iconic character’s backstory just to justify casting a white lady to play her.

Blog content this month:

Cute Queer Webcomics for the Soul (exactly what it says on the tin. Every time Heartstopper updates I get stupid little flutters)

It’s a Metaphor, Max: Time Travel (in which Life is Strange is back on my desk, getting pulled apart in search of deeper meaning in the aspects of it that make no damn sense)

And ToraDora! episodes 22, 23, 24 and 25. We did it! Wrap-up post coming tomorrow!

On Lady Geek Girl and Friends:

Web Crush Wednesdays: Potterless (I’m just a podcast recommending machine now)

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid: A Cute, Fun, Trashy Domestic Comedy… with Dragons! (in which I introduce you all to my new Problematic Fave)

Sexualised Saturdays: Letting Boys Cry (in which it’s important for men to know they’re allowed to be emotionally vulnerable, which is why portrayals of fictional men–especially ones in typically ‘manly’ and cool roles–are so important)

On Little Anime Blog

My Favourite Anime: ToraDora! (want a more succinct post about why I love this show? Roll on over to LAB where I pitched in to provide content during the main writers’ hiatus)

Nifty Things to Listen To

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Let it be known that April is the month I began my official descent into the McElroy entertainment empire. This extended family is everywhere—you may know them from the seven-years-long-and-still-going-strong “advice” show My Brother, My Brother, and Me, or perhaps from The Adventure Zone or Monster Factory or whatever the hell this is. I’ve been listening to their shows of the “we love our wives so let’s give them a platform to teach us all about their passions” variety.

Shmanners features Teresa McElroy and her doting husband Travis, wherein they discuss modern day conundrums of etiquette, the social history behind them, and the evolution of “traditional” behaviour and customs of society—many of which aren’t as old as we may think. The episode on first dates is one I would definitely recommend, tracing the history of wooing romantic partners from its roots in medieval chivalry (if it actually existed, and wasn’t just something the Victorians made up in an attempt to romanticise that era) to 18th and 19th century courtship rituals to the evolution of “dating” as a concept (without your parents in the room! Amazing!) in the 1910s and ‘20s, all the way through the business of “going steady” in the ‘50s to the Free Love movement to modern day.

You can also learn about the history of the amusement park (thankfully we don’t have baby-viewing chambers in our entertainment alleys anymore…) and the public pool, which are equally fascinating. Especially when paired with the modern advice section that makes up the latter part of the episode, where you have to contemplate whether the ancient Egyptians bathing in the river Nile had the same problems with people flicking sand in their face as we do today… social history, man. Love it. And Travis and Teresa are a delight to listen to.

A quite different but equally fun dynamic is Dr Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin in Sawbones, where they discuss medical history. I haven’t listened to as much of this as Shmanners yet (partly due to my notably weak stomach) but the episodes on “cinematic neuroses” (featuring infamous BBC mockumentary Ghostwatch, which terrified a nation and is an intriguing story in and of itself) and on the history of medicinal tea have stood out to me for pure fascination factor.

Ah, this family has so much to teach us. Or you can just watch them zoom around in tiny cars.

I also picked up Nancy two days ago (on Amanda from Spirits’ recommendation) and blitzed through basically the whole thing so far. This series about modern LGBTQ+ life is strangely engrossing, due to both its sound design and content, which focuses on personal stories and ranges from moving to hilarious to heartbreaking. There’s been a lot of focus on the L and the G rather than anything else so far, mostly I suspect because that’s how the two hosts identify, but hopefully they branch out a little as the series goes on. That said, it also has a big focus on intersectionality especially in regards to race since both hosts are Asian-American, which is always something good for my little mixed-grain-white-bread self to learn about.

Oh boy, speaking of which, Ghost in the Shell came out at the very end of last month, and by now everyone has more or less forgotten about it except for the occasional internet grumble (partly because the live action Death Note trailer dropped, with almost comically bad timing, and focus shifted to include that nonsense in this overarching issue). Before the hype dies down, though, I urge you to listen to ANN Cast’s episode on it—it’s funny, thought-provoking, analytical in a very approachable and interesting way, and fills you in on everything you need to know without having to give this mess of a movie any of your money. Thanks, lads.

Nifty Things to Read (it’s all anime this month guys, sorry)

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Speaking of people watching terrible things so I don’t have to, I’d like to extend my gratitude and support to all the tireless bloggers who waded into the new season of anime premieres. My God, there’s a lot of trash out there. Artemis’ opinion is worth reading, as always, as is The Josei Next Door’s, and the dedicated fellows of Rabujoi are hard at work as usual, sometimes with analytical results, sometimes with hilarious ones.

For premiere reviews with a more distinctly queer and/or feminist lens, I would, as always, recommend AniFem. If only for some entertaining and thoughtful reading material—Amelia notes what makes a satisfying and well-rounded love story in a way that’s actually very helpful and succinct for writers while ruminating on Tsuki ga Kirei; and eloquently as ever has no time for the harmful burning nonsense that is Armed Girls Machiavellism or Akashic Records of a Bastard Magic Instructor.

Eromanga Sensei could have been a delightful exploration of grief, family, and art, if it were, just maybe, not entirely about the virgin-whore dichotomy and they’re-step-siblings-so-we-promise-it’s-not-incest incest; how promising World End looks kinda shows how low the bar is set for light novels; Royal Tutor is “a trash bag wrapped around a cinnamon roll”; Twin Angels Break just might be the best trans representation we’re going to get this season; Tsugomomo is a cool fantasy idea drowning in its slapstick slice-of-life setting; and Love Tyrant made Vrai embrace the inevitable heat death of the universe.

From general consensus across all these blogs, the most promising series of the season seem to be Sakura Quest, RE:Creators, and Grimoire of Zero. I’ll keep an eye out and see how they progress…

A few other readables:

And more academic papers. So many. I’m looking at putting together another thesis-based blog post a la my look at The Cauldron of Story and swan maiden theory once actual university shenanigans have cooled off, so stay tuned. There’ll be some spicy stuff.

Also, Thor: Ragnorak looks like it’s actually going to be really fun and possibly good. Could it be so?

YES THOR

Don’t drag me back in like this, Marvel.

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