A Journey Inside the Mind with Madoka Magica and Flip Flappers

flip flappers rabbit dreamworld

Have you ever wondered exactly what’s going on inside your friends’ heads? Of course you have. Have you ever wanted to take a surreal and frightening journey inside the physical manifestation of your friends’ thoughts, feelings, and worries? Maybe? No? Well, in these two series, you can!

Fiction provides us with a unique opportunity to see into the minds of others, in that we get to live out other people’s stories and lives and see the world through their point of view for a time. Fantasy and sci-fi elements that allow us to literally see into and interact with the minds of characters, such as the dream-diving in Paprika and Inception, take this a step further. Through literally venturing into a physical manifestation of another character’s mind, you can learn a lot about them that they may not show you on the surface, such as hidden insecurities and secret memories. And sure, as a writer you could get the same information across in a dream sequence that lets the audience see inside that character’s mind for a scene, but the act of physically entering someone else’s mental landscape is what I want to talk about today. It lets the other characters, rather than solely the audience, learn what’s going on in the subject character’s head, and does so in a way that also moves the plot forward and provides a physical adventure at the same time.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Flip Flappers are two series that, via magic, give their characters the opportunity to explore their co-cast members’ inner worlds, sending them all down a proverbial rabbit hole into surreal, symbolism-heavy, and often frightening landscapes that teach them (and the audience) something about their peers that they couldn’t have known before. The two series use a lot of the same tools, artistically speaking, but the consequences and emotional outcome of their heroes’ journeys into each other’s mindscapes is very different in each case.

Dream-dive to Lady Geek Girl for the full article!

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Adding Salt to Sweet Vanilla: The Complex Women of ToraDora!

ToraDora 1

ToraDora! tells a story about the bizarre tangled intricacies of teenage love, complete with matchmaker plots, zany schemes, and an increasingly convoluted love quadrangle that’s played for both comedy and drama. It also tells a story about how everyone has issues, inner turmoil, and inner selves that they keep concealed, usually with the intention of preserving a certain image of themselves for the people around them.

It starts small by introducing the audience to protagonist Ryuji, who most of his classmates assume is a delinquent because he has “the eyes of a killer” but is actually a studious, quiet, and compassionate boy. This makes him a neat foil to his classmate Taiga, who at first glance is small, cute, and unthreatening, but has an aggressive temper. These two outcasts prove that outward appearances can be deceptive, but as they become friends and agree to help set the other up with their respective love interest, this theme of outward persona versus inner personality deepens and becomes much more poignant.

Head to AniFem for the full article!

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Baccano! Vol. 1: Live Forever or Die Trying

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Firo continues to look angry and/or confused in every single illustration he appears in

You know me, I’m a sucker for a fictional jaunt through the Jazz Age, and if there are compelling characters and supernatural shenanigans, all the better. The Baccano! anime stole my heart and blew my mind when I watched it many years ago, drawing me into a madcap world of gangsters, con artists, alchemists, and eccentric thieves all caught up in one big interlocking adventure—think Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels but set in Prohibition-era America and revolving around the elixir of immortality (not that everyone who gets sucked into this chaotic caper knows this…). Intrigued to see how the exhausting but exhilarating nature of the TV series translated onto the page, I recently picked up the first volume of the novels it was based on, and spiralled back down into this world of jazzy, magical nonsense, kind of falling in love with it all over again in the process. Continue reading

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

garden of words

The Garden of Words came out in 2013, and for four straight years my Tumblr dash has been scattered with gifs celebrating the beautiful scenery and animation in the film. But apart from how pretty it was, I didn’t actually know anything about the plot of this iconic movie, so when I saw it on AnimeLab, I decided to dive in and investigate. Sure enough, it’s an absolutely gorgeous film that should 100% be celebrated as an achievement in animation, atmosphere, and visual storytelling about the way human lives connect. It was kind of spoiled for me by an unexpected case of compulsory heterosexuality, but hey, you can’t have everything…

Head to Lady Geek Girl for the full post!

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A Three Minute Thesis

Recently, me and the rest of my cohort were tasked with summing our projects up in a short presentation–an exercise in all sorts of important skills, such as public speaking, and the ability to get your ideas across in a bitesized and succinct conversation rather than trapping everyone who asks about it in a long-winded in-depth discussion of research until their brains melt out their ears. Unfortunately, I had something approximate to The Black Death that week and couldn’t physically present, so I recorded the mini-lecture-that-would-have-been to send in for assessment. I thought I may as well post it here as well, as a further exercise in self-promotion and slowly moving past the instinctive insecurity I get at hearing my own voice. So without further ado: heroes! Gender! Archetypes! Woohoo!

If you really can’t be bothered, here’s the Three Second Thesis: Joseph Campbell says that The Hero is always a boy, and I think that’s a bit silly, so I’m writing about a Hero that’s a girl. It’s much more complex than that, though, really, so hopefully you can be bothered, and take a listen to the talk below (I do lose my voice at the very end, but bear with me–it’s a big improvement!):

Transcript: Continue reading

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Sapphic Steampunk Superhero Shenanigans: August ’17 Roundup

galko grin

Well, I spent this month having my immune system beaten over the head with a shovel. I think I was bedridden and asleep for a solid chunk of it. Still, I didn’t miss too much news in my mini-coma! For example, the Netflix Death Note movie happened!!

On a more serious note, some nasty stuff is happening in the world at the moment. It would be facetious not to acknowledge that, even though I can’t really do much about it, much as, of course, we all wish we could. Sometimes the world is too big, too frustrating, too scary, and it all threatens to suck you down its drainpipe, and you watch that whirling precipice approach and think “what am I really doing to help this? What can I, tiny dot in the cosmos, really do to help this?”

Here’s the thing we all have to remember: the cosmos is made up of tiny dots. If I can give someone something entertaining or interesting to read that takes their mind off things for a little while at the end of a hard day, I’ve made the world a little bit better. We’re all saving the world in our own tiny ways, day by day, and the truth is we just have to keep on doing our thing, boats against the current of the despair drainpipe, giving it the middle finger as we swim in the opposite direction.

And so, here’s what I published this month:

Here on the blog:

Secret Women’s Business: Galko-chan vs Stigmas and Body Stuff (in which Please Tell Me! Galko-chan was really, really good, actually)

Clancy of the Undertow: A Delightful and Unconventional YA Protagonist (in which I introduce you all to Clancy, who is my small angry gay daughter whom I love)

Adventures in Asian Drama: My Little Lover (in which a teenager magically shrinks, nobody communicates, and it all somehow ends in a coma and a wedding)

On Lady Geek Girl and Friends:

Magical Mondays: Showing, Not Telling in Princess Principal (told you I’d end up writing something about this series, eh?)

How Telltale Games Plays With Expectations in Their Superhero Series (in which Telltale achieves the impossible by being fresh and new in the superhero genre and making me care about Batman)

What’s Cool?

I (re)discovered Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox recently and it’s been a wild ride going through the whole discography. I will leave you with this cover, a personal favourite, and appropriate for this post since it makes me think of Clancy:

Covers that change the vocalist but not the pronouns, thus making the song No Longer Straight, are one of my understated favourite things. Now, reading material:

In the wake of the Beauty and the Beast “first gay moment” debacle and others like it, here is one writer arguing why creators telling us to “keep an eye out! ;)” for queer characters in their movies does not count as LGBTQ+ representation

Here is a reflection on the impact and resonance (intended or otherwise) the Animorphs series had on trans youth of its era

Here is a long, but fascinating, article about abridgments and censorship in translations, which opened my eyes to some industry intricacies I hadn’t been aware of before and also made me realise I probably read the shitty original translation of The Phantom of the Opera

Here is the wise and well-versed Erica Friedman discussing the history of the term “yuri” and how the genre developed

Here is the very valid question, put into better words than I could myself, of why the hell the Amazons in Wonder Woman are worshipping Zeus when a) in the comics they have always revolved around a goddess, b) Zeus is such a dick

Here is Dee’s endorsement for Dance with Devilsa… supernatural harem comedy musical that ends up saying some really interesting stuff about romantic fantasies and female empowerment? Damn, I might have to hunt this down

Also from a while ago but always relevant is this piece about the accusation “you’re watching it wrong” and objective viewer experience (also from that blog… apparently The World God Only Knows actually does something interesting and meaningful with its trashy concept by the third series??)

Last but not least, here is a fun Cracked article that suggests, among other silly things, the theory of Mad Max as post-apocalyptic mythology, which I can definitely dig

The Podcast Corner

anime is lit

This time ’round I have two new indie pods to recommend: Anime Is Lit, where two friends discuss anime and related media through the eyes of both fandom love and literary criticism; and Manga in Your Ears, where ongoing and completed manga series of similar themes are reviewed and compared. They’re both fun, interesting, easy listening, and have each inspired and intrigued me to add new series to my ever-long list of things I ought to watch/read.

The only curse is that these are both very new, meaning I’ve “caught up” all too quickly and am now waiting for new content like a golden retriever sitting by the front door (if the podcasters are reading this, please, don’t be guilt-tripped by this imagery… but do know that it is true).

As one last link before I go, here is a quiz to discover what gallant illustrious phrase the poet Homer would use to describe you. I got “Giant-Killer”, which is significantly more badass than I was expecting. Life throws you surprises sometimes though, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s a sign I should be more confident.

I want all of my readers to know that any time someone says to me “Hey, I read your blog post and it got me interested in reading that book/playing that game/watching that show you wrote about!” it increases my power by 110%. It’s good to know I’m spreading good stuff around–as I said at the start, that’s all we can really strive to do, isn’t it?

Take care, everybody!

 

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Adventures in Asian Drama: My Little Lover

My Little Lover Chiyomi pocket sized

Wording is everything when making wishes. The last thing you want to do is get caught up in some weird business due to some tiny technicality… which is exactly what happens to high schooler Chiyomi when she, distraught with the stress of her current life, longs for the simplicity of childhood and wishes to be “little again”. Lo and behold, when she wakes up she’s only 15cm tall.

As I’ve said before, if there’s one thing that can rope me into an otherwise unremarkable YA romance it’s a fun and interesting supernatural element (or it not being straight. Ideally, both!). The tale of a relatable-yet-flighty teen girl being in love with her now-distant childhood friend has been told approximately a squillion times, but the magical shrinkage? That was enough to catch my eye and give it a bit of pep and intrigue. Unfortunately, My Little Lover doesn’t carry itself too strongly on the merit of its magic element or its character relationships, and while there are certainly some good points in this show I… kind of only made myself finish watching it because I got more than halfway through and knew it could make a blog post. So here that blog post is! Click on through for frustrating teenagers, cool grandmas, and hilarious and bizarre sexy saxophone music. Continue reading

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