Exciting Times, Exciting News

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Hello readers! Some changes are blowing in on the wind here at The Afictionado, so here is a maintenance post to get you up to speed…

University life has emerged from the well to eat up (most of) my time, especially given that this year I’m embarking on a year-long self-directed research project! I’ll be doing a creative thesis on mythology, the archetype of the Hero, and gender–my post on Moana is actually an itty bitty experimental version of the themes and issues I’ll hopefully be looking into. As I come across interesting things in my research, like The Cauldron of Story or Joseph Campbell’s original hypothesis, I may bring them to the blog to pick through them to a) show them to you guys, without the fog of academic language that can surround such things, and b) help get my own head around them… without the fog of academic language that can surround such things.

Due to this, as I’ve done in the past I’ll be dropping down to a blog post every two weeks (except for the ToraDora! recaps, which are still scheduled weekly–I finished that show and oh boy, what a ride. I hope someone out there is looking forward to me yelling about it, because I sure am looking forward to publishing my yelling).

BUT I’ll still be doing plenty of writing, because [insert trumpeting here] I’ve signed on to be one of the “friends” at Lady Geek Girl and Friends! I’ll be writing two posts for them a month, and linking to them from here. I’ve followed LGG for ages now and am super excited to be getting on board and joining the team. And hopefully soon my first piece for AniFem (who so graciously linked to my Lucky Star post in their last “things worth reading” roundup; thank you Vrai!) will be published, with more in the pipeline as well. Stay tuned!

On the home front, you may notice I now have two new exciting shiny tabs at the head of the page: Topics and Tags, a handy database for finding common things I write about or series of posts like Overthinking Bargain Books and Make It Gayer, and Around the Web, the list on which will be getting longer over the course of the year. I’ve also commissioned the very talented Jess Rose to make a beautiful banner for the blog, to, you know, replace that default WordPress picture that’s been sitting there for five-ish years. So look forward to some aesthetic improvements!

All in all, thanks for reading, whether you’re new or a long-time follower–I appreciate it all, and I hope that this blog continues to entertain you over the course of my very busy-looking and creatively-charged 2017.

hugglomp1

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Everything is Connected and Everything is Fanfiction: The Cauldron of Story Theory

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Canon has been slow roasted at 225 and carved for juicy bits

Now-famous tags on an AO3 work

Once upon a time in his essay On Fairy Tales, fantasy’s grandpa J.R.R. Tolkien laid out the idea of the Cauldron of Story. The Cauldron of Story (or the less epic name Tolkien also gives it, the Pot of Soup) is the idea that the collective imagination is bubbling away in a hypothetical pot full of every major story that’s ever been told. If something captures people enough—be it a particular character, a historical event, a tale or an archetype–it is added to the Pot to be stirred around, taking on the flavours already in the Pot and adding its own new taste as well. When you ladle out a new bowl of soup to tell a new story, you’re scooping up elements, ingredients and flavours of things long-since added to the big Cauldron—whether you intend to or not. Continue reading

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ToraDora #16: “Can We Agree That Duels Are Dumb and Immature?”

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Look, there’s politics (even if they are only on a high school council level) and a literal fight in this episode, I had to make a Hamilton reference somewhere.

So this week Kitamura drops some more Drama Bombs re: his romantic feelings, which is something he’s gotten very good at. This time we see a lot more of the melancholy and raw side of him that’s hidden beneath his bravado, as the poor boy crumples and confesses what he’s been keeping as an embarrassed secret from even Ryuji, his best friend: he’s in love with Kano. The militaristic and terrifying student president lifted him out of his heartbreak after Taiga rejected his confession of love, and throwing himself into student council work at her side made Kitamura feel alive, productive and happy. Somewhere in there he fell for Kano hopelessly, but considered himself unworthy since she’s so powerful and great, so he was going to wait until he’d been elected as/promoted to president before he asked her out. But… Continue reading

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Lucky Star: A Masterpiece, for Some Reason

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Lucky Star is, on paper, potentially a recipe for disaster. It is very much a show just about the daily lives of high school students, not even following any coming of age arcs or concrete plotline, and mostly just features its characters talking about everyday stuff. It’s full of pop culture references and nods to otaku culture from its time of print, which was the year 2006. And… like, literally nothing happens. If you asked me to tell you the “plot” of Lucky Star I wouldn’t know where to start—it’s not even dramatic enough to root itself in a “four friends in their last year of school” framing device. Stuff just kind of happens. This show should be a boring pile of ridiculous, but it’s not—it’s hilarious, compelling, and has held a special place in my heart for years. Why? I’m not sure I can tell you, but I’m going to attempt to crack this mystery for the ages. Continue reading

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ToraDora! #15: Illegally Blonde

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Despite beginning with a parade of double entendre and Kitamura having a breakdown in class, yelling for all to hear that he’s not going to run for student president… this isn’t a particularly exciting episode. Like the one before it it’s a collection of quiet and thoughtful scenes strung together a tad clunkily that spends most of its time hinting at deeper goings-on and doesn’t actually get to any sort of plot action until the very end. Which is entirely frustrating because the show is dangling the promise of actually understanding Kitamura in front of me, but is dragging out the mystery of his inner self for as long as it possibly can. Come on, guys, my crops are dying. Continue reading

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Moana the Mythic Hero-King

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Moana was several different brands of delightful, but one aspect that captured my heart is that it draws its inspiration from mythology rather than from fairy tales—something Disney hasn’t really done since Hercules, and something that gives its heroine a very interesting dynamic. The movie features the trickster god Maui as one of its main characters and incorporates other elements of Polynesian folklore, but I was especially interested—and pleasantly surprised—to see that Moana herself has quite a traditional mythical hero’s character arc.

She is a leader, chosen by nature and destiny, who sets out on a quest surrounding an important magical object, where she ventures through the realm of the supernatural and tangles with gods. When it’s over, the balance of nature is restored and she returns to her people as a wiser and more capable ruler. It’s a quintessential hero-king quest narrative, which, incidentally, is also a quintessentially male narrative. But without so much as a shrug, Moana gives this archetype to its female heroine and sends her on her journey.

Remember how I said I could write a whole post gushing about Moana? I did, and you can read the full thing over at Lady Geek Girl!

 

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The Strange Case of Spoilers

[This is a post about spoilers. It will contain spoilers]

Remember when Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince first came out, and yelling “Snape kills Dumbledore!” being something like an evil meme? Something you would yell to ruin people’s lives, an attack reserved for the most devious of tricksters or most obnoxious of bullies? Wasn’t that a wild time? Do we still, collectively, feel that way about the tricky and weird business of “spoilers”? Continue reading

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