March was a busy month for me, but with a slightly different flavour of busyness. I travelled to Sydney for some Serious Things but, while we were there, my friends (the famous CP and WB you see me mentioning from time to time across the history of this blog) and I took the chance to see the Australian premiere of the second Heaven’s Feel movie, Lost Butterfly, and check out the convention it was hosted by during the day. I hadn’t been to a con for maybe six or seven years, and at the risk of sounding cheesy it was sort of magical walking back into that world of concentrated pop culture love.
It was also deeply surreal, because a significant portion of said con was taken up by Fate; including a massive banner advertising Fate/Grand Order that crossed three windows in the convention space, a special booth full of Grand Order-related goodies including the opportunity to “summon” a Servant by pressing a big button, an interview panel with some voice actors and staff for the upcoming Chapter Babylon anime, and enough Fate cosplayers to populate a small town. And of course bucketloads of merchandise, including some plush toys I… may have purchased. How is this series so niche and weird and yet so ginormous and unstoppable?
In any case, it was an overall pretty fun and rewarding experience, and I basically walked out of the movie after a day neck-deep in Fate (only to be immediately caught in the rain and drenched… life imitates art, I guess!) full of renewed love for the darned thing. As I reflected on in my ‘Love and Also Monsters’ post, while there are a lot of problems with this series overall, I think I’m at the point to happily acknowledge that it holds a really special place in my heart and probably will continue to do so for a long time. It’s been sparking my critical and creative imagination for years now and I’m still finding new things to write about it, it contains some characters and themes are deeply important to me emotionally, shared interest introduced me to some really great long-distance friends, and it low-key got me back into mythology which is now a key part of my thesis a.k.a. my job. I’m married to this beautiful garbage fire, for better or worse.
The heart of this introspective ramble is that it actually feels really good to have a work (or collection of works) that I can be so passionate about, even with its ups and downs. It’s fun, it’s meaningful, it’s intellectually stimulating, and I honestly hope that everyone can find a story that inspires that feeling, whether it’s a novel or a piece of poetry or a game or a trashy fantasy-action anime franchise. We’ve all got That One Story, you know? I think it’s an important thing to have. Stories keep us afloat in this mad world we live in.
They also fill you with the spur-of-the-moment urge to spend money on replica swords, but… look, it sparked joy. And now I can, if need me, chase off a home invader with a replica of Caliburn. Anyway, what did I write this month?
On the blog:
Love and Also Monsters: The Emotional Priorities of Type-Moon’s Fantasy – just in time for said Heaven’s Feel movie to break my heart in the best way, I do some musing on how the Fate storyworld grounds its epic fantasy conflicts in personal relationships, and why that works.
Stranger Things‘ Problem with Female Friendship (and How Season Three Can Fix It, Please, For God’s Sake) – just in time for the hype surrounding season three, I gather my thoughts on the spooky-synth series’ issues with prioritising romance and not letting its lady characters bond.
Further reading around the webzone:
Let’s begin with some video content…
An analysis of the themes and personal politics that run through the content of the McElroy brothers, from their advice podcast to the narrative they construct in The Adventure Zone. A fascinating and ultimately heartwarming deep dive (which… really kind of makes me want to get into TAZ. People have been telling me to. It’s just a lot of hours, guys! I’m not denying that it sounds good! I’m sorry!!)
An escapade into the evolution of VHS technology and how it impacted the ways films were shot and stories were constructed. Funny and illuminating, and especially interesting to me given my recent-ish dive into the history of horror movies (for Until Dawn purposes). Hbomb is always good value.
While we’re digging into the ins and outs of pop culture history, have a look at this bizarrely enthralling ride through the evolution (and collapse) of a branch of Disney parks, couched in the mystery of a kidnapped animatronic. It’s got niche nostalgia, it’s got urban exploration, it’s got high-stakes police investigations–everything you could want!
White Hero, Sidekick of Colour: Why Marvel Needs to Break the Cycle – there is diversity within the MCU cast, for sure, but their non-white characters tend to fall into certain types of roles… something that is overwhelmingly obvious now that it’s a pattern across a decade’s worth of movies.
How YouTube Made a Star Out of a Super Smart Film Critic – an interview with/feature on Lindsay Ellis, which provides some interesting insights into her life and her work. Her first quote of the piece is also “which Starscream should I use?”, proving she is truly a woman of the people.
Boys Can Be Princesses Too: Challenging Gendered Stereotypes in Huggto! Precure – a look at the most recent instalment in the magical girl juggernaut, and how its main male character enjoys things and aesthetics considered traditionally feminine without this being a problem or an oddity.
And, as The Promised Neverland wraps up, do take a look at Atelier Emily’s analysis of its cinematography and visual language, which is as always fascinating.
Also: look at this April Fool’s crossover art between two of my favourite shows from last year!
Aaaaand hey… let’s finish on a tune. You ever get into a conversation that feels like chewing gravel, but can’t put your finger on why, until you realise It’s Just How That Person Is? Chris Fleming has a song about that.
Take care, everyone!