Look… your teen years are confusing as hell. In many cases I think dousing coming of age stories in magic and metaphor actually helps us comprehend them, which is perhaps why we as storytellers love structures like The Hero’s Journey so much, and also perhaps why Revolutionary Girl Utena so loves dealing in the abstract. The show’s first arc gives us the story not just of our hero Utena’s first steps into the strange dreamlike world of the duelling society, but her first clumsy steps into the world of young adulthood: the First Threshold she has to cross and the necessary first defeat that she has to go through on her personal Hero’s Journey. Just as ol’ Joe Campbell says heroes and mythic figures have to die to be reborn, so does childhood have to “die” to let said heroes grow towards maturity. For our hero Utena this first death/rebirth takes place at the climax of the Student Council Arc, and includes facing all the terrors of sexual maturity, self-identification, and the sad truth that comforting as they are, fairy tale tropes cannot always be applied to real life, and sometimes the “handsome prince” is a manipulative sack of dicks that you need to challenge to a swordfight. Continue reading
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!
Body-function-based humour is rarely the pinnacle of wit. To be fair, bodies are weird—whether we’re talking sex stuff or digestive system stuff or teeth stuff or whatever—so naturally as a coping mechanism, and perhaps simply because sometimes that weirdness is inherently funny, humans have been using their own bodies as a basis of comedy for time immemorial. Usually, though, the kind of candid and verging on gross-out discussions of Body Stuff and the humour that comes from that is a guy thing. There’s a stigma that girls/women just don’t talk about their bodies and the weirdness as much, when in turn makes girls/women feel it’s inappropriate to talk about that sort of thing. Which makes shows and movies that bring Body Stuff to the forefront, on the vessel of humour, from the mouths of women, subversive in their own strange way.
I talked a while ago about how Lucky Star somehow managed to walk the perfect line between relatable realism and whacky comedy while capturing the spirit of ordinary high school girls’ conversations, and somehow making that engaging. Well, Please Tell Me! Galko-chan is in much the same camp, but much, much more candid around the whole girl talk thing. Its main characters—each presented as a different archetype, with a matching nickname to pigeonhole them and everything—are friends who openly and frankly discuss stuff like periods, breast growth and soreness, pubic hair and safe sex. Combined with the playful subversion of the tropes the girls are initially pinned into, this is where a lot of the comedy of the show comes from. Not necessarily in an excessive and lewd way, though the fact it’s being talked about could come off as excessive to some—considering it’s not normally discussed at all. Continue reading
If you followed my episode-by-episode reviews/recaps of ToraDora!, you’ve known this was coming for a while. If you haven’t followed my episode-by-episode reviews/recaps of ToraDora!, nothing to worry about: they aren’t required reading, though this post is the culmination of some thoughts and observations I had while rewatching the show. Namely, hey, wow, Minorin isn’t very straight, is she? Or at least, there’s no reason why she has to be.
As with my previous Make It Gayers, this post will be half textual analysis and half “look, why not? What if?” ToraDora! is a delightfully tangled-up love quadrangle that could only get more delightfully tangled with the addition of LGBTQ+ affections, and having Minorin be secretly in love with a girl rather than a boy doesn’t actually change her character arc, the themes of the show, or indeed any of the plot. If anything, her secretly being in love with a girl makes more sense than secretly being the third character in the show to fall for Ryuji, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves… Continue reading
My friend and I came out of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 convinced that the Infinity Wars movies, and the big Avengers/Guardians crossover therein, were mostly going to consist of Tony Stark and Peter Quill trying to out-Daddy-Issue each other. As well as both having facial hair and a penchant for roguish one-liners, the two heroes have a few things in common, most notably their parental situation: like Tony, Peter Quill has a complicated and at times antagonistic relationship with his father that forms the emotional core of a whole movie, and a sense of wistful mourning for his mother, who was sweet, kind, and only shows up in a few scenes. She’s also dead due to circumstances that were in no way her fault, so they can bond over that as well. At this point, maybe Thor can chime in too, perhaps initiating a group hug, since he also has a complicated relationship with his main-character dad and grieves over his good and nurturing dead mum. Jeez, is Infinity Wars just going to be one big session of father-related angst and mother-related mourning?
Fridge a kind mother and elevate a father to main character status once, Marvel, and that’s shame on you. Fridge a kind mother and elevate a father twice, still shame on you. Do this three times for three different superheroes and it’s officially a pattern. What exactly is going on here, and why does it annoy me so much?
Head to Lady Geek Girl & Friends for the full post!
Queer stories that fill you with a warm and fuzzy feeling are important—the blissful normalcy of slice-of-life romance with the promise of a happy ending is rewarding and uplifting, and sends a message of hope to the real world while providing a cute escape into the fictional. It says that queer love is perfectly capable of being sweet and life-affirming enough to be the subject of a romantic dramedy, a genre that’s been pretty exclusively heteronormative for all of print and Hollywood history. Sometimes you want to sink into the comfort zone of sugarcoated romance tropes, and it’s important to have a version of this that everyone of all identities can see themselves in.
Sometimes, though, you also want to see queer identities saving the world, fighting aliens, and kicking ass and taking name in genre fiction. Why should superhero adventures, sci-fi cityscapes, and zombie survival action-comedies be solely the realm of cis, straight people? Well, these three comics are here to help fill that void.
As with the cute romance recommendations, consider this not a review post but simply some suggestions of works I’ve found and found enjoyable. Happy Pride Month, everybody! Continue reading
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!