The Problem with the Dark Magical Girl Genre

Sad Homura

Magical Girl Raising Project finished airing a few months ago, drawing its Battle Royale-esque death game to a close with most of its young, frill-clad, magical girl cast dead. It’s the expected outcome of anything that comes with that formula, but it’s an incredibly grim way to describe a magical girl show—shows that are, traditionally, at their hearts all about girls banding together to support each other and saving the world with the power of love and friendship. Murder and despair are normally nowhere near the magical girl archetype, but that’s changing in some recent and disturbing developments.

Read the full post on Anime Feminist!

Author’s notes: WOOHOO! This piece has been in development for a long time owing to both AniFem still growing and getting onto its feet as a website, and owing to the amount of tireless and passionate editing and re-outlining it was put through in collaboration with Caitlin and AniFem’s editor in cheif, the stellar Amelia Cook. The result is the beautiful analytical 3,000+ word beastie you see before you, which I have to say I’m immensely proud of.

In the Patreon link to this post, AniFem says “We’ve linked to Alex’s work on The Afictionado before, and this definitely won’t be her last piece for Anime Feminist!” which a) fills me with all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings of a “senpai noticed me” variety, and b) has me excited to get on board and contribute to this website more as it grows. Watch this space!

Never laid eyes on AniFem before? Here are some of my favourite pieces:

“Your Name”: Body-swaps beyond ecchi punchlines by Hannah Collins, a review and picking-apart of the blockbuster Your Name.

Straight Guys!!! on ICE by Amelia Cook, a look into Yuri!!! on ICE’s references to actual queer skaters and queer culture, and (in the wake of episode 7) lamenting  the fact that homophobic fans were bending over backwards to deny the “gayness” of Yuri and Victor’s relationship, and lamenting that LGBTQ+ fans had to bend over backwards in turn to try and justify their stance.

Force Him, Not Me! Rape culture in shoujo romance by Amelia Cook. Well, the title really says it all–an in-depth analysis of Kiss Him, Not Me! and the incredibly skeevy “romance” tropes it has been playing into of late, and what that means for the genre.

She and Her Cat and her story by Dee, a heartstring-tugging review of She and Her Cat.

Why aren’t problematic translations fixed? by Amelia Cook (if you couldn’t tell by now, she’s both editor in chief and a writing juggernaut), in which I drag my hands down my face and ask why the hell the supposedly progressive American industry would bend sideways to take implied gay out of Dragon Maid (and other such examples).

And the one that started it all, How fan service can attract or repel an audience, and how to tell the difference by Lauren Orsini. Interesting and on-point thoughts.

Also, their podcast about Utena was super fun, even if I myself haven’t watched the show yet. Looking forward to seeing what else Chatty AF covers in future!

 

 

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Spirits

Spirits logo

Mythology is super fun—though this is easy to forget when most of our access to it comes in textbook form. I’d love to soak up as many legends and stories from around the world as I can, but Wiki-walking can only get you so far, and often you can get lost in those walls of text and the academic language. Plus, how do you know where to start?

These epic tales of heroes, gods, demons and magical shenanigans were often meant to be told out loud, spread by word of mouth for the purpose of entertainment. A podcast, then, is the ideal modern media to get yourself into these ancient tales. Today’s web crush Spirits is exactly that, and it comes with a bonus dose of friendship, feminism, and alcohol!

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

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ToraDora! #18: The Winter of Our Discontent

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Don’t you hate it when you symbolically break your best friend’s heart? Like, shatter it all over the gymnasium floor?

As everyone happily prepares for the Christmas Eve party, it’s clear to both Taiga and Ryuji that something is up with Minorin. She’s practicing softball every minute she’s not in class, apparently still obsessed with playing her best to make up for her mistake in the last game. This energetic dedication is normal for Minorin, but the emotional oomf usually behind it just isn’t there, and when she runs off to practice she seems less dedicated to the sport than she is to getting away from Ryuji and Taiga as quickly as she can. Continue reading

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The Art of Being Self-Aware

Let’s say you’re writing a horror story set in what’s meant to be the real world—that’s a world where horror stories exist, right? So it stands to reason that your characters might have seen some of these horror movies or shows. As a storyteller you have to make the choice whether to have your characters say, upon walking into an abandoned abattoir full of meat hooks, “Hey, this is the kind of place where people usually get horribly murdered in horror stories!” And once you’ve done that, you need to make the choice to either fulfil the expectation that a knowing audience will have, or not to fulfil it, thus demonstrating the story’s awareness of the genre it exists in and playing with the tropes you, your characters, and the audience know are going to come up. It’s a multi-layered delightful mess, and is sometimes done better than others.

My personal take on this trope-wise trope is that if you’re going to glance knowingly at your audience through the fourth wall, you may as well attempt to play with their expectations. True, it can just be a self-congratulatory wink from author to audience, but it can change the kind of story you’re telling and make it fun and fresh. If your horror story protagonist knows a lot about the horror genre, they probably wouldn’t walk into an abandoned abattoir in the first place. And, in the realm of anime romance, as are the two examples I’m looking at today, awareness of the formulae that romances usually follow can actually twist and break them and lead you down a much more engaging story. Or not. Let’s discuss: Continue reading

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ToraDora #17: Baby It’s Cold Outside

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Taiga is celebrating the end of her suspension—you know, for beating the actual living shit out of the student president—by shopping with Ryuji, and is also celebrating the Christmas Spirit because it turns out Taiga McFreaking Goddamn loves Christmas. Continue reading

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Exciting Times, Exciting News

dancedance

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

conspiracy

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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