Queer YA Mini-Reviews: Aces, Alchemy, and Ancient Magic

YA mini reviews 2

It’s time for another set of reviews celebrating the vast and delicious variety to be found in young adult fiction! This time round we have a contemporary romance, a historical romp, and a quirky and delightfully haunting story about love and magic. Travel onwards for recommendations! Continue reading

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The Trickster Archetype in Pop Culture, Part Two: Better the Devil You Know

The Good Place - Season 1

In the midst of talking about what Tricksters are, let’s take another brief interlude to talk about what they’re not. Last time I mentioned that Kyuubey isn’t a Trickster just because they’re tricky, and neither are most others who fill the sort of Faustian demon role in their story, and I want to expand on that. However, I also want to look at a couple of demonic (or demon-ish) characters from fiction who do fit the archetype, and explore exactly why. Demons and devils (and fantastical equivalents of these things) can be Tricksters, but it’s not because of their devilishness. Rather, it’s almost in spite of their devilishness, and comes down to a few key points including, once again, their place in the narrative itself. With a spoiler warning for both The Good Place and the recent state of the Black Butler manga, let’s dive in. Continue reading

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Ragnarök and Roll: December ’18 Roundup

skullface honda-san books

If this is the December roundup, I guess it must be the roundup of 2018 as well–a year that simultaneously felt like it lasted 1,000 years and felt like it lasted six minutes.

It’s been a big year for writing, once again. As of now I’m officially one year into a PhD (!), which, if all goes according to plan, is one third of the way through. I have been told that my first year went pretty well, and bewildered as I am I’ll have to trust my supervisors on that. It feels like I’ve learnt so much, yet at the same time I feel like I’m treading water in a sea of things I still need to know and understand. But that’s probably pretty normal–I don’t have to be an Expert in anything just yet, and I’m having a good time finding my feet and my groove.

I have a journal paper currently in the peer review process, hopefully for publication in the middle of next year–in the meantime, though, if you want to peek at what I’m studying, you can take a gander at this conference presentation I gave (my second ever!) on playing with tropes!

Somehow, I managed to sneak in some feature writing this year too: the AniFem team continues to be a delight to work with, and I’m proud of the work they’ve helped me craft and put out this year. I like all three of the pieces I got published (and the next one in the pipeline, too, but that’s a behind-the-scenes secret) but am particularly fond of this one comparing the relationships in The Camping Anime versus The Ramen Anime. I also wrote a couple of pieces for The Asexual, both published in their journal and for their general website. It feels a little spooky writing so openly about my own experiences with my sexuality (especially that first one), but I’m getting the hang of it with the frame of fiction to guide me. Lady Geek Girl and Friends unfortunately closed its doors early this year, but I had a whale of a time writing for them while it lasted, too.

On the blog this month:

The Paladin Caper: The Gang Saves The World – Rogues of the Republic comes to an end, with a fizzle rather than a bang, and I question whether a big epic plot is really more important than character development.

The Trickster Archetype in Pop Culture, Part One: Down with the System! – the Trickster is a very versatile archetype, which is how I’m able to talk about Marvel’s Deadpool and Roald Dahl’s Matilda in the same post. The first of a series!

A Big Ol’ Pile of Anime Recommendations (2018) – my favourite new series I watched this year, all collected in one place!

Cool web content:

Laid Back Camp (5)

Cursed with Insecurity: Howl’s Moving Castle in Print and Film – a look at the different approaches to Sophie and Howl (and their relationship) in Diana Wynne Jones’ novel versus the Ghibli adaptation, and what kind of message each version sends

Defining and Redefining Popular Genres: The Evolution of ‘New Adult’ Fiction – a journal article about how genre is fake (my mantra for the year), or, at least, how genre should be considered an ever-evolving and organic thing rather than something static and decided by a set group of people. And what the hell is a ‘new adult’ book anyway?

Bloom Into You, Touko Nanami, and the Terror of Social Performance – a character study of Touko and her deep-seated self-doubt, and how her struggles and flaws are relatable.

Double Decker‘s Treatment of Trans Characters Leaves a Lot to be Desired – a breakdown of how exactly the Tiger and Bunny spinoff dropped the ball when it introduced trans characters to its cast, disappointing many viewers (myself included) who were initially excited for the show.

“We Must Be Strong, and We Must Be Brave”: Power and Women in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power – how the delightful reboot places emphasis on different kinds of strength, not just those that come from magical swords.

The Invention of the Passive Fairy Tale Heroine – tracking the shift in fairy tale tropes over time and how they reflected cultural shifts taking place.

On Laid-Back Camp and Nature as Society’s Companion Rather Than Society’s Foe – how my new favourite slice-of-life show upturns the common “hur dur technology bad, get away from it all and experience the wilderness” narrative by portraying tech instead as something that enhances the characters’ experience of nature and brings them closer to each other.

Different Interpretations as Solidarity, Not Opposition – there’s been a lot of talk about how Yuu of Bloom Into You can be read as either an aromantic asexual or a lesbian, and this article takes the “why not both?” approach, in terms of both how sexuality is a spectrum and how different viewer’s interpretations can be valuable to the overall conversation around such things in media.

My gosh, and I think that wraps us up for 2018. As always, thank you for reading, and take care out there in the wide world!

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A Big Ol’ Pile of Anime Recommendations (2018)

Further Than the Universe (3)

It’s been another big year for anime-watching on my part, with more access than ever before to both the currently-airing series themselves and the hot goss on which of them are worth checking out. And so once again I’ve gathered mini-reviews of my favourite series into one handy-dandy post! This is a mix of series that came out this year, series from days of yore I decided to rediscover, and series that were locked away on Amazon until recently that I’ve only just had the chance to check out (R.I.P., Anime Strike or whatever that was). This list contains coming-of-age stories, steampunk shenanigans, magical mayhem, a friendly skeleton, and a lot of queer themes and female protagonists. If that sounds like your jam, do take a look–I’m happy to share my thoughts, and maybe you’ll find something that sounds fun! Continue reading

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The Trickster Archetype in Pop Culture, Part One: Down with the System!

deadpool

Storytelling has been an important part of life for essentially all of human history. In this long tradition of tale-weaving there are a few structures and archetypes we just keep coming back to, from ancient mythology to modern movies. One of them is the Trickster, which, in my view, is entirely fair—after all, it’s one of the most blatantly fun character archetypes out there, brimming with cheekiness and social commentary and a degree of unpredictability that you don’t always find with stories about, say, Heroes or Lovers. We’re not telling stories of gods and monsters so much these days, but this ancient character type is still strolling through our popular culture, though perhaps in slightly different shapes and sizes. Continue reading

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The Paladin Caper: The Gang Saves the World

paladin caper

And so Rogues of the Republic comes to its climax and conclusion, and so I come to the end of what turned into a trilogy of review posts. It’s been something of a rollercoaster ride, and, despite these not being my most view-grabbing posts, I’m glad I decided to write up my thoughts on each instalment separately. For one thing, hey, even if these aren’t my most view-grabbing posts, I want to put the word out about a story that I enjoy, and if coming across these gets at least one person to say “hey, that sounds like fun” and discover a new book they enjoy, I have done my work as a blogger and can be delighted with that. For another, I’ve had quite a different reaction to each individual entry in this trilogy, which has been interesting to chart. And the reaction to the third one… well, it’s not as positive as the previous two, but in a way that highlights why the previous two were so successful. Without further ado, let’s get into exactly why. Continue reading

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The Butterfly Effect: Player Agency and Trope Subversion in Life is Strange and Until Dawn

Well, I went and did it–after years of unshakable love-hate fascination with Life is Strange and Until Dawn, I’ve taken the leap into the fire and brought discussion of them into my work life. This video is a recorded version of the conference paper I presented last week in Perth, preserved for the ages and intended to be accessible to those who couldn’t be there to see it in person (which includes folks outside the academic field). I explore how branching, interactive stories give us the opportunity to mess around with tropes and genre conventions, and the weird Schrodinger’s Cat conundrum that these games can both play into historically harmful cliches and subvert them, and neither result is more “canon” than the other. Check it out if you’re interested!

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