A Three Minute Thesis

Recently, me and the rest of my cohort were tasked with summing our projects up in a short presentation–an exercise in all sorts of important skills, such as public speaking, and the ability to get your ideas across in a bitesized and succinct conversation rather than trapping everyone who asks about it in a long-winded in-depth discussion of research until their brains melt out their ears. Unfortunately, I had something approximate to The Black Death that week and couldn’t physically present, so I recorded the mini-lecture-that-would-have-been to send in for assessment. I thought I may as well post it here as well, as a further exercise in self-promotion and slowly moving past the instinctive insecurity I get at hearing my own voice. So without further ado: heroes! Gender! Archetypes! Woohoo!

If you really can’t be bothered, here’s the Three Second Thesis: Joseph Campbell says that The Hero is always a boy, and I think that’s a bit silly, so I’m writing about a Hero that’s a girl. It’s much more complex than that, though, really, so hopefully you can be bothered, and take a listen to the talk below (I do lose my voice at the very end, but bear with me–it’s a big improvement!):

Transcript: Continue reading

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Sapphic Steampunk Superhero Shenanigans: August ’17 Roundup

galko grin

Well, I spent this month having my immune system beaten over the head with a shovel. I think I was bedridden and asleep for a solid chunk of it. Still, I didn’t miss too much news in my mini-coma! For example, the Netflix Death Note movie happened!!

On a more serious note, some nasty stuff is happening in the world at the moment. It would be facetious not to acknowledge that, even though I can’t really do much about it, much as, of course, we all wish we could. Sometimes the world is too big, too frustrating, too scary, and it all threatens to suck you down its drainpipe, and you watch that whirling precipice approach and think “what am I really doing to help this? What can I, tiny dot in the cosmos, really do to help this?”

Here’s the thing we all have to remember: the cosmos is made up of tiny dots. If I can give someone something entertaining or interesting to read that takes their mind off things for a little while at the end of a hard day, I’ve made the world a little bit better. We’re all saving the world in our own tiny ways, day by day, and the truth is we just have to keep on doing our thing, boats against the current of the despair drainpipe, giving it the middle finger as we swim in the opposite direction.

And so, here’s what I published this month:

Here on the blog:

Secret Women’s Business: Galko-chan vs Stigmas and Body Stuff (in which Please Tell Me! Galko-chan was really, really good, actually)

Clancy of the Undertow: A Delightful and Unconventional YA Protagonist (in which I introduce you all to Clancy, who is my small angry gay daughter whom I love)

Adventures in Asian Drama: My Little Lover (in which a teenager magically shrinks, nobody communicates, and it all somehow ends in a coma and a wedding)

On Lady Geek Girl and Friends:

Magical Mondays: Showing, Not Telling in Princess Principal (told you I’d end up writing something about this series, eh?)

How Telltale Games Plays With Expectations in Their Superhero Series (in which Telltale achieves the impossible by being fresh and new in the superhero genre and making me care about Batman)

What’s Cool?

I (re)discovered Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox recently and it’s been a wild ride going through the whole discography. I will leave you with this cover, a personal favourite, and appropriate for this post since it makes me think of Clancy:

Covers that change the vocalist but not the pronouns, thus making the song No Longer Straight, are one of my understated favourite things. Now, reading material:

In the wake of the Beauty and the Beast “first gay moment” debacle and others like it, here is one writer arguing why creators telling us to “keep an eye out! ;)” for queer characters in their movies does not count as LGBTQ+ representation

Here is a reflection on the impact and resonance (intended or otherwise) the Animorphs series had on trans youth of its era

Here is a long, but fascinating, article about abridgments and censorship in translations, which opened my eyes to some industry intricacies I hadn’t been aware of before and also made me realise I probably read the shitty original translation of The Phantom of the Opera

Here is the wise and well-versed Erica Friedman discussing the history of the term “yuri” and how the genre developed

Here is the very valid question, put into better words than I could myself, of why the hell the Amazons in Wonder Woman are worshipping Zeus when a) in the comics they have always revolved around a goddess, b) Zeus is such a dick

Here is Dee’s endorsement for Dance with Devilsa… supernatural harem comedy musical that ends up saying some really interesting stuff about romantic fantasies and female empowerment? Damn, I might have to hunt this down

Also from a while ago but always relevant is this piece about the accusation “you’re watching it wrong” and objective viewer experience (also from that blog… apparently The World God Only Knows actually does something interesting and meaningful with its trashy concept by the third series??)

Last but not least, here is a fun Cracked article that suggests, among other silly things, the theory of Mad Max as post-apocalyptic mythology, which I can definitely dig

The Podcast Corner

anime is lit

This time ’round I have two new indie pods to recommend: Anime Is Lit, where two friends discuss anime and related media through the eyes of both fandom love and literary criticism; and Manga in Your Ears, where ongoing and completed manga series of similar themes are reviewed and compared. They’re both fun, interesting, easy listening, and have each inspired and intrigued me to add new series to my ever-long list of things I ought to watch/read.

The only curse is that these are both very new, meaning I’ve “caught up” all too quickly and am now waiting for new content like a golden retriever sitting by the front door (if the podcasters are reading this, please, don’t be guilt-tripped by this imagery… but do know that it is true).

As one last link before I go, here is a quiz to discover what gallant illustrious phrase the poet Homer would use to describe you. I got “Giant-Killer”, which is significantly more badass than I was expecting. Life throws you surprises sometimes though, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s a sign I should be more confident.

I want all of my readers to know that any time someone says to me “Hey, I read your blog post and it got me interested in reading that book/playing that game/watching that show you wrote about!” it increases my power by 110%. It’s good to know I’m spreading good stuff around–as I said at the start, that’s all we can really strive to do, isn’t it?

Take care, everybody!

 

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Adventures in Asian Drama: My Little Lover

My Little Lover Chiyomi pocket sized

Wording is everything when making wishes. The last thing you want to do is get caught up in some weird business due to some tiny technicality… which is exactly what happens to high schooler Chiyomi when she, distraught with the stress of her current life, longs for the simplicity of childhood and wishes to be “little again”. Lo and behold, when she wakes up she’s only 15cm tall.

As I’ve said before, if there’s one thing that can rope me into an otherwise unremarkable YA romance it’s a fun and interesting supernatural element (or it not being straight. Ideally, both!). The tale of a relatable-yet-flighty teen girl being in love with her now-distant childhood friend has been told approximately a squillion times, but the magical shrinkage? That was enough to catch my eye and give it a bit of pep and intrigue. Unfortunately, My Little Lover doesn’t carry itself too strongly on the merit of its magic element or its character relationships, and while there are certainly some good points in this show I… kind of only made myself finish watching it because I got more than halfway through and knew it could make a blog post. So here that blog post is! Click on through for frustrating teenagers, cool grandmas, and hilarious and bizarre sexy saxophone music. Continue reading

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How Telltale Games Plays with Expectations in Their Superhero Series

guardians_of_the_galaxy_telltale

I don’t have to tell anyone reading this site that we’re living in a world saturated by superhero media. Between the hundreds of movies, TV shows, Netflix originals, video games, and of course comics, how does one stand out from the crowd? Especially when you’re one of many adapting/rebooting something as ridiculously overdone as Batman? Well, you do what Telltale Games does: you acknowledge that media saturation and the fact that your title character is a pop culture icon, and you decide to use that to do something different. You accept that your players will be bringing some knowledge of the superhero franchise—be it Batman or, more recently, Guardians of the Galaxy—you’re adapting to the table. And you use that knowledge as a foundation to play on audience expectations and take the opportunity to toy, fanfiction-style, with some “what if?” scenarios to create innovative and intriguing new takes on the familiar stories. And you do it all while exploring and giving agency to sidelined women characters, too!

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

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Showing, Not Telling in Princess Principal

Princess Principal floating

I’ll admit it, I started watching Princess Principal because it just looked fun. Young women kicking ass as spies in a steampunk fantasy version of turn-of-the-century London, set to a jazzy soundtrack and wrapped up in science-magic? Yes, please. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover that this show that I picked up solely for its geeky Cool Factor is… actually really damned good, delivering consistently sharp writing, interesting and layered characters, and some wonderfully efficient and intriguing magical worldbuilding that makes fantastic use of that old writing adage “show, don’t tell” that paints a vivid picture of its fantasy world from its very first scene.

Because it did such a good job laying the groundwork and piquing this viewer’s interest, let’s look just at the show’s first episode, and the small but important details the premiere gives us (and how) that let us build a picture of the world… without leaning too heavily on narration, pausing or cutting into the action to explain what’s going on, or having an audience point-of-view character that others teach things to.

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

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Filed under And I Think That's Neat, Archetypes and Genre

Clancy of the Undertow: A Delightful and Unconventional YA Protagonist

Clancy

Remember how I said I hadn’t read any novels since the start of the year? Yeah, poor Clancy of the Undertow has been sitting, patiently, on my desk since literally February. Which is a damned shame, I tell you—this was a wonderful little queer coming of age story set to a wonderfully rich (but not overdone) backdrop of small town Australia, paring back what could have been a story all about The Hardships of Being Gay in a Small Town to an intricate and fun character study of our titular leading lady, Clancy. Though it was recommended (and loaned, by a generous person who now finally has their book back after seven months) to me on the basis of it being Some Good, Good Gay YA, Clancy’s sexuality isn’t the focus of the book nor the focus of her character arc. It’s much more than that, and Clancy is built into a detailed, believable picture of a girl that became one of my favourite YA protagonists I’ve come across. Continue reading

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Secret Women’s Business: Galko-chan vs Stigmas and Body Stuff

galko

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

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