In my review of Izetta: The Last Witch, I ended the post wishing that there would be some anime series that focused on a lesbian relationship that was as overt as the gay relationship in Yuri!!! On Ice. When I started Flip Flappers, I was not expecting it to be that anime. In fact, I wasn’t expecting much from Flip Flappers at all. However, despite my apprehensions, the thirteen-episode semi-surrealist series surpassed all my expectations, and if you haven’t watched it for yourself, I highly recommend that you do. Avoiding spoilers, if you’re looking for a cute, vibrant anime series with a bit of mystery and a lot of relationship exploration, Flip Flappers is definitely for you. Still, I have a few issues with the series that keep it from being perfect, and unfortunately some of these issues are directly related to the main lesbian relationship.
While I consider myself an anime fan, I only count a surprisingly few anime titles among my all time favorites. One that definitely makes the cut is FLCL. It is almost impossible to explain what exactly FLCL actually is (though our own BrothaDom made a truly valiant effort); the show is legendarily rumored to be a byproduct of writer’s block, spawning from a handful of unfinished ideas that some anime all-stars had been batting around. While that may be at least somewhat apocryphal, it certainly explains much of the show’s signature production style. One interpretation for it all that I cannot help wanting to explore, however, is that the entire story is a parable about adolescent sexual and romantic coming of age.
Quiet moments like this have more raw emotion than the apocalyptic action scenes.
Much of the plot is directly and explicitly just that: a coming-of-age story. It can be argued, though, that the more grandiose and surreal main story arc is all one giant metaphor for this as well. In addition to the protagonist Naota, almost every other key character (primarily the three women in Naota’s life: Haruko, Mamimi, and Eri) also deals with these themes and the extraordinary events that happen to them are all viewable as metaphorical (and/or metaphysical) extensions of those emotional struggles.
As the YA sci-fi and fantasy genres become more and more of a driving force in pop culture, FLCL is worth revisiting (again) for what it says about some of those same themes. It tells a complex and deeply layered yet easily relatable story about the nature of romantic and sexual self-discovery in a way that validates the emotions that young people (and everyone else) look to explore in this type of fiction; not only that, but it does so in a way that treats them with a sincerity that mainstream YA fiction sometimes tends to handle with melodrama and/or trivialization.
Trigger warning for underage sexual relationships below.
As I was going through some CDs I’d made back in my high school days, I was forced to face something: I’d really liked Inuyasha. Like, a lot. So much that I had two CDs filled with the title and ending tracks (yes, I still know the words to Fukai Mori by heart) and several versions of Inuyasha’s Lullaby. So I was feeling a little nostalgic for the series, and seeking out Inuyasha fic this week really wasn’t any surprise to me. What was a surprise, however, was how few F/F fics there were for the series. I’m pretty sure that the Kagome/Thorin Oakenshield ship had more fics than any F/F ship, canon characters or not. Upon giving up my original search—sorry, Femslash February!—I did manage to find a really wonderful ficlet that further explored my favorite female character, Sango, after the events of the series.
Throughout the first fifty-some volumes of Inuyasha, the demon huntress Sango was always portrayed as a strong woman who had lost much, but didn’t allow her losses to consume her. However, the ending of the manga always rubbed me the wrong way. Though Sango was driven by wanting to put an end to the creature who had destroyed her village and family, and she did help achieve this, I never got the impression that just because she had achieved her goal, she would put down her metaphorical torch indefinitely. Yet the series’ end had her settling down with her love interest, Miroku, and popping out babies like it was no one’s business. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but it seemed like too much of a shift in character and agency and too much of a rushed out “and they lived happily ever after” epilogue. I didn’t trudge through so many volumes for this! While today’s fic doesn’t change the outcome, what it does offer is a closer look at Sango’s mindset and character development as she enters this new part of her life—something the series should have done in the first place.
The figure skating anime Yuri!!! On Ice skated into all of our hearts last year, and I was not immune to its charms. The relationship between professional skater Yuuri and his coach Viktor (thus the ship name “Viktuuri”, alternately spelled “Victuuri” or “Victuri”) was inspirational, heart-warming, and so very, very gay. And as its opening song states, it “made history”: it managed to tell a story in which a relationship between two men was unremarkable, just another part of life for these characters, while eschewing the fetishization and stereotypes typical of yaoi, like the dominant, masculine seme and more feminine, submissive uke. Unlike the vast majority of sports anime, it did not queerbait while never canonizing any queer relationships, instead celebrating how a blossoming romance could become an integral part of Yuuri’s self-expression through his sport. In addition, it’s significant that Viktor, one half of this victorious couple, is from Russia, a country known for virulent homophobia which has even passed laws against “gay propaganda”. While we don’t know if the creators of the anime purposefully set out to show up Russia, the fact that their Russian character is openly queer is still a statement.
I’m here to propose another way Yuri!!! On Ice can make history. By the end of the first season (spoiler alert), Viktor and Yuuri are engaged and have moved to St. Petersburg to both continue their skating careers at Viktor’s home rink. A wedding in the next season (or an OVA) is obviously imminent. If that wedding takes place in a Russian Orthodox church, it would be another statement of protest, since the Orthodox Church currently does not allow same-sex marriage—not to mention that this would be one of the few instances of representation that Orthodox Christians (like me!) would get in media! Also, Orthodox weddings are beautiful and meaningful, and deserve more coverage in fictional media beyond just My Big Fat Greek Wedding. (Note that I am Greek Orthodox, not Russian Orthodox, so I’m not familiar with all the Russian Orthodox traditions and would be happy to hear more from any Russian readers in the comments!)
I don’t know about you all, but I have been struggling a bit recently. It’s hard to deal with life when you wake up every day trying to figure out what damage the current administration has done to your country and the rest of the world. During times like these, self-care is really important. Yes, we need to stay proactive and keep fighting, but we also need to remember to take a break and recharge ourselves once in a while. I always turn to my favorite geeky shows to help me recharge. A lot of geeky media is about fighting the government/powers that be, which is great, and sometimes, that is exactly what I need. But other times it’s nice to just forget about fighting the good fight.So here are some of my go-to favorite geeky self-care shows that’ll let you relax, at least for a little while.
Let’s face it, 2016 was tough, and 2017 doesn’t look to be much easier. So let’s delve into some of our favorite geeky romantic pairings to help us cope! Yep, it’s Valentine’s Day, that sickeningly sweet holiday when our authors nominate and then vote on ships for our Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon) list. It is now my duty to present to you the super cute and sexy ships of 2017!
During the winter, not many anime could escape the vortex of Yuri!!! On Ice, and with good reason. Along with bringing figure skating to the forefronts of fans’ minds, there was this collective release of breath that for once a series didn’t destroy a healthy gay relationship by having one of them die, making it hideously tropey, or any other manner of eye-roll-inducing bullshit that non-straight audiences are unfortunately used to. While I’m definitely forever grateful for Yuri’s existence, I won’t lie: part of me was a little bitter that lesbian couples weren’t having their renaissance as well. However, I did manage to hear about two anime series that were being touted as having lesbian relationships front and center. Though continuously dubious about anime’s relationship with, well, any sort of relationships really, but especially lesbian relationships, I sat down and watched the first of the two series, Izetta: The Last Witch. Izetta’s dip into a magic-infused version of our world’s real-life past wasn’t exactly what I would call “fun”, but despite the numerous bad/questionable aspects of the show, I do believe that in the end Izetta is worth a watch.