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.
I didn’t intend to write this post about yet another queer comic. I didn’t even intentionally buy one, not that I’m complaining—the guy at the comics shop just described Heathen to me as a re-imagining of Norse mythology similar to ODY-C. Since ODY-C is a trippy and beautiful comic re-imagining the entire Odyssey with a cast of only women, you can see why I might be interested. Of course, given its almost entirely female cast, ODY-C is also preeeetty gay, so the comparison probably should have tipped me off.
Heathen starts with a bit of lore-building: the Valkyrie Brynhild, formerly leader of Odin’s immortal warrior women, was cursed by the Allfather after refusing to follow his orders. She must live her endless days in exile and must marry a mortal. Brynhild, however, was able to parley that she would at least be able to choose said mortal. (This exchange entirely lacks gendered language, heyo foreshadowing.) Odin agreed, and sent her off to await her erstwhile suitors.
Fandom has recently come to celebrate the month of February as Femslash February—an open call to all ficcers, vidders, and other creative participants to make fanworks that feature women who love women. Usually this is the month when I try to find a good femslash fic or two to read and rec, but I’m kind of in between fandoms right now, and I didn’t know where to start. Fortunately, though I didn’t find a fanwork, I did stumble across Of Fire and Stars, a YA novel by Audrey Coulthurst that was surprisingly about two princesses who fall in love with each other. Although I didn’t love all of it, the queer romance at the heart of this book was incredible and definitely deserves a rec.
After the roaring success of Netflix’s many Marvel shows, Hulu has finally thrown their lot in with the comic book crowd and ordered a Runaways live-action series. The Runaways are a team of kids and teenagers who joined up to strike out on their own after they all found out that their parents were supervillains. They didn’t exactly set out to be a superhero team, but because so many of them inherited superpowers or impressive technology from their evil parents, trouble kind of finds them. They are definitely amongst Marvel’s most underrated and under-utilized teams, so it’s great that they’re getting an opportunity to shine in a new series. Personally, if we were going to have a Marvel teen superheroes series I was gunning for my little babes the Young Avengers, but hey, it’s not like I’m bitter or anything. The Runaways and the Young Avengers did have a lackluster team-up once, so I can dream.
There are a lot of important aspects of the Runaways that make them unique, so I have a lot of expectations about this Hulu series. The comics set a high bar for diversity back in 2003, so I have a couple of points that I consider perfectly attainable and also very important for the show to be progressive, inclusive, and true to the comics.
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!)
Geek culture has evolved. Over the last few decades, a push for greater inclusiveness and better representation has gained major ground as our generation’s penchant for nostalgia simultaneously breathes new life into dusty classics. One of the more excellent byproducts of all this dusty life-breathing has been the tendency to reexamine some of our favorite classic female characters and expose them to modern feminist criticism. In the midst of it all, however, I feel like one of the most unique ladies in comics has remained largely confined to “cult status”: Tank Girl.
This foul-mouthed, sexually liberated, substance-abusing, interspecies dating, ultra-violent, post-apocalyptic badass has been around since the late punk days and has given us some of the most incredible and incredibly fucked up stories I’ve ever read. She has been able to retain such a consistent emotional energy throughout decades of artists interpreting her that she nearly seems to have some level of real-world agency; at times she almost feels real. I, and many of her fans, see her as a sort of pop culture meta-demigod-thing: “Tank Girl, goddess of anarchofeminism and blowing shit up.”
You really don’t want to make her mad.
Tank Girl is, in many ways, the comic book equivalent of the punk and riot grrrl musical movements. Born a decade after the Sex Pistols but a few years before Bikini Kill, Tank Girl’s pagesradiate a sense of anarchistic artistic resistance to the inequality born of extreme commercialism and the emotional damage caused by rigid and oppressive social norms. Tank Girl is regularly portrayed literally destroying systems of oppression, often going to ludicrous extremes to avenge minor injustices (such as the mafia buying up all the good beer to sell everyone crap at inflated prices) and occasionally committing major injustices in the process, highlighting and mocking the fragile nature of these systems along the way.
I admit it, I’m bad about checking out browser-based games. Brilliant titles like Depression Questoften slip past me for months even when I’ve read numerous articles about them and made a point to play them. That was what happened with A Normal Lost Phone. I read about it, thought “that sounds amazing, I need to check it out” and then… just didn’t, even when it started coming up in my alerts for “games like Gone Home”. So when I saw it available on the App Store, I had to download it immediately, and I’m glad I did.
Heads up: you will forget it’s an app at some point.
The premise of A Normal Lost Phone is both simple and incredibly innovative. You have just found a phone and you are looking through it. That’s all. The entire interface of the game is a simulated phone with a handful of apps, and the puzzles are essentially just figuring out various passwords and finding where to type them. But as you do that, two things start to happen: you begin to get drawn into the story of the person whose phone it was, and you become increasingly aware of the fact that you are role-playing an invasion of privacy, effectively hacking a particularly vulnerable person to find out more details about their life.
Warning: spoilers for basically the entire game after the break.