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.
I first heard about Makoto Shinkai’s hit film Your Name in whispers and gifsets on Tumblr. In fact, upon researching it a little further, I was surprised to find that, you know, it actually was a hit, given that I’d barely heard anything about it. The 2016 animated film has already been dubbed by Funimation and was shown off at Anime Expo back in July. Yet what got me to watch it wasn’t the beautiful animation I’d seen in the gifsets—it was one line I’d read in a brief summary: Mitsuha wishes to be a handsome boy in her next life. So, knowing nothing about this film or the story it was adapted from, I went into Your Name wondering if it was going to star a character going through the struggles of being trans in rural Japan. While this was not the case, Your Name is not necessarily devoid of queer moments. And while the movie was beautiful and entertaining (and I can understand the people who believe it got snubbed for an Oscars nod), I still don’t know if I actually enjoyed the experience.
Though both Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki seem to be in this bizarre limbo of being in and out of the animation circuit, it seems that fans of the studio’s style and themes will have somewhere else to look to once their final animation cel is crafted and Ghibli’s doors close for good—Studio Ponoc. For their first feature-length film, Studio Ponoc is giving us Ghibli-esque goodness featuring an adorable protagonist and, of course, magic.
Rin:All right, listen. It’s not that I was trying to avoid watching Yuri!!! On Ice, it’s just that I had things to do. And stuff. However, as an early Christmas present to myself—and at the behest of the increasingly sappy, romantic, gay gifs I was seeing on my Tumblr dash—I finally sat down and watched all ten of the currently aired episodes. Let me tell you: it’s going to be damned hard to write a review that’s not just me screaming in delight for however many paragraphs. Luckily enough, I have Lady Saika here with me to keep me in line. Maybe.
Saika: I don’t know that I’ll be much help there. I binged the first several episodes of the series a few weeks ago, and after the pure and sweet and precious tenth episode (which just aired this week), we knew we couldn’t wait any longer to write about this wonderful series. And we’ll do our best to keep the shrill, excited shrieking to a minimum. Probably.
Rin: No promises. I’ll tell you right now, this article is going to conclude just as it’s starting right now—with a sincere plea to sit down and watch this show. You will absolutely not regret it.
I first heard about animation director Kenji Kamiyama when I heard about 009 Re:Cyborg. Growing up, one of my favorite anime series was the 2001 adaptation of the original Cyborg 009 manga (penned by Shotaro Ishinomori), so seeing that the series would have new life blown into it made me incredibly excited. Unfortunately, in the swirling torrents of being an adult and having a million things to do, I still haven’t gotten around to watching Kamiyama’s film vision of the series I enjoyed so much. Despite this, though, news of Kamiyama’s upcoming film still has me anticipating some slice-of-life goodness mixed in with some sci-fi on the side, right alongside some beautiful animation from studio Signal.MD.
2016 may be a shitshow, but at the last moment, anime seems to be conducting a noble effort to make the end of the year a bit sweeter. Freshman on the sports anime scene, Yuri!!! On Ice, appears to have skipped the typical queerbaiting of its predecessors and jumped right to a heartwarming portrayal of a healthy relationship between two bisexual men (fingers crossed this won’t get fucked up as it approaches its final episodes); unable to keep himself from his passion, Hayao Miyazaki has stated he’ll return from retirement for just one more feature length animated film with Studio Ghibli; and both Spirited Away and Sailor Moon R: The Movie are getting theatrical releases, Spirited Away in early December and Sailor Moon in January. As I’ve traveled back home for the holiday season, I’m about 90% sure that none of the theaters in my little town are going to be showing either of the two animated films. Like that would stop me, though.
Out of the Sailor Moon filmography, I remember watching Sailor Moon R—subtitled Promise of the Rose in the North American release—back in the wee days of my youth, and as such it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when I say that it’s hands down my favorite of the three. Aside from the rose motif, little me adored the flower-based baddies and the romantic triangle that had a satisfying conclusion. Older me sat here not even a day ago reminiscing about the film wondering, “did this movie even have a love triangle?” I’m not doubting the shoujo genre or glossing over its flaws, but I watched the dub of the movie, and if there’s one thing I remember about the early dub of Sailor Moon, it’s that anything pertaining to not being straight typically had a shoddily woven rug thrown over it in hopes that the kiddies wouldn’t notice. And the potential love conflict between Darien, Serena, and the antagonist Fiore would have had almost inescapable implications of homosexual love between Darien and Fiore. Yet, upon watching the film again and keeping an eye out for this, I found that Fiore’s feelings probably weren’t intentionally glossed over. Furthermore, while the American dub may actually be gayer than the original Japanese, the ambiguity isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this case.
Note: since I’m mainly speaking of the dub, I will be using the names from said original dub.
In the summer of 2013, the first part of Koe no Katachi was released. Written by Yoshitoki Ooima, and based off a one-shot that was published earlier in 2011, the series quickly picked up a following in part, I think, due to its empathetichandling of its one Deaf protagonist. As a fan of the one-shot, I was ecstatic to find that the series found its way to the silver screen and that the people at KyoAni were going to be leading the helm in terms of animation because honestly, this story about growing, learning, and redemption deserves as much beauty as it can get.