Sexualized Saturdays: Letting Boys Cry

One of the first things Yuri Katsuki does onscreen is cry. His establishing character moment is him weeping uncontrollably in a bathroom, the picture of vulnerability and hopelessness, after doing badly at the Grand Prix. And he doesn’t stop crying, either—his tears, and his anxiety, return time and again over the series, and while he eventually learns to handle this anxiety as his confidence is nurtured, the narrative never really presents this emotion and his expression of it as a bad thing or a weakness. Yuri is a highly expressive, emotional young man, and the show he’s in lets him be that. And that’s quite a rare thing to see in fiction, let alone from the protagonist of a sports anime—surely one of the most manly genres out there, given that they’re all about feats of physical prowess!

It seems paradoxical to have the protagonist of something in the action genre—be it sports or superheroes—cry, because crying is, well, such a non-masculine and non-heroic trait. Journalist Ben Blatt recently released the findings of a study on word use in books, which found that, among other things, women were commonly described as “sobbing” but men almost never were, especially when the novel in question was written by a man. The study suggests that “Male authors seem, consciously or not, to hold that if ‘real men don’t cry,’ then ‘fictional men don’t sob’.”

And yet there’s Yuri, sobbing—and not the only man to do so in that show either. Granted, a lot of Yuri!!! on Ice plays with and strays from what we would consider “manly” (dancing, themes of love, throwing away strict conventions of gender presentation with Viktor’s long hair and flower crowns, etc.), but this departure from gendered expectations is still worth noting. Usually, the perception is that boys don’t cry. Crying is a sissy thing to do, an unmanly thing to do, a girly thing to do, and society says the accepted and desirable alternative is to bottle up your feelings or project them outwards onto other people. This is one of the neatest examples of toxic masculinity you can find: being emotional is somehow feminine, and, of course, that that makes it bad.

Content warning for discussion of suicide after the jump.

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Manga Mondays: Fate Stay-Night

So I’m aware that this series is also a video game for Play Station (1, 2 maybe?). But since I am a Nintendo girl, I have not played it. Anyway, a year or two ago I was fishing for a new series. My friend (who was the one who turned me into a Rurouni Kenshin addict) recommended Fate Stay-Night. It was the kind of series that is completely published but isn’t entirely online. But I’ve read everything on Mangareader and I’ve really enjoyed it.

Now, I’m going to try and write this without spoilers. This story is set in modern day Japan and the story follows Emiya, a typical middle-schooler who gets pulled into a magical war/competition over the Holy Grail. Each “competitor” (Emiya is one) has a magical servant, or someone who in their time was considered a hero and has come to help them fight and win the war. Each servant is desired by their class (or job for those who don’t follow videogames). Some examples are Archer, Beserker, Rider, etc. Emiya’s servant is Saber and the manga details their quest to succeed in the Holy Grail War.

Saber is awesome. She is a great strong female character who doesn’t need anybody protecting her butt. In fact, she’s teaching Emiya to protect his own. I like her. I love her backstory (which I’m not going to tell you about because that is spoilers). But that is my favorite part because she is such a strong character and when you figure out her true identity you will be excited because it’s cool. I promise.

Other than Saber, there are a lot of other strong female characters. On top of other servants that are female, there is also Emiya’s ally Tosaka. She is the strategist, the smarty-pants magi who owns. She’ll take on anybody and doesn’t take shit. And, like Saber, she is definitely not looking for anyone to save her butt. In fact, she’s also teaching Emiya to protect his own.

So naturally, I got drawn into this series and not satisfied by what was available, I looked up spoilers for myself. So I already know that this series is going to turn awesome. Trust me, so hopefully you’ll trust me and read this if you are looking for something.