If there was one show I had been looking forward to this year, it was Star Trek: Discovery. Sadly, I won’t be able to watch the rest of the season until it makes its way to Netflix or DVD, but I did catch the pilot, and I was extremely happy with what I saw. The Star Trek television shows have in the past proven themselves to be more than capable of giving us a diverse cast with thoughtful character development. As a new first for this universe, we’ve got a woman of color as a lead in our new series, and she’s kicking ass.
I’m not very well versed in the world of yuri anime and manga; due in no small part to the fact that yaoi is simply more popular and often overshadows yuri works. Though, if I’m being honest, I never really made a major effort to widen that specific horizon. I think one part of me wants to believe that yuri somehow manages to avoid the annoying, and sometimes disgusting and damaging tropes that yaoi tends to fall into while the other part of me knows that can’t possibly be the case. Then I saw the trailer for an anime adaptation of Saburouta’s 2012 yuri manga Citrus on Twitter—I couldn’t ignore its bright colors. While fans of the series share an excitement for the animation of the manga they enjoyed so much, I couldn’t exactly share in the sentiment.
After having a discussion with some people, one question has been plaguing my mind: is RWBY queerbaiting? Usually this would be a cut and dry answer—it’s typically not hard to point out media implying and using queer romantic tension to pull in the views, but not actually acting on it in canon. With the precedent set by the show already, it’s honestly difficult to tell as all couples appear to be equally teased by the creators. In my exploration, however, I believe the complications arise beyond the scope of the show. This is to say that the canon of RWBY may not be queerbaiting, but the meta from the creators definitely is.
“But Rin,” you may say. “How are these things different from each other?” To which I’ll hem and haw because the difference between them is somewhat negligible—each of them is obviously going to have an impact on the other which is why this is so messy in the first place. In the end, though, I think it has to do with what has been shown on the show as opposed to what the creators imply from outside sources. In the case of LGBTQ+ representation, these are two very different things. So in the end, the question of whether or not the show is queerbaiting may be missing the larger issues at hand. I think the more pertinent question is “where are any queer people?” But we’ll start from the jumping-off point of potential queerbaiting.
After what feels like 600 actual years, I’ve finally reached the end of the newest installment in the Mass Effect series, Mass Effect: Andromeda. The previous trilogy left us with Commander Shepard defeating the harbingers of an oncoming galaxy-wide purging of intelligent life and everyone looking forward to a very bright future. But in Andromeda, that life, those problems, and their resolution are all thousands of light-years away and several hundred regular years in the past. Playing as Ryder alongside my fellow space frontierspeople, I found that exploring humanity’s and all the Milky Way races’ newest home was a journey that often left me feeling conflicted, especially because Bioware never seemed to fully grasp the implications of Ryder’s and the Andromeda Initiative’s actions or feel brave enough to go beyond the hackneyed sci-fi plots of yore. To get it out of the way, yes: the graphics are janky at times and some of the voice acting feels like the actors/actresses had no direction for the context of their lines, but these factors alone do not a bad game make. And I wouldn’t say that Andromeda is even bad; honestly. Andromeda’s problems are due to its undeserved high opinion of itself, and by taking on too much, the game doesn’t give its audience enough of anything.
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.
Spoilers below. Continue reading
I enjoyed 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie, though like Lady Geek Girl, I felt it had a lot of logical issues and problems with racial representation. The film didn’t have much in the way of religious or LGBTQ+ representation either… but it did have metaphors for them. Which—do we even have to say it anymore?—is not enough.
We’ve called out the Harry Potter series before for using magic and various conditions in the wizarding world as a metaphor for different kinds of oppression in the real world, such as lycanthropy as a metaphor for AIDs and discrimination against non-purebloods as a metaphor for racism. The problem with these metaphors is that readers might not make the connection to the real-world problem, so in order for them to really have impact, there should be examples of the real-world issue too. For instance, the series could have featured more prominent characters of color who experienced racism in the Muggle world in addition to discussions of blood “purity”. Instead we got a cast of all white protagonists, with characters of color getting very little development.
J. K. Rowling makes no secret of her support for social justice causes (just look at her Twitter feed!). In fact, she’s totally fine with headcanoning Hermione as Black and applauded the casting of Noma Dumezweni, a Black woman, as Hermione in the Cursed Child play, and racebending Hermione helps to relieve some issues about her Muggleborn blood status acting as a stand-in for discrimination rather than discussing any real-life discrimination. But real-life discrimination is still not discussed in canon. You would think that maybe Rowling would have listened graciously to some of these criticisms about hiding real-world issues behind metaphors that not everyone is going to get, and would have worked harder to avoid them in her next work. What is that next work? Fantastic Beasts. Did she listen? Nope. Instead the movie gave us a new metaphor to grapple with: obscurials as coded LGBTQ+ children repressed by overzealous religious families, in this case represented by the Second Salemers. And it isn’t pretty.
Spoilers for many aspects of Fantastic Beasts below the jump!
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.
Spoilers after the jump!