After hearing the news that James Cameron would be helming a film adaptation of Battle Angel Alita next year, I decided to take a dive into the series and see what the fuss was about. I’d never actually read it, but after 15 years of anime convention-going I was sure I’d heard the name before. And since I like to be an informed critic, and am already strapped in and ready to critique the movie (with its tragically predictable almost-Asian-less cast) I figured there was no harm in familiarizing myself with it for dragging’s sake.
Well, after reading all nine volumes of the series, I can confidently say that while I can explain the story, I have no idea what the fuck it is about.
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.
Recently, my fourteen-year-old self knocked on my window in the dead of night and asked me to reconsider demon butlers. Or, rather, I went to watch Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic (a movie adaptation of one of the later arcs of the manga) in the cinema with a friend, where we were both promptly reminded why we’d loved this series so much as teenagers. The Black Butler manga is more than ten years old and still going strong, and the movie reeled me back into this world of supernatural action and Victorian Era finery with enough force and finesse that I was compelled to revisit the first few volumes of the manga—the “Jack the Ripper” arc, the storyline I remember being my favorite and starring my favorite pair of villains—and dive back into this story to see if it held up. Is it still good? Certainly. Is it also riddled with problems I’m much more wary of and attuned to now that I’m older and wiser? Absolutely. Spoilers for the arc ahead!
(photo by me: the inside cover of my faithful, beaten up copy of Volume 2)
Good. God. I don’t know where to start with this. As soon as I heard about this I rushed to trade posts with Lady Geek Girl so that I could write about it. However, upon sitting down to do so, I realized that to write about it, I’d have to—ugh—actually watch the trailer.
If you know anything about me or this website, you can stand assured that I did not enjoy a second of it. This movie looks like it will be a disaster on every possible level, and on top of that, releasing it in the week after Iron Fist crashed and burned in no small part due to whitewashing complaints feels almost comically idiotic.
Magical girl anime and manga have been around for what seems like forever and have meshed with several other genres outside of their shoujo roots. Recently—for seemingly no reason—I was reminded of Magic Knight Rayearth, a magical girl series that combines the transformations and magic we all know and love with the sort of impending doom one might get from a Final Fantasy game, with a dose of giant robot anime on the side. The three protagonists—Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu—journey to a land called Cephiro to become the Magic Knights to save its Pillar (aka: Princess/Priestess) and learn how to harness their magic and mechas along the way, but the functionality of Cephiro’s magic is more explored through the series’s side characters (which makes sense, since the three heroes are from Earth and not Cephiro). While for the most part the magic is your typical elemental/summoning fare and the series utilizes several genre and character tropes, Rayearth does manage to surpass the limitations of some of these tropes. In the case of the character Presea, an older woman in a series focused on younger women, I found this to be especially true. Through both her character and her personal magics, Presea manages to become her own person rather than a character defined by her presumed role in patriarchal tropes.
If you read this week’s Trailer Tuesdays, this post shouldn’t come as a surprise, but for those of you who didn’t (and have no interest on clicking on that link), I’ll give a proper introduction. Gifs from the film Doukyuusei have been following me around for so long that I finally decided to give in and watch it, despite my trepidations about the yaoi/BL genre. And, well, it looked cute, so I figured I may as well give it a shot. Upon doing so, not only was I charmed by the love story between the two protagonists, I was so charmed that I actually looked up Doukyuusei’s after stories—Sotsugyousei and Occupation to Beloved–and devoured those just as quickly. However, while all of these stories are a sweet little taste of gay romance, none of them manage to completely leave the unfortunate yaoi tropes behind.
Though I’ve traveled through many different anime genres, I tend to stay away from yaoi/BL (boy’s love) series. I don’t have anything against the concept itself, but these series tend to attract a fanbase that not only is misogynistic, claiming every terrible thing that could be said about a woman is inevitably true, but also one that fetishizes relationships between men to the point where even gay men are uncomfortable. Furthermore, in the series that I have been exposed to, it seems like parts of these issues are incorporated into the stories themselves, and really, I don’t want to wade through looking for the one series that isn’t going to piss me off. However, pictures have been floating around on Tumblr about this one film that seems to be everything I could want in a love story that also happens to fall in the BL genre: something slice of life-y with relatable characters, a lack of sexual harassment, no bashing on women, and a banging soundtrack (if you like soft, acoustic music).
Once upon a time in a mall near you there (probably) used to be a store called Suncoast. No matter which one you went to, it always had that same weird smoke smell and the anime section back in the corner. Though it’s now out of business, I remember my time there fondly, as it was the place to go if you wanted to buy anime. Being young, foolish, and without the internet, I often found myself going in and leaving with an anime VHS I bought based purely on the fact that I liked its cover. During this time in my life, and due to this “buying by the seat of my pants” attitude, I became invested in a strange little series called Magic Users Club, and to this day I still adore it. But, oh my god, it’s a mess.
I’ve been slowly but surely trying to work through the backlog of books I have owned for years but not read. One particular harbinger of shame in this endeavor was the graphic novel on which the Studio Ghibli movie The Cat Returns was based, since I knew the single-volume manga with its self-contained story would only actually take me half an hour or so to read. Nevertheless, I only finally read it this weekend, even though I’m pretty sure I bought it when Borders was still a thing.
I liked but didn’t love The Cat Returns movie; for me, it’s one of Ghibli’s more forgettable options. Looking back, I’m not sure what about the film, save maybe a passing furry-ish attraction to the Baron character, led me to buy the source manga. And now, having at long last read it, I’m left questioning why this almost-too-simple story got a film adaptation at all.
I recently started rewatching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and as the series is nearing its end again, I got to thinking about how it handles religion. The show does have some motifs in it that I would consider to be similar to Abrahamic religions—such as the monotheistic faith of Ishvala and Scar wearing a giant cross on his leg during his crusade—but for the most part, I would argue that any of the religions in the story are not representative of certain faiths. It’s hard for me to say whether or not Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has good religious representation, because while the story has numerous religious elements, it’s not all that concerned with exploring or developing its different faiths. Instead, the narrative is much more focused on exploring the realities of and condemning religious discrimination.