Self-Care & Geeky Shows to Help You Deal with the Rise of Facism

I don’t know about you all, but I have been struggling a bit recently. It’s hard to deal with life when you wake up every day trying to figure out what damage the current administration has done to your country and the rest of the world. During times like these, self-care is really important. Yes, we need to stay proactive and keep fighting, but we also need to remember to take a break and recharge ourselves once in a while. I always turn to my favorite geeky shows to help me recharge. A lot of geeky media is about fighting the government/powers that be, which is great, and sometimes, that is exactly what I need. But other times it’s nice to just forget about fighting the good fight. So here are some of my go-to favorite geeky self-care shows that’ll let you relax, at least for a little while.

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Fandom, Fujoshi, and Free!

As much as I enjoyed watching it, it’s honestly no surprise that Free! ended up being queerbait—this appears to be true with most modern sports anime, as the internet is only too glad to convince me. Honestly, in watching the Iwatobi swim team go through their struggles to be seen as legitimate, it’s all too easy to forget that Iwatobi High is actually a co-ed school. Free!’s main conflict comes from the miscommunication between two of the male leads; however, this leads into a staggering case of gender disparity among the cast; a problem many anime—especially sports anime—has. Sports anime tends to hyperfocus on a group of teammates and their rivals, bringing attention to every little piece of their past, every small piece of drama within the group, and every lingering gaze they may give each other. The few classmates of theirs who are girls are typically relegated to roles of “unnamed, unobtainable crush”, “childhood best friend”, or “team manager”. These characters are sometimes somewhat fleshed out, but typically only in a way that serves to emphasize how close the boys are. This leads to a majority of ships in these fandoms being M/M (since they get a majority of the characterization), and the ladies getting further swept under the rug, sometimes with great, undeserved hatred behind it.

Wading around in the otome game fandom, and just the anime fandom in general, there’s a very real sense of hate and misogyny lingering in the background of almost every series. Especially in the otome game fandom, where it’s typically one female character planted between a bunch of dudes, the heroine is almost always criticized for being too passive, too bitchy, too emotional, too stupid, or just too annoying. Legitimately the list could go on forever. More than that, though, there always seems to be a part of these fandoms that resents the heroine for existing in the first place—for getting in the way of their gay ships (which, really, why are you playing an otome game then?). Following this logic, for a show seemingly exclusively created for a female audience, it would seem only appropriate that the Free! fandom would show this same vitriol for the show’s most prominent female character, Kou Matsuoka. Yet this wasn’t the case. In fact, Kou was one of the most beloved characters on the show, but I wouldn’t say this was due specifically to her being a good character. Rather, I’d fathom it was because she was a self-insert character for a niche audience: the fujoshi.

As a note, I’m speaking only from the core anime; I haven’t read or watched any material outside that.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Twincest

twin 4

You know, for living in a society that generally disapproves of incest, there are a lot of incest pairings in nerddom. And incest between twins, or twincest, even more so. So this Saturday, I’m taking a look at a few different examples of twincest and whether or not these relationships are actually healthy. Buso Renkin, Game of Thrones, Saiyuki, and Ouran High School Host Club after the jump.

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Manga Mondays: Ouran High School Host Club

On the surface, Ouran High School Host Club (original: 桜蘭高校ホスト部, Ouran Koukou Hosuto Kurabu) by Bisco Hatori just looks like your typical shoujo manga. It’s about  Haruhi Fujioka, scholarship student at Ouran High School, a school for the posh, wealthy, upper-class sons and daughters of the people who run Japan. One day, while looking for a quiet place to study, Haruhi runs into the school’s Host Club—a club comprised entirely of young, handsome men, who use this extracurricular activity to flirt with and entertain young, beautiful women. (Yes, for real.) Haruhi tries to make a dignified exit, but instead, crashes into an obscenely expensive vase and ends up owing the Host Club about eight million yen. Since she hardly has that amount of money, she’s forced to pay it off by working as the Host Club’s “dog”. That is, until they realize she cleans up pretty, and then she becomes a host alongside the others. (The fact that she’s a girl doesn’t fully become an issue until the end of the manga’s run.)

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Fanfiction Fridays: Howabout a crossover?

I avoid crossover fic like the plague. It just takes so much to be done right, and I have gotten finicky about what I’ll actually spend time reading these days.

So here’s the backstory to the discovery of this fic: When I was about 13, I read all the existing Les Miserables fanfic on the internet. Like literally all of it. A few months ago, I realized that the Archive of Our Own (aka AO3), being a relatively new fanfiction archive, might have untapped Mizzie fanfic for the reading, and I happily wandered over to their Les Mis section.

Imagine my confusion when, amidst all the sad stories of doomed gay revolutionary love, I discovered this title:

“The Host Club’s Refreshing Interdimensional Tour

It… it couldn’t be.

Did they mean… Ouran High School‘s host club?

Oh, yes, they did.

The premise of this beautiful work of staggering beauty: Tamaki, having been unfortunately allowed to watch some sci-fi, decides he wants a time machine. A staggering investment of Ohtori funds later, the club finds themselves with a dimension-hopping vehicle, which they dub “Super-Delicious Strawberry Cake, since no one can think of a good reason to object”.

They visit (among other stories) the Enterprise circa Star Trek TOS, Sunnydale, the Fire Nation, the Andes ofThe Emperor’s New Groove, and Amestris, wreaking havoc and leaving greatness in their wake.

This fic is great for a number of reasons: the characterization is spot-on, making it seem like this is just a lost episode of OHSHC that never aired. The writing is clever and often hilarious, and the situations presented are goofy but perfect. (Honey and Mori fight in the 1832 June Rebellion for the revolutionaries, with whom half-French Tamaki sympathizes extraordinarily, hence why this was tagged in the Les Mis section of AO3.)

Anyway, this fic is perfect and hilarious and you should all go read it now. Find it here at the Archive of Our Own.

All the Single …Folks: An Anime Top Ten

So. It’s apparently Valentine’s Day or something. The lead up to this manufactured pink holiday has the unfortunate cultural side effect of shaming all the people who lack a significant other into feeling alone and miserable. Well, being single ain’t all bad. Here are ten of the most kick-ass folks in anime who don’t need no romantic interest to be awesome.

1. Mirajane Strauss Mirajane is the most badass single lady in Fairy Tail.  She’s too concerned with keeping her family together and kicking ass in the name of the guild (either with or without her magical abilities) to worry about the long line of dudes (and ladies) that want to get with her.

2. Nathan Seymour a.k.a. Fire Emblem Fire Emblem is easily the most flirtatious of the Heroes of Sternbild’s Hero TV.  But that doesn’t mean he’s pinned down.  And don’t let his looks and playful personality fool you – he’s also the CEO of his own company and a powerful NEXT in his own right.

3. Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing Integra has a lot on her hands. Stopping the invasion of London by thousands upon thousands of neo-Nazi vampires is one of those things. Keeping a leash on her bff/trump card/vampire servant Alucard is another, and keeping track of the silly human girl he turned is yet another. Add in the superviolent secret Iscariot branch of the Catholic Church trying to take out her organization under the guise of stopping the invasion, and really, she does not have time to deal with suitors.

4. Kurosaki Ichigo You would think that with all the girls Ichigo’s always rushing to save (no one’s saying Bleach is a paragon of feminist awesomeness) that he’d end up with one of them. But he seems to have other things on his mind (defeating Aizen, gaining, losing, and regaining powers left and right, etc.), so he remains happily single.

5. Olivier Armstrong Olivier (pronounced Olivia) Armstrong is more awesome than you can ever hope to be. She is a General, so she outranks you. She has kept the invading forces of Drachma at bay for how many years now in that brutally cold fortress in the bitter north? And if she can simply adapt and win when the world is literally breaking into its component parts around her, I’m pretty sure a little thing like being single on Valentine’s Day is none of her concern.

6. Heiwajima Shizuo Shizuo is a sweet guy with a bit of an anger problem.  He definitely has his heart in the right place – he’s a great friend, a loyal brother, and a fierce defender of his turf.  He’s just too busy throwing vending machines at Izaya to worry about hooking up.

7. Fujioka Haruhi Our first Haruhi could care less about gender labels, let alone societally-imposed celebrations of heteronormativity.  She spends the entirety of her free time being surrounded (and often courted) by the most attractive boys at Ouran Academy, but all she really wants to do is get through high school so she can become a lawyer like her mom.

8. Hatake Kakashi He’s powerful and mysterious. He’s a sweet and loyal guy with a metric shitton of baggage.  He was even Hokage for all of ten minutes (once, I think). And right now (at least manga-wise) he’s fighting the biggest baddie of the Narutoverse head-on.  So maybe his singleness is a symptom of his inability to open up to others since Obito’s death. I think he may just have bigger concerns.

9. Suzumiya Haruhi  This Haruhi is only interested in non-normal things. And we’re not talking like underwater basket-weaving or hot sauce on ice cream – she wants to meet and befriend aliens, telepaths, and time travelers. No normal people need apply.  And when you’re basically God in the body of a wacky high-school girl, you don’t bother wasting time with significant others who can’t keep up with you.

10. Byakuran  Depending on where you are in the series, Byakuran can be awfully loyal to Yuni, but she has no hold over his actual heart – he’s free for the taking (ladies and gentlefolks, wink wink).  Just make sure to provide lots of candy. He loooves him some candy. But don’t be sad if he turns you down. Byakuran is the man who was almost king – of a thousand parallel dimensions.  He arguably has standards higher that Haruhi Suzumiya’s.

I hope you enjoyed this walk through the awesome single folks of anime, and it’s helped you feel a little less forever alone on this day celebrating relationships.  Happy Singles Awareness to all my fellow readers without a special somepony. ^_~