The first time I saw this trailer, I was sitting in the theater waiting for Rogue One to start. As soon as the ad for The Space Between Us started to play, I found myself significantly more impatient. The Space Between Us feels like a horrible waste of time, and watching the trailer was more than enough to make me never want to spend money to go see it. Maybe it’s the part of me that hates romance, but when a sci-fi movie stars a young boy born on Mars, who becomes involved in a generic romance that takes place on Earth, I feel like a lot of missed opportunities had to have happened in the story writing process.
I don’t know about you, but this movie poster is rather off-putting.
Vampire Academy came out in February this year, and even though the film was directed by Mark Waters (who also directed Mean Girls), I hoped the fact that vampires were involved meant that it’d be a little thrilling. After recently watching the film with friends, though, I sadly can’t say that it was scary in the slightest. The moment the opening song started with “Live fast, die young, bad girls do it well…” I knew this wasn’t going to be a horror movie.By the time it ended, I was pleasantly surprised. While the story did follow typical high school problems (with vampires and romance of course), the two main characters were generally treated with respect. These leading ladies could fend for themselves and weren’t afraid to do it. Though the story wasn’t my cup of tea, I can appreciate what the movie did right: how they handled having two female protagonists.
I talk about Western games and game developers a lot on this blog, the most common one being Bioware. Despite my unwavering adoration for these companies, I admit it took a while to develop. My first love will always be the JRPG. Admittedly, from a Western American-centric mindset—which is the mindset I’m typically in—these sorts of games rarely ever come off as progressive or anything more than a fun romp through a fantasy world (with strangely religious undertones, as with my experience). Thought-provoking, sure, but not progressive. However, sometimes I’m lucky enough to find moments that give me pause and make me rethink my position of enjoying these games on a purely detached level.
Recently my brother and I started playing Tales of Xillia, the thirteenth game in the Tales series. For the most part, the game is standard fare: big bad is trying to destroy the world and our party of heroes have to stop them. One particularly interesting thing about this game, though, is that the player has the choice to decide between two protagonists, Jude and Milla. I love that NamcoBandai finally gave the option to play through the eyes of a female-presenting character while not punishing the player for choosing either of the two (everything is still accessible, some scenes are merely different due to their different perspectives). But this post isn’t about gameplay mechanics: it’s about characters!
As I’ve only just finished the first act in what looks like a five act game—I’m avoiding spoilers at all costs—I can’t speak with the wisdom of someone who’s completed the game. This won’t stop me from speaking on something that Xillia handles better than a lot of other JRPGs I’ve seen: the love triangle.
Shoujo is not the most respected genre in the manga world. On one hand, the plots, though often dramatic, are also simple. They usually involve a pretty but stupid high school girl and a handsome, smart, rich, and arroganthigh school boy. This odd couple is usually thrown into some sort of situation that, while technically plausible, is very unlikely.
They include eye-rolling plot lines such as marrying for parents’ debt, working off a debt in the mansion, something else to do with a large sum of money and shitty parents, their parents got married so they are now step-siblings, etc. Whatever problems shoujo may have, though, there are more than a few gems in the genre, and even some that go against those pretty people. One of these fabled gems is Pochamani by Kaname Hirama. Continue reading →
A while back, I wrote a Manga Mondays on this series. In short, it’s about a group of thirteen people—one person for every animal in the Chinese zodiac legend—who are cursed to turn into their respective animal whenever they are hugged by a person of the opposite sex. While cute and adorable, Fruits Basket leaves a lot to be desired because it is written from a very heteronormative viewpoint. Not only is it heteronormative, it creates a world in which there is no one outside the gender binary. As far as I can tell, they do not exist in this universe.
As someone who more or less identifies according to the binary, I don’t often pay attention to whether or not stories are dismissive of people who don’t fit into it. However, Fruits Basket makes it impossible not to notice, since gender and gender roles are both a driving force of the plot and a gimmick to make the story “cuter”.
Amnesia is an issue that’s tackled quite often in manga, whether it be through subplot or the main plot, and usually it’s trite as hell. When this convention shows up, it’s usually safe to assume that the memory loss will stay long enough for the characters to suffer a breakdown, but the memories will all somehow return at the end of the story / arc so that there can be a happy resolution. Wanting a happy ending isn’t something to be faulted for, and even writing something about the mysterious healing powers of love, while usually uninteresting, isn’t something to get angry over. However, the mention of memory loss in a romance carries with it the warning of tired tropes that don’t endear a work to me. It’s no wonder that when I read that Furiko Yotsuhara’sBlank dealt exclusively with the issue, I wasn’t overly excited to read it. And how was it? Eeh.
I’ve read manga series that have simply faded off the plane of existence with nary a warning. That’s always the worst because it’s not until months later, when you’ve already wiped the series from your mind, that you figure out that yes, that was where the story ended, for some arbitrary reason. However, this manga is the only manga I remember reading that had actually gotten cancelled. And it’s simple enough to understand why it did: there was evidence of tracing within the work. However, I would argue that the premature end of Shou Higashiyama’s Prism is no big loss to the manga scene or the romance genre.
When main character Megu was in grade school, she spent a summer at her grandmother’s. During this time she fell madly and hopelessly in love with a young boy, Hikaru. Her feelings for her first love remained so strong that Megu didn’t allow anyone into her heart during middle school. Now entering high school, Megu has vowed to find love and attempt to wipe the grade school love affair from her mind.
When she arrives at school, a mysterious and beautiful new girl approaches her with more excitement than Megu knows what to do with. Understandably confused, everything becomes clearer when the girl introduces herself as Hikaru. The very same Hikaru from all those years ago.