Teen Wolf: Season 1 Review

teen-wolf-season-1-castPossible spoilers!

The series Teen Wolf—based very loosely on a comedy movie from the eighties by the same name—has had two fairly successful seasons thus far. Between the rise of stories like Twilight and The Vampire Diaries, it seems to be riding on the success of its predecessors. At the very least it started out that way, before moving on to become its own story. And one of its goals was clearly to be as far away from Twilight as humanly possible. Of course there’s still the shitty romance, but unlike Bella and Edward, Scott and Allison—our new star-crossed lovers—are surprisingly well-thought out characters. When they’re not together.

It is still based around the forbidden-romance trope, though, which I find annoying. Oftentimes, the forbidden romance presents itself but does little to justify the relationship. It can—and often does—involve stalking and emotional abuse and then calling that love, but usually all this trope does is show why the relationship should be forbidden in the first place before asking the audience to agree with it. Twilight, being one of the more prominent examples, is my case in point. And all the newer shows, movies, and books riding on its success like to copy that formula, mistaking the difference between stakes and an unhealthy relationship.

Fortunately, we can thank Teen Wolf for not doing that. As annoying as the love story can be, it is one of the healthier relationships I’ve seen in the forbidden-romance trope. And even though Teen Wolf is marketed toward a female audience and that’s probably the main reason the romance between Scott and Allison is played out the way it is, it is not handled the way I would expect it to be in a love story. While a relationship with Allison may be Scott’s driving motivation, it is not what’s driving the plot.

We can give Teen Wolf credit in that it doesn’t forget to tell a story in light of the romance.

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Adventure Time: Fionna is Crushed

BLBI was excited to finally get a new episode Adventure Time with my favorite genderbent fanfiction females, Ice King’s Fionna and Cake. I was ecstatic when I heard Marshall Lee the Vampire King would finally speak (voiced by Donald Glover). As the episode went on I became less and less happy until I was just agitated, especially with Slime Princess’s suggestion of “What if there was a little more romance in the story?”Damn it Adventure Time, didn’t we already go over this?

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Sexualized Saturdays: All Women Want is a Date and Nothing Else

So I don’t know how many of you may have noticed, but most fictional women seem to be motivated by one thing: makeup.

Okay, and men.

Obviously I may very well launch into a post on why that’s not true. But instead, let’s also talk about why it’s a damaging idea. So let me start this off with a quick backstory on myself. I’m a nerd. I’m an asexual nerd who never felt the need to seek out a man. I only got a partner eventually because Lady Geek Girl all but super-glued my current boyfriend and I together. But as you can all imagine, it was quite a rough ride for a while. And though the two of us have been dating for almost six years now, I had never been keen on seeking a partner out beforehand.

I just wasn’t interested in it, but I felt as though I would never be happy without a guy, because according to every movie I’ve watched ever, a guy is what I needed. Lord knows, as a woman, I can’t take care of myself, so I need a man to make me happy and to provide for me.

Furthermore, believing that not wanting a partner made me the odd one out and having a skewed frame of reference from the media, I simply didn’t understand other girls growing up. Sure, I had my geeky friends and they all had the occasional crush, but I honestly believed that every other female our age talked about nothing but boys and makeup, which also made me feel as though being a non-nerd girl was very dull.

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Manga Mondays: The Portrayal of Masculinity and Femininity in Manga and Anime

From an historical viewpoint, just about every culture on the planet has idealized males as dominate figures, while dismissing females as the lesser sex. Japan is certainly no exception to this way of thinking. Though in recent years, while the gap between both genders has slimmed, it is still there, and the Japanese reflect this ideology in their manga and anime. Manga has been around for quite some time, and anime first appeared in the last century to represent manga on the television screen. While manga has an incredibly wide fan base that continues to grow each year, it normally targets either boys or girls. Manga for boys is called shounen, and for girls it’s shoujo.

Both may display similar characteristics regarding gender roles, but they are quite dissimilar in their portrayal, and normally cater to different genres. Shoujo, for instance, tends to center more on romance and finding true love, while shounen, even though it may also have romance, focuses more on action and adventure. This is not to say that shoujo has neither action nor adventure; those are just not the main focus in a typical shoujo.

So what I’m going to talk about today are two different shounen, Kisimoto Masasi’s Naruto and Takahasi Rumiko’s InuYasha. I also hope to explain why they are both shounen and not shoujo. Obviously, Naruto is a shounen, but there are some discrepancies about what category InuYasha falls under. And you’re going to have to brace yourselves, but I’m also going to be discussing gender roles.

Okay, let’s get to it.

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Fanfiction Fridays: The Irony of Bubblemates by Brodad

We all have them, those stories that we visit the pages of each day in hopes that its author updates with a pace that matches our voracious need of their works. This is one of mine. This is another Homestuck story, so I’ll try to explain the confusing parts as best I can but to do so will involve some MILD SPOILERS, so I’ll just warn you of that now.

All in all, once you get the basics the physics behind The Irony of Bubblemates by Brodad, it’s incredibly simple and the possibilities keep the audience coming back for more. The general premise is that cool kid Dave Strider (who I mentioned in my previous Homestuck fic review) and the incredibly dorky alien troll kid, Tavros Nitram, have taken up rooming together in Dave’s dreambubble apartment. By the mention of dream, you may think that this is some terrible fic where a bunch of heartwarming moments happen and then they wake up and don’t remember anything. You would only be half-right. In the series, dreambubbles act as a way for a being to work through a previously stressful moment of their lives by re-living it, only “waking up” in the bubble once they fully realize their massive amounts of déjà vu. However, these bubbles are not confined to the living, the hundreds upon hundreds of dead, offshoot timeline beings have dreambubbles too and they can control where they go (since they don’t have to worry about waking up). That is where we find our two protagonists: dead and chilling out playing some video games.

Aside from sick-nasty rap-offs and humorous banter, this story not only explores the feelings of someone that has to come to terms with their alive self still living the life that they no longer can have, but also further fleshes out the troll romance system. Even though webcomic author Andrew Hussie goes over it more than enough times, it’s still pretty confusing, so this fic was really helpful. Besides that, it explores Tavros’ insecurities, Dave’s fear of commitment, and how an inter-species relationship can work when it seems like a wrong move will land you in the hospital (yes, you can still get hurt even though you’re dead. What a raw deal, eh?). Although their relationship is adorable, this fic quickly becomes highly smutty and NSFW. Luckily, you can tell which chapters are going to have sexual content because Brodad is a total sweetie and put ratings and a short description of the part at the beginning of each chapter.

Even if you don’t really understand Homestuck, I would recommend giving it a read anyway. Especially if you like slightly dramatic relationship fics where the characters don’t get into a relationship right away. You can find the story here on Brodad’s tumblr. She also put it up on AO3, but it’s going through a massive re-hauling right now so it may not be up in its entirety.

 

Manga Mondays: Kare Kano

After last week’s foray into… whatever you would call that, I decided to give myself time to recuperate and return to a series that I really love despite the fact that I actually haven’t finished it yet (whoops).

If I were to put His and Her Circumstance, more commonly known as Kare Kano (short for Kareshi Kanojo no Jiyou), on the spectrum of genres, it would fall somewhere between Kitchen Princess and Honey and Clover: there’s no way it’s not shoujo, but it’s certainly more ‘slice-of-life’-y than a lot of other shoujos. The series starts out following Yukino Miyazawa as she goes through her school life acing tests, having a bunch of friends, being basically perfect in any way. What I mean by ‘starts out’ is that this image lasts approximately seven pages into the first chapter and immediately slips when the other main character, Soichio Arima, is mentioned.

You see, Yukino is living a lie, and it’s a lie that many of us know very well. At school and in public she is the image of high school beauty and brains, what everyone aspires to be. Yet at home she is a slob who lounges around in sweats all day and works her butt off to achieve that public image for the sole reason of being praised. She is a self-proclaimed egomaniac. However, all of her hard work is seemingly for naught when Soichiro becomes the class representative. Not only did he ‘steal’ this title away from her, oh no, he also seems to be everything she’s not. He actually is the perfect, good looking, smart person that she has to act at being. Needless to say, this pisses her off. It pisses her off even more when he catches her slipping up in class, and so she starts working even harder to throw him off his high horse. It all seems to be coming together for her after she scores higher than him, but the façade is ruined when he visits her at home.

However, from his end Soichiro genuinely admires her. He continuously wants to be near her and feels as though it makes him better for it. He even confesses his feelings for her at some point (she turns him down at first). After the incident at Yukino’s house, he uses his insight into her actual self as a means of blackmail and forces her to help him with his student council work, least she be exposed to the entire school. However, it ends up being just a ploy to have her spend more time with him in a manner where she could actually be herself. It’s a little underhanded, but ends up being a mutually beneficial arrangement.

From these two chapters—yes, this all happens in the first two chapters—the two of them begin reconsidering what they really want out of life and how to balance their “public” selves with their “actual” selves (spoiler: Soichiro isn’t actually perfect). As with Honey and Clover, this seemingly mundane task is what makes the rest of the series. Both of them go through school, deal with relationships (with each other and apart), and handle the drama that comes with them and we see how it shapes them into the adults they are in the last volume of the manga. Of course, what I find most interesting is how author Masami Tsuda creates such a meaningful, three-dimensional relationship from Soichiro and Yukino. Never do you feel that they aren’t their own people and never do they lose the strengths and insecurities that make them interesting. In such a long series (I think it’s about 21 volumes), it’s rather difficult to keep interest in a single relationship but by keeping the his/her style of storytelling the audience really becomes attached to the characters, so the relationship is actually a secondary thing.

I would definitely recommend giving this series a try. Yukiko is a hilariously awkward character and the friends they both make later into the series really round out the cast into characters that you may not like all the time, but you can respect their actions because they have purpose beyond building up the main characters, unlike many other shoujos.

 

Fanfiction Fridays: Ready, Fire, Aim by gyzym

I’m new to the world of Avengers fandom, and I have only a very interested amateur’s knowledge of the comicverse; but even with all of this, I have this very instinctual understanding that “The Avengers all live together in a house provided by Tony Stark” is an Avengers fanfic plot trope as old and honored as sex pollen or accidental bonding are in Kirk/Spock fiction. And within those tropes, there are always going to be not-so-good ones, and there are always going to be super-amazing ones.

Ready, Fire, Aim is one of the latter. Full disclosure, it’s Steve/Tony (with background Pepper/Natasha), and there’s not much of a connecting thread to the story except for the gradual romantic growth between the two. But the episodic flow of the story is really organic and comfortable; in once scene Clint’s trying to teach Thor how to use the Wii, and in the next the team is helping (or being helped by) the X-Men and the Fantastic Four to subdue evil parade floats. (Oh yeah, there are a million neat little tie-ins with the Marvel ‘verse outside of the movie, which I appreciated even if I am not a comic buff.) The funny parts are funny, the sexy parts are hot like burning, and although I’m not super qualified to talk about characterization, the characters seem to be and act and talk exactly how they ought to in my head. Thor especially is amazing.

This story has two amazing sequels as well (well, one is an actual sequel and one is the story of Ready, Fire, Aim from Steve’s POV, written for a charity fic auction), but they’re easily around 50k words put together, so if you’re recently graduated like me and have a hell of a lot of time on your hands, this is the perfect fic to spend an hour or two (or however long it takes other people to read 50,000 words) with. Enjoy!

Check it out here at AO3!

Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon)

Those of us here at LGG&F worked tirelessly to compile and vote on the Top 10 canon and Top 10 fanon pairings in Geekdom. You have no idea how hard it was to come to a consensus on what was actually canon or not!

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Manga Mondays: Fall in Love Like a Comic

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I figured it would be appropriate to review another shojou manga. …Who am I kidding? I was going to do that anyway, but I’ll take any excuse I can get. And boy, do I need an excuse for this one. Back in the day when I used to subscribe to Shojou Beat magazine, there was a preview for this story and maybe it was the main character’s horrendously big eyes that got to me but I fell in love with it. Fell in love despite the fact that it’s probably about the most cliché, contrived shojou manga in this modern era. Readers, I would like to introduce you to Chitose Yagami’s two volume l♥ve-l♥ve fest, Fall in Love Like a Comic.

Our protagonist is Rena Sakura—it’s already starting to sound like a bad fanfiction, isn’t it?—who suffers from ‘looking five years younger than you actually are’-itis, is in high school, and is also secretly a manga artist for a popular magazine. In addition to being really cute, Rena is also hardworking, has a really good friend, and is incredibly silly. Basically she’s the everygirl. Her comic, unoriginally titled ‘Girl in Love ♥’, is incredibly popular but in a shocking turn of events we find that Rena has never had a boyfriend! Gasp! Thus, to improve the quality of her comic she ends up employing the help of the popular, athletic, perfect-in-every-way Tomoya Okita.

As you have probably guessed already yes, they do fall in love. In fact, it happens in chapter three (which is only half-way through the first volume!). I use the term ‘fall in love’ very loosely because Rena is definitely in lust and I honestly don’t know what Tomoya’s deal is. The only thing he knows about her is that she’s cute, she draws manga, and that she’s very excitable. Maybe it’s too much to expect a little depth here, but it is Yagami’s sixth manga series. So, if the main conflict is essentially solved by not even the end of the first volume, what’s the rest of the story? Let me sum it up for you.

[Insert event that makes it seem like Tomoya is cheating on or uninterested in Rena]

Rena: OMG! I should have guessed! He doesn’t understaaaaaaand!!! *cries*

Tomoya: Rena, u r wrong!

Rena: Nooooo!!

Tomoya: Rena, I luv u 5eva. *kisses her*

Rena: K *giggles*

No, seriously. The rest of it is filler until the end. In fact, the end could be considered filler. Since the first volume doesn’t even end on a cliffhanger, one could just stop there and the story wouldn’t suffer at all. However, in the second volume there actually is one story arc that gives the relationship some depth.

The happy couple and their friends are going on a trip together so Rena gets it in her head that to deepen the relationship between the two of them they’re going to have sex. Rena tries to seduce Tomoya the entire trip (which amounts to her just looking stupid), eventually cornering him in the shower and telling him how she feels and what she wants. Surprisingly, they don’t have sex instead opting to wait until later. Although Tomoya directly says, “We’re going to wait until I’m ready”, I feel as though this is for both of their benefits rather than him being selfish. It’s obvious that Rena isn’t as ready as she thinks she is as she cannot even handle kissing him without becoming a flustered moe-blob. Literally. Also, this sends a really good message to the readers that sex isn’t the only way to deepen or intensify a relationship. That an emotional connection that involves an understanding between each other is more important than the physical. That it’s okay to not do it. It’s also refreshing to see the male be the one to refuse the sexual advances, especially in a shojou manga. In addition to that, Rena is not shamed for her sexual desires and it’s treated as it should be: a normal occurrence and something to be explored at a later time. For this arc alone, I have to give Yagami credit.

However, that credit fades away slightly when [spoilers] the comic ends on a wedding! A fucking wedding! They haven’t even been in the relationship for a year, they haven’t graduated high school, they’re not even telling their parents and they’re getting married!! It’s so cliché. And there’s nothing leading up to it either! They have a fight where Rena is ignoring Tomoya’s calls because she thinks he’s falling back in love with his ex-girlfriend—her tutor—and then bam! Wedding! What the hell?!

As much as I love this series, I can’t recommend it in good faith. The art ranges from decent to ‘why is their face melting?’ and the story is just not strong at all. Even the bonus stories at the back of the manga aren’t very good. However, if you want something that doesn’t require any brain power to enjoy or just is some meaningless fluff, this comic just may be your godsend.