Sexualized Saturdays: You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

[tw: discussions of transphobia in anime]

Also known as Trans Equals Gay, Anime Edition. Let TVTropes explain it for you better than I can:

In Real Life, being gay and being transgender are entirely separate, as they relate to two different things. Being gay relates to sexual attraction, and means being attracted to others of the same gender. Being trans relates to gender identity, and means identifying as a different gender from one’s assigned physical sex. This can be expressed (in a heavily oversimplified way) as being “a woman trapped in a man’s body” or vice versa. However, this distinction is all too often overlooked by straight cisgender writers wanting to insert a little LGBT-ness into their stories.

The root of this confusion is probably the heteronormative cultural attitude that “boys like girls and girls like boys” as a rule, and anything else is an “unnatural” aberration. Faced with the existence of gay people, using this assumption some might think the two are linked: “Well, the only reason these boys like other boys is because they want to be girls”. Similarly, in trying to understand transgender people, they might think “The only reason these boys want to be girls is because they like other boys.”

Japanese culture has a complicated relationship with queer characters in anime and manga to begin with. This is something I’ve touched on before. QUILTBAG anime characters tend to be smushed into a one-size-fits-all stereotype, where trans* and gay and genderfluid and bi and every other kind of character, especially if they present male, will act the same flamboyant way. Perhaps this is an attempt to force traditional gender roles on non-hetero characters and relationships; perhaps the writers just don’t know the difference. Either way, it’s the opposite of good, and has lead me to assume that like 90% of the queer male-assigned characters in anime are just gay guys written by writers who think gay equals trans. (For examples of this outside the characters in this post, see Leeron, Nuriko, Charlotte Coolhorne, that one gay character in InuYasha who they dubbed with a female voice…)

To add to that, fandom doesn’t help—the characters who do seem to be trans* are constantly misgendered by fandom in discussion, meta, fanfic, etc. Let’s look at these two characters from very popular shows. Continue reading

Anime Review: Tiger and Bunny

Lady Bacula: Words cannot adequately describe how much I love this anime, not going to lie. But before Lady Saika and I get into exactly why we love this anime so much, please observe the picture to the left that has been my desktop background for the last 2–3 months.

This story follows Kotetsu (green shirt), aka Wild Tiger, and Barnaby ‘Bunny’ Brooks (red jacket) who are partners in the giant superhero reality TV show. Yes, in the Tiger and Bunny world, there are superheroes who go fight crime and compete against each other for the most ‘saves’ on reality television. (I wish this was a real show because I would definitely watch it.) They have very different personalities and principles so the anime follows their adventures together as they try and save the city and figure out Barnaby’s past (since he forgot some pretty important parts of it, like who killed his parents).

Lady Saika: Wow, you summarized that… far better than I think I ever could have.

Lady Bacula: One thing this series does better than almost any other series that I’ve watched is they’ve incorporated flashbacks really well. Bleach had an entire arc of flashbacks, Naruto is all flashbacks all the time, but this anime incorporated enough flashbacks to explain what was going on without beating us over the head with them.

Lady Saika: But anyway, why do we like this show so much? Let us count the reasons for you.

Likes: First of all, the idea for the show is new and different, and I didn’t feel like I was being bombarded with shounen anime tropes while I watched it. Funny, thoughtful, mostly realistic characters, actual moral conflicts, and a bittersweet ending. Kotetsu’s daughter Kaede Kaburagi, who is adorable and could be an annoying Mary Sue but totally is one of my favorite characters. Fire Emblem being more than a flaming stereotype even though he’s trying really hard to be. The show gave enough character backstory so that you cared, but not so much you felt bombarded. There were awesome villains with crazy hair. Magic plot twists don’t always save the day, except when they do. And Kotetsu and Barnaby need to get married. (Or maybe that’s just me.)

Dislikes: The Dragon Kid episode where they were like “oh, you don’t have a feminine personality? Don’t be yourself! You should pretend to be more girly so your parents are happy.” And I guess some other stuff.

Lady Bacula: I didn’t like that episode either. But that was the only one I actively disliked. Besides general plot directions that made sense but made me sad. (Sorry, I’m not putting mad spoilers in this like I usually do!)

Also, in case anyone was wondering, Kotetsu and Barnaby have a Dean-Castiel relationship. So yeah they should just get married.

Lady Saika: Ha! It’s not just me!

Lady Bacula: This series has a lot of stereotyped things (like Fire Emblem) but I think the stereotypes are used to make fun of stereotypes. Another example is Sky High (another hero) who has more of a hero complex than Naruto and America (from Hetalia) put together. I think the cray-cray stereotyping was so over-the-top because they were reality TV show stars where everything is over-the-top to begin with, and each character has their own side story to contrast with their TV persona. Also, each character is so drastically different and so extreme in their stereotype that they can somehow overcome those stereotypes and work together (I don’t know if that made sense to anyone else but me).


Lady Saika: A couple of warnings to those who have been sucked in by our excellent reviewing skizills: first, the show starts off a little slow, but as anyone who enjoys My Little Pony will tell you, you should never judge a show by its first one or two episodes. Second, there are several plot strands that are not tied up at the end, but the show acknowledges this, and the first of what appears to be several Tiger and Bunny movies premieres later this summer in Japan, so I have high hopes they’ll be taken care of.

I watched and immensely enjoyed the sub, but if English is more your style, the full dub cast has just recently been announced. It looks pretty solid, so I won’t warn you off of it.

Lady Bacula: And major props to the series for having a gay black guy in case you guys missed that.

The music is baller. I know soundtrack/opening/ending themes aren’t something we usually delve into, but they are all awesome in this show. Especially the first opening.

Lady Saika: Truth! Love that song.

Lady Bacula: This series also uses computer graphics well to create a 3D feel and the costume/robot suits.

Lady Saika: And the animation in general is beautiful, even taking into consideration that I’m spoiled by the Quality Freaking Animation ™ of long-running shows like Bleach.

Lady Bacula: Oh, and another thing that pisses me off is Blue Rose, another one of the heroes who is (as Lady Saika likes to put it) the hair and the boobs. She does have more of a personality than your typical hair and boobs, she still needed to have similar proportions to a Barbie doll. And the Pepsi Next commercials in every episode are so cute and fun.

Lady Saika: True fact, when I saw the American Pepsi Next commercials I was pissed she wasn’t in them.

But anyway, we’re getting a little rambly here and wasting valuable time you could be using to watch Tiger and Bunny! People who’ve already seen it, did we forget anything that makes this show awesome? Did we leave out something you disliked? Let us know in the comments!

Fanfiction Fridays: A Traditional Family Road Trip by Kantayra

This fic seemed particularly relevant today as I am, as you read, road-tripping all the way to Florida for Spring Break.  (I wrote this yesterday. HELLO FROM THE PAST!)

But anyway. I recently finished watching the anime Tiger & Bunny, which is about the daily lives and adventures of superheroes in a futuristic city called Sternbild.  The heroes all compete in a reality TV show (called, aptly, Hero TV) where they receive points for rescues, arrests, and not-destroying-property.

The odd couple of Kotetsu, the goofy older guy who doesn’t care about his scores, and Barnaby, the hot young blond with a revenge complex and a desperate desire to succeed, was born to be slashed, let me just say.

I was surprised they didn’t get married at the end of the series, the subtext was so obvious.

So, needless to say, this is a Kotetsu/Barnaby fic.  It’s set post-series, but doesn’t really have any significant spoilers, and the whole story is that Kotetsu, Barnaby, and Kotetsu’s daughter Kaede are going on a road trip to see a big hole in the groun-sorry, a canyon.

Possibly my favorite thing about it besides its sugary cuteness is that it’s written from Kaede’s point of view.

Kaede is a snarky, old-for-her-years ten-year-old with a crush the size of, well, a canyon on her Hero TV favorite, Barnaby.  So when she gets the chance to spend days in the car with him, she’s thrilled… until she realizes that Barnaby in person is a lot more awkward and dorky than his TV personality, and, more importantly, that he is quite obviously in love with her father.

The story itself is really just hilarious, with nods to typical road-trip problems such as the what-music-do-we-listen-to, the you-drive-too-fast-you-drive-too-slow, and the must-we-really-stop-at-every-worlds’-largest-ball-of-string-for-pictures problems.  It does have its serious moments too, however – it deals with how Kaede rationalizes her mom’s death and the possibility of her dad starting a new relationship with someone else.  And yes, the ending is sappy and adorable, but what else would you expect from a road trip story?

If you loved Tiger & Bunny like I did, I definitely recommend you read this lovely story. Check it out here at AO3.

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. ^_~