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Backing Stuff Up:The Great Feminist Manga and Anime List: Revolutionary Girl Utena

This review is of Revolutionary Girl Utena or Shoujo Kakumei Utena and the movieAdolescence of Utena (which is essentially a loose retelling/reinterpretation of the show)I am not reviewing the Utena manga by Chiho Saito, as I have never read them (well, I tried, but couldn’t make it). By all accounts, the quality is lower and the themes and queerness are erased or watered down. Saito’s homophobic comments don’t impress me either.

These are difficult works to review because revealing the true greatness of the series would require basically spoiling the whole plot. Even discussing specific characters or facets, I can’t do them justice without spoiling everything, but I’ll do my best.

The reason Utena has this challenge is because it’s a series that messes with your preconceptions and subverts your expectations. Nothing is as it seems and every character has layers and issues and complexes that will be peeled back as it goes on. Expect heavy symbolism and heavy concepts.

But what I can say about this series is that it is eminently qualified for being part of this review because the entire premise is deconstructing gender roles, examining and criticizing misogyny and turning ism-filled tropes so common in fiction on their head. Also tons of queer characters and themes and commentary on racism as well. This is not just a deconstruction of shoujo- it’s a deconstruction of myth and fairy tale and human psychology in general, and it’s not just a surface look either. It will make you uncomfortable. And it will revel in doing so. I should also note it’s pretty much the only thing I’ve ever seen that sexualizes men just as much as women are generally sexualized. All in the name of deconstruction, of course.

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Backing Stuff Up:The Great Feminist Manga and Anime List: Fullmetal Alchemist


Note: This is referring to the Fullmetal Alchemist manga and its direct adaptation, which is called Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood in the States and Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Fullmetal Alchemist in Japan. I amnot referring to the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist anime adaptation, which I don’t consider feminist due mostly to less central female characters, more problematic handling of race and most prominently its bad treatment of Rose and to a lesser extent, Winry. It’s okay if you consider it feminist, but this is my review. I detail my problems with the anime on feminist and other grounds in the top posts here: Beware spoilers for both series.

I will forever find it pretty fantastic that it’s a woman who wrote what I consider to be the best shonen manga ever. Hiromu Arakawa’s masterpiece should be an example to other artists of how it’s done. It’s tightly plotted, well drawn, has a huge cast of complex characters and it never lags, but comes together to be a beautiful and inspirational tale. Forget one of the best stories in manga, the Fullmetal Alchemist series is one of the best stories out there, period. Not only did Hiromu Arakawa continue the legacy (started by artists such as Rumiko Takahashi) of proving women can dominate in action-oriented manga, she also showed that you can do a story in a genre typically targeted to young boys with male main characters and still have a diverse, prominent and fantastic cast of lady characters. You can also explore serious themes like war, genocide, prejudice, faith, hubris and the nature of humanity and how to move on after committing great sins.

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The Untitled Mag

I did an article on Sailor Moon, media representation and the approaching anime for The Unititled Mag. As the about page reads: The Untitled Mag is an online publication and soon-to-be bi-yearly printed word magazine based in the United States. We believe there should be engaging, critical, and empowering content for everyone, and we mean it: we aim to empower those who are often forgotten in the mass world of media: diverse youths.
The Untitled Mag discusses international cultures, personal stories, forgotten histories, and issues concerning our target demographic. We know ourselves best, and these are our stories.

It was great to do an article for this sort of project. If you want to read my article: Why Sailor Moon Matters: The New Anime and Media Representation.
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Backing Stuff Up: The Great Feminist Manga and Anime List: Sailor Moon

Plot: Fourteen year old Usagi Tsukino is a normal Japanese schoolgirl, though she’s clumsy, impulsive and a bit of a crybaby. Her life changes completely when she meets a talking cat called Luna, who tells her she must fight evil as Sailor Moon and find the princess who she must protect. Though reluctant at first, Usagi fights the newfound enemy, on the way gathering allies in other girls with blessed with the same destiny, encountering a mysterious masked man and learning the truth about herself, her past, her future and her identity and depths of courage she never knew she had.

There are several different mediums and continuities to Sailor Moon and each are worth checking out. I’ll have to introduce them all, and I’ll be outlining the different strengths and/or weakenesses in each one for each category.

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Thoughts on Fruits Basket

So first of all, wow, this shit can get dark. I always think it’s funny people think shoujo manga is all fluffy romance and rainbows, when even the most popular shoujo manga seems to have like, horrible abuse, people getting blinded, small children getting the shit beaten out of them and psychological drama.Shoujo can be a lot more intense than shonen, is what I’m saying. Every single character in this manga has issues upon issues.

Also l love that even though this manga puts a lot of emphasis on Tohru’s relationship with the boys and it’s about romance and stuff, there’s an equal emphasis on the importance of female friendship and relationships? Tohru adores her Mom so much, and holds her up as like, her role model and the person who made her who she was. She’s always quoting her Mom’s wisdom and looking to her Mom for comfort, and she’s determined to make it through high school for her Mom. And her mother’s not conventional either, she’s an ex-gang leader who was a legendary asskicker, but totally devoted herself to her daughter and became a loving responsible person. And then Tohru already has two best girlfriends who love her to death and would do anything to protect her, and they get chapters about how they met and came to love each other and even as the manga goes on, Tohru still consistently treats them as just as important as her love interests and sneaks into dangerous places to help her pining friend the same way she goes all out to help the boys. And Kagura knows Kyo likes Tohru instead of her, but doesn’t resent Tohru for it and they’re friends.

And you know, I see a lot of this in shoujo manga? Even romance stuff has such an emphasis on postive relationships between women? And women thinking of each other as pretty or admiring each other? I wonder if it’s the culture or the genre or the fact it’s written by women…certainly, since it’s considered normal in Japan for young girls to have crushes on each other (though they’re expected to “grow out of it”), that might account for the fact girls freely think of each other as cute and gush over each other’s prettiness instead of it being cause for jealousy. It’s just interesting.

I also think this is an example of a love triangle not really being annoying, and I think that’s because (so far) Kyo and Yuki haven’t fought over Tohru or pressured her to pick one of them. And that’s really the element that makes love triangles annoying- the entitlement, the forced drama, the misogyny. We either have dudes pressuring the girl, forcing a girl into a decision, kissing her without her permission, saying “hey I’m entitled to your love” (Twilight, Hunger Games) and yet if the guy’s the center of the triangle, he totally gets away with playing around with the two girls (Korra). But Yuki and Kyo are just happy to be around Tohru because she’s such a good friend, and even though they’ve both admitted to themselves they love her, and they fight over literally everything else they’re not fighting over who “gets” her. Like, they respect her too much for that. Nor are they pressuring her- Kyo even said if she falls in love with someone, he’ll cooperate. This might change since I’m only on volume 13 but, so far, I really like that aspect.

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I actually met up with Maddy today, since I'm vacationing in Canada, and we had a nice chat. It made me feel sorta bad I haven't used my livejournal in forever. I still like all the people on here. I guess I just find tumblr more...convenient? But maybe I should start backing up my essay posts on here and checking my friends page. If you all haven't defriended me, haha. It's more that my fandoms have switched: I don't even read superhero comics anymore. But I'm still into feminism and pictures with words, so that should be enough.

I have a great feminist anime and manga review going that's basically "I review the manga and anime I like on feminist grounds". Maybe I'll back some of those essays up here. And I did a pretty long post on the Fruits Basket manga today, so that can be my first crosspost.

I'm writing a book right now and it's going pretty well. I'm entering my senior year of college and looking into graduate schools. My twenty-first birthday is soon, and I'm taking my friends to an inn with a hotspring for it, also my cousin. I met a girl named Miranda on tumblr and she ended up being in the same year as me at the same university and living only a few blocks away! We hang out a lot and I'm showing her ATLA.

That's really it! I'll try to be on here more often. If anyone cares.
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Asami and Korra icons (Bonus FMA)

hello livejournal i never use anymore, you are good for posting icons while tumblr is not

After the last episode of Korra I made tons of icons. Observe.


Bonus Winry Rockbell icons!


I'ma gonna try to do some of just Korra and also Lin. And a couple for Mako, Bolin, Pabu, Tenzin etc. What a good show it's even getting me to make icons again.

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The Blank Space

This is the short story I'm planning to submit to the Lit Mag this year. If you guys have any suggestion, especially anything I should cut (it's 400 under the word limit but I still feel bad about it being so long! 

I'm going to submit in a day or so.

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