Weekly recap: The fun I had!!

Alright, so this was another meh week overall, but it picked up near the weekend. I finally got around to write and post my review of Arte, the curiously feminist manga by Kei Ohkubo.

The most exciting news this week was today’s Doctor Who announcement. the thirteenth Doctor will be played by a woman for the first time! I am happy with this, not because I desperately wanted a female Doctor, but because I desperately wanted something different. Just anything but another young, white man. Not because there’s anything wrong with young white men, haha. But I really enjoyed Capaldi as the Doctor, I found it refreshing to have an older man instead of yet another bouncy, manic gummy-face – no offence to David Tennant or Matt Smith, but I’m glad they tried something different with Twelve. And I am glad they are trying something different with Thirteen! Having a woman in this role is going to result in new, fresh dynamics, and I’m curious to see what this will be like! I hope they are going to be more creative in the future as well – also with the choice of companions, since that’s another way to shake things up.

(I’ll just ignore the misogynistic backlash, since these whiny idiots don’t deserve to be taken seriously.)

Changing topic. It’s nearly been a month since RPG Maker Fes has come out … and I’ve really slowed down! D: That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I basically started taking my game more seriously, so now I am actually thinking about the big picture instead of making it up as I go along. I need some time to come up with a structure that works, and to flesh out the characters. Luckily, I greatly enjoy daydreaming about stories.

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The most FEMINIST manga I know: Arte by Kei Ohkubo

Everyone in anime/manga fandom misunderstands demographic categories. For example seinen: often described as gritty, edgy stories with lots of violence and sex, and sexual violence. Always dark, always psychologically complex, manly stories for manly men.

And then they get confused when they learn that A Bride’s Story is seinen. And so is Chi’s Sweet Home. Haha.

Bride’s Story is sometimes misidentified as shojo or as josei, because it’s about women, and somehow there’s this idea that only women care enough about women to read stories with female protagonists. Which is a rather sad thought, you know?

I am by no means an expert, but I am kind of getting the impression that there’s actually an entire sort of genre of seinen manga that is blatantly about women and their struggles in society, past or present, in foreign places or domestically! So, let’s discuss one such manga, Arte by Kei Ohkubo.

I first took note of Arte because of the gorgeous cover illustrations. Look at them! The details, the colour, the atmosphere! I’ve read the first three volumes now, which is enough to form an opinion.

Arte runs in Comic Zenon. There are currently six volumes out in Japan, five in France, where it’s published by Komikku. Before I discovered manga, I didn’t know I’d ever be grateful for my tedious French lessons!

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The fun I had last week – Sunday wrap-up

I’m forcing myself to write these posts even if I haven’t managed to write a proper blog post all week. I was kind of busy wih real-life stuff, and … videogames, haha. I’ve been focusing on Dragon Quest VII lately, and made considerable progress. Perhaps I will manage to finish the game before Ever Oasis comes out?

Playing DQ7 put me in a Chrono Trigger mood, because it’s a JRPG, it has Toriyama designs and it involves time travel! I don’t feel like replaying Chrono Trigger at the moment, but I do like to listen to its music and think about its plot and characters.

Square Enix announced a new game by Tokyo RPG Factory, the guys who made I Am Setsuna (another game I’ve yet to complete). Lost Sphear looks a lot like I Am Setsuna, and the trailer suggests that it’s also going to have a melancholic feeling. But the settings aren’t exclusively snowy and the soundtrack isn’t piano-only, so I’m thinking that this game is probably going to have a more open and adventury feel? The plot sounds kind of like The Neverending Story, which isn’t a bad thing, of course. That book will always be special to me.

I’ve decided to quit visiting The Mary Sue. It’s something I’d mostly been doing out of boredom and because I don’t really know any other websites of that type. But since I don’t care for Marvel, superhero movies and Star Wars all that much, most of their content is boring and irrelevant to me anyway. I also think this narrow focus on the biggest franchises is not compatible with the website’s supposed feminist ideals. Most of their resources go towards promoting multi-billion dollar corporations, instead of more obscure stories and creators that don’t get much attention from mainstream platforms. I have a similar problem with AnimeFeminist, who focus a lot on current moe anime available via Crunchyroll, and who have neglected to talk about a couple of manga that should be right up their ally as far as “feminism” is concerned … But anyway, that’s not a fair comparison because AniFem is just a bit disappointing, while TheMarySue is actually loathesome in their hypocrisy and disdain for their readership. The PR disaster surrounding the Geekosystem merger is a great example. For something more recent, try this article, an ad for an unpaid internship at TheMarySue. After commenters criticize the website for not paying their interns, the article is quietly edited to remove any mentioning of unpayment. Which is a bit dishonest already, but to top it all off, a TMS writer goes around the comments smugly telling everyone “Where does it say it’s unpaid?”, which is just incredible disrespectful and insulting and dishonest and so many adjectives more. Basically, this website has no credibility left. I don’t consider it a feminist website at all. I’m not saying that the individual writers and editors aren’t feminists; but the website itself, the way it is organized, financed and run, makes it a very bad platform for actual feminist thought.

I really hate that fandom has been taken over by all these shitty enterprises that try to cash in on pop culture hypes, usually exploiting young, aspiring writers who are naive enough to believe that writing clickbait listicles is going to count as “experience in journalism” and help their future career. A few months ago someone offered me the ~amazing opportunity to work for him for free and get “exposure” – in retrospect, I should have been much less polite. I genuinely hope that all of these websites fail and disappear. Remember: if someone is going to be making money with your work, you deserve to be paid for it; if your business model hinges on unpaid labour, your business deserves to go down.

Anyway … I wonder if E3 is going to bring any videogame news that is relevant to my interests. I hope so. I actually have this dream fantasy that Square Enix is going to reveal Final Fantasy XVI and it will be a “back to roots” kind of thing that melds traditional Final Fantasy traditions with a unique graphics style and more modern elements that feel fresh and unique. I really appreciate all the non-FF titles that Square Enix has produced lately, but deep down inside, I just want to get excited about a Final Fantasy game again. I want to listen to the main theme and get chills of anticipation, I want to save crystals, ride chocobos, stuff like that!

What else? I promise that the next Kenshin post is going to come soon. It’s just such a good part of the manga, I don’t want to half-ass my commentary! I am also deeply in love with Wave, Listen To Me. I wish I was one of those influential bloggers so I could convince people to read it! Alas, I’m not.

 

Gender relations in manga … well, in 3×3 Eyes

Earlier this week, I came across an old essay about gender roles in manga, titled Gender and Gender Relations in Manga and Anime and written by Rei Izawa, whose website is still online in all its 1990’s glory! Seriously, check it out, it’s perfectly nostalgic! A time capsule!

Anyway, this is an old essay – it says “1997, 2000” at the bottom of the page – so the mentioned manga and anime are also pretty old. Maybe it’s a bit silly of me to write about this after so many years (chances are the writer has changed her mind in the meantime) … but it mentions 3×3 Eyes! And I’ll take any chance to talk about 3×3 Eyes, OK?

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On fandom and social justice and insincerity.

I’ve been so frustrated with the state of social-justice-minded pop culture blogs (and websites) lately. And by lately, I mean for a long, long time. The overall tone has become bitterness and cynicism. A lot of people have discovered Social Justice rhetoric to be an excellent tool to win online arguments, to claim the moral highground in petty fandom squabbles. The fact that these arguments are used so much these days in ship wars is truly saddening. For example, I recently came a cross a person who made a lot of angry posts accusing others of misogyny, of sidelining a specific female character. But that person wasn’t concerned about that female character at all, but rather upset that not enough people were shipping their favourite m/m pairing. This need to co-opt social justice rhetoric, to feign concern, to use issues of sexism, racism, homophobia etc. to guilt-trip and shame others, without actually giving a fuck about those issues oneself … it’s seriously poisoned all online discussions these days, and that sucks. Continue reading

What the heck are “true female characters” anyway? A rant.

By the way, when male gamers talk about what they ought to do to make gaming more attractive to “females” (please imagine a Ferengi voice here) and how gamers must change and how gamers must act in order to get girls interested in playing videogames … Look. We’ve been here all along! We’ve been here longer than some of you have been alive, you … children. And we require no permission or support or approval from the kind of self-important kid who cannot even understand the simple fact that women play games for the same reason as men play games: for fun.

That is why I won’t even talk about this stupid video by the Youtube channel Extra Credits. I want to talk about that stupid video, about “True Female Characters” in videogames. I started watching this video yesterday because I was amused by the word “true” in the title (implying that there are also false female characters?) but I must admit that I lost interest pretty soon and watched ventriloquism videos instead. But I cannot properly complain about it unless I have taken in their entire argument, can I? So this morning, actually with the eponymous cup of coffee as fuel and support, I shall give it another try. If I won’t return, or if my next post is about the fascinating issue of power dynamics between ventriloquists and their dummies, you will know that I have failed …

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