For this month, the LGBTQ Manga Book Club will spend some time with a late September release, Sweet Blue Flowers by Takako Shimura. Published by VIZ, it’s now available in paperback or digital format, as of September 19th. It’s an omnibus, like My Brother’s Husband, combining the first and second volumes of the Japanese edition. The story follows Fumi and Akira, both childhood friends who lost contact after one of them moved away. Ten years later, they reunite as they enter high school. They attend different schools but their friendship reignites as they both navigate the new changes in their lives and grow up. Warning: this volume contains incestuous child abuse and sexual harassment of teenagers.
In many ways, 2017 is the year of Code Geass. The first season of the anime television series takes place in 2017 of the fictional Britannian imperial calendar, the real world Gregorian 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of the show, and a compilation film trilogy and the mysterious sequel Lelouch of the Resurrection were announced for 2017. It remains to be seen if the sequel will surface by the end of the year, but for now the series is back in print on DVD and blu-ray as well as streaming via Funimation or Crunchyroll.
To celebrate, Karleen and Malia are looking back on Code Geass together with a series of retrospective discussions. The anime follows Lelouch Lamperouge, a banished prince rebelling against his father’s empire as the masked terrorist “Zero.” Lelouch seeks revenge for negligence in causing his mother’s death as well as his sister’s paralysis and blindness. Granted the magical power of geass by a mystical stranger, Lelouch can make anyone follow his commands. In his way stands Suzaku Kururugi, his long-lost childhood friend who allies with the empire as a mech pilot despite being native to its Japanese colony. There’s also Arthurian allusions, high school hijinks, and of course Pizza Hut product placement. Let’s begin with the heart of the story: Lelouch and Suzaku. Expect major spoilers for the entire series!
Happy Pride Month! Here is the second installation of the online monthly LGBTQ Manga Book Club: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata! The manga is available in English from Seven Seas Entertainment in paperback or digital as of June 6th. Nagata illustrates how her mental illness, employment struggles, and desperation for affection led to hiring a lesbian escort in this autobiographical manga. Be warned it contains depictions of self-harm, disordered eating, and sexual content.
I am truly kind of a joke sometimes.
Spoiler warning for the big plot twist of Ghost in the Shell.
Let me state upfront: I am adopted. I was born in China, when the one child policy was still in effect, and then placed in an orphanage when I was still an infant. Months later I was adopted and taken to America. This the context and reason for me writing this piece.
Spoiler Warning: I talk about some specific scenes, characters arcs, and allude to the ending.
Upon graduating college, I read more books for fun for the summer than I had in years. No reading guide helped me, it was a mix of ones I had been interested in for a while and ones that I had picked up randomly. I can’t say I was too adventurous but it was so good just to read again for myself. Though usually I stick with YA for pleasure reading, I’m proud to say I expanded out a bit.
So I decided to cobble up a list of what I had read from June to August, all checked out from the library. There’s of course other things I read over the summer, but mainly incomplete online serials. I waffled between including the little bit of manga I read or not but they were legitimate stories as anything else.
I was planning to having star or fraction ratings but then that would put me in a weird position. How I feel about a piece of media is a messy combination of complicated things: How I felt engaging with it in the moment, how much of an impact it left on me, how genuinely well-crafted I think it is, etc. So I just decided to summarize some feelings and thoughts without explicit spoilers and say if I recommend it or not (to a general audience). This is mostly in the order I read everything.
Originally I followed her for her self-published story, Best Friends Forever, or BFF. Yesterday, she announced its end before its narrative completion. I could touch on many topics related to her announcement but I’d rather talk about the webcomic itself and what it’s meant to me.
So, Glee. It’s only 2016, so just a little over a year since it officially ended though at least a few years since its actual.
There’s a lot that’s already been said about this show: It’s innovative, it’s messy, it’s breaking down cultural barriers, it treats everyone horribly and is proud of it, etc. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. I can’t imagine I’ll add much new discourse or insight about it but, as a personal curiosity and project, I can try to dig at what struck a nerve during my teenage years and see what still holds up (or at least taps into my nostalgia and fondness).
Basically, I’m going to watch it all, because Netflix is an amazing convenience and enabler. About half of it will be a rewatch and the other half is brand new to my jaded eyes (though I did watch the series finale and read plenty of spoilers). So something like a recap and review series. I was planning to do a post for every episode but there’s six seasons with 121 episodes. No one needs that. I’ll probably just post every few or several episodes with some single episodes highlighted? It depends on how I feel. Also I’m calling it “Glee Club Reunion.”
To be upfront about a few things:
- I hate Will Schuester. I didn’t always hate him but I’ll get into that later.
- I like Puck a lot, but I feel very dubious about Mark Salling, given the news of being charged with possession of child pornography. I don’t feel too uncomfortable talking about his character, as they are separate, but I wanted to be clear about this.
- I’m quite critical of the show. I have affection for it but it’s deeply, deeply flawed. This is a way of revisiting my criticisms of a teenager and seeing if those are still valid, as well as remember what worked.
- I have, frankly, fairly bad taste in music. I have plenty of songs I would die on a hill for, but I’m also down for a lot of mediocre pop garbage. And some ballads. Guaranteed, no matter what episode, I will like at least one song. So I’ll have a bit at the end about which songs I like and dislike (I might make a playlist of my favorites later.)
- I’m not a film major, or an English, or any sort of expert in anything about storytelling. I just have my thoughts and my feelings that I’ll try my best to articulate.
- Will Schuester is a badly written character.
Anyway, I watched the pilot last night.