Category: Karleen

LGBTQ Manga Book Club: Sweet Blue Flowers Volume One

LGBTQ Manga Book Club: Sweet Blue Flowers Volume One

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.

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Politics with Pizza Retrospective: Lelouch and Suzaku

Politics with Pizza Retrospective: Lelouch and Suzaku

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!

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LGBTQ Manga Book Club: Princess Knight

LGBTQ Manga Book Club: Princess Knight

For August, the LGBTQ Manga Book Club will be having a change of pace. Our previous three books have been recent manga by LGBTQ authors, but this month we’ll be looking at a classic manga through a lens of current understanding of gender and LGBTQ concepts. It’s Princess Knight (volumes one and two) by Osamu Tezuka! Both volumes are available in English as translated by Maya Rosewood in paperback and digital from Vertical Inc. The manga follows Sapphire, a fifteen year old girl who was accidentally born with a “boy heart” and a “girl heart” given by God and his angels. She lives as a princess in private, but a prince in public to maintain the throne. Of course, be warned the story invokes gender essentialism and heteronormativity.

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AMV Theater: Throwbacks

AMV Theater: Throwbacks

Last time on AMV Theater, a series of anime music video recommendation posts, we looked back at my introduction to AMVs and the origin of the art form. This time, we’ll be watching recent AMVs (made in the last decade) of classic anime (over 20 years old). AMVs can be a great introduction to an anime, particularly if it’s an older title. Not all the anime featured in this post are necessarily “obscure,” but it can still be difficult to find engaging modern AMVs of them. A couple of these are even the same anime I showcased last time, but I told you my preferences are going to be apparent.

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LGBTQ Manga Book Club: Rica ‘tte Kanji!?

LGBTQ Manga Book Club: Rica ‘tte Kanji!?

After two pricey new releases, this month the LGBTQ Manga Book Club is looking at an older title accessible for free: Rica ‘tte Kanji!? by lesbian artist Rica Takashima. The omnibus Tokyo Love is available to read online for free or for purchase in English by ALC Publishing. Although the protagonist shares a name with the mangaka, the manga follows the fictional adventures of a young lesbian who moves to Tokyo and meets her first girlfriend. Be warned it contains brief instances of sexual content, attempted sexual assault, and transmisogyny.

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“Born Sexy Yesterday” Case Study: Ashi

“Born Sexy Yesterday” Case Study: Ashi

I only watched a handful of Samurai Jack episodes as a child, but I couldn’t miss its conclusive return on Adult Swim this year. It gave me hope that creative, artistic shows cancelled prematurely could come back to life. (I’ll wait for you forever, Motorcity.) The fifth season finds Jack 50 years later directionless without his sword, the only weapon that can defeat Aku and restore peace to the world. A pack of Aku-worshipping septuplets come to murder him, though only one named Ashi survives. The early episodes were impressive, but my excitement dimmed after the direction Ashi’s arc took in the eighth episode.

Warning: this post contains spoilers for Samurai Jack season five, Princess Mononoke, and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

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Presenting the LGBTQ Manga Book Club

Presenting the LGBTQ Manga Book Club

After the positive response to our Beyond Yuri on Ice: LGBTQ Anime and Manga panel and blog post, we wanted to engage with those anime and manga on a new level. It’s one thing to hear about a work of fiction in an overview of many, and another to experience it yourself. To encourage that we’re starting a monthly LGBTQ Manga Book Club! We say manga book club, but it will occasionally include anime. Discussion will take place in WordPress comments as well as a Goodreads group. Goodreads is a social network based around books, such as sharing what you read and writing reviews. The book club group has a forum for discussion and a reference “bookshelf” of manga with LGBTQ themes.

Whether manga or anime, the monthly media will be on the shorter side. May’s manga is only one book: the first volume of My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame! Available in English as of yesterday in hardcover or digital! The English version combines the first and second volumes of the Japanese edition. The manga is seen from the point of view a straight Japanese man named Yaichi, who learns not only is his twin brother dead but he was married to a white Canadian man for ten years. Mike, the husband, moves in with Yaichi and his daughter Kana. Yaichi must confront his prejudice in a story of family, discrimination, identity, and cultural difference. Be warned this includes depiction of heterosexism/homophobia, slurs, and death of family members.

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Beyond Yuri on Ice: LGBTQ Anime and Manga

Beyond Yuri on Ice: LGBTQ Anime and Manga

Thank you to everyone who attended our panel Beyond Yuri!!! on Ice: LGBTQ Anime and Manga at Sakura-con 2017 (or wanted to and didn’t get in)! We didn’t expect so many people and were incredibly grateful for the support. We plan to run this panel again with better structure, hopefully new anime and manga to talk about, and actually time for questions and discussion! For now, here is the gist of what we covered at Sakura-con, including more detail on topics we had to rush through because of time. So even if you attended the panel, you should take a look at our full post:

The title isn’t a knock on Yuri!!! on Ice at all. (We hosted this panel cosplaying Yuri and Victor, after all.) Rather, we want to use its popularity as a springboard to bring attention to other anime and manga that feature LGBTQ themes and issues. To clarify, we mean to cover a variety of manga and anime that portray LGBTQ themes in positive, negative, and mixed ways. This includes some gross stereotypes and tired tropes, given that they can affect what may be seen as LGBTQ representation. (In other words, keep in mind that we’ll be talking about homophobic, transphobic, and gender essentialist content.) Anime or manga that use the words lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and queer are rare; but we’re working with those that come as close to it as possible. By the way, we won’t be including adaptations of video games, visual novels, and light novels because it would simply get too long. Those mediums have unique histories and formats that require analysis outside the scope of this panel. We’ll be making only a few exceptions as necessary.

Though as a disclaimer, when it comes to our criticism, we don’t mean it as a personal condemnation or attack on anyone who enjoys any work we discuss in a critical manner. Both of us love most of the media that we cover here, even when they’re deeply flawed. Obviously, fans aren’t synonymous with all the problematic ideas a story can contain and perpetuate. We think critical analysis of media is important and even when we love something or think that it’s important, doesn’t mean it’s excused from critique. If everyone can agree on one thing, it’s that media can have great impact, positive and negative, which is worth some discussion at least.

Also, when it comes to most of the Japanese creators we talk, we only know so much about their identities and private lives. Most of those that are openly out as LGBTQ are mangaka, and still, many mangaka who makes LGBTQ content work under aliases and are fairly private about themselves. Between this and the culture and language barriers, we try not to assume too much about the creators themselves. Rather, we can only judge them by the content of their works and how they may resonate or not.

We will also be including LGBTQ history and topics in Japan to give context and see how they connect to anime and manga. The only spoilers we’ll discuss will be relevant to the LGBTQ content. If you were recommended an anime on the basis it has a gay character but it turned out they were actually straight or they die you’d want to know beforehand, right? We’re sorry if we don’t mention your favorite anime and manga, but it’s impossible for us to know and cover everything. We’ve aimed to include a variety of works with major LGBTQ characters and themes, but more importantly manga by LGBTQ creators. We’re also prioritizing those that are legally available in the United States, unless they’re historically important or otherwise significant.

With that in mind, here we go!

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Reflecting on Samurai Flamenco

Reflecting on Samurai Flamenco

I wish I could say March 27th 2014 was the day “Goto-san, let’s get married!” was heard ’round the world as the series finale of Samurai Flamenco aired. Unfortunately, many viewers had abandoned Samurai Flamenco along its broadcast or simply weren’t watching it to begin with like myself. Thankfully the sliver of attention a marriage proposal between men characters received convinced me to check out what became one of my favorite anime series for its exploration of immaturity, nostalgia, social misfits, queerness, and love. I know it’s a silly show, but I like to take it seriously too.

Samurai Flamenco follows a young man named Masayoshi in his effort to become a superhero like those of tokusatsu he’s idolized all his life. On his first patrol, he winds up stripped of his homemade costume and accused of public indecency by a police officer named Goto. Instead of arresting him, Goto hears him out and becomes the confidant of the city’s mysterious vigilante. The sensible Goto and eccentric Masayoshi naturally clash, but their teamwork forms the heart of the show. Masayoshi also joins forces with a powerless but destructive magical girl named Mari, plus her sidekicks Moe and Mizuki. Mari and Moe are already a couple, but Masayoshi’s love story is just beginning…

This post contains spoilers for Samurai Flamenco from the seventh episode to the end. This show takes many twists and turns so if you wish to experience it unspoiled, I recommend watching it (on CrunchyrollNetflix, Hulu, etc.) before reading on. The streams tragically don’t have the polish of the Blu-ray version, however.

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AMV Theater: Beginnings

AMV Theater: Beginnings

Anime music videos, fan-edited videos of anime clips set to songs, have such a presence in my life I forget other people aren’t as familiar or invested in them. If anything other people only seem to enjoy them ironically. I don’t make them anymore, but I have a deep love for AMVs and watch them regularly. I figure if others aren’t going to watch them as much as I do, I can recommend my favorites to you and explore the artistry of AMVs in a series of blog posts. I like fan-edited videos of other mediums as well, so those are bound to pop up along the way.

The longer this series goes on I’m sure my preferences in editing style, source material, and subject matter will become clear; when there are many more sorts of AMVs out there. Maybe I can spark interest in them to make you explore them yourself. As for me, my investment in AMVs began around 2007 when my growing interest in anime and the quick rise of YouTube collided in discovering a magnificent Princess Tutu AMV.

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