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 held this panel again at Kumoricon 2017 in two parts. Thank you to everyone who attended at either convention! Now that it’s been a year since Yuri!!! on Ice aired, this panel has been retired but the transcript will remain. Keep in mind this post lacks the slideshow, delivery, and discussion time of the full panel.

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.

We’ll be covering 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 generally 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 conventions that require analysis outside the scope of this panel.

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 or 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.

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. 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 believe critical analysis of media is important and even when we love something or think that it’s important, that 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 discussion.

Also, it should go without saying this panel comes from a Western perspective to a Western audience. We’ve aimed to incorporate Japanese perspectives and insights and find our common ground as LGBTQ folk and build a bridge between cultures. When it comes to most of the Japanese creators we talk about, we only know so much about their identities and private lives. 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 or may not resonate.

With that in mind, here we go!

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Don’t See Ghost in the Shell: An Informal Listicle of Alternative Recommendations

Don’t See Ghost in the Shell: An Informal Listicle of Alternative Recommendations

I am truly kind of a joke sometimes.

I was so sure I was not going to see Ghost in the Shell. Of course I wouldn’t, it’s offensive, misguided, and probably not even that good.

Spoiler warning for the big plot twist of Ghost in the Shell.

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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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The Problem with the Problem Child: Personal Thoughts on Lion

The Problem with the Problem Child: Personal Thoughts on Lion

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.

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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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Favorites of 2016

Favorites of 2016

It’s been a while… and it’s been quite a year. For now, Malia and Karleen are looking back at their favorite fiction from the past year. Not necessarily the best, but the favorites. In a year like 2016, our comforts and catharsis are all the more important.

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Intro to Devilman, a Demonic Manga Masterwork

Intro to Devilman, a Demonic Manga Masterwork

Here’s my second lecture-style panel from this year’s Kumoricon. Again keep in mind this lacks the slideshow, delivery, and discussion time of the full panel.

Among the many manga by Go Nagai, this tale of a virtuous young man with demonic power stands apart with chilling art and poignant story. Since the 1970s, the Devilman universe has expanded with spinoffs and adaptations as well as influenced modern creators. There is a lot of Devilman-related media out there and it would be impossible for me to talk about everything, so I’m sticking to ones I consider important or noteworthy or just a personal favorite. It will be difficult, but spoilers will be kept to a minimum in this panel. One big spoiler in particular cannot be avoided, so I’ll only partially talk about it. If you’ve already read Devilman, you can probably guess what I’m talking about.

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Intro to the Works of Yuhki Kamatani

Intro to the Works of Yuhki Kamatani

Last weekend was my seventh year attending Kumoricon, but my first year there as a panelist. The first of my lecture-style panels was an Intro to the Works of Yuhki Kamatani. I plan to bring this panel to future conventions with modifications and possibly a different title, but for now here is a blog post version of my script. Keep in mind this lacks the slideshow, delivery, and discussion time of the full panel.

Yuhki Kamatani combines lovely artwork and progressive story in exploring adolescence, such as their best known manga Nabari no Ou. Their latest manga looks at LGBTQ identity, informed by their experience as nonbinary and asexual. Since this is an “introduction,” I will avoid spoilers for these manga. Some developments and reveals will be discussed, but nothing that would ruin your experience if you want to read them for yourself.

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Malia’s Summer Reading 2016

Malia’s Summer Reading 2016

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.

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Farewell to Zdarsky and Henderson’s Jughead

Farewell to Zdarsky and Henderson’s Jughead

The release of Jughead #9 on September 7th is right around the corner. Before the issue introduces the comic’s new writer Ryan North, let’s look back at the first eight issues written by Chip Zdarsky and mostly illustrated by Erica Henderson. When the new Jughead series started in 2015, I had no idea how important it would end up being to me personally. I wasn’t even aware of its publication at the time. That all changed in February when various sites were reporting on the reveal in #4 that Jughead is asexual.

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