From Hibari to Yu and beyond – trans* characters in anime

In the previous post, I made some short mention about gender identity representation, but wanted to dedicate more space. Manga in general have faired better and you can check my Trans Manga Masterpost for good recommendations that I try to update every couple of years. Anime, though, is the medium that has wider appeal, especially after mid 2000s that streaming sites started to pop up and soon enough legal content distribution platforms followed suit. Their influence can be seen nowadays in American cartoon series like Steven Universe. But let’s go back a few decades to have a better view -especially since progress is not as linear as we tend to think.

Continue reading “From Hibari to Yu and beyond – trans* characters in anime”

The shifting landscape of queer narratives -with a focus in the 2010s

We are well into the 2020s and the global situation is more than ever stressful. Yet in difficult moments it helps to stop and remember where we’ve made progress the last few years and celebrate the small victories. Today specifically, I’d like to consider how queer narratives in anime and manga have shifted and flourished through the years and how since the early 2010s they reflect not only societal change but also our very mundane lives, our joys and worries.

Disclaimer: I am not an academic and I can’t speak about other media I haven’t engaged at large, like visual novels, graphic novels, fiction books, and tv series. What I present here comes from my own experience and readings I had access in English. Thus, feel free to point out any inaccuracies or compliment with knowledge from the fields I’m unfamiliar with.

Continue reading “The shifting landscape of queer narratives -with a focus in the 2010s”

Light & Darkness: Feminist Narratives by Tomoko Yamashita

Left: Ikoku Nikki (Different Country Diary, 2017); Right: Hibari no Asa (Morning of the Lark, 2011)

Tomoko Yamashita is the kind of writer who writes what she wants. In other words, she’s unconventional and unpredictable. Even her early works that are Boys’ Love are relationship explorations that defy cheesy or tragic conventions. Three years after her debut, she started trying her hand in stories for other demographics: be it shoujo, seinen or josei, her pen crafts very real portraits of breathing-like humans. Nevertheless, not all her stories are equally captivating for everyone and her art suffers from speech bubble clarity occasionally, while her anthologies tend to be filled with similarly looking characters.

If one wants her most solid works, the pinnacles of her craft are these two opposing in atmosphere titles: Hibari no Asa, the painful story of objectification and negligence of a teenager, and Ikoku Nikki, a tender story of growing up and growing together. Both have at their heart women’s voices but they aren’t limited to them, including multiple perspectives to complete the “picture”.

Continue reading “Light & Darkness: Feminist Narratives by Tomoko Yamashita”

Women confronting each other and the system in Jujutsu Kaisen (episode 17)

Clockwise from top left: Momo, Utahime, Nobara, Mai, Mei Mei, Kasumi, Maki

Almost 1/2 of Weekly Shounen Jump readership nowadays is female. This is a fact and it’s been like this seemingly for more than a dozen years. And yet the stories published for the shounen demographic in general have been really slow with reflecting societal change with the inclusion of more female characters, who are multifaceted and not just a male character’s love interest, fanservice or fodder for their own arc. This doesn’t really help male readers either with how they might internalise the way male characters interact with female ones. And obviously the advice to “watch/read something else” is just nothing but grumpy gatekeeping rooted in complacency as well as toxic fandom habits, perpetuating the perception of art as beloved toy instead of visual literature.

When Jujutsu Kaisen started introducing its female characters throwing petty insults related to looks, it looked like there was nothing new here to be found. Additionally, a strong male character was judging others’ character by what type of woman they like, further establishing women as body parts to be gawked at and a stick to measure men. Then, episode 17 happened, and it shook the ground.

Continue reading “Women confronting each other and the system in Jujutsu Kaisen (episode 17)”