Archive for August, 2012

I’m back and ready to play the Anime Blogger Interrogation Game! Because I’ve been tagged twice, once by simpleek and once by Shojo Corner, I’ll go ahead and answer both sets of questions in the same post. I feel like I’m being interviewed!

(copy/pasted from the original)

  • Each person is supposed to follow the rule of fives.You are allowed to ask 5 questions, after which you can tag up to 5 bloggers by hyper-linking to their blog; 5 questions because it’s not too many to flood another blogger and occupy too much of his/her time, but yet a large enough number to ask your most important questions, and 5 bloggers to avoid spamming. Hence, prioritize your questions, and who you wish to ask!
  • Those tagged are obliged to answer the questions in a blog post, and after which, they are entitled to create their own 5 questions and tag 5 other bloggers, so on and so fourth. You are allowed to tag the person that tagged you in the first place. Also, copy and paste this section on your blog so others can understand how the game goes.
  • In the case where a blogger strongly refuses to answer a question, he/she must instead post a nice anime image, wallpaper or cosplay picture, et cetera in response to that question.
  • To make things interesting, a blogger can include wildcards in his/her 5 questions by placing an asterisk, (*), after which those tagged are obliged to reveal something interesting about themselves that others did not previously know. There is no limit to the number of asterisks one can place (which means there can be up to 5 wildcard questions).
  • Anyone can feel free to start the game; you don’t necessarily need someone to tag you. Just create your 5 questions and tag your 5 people of choice. However, the catch is that you must answer your own 5 questions as well.
  • To potentially prevent an endless game, this round of games will end on the 8th September 2012, 12pm JST (GMT +9). After which, no more bloggers can tag others to answer their questions.

Here are Simpleek’s questions and my answers to them:

1. If you can go on a date with any anime character, who would it be and why?

I think I’ll go with Natsume from Natsume’s Book of Friends. He has trouble opening up to others, but he cares deeply about his friends and family and has a kind heart. He puts others before himself and seems more mature in many ways than a lot of other anime guys. I think he’d be a nice guy to date. And who can’t love the fact that his constant companion is a fat cat (well, it’s really a yokai, but hey)!

2. When you first got into anime/manga, has it increased your interest in the Japanese language or culture?

It has definitely increased my interest in the Japanese language and culture. I had some interest in the culture before I got into anime/manga, but when I really got into anime/manga, I started to think “Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to understand this in its original language?” and suddenly I really wanted to learn Japanese. While translations can give us a general feel of the original, nothing can be translated perfectly. I also like how different Japanese is from English or other Western languages. Now I’ve been studying it for two years. And since my interest in the language took off, so did my interest in the culture.

3. How did you get into anime/manga?

That’s a funny question for me because I actually started watching anime when I was in kindergarten/1st grade and loved it, but I didn’t know that it was anime! I watched Sailor Moon and would sneak episodes of DBZ when my parents weren’t watching. However, the first time I got into anime/manga for real was in middle school. I was in the bookstore and happened to be passing through the manga section when I spotted the title of anime I’d like that had been cancelled and realized it was what the anime had been adapted from. I bought the manga series and after that I wanted more. This also sparked my awareness of anime.

4. What anime series, if any, are you currently watching?

I’m watching too many! Ouran High School Host Club, Sword Art Online, Gintama, Eureka Seven: Astral OceanToward the Terra, and there are a bunch more that I plan to start. I don’t call myself an otaku for nothing!

5. If for one day you could be part of your favorite anime series, what would it be and why?

I have to agree with simpleek, it would be so much fun to be a part of Ouran High School Host Club for a day! That series always has me laughing so I’m sure I’d have a good time. That, and I think it would be too dangerous for my taste to visit the world of some of the other anime I watch.


Now here are my answers to the questions from Shojo Corner!

1. Have you ever cried while reading manga or watching an anime?

Yes, more than a few times. I try to resist crying, but I get emotional over fiction. Sometimes I cry because I just happen to be in a particularly emotional mood, but I think that it can often be a sign of the quality of the work; some of the best stories are those that can move the viewers/readers to tears or other strong emotions.

2. Are there any voice-actors (Japanese or English; it doesn’t matter) who you really like? If so, why?

To be honest, I don’t usually pay attention to voice actors. I feel bad about that! However, once in a while I find out about a voice actor. I happened across Hiroshi Kamiya recently and found he voiced a lot of characters I like such as Natsume from Natsume’s Book of Friends and Mephisto from Blue Exorcist. I just like the sound of his voice and I had no idea he played all the characters he did. Voice actors are pretty amazing.

3. If you had an unlimited budget, what would be the first anime or manga-related product you would buy and why?

Naoki Urasawa’s Monster. That manga is a masterpiece and one of my favorites! The art is stunning and it has a great, haunting plot. Unfortunately, a fair number of the volumes have gone out of print and are being sold at a high price. But if I had an unlimited budget, I’d buy the entire series this instant.

4. If you could read a spinoff manga starring your favorite side character, who would you choose?

You know, I’ve never thought about it before! It’s a great question. The first one that comes to mind is Olivier Mira Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist. She’s a no-nonsense woman and earns the respect of others. I loved her in Fullmetal and I think she’d make a very interesting main character, in part because I can’t say I’ve come across too many lead female characters with her personality.

5. What are your favorite anime opening and ending theme songs, respectively?

Oh gosh. I’m sure I’m forgetting some! Out of the ones I remember, I really like the opening themes “Shizuku” from The Beast Player Erin and “Duvet” from Serial Experiments Lain. As for ending themes, I always think of “Kitto Tsutaete” from The Beast Player Erin, “Magia” from Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and “Daichi no la-li-la” from Scrapped Princess.


Finally, here are my five questions. I’m tagging simpleek, Shojo Corner, Pixels x Panels, Adventures of Comic Book Girl, and Feminist Otaku Review. I know I’m tagging a few people who have already participated in this game at least once so, I completely understand if you choose not to answer another set of questions. Or if anyone else feels like taking on these questions, have at it.

1. Who is your favorite (or one of your favorite) female and male character(s) and from a manga/anime and why?

2. You’re stranded on an island, but you (conveniently) have one manga and one anime series with you. What are they?

3. Why did you decide to start blogging?

4. What trope in fiction irritates you the most?

5. If you could have any manga/anime artist draw you, who would you want it to be?

And here are my answers to my own questions!

1.I’m one of those people who has trouble picking favorites, so this will be difficult. I’ll go with one of my favorites that I don’t hear other people talk about so much: Erin from Kemono no Souja or The Beast Player. Erin is highly intelligent, adventurous, and can handle herself. She refuses to be tied down by the chains her society tries to restrain her with and inspires others with her strength of will.

As for guys, one of my favorites is Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender. He’s such a complicated character who struggles what he feels and who he is, his father’s expectations of him, and the troubles he’s experienced. It’s quite the ride watching his character develop. Another favorite is Keith Anyan from To Terra for similar reasons. I just love morally complex characters!

2. I would have Fullmetal Alchemist as my manga and Revolutionary Girl Utena as my anime. I love both series on multiple levels, they’re both fairly lengthy so I’d be occupied for a while, and Revolutionary Girl Utena has so much symbolism that I need to watch it many times over before I grasp it all. Finally, both stories involve characters who are dealing with/overcoming difficulties which might be inspiring if I’m stuck on an island.

3. The simple story is I started blogging because I love to write, wanted to practice it more, and had an opinion to express. However, the thing that triggered this blog specifically was a thread of sexist replies in response to an article discussing the harassment a lot of female gamers receive. The general response on that thread was that the women who complained about harassment wanted “special treatment” and that they were treated no worse than male gamers. I was so upset with the overwhelming response that I wrote up some argument against it, only to realize I couldn’t post my response because I didn’t have an account on the site. It spurred me on to create this blog and inspired my first post.

I ended up writing about fiction, and especially manga/anime, because I happen to be an otaku and a story-lover as well as a feminist.

4. It’s tough to pick one, but right off the top of my head I have to say it’s what TV Trope calls the “faux action girl.” Some tropes, like the damsel in distress, irritate me because they’re just plain bad from the beginning, but I can usually spot them quickly. The faux action girl gives me a little hope, only to disappoint me which makes it worse for me.

5. There are a lot of artists I’d like to choose, but I think it would be very cool if Naoki Urasawa drew me. He’s excellent at creating unique characters with more realistic features; each character is very distinct. It would be fun to see myself in his style.

Phew! That’s the end. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did!

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I’m Alive!

Since I’ve been a bit inactive on the blog the past week or so, I just wanted to apologize and let everyone know that I’m alive. My cat has gone missing so I’ve just been distracted with trying to track her down. However, I will be getting back on my one post a week schedule shortly, hopefully by the end of this week. In the mean time, if you’re looking for some manga that a feminist can give the thumbs up to, check out this list of “10 Feminist Manga Licensed In The United States” on The Mary Sue. I haven’t read a number of these, but I’ve got them on my to-read list and maybe you’ll find some new titles, too!

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In the anime community, it’s debated whether Gundam Seed, a spin-off from the original Gundam franchise, is a brilliant drama or a brilliant rip off. I liked it and wanted to see more of it so, I was eager to get my hands on the sequel, Gundam Seed Destiny. Unfortunately, even among avid fans of the series the sequel hasn’t received high marks. I started renting it and at just about the halfway point in the series, I’ve quickly found out why this series is one most fans would like to sweep under the rug.

I could rant about how the new main character, Shinn, earns the hatred of the audience by insulting and verbally abusing favorites from the old cast. Or I could talk about how it seems like someone hit the reset button on characters from the original cast, deleting past character development. I could, but I want to focus on the female characters. Point blank, the new female characters are pretty pathetic. Like most of the new cast in general, these women feel thin on real substance and heavy on stereotypical or just plain boring traits. I have a number of complaints to tackle here so, let me break it down.

A Love Pentagon?

Meer, Lunamaria, and Meyrin
Bandai Entertainment

First and foremost, the ridiculous fan girls and what I like to call the “love pentagon.” Out of the handful of new female characters, three of them seem fixated on one guy, Arthrun, for nothing but superficial reasons. As a result, the girls act like fools and a stereotypical rivalry forms among them. Want to see lots of scenes of cartoon girls glaring  and getting huffy at each other because of a guy? Look no further! Gundam Seed Destiny is an all-you-can-stomach buffet of it. If story writers insist on forcing one of these awkward and overused scenarios of love triangles and rivalry between girls over a guy, I wish they would at least put a little more effort into it. I don’t get great feelings of romance from any of the girls but rather shallowness and a sense of spontaneous, “Cute guy…I saw him first!”

On top of all that, it’s very clear that the guy they’re all flocking around is in a serious relationship with a girl from the original cast (bringing the people involved in this mess up to five) and isn’t interested in any of the other girls in that way. He doesn’t want their attention. So, what does that make the girls look like? A trio of pink-haired vultures

Wait. I’m Supposed To Actually Fight? I Thought I Was Here To Look Pretty.

There is one slight improvement regarding the female characters over the original series, but you can guess there’s a catch. Gundam Seed and its sequel’s action revolves around war and the military; the main male characters are soldiers on the front line, but for the most part the main female characters stay out of battle. In Gundam Seed Destiny, however, a couple of female soldiers join the guys on the battlefield. Sounds good, right? Too bad the show has managed to botch it up so far.

The two in question are Lunamaria and Stella, both of whom make me what to throw a pillow over my head whenever they’re on screen. In addition to being one of the three pink-haired vultures I talked about, Lunamaria has so far played a very lackluster role on the battlefield by either becoming a liability by not being able take care of herself or playing no significant role. She’s the weakest member of an otherwise male team. Stella, the only female soldier on the enemy side, also is the weakest link of her team as she is mentally unstable and prone to panic attacks. This is like a lot of action manga/anime I’ve seen; they throw in a couple of female combatants amongst a crowd of male ones, but seem adverse to depicting competent female combatants who are at least half as good as the weakest guy. But don’t worry, Lunamaria and Stella look great in their military-issued uniforms with miniskirts!

Male Uniform vs. Female Uniform
Bandai Entertainment

A Love Interest From The Stone Age

Bandai Entertainment

Stella, Stella, Stella. As soon as she opened her mouth and spoke in the third-person, I knew we had a problem. We’re not talking about third person speech patterns that make her sound like she’s trying to be royal or even cute, we’re talking use-as-few-words-as-possible, caveman-like speech pattern. Sadly for us, she happens to be the love interest of sort-of main character Shinn so she pops up a fair amount. Almost halfway through the series and Stella has yet to utter anything moderately interesting or intelligent. While I felt that a number of the girls from the original series had things to say that added greatly to the plot, the most Stella adds are things like, “No! Stella doesn’t want to die!” or “You’ll protect Stella?” Did I miss something? Is the main love interest really a five-year-old?

That leaves Stella with three traits — she’s cute, emotionally messed up, and vulnerable. Say hello to a modern damsel in distress. Unlike traditional damsels, she can fight, but she’s exceedingly weak and needy emotionally and I feel like this is used to give the guy, Shinn, an opportunity to play hero. In fact, the first time the two love birds have a conversation (I’m using that word loosely with Stella) occurs because Shinn had to rescue her…after she was dancing on the edge of a cliff. That’s the mark of intelligence. Granted, the male lead gets to know his love interest after rescuing her in Gundam Seed as well, but she is intelligent and made a major impact on him through her words that gave him something serious to think about. Stella, on the other hand, gives her potential love interest a scratch on the face during a panic attack, a few vague sentences, and fan service. Oh yeah, and someone who wants Shinn to protect her.

As you can tell, this series just isn’t cutting it for me. Compared to the few other series I’ve seen in the Gundam franchise, Gundam Seed had some of the best female characters. In contrast, its sequel has some of the more boring and annoying ones. I still have a little more than half of the series to go, but I have to say I don’t have much hope. This one looks like it’s going to crash and burn.

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