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Hi, everyone! Gagging on Sexism has recently had its third anniversary and thanks to all of you readers, it’s even more fun for me to write it now than it was when I started it. I just wanted to let you all know that I have been given the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Japan for two months over the summer and as much as I love the blog, I’m going to give my full attention to experiencing Japan while I’m there. However, don’t worry! The blog posts won’t stop. Every other week, a new post will be available as usual. The only difference will be that I won’t be able to reply to any of your comments until I return in July. I hope you all have a good couple of months and enjoy the upcoming blog posts! images-75

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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!

Rules
(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.

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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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Versatile Blogger Award

Wow! This is really late, but I’m finally getting around to the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you so much to kitsune and neko and starsamaria for nominating Gagging on Sexism! When I started this blog, I couldn’t make up my mind and go with just one subject, but I guess my indecision worked out well. I’ve been having a great time writing about various fiction from my feminist standpoint and I really appreciate getting nominated by other great bloggers.

The Rules:

  1. Thank the award giver and link back to their blog in your post.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself.
  3. Pass this award along to 15 blogs.
  4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

Here’s 7 things about me that you may or may not think are interesting:

1.   I don’t think I ever felt like my age. I often joke that I have the brain of someone much older than myself (although I’ve still got a lot to learn!). I also always wonder about the age of other bloggers and the people who read this blog.

2. I consider myself to be on the shy side and I’m definitely an introvert.

3. I am a total perfectionist. I don’t push my impossible standards on others, but I certainly hold myself to them. Typically, it drives me crazy, but I feel that there are some benefits.

4. I love cats! I like dogs, too, but I’ve always loved cats as far back as I can remember. As a kid, I’d draw cats, my imaginary games were about cats, and I’d read about cats. I’d be okay being the neighborhood cat lady.

5. I’m trying to learn Japanese. I’ve been studying it for about two years now, but I only know the basics (if you’re familiar with the Genki series, I’ve completed that). It’s such a fun language and I’m looking forward to learning more!

6. Despite my complaints about a lot of romance in fiction, I realized that I read plenty of it. Most of the manga I own is shojo (a.k.a. girls’ manga which always has some romance) and I read some fiction about romances as well. I don’t pick stories up based on the genre though; I just want a good story with interesting characters (and strong female characters).

7. I think many people probably peg me as very traditional when they meet me because of some of my mannerisms and other things like I’m one of those strange people who likes to cook. I’d say I have a few traditional aspects. I’m no outspoken tomboy, but I’m not a girly-girl or very traditional, either.

And finally, here are the blogs I’m nominating:

Contemporary Japanese Literature

Feminist Fiction

Gaming As Women

Manga Therapy

Pixels and Panels

Shojo Corner

simpleek

The Untold Stories of Altair and Vega

I know, it’s not 15 blogs, but hey. Instead, I’ll tell you one more thing about myself: I don’t read enough blogs!

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Image from Hulu.com

After hearing some good things about the short but sweet anime Princess Jellyfish (or Kuragehime in Japanese), I decided to check it out last week. For those of you who don’t know, Princess Jellyfish is the story of a college-aged young woman named Tsukimi living in an all-female apartment building (no boys allowed, in fact). However, the women of this apartment aren’t just any women; each one is considered to be an otaku (similar to geek, but if you want the full definition click here). Playing on geek/otaku stereotypes, Tsukimi and her friends are socially uncomfortable and not very fashionable which makes for a very interesting situation when Tsukimi unintentionally befriends Kuranosuke–an outgoing young man in love with fashion who happens to parade around as a woman.

I usually try to pace myself a bit with series, but this anime was just so entertaining that I ended up watching a marathon of it. Admittedly, it did have some things that had me scratching my head as a feminist though. The story does have ugly duckling elements to it, but I’m actually not going to talk about that since that calls for a rewatching so that I can really analyze it. What I am going to discuss is the subplot of Princess Jellyfish that had my toes curling.

SPOILERS!! Some spoilers ahead! 

Most the women viewers see in this anime are unemployed and almost all of the employed women shown are models, a more traditional, female occupation. Not surprisingly, almost all of the men introduced over the 11-episode series are employed. Nevertheless, I would have let this aspect slide without comment if it hadn’t been for one thing–or should I say one character? Four episodes into the show, in comes the one and only female character involved in business, Shoko Inari, who arrives on scene to discuss a business proposition. While Inari’s official position in the workplace is never revealed what is made clear is her unofficial job: if her business needs to get an influential man under its control, Inari lets her hair down, unbuttons her shirt to show off some cleavage, and goes out to seduce him. Ouch. Did this show have to bring in the old, negative stereotype that women use their sexuality to control and manipulate men? This is the type of stereotype that makes women out to be untrustworthy and implies the only way a woman can get something done is through using her feminine wiles. This is exactly what the show expresses as Inari even comments that the reason she has the job she does is because of this trick of hers.

Images from Princess Jellyfish anime

Granted, Princess Jellyfish does play up some negative stereotypes like those about otakus for comical purposes, but I felt much more humor from the scenarios about otakus (and I consider myself to be a geek) than I did about this one surrounding Inari. The entire subplot reeked of the seductress plot. Inari tries to seduce Shu–Tsukimi’s crush and a man involved in politics–to make sure he supports a business proposition. Interestingly, in this scenario the roles are switched; the woman is the one trying to manipulate the naive man into bed, even going so far as to try to get him drunk to do so. (That’s not to say this scenario never happens in reality, just that the usual case is reversed.) When that doesn’t work, Inari uses a date drug technique and while she doesn’t actually have sex with Shu, she sets it up to appear that they did. This leads innocent Shu to believe he’s been molested.

Image from Princess Jellyfish anime

Unfortunately, this whole plot line just seemed like nails dragged against a chalkboard for me. Putting aside the fact that the only business woman is a seductress, I just don’t particularly like seeing serious problems like date drugs portrayed like this. It just felt like a joke to me, down playing something that’s a sensitive issue. Then add the seductress business woman element to it and we’ve officially crashed and burned. In the end, I was disappointed with the subplot of Princess Jellyfish.

(As a little side note, this month marks the first year anniversary of Gagging on Sexism! Thanks to everyone who has been supporting the blog and I hope to continue bringing you all interesting analyses and helpful reviews in this second year.)

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To ring in the New Year I’m doing something a little different from my normal posts. I thought I’d end the year by shining the spotlight on some movies, books, manga, and anime that I found satisfied both my need for a good story as well as my need for awesome heroines. As I’m sure you all know, it’s not easy finding strong, realistic female characters in fiction all the time and while everything I’ve chosen may not be perfect, I’d like to give some suggestions for those of you looking for some satisfying fiction (and some non-fiction) for the coming year. I’d love to do individual posts on these suggestions in the future to further explain why I found them appealing, but for the sake of quickness, here’s the list:

Fiction Books
  • Abhorsen trilogy (by Garth Nix)
  • Fire (by Kristin Cashore)
  • Graceling (by Kristin Cashore)
  • Harry Potter series (by J.K. Rowling)
  • Moribito series (by  Nahoko Uehashi)
  • Pride & Prejudice (by Jane Austen)
  • Song of the Lioness series (by Tamora Pierce)
  • The Twelve Kingdoms series (by Fuyumi Ono)
Non-Fiction Books
  • America’s Women (by Gail Collins)
  • Elizabeth I (by Anne Somerset)
  • Enlightened Sexism (by  Susan J. Douglas)
  • The Mysterious Life of Private Thompson (by Laura Leedy Gansler)
  • When Everything Changed (by Gail Collins)
Manga
  • Nana
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
  • Ouran High School Host Club
  • Paradise Kiss
  • Sailor Moon
  • Skip Beat!
  • Usagi Drop

Anime

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Beast Player Erin (streaming legally on Crunchyroll.com)
  • Cross Game
  • Library Wars
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
  • The Twelve Kingdoms
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena
  • The Rose of Versailles
  • Usagi Drop

Movies

  • Elizabeth (2008)
  • Fried Green Tomatoes
  • The Heiress (1949)
  • Disney’s Mulan
  • Offside
  • Persepolis
  • True Grit (2010)
  • The Young Victoria

This list will be posted as a page labeled “Recommendations” from now on. Some of these I chose based on the thought-provoking messages dealing with gender while others simply presented strong female characters. I enjoyed (or am enjoying in the case of a couple of those on-going manga) all of the stories in the fiction I have on this list. As for the non-fiction, I listed a couple of books dealing directly with feminism and a number of books about women in history that I found inspiring. If I have done a more thorough review of something on the list, I will put a link to that review on the page (there aren’t many right now). Finally, because I’m always looking for more stories of strong women, this list will certainly grow (I’m positive I’m forgetting a ton as well). On that note, if you have any suggestions for me to look into, I’d love to hear them and will try to read/watch it when I can. I wish everyone luck in the coming year and hope you’ll continue to support Gagging on Sexism! See you in 2012!

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After a week with no power, I just got my electricity back on so, as you can imagine, it was hard to work on a post for this past week.  Since things should be back on schedule now, I’ll have a post out this week on time.  Thanks for your patience!

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