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I feel sick and all my wishes are being thwarted.

The dryer I used to dry my clothes failed, and rather than do the sensible thing and switch them to another dryer I took them back to my apartment and put them in the oven for a while.

For my WisCon panel I wanted to take another look at Sandra Buckley's "Penguin in Bondage" article about manga, even though I remembered it being awful.

The shift to male protagonists took a further turn with Ikeda Riyoko's "Rose of Versailles" (Margaret, 1972-1974). In this work, heterosexual love was replaced by homosexual love, complete with "bed scenes," as they came to be known in Japanese (Beddo shiinu) depicting young homosexual couples. It is somewhat problematic to describe the "bed scene" in "Rose of Versailles" as homosexual. The protagonist, Oscar, is a girl who has been raised as a boy by her/his military family. Oscar eventually ends up becoming a member of Marie Antoinette's personal guard and falls in love with a nobleman called Von Ferson (sic -- but they didn't have Wikipedia when it was written, after all)...

Another homosexual relationship develops between Oscar and André, the son of Oscar's childhood nursemaid. Oscar wins André's lifelong devotion and love when she/he saves his life. When Oscar finally reveals her/himself to be female the story takes still another turn. André's love for Oscar is based on his homoerotic desire for the

pages 172 to 174 are not shown in this preview.

1) So I'm going to have to trek down to the NYPL main library just so I can find out how that sentence ends?

2) THAT ISN'T EVEN WHAT HAPPENED. Everyone knows that Oscar is a woman. You have gossipy noblewomen in some of the very early scenes saying "If she were a man, I'd hit that." (Not actually a literal translation). André is Oscar's closest friend from early childhood AND the son of her nursemaid (hmm -- grandson, unless I'm misremembering something, actually), and he's supposed to have no idea? I don't know what André's homoerotic desire may be for, but he does know Oscar's a woman. And if you're going to get something basic like that wrong, what are you doing writing pseudoscholarly articles about manga for?

...Plus, later she says that "The gay readership is in some sense the group with the least complicated relationship to these image-texts [what she calls bishonen comics, but basically Boys Love stuff]. In a cultural landscape that remains otherwise generally hostile to overt representation or expression of the homoerotic, these texts offer gay readers a rare site for the possibility of a direct and positive identification without denial or modification."

If you got that from them, I'm happy for you, but I would hardly characterize it as an uncomplicated relationship. I don't know the answer to this, but I want to at least ask the question, if you look at fiction from the 70s and 80s in Japan, or underground manga, or movies... I would hope that gay readers could find better sites for the possibility of a "direct and positive identification" without going to manga written by women, for women, who were writing to express their own subjectivity. Fujimoto is certainly correct that shounen ai isn't about actual gay people, whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. In the sense that a lot of women of my generation got their first positive depiction of gay people through Mercedes Lackey, yeah, okay, but my basic reaction is still, "If you're looking for that, I'm not sure you're going to find it there."
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Upon discovering that my Rose of Versailles manga are still in Montreal I made a run to Book-Off and emerged with no less than:

The last two bunko of Koori no Mamono no Monogatari (\o/ \o/ \o/ -- I had been searching for these for the longest and haven't been able to easily order them since the publisher doesn't have great distribution);

The last two bunko of Rose of Versailles, which is quite satisfactory since I wouldn't rebuy all of them and I at least have text translations for most of the first half of the series;

Hagio Moto's A, A'

Cheers to Book-Off for actually having a selection of bunko -- Kinokuniya hasn't since they moved locations, which makes it that much harder for an old-school manga fangirl.
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Content notes: Some frank language and abstracted discussions of rape; thorny passive verbs.

If you have strong feelings about yaoi objectifying or fetishizing actual gay people... this may read as a defense of that objectification from a position of privilege. I'll admit that I'm hugely wishy-washy on this point.

When Fujimoto talks about "shounen ai," she's talking very specifically about a genre of manga, mostly from the 70s, that is things like Hagio Moto's "Thomas's Heart" and Takemiya Keiko's "Song of the Wind and Trees," these really ethereal and otherworldly manga of intense tragic love. "Shounen ai" is often used in the US to mean something like "G-rated slash based on anime and manga," but it's not used that way in Japanese fandom.

Shounen-ai and women's sexuality )
Rejected Love: What Shounen Ai Has Achieved )
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I'm smiling.

The last couple of months have just been hard. Tired, and anxious, and to where the good things kind of bounce off and the bad things leave a mark. I won't say that's all gone and vanished -- I let myself get unreasonably upset yesterday because the security guard in Kinokuniya told me not to take pictures, and I have been coming there for three years spending way too much money, most of the cashiers know my face, and I know not to take pictures, I was just checking my e-mail on my phone! -- But, seriously, I was like, "My mouth feels weird. What's going on?" and then -- "Oh. Right. Smiling."

So, things that are making me happy:

I have been watching Otome Youkai Zakuro. I tried out a few episodes, and loved the 1920s aesthetics (SO MUCH!) but found the humor slightly too broad for my tastes at first. I feel like as it goes on it's getting better at integrating the silliness and the seriousness, and the gender dynamics are interesting. I mean, it's typical for a magical girl show that the women are the powerful ones -- that's kind of what a magical girl show means -- but this one seems to go to a particular effort to underline how it's the 1920s and the men are in the army and the women wear kimonos and yet it's the women who are capable of doing anything about big giant gory monsters.

I thought that I should finish reading Marginal in case I get put on a particular panel at WisCon, and I think I'm wrong about that -- but, nevertheless, I haven't finished Marginal! Here is why: when Hagio Moto writes science fiction, it's science fiction. This is not space opera, this is mad scientists discoursing on genetic memory and the adrenal medulla. My Japanese isn't particularly better than it was when I bought the manga, but it's a little better, thank goodness.

There's something almost Tiptree-esque about it -- the pessimism about humanity's flaws being written into our biology, and the horror around sex and reproduction, and the ways those things intersect. I also kind of want to compare it to Oooku, since they both depict worlds with a severe gender imbalance, but they're doing very different things.

I find 70s shoujo manga to be incredibly wordy and dense compared to modern ones. I don't want to make any overgeneralizations like older manga being more interested in telling intricately plotted stories, or newer manga shifting the focus from storytelling-in-dialogue to visual storytelling. I just find it interesting. It does make Hagio's manga kind of hard to read, though.

Finally, a piano cover of Blitzkrieg Bop.
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I cannot say
that I have gone to hell
for your love
but often
found myself there
in your pursuit.
--William Carlos Williams, from "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"

It was reading Hana no Kishi that got me thinking about Utena, which it shamelessly borrows from right down to one of the main characters – and the hugely wealthy and influential family she belongs to – having the name of Ohtori. And Utena got me thinking about Song of the Wind and Trees.

And I'm going to warn you, this is like 2000 words long )
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I just finished reading the first volume of Taishou Yakyuu Musume, about girls playing baseball in 1920s Japan.

I think it won me over at a moment I never would have expected a seinen manga to get right: Akiko is talking with the boy she's being set up with by her parents and his, and the boy starts talking about baseball. Girls don't need to bother with sweaty things like pain and hardship! Those are the things that boys are supposed to PROTECT girls from! And therefore girls are supposed to be pretty and take care of their husbands and walk three steps behind them BUT NOT IN A BAD WAY!!!! And Akiko is very pleasant and mostly quiet through this whole encounter, but when Koume sees her the next day, she's like, "Hey, there are FLAMES ON THE SIDE OF YOUR FACE."


Hey, I didn't know this was novels originally. I didn't know they were still coming out. Do I need to buy more Japanese novels to read very very slowly? No. I do not. But I'm going to watch the anime for sure.
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I did in fact ride on the subway and read Ooku! Which I liked even better once I realized it was Yoshimune's story and not Mizuno's; I liked Mizuno, but Yoshimune is awesome, and if the premise of the manga is that 90% of the men are dead... I don't necessarily want to just read about the men.

I've been aware of Yoshinaga Fumi for a long time but I've never actually read one of her manga before. Her linework is just incredible. I want to stare at it and stare at it.
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...Wait. You did all tell me about High School Nightmare.

It's just that next time, could you maybe use a gun and some rope? Because sometimes it takes me a while to get the message, and sometimes I really need to get the message.
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How is it that no one has informed me of Library War before now?

It's a novel/anime/manga based on the Statement on Intellectual Freedom in Libraries from the Japan Library Association!

It takes place in a world where books are censored by the government, and libraries have their own armies to protect their books and the right of people to read them!

I'm not exactly sure that I believe in a world where it makes more sense for libraries to have their own armies, than for book printing and distribution to just go underground (Probably the novel makes more sense). And the shoujo manga version, at least, has a certain number of shoujo manga cliches; the heroine, Kasahara Iku, is twenty-two but looks and acts like a fifteen year-old. And, in a bit ripped shamelessly from Utena, she has joined the Library Corps to chase after her "prince," who saved her fairy tale book from getting confiscated when she was in high school. She has a mean and unfair drill sergeant who is only mean to her because he has very high expectations for her, and also is very protective of her when she is in danger. Gee, I wonder who her "prince" could possibly be?

I do like the bit where her parents think she's training to be a librarian but secretly she's gone into the library army! I may try to track down the novel - particularly since there's only one volume out of the manga so far.


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