You are one of God’s mistakes
You crying, tragic waste of skin
I’m well aware of how it aches
And you still won’t let me in.
Now I’m breaking down your door
To try and save your swollen face
Though I don’t like you anymore
You lying, trying waste of space…
Before our innocence was lost
You were always one of those
Blessed with lucky sevens
And the voice that made me cry
My, oh, my
You were mother nature’s son
Someone to whom I could relate
Your needle and your damage done
Remains a sordid twist of fate
Now I’m trying to wake you up
To pull you from the liquid sky
Coz if I don’t we’ll both end up
With just a song to say goodbye
My, oh, my
A song to say goodbye
Before our innocence was lost
You were always one of those
Blessed with lucky sevens
And the voice that made me cry
I read this answer by one tehnominator on my Formspring. It’s a really interesting analysis of the yuri genre and manages to match my feelings towards yuri and the anime industry as a whole pretty well. I often have a hard time explaining just want kind of “yuri” manga I like the best and as it it turns out, tehnominator made the distinction between fanservicey, moe “yuri” manga and genuine romantic “lesbian” manga. I like both of them, but one of them more genuinely than the other. One of them sells because of a conservative niche that loves tropes that even I, as someone who likes yuri am tired of; the other one doesn’t sell a sod. Can you guess which is which?
You see, not everybody loves lesbians. People like girls who make out with or fuck other girls. A woman who loves another woman? Nope.
In Japan, it’s a strange thing. The only time I see yuri being popular is when it’s innocent or so outrageous that nobody can really take it as a “threat”. Nobody likes homosexuals, really, but have a cute girl going blushy over another cute girl? That’s cute. See a guy getting his ass rammed by another guy? That’s hot. (For women.) Do either one of these groups of fans want to really deal with actual homosexuals? Most likely not.
There have even been some who want to separate yuri from “lesbian” since it doesn’t mean the same thing. If anything, lesbian manga are a subset of yuri (and not the other way around). There is no such thing as a lesbian anime. The closest I think we ever came to that was Aoi Hana but definitively, it is so yuri that it still “passes”. If you find this hard to differentiate, I suggest reading a manga like Strawberry Panic and the reading Love my Life. Perhaps then you’ll see the difference. Or even you can try reading Sasameki Koto and Plica. Again, they are not the same. Both can be considered yuri but only one of them in each group can be considered “lesbian”.
And in short, lesbian does not sell. Yuri can sell. Maria-sama ga Miteru is wildly popular and has dedicated fans who will financially support the franchise. Gunjo on the other hand had its own mangaka pull out of her pocket to publish her manga. Let’s ignore the fact that they’re vastly different in every way; what with Marimite being a PG melodrama about Catholic schoolgirls and Gunjo being a very adult and dark take on a Thelma and Louise-type situation.
The problem mainly is the Western conceptualisation of lesbians. We can watch something like Mai-HiME and say “Shizuru is a lesbian” or know that somewhere, Kuroko from Railgun is a total homo for Mi… what’s her name? Biribiri. But Japanese people don’t see it like that. Perception of sexuality, at least in their media, is totally different. I suspect it’s similar to that scandal that took place with Adventure Time. Some of us think that Marceline’s song for Princess Bubblegum was the gayest thing ever composed for a cartoon, but other people read it differently. It perhaps might be the same thing for a Japanese audience. Maybe some of them think that, wow, this character is gay. And the rest think otherwise. I cannot speak for them but merely mark my observations.
They are all willing to support or ignore a “gay” character in an animated series. Most of the time, it’s used for comedy or drama. You know, the comic relief horndog/super shy girl who pines for some female lead or the other (the redhead girl from Bleach, Kaorin from Azumanga Daioh). Alternatively, there is the “psycho” type (Nina from Code Geass, Shizuru from Mai-HiME). Then there’s the “my love will never be fulfilled” character who a lot of people love (Tomoyo from Cardcaptors, ). You might have a twosome (usually fanservice couple) who are there for background purposes (most recently, those seraphim girls from the Horizon anime, Sailor Neptune and Uranus from Sailor Moon). This is an anime perspective; manga has leeway to be freer. What was the point of this? Oh right, to explain that despite us over here watching these things, none of them are most likely to be considered “lesbians” by an Eastern audience. It’s not a bad thing either way; how we construct the world is different from how anyone else sees it, honestly.
But it needs to be said that “not everyone loves lesbians”. And this is true even to this side of the world. People say they love lesbians, but they really don’t. I once spoke to a man and he said his ultimate fantasy is to get it on with two lesbians. You see this happening all the time in college-humour type film for instance. I explained, “If they are lesbians, they won’t have sex with you.” but that didn’t deter him. Because to him, and I am sure a lot of others who say they love “lesbians”, this isn’t an issue. Everybody loves pussy. Even women. But women love dick because that’s what a proper woman does. Why is it that when you ask an average male what his conception of lesbians are, his response is usually “Hot” or “Disgusting”. It’s because he’s working with the only two constructs that the media has forced down his throat. Lesbians are super sexy women who make out with other hot women or they are those evil buzz-cut feminists who want to out-man men and corrupt their women and take their jobs. I am so serious about this it’s not even funny. I had another conversation with a guy, a university-educated science student about his thoughts on lesbians. He said, “Eh, I don’t approve of that stuff… unless they asked me to join in.”
What was I even talking about? I’m upset now.
Right. All this is to get to my main argument: why yuri doesn’t sell in spite of people loving lesbians. Lesbians don’t sell. The end.
But to explain why yuri on the whole doesn’t seel, that could be a long and drawn out issue that most people will fight about. I’ll give you my take on this whole thing.
Unlike it’s male-homo counterpart, yaoi/BL, yuri tends to be split (unevenly) down the middle as far as its creators go. As far as genres go, it’s spread all over the place. Yuri mangaka experiment more and since they don’t have a fixed fanbase, they have room to try new things. But that’s it right there. Because it has nothing to tie it down, it also does not have something to support it. Binding ropes hold something together as much as it constrains. It’s why anime recently has almost been kept at a ransom so that fans and audience determine what types of shows are made. Notice the influx of otaku-type shows in the last five years? Why do you think that is? Why in the last two years, creators who have tried to be original have been met with complete contempt by anime fans? We’re a commercial culture on the whole. We’re cornflakes. We like what has been packaged and fed to us by the media. So art on the whole never really gets its dues. It’s why bands like Maroon 5 can have sold out concerts but Broken Social Scene plays for quiet sets. People don’t like art. We’ve been made stupid. But fuck, I’m getting off track again. These constraints, these niche fanbases are the reason why yaoi is profitable. And why yaoi is the same thing over and over again. Don’t change a damn thing, they like it is as it. People will spend money on the tried and true. They won’t spend money on the thing that keeps changing.
In most recent times, Yuru Yuri and Saki and Strike Witches have proved themselves to be money-makers while Aoi Hana and Sasameki Koto have been financial flops. Could it be genre? More people like shoot-em-ups, fanservice, comedy and less like slice of life, romance and drama? Maybe. But what about the levels of gay? The first three have massive yuri following. Is it a coincidence that in that category, none of the characters identify as gay or come out as saying that they love a girl? And not cute love or joke love or sisterly love. But actual love, like the character in the second group.
I read that the director/producer of the Aoi Hana anime said that he wished he could have made a second season of it but because of the low ratings and lack of DVD sales. Aoi Hana even won animation prizes or placed in prize-givings for anime. So why is it that something that has been critically heralded shut away while panned series like Queen’s Blade where the women rub up on one another or stick their tongues… everywhere get second seasons and OVA series? Money. Yuru Yuri is getting a second season. It makes money.
But things are changing. For a yuri anime like Yuru Yuri to even be successful means that people’s concepts are changing. Yeah, there are no real lesbians in that show, but it means people are starting to pay attention to or are willing to spend their money on a yuri, a totally yuri, series. Even if it’s just for kicks.
And as a side note, the line between yuri and lesbian are blurring too. At least in manga. All part of that “yuri has room to grow” thing. Take the best example I can think of, Octave. Nobody ever says the “l” word but we have come to understand that the romance in this manga is not to be taken lightly. It’s real. There are real fears and issues about it. The main, Yukino, does not live in a la-la land that confuses most people into thinking that all Japanese people love homosexuals and foreigners. She has to face the idea of being honest… not about her sexuality, but about everything else. That’s another great thing about that particular manga. Sexuality is not the main focus, but life on the whole is. Sometimes I wish more things could be like that. We’re changing on this side of the world too, thank goodness. Homosexuality, actually I should say lesbianism (because if you play gay, you’re brave and most likely will get an Academy Award nomination/win) is being taken more seriously. The best thing I can think of is The Kids are All Right which I know a lot of people wanted to object to because it featured a supposed lesbian having an affair with a man. I think that’s really missing the point of the movie. This wasn’t a film about sexual orientation. It was about people. It’s about the mistakes they make, how they hurt the people they love. It’s about how infidelity really isn’t just about sex but about a serious break in confidence and communication in a relationship. It’s not about wondering if Julianne Moore’s character was bisexual. It’s about wondering at what point in her life with her wife that she felt that she no longer felt needed, attended to, desired or loved that she sought reprieve from another person. I’m not justifying infidelity, btw. Just talking about how we ought to read into this particular film that I knew some lesbians had some serious problems with. That it was a commercial and critical success says a lot. It’s a little step forward so that lesbians in film aren’t all about their sexuality and struggling with it. They’re not only sex symbols. Sexuality is just one aspect of a person. Most people forget that. They only see GAYGAYGAY.
Remember, anime is only a small projection of their society. One doesn’t watch The Simpsons to learn about the way Americans behave. We can’t say we know anything about Japan based on what its fiction wants to tell us, especially fiction generated for a small part of the total population.
I am sure none of this made sense and I’ve gone off-course dozens of times. Oh well.
So, I installed this Hotspot Shield app to allow me to watch region-blocked YouTube videos and checked out the Puella Magi Madoka Magica dub voice reels. I have to say, I am impressed. I might actually buy this when I’m in NYC… even though I have yet to find a means of playing it.
Anyways, let’s start with the brilliant ones. Sayaka and Kyouko are amazing. Sarah Williams sounds exactly like Eri Kitamura speaking English and to top it all off, she’s the coolest voice actress of the bunch as well. Lauren Landa absolutely nails Kyouko, giving her the same bratty, posh voice and even doing the eating sound effects all by herself -I laughed. In a way, I think she even tops Ai Nonaka, who sometimes sounded a bit too nasal in my opinion.
Cassandra Lee I already adored as Ritsu in the K-ON! dub, but she rocks as Kyubey, using the same cute, boyish, yet slightly creepy voice as Emiri Katou. I don’t get the astonishingly overwrought despair and hysteria over Mami either, because she sounds pretty good. Unlike Williams, Landa and Lee, Carrie Keranen doesn’t try to channel Kaori Mizuhashi, but her interpretation of Mami hits home just as well. I really don’t see the problem, and no, she doesn’t sound like an old lady.
The ones I was least impressed by are Madoka and HOEMOORA. Madoka sounded just like she had to, but I sometimes felt as if Christine Marie Cabanos overacted some of her lines and she missed the distinctive cute flair Yuki Aoi gave Madoka. During quiet moments, she sounds great, though. HOEMOORA is… well, for starters, I think we can’t judge HOEMOORA just yet. We’ve only seen parts of her silent badass monotone persona (or as Squishy put it, female Solid Snake), and that is not the voice on which we should judge her. Nevertheless, Vee’s delivery of HOEMOORA’s warning in episode 1 made me chuckle a bit. That’s not supposed to happen. Too bad, though. I like Christina Vee.
Overall, though, I think this dub will probably lead to me watching Madoka Magica again. Great job, guys.
- Shinra: Both your abdomen and lower leg have been assisisisibabababa... In medical terms, you got FUCKING SHOT, SON! [...] More importantly, how can you even stand right now?
- Shizuo: Because you're Yuri Lowenthal... and I'm standing in your bathroom once again.
Winter is doing pretty much everything in its power to make me hate it even more. Gusts of wind, cold temperatures and the sun is extremely low, so I have to close my curtains in the afternoon to avoid going blind. Oh well, at leasts it’s not snowing.
AQUAGAZE BROKE MY HEART.
HE CHOZE PIZZA OVER ME. ;w;
THE DAMN JERKFACE.
You are crazy, I love you.
YOU WACKY YANDERE GREEK APPLEFAG
Riddle me this, fundamentalists. If you block women from accessing contraception and abolish it entirely, isn’t that going to increase abortion? And then, if you abolish abortion as well, isn’t that going to cause a massive surge in atheist population!
Imagine, all those lustful atheists having premarital sex and making kids all the time! In no time, the world will be crowded with sex-crazed atheists! Christianity will die! Your children will be corrupted by this overwhelmind majority of atheists! And it’s all your fault!
(Art by Niking)
Coming back home from school, I briefly jumped into a gaming store, where I had the opportunity to try out the PS Vita. First of all, kudos to Sony for making all around 15 different demos available on the demo units, as apposed to the usual one. Noteworthily absent from the collection was Uncharted: Golden Abyss.
As for the system itself: it is nothing short of amazing. It feels sturdy and comfortable to hold, the butons are positioned so that you won’t get cramp a là Nintendo DS and the original PSP, the d-pad is more flexible than that of the PS3 and the screen is huge and vibrant, nor did I have any issues with fingerprints, as I often have with my iPod.
The main menu and interface look a bit too campy for my taste, but they are very responsive. Touch screens work very well and apps immediately start up the moment you touch their icons. Sadly enough, the same can’t be say for games. Both demos I played had frustratingly long loading times. I hope this is because of the fact that they are downloaded demos, as Sony ditched UMDs for a reason. When you press the PS button, the main menu appears immediately, but I have no idea how this will work with saving and actually quitting games.
The first demo I played was Wipeout HD. The game looked amazing and ran on a mindblowing framerate, which really immersed me in the game. Sadly enough, I was absolutely terrible at it, so I have no idea if the motion controls just sucked or it was me who couldn’t steer. There is a 99% chance that it was me.
The second demo, and the one I looked forward to playing was Gravity Rush. The demo was immensely short and I hope this segment in the actual game will have more dialogue in it, because the story that was told here was a barely there one. I also felt like there were not enough options. Kat’s actions were limited to a single attack button, her gravity shifting power, and dodging. I hope the actual game will feature some more features. If not, I hope Sony has a lot of creative and badass things in stock to do with this limited arsenal, or else Gravity Rush will feel a bit like a Zelda game centered around only one item.
So far for the negative, though. The direction of the game is stellar, cutscenes are quick and fun, jumping around feels amazing and the motion controls feel very natural and precise. I couldn’t aim properly with the motion controls, but that was only because the demo Vita was connected to its stand, limiting the freedom I had to move it around. You can also use the sticks though. The gravity manipulation is easy to pick up, but touch to master. If you do manage to connect gravity attacks in fast succession, you are an awesome badass. The high point of the demo was the boss fight. As long as Gravity Rush presents us with creative ways of using its mechanics, this can’t go wrong.
I still don’t know if I’ll be getting a Vita, though… Will you?
Another Spring, another massive list of anime which has way too much seemingly interesting stuff on it. These are my preliminary picks for the next anime season, in order of hype.
Why hype? It’s based on a popular manga by Bakemonogatari author NisiOisin and animated by Gainax.
Why not hype? Gainax only really matters if they make original material and the staff made all the Gainax shows you’d rather forget. Besides that, the titular heroine is apparently a massive Mary Sue and the manga devolves into generic shonen later on. Also, those breasts are illegal.
Dusk Maiden Of Amnesia
Why hype? The character designs and summary look interesting.
Why not hype? Silver Link is the poor man’s SHAFT and with Another creeping around for a whole 24 episodes, we really don’t need another suspense/horror show around.
Why hype? If Prongs is to be believed, this will be the best thing since sliced bread. Despite the premise attempting to destroy your ears by yelling “Generic J.C.Staff light novel adaptation starring a hapless male protagonist who meets a mysterious girl with special powers and falls in some kind of love with her but not really, much to the dismay of his unlucky and way more likeable childhood friend!” very loudly, Accel World might actually be something worth writing home about. The premise is not entirely unappealing, it’s not actually J.C. Staff, but Sunrise adapting and the cute childhood friend actually -gasp- has a boyfriend. this show might just cause the apocalypse…
Why not hype? … but not really, obviously.
Saki: Side A of B of Herp Derp
Why hype? A new crew of mahjong lesbians pops up for another round of hot-blooded tile flipping and romantic friendship. With an all-new cast, having watched the original is probably not required.
Why not hype? Mahjong makes no sense and it’s pretty much impossible to follow Saki if you, like me, have never played it before. Most important though, is the complete and utter lack of tacos.
Why hype? It’s the obligatory cute girls doing cute things show of the season… with Sphere? Sunrise doing a moe show is rare, so there might be some Dude-Days-esque humour. The staff and cast are great, actually, and judging from the little preview, the budget is off the charts.
Why not hype? I’m not even a fan of Sphere. This show is also voice actress exploitation at its finest and I’m not sure if I support that.
Why hype? Even though the brand has lost a bit of its former glory, noitaminA is still a very big argument to make me at least give a show a chance. Tsuritama looks positively wacky and is spearheaded by influential director Kenji Nakamura. If all else fails, we still have Tomokazu Sugita as an alien.
Why not hype? It’s about fishing. Yeah. This could go terribly, terribly wrong.
Why hype? Because this has sleeper hit potential. It’s adapted by Production I.G.; the setting and characters are well designed, the charming colour palette hits a soft spot and fantasy is a genre you don’t see often in anime. Direction, script and series composition are all done by the same person, which can lead to a very distinct creative identity. With my sugoi nihongo skills and my ability to look at promotional artwork, I can deduce that a bakery will play a role in this anime. For some reason, it reminds me of Recettear. Yayifications!
Why not hype? It’s a video game adaptation, and for some reason, not even The Best Video Game Ever™ could be made into a “good” anime. Damn you, AIC.
Sakamichi No Apollon
Why hype? Jazz. Shinichiro Watanabe. Yoko Kanno. The sixties. noitaminA. Jazz.
Why not hype? The bigger they are, the harder they fall. The scriptwriters are not nearly as famous as Watanabe and Kanno and the entire anime is one big “your mileage may very”, ranging from the character designs to the music. But hey, that drumming. I mean, come on!
Fate/Zero: The Return of the Resurrection with a Vengeance Part II
Why hype? Well, it’s the second part of an obscure little show written by Gen Urobuchi with music by Yuki Kajiura. You know, the part that has Saber on a motorcycle in it. The first part built everything up perfectly and though it required some patience, it ended on a cliff-hanger nothing short of epic, only to take a whole season off. This was a brilliant strategy to not only assure Fate/Zero’s movie-like budget throughout, but in order to create a massive hype as well. And as we all know, the Type-Moon fandom basically operates on hype. By the way, have I mentioned that it has Saber on a motorcycle in it?
Why not hype? Well, it’s the second part o-Shut up, Type-Lunatics!
Why hype? Even taking the huge elephant in the room named Nichijou into consideration, Kyoto Animation have yet to make a bad show. With Hyo-ka, the production company that can effortlessly make the most obscure of light novels into money-printing mega-franchises, returns to its story-based roots and with the director of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya behind the wheel, Hyo-ka might just have the potential to knock Queen Haruhi off her throne. Who said it was a bad thing to bite the hand that feeds?
Why no hype? Nichijou sales were infamously abysmal and Hyo-ka might just fall victim to this. Will it look as good as everything else KyoAni has produced before? We can only hope so.
Well, there we go. What will you be watching next season?