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Archive for the ‘Manga’ Category

Ôoku: Cross-Dressing in a Matriarchy

Part 5 here.

We’ve already discussed several speculative fiction pieces with cross-dressing characters in them. Yet, where a piece like BeruBara focuses on alternate history by adding in a few fictional characters to actual historic events, the world portrayed by Yoshinaga Fumi in Ôoku (大奥) is an alternate history in which most of the historical figures’ genders have been swapped. The author’s use of speculative fiction serves to illustrate contemporary issues of gender and sexism by showing them to us through a tilted mirror. How does cross-dressing function in a gender-swapped world?

Content: this section contains mild spoilers for the manga series Ôoku, and some spoilers specific to the plots of the Iemitsu (vol. 2-4) and the Ieshige-Ieharu arcs (vol. 8-10). The spoilers are primarily events that occur in the first volumes of each story arc (vol. 2 and vol. 8). (Keep in mind that because this is historical fiction, general information about said historical figures will contain some spoilers.) Some discussion of misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, and domestic violence. All images safe for work.

Ooku, Vol. 2, p. 117.

Iemitsu and Arikoto. Ooku, Vol. 2, p. 117.

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Wandering Son, p. 112.

Wandering Son: What You Can’t See

Throughout this series, we’ve mentioned the difference between positive reactions to temporary, Carnival-esque cross-dressing and the transphobic and especially transmisogynistic negative reactions experienced by people who cross-dress more permanently or who are transgender. One of the best illustrations of this is Shimura Takako’s Wandering Son (Hôrô Musuko,「 放浪息子」), a manga and anime that feature several characters who are perceived to be cross-dressing by their community, when in fact several of them are dressing toward their gender identity (not cross-dressing). The show also features instances of socially acceptable cross-dressing (theatre) as a contrast to the transmisogyny experienced by an adult transwoman and a child designated male at birth (DMAB) on the cusp of puberty.

In this section, we’ll be discussing a manga and anime in which trans characters dressing toward their gender identity are perceived as cross-dressing, and will be using the terms “girls’ clothes” and “boys’ clothes” a lot. Please keep in mind that we mean this in the sense of culturally gendered clothing and school uniforms in a narrative about minors who are not out and who have to deal with transphobia in their schools and homes. An article of clothing itself, as comedian Eddie Izzard comments, is not inherently gendered, though the intent for it to be worn by (certain) cisgendered bodies is present.

Content warning: this section contains discussions of transphobia, transmisogyny, and sexism. There are also major spoilers for the anime and manga.

To briefly introduce the characters, Nitori Shûichi1 is a preteen who was designated male at birth and identifies as a girl. Her friend Takatsuki Yoshino is DFAB and identifies as a boy during elementary and junior high school.2 The manga follows Nitori and Takatsuki as they graduate elementary school, begin junior high school, and eventually enter high school; the anime focuses only on them in junior high school.

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Part 4: Gender Trouble and Phantom Femininities

In the final part of our essay, we’re going to move on to some of the more serious issues surrounding cross-dressing, specifically those involving social consequences and identity construction. We’ll begin by focusing on men who habitually crossdress as women before focusing on queer and transgender issues in manga involving characters cross-dressing against sex instead of gender.

Content warning: this section contains discussions of transphobia, transmisogyny, and sexism. 

 

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Although LINE Japan has had a set of BeruBara stickers (スタンプ ["stamp"] in Japanese) for a year now, LINE has released a global set with brand new stamps.

The stamps are $1.99 in the US store and are listed as “La Rose de Versailles.” The global set includes a lot more stickers than the original Japanese set. However, the Japanese set has a few that aren’t in the global set, including the 挟撃!one of Oscar riding into battle, which I use a lot. According to the press release, there will be other stamps for the app “Kakao Talk” (カカオトーク).

Image of Oscar from The Rose of Versailles holding up a scroll that reads "NO" and a second image of Andre Grandier getting his butt kicked by Granny

Copyright Ikeda Riyoko Productions.

There’s a lot less text than in the Japanese version. I think my new favorite is Oscar holding up the “NO” scroll.

Image of Oscar from The Rose of Versailles laughing in English and Japanese text.

Copyright Ikeda Riyoko Productions.

With the upcoming release of the new BeruBara manga and last year’s release of the English-subtitled anime, more press is being drummed up. Now, when is the manga finally going to get a full translation into English? (And can I be hired to help?)

Via Japan.Internet.com.

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Part Three: Humor(?)

In Part 3 of this series, Kathryn and I will be examining cross-dressing in comedies and comedic tropes about cross-dressing. Can cross-dressing be treated as more than the butt of a joke? Yes!

Part 1 and content warnings here. All images safe for work.

Via Gagging on Sexism.

Haruhi Fujioka has no time for your gender nonsense. Via Gagging on Sexism.

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Part Two: The Theatre

A novel by Rosalie Lamorlière. (Joyce Farmer discovers Ingrid Bergman's Joan of Arc in No Straight Lines, p. 25.

How can she be a girl if I love her so much?: A novel by Rosalie Lamorlière.
(Joyce Farmer discovers Ingrid Bergman’s Joan of Arc in No Straight Lines, p. 25.)

In this section, my co-author and I explore cross-dressing in the theatre, specifically all-male kabuki and all-female Takarazuka Revue, how these productions queer our views of the gender binary, and how the main character of The Rose of Versailles disrupts tropes about women cross-dressing as men.

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Speaking of cross-dressing, Ikeda-sensei is publishing new BeruBara stories and no one told me?! Excuse me while I go swim to Japan. I should get there by August, right?

Contains some major spoilers for BeruBara. But it’s been 40 years, right?

Via Crank-In. Copyright Ikeda Riyoko Productions.

Via Crank-In. Copyright Ikeda Riyoko Productions.

 

Original:『ベルばら』新作読み切りで仏革命後のアラン描く!40年ぶりに新刊発売も決定 on Ameba News. Translation by me.

Drawing Alain after the French Revolution: New One-Shot BeruBara Story! First New Volume in 40 Years! 

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Today I’m pleased to bring you an essay version of the panel I gave with Dr. Kathryn Hemmann of Contemporary Japanese Literature on cross-dressing in anime and manga at Sakura-Con in Seattle on April 19, 2014. Because we’re no longer limited to 70 minutes and a projector, we’re able to include more notes, resources, and a proper discussion of Ôoku, which we unfortunately had to cut short at the panel. Enjoy!

Oscar Françoise de Jarjeyes: cross-dressing BAMF. Ikeda Riyoko, The Rose of Versailles, vol. 3, p. 296.

Oscar Françoise de Jarjeyes: hero, soldier, noble, woman of the people. Ikeda Riyoko, The Rose of Versailles, vol. 3, p. 296.

Introduction

Gender bending is often cited as one of the defining themes of contemporary anime and manga, which are filled with examples of handsome women and beautiful men, not to mention cross-dressing characters who never fail to steal the spotlight. What is cross-dressing? How does it challenge and reinforce gender roles? What role has cross-dressing historically played in popular entertainment in Japan? Does a female character cross-dressing as a man mean something different than a male character cross-dressing as a woman? In this essay, we’re going to discuss ideas about gender, provide some terminology, and examine a few examples of how cross-dressing is used by characters in anime and manga as a means of exploring gender issues in contemporary Japanese society.

This essay is divided into four parts. In the first part, we’re going to outline several terms and issues related to gender fluidity. In the second part, we’ll discuss Japanese theatrical traditions, specifically those of kabuki and Takarazuka, which continue to inform contemporary popular culture in Japan. In the third part, we’ll talk about cross-dressing as it appears in comedies, romantic or otherwise, to demonstrate how laughter can both undermine and bolster personal agency in choices relating to gender identity. In the final part, we’ll move on to cross-dressing in anime and manga that are more serious in tone and content in order to explore the more transgressive and more potentially transformative aspects of gender fluidity.

Content note: This essay contains minor spoilers for the anime and manga series we discuss. Although we’ll be focusing on stories and characters we love, our discussion will include issues relating to transphobia, misogyny, sexism, and bullying.

The Superpositionality of Gender

We’d like to start off our discussion with a serious topic: cats. And by “cats,” I obviously mean “quantum physics” by way of the famous thought experiment often referred to as Schrödinger’s cat. (more…)

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Ooku, Vol. 8, p. 188. Yoshimune and Hisamichi

Vol. 8, p. 188. Yoshimune and Hisamichi

I know most of my readers are familiar with Yoshinaga Fumi’s Ôoku, but in case you’re new here or would like to recommend the manga to a friend, I wrote a guest post over on Have You Nerd? introducing the English-version of the manga.

In 1716, Tokugawa Yoshimune, the great-granddaughter of the first Tokugawa shogun, become shogun herself, despite being the third daughter of a branch family and having a low-ranking concubine as a father. During her reign as Shogun, Yoshimune enacted a number of reforms, though she maintained Japan’s closed-country status for fear of a foreign invasion if anyone learned that the country was actually run by women.

Not the version of Japanese history you learned in school? Then get thee to a purveyor of fine manga, for you have much to study.

Full article: “History Lessons from the Tokugawa Matriarchy: Ôoku: The Inner Chambers” on Have You Nerd?

If you’d like to read my more in-depth analyses of the Japanese version, check out my Ôoku masterpost here on the blog.

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you enjoy the final tragic episode of Ôoku: Tanjô, a.k.a. a preponderance of nope. This recap contains (major) spoilers for the drama and the manga. Episode 9 recap here; manga analysis hereÔoku category (film, manga, and drama) here.

Aired Dec. 14, 2012 on TBS.

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