Archive for the ‘Anime’ Category


Image: Princess Knight (リボンの騎士) manga cover. Tink, dressed in a green tunic and cap, whispers in Princess Sapphrie’s ear. Sapphire has short black hair and is wearing a big hat with feathers in it and a puffy-sleeved tunic.

Part 1: Introduction

Origins of Shojo Manga

Manga historians tend to identify the prolific and influential artist Osamu Tezuka as the creator of shojo manga, but the true origins of the genre are somewhat more complicated – and interesting!



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My co-panelist and friend Dr. Kathryn Hemmann of Contemporary Japanese Literature and I teamed up again at Geek Girl Con 2015 to give an improved version of our “Crossdressing in Anime and Manga” panel as well as a brand-new panel, “The Sparkling World of 1970s Shojo Manga,” originally presented Oct. 11, 2015. We are pleased to present a multi-part series based on the latter panel on this blog. We’d also like to thank not just our readers and panel attendees but the awesome section of teens who sat in the front row and squeed at all our pictures, especially Oscar’s.

Panel description

Shojo manga, or manga for young women, is at the center of a thriving comics publishing industry in both Japan and the United States. The legacy of shojo manga is readily apparent in contemporary media from Sailor Moon to Steven Universe, but where did it all begin? This panel offers a glimpse into the classic works that shaped the genre and still inform international fan cultures. Join us to learn more about graphic novels filled with romance, political intrigue, and tons of gender trouble. We’ll introduce you to the work of legendary artists such as Riyoko Ikeda, Moto Hagio, and Keiko Takemiya while celebrating the appeal of illustrated explosions of flowers that rival the flowery speeches given by fascinating characters.

Kyoto Manga Museum

Kyoto International Manga Museum [image: ceiling-to-floor shelves of 1980s manga, with each shelf labeled by year at the Kyoto International Manga Museum]


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Takahata Isao’s Only Yesterday (1991) (Omoide poroporo) had its US nationwide theatrical release on Feb. 26, 2016. It’s one of a handful of Ghibli films from the 1980s and 90s that I hadn’t seen on VHS/DVD as a teen.


Image via IFC. 27-year-old Taeko sits on a local train with her 10-year-old self and 5th grade classmates.

Set in 1982, the film follows Taeko, a 27-year-old office worker who loves the countryside but grew up in and still lives in Tokyo. She uses her vacation time to travel to rural Yamagata prefecture to visit her older sister’s in-laws and help out with the safflower harvest on their farm. On her trip, she reflects on the events that happened in her family and at school when she was ten, in 1966: her first inclination to visit the country, tension with her older sisters and parents, the onset of puberty, her first mutual crush, math trouble, and how those experiences shaped who she is.

Containers major spoilers. Please note that I saw the English subtitled version of the film with the original Japanese audio.

Part of me is glad I saw it first my early 30s, because being close to the age of the protagonist, I understood her point of view much more than I would have at 16, particularly in the sense that I’ve also spent a lot of time reflecting on the past in the last few years and trying to figure out my relationships to my friends and family. But in chatting with my partner about awkward teen times and internalizing problematic romantic narratives, I wish, in a way, that I had seen this as a teen.


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You're damn right this page has issues.

You’re damn right this page has issues. [Image: screencap of the Wikipedia page for When Marnie Was There with the statement “this page has some issues” at the top


To be clear: I have not read the book, and I assume the movie is faithful to the original plot points.

Review contains so many gifs and some spoilers–the plot twist is embedded in a link, but there are a lot of pictures.

Miyazaki protégé Yonebayashi adds Studio Ghibli magic to Joan G. Robinson’s classic ghost story of a shy teenage tomboy who befriends a young blonde girl who may not be of this world. Subtitled, Ages 8+.

Here was my thought process throughout the movie:




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We could do with a bit of humor around the holidays, yes? If you like fandom crack, Calorie Mate and FROGMAN collaborated on a Beru Bara parody anime, 「ベルサイユのマリモ」(“The Marimo of Versailles”).

Screenshot from YouTube of "Marimo Antoinette" arriving at court in a fish tank

Screenshot from YouTube of “Marimo Antoinette” arriving at court in a fish tank


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Okiura Hiroyuki’s 2011 film A Letter to Momo (Momo e no tegami/ ももへの手紙) had a short run in Seattle, so I went to see the subtitled version this week. This review contains very minor spoilers established early in the plot.

In describing the plot of A Letter to Momo, I suppose the most obvious comparison I could make is to Miyazaki Hayao’s My Neighbor Totoro, with which the film shares a number of narrative elements, but at the same time, the comparison seems reductive and lazy. (more…)

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My co-panelist Kathryn over at Contemporary Japanese Literature took the time out of her summer of research and writing to do a summary post of the essay version of our panel on cross-dressing, which I am reblogging here.

Some final notes: I have wanted to write about this topic for a long time, and Kathryn has been an incredible resource, motivator, sounding-board, supporter, and editor. It’s been a treat being her co-panelist and collaborator on this project. Since my own research lies in performing masculinities, I’ve enjoyed learning about performing femininities from her, and I hope we’ve been able to discuss effectively the pitfalls and triumphs of series that feature cross-dressing.

Kathryn’s own work in the field of gender and media studies is incredibly important, and her blog about Japanese literature in translation is a wonderful resource. Check it out here:

Contemporary Japanese Literature

This past April, the ever-amazing Leah of The Lobster Dance and I gave a panel on cross-dressing in anime and manga at Sakura-Con in Seattle. Because we had an enormous turnout and not enough time to say everything we wanted to say, we decided to expand our talk and post it online.

Our essay is meant to be friendly and welcoming to newcomers to the fascinating field of Gender Studies, but readers should be advised that some portions of this essay contain mild spoilers for the series under discussion. For those of you who are looking for recommendations for anime, manga, and formal academic scholarship, feel free to jump ahead to our conclusion in Part Seven.

Dan Savage Drawn by Ellen Forney

Part One
The Superpositionality of Gender

Gender plays a strong role in the life of each and every human individual from the moment of birth, even despite our difficulties in defining what “gender”…

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