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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I’m productively procrastinating on a post about Ôoku, so in the meantime, you get more photos!

My partner and I went to Oregon last week and while we were there we visited the Portland Japanese Garden, which just reopened to the public on March 1, 2016. We may have missed the cherry blossoms and came too early for roses in the Portland Rose Garden, but it was a lovely spring day and there were plenty of azaleas blooming.

We even had a great view of Mt. Hood:

Portland Japanese Garden  | The Lobster Dance 16

Image: view of snow-covered Mt. Hood from Washington Park, Portland


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LINE has some new stickers from The Rose of Versailles (BeruBara)!
Translated from InternetCom.

Is the lovely Oscar-sama now spewing Internet slang?


(c)Ikeda Riyoko Production [Image: Rose of Versaille LINE stickers with the characters using Kansai Internet slang in Japanese.]

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Back in March I went to Vancouver with my datemate right when the cherry blossoms were at full bloom.

Stanley Park 2016 | I'll Make It Myself! 1

Mountains with cherry blossoms over Beaver Lake

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LeftHandOfDarkness-ebookWhat’s the Non-Binary Book Club?

Our Feb/Mar 2016 book was Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1969 The Left Hand of Darkness, winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

The review contains spoilers.

The novel follows the story of Genly Ai, a native of Earth (referred to as “Terra” in the novel), who is sent to the planet of Gethen as an envoy of the Ekumen, a loose confederation of planets. Ai’s mission is to persuade the nations of Gethen to join the Ekumen, but he is stymied by his lack of understanding of Gethenian culture. Individuals on Gethen are “ambisexual”, with no fixed gender identity, a fact which has a strong influence on the culture of the planet, and creates a large barrier for Ai, a male raised on Earth. –Wikipedia (that’s how hard it is to find a short description!)
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In this edition: Abe mansplains imperial inheritance law TO THE FREAKIN UNITED NATIONS, translating Ancillary Justice into Japanese, the importance of queer friendship, bi+ health month, and more!


Access all areas: “People think I’m focused on LGBT issues, but I’m just treating them as people who want to get married,” says Takafumi Kawakami, the deputy abbot at Shunko-in. “I just want to celebrate them.” | J.J. O’DONOGHUE via Japan Times

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Only Yesterday

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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