The Last Jedi’s Balance of Nostalgia and Progress

The Last Jedi’s Balance of Nostalgia and Progress

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is a divisive film, to say the least. Many consider it “childhood-ruining,” while positive reception commemorates a rejection of nostalgia and subversion of fan expectations. However, the film is not the anti-nostalgia manifesto many believe it to be. It celebrates the beloved strengths of the series while reconciling its faults and looking to the future because, just as Rey learns, everything is a balance of extremes.

Past and future collide not only through the events of the film and its characters, but the sequel trilogy’s metanarrative on Star Wars fandom as well. The Last Jedi continues how in Episode VII: The Force Awakens the new characters connect with established characters, objects, and concepts like fans of the franchise would. It all comes to the forefront with the story between Rey, Luke Skywalker, and Kylo Ren on navigating the past, present, and future.

Of course, this post contains spoilers for The Last Jedi.

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When the Social Issues of Lakewood Plaza Turbo Hit Close to Home

When the Social Issues of Lakewood Plaza Turbo Hit Close to Home

Cartoon Network’s OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes joined the national conversation on gun violence when five new episodes were digitally released weeks after the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida. One of them, “Let’s Not Be Skeletons,” features allegorical argument for gun control. The timing was coincidental, as animated television develops over months to years. The episode was actually pitched back in July of 2016, (coincidentally or otherwise) not long after the mass shooting at Pulse in Orlando, Florida.

While OK K.O. usually follows the goofy adventure of K.O. on his dream of becoming a hero at his local plaza populated with superpowered humans and non-humans alike, it’s no stranger to social issues. The main conflict rests between a heroic bodega and a villainous corporation, after all. Sometimes it even address issues directly; including climate change in the Captain Planet-based episode “The Power is Yours,” journalism in “Action News” (unfortunately overshadowed by “Let’s Not be Skeletons” when they were released simultaneously), and misogyny in “Second First Date.” However, this post focuses on how OK K.O. explores real world racism, addiction, and of course gun control through its fictional setting in some of its best episodes.

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Colorism, Fandom, and Cultural Context

Colorism, Fandom, and Cultural Context

As more anime fans push to be more self-aware, progressive, and inclusive in their activities, different trends in fanworks are happening. One trend is fanartists deliberately illustrating anime characters with darker skin than what’s portrayed on-screen. (I’m linking to no examples because I don’t want to inadvertently attract toxic attention to artists.) The rationale behind such fanart is to compensate for the lack of representation of dark skin in the majority of popular media, including anime. Part of this emerges from Western fans also noticing similarities within their own culture of Western media, where white people are still overwhelmingly represented, even as tides are changing.

There is backlash as some argue it’s inappropriate to try to “correct” media from a much different cultural context. Beyond racist trolling, there’s genuine worry that people are clumsily approaching Japanese media the same way as media made by white Westerners, replicating racial dynamics that may not be applicable to Japanese media. The racial and ethnic demographics in Japan are vastly different from other Western countries. There’s definitely something here to look into and talk about.

So let’s talk about it then.

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Rainbow Releases: LGBTQ Anime and Manga of 2018

Rainbow Releases: LGBTQ Anime and Manga of 2018

Last year we held a panel at Sakura-con called Beyond Yuri on Ice: LGBTQ Anime and Manga, which was about introducing people to the history of LGBTQ content in anime and more modern series with LGBTQ themes. It’s a lengthy panel and we’ve held it twice now, so we decided to retire it and create a new panel looking to the future for Sakura-con 2018 called Rainbow Releases: LGBTQ Anime and Manga of 2018.

We’re here to tell you all about anime and manga coming out in the US officially to look forward to, because it’s a good year to be an LGBTQ fan. It truly is 20gayteen. Our title in the programming was formally LGBTQ Anime and Manga of 2018, but it’s really more like LGBTQ and Adjacent. There may be an advent of realistic or otherwise specifically LGBTQ work right now, but that would still leave us with only so many to talk about. Please understand that we’ll be including some titles that aren’t as straightforward as My Brother’s Husband, but we think will interest you and bring something new to the table. Sometimes you just have to take what you can get to feel represented or just to feel good, you know?

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Malia’s Top 11 Movies of 2017

Malia’s Top 11 Movies of 2017

I saw a lot of films last year. It’s a family tradition to go out and see a movie about once a week. I’ve always treasured it but especially now. It’s been one of my consistent comforts for a year like 2017.

Most critics get their best films of the year list out before the end of the year, but given that I’m not a professional critic, my access and time is a bit more limited, especially when it comes to those that just sneak in at the last minute before hitting wide release in January. Plus, I figured getting out my list a couple weeks before the Oscars would be close enough.

What I’ve realized over the past several years is that media itself isn’t as important, so much as our reactions to it. I don’t just mean big topics like oppression and hegemony, but the easy, personal things. Who did you empathize with? Who pushed you away? What tugged at your heartstrings? What annoyed you? What lingered with you after you left the theater, if anything did at all? Do you still feel like the same person before you experienced it?

The films I list here changed me in some way. Sometimes they gave me new knowledge and sometimes they reminded me of what to hold onto. Each one gave me increased perspective and energy that I hope to bring to 2018.

The ranking here is approximate. I tried to put some films in some kind of order and I have my top favorite saved for last, but really, every film listed here is one that I treasure.

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The Faustian Love Story of Devilman

The Faustian Love Story of Devilman

In my Intro to Devilman, a Demonic Manga Masterwork I said Go Nagai wrote one of the best love stories of all time, and in honor of Valentine’s Day I’d like to explain why. In every iteration of the Devilman franchise, teenage Akira Fudo becomes possessed by a demon. Akira’s heart overcomes the demon and he retains consciousness only in versions where his friend Ryo Asuka exists to guide him, otherwise the demon takes control. By transforming his body to gain strength and save the world from demonic invasion, he’s made “a deal with the Devil” that sacrifices his humanity. Devilman stands apart from the Christian legend of Faust in how it imagines a deal with the Devil as a tragic, horrifying, and enduring romance.

Of course, this post contains spoilers for the original Devilman manga, Devilman Lady, and Devilman Crybaby.

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The Small Things Matter, or Sometimes Adoption Jokes are Funny

The Small Things Matter, or Sometimes Adoption Jokes are Funny

Listen, I promise I can write about other things that aren’t related to adoption. It’s just that I saw Thor: Ragnarok last week and I love Loki (predictable, I know), so of course I’ve been having a lot of feelings lately.

In particular, I was reminded of something about a few nights ago.

Spoiler warning for both The Avengers and Thor: Ragnarok.

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Discontinuing the LGBTQ Manga Book Club

Discontinuing the LGBTQ Manga Book Club

As you may have noticed, there wasn’t an LGBTQ Manga Book Club post in October. There was one in the works for Tokyo Babylon, but things got busy. Juggling my job, other projects, etc. has been a problem before, but last month it just didn’t work out. I had already been considering closing the book club due to lack of participation, and I’m taking this as a sign I’m not up to the task of running it regularly and fostering activity. There has been interest since I proposed my book club idea back in spring, but not enough engagement to warrant monthly updates. I can’t blame people for not participating since I left a lot of discussions unanswered myself, but more that things just didn’t come together.

The WordPress posts and Goodreads group will remain, and people are free to answer the old discussion questions if they like. I believe in “doing what you love” and the LGBTQ Manga Book Club was important to me (and Malia), but it couldn’t live on only our love when a book club by design requires cooperation. Maybe it will return someday but for now I’d rather focus on different ventures, including the articles Coherent Cats was created for. Thank you for any and all the interest in the book club the past months.

LGBTQ Manga Book Club: Sweet Blue Flowers Volume One

LGBTQ Manga Book Club: Sweet Blue Flowers Volume One

For this month, the LGBTQ Manga Book Club will spend some time with a late September release, Sweet Blue Flowers by Takako Shimura. Published by VIZ, it’s now available in paperback or digital format, as of September 19th. It’s an omnibus, like My Brother’s Husband, combining the first and second volumes of the Japanese edition. The story follows Fumi and Akira, both childhood friends who lost contact after one of them moved away. Ten years later, they reunite as they enter high school. They attend different schools but their friendship reignites as they both navigate the new changes in their lives and grow up. Warning: this volume contains incestuous child abuse and sexual harassment of teenagers.

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