Rainbow Releases: Summer 2019

Rainbow Releases: Summer 2019

In 2018, we introduced an anime convention panel called Rainbow Releases to highlight LGBTQ-related anime and manga coming to the United States in English. We plan to continue hosting this panel so long as there are LGBTQ titles to discuss and conventions will have us, and thankfully 2019 has plenty. Thank you to everyone who attended at Chibi Chibi Con 2019, Sakura-Con 2019, and Kumoricon 2019!

Last year we transcribed our midyear panel as a single blog post, which left out unprecedented works later in the year such as Zombieland Saga. This year we plan to keep a simple list of all releases on a Rainbow Releases: LGBTQ Anime and Manga of 2019 blog page, with in-depth blog posts looking back on each season as we move through the year.

Without further delay, here is our recap of LGBTQ-themed anime and manga from the summer season of 2019! Better late than never?

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12 Days of Anime: Ash Lynx is Dead, Long Live Ash Lynx

12 Days of Anime: Ash Lynx is Dead, Long Live Ash Lynx

On this day last year, the awaited final episode to Studio MAPPA’s anime adaptation of Banana Fish aired. Some viewers had dreaded it ever since the the anime was announced, some learned along the way and joined them, and some watched it unfold without spoilers. They dreaded it not because they’d be left with no more episodes to watch, but because of the nature of the ending.

The rest of this post contains spoilers for Banana Fish and brief discussion of child sex abuse.

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12 Days of Anime: The Year in Vintage Shoujo Manga

12 Days of Anime: The Year in Vintage Shoujo Manga

In the United States, classic shoujo manga (comics aimed at young girls) in English can be hard to (legally) come by. Books like Four Shojo Stories are long out of print, if titles are licensed at all. Even as more manga from the 1970s are brought to the United States, such as through the “Classics” line from Seven Seas Entertainment, almost all are originally shounen manga (comics aimed at young boys). Claudine…!, a historical fiction manga about a European closeted transgender man, by Riyoko Ikeda from Seven Seas is a recent shoujo exception. Compared to the past, 2019 has been a relatively big year for vintage shoujo manga in the Anglosphere, with some available in print as well as attention brought to other titles through discussion. Here are some highlights of the year.

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12 Days of Anime: Char’s Counterattack, or How to Resolve a Nine Year Love Triangle the Gay Way

12 Days of Anime: Char’s Counterattack, or How to Resolve a Nine Year Love Triangle the Gay Way

This post contains spoilers for Mobile Suit Gundam, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Char’s Counterattack, and Fruits Basket.

In honor of Mobile Suit Gundam‘s 40th anniversary, the 1988 feature film Char’s Counterattack from the Universal Century timeline had a limited theatrical run in the United States. Char’s Counterattack is many things: a spectacle of animation, the end of an era, a divisive film. It brought a close to the story of Amuro Ray that began with 1979’s classic Mobile Suit Gundam, at least until more continuations came along. Amuro survives the One Year War piloting the first Gundam, albeit traumatized by war. His inadvertent murder of Lalah Sune, an enemy soldier he nonetheless emotionally connected to, haunts him in particular. He lives on to fight in the Gyrps Conflict featured in the 1985 sequel Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. Alongside him is Char Aznable, the commander and mentor of Lalah, whether as an enemy in year 0079 or ally in 0087.

Lalah loves both Char and Amuro, devoting herself to the former and regretting she met the latter “too late” to truly connect to him. At first, this “love triangle” seems resolved through Lalah’s demise. She cannot choose between them if she’s dead. However, she lingers in their minds, in memory as well as a literal ghost. The loss of Lalah fans the flames of Amuro and Char’s rivalry, which continues to evolve.

The rest of this post contains discussion of sexual content and child grooming.

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12 Days of Anime: Reconstructed Body, Reconnecting Partners

12 Days of Anime: Reconstructed Body, Reconnecting Partners

Reo Niiboshi and Mabu Akutsu, a pair of fictional police officers, first appeared in the manga Reo and Mabu: Together They’re Sarazanmai by Misaki Saitou. While they spent their days raising a lost child named Sara in Reo and Mabu, they appeared as antagonists transforming humans into zombies of desire in the following Sarazanmai anime television series. The second episode of Sarazanmai reveals their process of creating zombies (offering humans to the Otter Empire while dancing) as well as the fact Mabu has a mechanical heart that runs on desire energy.

Mabu’s robotics are ambiguous, resembling both cyborgs and androids. His heart is definitely mechanical, which alone would make him a cyborg, but the rest of his body is unclear. His chest can turn transparent and Reo can extract his heart from it with no bloodshed. He may have more mechanical organs, based on the Chief Otticer tinkering with his insides during “maintenance” surgeries. Mabu is also referred to as a “doll” by the Chief Otticer and Reo as if he were entirely artificial. Robotics are not the focus of Sarazanmai, but it has a place in robot fiction with how Mabu being a “doll” affects his relationship with Reo.

The rest of this post contains spoilers for Sarazanmai and discussion of ableism.

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12 Days of Anime: The Ones Who Walk Away From Daigo

12 Days of Anime: The Ones Who Walk Away From Daigo

In 2019, director Kazuhiro Furuhashi and series composition writer Yasuko Kobayashi adapted Osamu Tezuka’s classic manga Dororo to television. They not only lengthened the story, but brought it to completion more than the rushed ending of the original manga. It still follows Hyakkimaru, a young man seeking to reclaim his stolen body parts from demons, and Dororo, a rambunctious thief who looks up to him. Rather than potential for disability in the premise, Dororo (2019) focuses on issues of autonomy and justice by framing Hyakkimaru’s quest as morally driven. He retaliates against a corrupt leader willing to steal the livelihood of another and aims to take back what is rightfully his, which distracts from the potential ableism of aiming to be “cured.” Still, incorporating the rights of disabled people into its themes of autonomy and anatomy is a missed opportunity.

Instead, Dororo (2019) looks at how Hyakkimaru’s body parts were supposedly sacrificed for the greater good. The central ethical issue is the same as in “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” a science fiction short story by Ursula K. LeGuin first published in 1973. InOmelas,” LeGuin posits a utopian society that operates on the torture of a single child, which metaphysically allows the land to prosper. Omelas was inspired by William James’ argument in “The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life” that humans possess innate morality because they feel repulsion at such hypothetical society. LeGuin writes that while the citizens of Omelas are sickened by the treatment of the child, most accept the bargain and go on with their lives.

The rest of this post contains spoilers for Dororo.

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12 Days of Anime: To BL or Not to BL

12 Days of Anime: To BL or Not to BL

This year, I started working at a bookstore. My knowledge of manga comes in handy for our manga section, particularly boys love and yuri as I’m the only employee familiar with the genres. I follow BL and yuri in English closely to present Rainbow Releases at conventions, as well as for my own enjoyment. I don’t consider myself an expert in the genres–or any field–because I am always learning, but I sure feel like one compared to how little the average person at my job knows of BL and yuri. They definitely haven’t witnessed the “what is BL and what isn’t” arguments that seem to happen on my sphere of Twitter every month. As a result, the designated BL and yuri shelves are largely my responsibility.

The books we order are not obviously labeled BL or yuri, with the exception of SuBLime’s logo on the spine and Tokyopop’s “boys love” and “girls love” genre boxes. At most, a book’s blurb may describe it as BL of yuri. It’s up to us, the bookstore, to decide where to shelve them.

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The Voxy Bunch and the Legacy of Animated Queer-Coded Villains

The Voxy Bunch and the Legacy of Animated Queer-Coded Villains

Over the last few years, the amount of confirmed LGBTQ characters in animated television aimed at children in the United States has significantly increased. Media for children has additional hoops to leap through when including LGBTQ characters, such as fear of “corrupting” children into queerness or exposing them to “sexual content” of same-gender relationships. We’re currently at a turning point between reliance on subtext for depiction of LGBTQ people (such as under the Hays Code) and more openness about LGBTQ topics, and all the complications that come with it.

OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes on Cartoon Network juggles straightforward representation with the more nebulous. As brief as it is, Enid is deliberately drawn riding vehicles with a bisexual pride sticker, the same one Rebecca Sugar used to come out in real life. Lord Boxman and Professor Venomous, the main antagonists of the series, come across as queer in another less direct way. Boxman seeks business partnerships with other supervillains of any gender, given the same weight and imagery as if they were romantic relationships. He eventually joins forces with Professor Venomous, who previously dated a woman. Together, Boxman and Venomous are ostensibly a same-gender couple under the bisexual umbrella. Showrunner Ian Jones-Quartey later confirmed via Twitter that Boxman is pansexual and Venomous is bisexual.

On paper, two major antagonists being queer(-coded) sounds unfortunately like yet another offensive stereotype in cartoons. However, the big picture is much more complex. OK K.O. has queer characters on both the hero and villain sides of Lakewood, and even that hero and villain divide becomes blurred.

The rest of this post contains major spoilers for OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes.

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Rainbow Releases: Spring 2019

Rainbow Releases: Spring 2019

In 2018, we introduced an anime convention panel called Rainbow Releases to highlight LGBTQ-related anime and manga coming to the United States in English. We plan to continue hosting this panel so long as there are LGBTQ titles to discuss and conventions will have us, and thankfully 2019 has plenty. Thank you to everyone who attended at Chibi Chibi Con 2019 and Sakura-Con 2019!

Last year we transcribed our midyear panel as a single blog post, which left out unprecedented works later in the year such as Zombieland Saga. This year we plan to keep a simple list of all releases on a Rainbow Releases: LGBTQ Anime and Manga of 2019 blog page, with in-depth blog posts looking back on each season as we move through the year.

Without further delay, here is our recap of LGBTQ-themed anime and manga from the spring season of 2019!

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I Wanna Talk About Shazam!

I Wanna Talk About Shazam!

It didn’t click until about ten or so minutes into the movie that I was gonna have Feelings about Shazam! In retrospect, it’s kind of obvious. A found family story about an adopted (foster) kid (who has other adoptee siblings!) who’s still laser-focused on finding his birth mom from his early childhood? All wrapped up in an energetic, fun superhero movie? Maybe it’s not particularly groundbreaking, but sometimes it’s just nice to have the adoptee-equivalent of comfort food.

Note: I use “Shazam” to refer to Billy’s superpowers and everything incorporated within that. Billy is referred to as Billy and the wizard is referred to as the wizard.

Spoiler warning for all of Shazam!

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