Author: Malia

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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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 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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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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Politics with Pizza Retrospective: Lelouch and Suzaku

Politics with Pizza Retrospective: Lelouch and Suzaku

In many ways, 2017 is the year of Code Geass. The first season of the anime television series takes place in 2017 of the fictional Britannian imperial calendar, the real world Gregorian 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of the show, and a compilation film trilogy and the mysterious sequel Lelouch of the Resurrection were announced for 2017. It remains to be seen if the sequel will surface by the end of the year, but for now the series is back in print on DVD and blu-ray as well as streaming via Funimation or Crunchyroll.

To celebrate, Karleen and Malia are looking back on Code Geass together with a series of retrospective discussions. The anime follows Lelouch Lamperouge, a banished prince rebelling against his father’s empire as the masked terrorist “Zero.” Lelouch seeks revenge for negligence in causing his mother’s death as well as his sister’s paralysis and blindness. Granted the magical power of geass by a mystical stranger, Lelouch can make anyone follow his commands. In his way stands Suzaku Kururugi, his long-lost childhood friend who allies with the empire as a mech pilot despite being native to its Japanese colony. There’s also Arthurian allusions, high school hijinks, and of course Pizza Hut product placement. Let’s begin with the heart of the story: Lelouch and Suzaku. Expect major spoilers for the entire series!

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LGBTQ Manga Book Club: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness

LGBTQ Manga Book Club: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness

Happy Pride Month! Here is the second installation of the online monthly LGBTQ Manga Book Club: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Kabi Nagata! The manga is available in English from Seven Seas Entertainment in paperback or digital as of June 6th. Nagata illustrates how her mental illness, employment struggles, and desperation for affection led to hiring a lesbian escort in this autobiographical manga. Be warned it contains depictions of self-harm, disordered eating, and sexual content.

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Don’t See Ghost in the Shell: An Informal Listicle of Alternative Recommendations

Don’t See Ghost in the Shell: An Informal Listicle of Alternative Recommendations

I am truly kind of a joke sometimes.

I was so sure I was not going to see Ghost in the Shell. Of course I wouldn’t, it’s offensive, misguided, and probably not even that good.

Spoiler warning for the big plot twist of Ghost in the Shell.

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The Problem with the Problem Child: Personal Thoughts on Lion

The Problem with the Problem Child: Personal Thoughts on Lion

Let me state upfront: I am adopted. I was born in China, when the one child policy was still in effect, and then placed in an orphanage when I was still an infant. Months later I was adopted and taken to America. This the context and reason for me writing this piece.

Spoiler Warning: I talk about some specific scenes, characters arcs, and allude to the ending.

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Malia’s Summer Reading 2016

Malia’s Summer Reading 2016

Upon graduating college, I read more books for fun for the summer than I had in years. No reading guide helped me, it was a mix of ones I had been interested in for a while and ones that I had picked up randomly. I can’t say I was too adventurous but it was so good just to read again for myself. Though usually I stick with YA for pleasure reading, I’m proud to say I expanded out a bit.

So I decided to cobble up a list of what I had read from June to August, all checked out from the library. There’s of course other things I read over the summer, but mainly incomplete online serials. I waffled between including the little bit of manga I read or not but they were legitimate stories as anything else.

I was planning to having star or fraction ratings but then that would put me in a weird position. How I feel about a piece of media is a messy combination of complicated things: How I felt engaging with it in the moment, how much of an impact it left on me, how genuinely well-crafted I think it is, etc. So I just decided to summarize some feelings and thoughts without explicit spoilers and say if I recommend it or not (to a general audience). This is mostly in the order I read everything.

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