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.
Continue reading “12 Days of Anime: Ash Lynx is Dead, Long Live Ash Lynx”
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.
Continue reading “12 Days of Anime: Char’s Counterattack, or How to Resolve a Nine Year Love Triangle the Gay Way”
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.
Continue reading “12 Days of Anime: Reconstructed Body, Reconnecting Partners”
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. In “Omelas,” 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.
Continue reading “12 Days of Anime: The Ones Who Walk Away From Daigo”
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.
Continue reading “12 Days of Anime: To BL or Not to BL”
Before the manga Banana Fish by Akimi Yoshida, there was her short story “Fly Boy in the Sky.” It marked the first appearance of Banana Fish characters, published a year before Banana Fish entered serialization. In the one shot, 25 year old Ibe comes across a televised high school pole vault competition and decides to track down and photograph teenage Eiji. Ibe’s photography captures Eiji in a moment of grace he doesn’t know he’s capable of. “Garden of Light,” the final Banana Fish short story by Yoshida, shows how Eiji captured Ash with his own camera in turn.
This post contains spoilers for Banana Fish and discussion of child pornography.
Continue reading “12 Days of Anime: The Power of a Photograph”
As part of my research for Asexuality in Manga and More, a lecture panel on asexuality in Japanese media, I looked into asexual and aromantic spectrum interpretations of anime and manga characters. Such interpretations are usually referred to as headcanon, “a fan’s personal, idiosyncratic interpretation of canon.” Occasionally I would find overlap in popular asexual headcanons and gay headcanons for the same character, such as Makoto Sunakawa in My Love Story. Sometimes this overlap means a character simultaneously interpreted as asexual and gay, or a character widely interpreted as aroace (both aromantic and asexual) or as gay. I wasn’t a stranger to these fandom activities before my research, as I have my own aro/ace/gay headcanons and enjoy reading those of others.
However, the conversations around asexual and aromantic spectrum headcanons, especially asexual ones, has changed in recent years. More and more, reading a gay or widely considered gay character as asexual (aroace or not) has been looked down on. The yuri manga Bloom Into You by Nio Nakatani has long been discussed in terms of asexual and aromantic identity, and the anime adaptation this year has brought new attention to it. While others may argue over the “correct” interpretation, I find differences in headcanons say more about what experiences have in common than which one is right.
Continue reading “12 Days of Anime: Different Interpretations as Solidarity, not Opposition”
Digimon has approached grief throughout its life as a franchise, despite how the eponymous digital monsters are inorganic and may be revived when they die. Digimon Adventure Tri, the second sequel series to the original Digimon Adventure, tried its hand at grief over lost memories.
In Confession, the only chance to save the world from destruction is to perform a “reboot” of the Digital World. It will leave the digimon uninfected by darkness, but without memories from before the reboot. In a series where digimon exist to unconditionally love and support their partners for a lifetime, the loss is immeasurable.
This post contains spoilers for Digimon Adventure, Digimon Adventure 02, Digimon Adventure Tri and A, A’ by Moto Hagio.
Continue reading “12 Days of Anime: Amnesia and Grief in Science Fiction Done Right and Wrong”
As of today, the anime adaptation of Banana Fish has come to an end. For those looking for a movie to watch or a manga to read to fill the void, look no further.
This post contains spoilers for Banana Fish and discussion of rape, abuse, incest, and suicide.
Continue reading “12 Days of Anime: Movie and Manga Recommendations for the Grieving Banana Fish Fan”
Digimon Adventure Tri, a sequel to the original Digimon Adventure television series, came to an end this year with its final installment Future. Tri‘s development began when Toei teased it with a digiegg that would “hatch” once their webpage received enough hits in 2014. A return to the original digidestined (chosen children) held promise, but one issue was present from the very beginning and only grew more glaring as the series went on. The main characters introduced in Adventure 02, the first continuation to Adventure, were written out of Tri. In the first minutes of Reunion Daisuke, Miyako, Iori, and Ken unceremoniously die at the hands of a mysterious digimon and leave a gaping hole in Tri‘s continuity.
Of course, this post contains spoilers for Digimon Adventure, Digimon Adventure 02, and Digimon Adventure Tri.
Continue reading “12 Days of Anime: Justice for the Digimon Adventure 02 Kids”