This post has been long overdue, as the convention panel it’s based on was first held at Kumoricon in October of 2018. The Asexuality in Manga and More panel is a collaboration between myself and Modulus, my aroace friend.
Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare, the latest manga by openly asexual mangaka Yuhki Kamatani, is finally available in English! This is only one of many increases in visibility of Japanese asexual people and representations of asexual identity in Japanese media. Let’s take a took at the emergence of asexual and nonsexual characters in anime and manga, as well explorations of sexuality and relationships adjacent to asexuality in other titles.
The rest of this post contains discussion of sexual assault, anti-asexual and aromantic prejudice, and potential spoilers for all series mentioned.
Continue reading “Asexuality in Manga and More”
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”
In Pride Month (June) of this year, Seven Seas announced their license of Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare by Yuhki Kamatani. I’ve followed Shimanami Tasogare, a manga by openly x-gender and asexual mangaka Kamatani about a gay teenager who joins a small community of LGBTQ people, since its first chapter and have looked at it many times on this blog, and its popularity in English-speaking spheres has only increased over time. I regularly look up discussion of it across the Internet to this day.
In the time more people have become aware of Yuhki Kamatani as a creator and Shimanami Tasogare, the English conversation around them has slightly changed. When people rightfully promote Shimanami Tasogare as a story with LGBTQ characters authored by someone LGBTQ, Kamatani’s nonbinary gender is often mentioned… but not their asexuality. When the identities of the cast are listed, the asexual character Anonymous (asexual and aromantic in English terminology) is omitted despite being central to the story. Not only does this leave potential readers uninformed about Kamatani as a person and the content of the manga, but it misses the point of Shimanami Tasogare.
Continue reading “12 Days of Anime: Indispensable Asexuality in Our Dreams at Dusk: Shimanami Tasogare”
In honor of the publication of the final volume in Japan and the English license from Seven Seas Entertainment, it’s finally time for an in-depth look at Yuhki Kamatani‘s Shimanami Tasogare. The manga follows Tasuku, a teenage boy coming to terms with being gay after a failed suicide attempt. In his hometown of Onomichi, he discovers an LGBTQ-friendly lounge through its aloof owner known only as “Dareka-san” (Anonymous). Over the course of a year, Tasuku comes to know the community of the lounge and their housing renovation organization Cat Clowder.
In Kamatani’s Onomichi, the characters’ surroundings often mirror their states of mind: freedom, confusion, joy, frustration, fear, redemption, and more. As the characters express more of themselves, and to acquaintances, they don’t necessarily come to a better understanding of themself or others. Still, their journeys and relationships to identity reveal many facets of LGBTQ life. Together, they build and maintain community in the face of oppression.
This post contains spoilers for all of Shimanami Tasogare. Do not read it if you wish to remain unspoiled for the English edition coming in May of 2019.
Continue reading “Shimanami Tasogare: the Construction of Identity, the Architecture of Community”
Last weekend was my seventh year attending Kumoricon, but my first year there as a panelist with Intro to the Works of Yuhki Kamatani. I plan to bring this panel to future conventions with modifications and possibly a different title, but for now here is a blog post version of my script. Keep in mind this lacks the slideshow, delivery, and discussion time of the full panel.
Yuhki Kamatani combines lovely artwork and progressive story in exploring adolescence, such as their best known manga Nabari no Ou. Their latest manga looks at LGBTQ identity, informed by their experience as nonbinary and asexual. Since this is an “introduction,” spoilers will be avoided. Some developments and reveals will be discussed, but nothing that would ruin your experience if you want to read them for yourself.
Continue reading “Intro to the Works of Yuhki Kamatani”