The Red String: 3. Erwin x Levi

Shingeki.no.Kyojin.full.1879854Humans are enclosed within a cage to be out of the reach of their frightening predators. Once upon a time there was a man who, as a kid, got a glimpse of what is beyond the Walls and perhaps even why. He was determined to dedicate himself in liberating humanity and discovering if that faint glimpse was true. Once upon a time there was also an impoverished child who got orphaned, had to face the ugliness of the human heart every day and fight with nails and teeth to survive. Survey Corps is the place where their paths cross and get to shape humanity’s future!  Continue reading

Same-sex desire and unions in A Bride’s Story

Shirin & Anis

Otoyomegatari is an ongoing manga series by Kaoru Mori, the same artist who brought us Emma. It is published in English by Yen Press in a beautiful hardcover edition, translated as A Bride’s Story, and chronicles the life of Amira with her younger groom and her relationship with her tribe as well as the cultural observations of Dr. Smith, an English doctor, in the Central Turkic area in the late 19th century. Mori’s love for details is evident both in her luscious artwork and her well-researched historical tidbits thus winning in 2014 the 7th Annual Manga Taishō Award.

In the 7th volume (chapters 36-44), which is going to be published in English towards the end of 2015, we meet Anis, a beautiful slender woman, hidden away in a huge mansion by her rich beloved husband according to the customs of the region -probably Iran, judging from the clothes. To make her mistress feel less lonely, her servant suggests going to the bathhouse to befriend other women and this opens a whole new world for her. Shirin, a poor voluptuous woman, catches her eye and they connect quickly. What makes this arc special is that the focus is on a second type of marriage, equally established and esteemed; that between “sisters”: siqqah-yi khwahar khwandagi. Did you really think same-sex marriage was a 21st century invention? Let us take a look at same-sex desire, the customs and the sexual politics of Middle East depicted in A Bride’s Story. Continue reading

The importance of Hourou Musuko

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Is your heart always faithful there? […]
If you knew the true me,
would you still smile like that?
[…] You can stay the way you are.
~from the OP, ‘Itsudatte’

Hourou Musuko, or Wandering Son as it’s known in the English-speaking world, is the only anime title so far that doesn’t fetishize transgender individuals and it’s almost entirely about their stories. Yoshino and Nitori aren’t ‘traps’ for the audience’s viewing pleasure, but individuals who face a deep and personal struggle with themselves and the others around them. They are the protagonists; not the queer sidekick.

It is based on the homonym manga, which is published in a very neat, hardback edition by Fantagraphics. But since anime have a wider audience, the fact that this title got an adaptation is of significance for trans people and their visibility.  Continue reading

Fear of flesh and blood: Revisiting Silent Hill

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Introduction

As a little boy I remember being deeply in love with video games, dedicating a great amount of time to them, day and night. From the various games I tried, there are only a few cases I remember as clearly as the first time I played Silent Hill, a 1999 classic developed by Team Silent (TS) and Konami. Just by seeing the blurry cover with Alessa’s pale face I knew this would be the perfect introduction to a horrifying journey. What I did not know was that it would also be a long-lasting passion, one I hold dear to this day. Continue reading

A hot pot for Uchouten Kazoku

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I will admit that Uchouten Kazoku is enticing visually; I have had an issue with PA Works’ previous endeavors which not only shared almost copied aesthetics, but also felt plastic to a point. Uchouten was a fresh breeze with stunning landscapes and, as illegenes pinpoints, the directing subtly matches seasons with situations and feelings.

I will also admit that it’s very rare to see a series dealing with family as its main theme. Family usually makes a brief appearance in certain settings in order to set obstacles and very rarely to be a positive supportive power. When it’s a central theme, things are most often than not idealized and sugarcoated.Uchouten avoids siding completely with these two extremes. Ajthefourth, for example, analyzes Yaichirou’s character development in relation to his brothers and parents and I can’t disagree with her about how suberb he was handled in the show.

But I still have many issues with the characters and the ideas the series tossed at us. PA Works has a remarkable record of annoying me one way or the other with what it produces the last few years -and I perhaps foolishly continue hoping they’ll change their bad habits. Since the series managed to make me feel frustrated enough, please bear with me being once in a while negative, especially since it was hailed so much. Continue reading