The Boy Who Went to the Castle: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine and Silenced Queer Narrative

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[Editorial Note: The topic of this essay is nigh impossible to discuss without spoilers, given how the show’s narrative is constructed. While I’m usually all for theoretical reading, I’d highly, HIGHLY recommend watching the series before reading on. As you might have noticed, I think it’s kind of great.]

Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine has made its rounds by this point, gaining a respectable and deserved amount of buzz as one of the best anime to come out of 2012 (and if no one else is saying it I am, loudly and determinedly). There’s plenty of praise to go around for the jazzy score (produced by Cowboy Bebop’s Shinichiro Watanabe), the dark and intriguing plot, and the breathtaking action. Granted, it’s a little more on the divisive side among longstanding Lupin fans, but that more often comes down to a debate on whether the tonal departures from the franchise norm are intriguing or irritating.

Still, in my travels across the internet there’s one constant that continually baffles me: nobody seems to like Oscar. Either he’s labeled unnecessary and irritating, resented for the amount of screen time he received, or (in a moment that was at least a nice change of pace, and not out of step with the franchise’s somewhat dubious record on that front) lambasted as being a particularly offensive portrayal of a queer character. I, meanwhile, find myself sitting in the corner with one persistently recurring thesis: Oscar’s the most important thing about The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, after Fujiko herself.

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The Consulting Analyst – The Rose Bride

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The intro is here.

‘Hello, yes, welcome to Utena! Here is a lot of metaphorical flashbacks and a brief glimpse at our entire core cast, as well as intimations of their personal hang-ups! Also there’s a lot of ominous and seemingly arbitrary background detail! Do you feel overwhelmed yet? Because this is as straightforward as we get!’

God, I love this show.

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MAKE THIS HAPPEN: A Chorus Line

Once upon a time, in that glittering industry supposedly safe from the pitches and valleys of the real world, circumstances took a turn for the depressing. A general hopelessness pervaded the atmosphere, nobody had two cents to rub together, and folks scrambled for whatever they could get in terms of employment. It was terrible. But at least the 70s didn’t have Transformers 4. I will go ahead and take my extremely deserved blows for that cheap joke momentarily, but first let us dip once more into my burning and pervasive (and possibly contagious, I really need to have it looked at) love of musicals.

The year is 1975, half a decade before the world of American musical theater would become best known for the rise of the mega musical – a genre defined by the elaborate set pieces, lights, and costumes (Les Miserables and pretty much everything Andrew Lloyd Webber has ever been responsible for, and Cats in particular); and big, bombastic, often pop-sensibility-shaded scores. The show is a raw little thing carved from the lives of the period’s struggling actors and dancers: A Chorus Line. It also had a pop-music infused soundtrack, but at least we have the option of awarding it the ‘appropriately time-piece flavored’ award. Continue reading

The Consulting Analyst – An Introduction to Revolutionary Girl Utena

prologue

Or a version of me. Possibly the metaphor I represent
…Not me at all, actually

Once upon a time, years and years ago, there was a little princess. And she was very sad, for her mother and father had died. Before the princess appeared a traveling prince, riding upon a white horse. He had a regal bearing and a kind smile. The prince wrapped the princess in a rose-scented embrace and gently wiped the tears from her eyes.
‘Little one,’ he said, ‘who bears up alone in such deep sorrow. Never lose that strength or nobility, even when you grow up. I give you this to remember this day. We will meet again. This ring will lead you to me one day.’ Perhaps the ring the prince gave her was an engagement ring.

This was all well and good, but so impressed was she by him that the princess vowed to become a prince herself one day. But was that really such a good idea?

So begins the fairytale that lies at the heart of Revolutionary Girl Utena, though that is neither all of it nor the entire truth. Out of what we might term the Classic 90s Anime (shows that were outstanding artistic accomplishments as well as being extremely influential), Utena is far, far more likely to get overlooked than its contemporaries – Sailor Moon, Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, and so on.

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Five Forgotten Gems of (Fairly) Famous People

I’ve always been slightly perplexed by the mentality of hipsterism (hipsterness? Hipsterality?). Having had an investment in works of fiction with larger and smaller followings both, let me tell you that the charm of being one of only six people to have heard of something gets old fast: you run out of potential discussions faster with the smaller conversation pool, there’s a dearth of fanworks available, and forget about seeing anything live (if applicable) outside of where The Thing is.

And, of course, there is the constant terror that your impassioned love won’t be enough, and that The Thing will cease to be on account of that whole ‘bills wait for no one’ thing (in truth I find medium-sized popularity tends to be the sweet spot – big enough for attention but small enough to skate over most infighting).

But! On the other hand there’s nothing as fun as getting to introduce people to things, sitting nearby and feeding vicariously on their newfound enjoyment of a thing you already know is awesome. That’s the heart of positive fandom. And I definitely have a few things I think more people should be aware of – from people they might already know, no less!

A note: in the case of Really Famous People with large bodies of work, I’ve tried to keep the tip-off to their most recent and/or most recent credit, just for the sake of streamlining.

Additionally, while Reefer Madness (Kirsten Bell, Frozen) and Cannibal The Musical (Matt Stone and Trey Parker, South Park and The Book of Mormon) would be excellent candidates for this list, they’ve already gotten a post. Continue reading

I Missed This Show, and You’re Not Helping – a Sailor Moon Essay

Today I watched the JJ Abrams Star Trek of anime. Alright, that’s unfairly cruel. I watched a money-minded reboot of an integral part of my youth, which was well cast, and extremely pretty, and missed the ball spectacularly most times it tried to change something.

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So I watched the JJ Abrams Star Trek of anime today. Now, on the one hand this rerelease means that those of in the States are actually getting legal Sailor Moon again. Toei’s been clinging tighter to those expired rights than Seth McFarlane to cut-away gags, and it’s nice to know that a younger generation will have the option of binging on the classics once they’ve dissolved the sparkly cotton candy this season is offering.

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If I know my anime, that expression means you’ve been fatally stabbed somewhere

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