Requiem of the Rose King was initially pitched to me as “lulzy queer Shakespeare fanfic with an intersex protagonist.” There’s basically no faster way to get me to pick something up. While I did burn through the first seven volumes (of an unknown planned number; the end of seven implies the story is at about the halfway point) in record time, the journey was much less of an uncomplicated laugh riot than I’d been expecting. Parts of this series struck me to the core and remain with me even now, but they’re complicated by some dubious and arguably outright harmful writing choices that I can’t simply put aside.
(Content warning for discussion of transphobia and sexual assault)
I’ve been working hard to read as many translated manga with queer themes or characters as possible, so now seems like a good time to share what I’ve managed to find with all of you. There’s a little bit of everything here, from cute romcoms to murder lesbians to the origins of BL as a genre. Happy Pride, everyone!
I recently rediscovered the joys of interlibrary loan, giving me access to a new quantity of manga I wasn’t able to afford otherwise. So, once in a while I’ll be putting out these multi-title posts with short-form reviews of what I’ve been reading.
The year is 1976. Dashing and romantic art thief Dorian Red Gloria, codename Eroica, rescues the young supergenius psychic Caesar Gabriel (who is desperately in love with him, of course) from NATO. He’s pursued by the dogged agent Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach to the frozen edges of the earth, where the newfound rivals find themselves stranded and at a stalemate. Forced to bunker down together while waiting for rescue, Dorian realizes that he has far better chemistry with the prickly Major than his unspeakably bland love interest. And thus 40 years of unresolved sexual tension begins in earnest.
Hayao Miyazaki is leaving us. He’s packing up his imaginative worlds, his well written female characters, his moral grays, his love of environmental and anti-war messages, and going to a farm upstate where he can romp with other retired directors.
Luckily for us, his idea of working less is to move from feature film into television. A few weeks ago, it was announced that Miyazaki would be directing a Lupin the Third TV series, set to air some time in 2014. If your head is not exploding from excitement right now, you’re probably American and can lay blame on the French.
Arséne Lupin III (that’s are-sen loo-PAHN) you see, is a cultural icon in Japan. He’s their Batman – there’ve been Lupins of all varieties on the tonal spectrum, and from its inception its always existed in one medium or another. Lupin III was originally a manga by Monkey Punch that ran from 1967 to 1969. It chronicled the adventures of the titular character, the grandson of famed gentleman thief Arséne Lupin. Lupin’s gang includes doggedly loyal sharpshooter Daisuke Jigen, anachronistic samurai Goemon Ishikawa XIII (a supposed descendant of the Japan’s more-or-less Robin Hood), and lady thief/spy Fujiko Mine (her name translates “Twin Peaks,” ‘cause the 60s was all about class). Their main antagonist is more-obsessive-than-Javert Best Cop Ever Koichi Zenigata, progeny of classic literary Best Cop Ever Heiji Zenigata. I guess what I’m saying is Monkey Punch was writing fanfiction before it was really a thing. Oh, and a note going forward – Japanese works read from right to left, generally speaking.
Cling. Cling on, you precious charm factories