Yuri Network News (百合ネットワークニュース) – April 19, 2014

April 19th, 2014

YNN_MariKYuri Anime

YNN Correspondent Elizabeth F. has this excititng tidbit to share – the live Sailor Moon/NicoNico Douga event will be streamed live on NicoNico Douga on April 27. “Live” means about 3AM Eastern Coast US time, so I have no intention of being awake when this streams. I’ll read the news when it’s posted. ^_^  The remainder of staff – and cast – announcements will be made during the event. I’m pretty sure that the voice cast will be all new, it’ll be interesting to see who they choose. ^_^ (Note: I expect this will be in Japanese, unsubtitled.)

Unrelated, but fun, here’s a Sailor Moon/Avengers mashup that I quite liked. Bonus points for the great costume designs! (Also for the mythologically sound pairings.)

YNN Correspondent Griznak has written in to share that fans of Sakura Trick can get merchandise that explicitly labels them as Yuri fans.

A mere 2 weeks left for the 3rd and final Dear Brother DVD set. It’s time to put what you can down on the table! Every dollar helps, seriously. ^_^

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Yuri Manga

Griznak also wants to let us know that Polish manga publisher Studio JG announced that they’ll release Moringa Milk’s Yuri manga Girl Friends in Poland during the second half of 2014.

Comic Yuri Hime July 2014 volume (コミック百合姫) is up for pre-order and so are a passel o’ Yuri Manga: Nagakura Keiko’s Torotoro Himeawase (とろとろ・姫あわせ), Imura Ei’s Innocent Noise (イノセントノイズ),  Momono Moto’s True True (トゥルー・トゥルー), the second volume of Tanaka Minoru’s quirky rock band love story, Rock It, Girl! (ロケット☆ガール) and a new collection by Takemiya Jin, game.

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Other News

As far as I’m concerned, this is the top news of the week – Uehashi Nahoko’s second Balsa novel, Yami no Moribito, will be adapted to a manga.  I reviewed the English-language version of the novel in 2012. Of all the Balsa novels, that one was quite probably my favorite and I very much look forward to the manga!

Save the date! May 7–8, 2015 the Queers & Comics LGBT Cartoonists’ Conference will be held in NYC at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Award-winning Sci/fi author Jim C. Hines has been a vocal supporter of diversity in SF/F and has been promoting essays on his blog about (lack of) diversity in genre fiction. All of these very excellent essays are now available as an ebook called Invisible. Available in multiple formats, including Kindle for only $2.99.

Damien Walter took on a similar topic at The Guardian, when he posited that Science fiction needs to reflect that the future is queer.

Yuri  no Real‘s Makimura Asako and Higashi Koyuki (of the Disneyland Japan same-sex wedding)  have a video channel on Nico Nico Douga dealing with queer issues. (In Japanese)

Asahi, one of Japan’s leading newspapers, ran an article supporting LGBTQ education in Japanese schools. (Also in Japanese.)

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That’s a wrap for this week! Become a Yuri Network Correspondent by sending me any Yuri-related news you find. Emails go to anilesbocon01 at hotmail dot com. Not to the comments here, please, or they might be forgotten or missed. There’s a reason for this madness. This way I know you are a real human, not Anonymous (which I do not encourage – stand by your words with your name!) and I can send you a YNN correspondent’s badge. Thanks to all of you – you make this a great Yuri Network!

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LGBTQ Manga: Torikaebaya (とりかえ・ばや) Volume 1

April 16th, 2014

The Heian period was a period of intense artistic creation in Japanese history. Like the Italian Renaissance or the Chinese Tang period; the cycle of life quality for the well-to-do hit a high and with it came the leisure and drive to create. So much of what we in the West consider “Japanese” culture flourished in that period. Mostly everyone is familiar with Murasaki Shikibu’s famous serial, the Tale of Genji. Fewer people are familiar with the ambiguously comedic/tragic/erotic Torikaebaya, which would probably translate to something like “If only they could switch.” You may recall this story from the 4th season of Maria-sama ga Miteru, in which the Yamayurikai’s school festival play is chosen around Yuki and Yumi’s uncanny resemblance.

When it was announced that veteran manga artist Saitou Chiho, the creator of the Revolutionary Girl Utena manga, would be working on a manga adaptation of the Torikaebaya  (とりかえ・ばや), I was downright ecstatic. Saitou-sensei has repeatedly shown interest in trans* characters and this manga deals not with one character or two who merely switch clothes, but who are entirely suited to the gender expectations of the opposite sex.

The story follows two siblings with the same father and two different mothers, born on the same day. The daughter is active, lively, good at sports, rhetoric and other masculine pursuits. The son is retired, shy, good at music and other feminine skills. Circumstances conspire to allow them to switch clothes – and lives.

I have not read the original in either translation or Japanese and before I even read the manga, I realized that my only encounter with the Torikaebaya was as a comedy, when the Lillian and Hanadera Student Councils had some fun with it. But, I wondered, was it actually a comedy…or a tragedy? As it turns out, we don’t actually know the answer to that. It has been interpreted as comedy, tragedy, social commentary and erotic romp by varying critics in varying ages. That actually made me more interested in it than before! We don’t know what this story is, how cool is that?

Saitou-sensei has specifically set out to treat this story as a story of transexuality. This is stated plainly on the cover and the relationship between gender roles and one’s sex is explored within. The daughter, Sarasoju is painfully aware that she really is not suited to be a girl, and her brother Suiren, likewise, really would do so much better as a girl. They switch clothes and roles and as far as I am in the first volume, their father is complicit in this, having just introduced his “son” to the Emperor.

I have not finished Volume 1, but I know that Sarasoju will play her part as a male well, but that that will not stop her from falling in love with a man, or having intimate relations with him. Her pregnancy is a major part of the original story. But she will also be married to a woman, and in one of the two versions of the tale (known as the Ima Torikaebaya Monogatari), both she and her brother end the tale in functional homosexual relationships.

I’m frequently asked for recommendations on trans* manga, and I usually don’t have much to offer, as trans folks are not well represented. This book will be going on my short recommendation list.

Ratings:

Art – 9 Gorgeous, but how could it not be? Saitou Chiho-sensei doing Heian period. Duh~
Story – 8 I’m intrigued, fearful, hopeful all at once
Characters – 8 Not bad, actually. Dad’s not a bad dude, and Sara and Suiren are sympathizable
Service – 4 Nudity, not nakedness
LGBTQ – 4 We meet them just as their self-identity is forming.

Overall – 9

Saitou Chiho-sensei’s version of the Torikaebaya may well become my go-to version of this Heian classic. Here’s hoping!

If you are interested in a garbled version of the story and a mixed bag of scholarship, here’s the Wiki entry on the Torikaebaya. It’s rather less helpful than I had hoped.

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Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Manga, Perfect Edition, Volume 5 (美少女戦士セーラームーン)

April 14th, 2014

Volume 5 of the Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Manga, Perfect Edition,  (美少女戦士セーラームーン) is amazingly chock full of…everything. New characters, secrets, cool moments, and, at last!, the Outer Senshi gather.

Yet again, the days of peace and tranquility after the defeat of the Black Moon are few. Usagi can be forgiven for wishing they’d continue. She and her friends are (or should be) studying for their high school entrance exams, when strange things start happening around town, all centered on a mysterious, elite school. In the meantime, Usagi is fighting off the arrogantly seductive famous race driver, Tennou Haruka, and is jealous to see famous violinist Kaioh Michiru flirting with Mamoru.

Total digression – some years ago I was staying in Tokyo on Tennozu Isle and suddenly realized that I was in the exact building where Haruka’s apartment would have been! There is a real Tennozu Isle, but no Kaiozu, Meiozu or Mugenzu.

Once again, I find myself flipping back and forth between anime, manga, musicals, and random media as I am reminded that both Haruka and Michiru are not particularly likable when they appear in the manga (unlike the anime, where they are captivating.) Haruka is way more genderqueer in the manga and I’m reminded again that Michiru and Haruka really are quite obviously a couple. It’s a little boggling to imagine in 1998, some folks just could not deal with the obvious and created elaborate fantasies to rewrite the narrative. (And, oh the drama when Takeuchi-sensei answered a fan’s question at Anime Expo and said they were lesbians.)

When Pluto comes back, she’s visibly different. Chibi-Usa recognizes it immediately. This started an interesting discussion, as I commented that seeing Pluto return after ostensibly dying in an earlier arc, might have clued Uranus and Neptune to the fact that maybe everything they thought was absolute might not actually be so. Of course, no one considers this. The oldest character in the book is, what, Setsuna at 23?

Outers and Inners are set against one another – even after the person they acknowledge as their future Queen asks them to work together. Kids. Sheesh. Can’t tell ‘em anything. ^_^

But all this is set aside when first Sailor Saturn awakens and right on top of that, Mistress 9. Poor Hotaru, there’s so many people inside her head.

Ratings:

Art – The art is and always has been so wildly inconsistent as to practically be unratable, but boy can you tell when a color page is an artbook piece or a Nakayoshi color insert.

Story – 8 Best arc of the series, still.

Characters – 10 I love the Outers unconditionally.

Yuri – 9 Haruka and Michiru are so so so a couple.

Service – 4 Bits actually are service-y here and there.

Overall – 8

As Sailor Moon goes, this volume is a nail-biter. Which is to say I said “Yay!” a lot. ^_^

Thanks to Okazu Superhero Jye N. for his sponsorship of today’s review!

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Yuri Network News (百合ネットワークニュース) – April 12, 2014

April 12th, 2014

YNN_LissaYuri Anime

YNN Correspondent Grisznak wants you to know that the opening theme of Akuma no Riddle is available on YouTube.

YNN Correspondent Jin H. also has some Akuma no Riddle news:  Funimation has picked up the series, and are streaming it, as is Nico Nico Douga and Crunchyroll.

YNN Correspondent Vivi C.is excited to let you know that school life anime Kiniro Mosaic is getting a sequel.

YNN Correspondent Jst wants to share the news from the official Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha site, which “announced the other day that all three series are going to get a Blu-ray release in Japan from October of this year (MGLN 10/1, A’s 11/5, StrikerS 12/3).  Whether this means, like with the movies thus far they will be including English subtitles or not we don’t know as yet.”. StrikerS with official subtitles would be something I’d definitely pay for. ^_^

YNN Correspondent Elizabeth F points out that following on the heels of the recent successful Sailor Myu, another new Sailor Moon Musical is on the way! And keep your eyes peeled on the upcoming Nico Nico Douga event, at which, it is rumored we’ll actually get a preview of the anime!

In case you haven’t yet had a chance, you have 3 weeks left to help make the third and final DVD box set for Riyoko Ikeda’s Dear Brother a reality.

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Comics News

Topping the industry news this week is the fact that Amazon has just bought digital comics vendor Comixology.

The Don’t Be a Dick series takes on The Gender Dynamics of Marketing Comics.

PBS Idea Channel has this lovely video: How is Ms. Marvel Changing Media for the Better? It’s totally worth a watch.

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Yuri Event

YNN Correspondent Katherine H. is really excited, she’ll be hosting a Yuri panel at this month’s Sakura-con in Seattle! It will be on Saturday April 19 from 9:00 PM to 10:15 PM. Its location is Panels 7 (3AB). Its official title is “Lesbian-themed Anime, Manga, and Visual Novels.” She hope to see you all there. ^_^

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That’s a wrap for this week! Become a Yuri Network Correspondent by sending me any Yuri-related news you find. Emails go to anilesbocon01 at hotmail dot com. Not to the comments here, please, or they might be forgotten or missed. There’s a reason for this madness. This way I know you are a real human, not Anonymous (which I do not encourage – stand by your words with your name!) and I can send you a YNN correspondent’s badge. Thanks to all of you – you make this a great Yuri Network!

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LGBTQ Manga: What Did You Eat Yesterday? (English)

April 9th, 2014

wdyey1So there I am, in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, standing in a room full of still life paintings from the 17th century, feeling irrationally rational about Stilleven met vergulde bierkan, by Willem Claesz. This painting, executed in 1634, is photorealistic, almost ridiculously so. The way the light hits the silver salver in the front was so…real. I stood there for a good long time, amazed at the technical skill, but also kind of put off by it.

The thing about still-life paintings is that we don’t need them any more.  I mean, it’s all well and good for 17th century painters to be cranking out photorealism, because they didn’t have actual photos, right? So when I recently encountered Luciano Ventrone‘s work – like this still life –  I have to stop and think, no seriously, why do we still do photorealistic still life?

It makes sense to recognize that in the 1600s they needed painting like this. But in this day and age of photography, there clearly is still a place for painting like this – and the literary equivalent, the slice-of-life story. For a slice of life, we might justify it to ourselves and say, “Well, this is not our life, so this is a glimpse into another world.”  But the best slice of life stories don’t have to be alien, or alienating. The protagonist of Kitchen, by Banana Yoshimoto, is not me, but I was able to fully engage in her non-engagement with life. Willy Loman’s story is both alien and alienating – and to me, so is something meant to be realistic, but feels not at all real, like Sakura Trick.

In the same way that I am able to observe, but not engage with, still life paintings, I was able to read, but not really engage with Yoshinaga Fumi’s What Did You Eat Yesterday? It’s slice of a life that is not even remotely alien, but was surprisingly alienating.

The protagonist, Kakei Shiro, is a lawyer in his 40s who is off-puttingly attractive and youthful according to his co-workers. His major interest is in cooking and he’s a narcissist. Shiro lives with a boyfriend, a hairdresser. Kenji is out at his work, although Shiro is not. At first I thought Shiro was out, just not at work, but as the story goes on, he comes off as more uptight and closeted, although his parents know he is gay. Kenji’s equally as annoying and I cannot see how he and Shiro stay together with such vastly different approaches to life.

As the story goes on, Shiro become less likable, until I realized that he just doesn’t really like anyone and suddenly I felt as if I was observing a stunningly drafted bit of 17th century tablecloth. Realistic, technically well-crafted, but not all that interesting, ultimately

As a slice of life, I found the story less engaging as it progressed. Shiro and I are not far apart in age, we both are professionals, in committed relationships, love food. and I’d rather have dental surgery than spend half an hour stuck in an elevator with him. The more hyper-realistically his life is shown, the less I cared for it.

I was very much looking forward to a story in which the protagonist is gay, has a relationship and then the story happens, but very disappointed with the lack of any connection between Shiro and Kenji. They may as well have been roommates.  Shiro’s gayness is both talked about and shown as normal, but completely stripped of any affection of any kind. Shiro shows no tenderness towards his lover, his family, his coworkers, clients or self.

Ultimately, the story isn’t ever really sure if it is a commentary on the food Shiro cooks, with his life as the background, or a commentary on his life, with the food as the background.

Ratings:

Art – 9 Excellent as always
Story – Not as compelling as usual, with unlikable Shiro standing between me and delicious-sounding food, like a disapproving aunt keeping me out of the kitchen.
Characters – 3 Honestly, there’s almost no one to like.
LGBTQ – They talk a lot about being gay, but they could be talking about being a fireman, as we see no signs of affection, not even a kind word.
Service – Foodie only, with meals in detail

Overall – 5

Vertical does a great job of getting out of the way of Yoshinaga-sensei, now the story needs to get out of its own way and develop into a narrative. As it stands, it’s a perfect slice-of-still-life.

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