Now This Is Only My Opinion, the Ninth

August 8th, 2010

Here is me, trying to answer you and flailing pretty badly, in the newest round of “Utter Nonsense.”

Q:What is that little red creature in the Utena movie, anyways?

A: It’s Chu-chu’s drinking buddy, Wani.

Q: What do you feel Erica has been the most important thing released here in the states from Japan in the last 10 years, being manga, anime, or literature?

Important? In terms of Yuri, I’d say Aoi Hana, because it is a girl-girl romance that has all of the stereoptypical elements of a “Yuri” story, without being a parody. It’s something that when people ask, “what can I watch that is Yuri?” we can offer it up without embarassment or explanation.

In terms of the rest of the world, I’d say, the movie The Ring. It spawned a load -of remakes, similar movies and other media, as well as parodies and mash-ups.

Q: What would be the “Erica Prize” for someone who cosplayed Hayate X Blade — Hayate in full duckie suit.

And could pull off the look.

Probably a Shigeru family cat mascot for their sword. It would give me an excuse to go shopping on Yahoo Japan auctions. ^_^

Q: This was prompted by reading over “Girly” this morning. Can you say which you think is the best light-hearted Yuri series? That is, good, 3D likeable characters, but no “hand-stapled-to-forehead” angst?

Despite the fact that 1) I don’t make recommendations, because my interpretation of things and yours are going to be different and 2) this is just a slightly altered version of the dreaded “what is your favorite….?”question, I’m going to answer this anyway:

In English – Hayate x Blade – this has very little Yuri as such, but it has some and the whole shinyuu thing reads as coupling, even if it’s not.

In Japanese – Love My Life.

Q: How do you think a character’s usage of personal pronouns demonstrates his/her personality? For example: in Hourou Musuko, Yoshino’s decision to keep using “atashi” and Nitori’s similar determination to continue using “boku”. This even though both of them would rather be of opposite genders.

I’m not a Japanese linguist or sociologist, I have not read the series in question, nor do I have any issues with my gender, so I’m probably not the person to ask this, but, since you did, I’ll do my very best to answer. However. If a person who is in or has completed transition wants to express their opinion, I’d be delighted to have their input.

Here’s my thoughts on the topic – personal identity is quite possibly the single most complex thing about humans. Individuals are so *individual* about how we chose to define ourselves and there are a zillion terms for genders in, around, between and outside male and female. And the concept of “I” is the single most critical thing for anyone to define. It therefore is not surprising that in cultures where there are different words for “I” for males and females, the issue would be of importance. What, specifically, that importance is for that person would be an issue you’d have to take up with the individual or, in this case, the author.

If I had read the series in question, I might be able to project a response for the characters, but as I have not, that’s all I can give you.

Q: What series (anime or manga) would you want to promote to people who don’t usually watch anime or read manga, as a classic example of what the genre and the medium can do when they try.

Well, as I said above, I don’t recommend anything to anyone, nor would I attempt to proselytize anime to an uninterested party. I’d also have to take into account that person’s taste, so there’s no one answer. I might sit my Dad down with Silent Mobius, but not my niece. (OTOH, my wife’s nieces are into things like Code Geass and Witch Hunter Robin, so you never know, do you?) So, to side-step this iteration of “what’s your favorite…?” I’ll say I believe that Yuri has a gateway anime worthy of promotion in Aoi Hana.

Q: Were you surprised by Touko’s home life? After watching season 3 I wrote in my Maria-sama notebook: “What is Touko’s story? Probably similar to Sachiko” I was pretty far off the mark and lazily grouped the two rich girls together.

I wasn’t surprised, but I already knew what was coming, as I had been a fan long enough to have heard the story. If I hadn’t known…no, I don’t think it would have surprised me, and I think it was a good underlying motivation for Touko to act as she did.

Q: I think that most manga suffer when translated to English, because the calligraphic Japanese characters are more integrated with the art than an English translation can manage. Since you read both Japanese and English – what’s your take on this?

I’ve answered this one before. I don’t think translations suffer, I think translators have to make a choice between sense and feel. Sometimes a really good translator can capture both. They are different languages, and have evolved to communicate differently to different groups of people. It’s not possible to make one exactly reflective of the other, but that doesn’t mean a translation is inherently bad. It just takes skill to create a truly exceptional one, as you’d expect.

Q: What historical event or period do you think would make a good background or setting for a Yuri manga?

I dont know…how about Paris of the 1920s? Heaven knows there were plenty of lesbians there and some of them were crazy enough to make a good comic.

Q: Would your wife ever consider doing a guest review on Okazu?

She says, “Sure, if I read something that I thought was of note….”

Q: Here in the U.S., anime and manga is typically a very young fandom. What was it about manga and anime that caught your attention as an adult?

The lesbian couple in Sailor Moon S. That wasn’t my first anime – I had watched Starblazers in high school and recognized that “Japanimation” was a hole into which I’d throw my time and money, so I avoided it like the plague…until Ogata Megumi’s voice changed everything for me. :-)

Q:Why do you think there is so much more moe yuri than non-moe yuri and what do people see in it?

Because:

Oversimplified means people can (and have to) supply details themselves, so they make decisions that they then have to support because of cognitive dissonance. (After all, why would they care if it wasn’t worth caring about?)

Simple art is cheaper to produce than complex art.

Because the culture of cute in Japan requires women to remain childish well into their adulthood and because male otaku are both strongly socially conservative (so want their women to be innocent and young and virginal) and sometimes socially inept, some of them find real women intimidating and prefer their fantasy objects to be sweet, young, cute and unfinished. For these people, Yuri makes the most sense in the context of immature love, first crushes, experimentation. They are unlikely to be interested in stories of adult lesbian women making a life together (i.e., Fufu was received negatively by 2chan .)

Q: If a vendor was a complete and utter dick to everyone at your con, but provided valued and rare merchandise to those folks who did purchase from him, would you have him back the next year?

I love questions with an agenda. They are so meaningful. I’ll take it that you had a bad experience at one of my events then? ^_^

My answer is this: it depends.

I have had a vendor who made himself odious to both his fellow vendors and the attendees and no, he will never be allowed back to an event I run, regardless of his goods.

In recent years, I’ve invited only vendors I like and trust implicitly, so unless there was something really objectionable going on, then I’d probably have them back. Because the vendors welcome at my events now are people I know, my gut tells me than anyone who thinks they are dicks is probably someone I’d consider to be a dick. I’ve known most of these vendors a long time now, so, unless I’ve know the complainant longer, I’d probably take the vendor’s word over theirs.

Q: What is the best approach for the Yuri community to take to educated/deprogram fan boys to have a healthier relationship with Yuri?

Here’s a brick – apply that to your forehead.

Why on earth would you want to “educate” anyone? Do you want to be “educated” about anime? It’s a freaking cartoon…who cares if creeps are creepy?

My way of handling things is to do what I’m doing and not really worry about other people at all.

Q: What anime or manga do you feel best represents training? One thing I’ve seen in your reviews is that you prefer it when the viewer can see and understand that a character is training to the most that they can to accomplish some goal, over idiot savants. I find that I agree and was curious what shows or titles, yuri or not, best exemplifies this.

I think Stellvia was an excellent example of a character training until she was sick. Kaleido Star also had a protagonist who trained endlessly and got better as a result of hard work, not magic or plot complication.

Q: What genres of anime or manga that are usually “male coded” do you think could combine well with Yuri?

Yuri and giant robots?

Yuri and sports?

Yuri and martial arts fighting?

Yes.

Seen generally, Yuri is any series with lesbian characters or a lesbian storyline. There’s no reason to think that wouldn’t work with any genre. Sci-fi seems to particularly be a good genre in which there is a lot of service or implied Yuri, but very little really good Yuri. (Good by my standards, of course.)

Q: Is the Utena announcement the most awesomest announcement ev … oops, no which is better news, the Utena announcement or getting a Crunchy stream like Sora … oops.

Damn, these rules are still hard.

Umm, oh! oh! I got it! Do you see any chance of working Yuri Hime into one of the ventures being established to provide legit translated digital manga, whether DMP, OpenManga, or Bitway at Crunchy? And if so, what could we do to help it along?

I can’t answer that. Licensing is a complex thing. It relies on things like personal connections and funding, which you, the reading audience, cannot affect at all. There’s nothing you can do but buy stuff and tell companies you’d buy more and hope that 10,000 other people do the same thing.

Q: Just out of curiosity. I’ve just received the first three manga of Marimite and I noticed that ALL the kanji have furigana. Now, as a rule of thumb this should mean the books are aimed mainly at a primary\junior high students. This seems strange to me, I thought the all thing was for a little older audience, at least. Am I missing something?

You are missing the concept of “selling books means appealing to the widest audience possible.” The Cobalt Shuiesha line is for teens. The best written stories contained therein will also appeal to adults. In Book 3, you’ll see that Tsutako actually discusses this very thing with Yumi.

Q: What is the real Japanese attitude towards rape? Hentai aside, several anime and manga, even the so-called light comedy stuff, treat it so flippantly, as part of the “rape is love” or the “boys will be boys” attitude.

It’s illegal there, just like it is in most industrialized countries. Manga is not real life, it’s a comic. Like other forms of entertainment, it incorporates fantasies of all kinds which, for some people, will include emotional and/or physical rape.

Q: Why do (or should I say who is making) the mangaka artists write such insipid stuff like “I love cute girls,” and “Maids outfits are the best-est” in the forewords and afterwords of their manga. Have you ever read a foreword or afterword that wasn’t mindless prattle?

Their job is to draw and make stories that people like to read. And, realistically, these are people who express themselves through art, and sometimes have decent stories, too. ^_^ Some might be coached by editorial staff, others might not want to talk about anything personal, others might just be boring. Just because a person is skilled, doesn’t mean they are exciting.

Best artist’s notes I’ve read were by Tsuda Mikiyo, who actually tells some interesting stories in her afterwords.

Q: When attacked by zombies, what would your survival strategy be?

Do whatever Donna is doing.

Q: In a month, how much do you usually spend on manga/anime?

I buy stuff in large orders, not monthly, but if you broke it down, probably between $100- $120/month.

Q: You’ve got a time machine, when/where do you go?

To the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine. I want to see the woman for myself.

Q: In a month- how much time do you usually spend on anime and manga?

Probably about 120 hours or so in an average month. on weeks I’m working on books, or some other project, it can easily be 160 hours.

Q: So many times I have seen a movie adaptation of a novel (American or otherwise) and I’ve thought to myself, “this would have been so much better if it was adapted as an anime series.”

Forgive me if it’s been asked already…

If you could have an anime adaptation of a novel, which novel would you pick and which anime production team would you like to do it? Or… which movie adaptation of a novel would you have rather seen as an anime, and not the Hollywood abomination it was made into?

The book can be any genre. I’m not necessarily looking for something that is lesbian themed.

I’ll be honest. I never think that. I know it sounds ingenuous, but I really don’t. Above and beyond all things, I love books and rarely want them to be adapted to another medium.

But, because I’m trying to give these questions my best answers, I’ll say Alice in Wonderland. It just begs for a really good animated adaptation – something true to the original Tenniel illustrations and the story itself.

I don’t know anything about production studios, so I’ll pass on that. As I’ve said in the past, I’m a seiyuu otaku, the animation is secondary to me.

Q: what was the last time you read any news :O

This morning. I read the news every day.

***

And there you go. For what it’s worth to you, to me and to anyone who cares, there’s some insight into my brain. It mostly boils down to “complex things aren’t simple, simple things aren’t complex and wishing the one was the other is delusional. And, do whatever you feel like, because other people are the least of your worries.” ^_^

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16 Responses

  1. “It’s a freaking cartoon…” – I’ve seen variations of this comment several times and it puzzles me. So are cave paintings. So is the Bayeax Tapestry. So also are the tales in the Pyramids (choose your culture). So also visually are the works of Shakespeare. Maus is just a bunch of pictures, a comic. I guess I don’t understand why books=good, and ‘cartoons’ or ‘simple things aren’t complex’ when often simple things like ‘Le Petit Prince’ is both. I would like to know your pyramid of worth, does Clive Barker win out over Utena because Clive is in print? Stain glass windows are cartoons for a population that can’t read, but then so are gospel songs. The Hobbit by Rankin and Bass came out before Lord of the Rings, giving a visual imprint of the work. What makes some genres good and some worth less? Such as what makes Tinniel illustrations the ones to chose in Alice over Atwell, Hudson, Gutmann, Jackson, Maria Kirk, Margaret Tarrant, Walker, Soper, Newall, Woodward, Rackham or other turn of the century illustrators of Alice in Wonderland?

  2. BruceMcF says:

    SF is definitely a genre that hasn’t had the quality of Yuri that it could easily have.

    All too often, SF says, “here’s this weird world, lets populate it with 1970’s stereotypes to make it easier to get used to”, but there is still excellent work that takes the license to explore “what if” societies in a less pedestrian way, such as some of the members of The Outer Alliance.

  3. BruceMcF says:

    Oops, that was their first site … The Outer Alliance

  4. @Wlizabeth McLung – Once again, I have not idea what you’re arguing about or why.

    The point I made was that getting worked up about something that is 1) not made by you and 2) is light entertainment, is both wasted effort and a pointless endeavor.

    I give you a 10 for missing the point, arguing a point I didn’t make AND arguing something unrelated to the question. You win the cognitive dissonance trifecta.

  5. Erica: “The point I made was that getting worked up about something that is 1) not made by you and 2) is light entertainment, is both wasted effort and a pointless endeavor.”

    Yes, I understand your point. You have made it before.

    ‘light entertainment’ is as you also point out about your reviews entirely subjective. I was providing some alternatives to the idea that things be taken as ‘light entertainment’. Also, historians, sociologist, anthropolists and many other fields tend to think stuff ‘not made by you’ can still be about the individual, the culture, and a view into the collective of humanity.

    It is an alternate point of view. I’m a little saddened to find you only able to see cognitive dissonance or an arguement (unless you meant ‘presenting an arguement’ aka, ‘presenting an idea’).

    My wife just stopped by and asked if I knew whether you were aware that Alice in Wonderland in woven thoughout shojo in Japan and is that exact Moe you seem to attribute solely to males (loser fan-boy?). I did not know for sure and said so, but said I suspected one was probably an emotional bond of one age (the book to you) and the other was and emotional reaction of another (the awareness of exploitation).

    But please enlighten her yourself.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Re: response to ‘dick vendor’ question.

    Thanks – just wanted your opinion as someone who also organizes events.

    A pretty infamous vendor is making the rounds at the cons in my area. We have pretty intense debates about the pro/cons of allowing him to set up shop.

  7. @Anonymous – That’s a question best taken onto the Animecons Mailing List (ACML) to be discussed between con chairs.

    My thought is that, as the con chair, you’re running the event for the majority, not the minority. If that vendor doesn’t have an online presence, but does make everyone around them (vendors, staffers, attendees) miserable, then the free market has a way to encourage them to leave the business, but not providing that vendor with income.

    Unique is questionable these days – with online access, there’s likely to be someone else out there with the same goods, who isn’t an ass. :-)

  8. Dash says:

    Q: What anime or manga do you feel best represents training?

    No mention of Nanoha? It’s fine enough to train when there’s a competition or enemy in front of you, it’s another thing to train simply because “you never know.”

    Nanoha is my favorite magical girl if only because of the start of A’s. ‘Jump At The Call’ indeed.

    Of course, Nanoha is working on her technique with her already massively powerful magical weapons. In a way Usagi Tsukino, since her power comes from her selflessness and love, also spends a lot of time practicing between evil threats as well. She’s just doing it unintentionally. :)

  9. Ellen says:

    Erica – I’m the one who asked about translated manga suffering compared to manga in the original Japanese. I may have been unclear, but I was wondering if the look of the manga – the integration of art and text – suffered. Whole different question from translation (say) of a light novel where the art and text were not all mixed together.

  10. @Ellen – No, I’ve never once thought the look of the manga suffered. Not every reader of a manga knows the etymology of a kanji character any more than English readers know the etymology of a word. It’s going to be a rare comics reader who cares about that sort of thing in any language.

  11. @Dash – Gosh sorry I forgot to mention *your* favorite series while answering a question about *my* opinion. I’ll try and remember to tune into your brain waves before I answer next time. ^_^

    Yes, Nanoha is a good example too.

  12. BruceMcF says:

    Speaking of people talking past each other, long running yaoi vs Yuri line of argument in a long ANN Hey Answerman! thread.

  13. BruceMcF says:

    And TRAINING? The fine young ladies of Sora no Woto keep training to run a spider leg mecha when they don’t even know if its ever going to work! That’s dedication …

    … oh, wait, I guess that was for “Now this is only your opinion”, not “Now This Is Only My Opinion”. Oops.

  14. Dash says:

    @Erica

    Oh, there you go, catching me projecting again. The world revolves around me after all…. :P

    No, I just thought since I’ve seen you speak favorably about Nanoha before that it would have been part of the examples. More of a “curious omission” than a “OMG, why don’t her tastes align with miiiiiiiiiine!” ;)

  15. @Dash – Fair enough. It was omitted entirely because it didn’t come to mind. I agree that it is a good example of “training till you drop” but for whatever reason, it was not one of my first thoughts.

  16. Dop says:

    You mention the best author’s notes you’ve seen are those by Tsuda Mikiyo, and yes, her story about having a detached retina (in the back of ‘Family Complex’) was easily the best author’s note section I’ve ever read.
    It’s almost a pity she didn’t turn that into a manga in its own right.

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