Now This Is Only My Opinion, 2013 edition

August 25th, 2013

Your know that we’re up to our necks in Yuri when it takes me 2 years to find time to answer random questions about stuff. And, in fact, it’s been months since I solicited these questions and am only getting to them now. Viva la Yuri. ^_^

You asked me questions about…life, love, blogging, anime, manga, Yuri, whatever. And I did my very best to answer you without lifting a finger to do research. ^_^ For previous editions, check out the Now This is Only My Opinion Category here on Okazu, and take a look at the kinds of things people have asked previously.

Here were the (increasingly complex) rules for Okazu’s Q&A feature:

1) I will not answer questions about “what is your favorite….” I find them difficult to answer, as I really don’t have favorites.

2) No A/B choice questions like “ham or cheese” or “Coke or Pepsi” questions, please.  They aren’t all that interesting for any of us and I can tell you honestly, the answer is almost always “neither of the two.”

3) If you want to ask me what I see as the future of Yuri or why I like Yuri, I beg you to read all the previous iterations of my answers to these questions. If you have a real question about Yuri that I have not previously addressed, bring it on!

4) Please, please, no questions that can be answered by 30 seconds of actually READING one of my reviews here. Also, asking me “what do you think of so-and-so anime/fandom” is not going to give you the external validation you crave nor will I rise to the bait of using it as a springboard to rant about a fandom, either. Don’t know if I’ve reviewed a thing you want to know about? Look to the right-hand sidebar —->

See that empty box on the sidebar that says “Search Okazu”? Try that first.  ^_^

5) Lastly no “define the term” questions. The answers have been posted here: http://okazu.yuricon.com/glossary/.

With these in mind, here’s the 2013 edition of “Now This Is Only My Opinion”!

***
Jin asks: Yes, hello, I had two questions please. I had wondered if in all this time involved in anime, manga, etc., have you felt discouraged, to say, that you have felt a desire to give up on these arts? I do not know if I have asked this properly. For all the anime and manga I love, especially in Yuri genre, sometimes my frustration or ill feelings about the misogyny, sexism, poor writing and such, brings a despair rather than a happy feeling and being entertained.

I also wondered if there is a place where one can ask some small questions concerning plots or other things in regards to light novels especially Oyuki Konno Maria-sama?

E: One of the most amazingly frustrating things about anime/manga fandom is that it is constantly changing and inconsistent. What you want out of anime may not be what someone else wants. So while Yuricon communities focus on female-positive anime and manga, some Yuri fandom is looking for porn pictures of girls having sex. So, yes, of course, sometimes I am discouraged – especially when series I dislike are popular and manga I really would love to see as anime never gets the chance. But there is so much out there to read and watch, I don’t let it bother me too much. It’s entertainment. If I’m not enjoying myself, I’ll go do something else. ^_^ I also avoid a lot of fan spaces, so I don’t get involved in the drama.

I can tell you this – you can ask questions about plot and character all you want in any Yuricon community. Yuricon Mailing List and Yuricon on Facebook. Of course you can ask questions here, as well. I’ll always do my best to answer.

There are other Yuri communities, although they change all the time. The ones we link to are usually pretty friendly. ^_^

Remember, opinions are always personal – and only the creator can ever be 100% right about what happened. You get to have your opinion, even if other people disagree.

***

Josh wants to know: Do you find Yaoi being more popular than Yuri a hindrance to creating a stable Yuri market in the states?

E: What an interesting question! On the face of it, it seems like there ought to be a correlation between these two genres, but really…there isn’t.

When manga was first brought over to the west, one of the reasons it became so almost instantly successful was that it tapped into a previously under-served market – female comic readers. And of those readers, while some of them might like romance and/or sex between women, more prefer romance/sex between straight couples or between guys. (If this seems confusing to you, ask a few of your straight male friends which they like best – straight porn, lesbian porn or gay male porn. Chances are a lot of straight guys are going to feel uncomfortable with the idea of watch gay guy porn – especially if those guys you’re asking are sexually immature. It’s the same for some women.)

Because of the double standards around porn – and the double standards around women’s interests in general – it was easier for women to talk about an interest in BL than it is for men to discuss an interest in Yuri (especially when, for many guys saying “Yuri” meant bodily-fluid-gouting porn.)

So Twilight is excoriated, 50 Shades of Gray is the butt of jokes…but they make millions. BL is the same. Guys pay no attention to it, they disparage it if they mention it at all, but it makes lots of money.

Where in Japan, it’s seen as an expression of pure fandom to be the first on line, to buy the super-special exclusive books…here in the west, a big bulk of Yuri fandom are downloading Yuri…but not as often buying it. That college age guy audience that is the presumed core audience for games, TV and movies (and Yuri)? Hardly buys anything. Games, books, movies, manga, anime. It all gets downloaded. Later they’ll buy it, when they have a job. So the largest chunk of guys who like Yuri in the west is also the demographic that spends the least on it. Female fans buy it, but not as many as buy BL. So the market is wayyyyyy smaller than the audience.

And, as I’ve discussed here many times, Yuri is not one thing. If you like moe, Yuri looks like Yuru Yuri. But if you like actual stories of lesbians who actually love each other, it looks like Morishima-sensei’s or Takemiya-sensei’s work. They aren’t anything the same, but they are all called “Yuri.”

So, we have a smaller audience than the BL audience *and* a market that’s smaller by orders of zeroes. So the Yuri audience sticks with scanlations and sometimes buys a book, if it’s something they already know. It’s a vicious cycle and unless I hit the lottery, there’s little chance for it to end at the moment.

I don’t resent BL in any way. I have other resentments, though they are the topic of some other conversation. ^_^

***

Mara is curious: What was it about Girls und Panzer that turned you off it as something to watch?

I ask because now that the series is over I cannot help but notice that it has many of the conventions you said you liked in stories that have sports/training elements in them. My apologies if this seems to prying or cruel a question.

E: Everything. Sorry. I like adult characters and am vastly, heartily sick of moe military-fetish schoolgirl series. I disliked Sora no Woto, I cannot stand Strike Witches. While I deeply respect Nogami-sensei and Dan Kanemitsu, the whole fandom creeps me the fuck out.  I’m reading Marine Corps Yumi (Marine-ko Yumi) and enjoying it, but then…no school girls and it’s not moe.

***

Justin S asks: I have a question, we’ve seen a few good Sci-Fi Yuri anime and manga, but what are some sci-fi settings/tropes/concepts that you would like to see in a Yuri story?

E: This is an almost impossible question! ^_^

Let me begin with  – what I want to see in Yuri is women who actually have affection for each other. THEN, it would be cool to see a good sci-fi series built up containing that.

What you probably don’t realize is that sci-fi was one of the first genres where lesbian fiction thrived. Lots of women-only spaceship and colonies…and they were all excruciating, because an idea is not a story. ^_^

Bodacious Space Pirates is benchmark series. It has a great Yuri couple- and it is great sci-fi. And really, that is the point. When a great sci-fi story has some lesbian characters and it’s not ” a very special episode” of the story, then it’ll be a good Yuri sci-fi story.

So, that having been said, I am currently working on a cyberpunk novella myself, in which I am combating tropes like the all-female world or damseling a character. (It seems easy to remember to be diverse in creating characters, then you look back and see that everyone is one race, or one sex or all cis or something – merely by not mentioning that they aren’t. You can say someone is dark- skinned, dark-eyed, and still find her played by a white girl in the movie version, because the privilege of privilege is not noticing their privilege. How does someone mention a character’s ethnicity without calling attention to it? Or how do you have the girl save the girl without damseling one of the girls? Really not as easy as you’d think.)

I like Space Opera, I like action. I like complex world/systems-building and I like stories in which two women can be in love without it being a plot complication.  ^_^

***

ArcaJ wants to know: With the upswing of quality Yuri titles (or Yuri-ish titles) available, is there still a place for EPL’s (Evil Psychotic Lesbians)?

E: Sure thing! More Yuri with class, doesn’t mean there isn’t place for cheeseball crap. I submit the popularity of Sharknado as Evidence A. Crap is fun. Evil Psychos are fun. A really full-on EPL baddie would be terrific in an anime, if they didn’t go all coy and loser-y on us. ^_^

***

David wonders : Are there any good manga / anime series you’d like to recommend but haven’t because they lack the Yuri content to make it onto this blog?

E: Hrmmmm…..I read tons that never end up here. (I’m not as voracious a reader of English manga as Sean Gaffney – you might want to follow his blog: A Case Suitable for Treatment for more suggestions than I can supply.) Anime is harder. I don’t watch much, honestly and most of it makes it here.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit is a must-watch. No Yuri at all, so I’ve not really been able to mention it here too often. It’s amazing all the way around. Story, characters, animation – all fantastic. It’s out in English from Media Blasters and is family friendly. It was a good enough story that I’ve been reading the Light Novels and reviewing them here. Check out the Light Novels category for the reviews.

I’m winding down reading the manga for Yakushiji Ryōko no Kaiki Jikenbo, which was turned into a fantastic anime some years ago. Neither anime nor manga are released in English, but I desperately wish the manga would have an ounce of Yuri, so I could review it here.  Spider women and giant snakes! ^_^

***

Brian asks: Are there any Yuri visual novels you have experience with or would recommend?

E: I get asked this alot. The answer is no. I don’t read/play VNs for many reasons I’ve discussed here before. The time it takes to make one’s way through a VN for not-terribly much content is not a sacrifice I find worth making. I’ve tried a few and end up wanting stab my eyes out from boredom. So I’m not really the person to ask. We’ve had a few guest reviews here, check the Yuri Games category for any applicable ones.

***

dm00 wonders: With regard to the Friedman Addendum to the Bechdel Test, what defines “male hero things” and, more specifically, what makes them inherently “male” to the point that when a female lead does them that it makes the female lead really a male lead in a female-shaped body?
gveret adds: Ooh! Can I second this, and add: how do you make that distinction, considering gender is dependent on nothing but a person’s own sense of identity?

In this sense, I am defaulting to gender roles “as understood by Hollywood execs.” Male hero behavior in the Rambo/Chuck Norris tradition. Semi-covert assault on overwhelmingly superior odds that magically are defeated one-soldier-at-a-time – while wearing skintight body suit with at least one scene where said “Strong Female Protagonist” finds herself slowly slinking through vents, shafts or other small crawl spaces, only to magically find GIGANTIC gun at the end of all this and blow the bad guy away. It doesn’t really take a Freud to see what’s going on there. ^_^

***

Michael is curious: I’m heading to Japan for a five-week visit this summer. I’ve travelled there several times in the past, for a total of almost a year, so I have some experience getting around. I have some facility with the language — enough to read “Yotsuba” and, with some work, “Amanchu.” So, can you recommend any places I ought to visit? Places that might not appear in the usual “top 20 things to see and do on your trip to Japan”, perhaps those which are out of the way and not marked on lots of maps? Or maybe just your favorite parks/bars/bistros/bookstores/hangouts?

Gosh Michael. You mean other than the 7000 “shopping for manga in Japan” guides online? ^_^;

I don’t have a favorite hangout. I hit up the stores in Ikebukuro (which recently all shifted around, so are even more BL-focused than they were) and Akihabara, Nakano Sun Mall and Shibuya, just like everyone else. Last year I wrote this update on shopping for Yuri in Ikebukuro, Akihabara and Nakano. Danny Choo did a recent overview of places, which isn’t too out of date (as they often are). Check that out, too.

Other than that, I spend a lot of times visiting Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples. I’m not a monotheist, so Japan is a refreshing change of pace in terms of religious edifices. ^_^ Pretty much the largest complexes are the best ones for festivals and junky food and souvenirs – check any guide book for their suggestions. I don’t do bars or clubs, so I’m hopeless in that category.  Sorry. You know what our secret hangout really is? The Yamanote. We <3 the Yamanote Line and spend a lot of quality time with it. ^_^

If you look up “Tokyo Trip” on Okazu here, you’ll find dozens of entries on places we’ve gone, things we’ve done and seen. They are all my favorites. ^_^ /cop-out

***

Steve M asks: Anyways, I know you’re not big on dubs in general but are there any you’ve heard that have stuck out as particularly good? I won’t ask you to compare them to the original Japanese, as that’s an unnecessarily contentious question, just any dubs that you felt were very good or appropriate for whatever reason.

Yes, I actually do have a recommendation. The Shinesman dub is the best dub ever. The story is a short OVA spoof of sentai series. It’s very funny and the dub is even funnier than the sub. It’s a pretty old, obscure series, but sometimes you can find it on DVD still. The Digimon Tamers  dub was pretty good – I watched the whole series on TV when it first ran. It was the first Saturday morning cartoon I watched religiously since the 80s. ^_^

***

That’s it for this time, I think. Thanks to everyone who sent in a question. This time, we’re going to finish it off a little differently – I’ve got a question for you!

What do you want to see from Yuri in the immediate future?

Answer in the comments section. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

26 Responses

  1. Shannon says:

    Oooh, Loved Digimon Tamers. I think it’s getting a DVD release soon too. Or already did, I should check.

  2. BruceMcF says:

    While I liked Sora no Woto, upgrading it to recruits that look and act HS Senior / College Freshman age and senpai in their late 20’s / early 30’s would have (1) allowed it to be much better and also I expect (2) sadly, couldn’t have been made.

  3. Jin says:

    Thank you for taking time to answer those questions.

    I too have no taste for ‘moe’ any longer, having figured it out and seen perhaps what the men have turned it into, I find it at best boring and at worst creepy/horrific.

    “What do you want to see from Yuri in the immediate future?”

    Similar things to much of what you write. Of course I would love to see Yuri anime with an adult, loving, female couple that openly identifies as lesbian with nothing in it for males, no tropes/checklist and no tragedy either. But, realistically, I would love to see a sports Yuri manga where the two girls/young women female athletes fall in love and become a couple with a happy or normal togetherness(Octave) style ending. Kase-san is very nice, I look forward to the new Hirari for them, but I also want to see a Kase-san with another Kase-san. If that makes sense.

  4. just me says:

    “E: One of the most amazingly frustrating things about anime/manga fandom is that it is constantly changing and inconsistent. What you want out of anime may not be what someone else wants. ”

    Sounds like every other fandom! :D Other fandoms that pick on anime/manga fans should look in the mirror.

    “and am vastly, heartily sick of moe military-fetish schoolgirl series.”

    After seeing the news about soldier-on-soldier rape in the military IRL >:( moe military-fetish schoolgirl stuff is even less appealing to me too.

    “So, that having been said, I am currently working on a cyberpunk novella myself, ”

    and you will let us know when you publish it, so yay!

    “You can say someone is dark- skinned, dark-eyed, and still find her played by a white girl in the movie version”

    Or still find fans whining when Amandla Stenberg plays her in the movie (remember the uproar over Rue in the Hunger Games movie?).

  5. just me says:

    “What do you want to see from Yuri in the immediate future?”

    Stuff by whoever the Japanese counterpart of Alison Bechdel is, however close or far a counterpart she is, translated as fluently as Michael Emmerich translates instead of as literally as scanlators translate. Especially any nonfiction of hers.

    • Kathryn says:

      +1000

      Speaking of which, I wish we could get some Ikeda Riyoko in English, even if it’s not Rose of Versailles. Adult women forming strong bonds during intense politically charged situations? Maybe the comics market is finally ready for something like this…?

  6. Kathryn says:

    You know, I keep wondering why yaoi is so popular when compared to yuri. This may simply be a consequence of the circles I run in, but it has been my experience that a not insignificant percentage of the women who read yaoi manga identify as queer. I’ve heard people say that they don’t like, say, Milk Morinaga because they feel creepy reading about girls half their age, or that they enjoy yaoi because the wider range of sexually subversive content (ie, the dubcon and noncon) appeals more to them than stories of sweet schoolgirl crushes. Tbh, though, I kind of don’t buy that. What’s really going on? Yuri manga aside, why do so many queer women write m/m slashfic? What’s going on there? I tend to look down on pseudo-academic nonsense (like A Billion Wicked Thoughts) that tries to make generalizations about all queer women ever (because lol forever), but I’m fascinated by these questions. I would love to read more of your thoughts if you’re interested in sharing them.

    I would also love to read your novel!!!

    @ Michael – I second everything Erica said in her earlier post about shopping for yuri and figurines in the Nakano Sun Arcade, and I would like to add that the josei-muke dōjinkan Mandarake in the Nakano Broadway complex at the end of the Sun Arcade has a dedicated original yuri section, and their main genre-by-genre doujinshi section also has a higher ratio of yuri and gen to BL than the doujinshi stores in Ikebukuro. It’s a smallish space, but the staff is very friendly. It’s a good place to go if you’re overwhelmed or skeeved out by Akihabara, or don’t want to wander around the larger stores searching for yuri. The Book Off in Shibuya next to the Tokyu Hands also had a largish (and fantastically cheapish) shōjo-ai manga section the last time I was there.

    • Every individual who reads BL and/or Yuri has some completely different reason, so I have no “thoughts” about it – I’d merely be generalizing about people who are not me, which is as you say, lol.

      I can tell you I don’t read BL, precisely because of the incest/non-consensual tropes. And, to be very honest, my experiences with American BL fans has not been largely positive. Right up to 2010, I’d get packs of girls doing the “Ewww, Yuri” thing. I’d look at them and reply, “Really? That’s what you came up to the table to say?” I have no patience for the sexually immature of any sex. Tee hee elsewhere.

      So, while I will not allow Yuri to be drawn into a war of Yuri vs BL, which is silly and pointless, for myself I read very, very little BL. I don’t care for non-con Yuri either.

      • Kathryn says:

        “Every individual who reads BL and/or Yuri has some completely different reason, so I have no “thoughts” about it – I’d merely be generalizing about people who are not me, which is as you say, lol.”

        That is very true and very well said! And yet still the issue bothers me. This is all rhetorical, but: What does yaoi have that yuri doesn’t? Why is yaoi commercially successful and of broad cultural and academic interest while yuri is not? It’s not so much that I think yuri should be successful as opposed to yaoi, or that one is somehow better than the other, but rather that, considering the interest in yaoi, why *shouldn’t* yuri appeal to at least a cross-section of the same audience? Why can’t I go down to my local Barnes and Noble and find yuri manga? Why aren’t there collections of academic essays about yuri? Is it because there hasn’t been a breakthrough series yet? Is it because people associate yuri with moe? Is it because certain prominent online femmeslash communities identify as so radically counter-culture that they’re actively opposed to supporting mainstream media? Is it because m/m slash fandom somehow reached critical mass and just snowballed people with a momentum that would be difficult for f/f slash to achieve? Is it sexual immaturity and/or internalized misogyny on the part of young manga fans and the larger culture of publishing?

        It’s hard to ask these questions since they’re so closely intertwined with identity politics, and of course no one wants to make generalizations about large groups of diverse individuals, but I still can’t help being curious about what’s going on with the “eww, yuri” factor.

        I wish I knew what questions I should be asking, and how I should ask them, and what traps I need to avoid. I feel like I’m coming from a place of good intentions – I want to know more about a thing I love, and I want other people to know more about a thing I love – but I also feel that I’m being an idiot by sticking my hand into a murky pool and hoping that nothing bites me. That being said, the alternative – accepting that it’s only natural that no one cares about queer female sexuality or comics about girls in love and that the topics just don’t deserve the same level of attention as men and comics about boys – is also upsetting.

        I guess I’ve been using the comment section of this post as a way of thinking out loud, so I will stop now, but I just want to say that I appreciate your answer to Josh’s question, especially in light of the ongoing discussion of publishing and manga fandom you’ve been hosting on this blog for years. Thank you!

        • just me says:

          “…Why can’t I go down to my local Barnes and Noble and find yuri manga? Why aren’t there collections of academic essays about yuri? Is it because there hasn’t been a breakthrough series yet? Is it because people associate yuri with moe? Is it because certain prominent online femmeslash communities identify as so radically counter-culture that they’re actively opposed to supporting mainstream media? Is it because m/m slash fandom somehow reached critical mass and just snowballed people with a momentum that would be difficult for f/f slash to achieve? Is it sexual immaturity and/or internalized misogyny on the part of young manga fans and the larger culture of publishing?…”

          Yeah, is it because many of the people who *would* like manga about lesbian women…

          …found the larger manga scene off-putting (you list some of the reasons well!) and so didn’t look for any lesbian content within it?

          …found the larger comics scene off-putting (you list some more of the reasons well!) and so didn’t look for any lesbian manga content within it?

          …prefer comics where the words-to-word direction and the panel-to-panel direction are the same (here’s another reason some might find manga off-putting?)? I mean, France and South Korea: more of the people there read comics, more of the people there read Japanese comics, and manga *still* gets flipped when it’s French or Korean translation time.

        • Jack Davis says:

          @ Kathryn.

          It has a lot to do with internalized patriarchy of our world.

          Historically, the depiction of lesbian couples were almost non-existent in cultures around the world. This contrasts strongly with gay men of course. As early as Greek/Roman history, history of romantic love between men were covered. Also, nude statues of men were also common as were artistic depictions of them. Contrast that with women and they are generally covered in Western artwork. Lesbian couples? Very little were covered about them as well? Why you ask? Because they were women.

          Women were already 2nd-3rd class citizens of the world at that time and were considered to be nothing more housewives during that time. Its tragic, I know but that’s the way it was.

          In our modern world, no doubt that many things have improved but our internalized, cultural sexism still remains there. Many men and women alike still view male-leads much more favorably in any entertainment medium more than their female counterparts.

          Consider the following below:

          Comics/Manga:
          Male leads are still overrepresented in American comics. Although you’ll find comics that differentiate from this norm, they are in the minority, because the Comic book medium in the states has and will always be, about superheroes, and is very underdeveloped genre-wise when compared to Manga. 99% of all leads in Marvel and DC Comics are male.

          While Manga features a multitude of stories from all facets of lives and people of all age groups, gender and in unique cases, race, the standard protagonist for several series is normally a high-school Japanese guy. Some are over-protective about girls around them, while others are Shonen heroes who get all the spotline. If you consider Shonen Jump, 99% of all leads in their Manga are male and become integrated in their pop-culture. Manga series like Claymore, which are relatively rare in Shonen manga and feature several strong female protagonist, are rarely serialized and don’t real in as much in sales as series like Naruto/One Piece/Bakuman/Kuroko’s Basketball/etc. The reason being is that the a good majority of Japanese manga readers still view males more favorably than females as leads in entertainment. Fujushi(or BL fans) are also support many of these shonen series with male leads and make many derivatives of BL of their favorite characters for Comiket. If most male and female manga readers support these type of series, what room is there left for series with female leads? Or even lesbian couples?

          Movies:
          Caucasian-American males are still considered the staples for leads in Hollywood movies, despite the fact that females make up the majority of the movie-goers now. Most Americans still support these films and support male-leads over female leads.

          Video Games:
          Although women make up for half of the overall gaming market now, video games still consist of a mostly male lead. This is largely due to the fact that the vast majority of those who study video game design and work for the industry are mostly male. Female applicants for video game design are extremely rare. Hence, why games aimed at the hardcore male audience(Shooters, and women as dasmals in distress) are commercially successful. There’s nothing wrong with them enjoying those kind of games. But I do wish the video game industry was more inclusive and added a bit more variety to the platter. We need more female leads in video games in the console market.

          • Jack – Thanks for weighing in.

            (And to other commenters, let’s take Jack’s comment as a bit of color/context added, rather than mansplaining. We know this stuff, true, but someone out there might not.)

      • just me says:

        “precisely because of the incest/non-consensual tropes.”

        Right on!

    • just me says:

      “or that they enjoy yaoi because the wider range of sexually subversive content (ie, the dubcon and noncon) appeals more to them ”

      The saddest part of that, and of the subcultures and cultures it happens in, is how this kind of thing could lead to more rapes IRL. :(

      Not rapes by the fans of rape in manga – rape *of* the fans of rape in manga, thanks to the people who want to rape them predicting less punishment for it. :(

      Remember how some rapists get off the hook because the juries buy excuses like “her skirt was too short” or “she wasn’t a virgin” or whatever, which encourages more would-be rapists to think they can get away with it? :(

      Imagine how much more those kinds of juries would buy “she loudly praises rape on Facebook, in the bookstore, on Tumblr, in the public library…” :(

      It’s more than hard enough for rape victims to even press charges, so much so that many don’t press changes in the first place. How much harder would it be for a girl who was all I’m-a-Lolita this and I-like-non-con that, in public, before someone raped her? :(

  7. dm00 says:

    I had about the same impression of Girls und Panzer that you describe, Erica, before I was convinced to watch it. But after watching it, I think it’s much closer to Bodacious Space Pirates than Strike Witches, despite the Nogami link, and that its protagonist, Miho is closer to Space Pirates’ Marika than to anyone in Sora no Woto.

    On the other hand, I don’t think there’s much yuri content, either.

    • It having Yuri isn’t really a concern for me. I’m offput by the art and the premise. If I were to make time to watch it, I might like it, even, but I feel no compelling reason whatsoever to make time for it.

  8. Michael says:

    Thanks for the replies. I guess I phrased my question poorly, because I was thinking (but obviously not stating) about “off-the-beaten-path” places. More specifically, places that might have little or nothing in the way of anime, manga, or typically otaku interest. After the eighth or ninth visit to Akihabara and the Nakano Mandarake (which I agree is one of the best places to find obscure books and collectibles), I find myself wanting to experience something, well, different. Perhaps a concert of traditional music on Heian-era instruments, or a nature park with cool birds, or a place with the absolute best okonomiyaki.

    Anyway, I did enjoy my five weeks in Japan, so let me see if I can provide a few suggestions of my own for people who might be travelling there. We took the shinkansen north from Tokyo to the Akita region (northwestern Honshu). The small town of Hiraizumi hosts a World Heritage site for an amazingly ornately decorated shrine dating back to the days of Yoshitsune — you can only look at it through protective glass walls, but it’s worth the visit. In the same town is a somewhat re-created garden of what used to be a Buddhist temple complex, going even farther back in time to the ninth century. It’s more a shadow of the original than the full restoration, so I’d recommend it only to Heian completists. The village of Kakunodate contains a section of the “old town” which preserves the mansions in which the well-off samurai lived; the street is lined with hundreds of cherry trees. Both that street and the nearby riverbank (with even more cherry trees) would be specTACular in the spring.

    If you’re looking for something in Tokyo, let me suggest a visit to the SkyTree. It’s easy to reach on the subway, and well worth the visit. I didn’t even go up to the top — I just walked around the outside, looking up and occasionally remembering to breathe :-) In the little shopping center inside, on the fourth floor, there’s a NanoBlock store. My wife is now a bonafide NanoBlock enthusiast.

    • Thanks for the suggestions, Michael. We do a lot of shrine/temple visits when we’re in Japan. The 3rd-largest Inari shrine is in Kazama – we found that one to be very pleasant. The area is also known for its ceramics.

  9. Ana says:

    I’m not as put off by moe military stuff as much as you are, but it also isn’t something I prefer to read if I had a choice.

    Thanks for reading Marine Corps Yumi! Nogami-san is very cooperative when I asked him to tone down on moe and skin exposure, but I occasionaly let him loose to provide some fan service that’s in line with the storyline (ie. not a random onsen/bath episode and such.) Couldn’t ask for a better collaborator! (^_^)

    • It’s been a really well thought out story so far. I like how Rita’s the most confident and Donna’s the most privileged. ^_^ There’s a lot to recommend it. Review forthcoming.

  10. Josh says:

    Thank you for answering my question! I guess I didn’t realize things were as complicated as that.

    As for the whole moe thing I’ve seen in the other question(s) & comments, I honestly enjoy it. There’s definitely a show or two where I found it creepy (As much as I enjoy Strike Witches, there’s some moments where it’s creepy……even for me), but more often than not I liked the moe shows I’ve seen.

    On top of that, I’m 50/50 when it comes to Yuri. Half the time I like sophisticated titles, and the other half I just like hot/steamy lesbian sex. Is that bad?

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