Archive for the LGBTQ Category


LGBTQ Manga: Collectors, Volume 2 (コレクターズ)

February 21st, 2017

On Yuricon, we have an intentionally very broad definition of Yuri.

Yuri can describe any anime or manga series (or other derivative media, i.e., fan fiction, film, etc.) that shows intense emotional connection, romantic love or physical desire between women. Yuri is not a genre confined by the gender or age of the audience, but by the *perception* of the audience. In short, Yuri is any story with lesbian themes.

This is intentionally broad to allow fans’ perspective take the driver’s seat. In essence – if you (or I, or anyone else) think it’s Yuri, it is. 

Here on Okazu, we have a slightly less broad concept around how I, personally identify Yuri vs something that I might identify as LGBTQ.

“Yuri is lesbian content without lesbian identity”

As I see it, once the character (or the characters around them) see the character as lesbian, that’s a door that can’t be closed. Any story I write about a woman who identifies her romantic partner as “her wife” is, by it’s nature, going to signify them as lesbian because, as we’ve learned in the last decade marriage is most definitely a political act for a same-sex couple. It’s political because, even if the country where it takes place doesn’t recognize the partnership, it forces everyone around the couple to related to them as a couple.

If I tell you I have a housemate, you may decide on our relationship to fit your level of comfort. When I say I have a wife, I have defined that relationship for you and now you must figure out how to deal with it.

All of which is to say that while Collectors, Volume 1 was a terrific Yuri manga, Collectors, Volume 2 (コレクターズ) is a terrific LGBTQ manga. In my review of Volume 1, I praised the series being grounded in reality, and especially in the reality of a relationship. As I said, “Life. What could be funnier, more poignant or more interesting?” In Volume 2, we get something more…something that I knew I was missing, but didn’t want to be demanding and ask for. We get lesbian identity.

Typical of creator Nishi UKO, the identity issue is integrated seamlessly into the narrative. No awkward Marvel-esque “She likes girls” banners, just a co-worker who casually notes that Shinobu and Takako are a couple, then talks away an acquaintance’s immature perspective on that fact. So Shinobu is out to at least this coworker or he’s smart enough to see the obvious.

But what actually lifts this book out of Yuri into LGBTQ (oh, nice hierarchical slam there Erica. Sheesh, elitist much?) territory is the entirety of the final part of the book. As Shinobu and Takako consider, not for the first time, moving in together, they have a fight. Not a snarky, bickery fight, but a real fight. Takako is insensitive, Shinobu is rude, Takako throws the contents of her glass at Shinobu and leaves, then leaves town to go to her family’s home.  I cannot for the life of me remember any other chapter of any Yuri manga that so accurately portrayed a real fight between a couple, and I’m hard pressed to come up with too many other manga that have done so. (And now that I think about it, all of them are Josei.)

Takako disrupts her younger brother, Takeyuki’s, life by sticking around. He’s been clued in for a while that she has a lover, but has no idea who it is. When he sees the number calling her over and over on her phone, he calls back, surprised to find that it’s his sister’s friend Shinobu. He tells Shinobu he thinks his sister has had a fight with her lover. Shinobu says she’s on the way. The scenes of Shinobu taking the late train are some of the best panels I’ve ever seen in manga.

When Shinobu arrives, Takako comes outside to speak with her and, at last, the penny drops for Takeyuki. Although Takako has never said anything, Take and Dad take in the fight, the body language and the whole thing becomes clear.  While they do not say, “I am a lesbian” at all during this, there is recognition of them as a couple by Takako’s father and brother and that, specifically, sets this manga apart.

This is followed by a touching ending. The final words of the series are “Let’s live together” with furigana that says it louder for the folks in the back -“Let’s get married.” ^_^

A magnificent end to one of the most deeply satisfying manga about adult women ever, by one of my favorite artists. 

I look forward to whatever Nishi UKO-sensei has planned next, but for now, I’ll just bask in the glow of my choice for top manga of 2016 for all the right reasons.

Ratings:

Art – 10
Story – 10 
Characters – 10
Yuri – 10
Service – 1

Overall – 10

Collectors was perfect. Thank you.

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Upcoming LGBTQ Lectures and Events

February 15th, 2017

Get out those calendars! It’s time to plan our next few months of LGBTQ Comics and Manga events and lectures.

February

This weekend, on February 19, 2017 our friends at Yaycon, this year in Amersfoort, Netherlands, will be celebrating Yaoi and Yuri and love! I had a lovely time at Yaycon a few years ago and hope to one day return. 

 

March

I am pleased as punch to be part of Rainbow Manga along with Gay Manga’s Anne Ishii at Hunter College in NYC on March 10, 2017. The lecture should be open to the public and as soon as I have a link or address for you, I will be sure to let you know. Hunter College is 695 Park Ave. in New York City. Anne and I will be speaking about LGBTQ manga in Japan and here in the US!

April

For San Francisco-area friends, I expect you will not want to miss this year’s Queers & Comics Conference. Keynote Speakers are Tagame Gengoroh and Mariko Tamaki (and, I have all my digits crossed that maybe, maybe we’ll have Nakamura Kiyo as well. Pray for this. Pray hard.) I’ve made all my reservations, so I will absolutely be there. I’ll be participating on a Queer Manga history panel and moderating a Craft of Queer Manga panel and bouncing around like a child the rest of the time, surrounded by such awesome talent and energy. Please join me! The 2015 event was magical.

In addition to praying, the Queers & Comics Travel Fund has been created to help Q&C bring in queer creators from around the country (and world) and give them a place to stay, food, etc.  You know that queer comics don’t often have the kind of mainstream distribution that the superhero stuff gets, and queer creators are often living on the edge. If you can even offer a cup of coffee’s worth of support, you can get some great digital rewards, including ABSOLUTE POWER: Tales of Queer Villainy!  and more from Gay Manga and Northwest Press. (I also wrote to Seven Seas to see if we can get some Yuri manga on that rewards list. We’ll see if they are interested.)

May

Toronto Comics Arts Festival is around the corner and on my radar once again. After a few years away – and missing it badly – I’m going to do my very best to be part of the 2017 event. (I cannot wait to experience the new de-improved DHS processes at the airport. Ugh.) TCAF is held for free at the Toronto Reference Library and external venues in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, May 13-14. Traditionally, it has always been very LGBTQ-friendly and inclusive and manga friendly and inclusive, unlike some other comics events, for which manga is just a thing some people sell there. There’s usually a Queer Mixer before the event, as well. Guests include Tagame Gengoroh, Jillian Tamaki and Sandrine Revel, all of whom have worked on LGBTQ content. Also, our friends at Sparkler Monthly are usually there and this year they have even more Yuri than ever before. It’s a don’t-miss event for folks who can make it.

My schedule fills up pretty fast these days, so if you want me at your event, as a moderator or to present, do please contact me. Here’s to a year of amazing queer manga events!

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LGBTQ Representation in Anime and Manga on ANNCast

February 10th, 2017

I’ve been writing and talking about LGBTQ themes anime and manga for almost 20 years now and you know what? I never get tired of it. ^_^

Today’s ANNCast, El Gee Bee, you can hear a fabulous, and much too short, conversation about that very thing.

Thanks very much to Zac Bertschy, Jacob Chapman, Valerie Complex, and Jason Thompson for a fantastic and fascinating conversation. I’ll never watch Pokemon the same, thanks Jacob,  (and honestly, I liked La Blue Girl for what it was, but I was admittedly an adult. I liked the live-action even more because it was hilarious.) I was delighted to be able to mention Claudine, Murcielago (coming out this year in English from Yen Press) and Otouto no Otto, coming out this year from Pantheon Books. (I said it was IDW during the recording. My apologies.)

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I’m so honored to be back on the show and I really enjoyed the heck out of this conversation. I hope you all have as much fun with it as I did. Thanks, everyone!

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LGBTQ: Oath, An Anthology of New (Queer) Heroes

January 29th, 2017

I’m horribly backlogged on the books I backed on Kickstarter in 2016. Today I’m going to take a look at Oath, An Anthology of New (Queer) Heroes

Created by a lineup of talented creators, this book is a fully diverse anthology that takes a look at the stories of people who are or have become, heroes and whose gender, sexuality, race and body size do not in any way negatively affect their ability to function as heroes.

My two favorite stories were Theo Nicol Lorenz’ story “Lunch Break” in which two people with secrets learn to trust and love one another – a theme that repeated throughout the book and Lee and Ty Blauersouth’s “Safe House” which broke age barriers as well and had a truly joyful ending.

“The Fourth Option” by Adriana Ferguson and K. Van Dam actually made me laugh out loud with it’s quirky “information assimilant” who makes packets with key information, including her name. 

And Jenn St-Onge’s No Sugar was a tale that would be familiar to any manga fan of magical girl stories.

As one might expect (and for me, desire) in an anthology, the art styles are varied, but I’m going to  say that the story telling as tighter then usual for an anthology. Especially one that has such a broad overarching topic as “Heroes.” I don’t think any of the stories left me feeling as if anything wwas missing and almost all of them felt scripted exactly as they needed to be – enough to tell the story, not too much to preach, not too little to leave us wondering what as going on.

Ratings:

Overall – 9

As Kickstarter anthologies go, Oath was one of the best I have read. Oath is available digitally on the Oath shop or softcover in print.

 

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LGBTQ Comic: Honor Girl (English)

January 15th, 2017

I love that the phrase, “This one time at camp” has entered American cultural consciousness, whether because of or despite the origin of the line. Because, for most people of my generation, camp was a place where we developed our sense of self, worked through puberty and became who we actually were. I have many camp memories, and of them, most are really strange. ^_^

So for me, reading Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash was a bit like a view through a curtain of an alternate version of my own youth. Maggie’s experience at a Christian sleepaway camp is the alternative-universe version  of my own Girl Scout camp experience where none of these things happened and no one was weird (which is weird itself) and we all came and went and no one ever tried to stay in touch. I don’t think.

In Honor Girl, Maggie begins the story with an awkward meeting with a girl whom she had met and fallen in like with as a camper, when Erin had been a counselor. The bulk of the book focuses on Maggie’s life, her experiences at the camp, her falling in like with Erin, beginning to get a clearer picture of her own desires and leaving without ever having gotten a chance to address what she and Erin felt.

In between that, we watch Maggie wade the deep, dark, and treacherous waters of young adulthood and friendships and rivalries with other girls. Individual moments stirred long-dormant memories in me, none of which had much emotional baggage. I remember camp…I don’t remember a single person at camp, only the horses. ^_^;

Honor Girl is plainly told, with a very adult-looking-back-at-her-youth tone, as if Maggie is struggling to find meaning in it, when both we and she know that there isn’t any, not really.

The art is clean and easy to follow, no sketchy line work clogging up the panels. Backgrounds are simple with just enough detail to establish the mise-en-scène fully.

The relationships between Maggie and the other girls are exactly as fraught as I remember relationships being at that age. One wants so much to have someone to confide in, but there’s always the understanding that betrayal could come for the most absurd of reasons. Maggie’s relationship with Erin exists only in outline, but Maggie knows the moment that the moment has passed and it’s over before it’s begun. I appreciated her self-awareness.

Ratings

Art – 7
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Service – 1 Nostalgia can be a form of “service”
Yuri – 3

Overall – 8

If you enjoy autobiographical comics like Liz Prince’s Tomboy or Mari Naomi’s I Thought You Hated Me, then you will also enjoy Honor Girl. I certainly did. ^_^

For today’s review, I must thank Okazu Superhero Clearesta T – thank you very much for picking something off the Yuri Wishlist! It’s greatly appreciated. Please contact me,so I can send you your Superhero badge!

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