Archive for the Okazu News Category


In Memoriam, Okazu Superhero Bruce P

November 7th, 2017

Hi folks. I have no idea what to say here. This is the second time I’ve lost someone important to me, someone who I met because of Yuri. Okazu Superhero, Guest Reviewer and my very dear friend Bruce Pregger has passed away.

If you’re a long time reader, you’ve read many of his hilarious reviews and his event reports (I’m putting them all, and this post, into a new category, so they can be found simply) here on Okazu. He’s traveled with me to several continents and I’m going to miss him so much, I can’t even express myself.

Ah, crap. I hate this. 

I had a guest review of his all scheduled to run on Wednesday, it will still run, but dammit, Bruce, you were supposed to go with us to Tokyo in 2 weeks. Dammit.

Goodbye Bruce, you will be missed.

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Patron-Only Content Launched on Patreon

October 8th, 2017

I won’t be making a habit of this, but Patrons of Okazu got a chance to see some original content from the monster I’m calling The Big Book O’Yuri  (that’s not the real title. It has a name,it’s just under wraps for now,)

Thanks to all of my patrons for making this kind of work possible!

In addition, I ended up unexpectedly spending a few hours at New York Comic-Con catching up with folks on the floor (Thanks Christopher!) and I have learned some news that I can’t wait to tell you. Keep your eyes on this space. ^_^

I’ll be at AnimeNYC next month for my last domestic event. I think it will be a lot of fun. Hope to see you there!

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A Note from the Editor’s Desk – On Removing A Post on Okazu

October 6th, 2017

Today I did a thing here on Okazu that I have not had occasion to do very often – a post has been removed.

It’s not something I have to do often because this is my blog and obviously, most of what I say here is mine to stand by or not as I desire.  But this was different, because it put me in a situation I sincerely have never before been in and one for which I had only a theoretical plan of action.

Anyone interested in popular culture right now can see that we are at some kind of crisis point with abuse, harassment and stalking conducted online. But that problem did not start here and now. It has been pervasive since the early days of online chats, Usenet, BBSs. Essentially, any communications tool ever created by humans has been used by some humans for abusing others. These targets are often women, children, LGBTQ people, people in marginalized communities,like folks in queer or disabled communities, people of color or ethnic minorities.

Every day in the news, we can read about “nice guys” that “everyone knew” who have a long string of victims of harassment and predatory sexual and emotional behavior. In fact, this very week, the news has two such situations – one on the larger national political scale and another in the blogging/online magazine world.  It takes a lot of effort, shame and publicity to get publishers and donors, academic institutions and employers to cut their ties from people they like, or who are successful, even after repeated stories of abuse are uncovered.

Like me, you may have read one of these stories and said, “Just fire the creep.” I have always said that, as I think most reasonable people might.

Equally, I expect most of you know I have been targeted for online abuse on and off for decades, beginning with my time on USENET and 4chan’s years-long love affair with me. ^_^ I’m fairly impervious to trolls, attempts at harassment and abuse, but I understand others have had a different experience and people can be severely emotionally traumatized by online harassment.

This week I learned that one of our guest reviewers has a long, documented history of online abuse. I was, as you can imagine, horrified that I had given that person a place here on Okazu. To that end, Benjanun Sriduangkaew‘s post has been removed. You may click the link to read why on her Wikipedia page. I trust that she is a different person than she was – and certainly she was a completely different person when she presented herself to me – but I refuse on behalf of myself and all of you, to become part of this story without our consent or knowledge. Had she been an employee, she would have been fired. I will not be one of those employers, publishers or institutions who make excuses for her good work, no matter how good.

Online behavior ought to have consequences – this may be a small one, but it is the one I can do.  This is the complicated part: One may be a changed person, but one is still obliged to do one’s own reputation damage control. One must make amends or at least attempt to do so.  Others cannot be responsible for removing the toxicity built up over years of bad behavior…or, honestly, in a perfect world this would be true. We see other people doing that all the time. “They were nice to me, though.” “They are a good writer/salesperson/producer.” Yes, but that’s not the point, is it. The point is, the abuser gets to move on and grow and let go of the abuse, but the victims don’t. They are holding the ball of anger and fear.  It is wholly up to the abuser to make amends and only then should we say “fine, we’ll give you a chance.” 

I apologize to all of you and going forward I will do better research when people I don’t know directly seek to write for Okazu. 

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Happy 15th Birthday, Okazu!

August 14th, 2017

On August 14, 2002, I created the domain okazu.blogspot.com and wrote,

Welcome to Okazu!

“Okazu” (おかず) is Japanese for appetizers – and is slang for lesbian sex because, you know it’s not *real* sex. ^_^

It’s also a good name for dribbles of writing that aren’t stories – just thoughts and comments and updates on things I’m doing. Most of those “things” will be Yuri-related, some will be about women in comics and others will be me screwing around as I travel the world. Whatever it is that brings you here, welcome and enjoy the tasty Okazu. ^_^

The day after, I wrote,

“Day Two Blog –

Water is running low, I’m feeling weak. There is no end in sight.” ^_^;

I didn’t have a point, or a mission, particularly. I was planning an event at Meow Mix in New York City and I thought having a central place to communicate from seemed like a good idea. I think. Because, honestly, I don’t remember what I was thinking, exactly. 15 years is a really long time. At first, Okazu was mostly a list of the events I participated in, promoting Yuricon and the Revolutionary Girl Utena Movie with CPM’s blessing. (Which, like a genius, I never actually wrote about. The first Film Festival post here was the BFI Gay and Lesbian Film Fest in London, in March 2004.)

I know that I was planning on running the first Yuricon in 2003 and as running an event was kind of complicated, but people seemed to think it was as easy as ordering a pizza, I wanted a place to write about some of the issues we’d face.

By October I said,

In effect, 2002 is over for me. Now the Yuricon staff and I will be focusing on entirely dull and uninteresting administrative things – signing up vendors, advertisers, sponsors, etc.

 

In November, I buckled down and really started talking about building a convention. I wrote The Anatomy of an Anime Convention 101, Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5.

And, as the year came to an end, I went, willy-nilly, to Japan to see Comiket. Because why not? That was the beginning of the Tokyo Journal category here.

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Support Yuri News and Reviews –  Subscribe to Okazu withSubcribe with Patreon

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Can you see what’s missing? Up to this point, I really never once thought about writing reviews. It just never occurred to me, honestly. You can really see that I assumed no one but me was reading this blog because the first news/review I posted was on the New Hana no Asuka-gumi manga in March 2003. I’ve never been delusional about this series – it’s complicated and obscure and was not of interest to too many people in the United States in 2003. In fact, including me and Rica Takashima…the total number was probably 2. 

By May, I was fully focused on the upcoming Yuricon event. but I took a moment to write up what was the first of what would become the Yuri Network News. Tokyopop had licensed Between the Sheets by Erica Sakaruzawa – that was certainly newsworthy! And I had, for reasons, decided to go into manga publishing and was pushing our first book, Rica ‘tte Kanji!? by Rica Takashima. It bears repeating that the reason I met Rica was that she had come to that Meow Mix event in 2002. When she told me she was a Yuri manga artist, we both knew our meeting was kismet. 

June 2003 came and with it, an obsessive chronicling of Yuricon 2003.  It rocked and I’m really glad we did it. ^_^

That summer was filled with any number of events and it wasn’t until November 2003 that I reviewed my first anime. All these years I’ve remembered it as being Air Master, but it turns out I’m wrong and the first anime I ever reviewed here was Stellvia of the Universe! Remember that one? I was just thinking about it the other day. Maybe it’s time for a rewatch, huh? ^_^

Another surprise for me is that my first Maria-sama ga Miteru post came before the end of 2003. You’re able to watch my obsession with that series grow in realtime in my posts, from “Hey, this is an interesting thing you should know about,” right to “Must consume all of this immediately.”

I’m not at all surprised at the continuing appeal of many of the foundational series for us, series that set Yuri fans on the path to understanding and enjoy this genre, like Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena. I’m thrilled to pieces that old classics like Rose of Versailles and Dear Brother have found renewed interest in a modern age.  I’m still waiting for everyone to rediscover the wonderfulness of Devilman Lady. ^_^ And we’ve encountered so many new series that have established their place in the Yuri canon, from action-adventure like R.O.D and Bodacious Space Pirates, to “new classics” like Sweet Blue Flowers and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Not to mention amazing, moving series over the years like Simoun, Kaleido Star, and the Girls with guns on the Run trilogy of Noir, Madlax and El Cazador de la Bruja, which gave us so many hours of conversation! And let’s not forget the “classic” Yuri parody series Strawberry Panic!  and Kannazuki no Miko, a series that launched a whole new kind of Yuri fan in the mid-2000s.

We were able to run Yuricon 2005 in Tokyo and the Yurisai and  Onna! in 2007, both of which I like to think helped set Yuri on a whole new track toward genrehood. As we hit the 10 year mark, the country was heading towards a depression, publishing and distribution was radically altered and the end result was that we shuttered doing both manga publishing and events, but Okazu and Yuricon pivoted to an exciting new focus – public speaking and writing articles on Yuri that would help establish Yuri’s genre bona fides.

And so it has gone, for 15 years, juggling events (both mine and other people’s), talking and writing about Yuri anime and manga. This blog has been through a few renewals over the last decade and a half (and we’re looking at another one in the near future,) but it’s basically stayed the same. I’ve basically stayed the same, I think. Maybe. Or maybe not, but I don’t feel different, although I have less patience with spending time on stuff I’m not going to like, especially as there’s so much great stuff being released these days.  ^_^

What absolute has stayed with me for 15 years as the primary focus on Okazu is this:

Yuri is a way to build a bridge from American lesbian culture to Japanese lesbian culture. It’s true that Yuri is not “ours” as such, having so many owners, but it centers around our stories. That’s really the core concept to me. It’s true that readers, publishers and creators may not be LGBTQ or even interested in telling LGBTQ stories with any sense of  realism or honesty, but in the end, it’s our stories, and our opinions about those stories, that turn Okazu and Yuricon into a community for people all over the world. In 2017, I’d say we’ve been successful. I see more genuinely LGBTQ content in manga and comics and cartoons this year than I ever have before. (Anime is still lagging behind, but that’s not all that surprising.)

And above all other things, it’s that community that I want to celebrate today. I thank you YNN Correspondents, Guest Reviewers, my staff who travel with me and help keep this place running, folks who comment, folks who correct my mistakes and folks who simply enjoy the posts here – you, the Yuri Network, are the pride and joy of Okazu.  

My sincere and heartfelt thanks to Okazu Patrons.You are a major part of why I can keep doing this day after day. You’ve gotten me closer than ever to being able to pay Guest Reviewers, and allow me to give them tokens in thanks now. You’re helping me travel to events I report to you and with the media I consume and review. You’re all an important part of the team here at Okazu, thank you. This post was made just for you at your request. ^_^

I want to end with especial thanks to my wife who is my editor, my #1 fan and greatest supporter (as well as the best clever idea generator a person could ever ask for!) I can never thank you enough. Love you.

Thank you all and a very Happy Birthday to all of us!

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Yuricon at Yurithon!

August 1st, 2017

Please join us August 4-6 in Montreal, Canada for Yurithon, part of the Otakuthon event. I’ll be joined by some of my senior staff and dearest friends (but not all, and we’re really going to miss those of you not there!) and we’re doing a bunch of panels. I’m bringing a bunch of stuff to give out as prizes, so come with your best questions ready!

Here’s where you can definitely find us!

Friday: 5:00pm-6:00pm: The Secret History of Yaoi and Yuri
In this presentation, I trace the artistic and literary roots of some of the common tropes of Yuri and BL.

Saturday: 1:00pm-3:00pm: Must Read/Must Watch Yuri
This is our “flagship” panel – 90 minutes of Yuri anime and manga. We’ve brought animation clips and and tons of stuff to watch and read. Prizes are primarilyy for this panel. Bring it on!

Saturday: 7:00pm-8:00pm: A Yuri Otaku in Japan
We’re going to give you the Yuri-focused downlow on getting to Japan, staying there, shopping there and going to events there. Want to know where to get Yuri? Join us and find out.

Sunday: 1:00pm-2:00pmYuri Court”
This is a silly game I made up on the spot for a con Sunday. ^_^ Participants will “present a case” for a Yuri being Guilty (of being crappy) or Innocent (by being good) and a panel of judges (not just me, so don’t worry that I’m gonna slam your decision. There’s three of us, I can be outvoted. ^_^) will decide on a verdict. I hope to have some prizes left to offer folks for this game.

If you’re an Okazu reader or a member of the Yuricon community, please introduce yourself. I want to meet you all and thank you in person. ^_^

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