Archive for the 'too old to be analyzing this' Category

This week in “I do these things so you don’t have to”: I Rewatched Sailor Moon

June 7, 2011

Ah, Sailor Moon, early obsession of my life, favorite textbook on drawing weird-looking girls, guarantor of my goody goody nerd status in 7th grade. Unfortunately, I never got to the later seasons way back when and have now, in my immense wisdom, taken up the quest to damn well get to the parts with the genderswapping Sailor Stars.

Now, some people I’ve talked to while embarking on this brain-draining journey have expressed interest in rewatching the show for nostalgia, or because they missed the fad the first time around.

Do yourself a favor and don’t.

For all its bizarre and wonderful queer and genderqueer moments, the show buys in heavily to stereotypical “girliness”, a lot of screentime goes to girls thinking about their looks and crushing on boys, men constantly act as deus-ex-machinas to save girls out of conflicts, and romantic relationships are two-dimensional magical fairy things that just happen when you wish really hard. It leaves me tearing at my hair in much the same way Akira and other hyper-masculine boys’ anime does…just on the opposite spectrum of gendered media.

Say what I will about the show in total, I did find the character of Sailor Moon herself way more compelling this time around. She’s a crap-at-being-a-heroine heroine (my favorite kind), and unlike just about every other boy-obsessed coming-of-age girl character I can think of, never needs someone to tell her to “just be yourself”. In fact, she struggles with every supporting character’s constant insistence that she become something else. It’s a great foundation for a strong female character, and it annoys me endlessly that more isn’t done with it.

Well, there are four whole seasons of opportunities left, maybe I judge too fast.

If you still want to reminisce on this cultural juggernaut, why not read the comic? It’s being re-released this September, is totally gorgeous in that twinkly girls’ manga way, and benefits immensely from brevity in exactly the same way that the tv show does not.

– – –

In the meantime, in order to somehow rationalize the 46 episodes I just watched:

HIGHLIGHTS OF SAILOR MOON SEASON 1 ACCORDING TO JEN:

(I would warn you for spoilers, except that this show came out almost TWO DECADES ago, and I already told you not to watch it)

WORST MOMENT:

QUICK, SAILOR MOON, USE YOUR MOON PEPPER SPRAY!

Having successfully defeated her monster for the episode, Sailor Moon turns her attention to enjoying the rest of a fabulous gala for which she has magically disguised herself as a princess, in the course of which she gets plastered on cocktails she mistakenly thinks are “juice”. In the single creepiest sequence of animation I think I have ever witnessed in my life, Tuxedo Mask literally SIDLES UP BEHIND HER, then absconds to a romantic balcony with her, visibly HOLDING HER UP, drapes her mostly-asleep form against a column and kisses her.

It’s played off as very romantic, the episode had been hinting at Moon and Tux’s previous incarnations’ (princess and prince of the Moon and Earth, respectively) tragic love affair, and in the balcony blackout kiss scene they both reference feeling that something very similar happened “in a distant past”. Yes. So I will infer that not only is Tux a creepy opportunist, but he is a habitual creepy opportunist fulfilling his reincarnated destiny to be a creepy opportunist

So, girls, be sure to get wasted at parties, it will encourage your magical fated sparkly prince to make the first move.

BEST MOMENT:

General Zoisite from the Dark Kingdom (badguy sub-boss #4) was given female pronouns and a voice actress for the US airing of Sailor Moon, presumably because US audiences could not handle a respectful portrayal of a gay character and relationship.

Zoisite is unabashedly effeminate compared to his counterparts, most apparently through his signature of teleporting in and out of locations in a swirling cloud of what appear to be heart-shaped flower petals.

In an unprecedented move for any anime I’ve ever watched, no one mentions it. There is no point at which the anime feels the need to point out, make jokes about, or otherwise make a judgement on Zoisite’s femininity. He’s just another character in the story. And his flamboyance certainly does not prevent him from being the most badass of the 4 Generals, more ruthless and immensely more effective.

When evil bosslady Queen Beryl finally kills him off (her distinctive method of human resource-management), his death is handled with…okay not exactly dignity, but the sparkly girls’ anime equivalent to dignity. He asks his lover/master/partner/???, Kunzite, to let him “die beautifully”, so Kunzite magics in a sparkly girls’ anime backdrop, and they get a last love scene, just to make sure that the audience is aware that yeah, they were totally into each other.

Zoisite’s death is then the only apparent motivation the show bothers to give to Kunzite’s evil efforts from that point on, winning Zoisite the official title of Most Developed Male Character in Show.

Unfortunately, you won’t find gay Zoisite in the comics, in which the Generals turn out to be Tux’s generals from past-life Earth, brainwashed into EVIL, and act as counterparts and eventual vague love interests for the sailor soldiers. Because in Shakespearean comedic fashion, everyone must end up coupled off (or because Moon-Earth diplomacy is mostly practiced through makeouts)

BONUS:

Some animators had a lot of fun designing monsters with the most ridiculous nineties fashions they could imagine. In this still, a sexy science-nerd-themed monster brings back the monocle.

Advertisements

The Real Pokemon of Brooklyn

March 30, 2011

It has been almost a month now since its’ release, and I have still not bought Pokemon Black & White, despite weekly debate over walking to the local Videogame Shoppe.

I am moderately obsessed with the existence of this game. Here is the long of it: (there is art at the end, promise!)

Girl avatars. To be perfectly honest, one of my favorite gaming activities is filling in my own genderqueer narratives when games throw female love interests and masculinity quips at my automatically male-presenting avatar. (This works particularly well on anything with the words “final” and “fantasy” in it.)

However, my less ironic ten-year-old-inner-self was very excited when Nintendo decided to let players pick between playing as a male or female Pokemon trainer. Last winter, teveling in the nostalgic glory of my Nintendo DS, I asked the Videogame Fairy for Pokemon Platinum so I could enjoy videogame girldom.

Ahem.



1. She is dressed like a teenaged Madeline on a shopping trip

2. Her sprite does the Dainty Anime Girl Run

3. She carries a HANDBAG: the action accessory of choice for ladies who want to ensure they only really have one hand free at all times, and get scoliosis.

The male trainer, unfortunately, looks even more like he fell out of a yacht club, so even my fallback spunky androgyny was out. They did at least throw me the small consolation prize of an effete best friend/rival roughly modeled off of The Little Prince, but overall I was Not Pleased.

Then Pokemon Black and White came out in Japan.
I got the word that the setting is based on NYC and the trainers are HIPSTERS. Immediately flying to google image search, I was overwhelmed with happiness to see a perfectly sturdy-looking girl rocking the hell out of some big hair and cutoffs.

This is the first Action Heroine costume that I can wholeheartedly get behind.

Actually, I think I own this outfit.

I mean…hiking boots, sweatbands, some sun cover for the face (I sincerely hope this means that trucker hats are still in fashion in Japan), a sensible yet distinctly feminine shoulderbag…it’s so reasonable.
And I know there have been grumbles about the short shorts, but man Bermuda shorts do not look good when you have thighs and when it is summer in Brooklyn you don’t even want to think about wearing anything longer than that.

So there is a big part of me that wants to whip out my thirty bucks and take that walk to the Video Game Shoppe and get my Girltrainer fix. But I’m afraid of the Truth. And I think that Truth is that the avatar is just an accessory that doesn’t actually affect gameplay, and the world map is nyc-inspired, not the game itself. In short it’s all just some decor changes to a game I only want to play out of nostalgia for being a kid and wholeheartedly consuming a trend, and, like so many other things, I need to just leave it to the new kids.

But since I hate letting go and LIVE to make meaningless lists, I posit the question: What if Pokemon Black & White was actually based on NYC?

In downtown Manhattan, you only battle assistants people have hired to fight in their place. On a Route in Northern Brooklyn, trainers sometimes fight you, sometimes just don’t really feel like it. There’s a new cycling road, but you can’t get on it right away because protesters are blocking the entrance with SUVs. Every time you put away your bicycle, there’s a 50% chance that it will get stolen. At which point you have to wait for an indeterminate amount of time in a subway stop while fighting off wild Patrats if you don’t want to hoof it across boroughs back to the Bike Shop.

File under: great ideas for unbearably-time-consuming hobby projects; conversation starters for nerds

Bonus: here’s the fanart that kind of started this whole geekout. I made this for the Nerds in Babeland‘s guest appearance on the Late Night JengaJam. A really fun geek talk jam to listen to – now I have an overwhelming urge to get back into the Justice League tv show. Thanks for the plug and very kind words, ladies!

When it comes to Pokemon and Hipsters and Action Ladies, Misty did all that shit first. She not only rocked cutoffs, but suspenders and the side-ponytail. Lightyears ahead of American Apparel.

The Pokemon mangas (I did say I totally consumed the Pokemon trend, right?) were my gateway drug into comics and Misty was extra-awesome in those. 1 part sporty, 1 part fanservicey, and all parts giving Ash hell all the time.

ACTION ACTION ACTION

March 24, 2011

Just in case anyone had forgotten that I am a total nerd turd, I drew some fanart. Of ANIME.

As I have mentioned before, my tv tastes often land somewhere around “teenage boy”. Recently I’ve been partaking of Soul Eater, a delightful romp about grim-reapers-in-training, fighting evil, yadda yadda, etc.

It is pretty low brainpower plotwise, low on gray areas, whatever. Doesn’t matter. Because the story is just a vessel for wonderful things like: a gender-neutral main character referred to with interchangeable pronouns (or if I could actually understand Japanese, probably no gender references at all)! Ze’s my faave.

 
To facilitate procrastination from working on real projects, I decided to use them to “practice watercolor”. Conclusion: I hate watercoloring.

Most of the cast is made up of caricatures that fuel the constant stream of action and slapstick humor, so that’s normal.

But then there is this really weird thing where the main character (Maka) is a girl, and is entirely a well-rounded and believable human being. She generally approaches her action-heroine responsibilities with something like an academic/athletic fervor as opposed to anger-issues insanity, has leadership skills that are not written off as bossiness, isn’t self-absorbed but also isn’t a pushover.


Check her SWEET action heroine shoes – stylish, but with traction, ankle support, and all-important breathability.

A pretty across-the-board theme in “boys'” action anime, is a hunt for strength, power, etc – it’s probably a metaphor for coming of age and proving your worth to adults, but I don’t really care enough to get into it right now. Because it’s mostly irritating and militaristic and has little relation to life that doesn’t operate like a videogame.

So, at a point, Maka starts following the same trajectory of need more powwwerrrr that looks like it will probably result in alienation of friends, getting mixed up in dark juju, turning evil for a while, and so on. However, another TOTALLY WEIRD THING about this show then comes into play: Maka, and most the action heroes in the show, fight as a pair with a peer who happens to be able to transform into a weapon. For Maka and her partner, the eponymous hero Soul (who transforms into the wicked looking scythe above), when they really succeed in one of the many unbeatable battles they have to face, they do it by stopping to have an Equal and Respectful Partners Communication Moment first.

What? No no no, the main sidekick exists to step in and save the main character when she finally pushes herself too far and can’t win! The heroic duo are supposed to be totally mismatched in personality so that they constantly butt heads in hillarious and plot-moving ways!

What is this? Two main characters whose strengths balance and complement each other, and work calmly and rationally through their problems by checking in with one another and sharing opinions on how to deal with a situation? Who, through the mythos of their world are in fact encouraged to constantly work on improving their compatibility and communication because that will help them gain power? Are my cartoons secretly trying to teach me how to have fulfilling interpersonal relationships?

It is totally awesome.
I’m trying to come up with a good equivalent example in my repertoire of tv, but I haven’t thought of one yet.

Also hillarious: there are an inordinate amount of David Lynch references in this show. Someone is a fan!

phantom hourglass

February 10, 2010

Man, I was really excited when Phantom Hourglass started with a loudmouthed girl pirate.
And then it was pasty old Zelda suffering from her magical multiple personality disorder again. And she got captured by baddies not once but TWICE before the intro was even finished…and will undoubtedly spend the entire game locked up somewhere.
Man, she’s got to get tired of that.

Meanwhile in this game your Link appears to be particularly in the clouds. Which seems appropriate, since so far this game makes me feel like a small stupid child playing with an interactive coloring book. I am hoping it is just beginning dungeon easiness, and that Nintendo will soon impress me with how they adapt all my beloved Zelda gameplay and challenges to a stylus.

I refuse to leave the 6 to 11-year-old demographic

November 29, 2009

I just started watching Nicktoon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, as visiting home means I get to bask in cable television.

I think I am a fan of it! The plot’s fairly predictable, and it’s mildly cheesy on the dialogue side like any kid’s show, but there are boatloads of strong female characters, a nice greyscale between good and evil, and even the requisite angsty power-hungry and honor-obsessed teenmale cries and admits that he loves his uncle periodically.

Plus, the fighting involves mostly elemental manipulation in martial arts form, resulting in very graceful fight scenes with all kinds of fluid wind/fire/etc motion throughout. Combine that with stylistically simple but consistently well-crafted animation and it is really a quite beautiful show!