Summer’s lease hath all too short a date: Onii-sama e… #22

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Within Onii-sama e…’s fraught exploration of adolescent anxieties and the societal structures which bind, the elegant matriarch of Seiran Academy’s exclusive Sorority would be considered something an enigma where the student body is concerned. It isn’t too difficult to see why a figure such as Ichinomiya Fukiko would be considered the subject of every student’s adoration, however, all long skirts swishing with a gracefulness beyond her years, daintily arranging floral arrangements, golden curls whipping in the breeze. Despite the awe which follows, she nevertheless harbours a grave secret sealed deep within the confines of her heart… The source of which can only be found in a room which the maids have taken to calling ‘the sealed chamber’ in hushed tones out of milady’s earshot. Bedrooms often prove to be fascinating realms, revealing more about their occupants than words possibly could through personal whimsies. They essentially serve as a mirror upon which one’s psyche is reflected, yet unsettling implications lurk in the shadowy corners of Fukiko’s once the viewer is at last granted entry into this room and by proxy, her heart.

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Choosing the Highest Bidder: Generational Gaps in The Idolmaster: Cinderella Girls

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There was once a time I kept the notion of idols firmly at arm’s length, reluctant to delve into a contentious realm designed with artificiality in mind – yet watching the 2011 smash hit The Idolmaster proved to be an eye-opening experience. How strange it is, that I could have missed out on one of the more charming shows had I slavishly adhered to those naïve preconceptions of mine. As I quickly became acquainted with its supplementary material I found myself incorporating the more catchy numbers into workout routines, cooing over game footage, and even slowly warming up to the possibility of watching the accompanying live performances, despite all those initial reservations. However The Idolmaster is a multimedia franchise which goes beyond the thrilling sphere of 765Pro, which led me eagerly settling into watching its 2015 spiritual successor: The Idolmaster: Cinderella Girls.

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February 2017 Retrospective

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A gay dragon maid! My kingdom for a gay dragon maid!

Or, in which I briefly talk about all that I watched last month. Not sure if this will be a permanent fixture, but for now let’s take it nice and easy. Do note that I’m behind on most airing shows so perhaps I’m taking it easier than most. I may or may not be blaming Infinite Fall’s whimsical homecoming romp Night in the Woods for that.

An-y-wheeere~ Just not heeeeere~

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The World Ends with You: Osomatsu-san #17

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In Osomatsu-san a pair of close-knit siblings, Ichimatsu and Jyuushimatsu, possess a unique relationship in that it appears to be characterized by mutually unfathomable depths which only serve to mystify those around them; leaving a series of question marks in their wake. An ineffable quality suffusing such an unlikely comradery, they pose something of an enigma to the rest of the characters that appear within this screwball comedy. Both express difficulty when it comes to normative modes of self-expression: Ichimatsu sullen and anxiety-ridden, Jyuushimatsu flung out of space, veering towards non-communicative measures which results in them naturally gravitating towards each other. The seventeenth episode boasts an exploration into the fascinating bond they share, offering the viewer insight into otherwise impermeable headspaces through Jyuushimatsu tumbling down the existential rabbit hole promoted by an idle musing one breezy afternoon – “What am I?”.

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Isolate, Slow Faults: My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness

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If one were to sift through any bestseller list devoted to manga they would find a litany of expected titles gracing its lofty heights, yet last summer an autobiographical one-shot like no other gained traction, swiftly finding its way onto twitter timelines of those who would not otherwise consider themselves to be fans of otaku media. Catching countless purveyors off guard with its striking cover, they took to Amazon leading to over a hundred reviews being published within a reasonably short time frame. Through taking a cursory glance at the reviews I found a number of sobering sentiments, reviewers drawing attention to their own lived experiences – a rarity where this medium is concerned. It was only later I learned the history behind Nagata Kabi’s Sabishisugite Lesbian Fuuzoku ni Ikimashita Report, or The Private Report on My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness. Originally self-published on Pixiv and garnering over five million views, it wasn’t long before it gained a cult following due to Nagata’s achingly raw delineations on her mental health, interpersonal struggles, and sexuality; the physical edition placing third in 2017’s Kono Manga ga Sugoi!’s female category as a testament to its enduring impact. It has even been licensed for a western release courtesy of Seven Seas, slated to be released in June this year.

But to understand why My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness has turned into something of a cultural phenomenon, despite spanning less than 150 pages in total, it is worth exploring the profound weight of the sociocultural context suffusing Nagata’s highly personal narrative which it feels as if a generation have found themselves closely mirrored by. Despite the western sphere’s uphill struggle with validating mental health issues, contemporary Japanese society continues to eschew the notion, perceiving mental ministrations as something to be kept shut tightly behind closed doors and contained deep within the confines of the individual’s mind. With its collectivist society placing an emphasis on the family as a harmonious unit above all, pressures bloom in the shade.

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A Hideous Thing Inside: Pruning the Lily Garden with Yuri Kuma Arashi and Flip Flappers

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While much has been written about Ikuhara Kunihiko’s magnificent unravelling of yuri as a genre, Yuri Kuma Arashi (2015), little has been said about one of its earlier antagonists Yurizono Mitsuko. Despite serving as little more than a footnote in its scathing treatise of those who are marginalized by society’s normative structures, another lily in Arashigaoka’s vast flower garden, she is nevertheless a figure that is worth highlighting for context arguably casts her beyond the superficially clear-cut role. Another in Ikuhara’s long line of the unchosen, Mitsuko serves as the antithesis to the prim and proper delicacies which the genre exudes as she reworks them into tools which offer her an advantage, but more importantly – a means of survival.

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