Monday, April 30, 2012

This week's Fate/Zero recap- and a bit on Jormungand and Saki Achiga-hen

You know the drill. :-)

I won't contribute to the recap- or post at all- next weekend, because of finals next week. To compensate, I offer extra fan art

and a hearty recommendation to try the currently airing Jormungand. It's a fun, kick ass series about an arms dealer named Koko and her retinue of bodyguards- including a woman named Valmet, who goes weak in the knees for Koko. As much as I appreciate the thoughtfulness of Fate/Zero, it's also sometimes nice to watch an action show that's just about blowing stuff up.
Fan art because, why not? ^_^
Update: Oh. D'oh. As pointed out here, Valmet has the same seiyuu as Irisviel, Ohara Sayaka, and Koko is played by Itou Shizuka, who voiced Rei in Marimite and Nadie in El Cazador.

The new Saki series is doesn't stand well on its own at all, but it's a way to see the original cast after the events of season 1 until (I'm assuming) a second season of their story is green-lit. As you can tell, I'm not that attached to the new cast. lol

Until next time!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

YES. Canon Yuri Couple Confirmed in Mouretsu Pirates Episode 17!



Jenny and Lynn! Jenny and Lynn!

I haven't felt this utterly satisfied by a new anime series in a long time. THANK YOU, Mouretsu Pirates!

Brief recap for those who haven't been watching this show:
In the distant future, 16 year old Marika finds out that her father was captain of a space pirate (well, more like privateer) ship called the Bentenmaru. Marika chooses to take his place as captain and starts training under the supervision of the Bentenmaru's crew. It helps that she's used to piloting space ships as a result of being in her school's Yacht Club. Chiaki, the prickly daughter of another space pirate captain, joins the Yacht Club and befriends Marika. There's some nice shippability between Marika and Chiaki.

Over the course of the show, the Yacht Club's President Jenny graduates, and the Yacht Club's former Vice President, Lynn, takes over.

Additionally, the Bentenmaru's crew gets exposed to an illness that requires them to be quarantined for a month. The Bentenmaru will lose its pirating license if it doesn't carry out any piracy during that time, so Marika recruits her friends from the Yacht Club for a standard pirating mission. After much foreshadowing, Lynn asks Marika and the others to accept Jenny's request for them to "kidnap" her from her arranged wedding (long story behind it) and take her to the university where she's enrolled. Jenny's family won't be able to remove her from the university once she's there. Before the Bentenmaru can take action, Jenny runs away from the wedding thanks to the gun she kept under her dress and her solo piloting skills and boards the Bentenmaru. The episode ends with Jenny's family's ships in hot pursuit of the Bentenmaru.

The two things that I liked most in this episode:

YURIYURIYURI. Duh. Jenny and Lynn are great characters on their own, and they're great as a couple. I've known for a long time that they come out as a couple in the novels this series is based on, but I'm still thrilled with how well their storyline was executed here. Jenny and Lynn's arc grew organically out of the previous arc, and it doesn't feel cheap or pandery at all. The scene in which Jenny and Lynn kissed and the girls on the Bentenmaru squealed? Loved it. Jenny and Lynn's friends didn't react any differently than if they'd seen a girl and a boy reunite with a great big hug and kiss after foiling an arranged wedding. I also loved the little hand squeeze between them before Jenny started listing how she would repay the Bentenmaru. So cute. I've enjoyed Mouretsu Pirates from it's first episode, and this just adds to how happy I am with it.

I'm also glad that Jenny saved herself more than anyone else did. Stories about women who want to escape arranged weddings are usually (if the wedding doesn't actually happen) resolved by the would-be bride being rescued by the person she really loves. (e.g. The Princess Bride, as much as I enjoy that movie.) Lynn obviously would have done whatever it took to get Jenny out of there, but I love that Jenny was the one planning her escape from beginning, before getting herself out and then saving herself again when convincing the Bentenmaru's insurance company to accept her conditions instead of her uncle's.

Bravo, Mouretsu Pirates.

Mouretsu Pirates is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Check out Okazu's Live Stream Yuri Panel!

On Sunday April 29 (i.e. tomorrow), Okazu's Erica will be holding the first live online yuri panel! :-) The panel can be found here. It will go live at 5:00 pm Eastern US Time.

Erica will answer a few questions submitted to her in advance in addition to one or two that people ask during the panel.

If you want to attend a yuri panel but haven't found any in your area, this is a good opportunity!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Yuri fangirls on Fate/Zero, part two

Wow, I'm really glad my previous Fate/Zero post got such a good response. (So many hits! o_o) Seems there are more Saber x Irisviel shippers out there than I thought. lol Here's the newest post by Day and I. Lily wasn't able to contribute this week, but will be back in later posts. Episode 16 was kind of spirit-crushing, but still fun to pick apart.

Also, shameless plug time. Please vote for my blog in the Aniblog Tourney! This blog is currently being voted on, and every vote is appreciated!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Anime Review: Senki Zesshou Symphogear

I was wrong when I called Symphogear a vehicle for promoting the seiyuu playing three of its four leads, Mizuki Nana, Takagaki Ayahi and Yuuki Aoi. This show was created to promote Elements Garden, the group of music composers that produced Symphogear's music. Elements Garden member Agematsu Noriyasu conceptualized the story.

Symphogear (also dubbed Symphogay and Sapphogear by yuri fans) is about girls who sing to transform, magical girl-style, into superpowered armor called Symphogear in order to fight aliens called Noise.

A girl named Miku (second one from the left in the pic above) invites her best friend Hibiki (second from the right) to a concert for her favorite singing duo, Zwei Wing, but isn't able to make it. When the Noise attack during the concert, the members of Zwei Wing, Tsubasa (far right) and Kanade, transform to fight them off. Kanade dies protecting Hibiki, and fragments of her broken weapon get lodged in Hibiki's chest.

Two years later, Hibiki transforms into a Symphogear user while protecting a little girl from the Noise. She learns that Symphogear is a classified government project and becomes Tsubasa's fighting partner. Tsubasa loathes Hibiki at first because she doesn't want Kanade being replaced- and her being in love with Kanade hasn't exactly sped up the mourning process. Of course, she warms up to Hibiki and her memories of Kanade eventually motivate her to do her best again as a singer and a Symphogear-user, rather than cause her to shut out people.

A rogue Symphogear user named Chris (far left in the pic above) attacks Tsubasa and Hibiki because the show's villain got to her before the government could. Of course, Hibiki befriends Chris and turns her good.

Miku, the lovestruck Lois Lane to Hibiki's Clark Kent, gets mad at Hibiki after finding out she's been keeping such a big secret from her, but they make up. As the bravest and arguably most realistic character in the show, Miku became my favorite.

The only character I really disliked was Hibiki because she starts out as one of those cheerfully incompetent leads. Her personality paired with her quavering, Kaname Madoka-like Yuuki Aoi voice made me feel like the writers were trying way too hard to make me go moe over her. But then something miraculous happened. She trained hard to become stronger and more competent, and...actually did so by the show's halfway point. I came to like her, and this made the show much more watchable for me. Miku, Tsubasa, Kanade, and Chris are all likeable (or at the least, not annoying) throughout. One of the show's saving graces when Hibiki was still a twat was that Tsubasa and Chris found her as irritating as I did.

And thank goodness for the decent characterization, because I didn't care at all about the plot. The initial concept- girls singing to fight aliens- gives way to something or other about a millenia-old priestess who has possessed a member of the government and wants to destroy the moon because her love for the god Kadingir was rejected when the Tower of Babel was built...yup. But even though the ending didn't really make sense, it was like...the writers knew that their show was already ridiculous and cheesy, so they just went to town with it. And the final scene, while still not making sense, was actually sweet. So I was satisfied with it.

I'm not completely sure what verdict to give the villain, though. As a villain, she fails, but as camp, she gets top marks.

The music, of course, is a huge component of this show. Bless her heart, Yuuki Aoi tried, but she isn't much of a singer. Takagaki Ayahi is a talented singer and I have enjoyed some of her music, but I didn't like the songs that she sung in her Chris voice that much. Thankfully, Tsubasa's seiyuu is the lovely Mizuki Nana and I really enjoyed her songs.

Story: Cheerfully dumb plot + mostly likeable characters (including an annoying lead who actually grows) + a dollop of irritating service (do we really need a crotch shot of Tsubasa when Chris knocks her to the ground?) + a helping of canon, surprisingly un-servicey yuri + several catchy songs = okay overall.
Art: C-
Overall: C+

Monday, April 16, 2012

Three Yuri Fangirls, One Fate/Zero Post

Ever watched Saber and Irisviel and thought that they look awfully good together? Ever wanted to read Fate/Zero recaps from a yuri fan's- or feminist's- perspective?

Check out the collaboration between Day of GAR GAR Stegosaurus, Lily of Stray Girl In Her Lenses and I as we pick apart the deliciousness that is Fate/Zero in the first of a series of posts.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Yuri Fans, Represent!: Aniblog Tourney


For the first time, my blog is going to be in the Aniblog Tourney. The Aniblog Tourney is a biannual competitive voting competition in which active anime- and this year, manga- blogs are pitted against one another in polls.

This way, the blogs will be pared down until one is left and declared the winner. You can read more about the Tourney here. One of the points of the tournament is to expose people to different blogs they might like, so you should check it out- and of course, vote for my blog. lol I don't expect to win the Tourney, but I still want a good showing. ^_^

The first four polls have just been posted and will be up for two days. My blog's poll will go up on the 23rd. Dates for all of the polls are here.

The other blogs that I will vote for include Heart of Manga (a shoujo manga blog), The Manga Critic (guess what it's about), Experiments in Manga, Okazu, and Gar Gar Stegosaurus (an anime and manga blog by a yuri fan). Of course, I'll take a look at some of the blogs that I'm not as familiar with also.

And some more Fujieda Miyabi, just because.

Reporting Back: Lesbian Anime and Pizza Night

In my yuri panels at cons, I show clips of different shows. To show full episodes at this event, I needed to get screening rights. Surprisingly, the guy in charge of obtaining screening rights for events at my school didn't have much luck getting responses, while I was able to without too much trouble. (I guess you're more likely to have luck if you contact the distributors as the individual holding the event instead of the institution hosting it.) I felt a little bad about usurping his job. lol But I needed those rights, damn it.

Media Blasters responded to my Facebook message by saying that it's fine as long as I don't charge admission. A representative from Nozomi kindly responded to my Facebook request with this handy link, and shortly after I emailed Nozomi and Section 23 permission requests as outlined in the link, I got screening rights from them. My school would normally have to pay an exorbitant fee to screen, say, a live movie, but thankfully, anime distributors are sane.

To promote at my school, I put up some fliers in the Campus Center, emailed faculty in the Study of Women and Gender and East Asian Language and Lit departments, asking if they could forward info on the event to students and faculty in their department, as they have done before, and announced the event in two classes where I thought it would be relevant.

Before the event started, I made paper signs saying, "LESBIAN ANIME AND PIZZA NIGHT IS TAKING PLACE HERE." My friend, classmate, and fellow yuri fan Sara helped me tape them up. The Resource Center's DVD player wouldn't finish loading the Kannazuki no Miko DVD 1, so Sara went to her dorm to get her Playstation 2. (Yay, Sara!)

While Sara was gone, my second and third guests, Erica from Okazu and her wife Pattie, arrived. I didn't tell Sara, who's familiar with Okazu, that they were coming, so she was really surprised when she came back. lol

At the point in the KnM episode when the Orochi followers attacked and Chikane rode to the rescue on her horse (something that made more sense to me than anyone else there- the horse part, that is), another friend, Andi, stopped by and I flailed to explain what was happening.

After KnM ended, I put on Marimite and ordered pizza from Pizza Amore. Then I played Revolutionary Girl Utena, then Simoun, then Strawberry Panic!

At the beginning of Simoun, a friend of Sara's stopped by, along with two students who hadn't seen any yuri at all before. I was delighted to introduce them to the genre. Then we played the second episode of Marimite, talked about nerdy things without anything playing, and capped the night off with a couple of pretty clips from the Utena movie. (Many thanks to Sara for getting it from your dorm! I'm sorry you had to run there twice. ^_^;) My favorite clip- also my favorite part of the movie- is the dance scene.

By the time we played the Utena movie clips, Sara, Erica, and Pattie were the last attendees left. Erica had also brought some manga and neat goodies from Japan to give to the different people who came to the event. After Erica and Pattie left, Sara and I did the clean-up...which was just throwing the pizza box away, unplugging the Playstation, and taking down the paper signs outside.

And, that was it! There was much fangirling (it is not possible to have a gathering of Marimite fans without at least three of them gushing about how awesome Sei is), humorous commentary and relishing of pizza. ^_^

For anyone interesting in holding a similar event, I would think that you could do it at a local library, or an lgbt community center, or a non-lgbt community center. Once I figured out how to get the screening rights, it was pretty easy to set up.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Yuri Event At My School This Week!


There will be pizza, soda, and much merriment. (I will wait to order the pizza until about half an hour in so that I know what to get.) If you're in the area, stop by!

The anime line-up (order not yet determined) will be:

Kannazuki no Miko episode 1
Maria-sama ga Miteru episode 1
Revolutionary Girl Utena episode 1
Simoun episode 1
Strawberry Panic! episode 1

If you need directions to my school or a map of its campus, you will find them here.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Anime Review: Black Rock Shooter TV Series

A lot of people liked Black Rock Shooter's ending. I didn't, just to be up front. I liked its first seven episodes, but episode eight closed the show with a fizzle instead of a bang, leaving me without strong feelings about BRS as a whole for better or for worse.

Black Rock Shooter is, from its first arc, about the danger of avoiding- or not properly confronting- reality. BRS's protagonist, a middle schooler named Mato, has to help her new friend Yomi stand up to her abusive childhood friend Kagari, who has constructed an insulated reality of her choosing to make Yomi take care of her.

In a fantastical alternate dimension, Kagari's alter ego Chariot tries to kill Mato's alter ego, Black Rock Shooter. Mato herself eventually enters the alternate dimension to restore Yomi's memories of her, which disappear after Yomi's alter ego, Dead Master, dies.

Two of the other beings in the alternate world, Strength and Black Gold Saw, represent Mato's best friend Yuu and Saya the student counselor, respectively. Saya seems like the real villain of the show, since she keeps emotionally manipulating the girls who ask her for help in order to control what happens in the alternate world. Her role is more complicated than that. Episodes six and seven, which explain Yuu and Saya's connection to each other and the alternate world, are the best in the series.

But then came the ending.

As I said above, Black Rock Shooter has a clear point from its opening arc on. It makes that point without feeling overly didactic through episode seven. Episode eight chucks any pretense of subtlety out the window, ties a bib around its audience's neck and spoon-feeds us its message. The resolution to the conflicts that built up until then felt...well, like the writers forced the characters to go where they wanted them to go- like story puppets- rather than let them take the story wherever it may have naturally gone, just to neatly tie things up as they wanted.

Yuri comes in the form of subtext- mainly Mato being blushy and fluttery over Yomi and Yuu good-naturedly teasing her about it. There are other potential ships, but Mato's flutteriness is all that I read into.

Story: B until the final episode. C+
Art: B
Overall: C+

Friday, April 6, 2012

A short, fluffy Strawberry Shake Sweet fanfic

I just re-discovered a Strawberry Shake Sweet fanfic that I wrote in my freshman year of college. As far as fanfic I've written goes, this one isn't too embarrassing. ^_^;;; So, I'm willing to re-print it here. (With a few minor edits to make it read less awkwardly.) It doesn't have a title, and it's all ages-appropriate.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Conbust 2012

My college's annual con, Conbust, took place this past weekend. I didn't do a yuri panel this year. Instead, I'm planning a Yuri and Pizza Night! event later this month. I'll post more about it after its details are set in stone.

Day 1 of Conbust, Friday:

I went to the room hosting the 7:00 panel on queer content in sci-fi, fantasy and anime and caught the end of the fanfic panel. Its attendees discussed whether one could re-publish a fanfic as a successful novel. Fifty Shades of Gray, anyone? Or the scads of professionally published "sequels" and alternative takes on Jane Austen's works? (I know the latter type of fanfic- fanfic derived from literary fiction- isn't what the attendees had in mind.)

The queer panel attendees mostly discussed how to incorporate queer characters into speculative fiction- like, how do you reference a character's queerness without being "gratuitous"? The person asking the "gratuitous" question was totally well-meaning, but the question (as it was phrased) was a little jarring...and the ensuing discussion made me a little the person who said that "If the characters are openly gay, the show's going to be all about them being gay." It reminded me a little of how, before I came out to certain friends, I was less afraid of outright rejection than changing from "Katherine" to "My Lesbian Friend Katherine" in their eyes. Thankfully, the less enlightened members of the panel were countered by the ones who got it.

Later in the evening came the panel on publishing. Two authors, Stephanie Dray and Annette Klause, and one editor, Sharyn November, hosted it. It was the fullest of all of the panels I attended this past weekend, and it was interesting. Here are my notes from it.

  • November: “We live for wonderful writing. We live for finding that new author who’s fantastic. Everyone’s looking for wonderful writing. That’s the important thing to know. *cosplayer enters* Oh my god.”
  • Sci-fi = hard sell, but coming back into vogue. Dystopian = growing in popularity.
  • Publishing landscape has changed drastically over the years and is changing every day. People ten years younger than you will be mostly reading e-books. Books are becoming almost a fetish object for some people.
  • Melanie Kroupa = “A wonderful, wonderful children’s and YA editor.”
  • Every author-editor relationship is different, because it’s like a business relationship that’s intensely personal. It’s a very tricky relationship to find balance with.
  • As an author, you’ve got to know what to ask for and when to say no. (When interacting with an editor.)
  • November: “I always say to authors, ‘I don’t trust you if you always agree with me.’”
  • Different grammatical editing requirements for children’s fiction than fiction for an older demographic. (e.g. “goin’” = no, “going” = yes)
  • “The way you get published is to have a little talent, a lot of luck, and a lot of perserverance.”
  • “I think in traditional publishing it helps to have an agent, especially one who will be a lioness for you.”
  • Agents = “You want that person you gets you. You want that person who will fight for you. There’s a chemistry involved.”
  •  Get involved with author’s organizations, read books on it, learn what to do. Be professional in your letters to publishers. Keep cover letters short and professional. “If you don’t take yourself seriously, I’m not going to.”
  • Target your submissions. Know what kind of work the publishers you’re submitting to publish.
  • You need to belong to writers’ groups. You need to share your writing with other people.
  • For romance writers = Romance Writers of America. Members of romance community = bigger on self-promotion than most writing communities.
  • While trying to sell your first book, don’t stop writing.
  • “Romance will take a lot of risks, I think. At least Harlequin does.”
  • How do you find an agent? There’s Agent Query and Publisher’s Lunch (where you can see what people sold which books, and what kinds of books different people typically represent). 
  • Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America <- Only open to people who have already been published.
  • Never go with an agent or publisher who wants you to pay them up front to read your work.
  •   If you quote, say, song lyrics or a work of literature not in the public domain, you have to pay for it. This can be expensive. The publisher won’t pay for it for you.
  •  If you can summarize your book in one sentence in a catchy way, that saves your editor a lot of trouble.

The last panel of the day was an 18+ panel called Tits or GTFO (Internet survival). It wasn't what I expected, but it was funny. The panelist went through different geek genres and media (sci-fi, fantasy, games, anime), making fun of how they objectify women. She mentioned a Japanese website that generates what someone's boobs would look like based on their name. She tried to find it, but wasn't able to. I had the dubious honor of being the person who found it via my own laptop, and we had way too much fun coming up with random names to type in, like "Clark Kent," "Bruce Wayne," "Olive Oyl," "Picard," "Spock," "Kirk," "Spongebob," and "your mom." Here it is. ^_^;

Day 2:

In the afternoon, I stopped by one of the dealer rooms and met a super-nice person who reads this blog, Kori Michele Handwerker. We chatted for a bit, and I spotted a piece of art at her table that I bought for reasons'll understand if you see it.

Heehee. ^__^

I also learned about her ongoing webcomic, a gay romance with a light dash of fantasy called Prince of Cats. I got a copy of the first issue of its print version. Only one issue has been released so far.

It's about Lee and Frank, two best friends who attend a high school in a small town. They have feelings for each other, but have yet to admit it to...well, anyone. (One student notices that Lee likes Frank and drops little hints about it when he sees Lee.) Assuming that Frank is straight, Lee gives Frank's number to Adi, the girl who likes Frank. Adi asks Frank to homecoming and he accepts because he doesn't want to hurt her feelings. Naturally, Lee gets jealous. Another plot point is that even though Frank wants to go to college, his family can't afford it, while Lee's can. A cat Lee saved has offered to grant him any wish he has (which Frank knows about), and Lee wants to use it so Frank can go to college. Frank refuses it, telling Lee that if there's anything they've learned from fairytales, it's that magically fulfilled wishes backfire. (Frank can also now understand what cats are saying, although that aspect only briefly comes up.) In short...the story is in its early stages, but it's cute so far. ^_^ I like both of the leads, and I'm looking forward to seeing how they get together. The end of this volume promises that the homecoming situation will be resolved in the next issue's worth of story.

After meeting Kori, I wandered up to the where the Anime 101 panel was held. A librarian who promotes anime at the library where she works ran it. She presented a PowerPoint illustrating what anime is, its history in Japan and the U.S., and what some of its genres are. Disappointingly, yuri and yaoi weren't included. The nicest part was seeing the attendees gush over the titles they really like out of the examples shown.

A few hours later, I went to the Geeks in Love panel, since I've seen panels like it advertised at a lot of cons but never attended any of them. It was interesting. Some of the topics discussed included: how not to be creepy when role-playing with someone else as a fictional couple online (which I haven't done); how to deal with people in certain geek forums on the internet being like, "Show us yer boobz!" to posters who identify themselves as women; and stereotypes about geek girls and guys...and how some geek guys are so excited about meeting geek girls that they can be creepy and objectifying when interacting with them. One woman irritated me when she said that all lesbian movies and lesbian storylines on TV suck- and no, she didn't seem to be using hyperbole. There aren't enough lesbian movies and lesbian TV storylines, let alone enough good ones out there. But if you think that there aren't any good ones, you aren't really looking. Another woman and I gave her some recommendations, like Imagine Me & You and Lost Girl. (Lost Girl is awesome. Watch it.) Poor Buffy. Even though its lesbian storyline definitely has some problems- like Tara's death and Willow being labeled a lesbian without bisexuality ever being brought up- the panel host and attendees flayed it more than I thought it deserved. Granted, I'm biased because Buffy was one of my obsessions in middle school and I have sugar-coated memories of it.

Day 3:

I attended the 2:00 E-Publishing, Self-Publishing, and E-Books panel that was hosted by Kathryn Scannell, an author who has published her work in print and in e-book format, and Lisa Janice Cohen, an author who has exclusively published in e-book format. This panel was really interesting also. Here are my notes:

  • E-book publishers want a lot more self-promotion. They won’t hold your hand for you.
  • Before sending your story to a small publisher, research their reputation and look at sites like Preditors and Editors. (“Preditors” = not a typo)
  • Authors often mistaken copy-editing with developmental editing, or proofreading with developmental editing. If you don’t understand what developmental editing is/the value of developmental editing, you shouldn’t self-publish.
  • At every stage, if you’re using someone’s professional services, you should use a contract. Read the fine print. Read everything in their terms of service. Be sure you aren’t giving away any rights that you don’t want to give away. In contract with e-book publishers, include condition like, “If you don’t agree to publish this within [for example] three months, I can take this book elsewhere.” Otherwise, a publisher can sit on your book indefinitely.
  • There are businesses out there that specialize in choosing your e-book’s formats.
  • Re: formatting, before you put anything up for sale, have you friends download it on their e-readers to be sure that it looks good.
  • One can (politely) email with request for free e-book w/ advice on electronic publishing.
  • Blog by Kristine Rusch = recommended for advice.
  • To anyone contemplating the indie route: Don’t be in a rush. There’s so much crap being put out there that if you rush it instead of polishing it to a high sheen, doing the right promotion, GETTING REVIEWS, before publishing it, it’ll get buried underneath all of the crap.
  • A lot of e-books publishers want to know what your online presence is—a website, blogging, social media, etc. Make sure your online presence supports the talent you’re trying to convince publishers you have. If, say, you’re selling a humor book, your tweets shouldn’t be boring. But don’t get too caught up in social networking/promoting, because you won’t get writing done. Set up an opt-in newsletter on your website. Publish it at least once a quarter.

And that was it!