Strength Does Not Matter! The Beautiful Warrior, Shutumon

That’s the title of episode 16 of Digimon Frontier. There are two things going on here: first the title is suggesting that strength is unimportant and the second that Shutumon is beautiful. It’s not hard to realize what the implicit meaning here is: for girls, their strength is irrelevant, what is key is their beauty. And paired up with episode 15 where the enemy digimon gains her new evolution with lots of strength but at the price of being hideous, well, these two episodes are quite loaded with gender norms and tropes are old as human civilization.

It’s actually been a while since an anime (or manga) that I’ve seen has been so overt with expectations of beauty for women versus men. It’s not at all subtle in the least; there is only 1 female enemy digimon and it is only in her case that the question of appearance is ever raised. The other digimon are all male and are not particularly aesthetically pleasing. One is a mix between a gnome and dwarf, another is an inhuman lizard-like digimon and another a metallic humanoid. None really scream bishounen in the least and when they evolve into beast form, never is there any talk about their new appearance. In contrast, the animators of Digimon Frontier felt the need to make the single female enemy digimon not only cute and resembling a young girl, but also made her into a sort of idol in the digital world. Furthermore, they gave her a vain personality. In other words, they created her in a way that put appearance at the forefront of her character.

ranamon as an idol

Ranamon is an idol in the digital world.

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First volume of Limited Lovers: Nothing to suggest it has anything to do with a young girl in a wheelchair.

First volume of Limited Lovers: Nothing to suggest it has anything to do with a young girl in a wheelchair.

Limited Lovers was brought to my attention when someone told me about how Karin, the heroine, strives for her dream even through she lost the use of her legs and is now reliant on a wheelchair. With a premise like that alone, I was pretty intrigued about this 3 volume manga. You don’t see much diversity in manga. It’s definitely there, but the majority of stories don’t deal with people who have specific health issues, a different sexuality, or gender identity. Retrospectively, the title should have been somewhat of a warning sign. Limited Lovers doesn’t conjure the best implications and images (even if it was probably unintentional going by the ending), but having been told Karin would be striving for a dream against prejudice about her being in a wheelchair, I didn’t pay this much heed. (more…)

Common Game Elements is a feature where I talk about something that reoccurs a lot in video games. It may be something very prevalent or something that I noticed because it has come up a few times in recent memory. Since the last few features have been about characters, I decided to do something different this time. Once again, as primarily someone who plays a lot of RPGs, I’ve noticed that most games in this genre tend to have a legendary city dedicated to either magic or technology. The city is legendary either because it’s highly advanced, the final surviving pocket of an ancient civilization, or the place to go to learn magic or other scholarly pursuits.

This isn’t necessarily a bad trend, in fact, I quite like it because these cities/towns are always something I look forward to seeing and getting absorbed in the magic of the place. It’s also not exclusive to games either. Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, which deals with a group travelling to different worlds, had a world dedicated to the scholarly pursuit of magic as well. One could say this is one of my favourite tropes and if I were to make a general rule about it, it would sound something like this:

“There will be one city renown for its magic or technology.”

Examples:

  • The magical kingdom of Zeal from Chrono Trigger. It is probably the best example of this element.

    Zeal (Chrono Trigger) – The Kingdom of Zeal was a floating island above the clouds that was renown for its magic, scholarly pursuits (3 Wise Sages), and technological advancements (Mammoth Machine, Dark Omen, Blackbird, etc). Its magic was so advanced that individuals on Zeal comment how “weak” your characters own magic is compared to theirs.

  • Lufenia (Final Fantasy) – The city of an ancient technologically advanced people. It is also worth noting that the best magic spells can only be purchased in Lufenia. (more…)

I recently found this link on MAL (from an anti-moe club) to an article about moe (I recommend reading it, it is quite insightful) and the article inspired me to finally write the post I’ve been meaning to write. Now I know that “moe” isn’t suppose to be a particular character trope or a specific something. It’s a feeling. I get it. I really do. And for the longest time, I had trouble making a case that the roots of moe come from a very specific type of moe. Thankfully, the article is written by someone who has the knowledge I was lacking and they laid out the claim I was desperately trying to make, but had no real historical proof to back it up. So here it is, what I always suspected but didn’t have any idea where I could research such a suspicion to back it up:

Today, while hardcore lolicon (and its young-boy equivalent, shota) still exists, the biggest descendant of lolicon has a new name, moe (“mo-eh”) . . . The word moe actually comes from a kanji meaning “to sprout.” “My vegetable love should grow,” to misuse a quote from Andrew Marvell—a slow budding affection, like a tender young plant. Or like an underage girl, unfortunately. The moe which makes me periodically ashamed to read manga in public, and which has caused a raging debate in the Otaku USA letter column, is a particular kind of moe which has its roots in the Japanese love of cuteness, domesticity and—one element among many—the lingering lolicon trend. It’s the moe of stories like Azumanga Daioh and Strawberry Marshmallow and Tori Koro and Yotsuba&!, in which adorable girls do adorable things.

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It’s been a while since I’ve singled out a particular chapter of a long running manga and wrote a post about it, but this chapter bugs me on a number of levels. It was very painful to read this chapter because I’m a pretty big One Piece fan and I always liked Zoro, yet this chapter felt like all the bad things sticking out from time to time about the series finally came together in this one chapter. Sigh. Ok, here we go:

So the basic gist of this chapter is that Tashigi stays back with Zoro to fight Monet because she doesn’t believe Zoro can cut a woman. This is all fine and well especially since she looks down on him for this view, but that’s all going to be undermined by the fact that Tashigi can’t handle Monet on her own and Zoro has to step in to help her out (and to tell her off for talking big but not delivering). While he does admit to disliking slicing certain things (aka women), he still proceeds to cut Monet in half. Now this would have been a good subversion to the can’t hurt a women thing shounen works like to employ, but alas Zoro purposely doesn’t use haki so Monet survives the blow and Tashigi is the one to deliver the finishing blow. She calls him out on it next chapter, but Zoro refuses to admit he didn’t want to kill Monet because of her gender. He even starts talking down to Tashigi because she’s so weak. (more…)

Ok, so I haven’t watched all the seasons so this may change, but from what I’ve heard of the most recent seasons, it is not very likely. I’ve watched seasons 1-3 in their entirety and half of season 4 and a few episodes of Savers. That out of the way, here is why I think Tamers, aka season 3, is the best season and I really lament the fact that there aren’t any more seasons like it. (more…)

So building on what I wrote at the end of the last Mini Mendacious Moment, I wanted to show case just how the Designated Girl Fight works in action; and one of the clearest examples of this silly trope is found in One Piece. I love this manga to bits as it’s genuinely interesting with quirky characters and a really well developed world, but I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that the author needs to constantly invoke this trope in each brawl. Robin, the other female crew members, fairs a bit better, but Nami has this constantly, almost religiously, applied to her and when there is no female opponent for her to face, expect her to need rescuing or do support work.

Early in the manga, Nami is portrayed as one of the weakest members (along with Usopp). As such, she rarely fights and when she does, it’s usually against no name mooks. When she is first introduced, Luffy ends up saving her twice. First against a group of mooks and then against Buggy.


Nami is saved from Buggy by Luffy in her earliest appearance

This would be perfectly fine, especially since the male Usopp is likewise painted as of “normal strength” and rarely engaging enemies early on and winning. It would have been a case of Nami just not being a fighter, except once the full crew brawls start up in the Alabrasta arc, everyone including Nami and Ussop join the fighting. Yet unlike Usopp, Nami is always stuck fighting female villains or mooks. (more…)

Quite the deceptive cover given what goes on in this volume. Although I guess it does capture the later moments between the two. Not one of my favourite covers either. It’s ok, but it doesn’t really stand out like some of the others.

Summary


Alice begins her painful recollections after being pushed and probed by Haruhiko. When she awakens, she is now, more than ever, convinced Shion did not love Mokuren. Haruhiko tries to convince her that he did, but Alice refuses to believe it, pointing to the kiche mark still present on her forehead. Resigned, Haruhiko asks her to at least ask Rin about it.

Meanwhile Rin begins to move his plan forward. He has Majima set Tamura up to be arrested by the police for Rin’s kidnapping and stalls Mikuro, while Majima is suppose to pick Alice up. Unfortunately for Alice, she is left alone at this crucial moment as Haruhiko happens to have another heart attack (presumably because he jumped to get to Alice as soon as possible after him and Mikuro ran into Rin) and Miss Ayako takes him to the hospital. Meanwhile her brother, Hajime, leaves to talk to Rin’s mother, who is worried after hearing about the kidnapping stunt Rin pulled. So when Majima arrives, he has no resistance and easily convinces Alice that he’s a police officer and he wants to take her down to the station for questioning. (more…)