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  • Portrayals of Black Masculinity in Carole & Tuesday

    Despite its social justice-minded storytelling, Carole & Tuesday can be a frustrating watch as it swings back and forth between exploring these characters as nuanced individuals and perpetuating harmful stereotypes of Black masculinity.

  • Gearing Up or Dressing Up? On female fighter equipment

    When it comes to a particular category of battle-related gripes, I think I’m less the annoyingly fastidious critic nobody wants to watch a show with, and am actually harping about something genuinely important: female fighter equipment, which too often sacrifices realism and practicality in favor of sex appeal. In anime, this issue manifests in three major forms: “boob armor,” high heels, and “chainmail bikinis,” all which hurt the dignity of not only the characters who must wear them but also the female viewers who must endure the real-world effects of such normalized sexualization of womens’ bodies.

  • Pregnancy as the pinnacle of womanhood in TSF porn

    Though inherently absurd once verbalized, “Abenime” are stories that speak to a nation’s plight. They are designed to manufacture consent by defining baby making as the norm. Women can make babies; ipso facto, their role in saving Japanese society lies in buffering the ever-shrinking population with young, healthy babies who will carry on the nation in the future.
    And while this attitude reaches public discourse by way of popular entertainment, it also likewise prevails within narratives not often discussed out in the open.

  • The Dead Mothers of Shounen

    To be a mother in a shounen series, especially of a male protagonist, is often a guaranteed death sentence. It also means a lack of characterization outside of her role as a caretaker. Even otherwise highly acclaimed series are guilty of these tropes, and I can’t help but wonder why they continue to persist.

  • Queer Subtext and Representation in Kamen Rider

    Much of the franchise’s homoeroticism is a result of the franchise’s severe gender disparity, which it has only recently taken steps to address; the series took 31 years to get its first female Kamen Rider. There have also been canonically gay, transgender and nonbinary characters, but the quality of representation is questionable. Regardless, many LGBTQ+ viewers have seen their own experiences reflected in the many characters of Kamen Rider, whether implicitly or explicitly.

  • Is it Hot in Here? Consent, communication, and boundaries in Sweat and Soap

    Even with a hefty dose of olfactophilia, Sweat and Soap is as heart-warming and nourishing as it gets. In a genre rife with toxic relationships and uncomfortable relationship dynamics, Sweat and Soap takes what seems like a fetishistic premise and turns it into a story about the growth of a healthy relationship. Throughout the story, we see Natori and Asako set boundaries, communicate clearly, and, most of all, grow as individual people.

  • The Always Smiling Girl: How Tohru critiques toxic positivity

    The narrative takes care to demonstrate that Tohru has her own issues, and highlights that her relentlessly positive attitude and her devotion to putting others before herself is not healthy. Ultimately, Fruits Basket explores and unpacks the harmful side of her relentless positivity as one of many healing stories across the series.

  • Cannon Busters: Black representation beyond social issue dramas

    Anime with multiple Black leads, though not unheard of, were rare. I had to know if this was a fluke, or an elaborate marketing ploy to bait viewers like me, who eagerly soaked up every ounce of non-stereotyped diversity they could get their hands on. What I discovered was so much more than that. The fun of Cannon Busters isn’t just its inclusiveness, but in the way it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

  • Convenient Monsters: The problem with Frill and Wonder Egg Priority’s take on trauma

    Just as the dreamscape Wonder Killers provide a convenient and killable representation of the issues that harm young people, the writers of the show invent a convenient “monster” and pin the blame for those very issues on her. As a result, a lot of the nuance in the series’ treatment of trauma and suicide is lost.

  • When the Most Precious Diamond is Not a Piece of Jewelry: MAJOR 2ND and female baseball players’ struggles in a male-dominated sport

    Although Daigo’s teammates and rivals are mainly male in the beginning of the series, as time goes on, the female cast becomes increasingly robust, to the point that Daigo’s middle school team is majoritively formed by girls. This is big for the sport anime genre as a whole, as it represents an important step towards gender equality and the media visibility of women in sports.

  • “Serves You Right”: The abolitionist condemnation of retributive justice in Akudama Drive

    With a cast mostly of “dangerous criminals” identified by the crimes they’ve committed instead of their names, I assumed Akudama Drive’s dystopian setting would act as little more than set dressing in a story that ultimately reinforces, rather than challenges, the stigmatization of criminalized people. I have rarely been happier to be proven wrong. Echoing the calls of the prison abolition movement, Akudama Drive delivers a powerful and subversive statement against the criminal legal system, one that goes beyond slogans like All Cops Are Bastards and questions the basis of our conception of justice.

  • Race, power dynamics, and the missed opportunities of Great Pretender

    The initial premise promised colorful heists alongside an interesting story, but it ultimately failed its characters of color.

  • How No More Heroes tackles otaku toxicity

    No More Heroes is able to distill my biggest issues with the anime scene, mocks those who defend and perpetuate its shittiest elements, and makes me hopeful that things can improve by having Travis embody and then question his identity as a scummy anime nerd.

  • Kyubey’s Multi-Level Marketing Scheme: The capitalist metaphor of Madoka Magica

    Looking at this series through an economic lens reveals yet another layer of interpretation: a story about the cruelty of business models that profit off the worker’s suffering.

  • Genderless Gemstones: The pros and cons of Land of the Lustrous as non-binary representation

    In the discussion surrounding queer representation in fiction, things are not always so simple as stamping a work with “good rep” or “bad rep”. While the series is not perfect—or perhaps because the series is not perfect—Land of the Lustrous makes a useful case study for reading and critiquing through a queer lens.

  • The Girl with the Healing Kiss: How Talentless Nana explores gender, morality, and the savior complex

    Despite having a teen girl assassin as its protagonist, the contrast between Nana and the healer Michiru ultimately paints a picture of the ‘savior complex’ being righteous amongst women.

  • Honda Tohru and the Strength of Nurturing

    Female characters who put their energy into caring for others, rather than standing up and fighting, were dismissed as passive doormats who exist only for the male cast’s development. One such character was Honda Tohru. The first part of the remake has made it abundantly clear that Tohru is plenty strong. However, since her strength comes in the form of traditionally feminine roles such as nurturing and protecting those dear to her, audiences tend to disregard her strength because of how these roles are devalued.

  • Idols Gone Viral: How Hololive VTubers both subvert and reinforce expectations of idol femininity

    Contemporary virtual YouTubers are often characterized by a mix of conventional femininity and “unladylike” behavior. Yet, while the most prominent creators are able to explore more varied and even subversive topics than traditional idols, they are in many ways still beholden to a set of rules and expectations for what an idol “should” be.

  • She’s Fighting for Him: Black Clover and battle shounen’s male-centrism

    Women in shounen battle anime and manga have traditionally been sidelined, even as it became more and more common to include women as fellow fighters. When the guys go in to fight the final boss, the girls stay behind to help with some B-plot battle no matter how competent they may seem. In a new era of shounen, we’ve seen some of these tired tropes be turned on their heads. However, even when series like Black Clover make some strides, they still end up repeating tired cliches.

  • The Feminist Potential of the Lolita Fashion Subculture

    While it may appear on the surface to be an overtly feminine, traditional fashion, Lolita’s history and present iteration are rooted in rejection of the male gaze and societal expectations for women, as well as the building of women-centric community spaces. Of course, these things don’t make it feminist outright, but the result is a subculture well-positioned for the potential to embrace feminist ideals of choice, self-empowerment, and autonomy.