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I’ve been a fan of shoujo manga for 20 years, and for much of that, I’ve been fighting to get other manga readers to take it more seriously. I even started a podcast, Shojo & Tell, where I talk to other fans and industry professionals about it. Even so, the word “shoujo” for me evokes knee-jerk stereotypes and assumptions that I have to consciously fight against.
The Duke of Death and His Maid takes what could be a cheap device for titillation and, intentionally or not, transforms it into something far more emotionally powerful. When looking at the show as a story with metaphors about disability and navigating disability in that space, it becomes difficult to remove the fanservice without making the story weaker.