Free & Fun!: Free Comic Book Day, May 2nd

If you haven’t visited your local comic book store lately, this is both a good excuse (and a fun trip)! Free Comic Book Day is exactly what it sounds like – a day where you can go into your local comic store (or other nerdy fun spot) and get some free comics and giveaways. A lot of times there are also sales/deals and sometimes even guest artists (!!) to hang out with during the day.

It’s also an all-ages event, so there will be comics for the little ones as well as for the older folks. This goes on every year and I have a blast! The website below also has a search feature so you can find where your local store is in relation to you for the big day. 🙂

Review: Hellsing (manga)

Hirano, Kohta, and Duane Johnson. Hellsing. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Manga, 2003-10. Print. Vol 1-10.

“Your job, gentlemen, is to fight these monsters with bullets, garlic, and holy water. Put a stake through its heart, cut off his head, burn the corpse, scatter the ashes at a crossroads. For further instructions, consult Bram Stoker.”
-Sir Integral Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, Hellsing vol. 2.

To say that this series is one of my favorites would probably be an understatement. Behind Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, and Outlaw Star, it is one of my favorite series. It demonstrates my love for the horror genre, when done well. (I have a tendency to dismiss most vampire stories that detract from the original mythos or do so in a way that’s disrespectful towards it.) Hirano, for all his fanboyish/otaku tendencies (of which he has many, and has been openly caricaturized in High School of the Dead‘s Kohta Hirano) has written a lovely manga that not only exemplifies the strengths and depravities of humanity.

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Review: Fate/Zero (Masters & Servants, Part 3)

Light Novels: Gen Urobuchi with illustrations by Takashi Takeuchi, 2006-2007. Translations written by Baka-Tsuki
Anime. Aniplex, 2013.

I’ve withheld myself from reviewing some of the Master/Servant partnerships until now for the very simple reason of them being fairly uninteresting (my opinion, not others) or not really relevant in my conversation/analysis of gender. However, the Masters and Servant I’ve chosen to analyze today are probably a great deal of the crux of any analysis of the series, not just because of their roles in the series (and beyond) but because of their interesting personalities and traits.


Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald, Sola-Ui Nuaba-Re Sophia-Ri and Lancer (Diarmuid of the love spot)

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Review: Psycho-Pass

“This is the disease called serenity, a form of death that people have wished for.”
– Oryou Rikako, Psycho-Pass.

Psycho-Pass. Funimation, 2013. Streaming via Netflix.


Wow. Being both a fan of Philip K. Dick and (generally) darker sci-fi, I was expecting a fun little romp with this anime. What I got was so, so much more. Not only did I get an anime that basically combined some of my favorite parts of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and sci-fi film Equilibrium, I got a fun, literary-laced anime filled with a dystopian society as well as interesting gender commentary. Continue reading

Conversation: Gender utopia in Dystopia

Good day everybody!

I know this is a quicker post turn-around than I do, but after writing up my review yesterday on New World, it got me thinking about something that I’ve noticed more and more in texts (FYI: I consider texts to be anything in the social spectrum that can be evaluated, though in this case the easiest would be literature, movies, video games, anime, etc.) that there is an interesting trend. While we as a culture (at least in Western society) are headed towards a large saturation of dystopian texts, there seems to be a significant increase in one aspect of all those dystopias:

There is, if not complete equality, an abolishment to gender as a separating factor.

Consider the most popular dystopia of our current times, Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games. While one can argue that the main character of Katniss does have to go through quite a few public shows to change her image from “rough and tumble” girl into “lovesick girl” or perhaps “attractive girl” for the cameras/public, she is far from the last person to be presented such.

Finnick, the much swoon-worthy victor of the 4th District, not only is ‘styled’ by his managers to be a sex object – his costume is described as pretty much a fishing net that ties into a knot at the groin – but he is revealed to have been prostituted by the President of Panem. Johanna Mason is dressed sexily as well – but there is no commentary via either the authorial intent, nor the public in Panem, of either being more “shocking” than the other – both are regarded as sex figures.

More examples that come to mind immediately – New World’s casual acceptance of bisexuality/gender dissolving roles. The class system in the Divergent trilogy allows no difference for male or female recruits in Dauntless for physical weakness, and both abusive antagonists in positions of power are male and female. Howley’s Wool allots men and women equally to all roles, whether it be physical or  beurocratic. Ready Player One has both male and female fighters on equivalent footing within the OASIS.

The thought I’d like you all to consider, is that in all of these gender-equal creations, equality comes at a cost of other human or social equalities being diminished or non-existant. What is it about gender equality/sexual equality that makes it so that one must focus on a larger, more evil issue in order to accomplish it? I’ve always been drawn to dystopias based on the merit that we find the distilled version of humanity within destruction or social dissolution. So why is it that in texts, we have these horrific worlds, but sexual equality?

I look forward to your thoughts!

Review: From the New World

“We have to change our way of thinking if we want to change the future.”
Saki Watanabe, From the New World.

From the New World. Sentai Filmworks, 2014. Blu Ray Collections 1 & 2.


I first came across this anime in 2012. Based on a novel by Yusuke Kishi, it blew me out of the water as soon as I started. I was incredibly happy to find out there was a dub forthcoming; the blu ray quality is a treat to behold. However, this is NOT a show for kids. If I had to categorize it, it’d probably be science-fiction/horror.

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Review: FF-13 Trilogy

Final Fantasy XIII [PS3]. (2010). El Segundo, CA: Square Enix North America.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 [PS3]. (2012). El Segundo, CA: Square Enix North America.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII [PS3]. (2014). El Segundo, CA: Square Enix North America.

To try and properly put XIII into context is difficult, especially when keeping the game play separate. What I’m going to attempt to do is review the main characters/sisters Lightning (Eclair) and Serah within the context of the trilogy.

To say that Final Fantasy 13 is a triumph for gender equality is obvious. Not only do we have two (main) female protagonists throughout the series, we have a caring father, sisters-in-faith  rather than by blood, we also have an engaged couple and a pair of star-crossed lovers. The fact that we have so many different types of family and relationships throughout the series also demonstrates that Square Enix has finally accepted that there are many differing roles possible for both men and women, a far cry when looking back at their earlier games in the series.

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Gurren Lagaan vs Kill La Kill

Both series, made by Trigger – both making the most unthreatening things in existence (the spiral, clothing) deadly to the entire human race – and both, I would argue, handle how to save the world in very different ways.

Although both have extraordinary lengths of fanservice (Look at Yoko in GL and Ryoko‘s outfit in KlK for further confirmation): each are very different in their message of what can save humanity. For the main character in GL, Simon – it’s being a “man,” protecting what’s important to him (the people in his life). For Ryoko – it’s the same, but what is important is that there is no gender assignment behind it.

The fanservice in Kill la Kill is also far from one-sided. We see just as many bare bottoms of men as we do women – and the main character chooses of her own volition to fight her battles for both herself and the people around her. Gurren Lagaan is strong in this – all the characters, regardless of sex, fight on – and the head of their tech division is quite obviously a gay male – but I feel like Trigger has hit their mark in a gender-balanced show after watching Kill la Kill.

After all, how many anime, let alone television shows, have the main character (as a girl, not as rare) having to save the world (getting slightly rarer) against the craziness of her mother (exceptionally rare) – PHYSICALLY (incredibly rare at this point) without a love interest to support her (a la Sailor Moon) or “establish” her femininity. No one questions if Ryoko is female – yes, her outfit leaves little to the imagination – but no one comments to her being unwomanly or masculine for it. Nor do they suggest, as I’ve seen in other shows (Battle Athletes, I’m looking at you, though I love you still) that women who are physical must ‘automatically’ be lesbians.

After having avoided the series for a long time because of how bad I heard the fanservice was, I have to admit I did the series a disservice. And I must also say, I’m quite excited to see what Trigger comes up with next.

(And I hope other studios take note – GL did well in BR/DVD sales, but I can almost assure you that those figures are small compared to the preorders for KlK.) Society’s ready for a new kind of hero – one that can be tough but still a woman.

Review: Fate/Zero (Part 1)

Light Novels: Gen Urobuchi with illustrations by Takashi Takeuchi, 2006-2007. Translations written by Baka-Tsuki
Anime. Aniplex, 2013.

To preface this review, I’d like to point out that the written light novels and anime were both original works; neither were based on any sort of visual novel (like Fate/Stay Night). While the mythos from Fate/Stay is used as a basis for what happens, the Fourth Holy Grail War is an original concept, with many backstories and information not originally conceptualized in the visual novel, anime, or graphic novel series of Fate/Stay Night. I do plan on reviewing Fate/Stay Night at some point, but I felt like reviewing this timeframe/universe first.

That being said, this series – both the light novel and the anime – are fantastic examples of a gender-balanced world building. Between the intellectually, but physically weak Waver Velvet, the deadly markswoman Maiya, and the gender-neutral Saber, the world based on Urobuchi’s light novels is a great example of people being people rather than forced into particular gender roles. My plan to deconstruct the series is probably more than I can chew, to be honest, so what I’ll do is split up parts of it, probably based on characters.

Master/Servant Waver Velvet & Rider (Alexander the Great)

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