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.

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Review: Fate/Zero (Masters & Servants, Part 2)

Fate/Zero:
Light Novels: Gen Urobuchi with illustrations by Takashi Takeuchi, 2006-2007. Translations written by Baka-Tsuki
(http://baka-tsuki.org/project/index.php?title=Fate/Zero).
Anime. Aniplex, 2013.

Master/Servant Tokiomi Tohsaka and Archer (Gilgamesh)

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Review: Fate/Zero (Part 1)

Fate/Zero:
Light Novels: Gen Urobuchi with illustrations by Takashi Takeuchi, 2006-2007. Translations written by Baka-Tsuki
(http://baka-tsuki.org/project/index.php?title=Fate/Zero).
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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Updates! (of moderate importance!)

Sorry I haven’t posted any reviews lately.

I’ve actually been tackling two pretty heavy stories – Fate/Zero (both the light novels and anime) and Blood+ (another anime). Blood+ is at least 50 episodes, so it’s been taking a while longer than I envisioned originally. Manga coming up are Romeo x Juliet and Genshiken. I’ve wanted to read and review 2 other series I own – Ooku and A Bride’s Story, but they’re not completed yet. I’m interested to see if anyone who reads this believes I should only review completed series/works, or if WIP are game. If WIP is okay, my analyzing could be revisited at a later date. If not, I feel like it’d be more complete that way. any thoughts from the peanut gallery?

*cue tumbleweed*

Second order of business: I’d like to put out an open call for someone who’d be willing to do some podcasting with me. This person should have somewhat of a background/knowledge of gender studies – bonus points if you’re into fantasy/sf/anime. This will be the secondary part of my NSU contribution that I want to get off the ground. Interested parties should email me at shutupsaber@gmail.com. I would be doing most of the legwork/research, unless you’d be willing to.

Look forward to some heavy reviews coming soon! 🙂

Review: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Kindness begets naivety. Courage begets imprudence. Furthermore, there’s no reward for devotion/dedication of any kind. Those who can’t understand that are not fit to be Magical Girls. – Akemi Homura, Puella Magi Madoka Magica (Episode 5)

I have fairly exacting standards when it comes to viewing anime; needless to say, I consider this show to be one of the few good exports from Japan in recent years. Between writing, themes, characterization, and subverting standard tropes, Madoka is a fine example of what can be done with a simple concept and turning it on its head. Sadly, the series is pricey to get ahold of (to own) in America; I lucked out with a good ebay auction. However, to view it, there are several streaming services (Crunchyroll comes to mind).

In examining the anime through the lens of gender studies/roles, however, I was fairly… disturbed and disappointed by some of what I found. While it is an excellent show in terms of feminine empowerment, it presents a mostly negative front for masculine identity and role.

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So… many… video games…

So I finished the Last of Us DLC. Needless to say I was not disappointed, and I am so thankful that Naughty Dog is a studio that has their priorities (quality vs rushing out a product) straight. However, despite this respite, I still have the following games that need to be played:

Bravely Default
Xenoblade (not very far in)
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gate to Infinity
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
New Super Mario Brothers 2
The Last Story
Ni No Kuni (not very far in XD) and
Kid Icarus (I sucked the first time I tried to play it)

Fortunately, I’m almost done with Pokemon X (while the rest of the internet plays it on Twitch) and about to start Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns. X/X2 Special Edition comes in next month too. I was hoping I could do my project with reviews here weekly but it looks like it’ll be more realistic to do it as a bi-weekly thing. Next thing coming is an anime, so we’ll see. I’m trying to rotate media to keep it better, and also getting a ton of literature from the library to help me put/keep the writing in the context of the media. Yay interlibrary loans!

Review: Bioshock Infinite (video game)

Booker, are you afraid of God? -Elizabeth
No, I’m afraid of you. – Booker DeWitt
(Bioshock Infinite opening)

The Bioshock games have remained one of my favorite series for several reasons; notably their intelligent themes, their nods to literary giants, as well as their unraveling of typical/over used tropes. Infinite is no different, circumventing the original ‘revelations’ of the original and its sequel. Infinite also plays around immensely with gender roles and expectations; my original expectations for the review game were very much turned on their head (in a good way).

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