Ah, the classic love story. A shy, quiet girl of common birth falls in love with a prince, far above her reach. However, fate plays its part to bring these two together, though many troubles stand in their way. For instance, the jealous noblewoman, betrothed to the prince finds herself at odds with this common child who opposes the nobility. Spiteful and angry, she attempts to poison her nemesis’ love. However the nobleman and our common girl’s love for each other is too strong, and not only is the day saved but the heroine and prince are finally wed in happiness. The nobleman woman gets her just desserts and ends up destitute and dead.
Or should she? What was her deal, anyway? Was she really a rich bitch or was there more to this that a new perspective would uncover? That is where I’m a Villainous Daughter, so I’m Going to Keep the Last Boss comes in. While a technical isekai, this manga likes to play uniquely and so twists a few things on their head, including certain isekai tropes. Obviously, the story is about the jealous rival rather than the “protagonist” of the love story, who in finding out her fiance is actually in love with the protagonist and not her, finds herself suddenly remembering odd things she hadn’t before. Like, for instance, how this is all a game and because she’s played it to death in a previous life, she knows exactly how this story will play out…
Some of my favorite stories involve elements of what made classic fables so enthralling to me. Some aspects are easy to see, like the fantasy setting, but I also enjoy the darker world that’s mixed with a child-like innocence which tinges each story, allowing us to take in the horror aspects a little easier. Fairies and other creatures of myth are no joke, and the original stories attest to how devious they can be. However, we always see their pranks rather than their murderous rampages when we read those stories of old. Fables historically were made to teach a lesson and help to educate children on the dangers of life. So the palatability of a darker world that we only catch a glimpse of has always intrigued me.
Shadow House is very much a story like this. The story follows Emilyko, a “living doll” in a very dark and mysterious mansion, who serves Kate, a member of the Shadow Family, who owns the property. Emilyko spends most of her time taking care of Kate but also ponders on the behavior of the Shadows. The Shadows are creatures seemingly made up of some dark material that creates soot, as everything they touch is dirtied with it, along with their negative emotions causing them to release a black smoke that can cover the room in the same material. Added to this is the odd behavior that they have some physical control over the soot they produce and leave behind.
Starting the year off right with two of my favorite types of stories: Romance and Representation! I’m a sucker for a fun, no major bummers or big drama, kinda romance where two people can comfortably get to know each other. This is also the perfect way to positively represent various issues and types of lives while being respectful to both, so it becomes a great way to experience another person’s perspective while also getting all those warm feelings about people in love. Love and empathy! Great combo.
This has been one of the best times for anime and the sheer evolution of the industry over these 10 years is crazy to consider. Just looking back on the number of anime that came out in one season in 2010 compared to a season now shows an explosion of growth. And sure, there’s been plenty of sequels, reboots, and rehashes of old tropes. However, there also have been stand out hits that did something unique and were immediate loves of mine at first watch.
So for this list, I didn’t restrict myself to one per year, nor any limitation of trying to number one anime above another. Instead, I just wanted to share anime that had a big impact on me and, I think, also the industry. So given when this list is coming out, let’s celebrate the holidays in alphabetical order with something morbid: Death!
Bakemonogatari, and the Monogatari series as a whole, is a very unique beast. The anime spends as much time playing word games as it does going through its actual plot, and you may be surprised to learn that this is not just in its adaptation. The first novel in the series, Kizumonogatari spends the first chapter talking around a vampire instead of about them, making play-on-words and constant asides rather than actually detailing the character the narrator is supposed to, dancing around the subject until they finally give in… The following chapter.
And this is basically the essence of this series. Well, if you ignore the random outings into very yikes uncomfortable sexual scenarios and bouts with supernatural beasts.
Back when Ryan Lewis and Macklemore were writing the songs for their album The Heist, Ben Haggerty (Macklemore) was having a hard time coming up with the lyrics for “Same Love.” He finally decided on an idea of telling the story from a gay individual’s perspective. However, when he showed this to Ryan Lewis, Ryan shot it down immediately. He stated to Ben that there was no authenticity behind these words, and that if he really wanted to make an impact, he should tell it from his perspective. Ben rewrote the song with this in mind, taking his own perspective and feelings of support for the gay community and translating them musically. The song went on to be an anthem for the gay community and a banner for allies to rally under as they pushed harder to finally enact legal gay marriage in the United States.
As someone who likes to write in his free time, I always suffer trying to find how to write characters that aren’t the same background as me, whether it’s a different ethnicity or a different sexuality. To be honest, it genuinely is an impossible thing to try and do this by myself. I can’t understand the struggle or the abuse people have gone through for being gay because I’m just not. That is why I always talk to those around me from these backgrounds in order to help me understand on some scale, and then constantly keep the conversation going as I write. Any writer who is gay would far better be able to detail how that feels than me, and we should encourage them to write those feelings. However, for those of us that are allies, I feel that if we want to express these types of characters in the stories we tell, we have to make damn sure we do it right.
That is why I love My Brother’s Husband as a series. This short but endearingly sweet manga very much acts as an instructional guide for the ways allies can help and make the best of being the support class in the Equality Squad. Gengoroh Tagame in this manga shows people, such as myself, how to be that ally that the gay community needs, how to accept them and work with them to make a better place.
It’s been a bit but I wanted to make a piece. Partially because of the extreme guilt of not being vocal and sharing with you guys who have supported us but also because I’m trying to turn that guilt into something really beautiful, if I can. So, I’ll do what I do best:
Here’s a gush piece.
DC recently decided to wall off a lot of their content on their own streaming platform called DC Universe, possibly because they saw Disney do the same with Marvel. Now, granted, I’m sure that there are some benefits for doing this. For instance, with a branch specifically for assisting shows to get created, there are some things that may not have had the money or chance otherwise. That said, it really sucks for a lot of people because there’s no reason to pay for another service that you’ll probably check out once every blue moon.
Well let me tell you about how freaking blue that moon is for me right now.
When I was in college, my roommate at the time introduced me to a challenge that was being spread around Reddit. It was called the No Cry 19 Challenge. It was a playlist of videos that was guaranteed to make people cry. They weren’t all sad, though many were, but were just extreme from an emotional sense. Extremely sad, extremely happy, and just a whole range of emotions. The comments were fun to look at as you saw a wide range of individuals detailing out how far they made it, with many falling off within the first ten videos.
The challenge was fun but it also made me realize two ideas. The first, is that it’s a universal thing to need to cry, and through empathy we’re able to share in those emotions other have. This sounds super philosophical, like some hoity-toity shit, but the fact of the matter is…
This manga is this perfect little cap off to the day for me. Mado Kara Madoka-chan is a cute little series about a office worker who walks the same path to work every day outside of a woman’s house, who loves to play games and roleplay with him as he passes by. Every time that our protagonist comes by, Madoka-chan begins a different kind of game with him to keep both of their lives fun, dramatically changing the layout and look of her home.
Each chapter is a different strange experience with the eccentric Madoka-chan as she performs something within her four walls either for the salaryman passing by, or seemingly to entertain herself. However, her eccentric nature and the dramatic transformations of her place, sometimes in a matter of minutes, makes me feel as if there’s a hint of Magical Realism in this series. Like, there are some chapters where she closes her shutters and not five seconds later, they slam back open to reveal a restaurant. It’s insane but also always fun, especially because as magical as she may seem, Madoka-chan doesn’t always get everything right and so interactions between the two characters can become dynamic and sometimes downright hilarious.
This essay contains spoilers from Kase-san and Cherry Blossoms.
As a longtime shoujo manga fan (well over a decade at this point) and a relatively new but passionate Yuri fan (Revolutionary Girl Utena was my first foray into the genre back in 2016), the Kase-san series seemed made for me. I was first exposed to the series through the animation clip produced in May 2017, a gorgeous, atmospheric extended AMV of sorts, and then was lucky enough to catch the Kase-san and Morning Glories OVA at AnimeNYC this year (and I got to see it with Yuri expert Erica Friedman, which made the viewing all the more delightful). The OVA left me speechless, and at the Q&A afterward, the director summed the premise of the shoujo series perfectly: he wasn’t focused on conveying a story about women in love, but one about people in love, regardless of…