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.
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.
I feel Gokushufudou works for the same reason of why I love Leslie Nelson’s brand of comedic movies. It’s a very serious character in a completely out of tone situation. Our main character, Tatsu, is an ex-yakuza who left all of the gang violence behind to completely support his wife in her work by taking care of their house. However, even with the smallest chores of cleaning the bath or doing the dishes, he treats it with the same horrifying and meticulous seriousness of a gang-sanctioned killing.
Satoko & Nada is a simple series about two young women finding themselves as roommates in University and exploring each other’s cultures. Satoko is a Japanese exchange student to America who finds her expectations for her roommate are very unlike what she initially thought when she meets Nada, another exchange student who comes from Saudi Arabia. However, the two find themselves as incredibly fast friends and, for the benefit of this manga, very open and accepting about sharing their cultures with each other.
The Winter 2018 season was, in many ways, a genuine surprise, primarily so because of the sheer volume of genuinely solid shows that were offered in this first bit of the year. What has surprised me beyond this, however, is that not only did we have a number of shows that I am already seeing as possible contenders for anime of the year, but a number of shows, to my surprise, made some concerted pushes in terms of working to buck some norms (or at least attempting to do so) that are fairly present within the general sphere of seasonal anime. For this season in particular, one theme that stood out to me has been that of self-love/self-acceptance, and this came to me most notably while watching Yuru Camp and Sanrio Boys.
This week, we talk about the P.A. Works’ lesser-spoken-of masterstroke, Hanasaku Iroha. We discuss the balance it strikes between lighthearted story and drama, its extensive development of its characters, both main and side, and evisceration (but, you know, not like a bad evisceration).