Generally, I try to come from a straightforward place when I talk about “favorite”. Years ago (like 10 or 15), I came to this decision when people asked me about my favorite movie. It remains The Princess Bride for the simple reason that it’s the one movie that I’ve seem more times than any and can always be convinced to watch. When I went to assemble my list of top anime, this didn’t work as easily. If we list the the works I’ve seen the most, it goes something like this:
- Slayers OVA
- Read or Die OVA
- Hikaru no Go
This is not my Top 5 list. When it came time to make a Top 5 for Anime-Planet’s list features, I made a different call. But why? I’m not entirely sure. When I look at the list above, I am struck by how many of those things are solid, easy-to-watch OVAs that can sort of be chewed up in the space of a day, which explains why I watch them so much.
Two girls sit in a tank, facing the viewer. The city in the background appears to be on fire. Via Pixiv
2DT, blogger and endless fount of writing prompts, recommended I watch Girls und Panzer (GaruPan for short) for unspecified reasons which very quickly became clear: the show presents a world with different rules for gender roles. During the informational video played at the end of the first episode, the girls of Oarai are told that “tankery” (the “sport” of tank-mounted combat) is one that emphasizes grace and beauty and is as a result ideally suited to young women with poise and drive. Because in our world, men wage war, this alternate reality represents a progressive vision where women lord their martial might over men… WRONG. And, frankly, it wouldn’t matter even if that were the case. And here, I think is an opportunity to say a few things about choice.
A ninja (Tenzo) wearing a hat and a red scarf is being hugged by a woman with blonde hair in a white shirt and blue pants. Steam is coming from his head and his scarf is standing straight out.
It’s likely I wasn’t the only one struck by the awkward inner monologue that Tenzo carried out when wandering around London with his lovely “Dame Scarred” in Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere episode six. The show had been building to this point piece by piece from her introduction as a mysterious cloaked figure way back in the first episode. As Tenzo Crossunite learns more about her, he slowly falls for her, leading to his desire to break the Testament starting with episode eight.
But let’s focus on the scene in the Tower of London. As “Dame” prattles on about the history of England and her place in it, Tenzo finds himself continually distracted by her body. The show, of course, gives a helping hand by ensuring that she gets in all manner of suggestive poses in the course of the interview (this is Horizon, after all). Anyone with a pair of eyes can see that this is typical pandering directed at the audience. But here, what’s more interesting is Tenzo’s reactions, because the show positions him in a way that we can blame this problem on how boys look at sex. Thanks to porn.
Did you miss Otakon? Well, I’m sorry. BUT! Fear not, as I have a gift for you that might kind of make up for it. Lawrence Brenner was nice enough to film the panel given by Lauren Orsini and I on Sexism in Anime and Anime Fandom and you can watch it after the break.
[A brown haired boy stands naked and smiling. His upper body to his bikini line is visible]
This is a submission for 8dayswithoutme’s Horizon on Tits 2 Project
So, thanks for listening to my feminist ramblings here at Altair and Vega, but now I need your help. I scored a panel on Sexism in Anime and Anime Fandom (with a focus on convention culture) for this year’s Otakon. The bits on anime itself I am working through over at my personal blog (they’re not coherent enough for posting here, since you all deserve better than the slurry that drains out of my mind while I think).
BUT! The for the second half of the panel we’re planning to focus on fan interactions with a specific bent towards conventions. While I’ve been to a few, as has my co-host Lauren Orsini (actually, she submitted the panel request so technically I’m HER co-host), we really want to get a larger picture of convention experience from fans so we can start to get a bird’s eye view of what it’s like to attend a convention. To that effect, we’ve made two surveys that we’d like people to fill out.
Research Survey For Otakon Sexism Panel 2012 – This one is for any of you who’ve attended a convention. We’re trying to get a sense of how people feel at events and how they connect to the community.
Sexism in Cosplay Survey for Otakon 2012 – This one has been out a few days. It’s for you cosplayers out there. If you’ve cosplayed or do so regularly, we’d love for you to take the time to fill it out.
What am I hoping to find? Not entirely sure. Conventions are a welcoming and almost religious space for many people, so our intention is not to harm or ruin that. What we want is to get a sense of how con goers feel about conventions with a minor focus paid to gender. We think that the anecdotal and demographic results from the surveys will help seed our discussion with facts instead of Lauren and I talking for a bit about what we think in isolation.
Does this have any extra relevance to Altair and Vega? OF COURSE. Examining this kind of data and talking about what we found will fit right in on A&V, so look for it once I’ve gotten the panel sorted and presented. Also, I’m hoping to meet up with a number of you at the convention proper–if you’re interested, of course.
High school girl and high school boy sit on a couch. The girl clutches the boy’s arm to her chest and the boy reacts.
Or: Why I Should Be Guardian of Your Modesty
Time to take a break from writing about anime women (in the strictest sense, this post is going to have a lot to do with women as well as men) and start talking about men: the “target” demographic of ecchi anime. This season’s crop of Shows I Should Find More Amusing include a pair of anime that feature the common idea of unwanted molestation of men by women. For me, the subtext of these interactions rankles. Most anime men who have women throwing themselves at them seem to react poorly. Some can shout down the unwanted attention, but there are equally many leads who end up as doormats, frequently molested by their paramores. This upsets me on two levels: One is because it relates to the dual dichotomies of sexuality (Virgin/Whore and Knight/Beast) and secondly because the subtext of these interactions points to a monolithic understanding of gender interaction that leads men and boys to believe they are supposed to value sex highly and should do their best to ensure that women not behave like “sluts”. Continue reading
Or: Better Understanding Through Looking at Gender
A brown-haired girl sits in seiza, looking into the camera wearing a blue and pink kimono
I got into a conversation in another part of the anisphere about female main characters. The blog post was here and it compared Tohru of Fruits Basket to Sawako Kuronuma of Kimi ni Todoke (the inferior Sawako, if you ask me… Sawa-chan <3). At the culmination of the comments dialog I came to some interesting realizations about gender performance in our animated heroines and heroes. See, we talk a lot about the need for “strong, female characters”, but as Kate Beaton noted, they don’t always serve. I would like to take this time, instead, to proffer up an examination of how a close look at gender helps flesh out both simple, straightforward characters and more complex ones.