August Reading List

Hi everyone! This is the first of many posts where I’ll be reflecting on the BL/shojo/LGBT manga I have read or am currently reading. In the future, I’ll aim to post these lists at least twice a month and also track/discuss unlicensed manga I’m reading through scanlations. Definitely let me know if there are series you want to see me pick up–especially licensed works available through the library.

This list is not a collection of summaries or formal reviews, and it’s definitely not spoiler-free! That said, enjoy these thoughts and feelings and take from them what you will~

Thanks so much for all your support, and be sure to check out my Patreon if you want to help me pay my rent and keep writing!

Local Library
Go For It, Nakamura! (v. 1)

  • Fun! Feels quintessentially BL but also very modern
  • Inclusion of an unambiguously self-identified gay protagonist is a nice touch, makes for some excellent jokes and contributes to the modern sensibility of the book
  • The whole chapter about Nakamura picking up BL and becoming a fudanshi was incredibly charming, I loved it.
  • TENTACLES

I Hear the Sunspot (v. 1)

  • Gentle, tender romance
  • Thoughtful portrayal of disability; at times Taichi’s role in the narrative toes the line between advocacy and saviorism, but the inclusion of a girl who wants to date Kohei in order to fulfill a shallow fantasy about caring for a helpless ‘other’ helps bring that into contrast and emphasize how Taichi’s protectiveness of Kohei comes from an appreciation and respect for his dignity and humanity, rather than a paternalistic denial of it
  • Gave me heart palpitations

Continue reading

Love, Sex, and Power in Fruits Basket

I wrote about Akito Sohma’s internal and interpersonal struggle with power in Fruits Basket, and how her story shows us what healing looks like for AnimeFeminist! This piece was in the works for a long time, and I’m incredibly grateful to my editor and the AniFem staff for their hard work in helping it come together. I hope you all enjoy!

Experiencing abuse from a young age, lacking a healthy vision of how to love and be loved, can resonate through a victim’s life for years, even decades. This is explored thoughtfully and compassionately in the classic shoujo manga Fruits Basket.

The series tells the story of the Sohmas, a family cursed to transform into animals of the Chinese zodiac when embraced by a member of the other sex. Not only does it grapple with a legacy of abuse, but it also raises profound questions about the nature of love and power and explores the role sex plays in both. These themes come through particularly clearly in the head of the family and “God” of the Zodiac, Akito.

Click here to read the full post!

“Things We Forever Pursue”: Excerpt from Comic Natalie on Akimi Yoshida

Hey everyone! Comic Natalie ran a really interesting article promoting a book about Akimi Yoshida’s work and creative influences over the course of her career, which was released around December 25th in Japan for the 40th anniversary of Yoshida’s debut as a mangaka. Based on what I can muddle out from google translate, it looks super cool, and features answers to fan questions, dialogues between Yoshida and other prominent Japanese artists and critics, and more! The article itself runs a couple of interview excerpts from the book, and I found this bit from a 1994 conversation Yoshida had with Kaoru Kurimoto (AKA Azusa Nakajima) especially neat:

Yoshida: “California Story” is based on Yutaka Mizutani and Kenichi Hagihara’s “Battered Angel,” isn’t it? “Midnight Cowboy” knew without saying that. It was the influence of the American New Cinema of the 1970’s that first inspired me to draw things.
[…]
Nakajima: Is that not just the origin of “California Story,” but the origin of Akimi Yoshida herself?
Yoshida: All origins.
Nakajima: That’s it (laugh)
Yoshida: In this case, I will do my best. Because of this, when relationships between men appear in my drawings, physical relationships are not absolute. That is the origin, so I can not imagine.
Nakajima: Surely.
Yoshida: A kiss or something comes out but it does not contain any homosexual physical relationship…
Nakajima: Because the image is of Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman.
Yoshida: Yeah. So it does not lead to bed. In other words, it seems that the baby chick looked first at what she saw as a parent.
Nakajima: “Imprinting,” right?
Yoshida: That’s why it is something that I will pursue forever.

It’s super intriguing and illuminating to me that Yoshida was so strongly influenced by American New Wave cinema–one of the most striking things about Banana Fish is how much texture and character New York City has as an environment! It also shows us how she was able to imagine possibilities beyond the heteronormativity of her influences while still being constrained by them; she was able to write deeply intimate, and even romantic, relationships between men, but these relationships were still ultimately non-sexual and distanced from “homosexuality.”

Please take this translation with a huge grain of salt, as I really just lightly edited google’s translation, and can’t guarantee that it’s super accurate or reliable–I absolutely welcome any corrections! That said, I hope this is an interesting, informative little highlight, and really encourage everyone to check out the article and the book for more information about a genuinely fantastic mangaka.