Oct. 7th, 2010

marshtide: (Rei - go on you know you want to)
It's official! It's Awesome 70s Shojo week!

So far we have:

- Andromeda Stories volume 1 (Takemiya Keiko & Mitsuse Ryuu) reviewed by [personal profile] starlady

- Gender, Sexuality and 70s Shojo Part One: Oscar Is Hotter Than You (70s shojo and Ikeda Riyoko's Rose of Versailles) by yours truly

- Four Shoujo Stories reviewed by [personal profile] starlady

(Do join in if you've got anything!)


And now I present to you: the next installment in Why I Love Ikeda Riyoko. That is to say: Oniisama E.

If you thought that Rose of Versailles was too melodramatic you should be edging away about now; I am not actually sure that Oniisama E missed even a single opportunity for melodrama and angst. Also drugs, self-harm, suicide, abuse. It has everything. Fair warning?


Overview & pictures )

There are a lot of things in Oniisama E that Ikeda Riyoko really liked to use throughout her work. Of note is the whole "traditional femininity" thing (in this case Fukiko and the sorority) set in opposition to gender non-conforming characters (Kaoru and Rei, although in different ways and for different reasons), which is actually pretty centre-stage here but also felt like it existed in a less antagonistic form in Rose of Versailles. I don't think that's insignificant given the context of that whole group of writers and their exploration of what gender means. There's also a lot about freedom and dependence, and there's a not insubstantial element of revolution here too. More than any of her other works that I've been able to read, though, this is a manga which is almost entirely dedicated to relationships between women, whether they're friendly, romantic, twisted or openly hostile. And that's pretty great.

On the other hand, it does feel like it could have gone further*, and the ending (which is basically an exercise in hiding the queerness that the rest of the series has established) is not its finest point, although there are things leading up to it that I really loved, and other things that I found very powerful.

I do recommend this one, overall, but I'm pretty sure it has a more limited audience than Rose of Versailles. It's one of my personal favourites, but I'm perfectly willing to accept that this is because I have great big buttons and it is pushing them. Damn near all of them.

By the way, this series and Rose of Versailles, along with the Takarazuka aesthetic that they both borrow from and feed back into, feel like they make a pretty heavy contribution to the look of Utena, and some of the themes in there too. Just thought you might like to know that.

All images in this post come from Lililicious' scanlation of the series, by the way. But yes, damn it, buy the thing if it's available in a language you can read.

* I mean with the lesbians, damn it, not with the... anything else. In most other respects it went quite far enough and possibly then some.

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