marshtide: (Rei)
Today is SUPER GAY. Utena film and s3 of Sailor Moon, oh yeah.

Sorry, I should really go away until I actually have something to say.

But you know!

Lesbians!

(Ok ok. snarp has the best comments ever to make about the Utena film and it was absolutely what prompted me to rewatch it. And having done so: yeah, totally on the mark.

Also unrelated to the link but wow Anthy really does have more than a passing resemblance to Gilbert from Kaze to Ki no Uta; brain broken. Utena as a whole is basically the child that was produced when all the really queer series from the 70s had a big orgy. Which they enjoyed very much, I should think.

Now I've said things. I'm scaling back my pain meds considerably so have a headache. Back to sailor moon. WITH LESBIANS.)
marshtide: (Rei)
1. Tattoos. Check out the 'abstract' section, I am in so much awe. I've been thinking again lately about what I might want from a tattoo, and that's certainly a step in the right direction for my thought process. There's also one under 'modern' which uses negative space, and while the design isn't something I would personally want that negative-space idea is interesting. (I am as yet uninked because I take the design decisions involved Very Very Seriously.)


2. We have watched 11 episodes of Sailor Moon and been impressed by how little has happened. You guys, not only is it monster of the week, it is the same monster every week. They almost talked about the plot a couple of times but then they decided not to. So uh, maybe we're taking [personal profile] crystal's advice after all and skipping forward some before we snap. (It's a conflict, you know - we're kind of obsessive in a completist kind of way, and so don't want to miss things, but on the other hand.............. uhhh...............)


3. I seem to have spent last night in a series of different and largely unconnected dreams about gender identity. I think I identified differently in all of them, basically, and it was always an issue in some way.

Dear brain, please lay off. I spend enough time worrying about how to present myself on any given day when I'm awake.
marshtide: (Rei)
After this weekend I'm going to get back to working on the main current project, which is to say, a talk that Valborg & I are going to be giving at B.L.Y.G. on queerness & 70s shojo, and also on getting up content on our shared blog, which is meant to be functioning as our public face linked in to any talks etc we might want to do, but which is tragically empty right now. (I'm completely identifiable in RL from the contents of this journal - seriously, there are not very many British immigrants to Sweden who are living in a lesbian partnership with someone called Valborg - but it's not meant to be a formal or focused space, so that's where the blog comes in.)

I'd have been charging at it this week but since Valborg has been loaded with a pile of birthday organising I figured she could use a period of grace. I think we have most of the info we need now to do a great talk and some fun posts anyway, so it's mostly structure, images, etc. now. (I've gleefully read ALL THE SHOJO HISTORY that exists in English, both good and dubious, and I won't get to use most of it in this case, so I'll probably turn a chunk of it into a post somewhere - blog or here or both.)

My function in this creative partnership is to be all serious and obsessively academic and Valborg's job is to thwap me lovingly over the head, remind me that it's meant to be fun, and add sparkles. I fear this will be a running joke. *g*



OTHER WILD SUMMER PLANS: Stockholm Pride is mostly free this year. I'd been planning to save birthday money and buy tickets, but I guess I don't have to now! In light of this information, anyone who thinks that hanging out with us in Stockholm in the first week of August and going to some incredibly gay talks, tours and misc. events sounds like their idea of a good time should plan accordingly. If I'm still not healthy by August we're hiring a fucking wheelchair, SO. We will be there. (There will definitely be things happening in English too, if this is relevant information.)



OTHER CURRENT EVENTS: I have an entrance test for Stockholm University's Swedish course in a couple of weeks, which is to see if my current level is good enough and which of their two courses (one which is prepatory for the other; the higher level one qualifies one to study at Swedish universities in Swedish). I'm getting a lift there and I also need to think about if there's anything I can ask them to provide for me to make the test easier, since really not well & doubt I'll be recovered by then.

If I'm accepted to the course I'll be studying in Autumn; if at all possible I'll be doing this with or without funding from CSN. The only completely unavoidable cost is a bus card, and I can probably get help with that from someone or other in the family.

After that I need to think about taking Högskoleprovet (a test which gives a grade you can use to apply for university), since if I can get a good score on that that'll put me in a bigger intake pool for normal university courses than a foreign grade would there are assigned numbers of places for students at universities: quite a lot of places for people with college scores, quite a lot for people who've taken the test, and not that many for people from overseas with a foreign college/university grade. Obviously that's not a relevant concern for the course I'm applying for now, since it's only for people from overseas.

I also have all these crazy dreams about being able to volunteer with Hallongrottan and similar if I study in Stockholm, but as Valborg points out, yes, I should do those things, but I should also remember not to break myself.

I'm pretty good at breaking myself, basically. But hey! I'm trying to learn better.



ETA OF JOY: I've just got my first birthday present, from Valborg: a year's subscription to the fabulous Swedish feminist magazine Bang! My face looks like this: :D
marshtide: (Default)
Theory: Rose of Versailles and Oniisama e are basically crazy AUs of each other. Tweak a personality here, a power-balance there...

Question: In which case how the hell is the one that's about schoolgirls more disturbing?
marshtide: (Mist)
I'm waiting on a start date for my next course still, and in the meantime I'm doing some adjusting and taking life a bit easy where possible.

I've actually been watching some anime, too! I confess to having picked fairly brainless or low-effort things this time around, which describes almost nothing in the list of things I've been working my way slowly through otherwise, so new stuff all around! More or less.

1. Chi's Sweet Home. Adorable kitten anime? Tailor made for my current non-existent attention-span at just a couple of minutes an episode. Possibly the only thing I could realistically marathon 20 episodes of at the moment. So far gloriously content-free and pretty much like watching a cat in gleeful play mode without having to clear up the aftermath. (The demon kitten watched it with me, with some interest. But not so much interest as he displayed in the Wild Russia nature program that SVT ran over the weekend, which was basically the most exciting thing ever.)

2. Azumanga Daioh. I have to admit I haven't read the actual manga yet, which isn't the way around I usually do things when given an easy choice between the two. The manga is sitting on the shelf in the bedroom and everything. But it's the omnibus, which is to say, slightly larger than my Swedish-English dictionary, which is a disincentive to carrying it around with me. Anyway, I love Yotsuba&! so very, very much, and I had no reason to think I would dislike Azumanga Daioh, and naturally I don't. It's pretty great in a random way.

2. Mushishi. This one theoretically isn't new, but I started watching in in 2006 and only saw an episode or so before getting lost somewhere under university work, so we'll call it new. Beautiful and oddly peaceful? Yeah. It's doing good things for me just now.

I've got some other things lined up that I could watch, but these are all working for me, so I think they're basically what's on the agenda right now.
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.
marshtide: (Default)
P.S. Shouldn't there be a place on DW more for anime/manga discussion than for posting fic/art/etc? Or a place for talking about all the random old shojo stuff that is really interesting but not the kind of thing people write mountains of fic about?

Or does such a thing exist?

Because TBH at this point in my dubious internet career I'm way more interested in discussion and essays (however rough or formal or essentially ridiculous in premise) than anything else.
marshtide: (Rei - go on you know you want to)
(This post is partly prompted by talking a little earlier with [personal profile] starlady about old shojo, and partly by [personal profile] timeasmymeasure's post about female characters. Because I've been meaning to inflict some of my favourites on you for ages. I also want to put disclaimers all over this saying I don't know what I'm talking about. Because I don't! But hell with it! Let's roll!)

Let's talk a bit about the group of female manga artists in the 70s often referred to as the year 24 group. They produced a lot of series that are now classics and they pushed, as far as I can tell, more or less every boundary they could think of. Quite a few of them were particularly interested in gender and in sexuality. In the way relationships worked. Or didn't.

From this we get a lot of stories about powerful women and women who struggle for power and women who just don't have much of it at all. We get philosophical stories. We get stories about negotiating gender, including stories which tackle trans issues in a pretty serious (if generally not upbeat) way and stories that play with the construction of gender. And we get stories about gay or ambiguous characters - both male and female, although more often male (in other words, the beginning of shonen-ai). These stories are generally deeply depressing. I get the feeling that a lot of the people who wrote these stories had more questions than answers - and that there were other constraints on what they could actually tackle and how they could show it, to some extent, though I am not that well read up on this stuff. But Oniisama E's pasted on heterosexuality? Yeah, sure, I totally bought that. And the characters who challenge norms tend to die and abuse is rampant and half the characters in a lot of these stories are actually insane and all the rest.

One can view it, in that way, as something negative. But I actually feel like that whole movement was really powerful, anyway, and had really interesting, good ideas, which were pretty far ahead of the curve in some respects. I have a lot of respect for their stuff, even with the dead lesbians/gay people/trans people. Positive representation is great, but what they were doing was pretty amazing on other levels. It is also not, by any means, absolutely all negative.

A few of my favourite series ever come from this lot's work.


My absolute favourite of these writers - of the ones I've managed to track down and read - is Ikeda Riyoko (Rose of Versailles, Oniisama E, Claudine, Window of Orpheus). I think the degree to which she actually nails her ideas is better than quite a few of the others. And her non-gender-conforming women? Yes please.

Possibly one of her best series, and the one I would make everyone read/watch if it was widely available, is Rose of Versailles, set in the run-up to the French revolution. It is gender-defying as anything!

Rose of Versailes. And Oscar. Mostly Oscar actually. )


...

This post doesn't need to be longer. I'll get back to you about some of the other series and characters I really fell for.
marshtide: (Default)
A bitty entry this time, because I have a few scraps I want to gather up and get rid of that I can't make into full posts in their own right at this exact (everyone-is-sick-and-chaos-reigns) moment.


1.

Have you heard of Victoria Benedictsson? I hadn't! This might just be because I'm not very well-read, but then again, it might not be. I will add the disclaimer here that I haven't actually read her books yet, though as soon as I can get to the library there's a copy of her novel Money (Pengar) waiting for me to collect. I am pretty excited about this. It's a criticism of the inequality of marriage at the time and of the sexual double standard between men and women!

Victoria Benedictsson was a Swedish writer, working in the late 19th century. She had a pretty eventful and possibly quite scandalous life, and struggled really hard to be accepted as artistically legitimate (often being dismissed as writing about women's issues). She was concerned with women's place in society and female sexuality, and her writing apparently has a really strong element of social commentary. She also inspired/influenced (and also possibly horrified) Ibsen and Strindberg, who I bet you have heard of, because they're basically The Dudes of Scandinavian theatre & literature. (The library I worked at last year in the UK had a Scandinavian literature section, which was composed almost entirely of Ibsen, with two plays by Strindberg. That was all. For reference.) Right now she's getting a bit more attention for the fact that her writing is basically full of pretty feminist ideas, but for ages people talked about her largely as that woman who had an affair with a literary critic and then killed herself because it didn't work out, which is unfortunate. (Especially as she didn't kill herself for those reasons, as far as can be discerned from the sources avaliable, which include, you know, detailed diary entries.)

Probably more on this topic at a later date, when I'm better informed.


2.

I've come to a realisation lately: namely, that traditional narrative is just not really my best friend. I tried to be friends with it for a few years and I think it mostly produced stories which were fragmented anyway (but, in absolute fairness, sometimes worked quite well like that) and stories which I could not possibly finish, and while we'll certainly remain on speaking terms I think we need some space from each other. The problem with it is maybe that it implies to some degree a worldview that I have problems with, of definite beginnings and middles and ends, patterns which resolve themselves into meaning, etc., and while I can happily accept that this is exactly what a lot of stories need and that there are very good reasons for telling them in that sort of way I don't think I would actually want to write like that because I am... not really writing for those reasons, not really interested in what happens so much as the people it happens to (or around or because of or in the mind of or...) and the places it happens in. If I am interested in patterns it's maybe more why people perceive them the way they do, and the ways in which they try to make stories out of their lives.

Possibly this is some kind of terrible difficulty, but I'm not really convinced; I think it's more of a difference, and one I'm happy to play with, which means I should write a different kind of story. It's the sort of thing where just accepting it is likely to make for slightly happier writing. I'm interested in building up fragments into something of a story and I'm interested in ambiguity and making people join the dots up to a certain point, though of course one has to play carefully in this territory.

Looking at the authors I really love in a way which goes beyond "this is a good and thought-provoking read" or whatever and into the territory of starry-eyed admiration, I don't think this should be very surprising. Virginia Woolf? Experimental stylist fond of stream-of-consciousness and writing people more than writing stories. Tove Jansson? Penchant for constructing novels out of short stories in a way which works mysteriously well to create a sense of who people are; very little happens but a lot is communicated; not really a progression along a line so much as a collection of snapshots that could be rearranged and played around with. Murakami? Books full of signs which signify... well, what, exactly? A lot about creating a sense that there's a pattern and not providing any kind of key to it, and having this actually be satisfying. His endings resolve nothing and I like it.

I'm also more in love with magical realism and making the ordinary otherwise threatening or unsettling or strange than I am with just writing the ordinary or with writing the outright extraordinary. I think there is a space there for subtle wrongness and a sense of disconnection from the day-to-day, and though that genre doesn't necessarily do that and things which do that aren't necessarily of that genre I think it's an area which would be fun to play in. Any sort of lense which produces strangeness would work, because, well, that's how the world feels to me. I guess I am about the sense that things don't quite fit and that the supposedly ordinary can be the most disconcerting thing, because it often is to me.

This realisation brought to you partly by a conversation in which I got frustrated with Alice Munro's stories for being beautifully crafted and all about women's daily lives (OK, resoundingly straight women's daily lives with heavy emphasis on the men therein whether as a presence or an absence, which may just have been a part of the problem for me when it came to identifying with them) and absolutely boring to me because they feel like a part of a legendary Normal World I have never actually set foot in and wouldn't really enjoy if I got there. I simply can't connect to them, though they are probably really pretty good if you can.


3.

A couple of links.

a. I've decided I really like the community [community profile] queering_holmes. I decided this largely because they seem to like Graham Robb's Strangers over there and because this could just be the place I'm looking for with Queer Victorian Stuff and an interest in Holmes as linked in to that context. Maybe I can air my theories about Irene Adler. Sometime when I'm feeling confident enough to be sociable. For now I'll sit and watch and feel a tiny bit gleeful.

b. I'm not actually any good at Japanese history - I've studied the bits that could reasonably be covered by a course about indigenous cultures worldwide from an archaeological perspective, which is to say, groups like the Ainu, and I've read a bunch of books about homosexuality among Samurai and monks, and I've absorbed various other information in a completely haphazard way so that the end result is a bit surreal - but here is a post about Samurai Champloo from someone who seems rather better at it. I love Samurai Champloo, for the record, and I love it as a fun and gloriously irreverent series and as a piece of commentary and also for its amazingly choreographed fight scenes. But in this case we're talking about it as a series taking a good kick at the Samurai drama genre as a whole even while theoretically playing within its borders.

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