Flip Flappers was developed as a project drawing from topics which interested director Kiyotaka Oshiyama, and among those topics were the various branches of psychoanalysis, especially those of both Freud and Jung. As a work very directly about the psychosexual realm and its impact on development, specifically through the lens of queer awakening and the role of relationships in subject formation, the influence of these thinkers, as well as other works which drew upon them, like Neon Genesis Evangelion, is startlingly clear. Yet simply analyzing the series along psychoanalytic lines misses something; the show’s powerful pushback against many aspects of psychoanalysis. Cocona’s story, while certainly one of sexual awakening, is not a cut-and-dried Freudian or Jungian process of therapy and actualization. Mimi, despite clearly resembling an image of the Oedipal Mother, is not so simple. Rather, through both narrative and animation, Flip Flappers elaborates a view of the world and the mind which is much less singularly-focused than the thought of either Freud or Jung, telling a story which encourages us to forge connections and improve ourselves through an understanding of our fluidity and status as assemblages of disparate elements.
I sure haven’t made one of these in a while, have I? Well, it’s 2019, and you know there’s a lot of yuri manga right now, some of them mediocre but many of them great, so let’s get right to this, and try not to skip around or leave the video, because many of the best are on the backend. I’ll only be listing series with an English translation, will put details on-screen if they’re licensed, and have timestamps in the description, so let’s go.
Crossdressing theater is a centuries-old practice in Japan, as it is in Western Europe. Traditional and aristocratic noh plays always boasted male actors and Kabuki, a genre more popular among the lower classes, first emerged as an all-female mode of theater before it was banned due to an association with sex work, leading young boys to take the role of women. They, too, were banned with time due to the link with prostitution, leaving adult men the sole actors in the genre. With the Meiji Restoration, Kabuki became a symbol of Japanese pride, and though debates around it raged, it was accepted as an important cultural tradition. At the same time, with the bourgeoisification of the nation and the initial sightings of spectacle-culture, young girls and women were making attempts to break into the historically segregated theater industry. Afraid of the “degenerate schoolgirl” and desperate to maintain the “good wife, wise mother” dynamic, railroad baron Ichizo Kobayashi devised an all-female, modern mirror of kabuki: the Takarazuka Revue.
If Natsume Yuujincho is about anything in particular, it’s an all-encompassing kindness towards other people as well as the world at large, in a very ecological sense. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Iyashikei as a whole is almost defined by its relative lack of antagonistic forces, a decentering of conflict, something which would seem antithetical to the very structure of narrative. Yet oddly it works for this oh-so-particular genre. Natsume, in focusing on youkai, accomplishes what other iyashikei achieve through other means: an elaboration of the world as living, equally important to human life itself and necessarily tied up with that human life. It presents harmony as the utmost ideal, something which takes work but is more than worth the payoff. In a sense, it’s a near-perfect series in the way it engages with this. But that brings us to an important question. Why is it that only series widely recognized as “good” count as iyashikei?
Once again I was accepted as a member of the press for Anime Central 2019, and I’ve finally prepared my press report. No full transcript of my interviews will be posted(some will be incorporated into later work and others I’ll leave for my fellow members of the press to discuss) but I will give a quick recap of them before moving onto other traits of the con. If you’re not interested in reading all of what’s below, I’ll cut to the chase: as with last year, ACen 2019 was well-organized and enjoyable, absolutely remaining my favorite convention experience.
In 1853, Commodore Perry’s fleet of “black ships” reached Japan, demanding the end of the country’s Sakoku policy and the opening of ports. 15 years later, recognizing the need to shore up the state’s power lest the archipelago fall like to Western forces like the rest of Asia, the shogunate fell, and the Emperor’s power was restored after nearly a millennium. In this restoration, the capitalist class established itself its reign as the nation’s vanguard, subjugating the old nobility. It was the dawn of a new nation. On January 12, 1896, the 29th year of the Meiji era, Yoshiya Nobuko, godmother of yuri, was born to a petit-bourgeois family of samurai-descended bureaucrats. She would become one of the most well-known Japanese authors of the 20th century. It was the dawn of a new genre.
Published by Kodansha Comics, Kamome Shirahama’s Witch Hat Atelier stars one Coco, a young girl with a fascination for the magic that exists within her world. Unfortunately for her, magic is something only possessed by those born with it, and she has not had that privelege. When a witch named Qifrey visits her mother’s shop, Coco discovers that magic might not be nearly as unreachable for her as she was led to believe. But this knowledge comes at a cost, one that may not be worth the value of what she receives…