Maiden Railways – Manga Review

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Asumiko Nakamura’s Maiden Railways, newly-published in English by the recently-founded Denpa Books, tells a number of short stories, all of which revolve around girls and trains. These vignettes, which universally include romantic feelings but cannot quite be called romances, vary incredibly, from the story of a lesbian who broke up with her girlfriend, to a man who finds himself playing with model trains in a cake shop every Thursday night, to the tale of a woman who left her husband for his younger brother, or so we’re led to believe. None of these narratives go exactly as we’d expect, sometimes not even as we’d hope, and yet they’re incredibly rewarding and emotional, thanks to Nakamura’s powerful art and intense storytelling.

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Beauty and the Beast Girl – Yuri Manga Review

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Released by Seven Seas Entertainment, Neji’s Beauty and the Beast Girl translates that tale as old as time into yuri form. The main character, a monstrous woman named Heath, spends her time away from others, as she’s met nothing but trauma in past interactions with humans. One day, however, a young woman named Lily happens into her territory. Lily is blind, and so Heath is able to feel more comfortable with her, opening up and quickly falling in love. But will the relationship work out when Lily learns Heath’s true nature?

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Yuri Is My Job! – Volume 1-2 Review

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Released by Kodansha Comics in the West, miman’s Yuri Is My Job! is a new yuri manga with lots to offer. Main character Hime is obsessed with her image, putting in massive amounts of effort so that she can impress others enough to slack off for the rest of her life. Unfortunately for her, she bumps into another girl going home one day, and with her arm injured, that girl ropes her into working at ‘Cafe Liebe’, a maid cafe of sorts with the theme being that of an all-girls’ school, particularly the sort you’d see in Class S-inspired yuri such as Maria-sama ga Miteru. Unable to get out of it as a result of blackmail, Hime tries to make the best of her experience, but various complications arise in her attempts…

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The First Idol Anime was Actually About State Power

Super Dimension Fortress Macross is about three things: giant robots, beautiful idols, and melodramatic love triangles. Actually, though, it’s about one thing: state power. The word used most throughout the series is culture, that one special resource which enables the human race to stand even a sliver of a chance against the alien Zentradi, a group whose history of being genetically engineered has left them with no goal aside from constant warfare. Lynn Minmay, the first idol in all of anime, delivers shocking blows to the Zentradi psyche through her songs, simultaneously popularizing her music in the real world. The romantic drama between her, Ichijo Hikaru, and Hayase Misa figures as one of the story’s central threads, introducing the concept of love to the Zentradi but also causing a good deal of strife during the war. That war, of course, is fought using the so-called Variable Fighters, wonderfully designed robots which can go from person to plane. All in all, it’s a pretty straightforward example of a real robot anime. But through its specific focuses, Macross conveys a clear message: hard power is necessary, vital, and ultimately moral, but it’s soft power that will always win the day, and as a result, it’s imperative that a benevolent state wields both. This isn’t just a reading which emerges from the narrative: it comes through in the base construction of the anime, particularly its movie reimagining, Do You Remember Love, and it’s an attitude able to emerge due to the unique conditions of early 80s Japan.

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Yuri 101: One Hundred Years of Girls’ Love

It’s hard to say exactly when the yuri genre was first conceived, but if you had to pick a date, then 1919 is a perfectly good one. In that year, yuri’s godmother, Yoshiya Nobuko, published Yaneura no Nishojo, arguably the first lesbian novel with a happy ending and one which set the groundwork for the century of development we’ve seen in the time since. Yuri would not have truly been born in the 70s without it. Our beloved genre has gone through so much in that time, and it would be remiss of someone such as me not to celebrate its anniversary.

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Let’s Talk About Sister Krone

Sister Krone’s design in The Promised Neverland is inundated with racist implications, calling to mind the image of black Americans popularized by minstrel shows. This is something a lot of people don’t like to hear, but it’s objectively true. A mere side-by-side of Sister Krone and, say, an old drawing of Aunt Jemima will confirm this to be the case: the massive lips, huge nose, stronger musculature, and general servant-like aesthetic all contribute to an image of that oh-so-pernicious depiction of black women, one that has not entirely faded from cultural consciousness. Throughout the show, the reasons to be afraid of her are not her quiet, unnerving cunning as in Isabella’s case, but her monstrous power, the sheer strength and speed she possesses in her massive body. And yet, she’s a great, sympathetic character, morally disgusting but no moreso than Isabella, grounded in a system of oppression that made her this way. Sure, she has a servant-like outfit, but so does Isabella—it’s clearly not intentional stereotyping. To simply call her racist and write her off would be a mistake and yet, it would be equally troublesome to ignore the racist implications. Discussing the way American racial issues affect a Japanese work isn’t something that’s easy to do, but we need to do it. So let’s dive right in to Sister Krone and the complexities of criticism.

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Crunchyroll, We Need to Talk

Look, Crunchyroll’s got some problems, we can all agree on that, right? A strange number of leftists feel the need to defend them, which I suppose is an understandable impulse given the kinds of people who most often pop up against them, though that doesn’t justify all the vaguely progressive people who somehow feel the need to die on the hill that is radical anti-piracy. Lies are frequently told about them and even my lovely wife has made a video rebuking some of the false claims CR faces, something I absolutely get it. It hurts to see misinformation even when it’s against someone you dislike and it only makes your side’s arguments look worse. But we can’t just correct these errors without an attempt to tackle the issues the company does have, because they’ve got a lot, and I’m tired of how little that’s been addressed. Companies aren’t our friends, they’re our enemies. You wouldn’t trust an international arms dealer just because they’re selling to you right now, would you? No, I don’t think you would. So listen, Crunchyroll, it’s time to talk.

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