Wed, Apr. 6th, 2011

oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
(original title: 夏目友人帳/Natsume Yuujinchou)

(OMG posting about BOOKS YAY!!!)

Natsume Takashi has always been able to see strange things, and because of this, people think he's lying, and he's been passed around from foster family to foster family. Currently, he's been living happily with his distant relatives the Fujiwaras, but because of that, he doesn't want to let people know about his spirit-seeing abilities and get kicked out yet again. Unfortunately, he's recently found a book of names. Apparently, his grandmother Reiko was also a bit of an outcast because of her spiritual abilities; to compensate, she basically enslaved spirits by writing their names in her book.

So far, I like this series, but I'm not in love with it. I like Natsume and the looks at his distance from everyone else, and I find Nyanko-sensei particularly amusing, but I keep comparing this to Mushishi, which is a bit more otherworldly, though Ginko is less sympathetic. I suspect things will improve once we stop getting a "This is what the Book of Friends is!" every. single. chapter.

Also, unsurprisingly, I wish there were more girls and women, especially since the one major female character (Reiko) is both dead and not a great model, given that whole enslaving of spirits thing.

That said, I really like the looks at Natsume slowly reaching out to people, and unlike Mushishi, I very much like that the spirits of the week aren't just cases to be solved. I also like that Natsume seems to have more of a connection with the spiritual world than the human one, and I especially like his sympathy toward the spirits, particularly when contrasted with the other exorcist guy.

Pretty, and I will keep reading it, but it is not on my best-of list yet.
oyceter: (bleach sting like a bee)
Things I knew about the movie going in: 1) It was directed by the same guy who did Watchmen and 300, neither of which I had watched, but both of which had vids with amazing visuals. 2) Feminists were decrying it as misogynistic and exploitative. 3) The Disney Princess trailer mashup is awesome.

Captain Beautybeard had wanted to watch it despite its supposedly terrible politics, largely for the pretty, and after watching the Disney Princess trailer mashup, I decided that my expectations were low enough that I would go in and watch some girls kicking ass in exploitative outfits and probably while playing hookers (no, Sin City, I have not yet forgiven you). CB and I also joked about making out in the movie theater, since neither of us had done so before.

Alas and alack, by the first few minutes of the movie, we had both realized that any sort of making out during the movie would make us feel even grosser and more exploitative, as I personally don't really find violence against women, infantilizing outfits, or mental institutions sexy, even in a mocking, ironic sort of way.

Here's the thing: there was actually a movie in Sucker Punch that I wanted to see, corsets and fishnets and sailor suits and all. [personal profile] sohotrightnow pinpoints (spoilers in link) my frustration with automatically classifying the movie as misogynist because of what the women wear; like [personal profile] sohotrightnow, I grew up with numerous fantasy books in which tomboy girls defeated evil with swords and magic while the girls who liked dresses and embroidery stayed at home and were shallow and not worth knowing. I have no problem with tomboy girls or action heroines who aren't sexualized, particularly given the way feminine action heroines are so sexualized for the male gaze, but I do have a problem with the lack of variety. The kickass woman set in opposition to the useless girly girl or the kickass woman subject to panty shots and tiny bustiers should never be the limit of what we get, and both extremes are annoying precisely because they are extremes instead of being two points along a broad spectrum.

Here's the other thing: I was willing to give the movie just about anything as long as I got to see women kicking ass.

My disappointment, let me show it to you (spoilers) )

I don't actually agree with reviewers saying that anyone who liked this movie couldn't possibly be feminist; I think women have enough trouble as is finding role models and seeing themselves on screen that it's not surprising at all that people are taking the movie and subverting it. But I also don't think the movie is anywhere near a feminist narrative, even if you squint and futz around with it. That said, I think it's a pity that the movie bombing will basically be read by Hollywood execs as even more reason to make white guy action movies in which women still have no personalities and are still dressed in scanty outfits, only this time sans guns and swords and giant mecha.

Just... ARGH! It is particularly annoying because my expectations were so low, yet the movie still managed to slip underneath them. I am also prepared to read against the text quite often! I don't mind awesome heroines in shounen manga who are ogled at! (In fact, I am currently watching CB play through Bayonetta, and despite the cheesecake and the blatant male gaze and crotch shots, Bayonetta actually does kick ass and presumably triumphs, and does so with the other primary character in the narrative being... another woman!) But I do mind reading against the text and the male gaze and all the ways the heroines are still sexualized and taken advantage of AND THEN finding out that there's a limit to how much against the text I can read because the movie in my head very clearly isn't the movie in the director's. (Kubo Tite, I am still pissed off at you too.)

AWESOME WOMEN TRIUMPHING. Hollywood, why is this so hard?!

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