Monday, January 29, 2007

lesbian lolita goth girls, intersex romances and boy-love

While trying to work myself up to doing some serious research/writing, I am watching a music video of the film Kamikazi Girls to the song Teenagers by My Chemical Romance. It truly is a fine way to spend a morning and reminds me that if you are a lolita girl, a goth girl, a goth lolita girl or a lesbian goth lolita girl and you haven’t seen this film then you are missing probably the most amazing romance/friendship film between a headbutting, gambling, little too passionate biker girl and a girl who won’t do gym class because exercise isn’t “Rococo” (her term for ultra lolita girl who has transformed her life as a slave to fashion). Or rather two VERY strong independent girls who no one else really understands, including each other - but they do figure out that they are better together for reasons no one, include themselves really understands. (Youtube in its understanding of lesbians and goths have deleted the account for this video - so I can't have it embedded, but you can still see it HERE)

Are you LGBTI, living in North America and feel that the only time reflections of people like you show up in popular culture is when they are serial killers being hunted down by various straight detectives on TV? Then turn to manga or anime. For some reason, particularly for females, there is a giant slice of culture out there in anime/manga land that just doesn’t exist in North America. For example, last week I went to the library and asked the youth librarian to show me some of the books in Juvenile Fiction on teenage girls in sports. “Uhhhhh” The librarian showed me about a dozen with guys before saying, “There really aren’t any.” What? It seems there are plenty of books about “secrets and sleepovers” for 15-6 year old girls, but the cupboard is bare when it comes to females doing what more and more of what they ARE doing (getting into athletics). Never fear, with anime and manga, just name your interest and strong female role models will appear - Soccer: Angel Cup, Softball: Princess Nine, Basketball: Girl got Game, Volleyball: Crimson Hero; or are you just tall and kinda butch looking and want a straight romance on the difficulties of being a tall butchy teenage girl who is in love with a smaller more delicate guy: welcome to Never Give Up. Or if you are a urban north American gay guy going to school and want an action type romance there is the new series Offbeat (book two just released).

The new manga series which blew me away is called, Day of the Revolution which has only two volumes (both printed in English) which is...wait for it....a romance drama for intersex females. Seriously. Total Genius! The first series starts with Kei, a underdeveloped boy who hangs with a gang of four guys as their sort of mascot before hitting late puberty and fainting. After a visit to the doctor is it revealed that Kei is intersex and biologically female. With a family discussion, Kei decides that she will live her life as Megumi, along with the help of her family and the family of the doctor, whose daughter Mokoto takes her under her wing for guidance. Six months later she is back at school and not long after the “Gang of four” figure out that she was Kei, and (this is part where you know it is a fictional romance), they are not only fine with it but each reveal that they were attracted to Kei anyway and start fighting for dating times. Megumi is having problems emotionally dealing with the new romantic scenerios and finds guys a bit MUCH, which is fine for her mentor and guide Mokoto, since Mokoto is a lesbian and thinks Megumi would be a great girlfriend (this is how you know this isn't a story written in NORTH AMERICA). The story ended abruptly but part II was written due to POPULAR DEMAND (go Japan!). In part II, Megumi finds a relationship that works for her, becomes more comfortable with her femininity and learns how to deal with that borderline with guys between friends, romance and BACK OFF! So if you are an female with intersex issues out there who feels that there aren’t any books which cover your experiences and have a bit of romantic drama too, then I would definitely pick these up. I would also recommend it for anyone who is a little tired of the same-old romances ("not another cowboy!") and wants a little diversity (and humour) with their romance.

Apparently, Shojo (or female) manga have always featured LGBT characters, even in it’s postwar beginnings, as Ribbon Knight had as it’s main character a person with both male and female spirits. Gay and “alternative” romances are common manga genre, "Some Japanese women no longer believe in love between men and women as superior since they see the reality after
the happy ending," says Dr. Masami Toku. I guess nothing like a bad straight relationship to make you romantize being gay, eh? (If only this were true, US divorce rates show we would be awash with gay romantic TV shows) In Thailand, “boy love” manga, or manga which cover either the lives and discrimination of being gay or different gay romances is a growing trend in which up to five new stories are released a week and “In Thailand, more than 80% of readers are teenage girls and women in their early 20s” So fear not, reading gay romances is cool, even for straights!

"Nok, 17, said she started reading boy-love comics a few years ago after becoming bored with typical heterosexual romance comics, which she said are too repetitive and saccharine.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with us reading boy-love comics. They're fun, mysterious and have beautiful drawings. It doesn't mean that we have to become gays or lesbians too. I also think it's good because it makes me feel that I can better accept homosexuals and see them as a part of society," Nok said."

Couldn’t have said it better.


Jpeg 1 - http://www.creative-camera.co.uk/exhibitions/exhibition.php?ex_id=31

9 comments:

Geekygirl said...

That Kamikazi Girls film looks AWESOME. Online distributors?

Elizabeth McClung said...

You can get it through Amazon pretty easy - Thanks for the reminder - I will add links for the rest of the items too!

Wiccachicky said...

I have always been fascinated with manga, so I'll have to check the intersex on out. It does make a big difference when you can actually SEE yourself in popular culture. I remember a distinct void when I was growing up...and it is odd to see my students so aware of their sexuality in a way I never was at their age.

kathz said...

I suppose you don't know any manga in which older women take up swordplay and have exciting adventures - sort of Miss Marple with swords and romance (gay, straight, anything)? I bet I'm not the only woman who'd enjoy that ... or perhaps I am.

GeekyGirl said...

Not the only one Kathz :)

Elizabeth McClung said...

Actually there is an anime series on now called Le Chevalier D'Eon about the famous 18th century noble who was part of the secret service for the king of france - in real life he (or she) spent 20 in the military and then 20 years as a female spy at the Russian court amoung other places - ended her life as a female - the series is about a group of 4 minor nobles, all swordfighters, loyal to the king - D'eon changes sex when possessed by the spirit of his murdered sister (and who is a better swordfighter than he is) - I don't know if that fits the bill (not available in tranlation yet - but available to watch on youtube).

There is of course the classic Utena: Revolutionary Girl - about a girl who fences her classmates at an exclusive school to protect "the rose bride" and for the power to change the world - has a great deal of actual fencing as many of her opponents are both male and female and members of fencing team (only they duel with real swords).

Another favorite is the anime Kazemakase Tsukikage Ran where a female samurai (who like sake...a lot) with her female chinese sidekick wanders Japan righting wrongs and defending villagers - a AMV of it on YouTube is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvIYphUhTn0

If you want a life action film I heavy recommend the Korean film, My Wife is a Gangster - about a female head of a gang who "needs" to get married to please her dying sister - ends up with hapless innocent who doesn't realize she does duels to keep her position.

I will try to think of some more - okay?

Elizabeth McClung said...

Sorry I was talking anime and film - as for Manga - Revolutionary girl is a five part Manga available in the US and UK -

The first several volumes of Vampire Game (I think 3-4) include a series of duels regarding who marries the princess of the united kingdom - what they don't know is that the vampire that swore blood on her family line has been reincarnated and is her pet cat (who can also transform himself to look like her) - so the duels include lots of guys falling for beautiful guys (who look like girls) as well as one of the three princes is a crossdresser who is more beautiful than the princess - all of whom (including the princess) enter the sword competition - Not to bad as series go - at least for the first five books or so (sword play and lots of "So am I in love with the female that looks a like you or the male that looks like you?")

Hmmm - that's all I can think of in that area right now - swords don't show up in manga as much as anime because they don't show action as well

Oh wait - there are currently two different female samurai series - One is called Kaze Hikaru where a female disguised as a male joins a samurai swordsmen squad to avenge her family set in 1863 (up to 4 volumes)

The second series is called Tail of the Moon where in order to marry into a ninja clan, a young female herbalist must prove herself as a swordswoman

These are all Shojo (female) anime - the male anime has swordplay but it is more focused on extreme violence like Chronicle of the Cursed Sword and such - which I don't read -

If you want an more mature award winning manga to start off with, I would really recommend Antique Bakery - it doesn't really have any swordplay but does feature all adults, some sexual innuendo and solving people's problems through obsessive baking - It is complete in 4 volumes though each can stand alone - volume 1 and 2 are a good taster.

I will keep looking for the perfect match however

geekygirl said...

Thanks for all the info- there's loads to check out now :)

Anonymous said...

OMG! I dressed as that girl for halloween when I was 17 no JOKE! I know, I know I was supposed to go to bed hours ago but I just can't! Insomnia strikes again!

-Nicole