Waxing Philosophical: What We Can Learn from even the Trashiest of Romances

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Valentine’s Day is behind us but I think it’s important to continue thinking about romance and the kind of impact these kinds of stories have on readers. It’s one of the reasons I created this blog and continue to return to romance series. Reading romance books and manga were majorly important to me when I was growing up. I started reading them back in middle school, or about 12 to 13 years old. I’ve never really thought about the significance of starting around that time until this article from Vulture pointed it out: the kinds of books you read in school are mostly stories of boys and men with the occasional dead girl so, in essence, romance books become a way to see girls and female characters in prominent roles. They’re thrilling, a way to experience and read about sex, something that is usually frowned upon in academia and some social circles. The US in particular isn’t very good about including comprehensive sex education in their schools, so for many girls, this is their first and sometimes only major way to learn about sex and sexual relationships.

The romance genre has gotten a bad rap over the years, considered “popular” literature or just not literature at all. Why? It could be because its an industry dominated by women who are writing predominantly for women. It could be the sometimes silly, “bodice-ripper” covers showing half naked women and men on full display. It could also be the escapist nature of romance fiction in general which tends to make people point at it and say, “there’s nothing good or intelligent you can get out of a story like that. It’s all just trash for bored housewives.” Which is completely and utterly wrong. Dismissing a whole genre in and of itself is wrong, and I’m here to tell you there are quite a few important life lessons you can learn from romance. Continue reading

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The Secret Loves of Geeks Anthology Review

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The Secret Loves of Geeks is a follow-up to the previous anthology The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, which I admittedly need to read as well. I’ve been seeing this one pop up on my Twitter feed for the last couple weeks as its release date came and went. Ultimately, the cover, with its multitude of meme-themed cats and the big-name contributors really convinced me to pick this one up as I was browsing through a comic store. Anthologies have always been a draw for me, as they give me a way to discover new artists while reading a diverse collection of stories. So far I’ve reviewed two anthologies focusing on romance and sex, and I’m glad to be able to add this one to the list as it definitely doesn’t disappoint in its content.

If the name hasn’t given it away, this anthology features prose stories and comics  from a diverse cast of creators, artists, writers of geek culture about their most heartbreaking or uplifting tales of love, sex, and dating. It includes contributions from such professionals as: Patrick Rothfuss (Name of the Wind), Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale), Hope Larson (Batgirl), Chris Roberson (iZombie), and Jamie McKelvie (The Wicked + The Divine). The anthology is edited by Hope Nicholson and is currently published by Dark Horse. Continue reading

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid Valentine’s OVA Review

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Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid has to be one of the few yuri animes I actually like. It manages to combine great animation and enjoyable characters in such a way that you almost feel like you’re not watching a typical yuri show. The anime was originally part of the Spring 2017 simulcast season on Crunchyroll and ran for 13 episodes. Just recently, they released the 14th episode, a Valentine’s Day special OVA that brings us back to the world of cute dragons and ridiculously lovable characters. Compared to the previous episodes, this special may seem a little empty as it focuses on more mundane aspects of the character’s lives rather than the fantastical. However, I think the episode holds a lot of great, small character moments, and, while the episode doesn’t have the regular crazy dragon moments, it makes up for it in the quieter exploration of relationships.

If you haven’t watched Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid yet I highly suggest you do (and also read my review of the full series here). The basic story centers around an office worker named Kobayashi who opens her front door one day to find a large dragon staring back at her. The dragon transforms into a cute maid girl and introduces herself as Tohru. Apparently, the night before Kobayashi stumbled into the forest while drunk and found Tohru, and subsequently offered her a place to stay. Kobayashi now finds herself with a maid that happens to be a dragon who also happens to be madly in love with her. The recent OVA gives a look at their first Valentine’s day together and a hot spring trip with friends. Continue reading

The Healing Power of Gaming in Recovery of an MMO Junkie

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For the past couple years the isekai genre — stories about being trapped or transported to video-game worlds — has been dominating the anime, manga, and light novel marketplace. Into the middle of this boom enters Recovery of an MMO Junkie, a show that similarly takes a look at people and their interactions in a virtual world. However, MMO Junkie’s appeal in this genre is its divorce from the concept of trapping its characters in its world. Rather it focuses on examining the multi-layered relationship between our online and offline lives. Recovery of an MMO Junkie revolves around Moriko and her progression of healing through the MMO Fruits de Mer. Gaming, and MMO’s in particular, offer a unique way to both interact with other people and explore different identities and characters in a relatively safe environment. Over the course of the anime, we see Moriko explore the world of this game through the avatar Hayashi, make friends, and gain the confidence again to create meaningful offline relationships. These unique characteristics of MMOs helped Moriko reach a level of growth that she may not have been able to reach any other way. Continue reading

Brothers Conflict Anime Review

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Brothers Conflict was something I watched a long time ago when the sub was still streaming on Funimation. I’ve always meant to review this one, and this interim period while the most recent shows are finishing up gave me a chance to sit back down again and watch it all the way through. This second watch-through, however, has made me realize just how uninteresting this anime is overall. It has it’s good moments, don’t get me wrong, and I think fans of reverse-harems and the otome genre might appreciate it, but I feel like I don’t get that much enjoyment anymore out of series that don’t try and do anything different with their concept.

The series was originally a novel which got turned into a manga, 4-koma comic, and then Playstation otome games before finally becoming an anime in 2013. The story follows the life of highschool student Ema Hinata who finds out that her father will soon be getting married to another woman and she will soon have 13 new brothers. In order to not be a bother to her newlywed parents, Ema decides to live together with her new extended family. As Ema tries to make a place for herself in this new family, her brothers are also having a hard time accepting her as just a sister. Continue reading

Dirty Diamonds #8: “Sex” Comic Anthology Review

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Dirty Diamonds is one of those anthologies I look for every time I go to a convention like MICE (Massachusetts Independent Comic Expo) mainly because I know there will be something in there I will like. Also because I definitely think women and queer comic voices don’t get the amount of attention they deserve. The anthology itself goes back to 2011 when it was started by the two editors, Kelly Phillips and Claire Folkman. Each volume is funded through Kickstarter and takes submissions from anyone who identifies as female. This volume’s specific theme is  sex, and it manages to present a lot of different semi-autobiographical stories about sex itself, our relation to it, and the social pressures surrounding it. I wanted to take a moment to look at some of the stories and issues presented in Sex as well as highlight some of my favorites. Continue reading