Aug 6, 2014
I only have one link today, that’s the blog Altair & Vega.
Altair & Vega is an extremely insightful blog that delves deep into the narrative and art of many popular anime and manga titles. They have a group of multiple authors and while their posts aren’t regular, when they do show up on my news feed, it’s a great treat.
I forget how I originally got to this site. I probably stumbled upon it through the post on the anime Hyouka, “And You Don’t Doubt Your Own?” Satoshi Fukube, A Character Study. Despite the fact that it makes a very problematic and most likely false claim saying that Fukube is in love/obsessed with Oreki, it is an incredibly interesting read. Speculating on someone’s sexuality is something that should never be okay. In most contexts, it implies the use of applying harmful stereotypes that only further perpetuates them. Thankfully, this article steers clear of this. Instead, it focuses on the behaviour of the characters in the relationship and how the medium portrays these behaviours.
The analysis of Fukube and Oreki’s friendship is great in itself, but it’s the conclusion that rubs me the wrong way. There seems to be a trend towards assuming that a deep and meaningful friendship suggests that one of the parties sees the other as more than “just a friend.” In reality, that is not the case. One can be in a shallow and superficial relationship and harbour romantic feelings towards the other person. However, I think the main culprit here is (other than the fact that people love their shipping1) the fact that Oreki and Fukube are both middle school boys. Very rarely do we see friendships between two boys in media where the relationship scratches more than the surface. Two boys sharing their feelings on life and insecurities instead of playing basketball or doing laps around the neighbourhood? Nah, they must be gay.
While this accusation is pretty harsh, I don’t necessarily accuse nor blame Altair & Vega for it. In fact, I’m extremely glad they wrote this article. As I said before, the analysis of their relationship is superb. They point out specific artistic choices that allude to a certain aspect to their characters I could have never come up with myself (mainly, the shot of Fukube shrouded in darkness while he and Oreki are discussing a “rose coloured” life blew my mind).
Another article I love to read over and over again is Paradise Kiss and the Art of Self Deprecation. Paradise Kiss is a manga and anime that is very near and dear to my heart. Across my many sites, I love to say that Ai Yazawa is one of my favourite mangaka(s?) in the entire industry and I love each and every one of her works. Yazawa has a talent for tapping into the teenaged girl psyche (which doesn’t sound that hard but, ugh, she does it so well). I saw myself in Yukari and I sympathized with from start to finish. But like… The Art of Self Deprecation. This article nails it perfectly. Just read it for yourself.