Sunday, April 28, 2013

Akagami no Shirayuki Hime and Women with Agency

Last post, I discussed how we were able to apply and connect Twilight criticism to the Japanese manga Black Bird. When looking at popular culture, from any country, I am always looking into what kinds of behaviors that piece is trying to teach the target audience. Does this show/book/song try to tell people what is considered masculine? Is it trying to tell women how to attract men? Are the young men and women reading that YA novel truly connecting and understanding what the author is trying to imply they are going through? How does that particular fandom respond to certain characters and what kind of fan enterprises are they embarking on? These are all questions that many pop culture critics and scholars research and expand on to further, scholastically, understand what constitutes "popular" and what a phenomena reflects back on to the culture that is consuming it.

While I was reading Black Bird, it was impossible not to see the obvious and tonal connections between the book/movie and the manga. As I said last post, Twilight could have been a shojo manga, it's tone, characters, and plot fit into the established genre so well. It was no surprise that the Japanese market picked it up and was widely popular. Never mind what unhealthy information about relationships the two imparted to its readers.

This post, I am looking at the complete other end of the shojo spectrum with a manga that's not too widely popular and a lot less soapy. Out of LaLa magazine, the one publishes Natsume Yuuchincho, comes the story of Shiyuki, or Snow White, is a rather inverted look at the fairy tale.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Twilight + Yokai = Black Bird

In the year 2005 a new pop cultural phenomena was launched and spread throughout the world. It released a giant of a question onto the world at large: Are you team Edward? or team Jacob?

I am, of course, referring to the giant franchise that spans 4 books, 5 movies, was on the NYT Best Sellers list and propelled Kristen Stewart into almost every home. That phenomena would be Twilight.

Now, I am not really going to go on about my opinion of the books one way or the other. I have actually read 2 of the 4 books while I was in college. My suite mates and I were passing around romance novels my senior year of college and I remember reading Twilight, the first installment of the series, in a matter of hours. For a YA novel, it wasn't great by any stretch of the imagination, but it had heart, the situation was entertaining, and the writing was so easily read that my brain didn't have to engage at all. It was like reading a really good fanfiction that was bound in paperback.

In 2008 Twilight, the first book in the series, was translated and sold thousands of copies in Japan. My Japanese teacher, an older and very smart women, actually read them because her friends were talking about it. The series and the books were a huge success in Japan, which is not very surprising because when you read Twilight and you've read some old shojo manga, you recognize that the plots and characters are made very similar.

Which is why it shouldn't surprise you that I am going to be looking at how Twilight and Black Bird, are very similar in a lot of ways.