Forum › Posts by Temp

joined Jan 13, 2021

Pretty cool start? I love art that talks about art (Yuri Espoir is among the best works in the genre, btw), that focuses on how stories bring people together and say so much about who they are, tastes singing louder than words, reviews at first sight, five-and-one-star crossed lovers gleefully bantering about the Experience. Romance is subcultural in its own way, mixing expectations and stations and influences and confluences, trying out looks and tales and links and scales, a private back and forth born of time and place and jamming to the tunes of people trying out a voice, of an age and therefore of All the Time. Ichiko's trying to see herself a bit clearer in the spotlight, discovering her density as she tests out the flow, thinking for pennies and touring the dreadfuls, and Kuran's her anchor, her rock and beacon, an anti-lighthouse she can bob away from, feeling the warmth of a gaze of her back to counter all the ones she faces, the cryptid in her corner. Its a damn nice dynamic that feels both innovative and familiar, because there truly is something comforting about iconoclasm, the hipster's trusty homestead, the reassuring, self-affirming impact that gutters up your bones as you kick out, because there'll always be a tower to flip off, a sky to spit in, a history to sneer at, and to Ichiko out there on fomo's frontlines, Kuran's the mean because she's mean, a star to navigate by because she's extreme. There is no authenticity except in moments felt as they pass, and Ichiran pass 'em with other, phoning in the phonology of phonies, slinging their hearts into every declamation of cliché, never false because they're never true, always the same old and so always new- in short, Sincere Since they're Here. Very Cool.

Also, the art bangs severely in various ways, from the way Ichiko tilts like she's a hidalgo with giants to kill to Kuran looking like a Peanuts character in her punk phase, but special shoutout to the pixel trans flag bubbles on the cover glitching out reality from the cumulative Gender of it all. They just like me, fr, fr.

joined Jan 13, 2021

Damn, this is the first time in ages that a work's reeled me in on premise alone. This right here is the A-grade stuff, cryptid-ass yuri with fucked up little guys too disastrously lesbian to be bothered by stupid things like the worms in their brains or soul-splitting pains, yearning for the touch of a lover and the sweet release of death in no particular order. I'm absolutely fascinated by the graveyard economy here, warring themes of burial and cremation, ascent and descent, searing oblivion and decomposing materiality, all stitched and sutured by paroxysms of need and greed and dirty deeds done dirt cheap, furnishing the afterlife with the afterwife, graverobbers and carpetbaggers bumbling about the funeral parlor, which is a body and place and a home where the heart is (optional). Now here's a world where death's no excuse for skipping on a debt or getting a discount, where every part of you matters, and can be perceived, detached, surveyed, priced and stolen, giving you eternal life on the marrow-market, making you revivable, sellable, killable, fillable, taxes on your taxidermy, weddings on your pyre, till parts do you death. Adore the art skittering and kicking up and out of roundish moe like a body popping out of a grave when its time to rattle some bones, all shadows and silhouettes bursting into focus like a revenant's first time spotting the sun, ribs and teeth breaching the placid surface of a blob. Love our dienamic duo too- Huo's not the earliest riser or best pricer, and Xiong's late to her own tragedy, a match made in the obituaries and worth its weight in mold. Here's wishing our little rotters the best, hoping the philia wins out over the necro, and booking first class tickets to this wild hearse ride (or given that this a jiangshi tale, hiring a Taoist priest to resurrect me every month so I can hop stiffly over to the reader).

joined Jan 13, 2021

Kashiwai: Hey, everyone! Welcome to the latest episode of Manga Appreciation with the Wedding Spanners! I'm your host Kashiwai, and this devastatingly beautiful woman with whom I would sacrifice anything to be is Tsuzuki!

Tsuzuki: I'm not sure locking radio hosts in cabinets and hijacking their programs is the best way to spend our weekly session, honey.

Kashiwai: Today, we're going to be discussing the latest chapter of Brides of Iberis, a story about a wedding planner whose ideas of conventional matrimony are completely overturned when she meets a mysterious, enchanting woman at the center of a dizzying web of relationships. As chaotic and absurd as it may be, the wedding planner just can't resist this siren's free-love charms! And so she's pulled breathlessly into a complex, labyrinthine midnight realm of contracts and deals-

Tsuzuki: For the last time, it's not that hard, I maintain a fucking chart-

Kashiwai: - And all resemblances to real figures are entirely coincidental.

Tsuzuki: Oh. Totally. Blondie wishes she had an ass as fat as mine.

Kashiwai: So! Let's talk about space! One of my favorite things about this story is the way it composes space, weaving the world around a character into patterns that match their connections to the environment, the vista of their thoughts, the landscape of their feelings. For instance, don't you just love how this- totally fictional- Mizuki girl's memories of the first wedding she saw are utterly suffused with detail, almost more vivid than the day she was there, and then we switch to her apartment and it's almost like she's floating in a void, the walls that once housed and confined her now seeming so distant and abyssal, leaving her with nothing but herself in the wake of her way of life?

Tsuzuki: Mm-hmm. Hate being left with myself. Last time it happened, I ended up catching the attention of the single most repressed dame I've ever seen. Damn good kisser, though.

Kashiwai: Aww. Yeah, one way I- I mean, this Mizuki chick- can cope with the profound dread of purposelessness and uncertainty is to seek comfort in the warmth of my- her- lover's arms. Just look at how space takes on detail and form again around Mizuki when she's with Nanami, anchoring her back to the surroundings, letting her latch on to the faith that there's still opportunity and direction left in her life, that she's just moving into a new phase rather than relinquishing everything like she feared earlier.

Tsuzuki: You know what you sure as hell weren't relinquishing last night, babe? My-

Kashiwai: Ahem! Breast of all, I adore how space fades back into blankness when Nanami and Mizuki finally come together, in this fascinating inversion of the emptiness Mizuki experienced when she was alone. Once again, the details are fading out, melting away as her body and mind become the center of her world, but this time it's not because she's alone, but because she's got someone she can devote her entire heart to, glorying in a sense of the present, in a bliss she's wanted and needed for so very long. For a night, she can forget all the anxieties, all the deadlines and obligations and pressures. For a night, the schedule goes out of the window and it's all just them, together. Let me tell you, folks, as a wedding planner, that's nothing short of heaven.

Tsuzuki: Mm-hmm. As a wedding-haver, I can confirm there's nothing better than having a wedding-planner.

Kashiwai: Speaking of wedding planners, I like the irony of Mizuki finding that Nanami's got a whole chart detailing her arrangements. In the beginning, she'd thought this woman was the most irresponsible, immoral person imaginable, but now she discovers that she's actually got everything worked out neatly? Talk about a surprise!

Tsuzuki: Yep. On the other hand, you'd think Mizuki really had it all together in the beginning with her self-righteous act, but now she's just been left by her fiancé, suspected of unprofessionalism by everyone at her job, and is entirely unsure of where she's headed in life. Oh, honey. What in the world would you do without me?

Kashiwai: Oh, I couldn't imagine. Can't visualize a different version of events for the life of me. Must be the smoke from all the bridges I've burned. And I'm sure I'll burn as many more as it takes for you!

Tsuzuki: Go off, queen. Just try not to get caught, okay? I'm not sure if "asking your boyfriend and husband to bail out your girlfriend (pending wife status) for arson" is part of this whole polyamory deal. Also, I think the radio host's about to break out.

Kashiwai: On that note, let's wrap this session up! What thrills, scandals, adventures and distressingly-short-length-induced-climactic-developments does Brides of Iberis have in store? Find out next time on Manga Appreciation With the Wedding Spanners, airing whenever I feel like screaming into the airwaves again about how I was literally created to suffer!

Tsuzuki: Also, follow Mizuki's wedding planner salon on Twitter for updates on when they're all going to murder each other. DM applications to the polycule have also been closed at present due to an overwhelming number of submissions. Until next time, fam. Remember to always fuck around and find out.

last edited at Nov 1, 2022 5:47PM

joined Jan 13, 2021

Shoutout to moody, reflective stories about yearning, public transit, the ephemerality of words and dreams, and the quest for substance in infinite moments- gotta be one of my favorite genders. I love the wispy, diffuse art like trailing dust particles in a sigh of sun, the patchwork shadows that knit backdrops in negative, loose uniforms in molten black winging raven-mantled girls down winds of change, pulses of music and conversation and movement like spikes of a morning migraine followed by the haze of minds trying to recall the formula to ergo's sum, silhouettes as long goodbyes and opaque memories, panels overlapping, cutting across, swimming and diffracting and slicing black-white like piano keys warring for a tune, and the union of forms in finality, shadows given weight and heft and traced to pasts and futures, fulminated by love and light into iridescence. Right from that exquisite first page with a girl-who-will-become-Yuki framed crow-pale against a sky in roiling hues, one foot each in sun and shade, hesitant on the stretch of a dewy path as she stares down a track curling into darkness, unsure if she must advance or await, we're transported into the tale's misty penumbral world, marinating in maudlin moods.

Fitting, then, that so much of the story is about places without trails, lines without connections, words without responses, all lost as they enter the light, scattered to so much ash and ember in purgatorial adolescence- Harumi's touches clouding Yuki's winter-sunned heart, the voice on the phone that prattles without presence, the hubbub of conversations untraceable to speakers, the flush of fantasy diffused in soapy water, words that always curl off course, shadows weaned on formless lights, and trains that trundle to ends of lines few passengers will wait to see. At the end, these girls commit to presence, to bodies, to moments, to the now-and-then, letting go of deferred dreams and postponed appointments and wordless fantasies to see at last what's right before them and infinitely richer. Past the fog and glare of eternal peripheries, they venture at last towards the hearts of people and the town, exploring and escaping themselves. Forget that crusty old Lesbos- the coolest sapphics vacation at Silent Hill.

joined Jan 13, 2021

They're baaaaaack, fuck yeah. Great timing, too. I was just rereading this last night and reflecting how it's absolutely one of favorite series in recent memory. The bartending theme lends itself so well to the exploration of a relationship's growth- as Naori and Hinata come to trust each other, drinking moves from ritual to romance, an act of sacred intimacy between bartender and drinker that's infinite in its flavors and by extension the dimensionality of those involved. Alcohol in this tale is both elixir and expose, nectar of a lotus and the blood of dragons, universal solvent and giver of forms, melting in blood and breath to blend emotions to brews, sentiments to spirits, flowing and mixing in a trillion transient moldings that etch upon dancing veins a moment's hue. As shakers sing and glasses clink, Hinata and Naori sing to each other in a language of need, lines between serving and savoring blurring into pulsing pleasure- though Naori may be said to begin the dance by pouring a drink, she receives beforehand a constellation of signals from Hinata, seeing in her starry eyes the keys to her preparative prediction, and as Hinata trills her bartender's praises in intoxication's flush, she rains upon Naori a host of affirmations, coloring the next concoction, which paints in turn this shimmering ogre another hue, emotions sipped richly on by Naori and reprocessed into the next drink, a cycle of mounting gains (until someone passes out or pounces, that is).

In this ocean of exchanges, a passing of the cornucopia, there's such wonderful blooming and expansion, a tremendous glowing and overflow as bodies shaped by circumstance and society now run free of familiar forms and burst into sculptures of spontaneity, running riot in rummish rapture. Hinata's example is perhaps the more obvious, given the spouting of scarlet horns as if to hold more drink, but Naori too grows in these happy hours into her archetypical ideal of a bartender, suave and sensitive, deliverer of great pleasure, unraveller of tongues and times. And especially charming is how this key to this authenticity is necessarily strangeness, an engagement with demonic, occultic, esoteric and eccentric, the quintessence of aqua vitae found in the way one's own spirit flows, the grandest of works achieved in collaboration, making moments golden in the alchemy of love. Over the course of the series, this growth is also unity and fulfillment and regeneration, as Naori no longer sees bartending as something done in places and hours as separate from her non-professional identity, but a holistic discipline and way of life devoted to empathy and attention in all things, an ear for the whispers of parched souls crying out for replenishment, an eye for the ingredients that dissolve differences into a glittering medley far greater than the sum of competing parts. And so too is Hinata moved in fluidity towards a solidity of self, the precious understanding that to be oneself is to give oneself the space to be, that this uncertainty is not limbo, but limitless potentiality, dissolving in the churn of a good drink the line between human and ogre both within and without, blurring in the warm tumult of a party all forms to one, one form to all, revealing to Hinata that her belonging lies not in an essence, species or race, but in places, connections, spirits both hers and others, bonded and brewed. It's wonderful how she becomes more comfortable receiving and demanding, growing vocal with her needs and yet also trusting Naori to read and respond to them, to gift her pleasures she didn't even know existed, just as Naori herself realizes how much she has to give and enjoys giving, seeing a million glorious versions of herself, a billion things to love, all reflected in Hinata's sparkling eyes.

Stories about people learning to love and enjoy each other in ways ever developing, engaged in cycles of resonance and adaptation, are the absolute best, and this particular story's garnishing of the recipe with the occultic and folkloric is a mocktail (my appreciation of alcohol remains largely literary) suited perfectly to my tastes. Lighter drinks can also hit damn hard, as evidenced by Naori's plight at the end of this chapter, and while I feel like this latest adversary may also end up joining our cast of wacky gays (as Mikage proves, taking pieces out of little bartenders is a form of youkai flirting), I do hope all the ominous warnings about curses and dangers fetch us some spicy confrontations. I want Naori to be hunted by her wife's family of magic gangster has-beens and be bodily flung around by giant monster women (she absolutely enjoys it, the natty little freak). I want Hinata to gore someone regardless of the ultimate status of her horns. I want Mikage to use that wicked knife she busted out when we first met her. You can't have a story about drinking or a story about monsters without a few scuffles, and that goes double for this setup. A toast to murder! (this was originally a wholesome comment)

joined Jan 13, 2021

Really liked this one? Laundromats as spaces have always fascinated me because they're virtually nonexistent where I come from and I've never been to one, so the entirety of my acquaintance with them is deferred through media. There's a fascinating intersection of qualities I normally consider antonymous that flow together in these fictional laundromats, cramped mechanization in lines and rows churning nonstop in cycles turning on tokens and coins, and entwining yet in humming, hulking, rectangular symphonies to carry out a task as old as time, rinsing second skins in quaint old windows, frothing and foaming comforts anew. It's a fusion of traits that renders laundromats strangely quaint in all their efficiency, intimate in that strange liminal glow that makes old eateries and subway tunnels seem oddly organic late into the night, (un)peopled by ghosts of ghosts, echoes of footsteps, and so fittingly a space for that especial brand of romance that weaves together two misfits on lonely nights, following trails of solitude to fellow hermits.

And so it goes for Tamaki and Inori, perched as they are on benches while the systems sing, couched between beds of suds and shadowy sheets, hearts attuned to a dynamo's beat. They toss their clothes into these portals to before-after, clean-as-they-were-in-minutes-from-now, tenses loosened in spin cycles, time itself all fluffy in the wash, letting the hours stretch and curl and heap while the moonlit waiting, undressed for a spell, exchange sideways glances looping off-course as if they too, were whirling in these machines. The art perfectly complements this sense of lazily peeking, hoping for the same, bobbing to the churn in a odd sort of stability- I love the how thick and fine the artist traces their hair, curtains through which they peer nervous and amused and giddy and coy, each seeing the other in as bright a spotlight as a the lights of a small town laundromat may provide, though as Tamaki cheerily asserts, they're already on a stage, deep in a charming game.

I also adore the detail given to the ruffles and layers on their clothes that twine and crease like fabric faces, almost enough to hear them rustle in sitting, shifting and standing up to leave, an external cycle to mirror the one within, as well as the one further within as each of our coin-tossers harbor longing dreams, playing out as many fantasies as the machines accommodate, each wondering if the other knows how she makes her head spin and her stomach flip in eager excitement, stepping into the center with all the regularity of a coin, bundling mysteries and possibilities in a hamper and tossing them into speculation's alembic, spinning, spinning, spinning until those muddy, uncertain feelings are sparkling clean, and then leaving with rueful smiles to be dyed once more in the night. Cycles move within cycles, and especially so when Tamaki makes her declaration at the end, weaving her departure too into another phase of a process, a cycle that separates you ever-so-briefly from the clothes you wrap so close, only to return them sparkling clean at the cost of a little time, the classic Around the World-Wash in 180 Gays by Girls Yearn. For Inori, those six months shall be both washing and waiting, a painful vigil for the one she loves, but also a chance to brighten herself up, dust off the old moves, clean out all the worries and meet Tamaki at her best when she pops out of circulation, crisp and fresh in the clarity of feelings, and eminently wearable (this is a metaphor for cuddling, I think). Big fan of these mildly minimalistic oneshots that let their settings, symbols and styles vocalize what their disaster gays cannot, and I hope we see more from this artist moving forward.

joined Jan 13, 2021

Huzzah, trans manga, we love to see it. I have known Rika for all of the 30-ish minutes it took me to read the available chapters and he is already a Capital Fellow. Homeboy's making friends (shut up, Satsuki) and influencing people (shut up, mom). He's going to get himself an education and become a pillar of the community and trade in the hoodie for something nattier (in that exact order; the hoodie is a man's best friend and notoriously difficult to part ways with). I love his dynamic with Satsuki too, because you've got two fellas who don't quite fit into their society's exact ideals of masculinity, and must constantly grapple with conflicting desires for legitimacy in a world of shifting goalposts where there are No Balls, and so if you want to dribble yourself a route to the finish, pass (har har) or score, you gotta make your own (I am proud of my terrible trans metaphor, but even prouder of my gifted son Rika).

Besides the excellent central 'Aight, I'mma adopt this ratty-ass cis boy and make an honest man out of him' plotline, I also love how this series portrays the shifting, uncertain nature of so many aspects of what's seen as the modern queer experience, the fact that it's not a straightforward track with set stations of increasing 'outness', but a constant negotiation with interlacing sociocultural webs of performance and expectation. Rika can't just 'come out' once full stop, but must constantly assess the people to whom his coming out would even be seen as such, the people he might be able to convince, the people who'd indulge him in the moment and then patronize him the moment he's done talking, the people who mean well and yet retain quiet prejudices that'd strike in unsuspecting moments, and a million other variables that require the queer kid who's 'come out' of the closet to variously climb back in, knock firmly upon the door, replay a video shot of said emergence, build a new closet for a new environment with better ventilation, stock spare closets at a relative's place, knock on another's enclosure, and so forth. The same, of course, goes for 'running away from home', which is less a simple escape and more a quest for breathing room threatened by the monsters of housing, surveillance, basic needs and looming recapture, because running away from something is so often running away to something else, but those who're so oppressed by a hostile environment that they'd suffocate if they stayed a moment more don't have the luxury to plan their prison breaks, nor an abundance of refuges, because when basic aspects of your self are a crime, the very world becomes a gaol.

I also hope the series branches out to more locations if it actually continues past Rika getting to college and becoming independent? Young queer people in unaccepting societies are so often required to juggle a variety of roles with their own complex relationships to each other at all times, a balancing act that requires them to be a dozen different people without losing contact with their 'true self' at precisely such a time when said self is at its most amorphous and uncertain during the process of discovery. Rika already chafes under the weight of it all, space and time pinioning and inscribing his body-that-is-not-quite-a-self, disparate traces, scars and snapshots of ideal daughters and demure schoolgirls and blazing rebels and working adults and secure manhood and happy children figured past, present and future boiled down into costumes that then boil down his self, some all too easy to whip off regardless of his wishes, others clinging painfully tight when he tries to tear them away, and in the end, there is no world in which the body below may be seen as entirely naked, nor the costumes above as entirely clothing, each garbed and stripped by the endless abrasions between expectation and presentation, performance and reception, stages and cages, visions and viewpoints.

This story then, for both Rika and his work-in-progress bro Satsuki, is about finding the space to be different, because there's no perfect model for masculinity or set way to do manhood right, but simply rare places of acceptance where you're seen first as what you claim to be and thus free to claim what you please, staking claims on your own self that is then cultivated per your dreams. And this is not a cultivation of the productive, scenic farmland that hegemonic conceptions of gender would have you yield endlessly identical and profitable harvests from, but indeed the cultivation of a personal wilderness of queerness, a veritable fairyland born of the courage to hope again, a valor that Rika has already learned the value of as he gradually comes to learn the shifting ways of queerness, knowing when to rush forth and when to blend back, but always with a view to reclaiming himself, gaining a ground he creates. Stories about these journeys are so important and I'm always happy to see there's more of them for trans men especially, firstly because they desperately need more representation, and secondly because narratives of trans men provide reflections, models, avenues and possibilities of masculinity that offer a hope for its restoration from patriarchy. In tales like these, there's the admission that masculinity is messy and complicated and caught up in a labyrinthine network of privileges and repressions, obligations and obstructions, but despite it all, there is and must be something redeemable and worthy about it, ways to manhood that are kind and gentle and accepting and revolutionary, the kind of masculinity that shines in hollow and hopeless corners of society where authenticity seems impossible and asserts, as Rika so brightly does to Satsuki, that those dreams of friendship and trust and community were not lies at all, and may still be achieved. That's a message a lot of people need to hear, and I'm glad to have found it featured here.

Temp
Anime season 08 Oct 14:52
joined Jan 13, 2021

I don't normally do CGDCT or Kirara stuff, but Bocchi the Rock had a damn fun premiere? I recall trying the manga on a whim ages ago, only for it to make no real impression, but the anime just pops with style and color and charm (truly the second coming of K-On, though I sure hope it doesn't end up getting co-opted by the worst people on the planet as well). The introverted protagonist, which at this point has gone well beyond being a common trope and reached the level of a cry for help ironically stifled by its own ubiquity, glimmers in renewed darkness through Bocchi. I think what sets our bubblegum babbler apart from her closeted compatriots is precisely the fact that she acts like she's almost entirely alone in the world and the first and only person ever to suffer social anxiety, and channels this into a melodrama so unabashedly abashed that it bumblefucks its way into a raw authenticity (as raw as anime can be, anyway, which is about the level of an undercooked batch of scrambled eggs [I honestly like this show, I swear]).

I love a show that doesn't take itself too seriously, but is also so dedicated to this non-seriousness that it busts out an entire repertoire of tricks to deflate budding bathos, ranging from ironic self-quoting to elaborate daydreams to not-so-subtle jabs at teenagers to fake-out ending themes. It's very dedicated to capturing the absurdity of trying to figure out how in the ever-loving fuck to human being as a teenager, but it's precisely because it jokes about the whole experience in eighty different ways that you can tell that the story genuinely cares. It also fits with the whole theme of being an artist and messing about as you try to figure out your sound, leaning into all the hackneyed lines and self-pitying screeches so you can get 'em out of your system and into a soundscape, barfing up new recipes as you reverse-engineer individuality. I look forward to Bocchi realising that everyone's a bit of a freak and normalcy is eternally the first and last station on a train that never stops, so the key to being a good artist is to figure out how to sell tickets to your travelling cryptid circus. The Girls are Not Going to Be Alright and I, for one, am going for the next dozen weeks to integrate this show into my New Subnormal.

joined Jan 13, 2021
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Day 2 of a post G-Witch Episode 1 society. Colours shine a little brighter. The sun seems to giggle. Birdsong brings me joy as never before. I am mesmerized by the patterns in the sky. Life glitters with promise, the future infinite and invaluable. There are many things not right with this world. But Suletta and Miorine are not among them. They may even be a bastion of hope in the days to come. Like Mercury in the sky, I hope my bitches survive.

Temp
Anime season 02 Oct 06:27
joined Jan 13, 2021

GUNDAAAAAAAAAAAAM

Spoilers for The Witch From Mercury Episode 1

Edit: Having regained the ability to type coherently, I humbly shill to y'all Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury. The approach here seems to have been What if we told a story about giant robots and capitalism and family legacies and also remade Revolutionary Girl Utena and it fucking owns. This is my first MSG, and while I knew that Gundam was to yaoi what Star Trek was to slash, and also that a lot of people were shipping Suletta and Miorine, I mostly just came into the show looking for a story about a badass girl taking on corporations with her beam rifle. What I found was that, but also so much more. I cannot overstate the influence of Utena here- we've got an academy that reflects the state of power as hierarchy across the world, but presents also opportunities for reform and upheaval, a Duelling Council full of dudes who're simultaneously the gayest, straightest and insanest people you'll ever see, loads of familial trauma reflected upon in greenhouses, dramatic battles for a central bride figure, and a scruffy girl of humble origins who finds herself at the centre of it all, blade in one hand, wife in another. Yes, there is a gay engagement in episode one of this show. An openly gay engagement. Not the 90s subtext that even Utena had to deal with, the kind that loads of shows seem to struggle to escape even today. Just a breezy, merry, Oh, yeah, queer relationships are entirely commonplace here and girl, we just got hitched. Regardless of what this show ends up being, this pilot deserves to go down in history. I was fucking sobbing tears of happiness at the end of it all.

At the same time, the show's got tons of personality of its own. There's obviously all the politicking and military-industrial complexity that I hear is common to Gundam, and while Suletta's stuttering, disastrous social presentation easily sets her apart from Utena and promises a unique arc of her own, I also appreciate how Miorine is clearly not willing to be a passive rose bride, but to strive her darnedest to make some kind of impression, defeat those who dishonour her and lead her own life without a second wasted, even if she does at present need to uphold her corporate dynasty's silly marriage contract. As much as I loved the cathartic clarity with which she affirms her and Suletta's engagement, I also hope she gets to ride into battle as well, because girlfriends who fight at each other's sides is still a way better trope than one partner constantly defending the other's honour, even in a queer sense. I want them to fall in love on their own terms, rebel against the system that forces Miorine to be a trophy for lovers of any orientation, create a better new system, and then, after all's said and done, to come together on their own terms after they've forged a valiant bond on the battlefield. They can make history.

So yeah, I went from being mildly intrigued by to indescribably hyped for this show, because it hits so many of my interests and has that really special energy, that interest in being different, challenging and boldly rebellious, that I think queer media so desperately needs- as Suletta so neatly puts it, experience, pride and trust. I don't know where the witch from mercury's going to take us, but I am more committed to this ride than I've been to anything in a long time.

last edited at Oct 2, 2022 6:51AM

Temp
Anime season 30 Sep 14:06
joined Jan 13, 2021

My Master Has No Tail is incredibly charming. I'd read the few translated chapters available about a year ago and was pretty hyped for the show, and for once, the animated product does decent justice to the source material. The show hums with hues and tones in this deceptively simple, earthy way that pleasingly evokes themes of faded paper and wooden blocks, conjuring that serene vitality one feels in the alcoves of old libraries, occasionally fulminated into a glimmering coruscation, like the big ol' belly laughter a good joke evokes, or the paaens of sentiment for ages never experienced a really good painting might make you feel. It can be humble, scruffy and flat at times, the budget transformations of a tanuki in a hurry on an empty belly, but ain't that the best fit ever for this odd little story? I choose to believe in beauty. Also, the voice acting is sublime, and dovetails very well with the low-key animation to stimulate the imagination and paint layers under surfaces, much like rakugo itself can turn a simple spoken performance into a portal to worlds myriad and diverse- another fortunate little coincidence, good old spit-and-spirit magic for the enterprising youkai.

Honestly, I'd have loved this show for the Touhou vibes alone, that masterfully playful marshalling of fairytale and folklore in worlds that, in moving past them, need them more than ever, but No Tail also stands perfectly well on its own four paws. Mameda and Bunko's dynamic is as distinctively charming as always, that lovely interplay between our bushtailed little gremlin's fight-or-fright optimism and this professionally ageless old yarn-weaver's mocking melancholies, intertwining in a stirring, stubbornly hopeful tail (such mirth!) about the timeless vitality of tricks and whimsy, teaching wide audiences to laugh at themselves and weep for others and go back home all warm and fuzzy, hearts insured against time another night. I'm, uh, really sure everyone who watches this will actually appreciate their dynamic for what it is instead of embarking upon Pointless Debate #32737474 about whether it's bait, chum, fodder, foliage, breadcrumb, authentic lily extract, etc. Regardless of whether or not this show grows too popular (it doesn't seem the type to take off like the one about the cop-café did, despite being cooler in every way, but I do remember a promo for it getting boatloads of views on YT, so fingers crossed; either the hipster or the hopeful in me shall eventually be satisfied), I'm just glad that quirky, gentle, art-adoring stories like it continue to be told. Vanishes in a puff of leaves and smoke.

joined Jan 13, 2021

The manga adaptation of Megamind is shaping up to be pretty good.

joined Jan 13, 2021

This story's really grown on me? It was one of those series I'd been keeping up with on autopilot amid other stuff, but this most recent chapter really crystallized its appeal, that special, subtle something which always reels me back in. Fundamentally, this is an incredibly earnest romance, a wondrously clear and heartfelt ode to first loves that sings of infatuation's gifts to moments, lending feathers to feelings and gilding memories in rose, kindling the mundane and banal as fuel for pounding hearts, kneading daydreams into sugary fantasy. Minami's love is so powerfully portrayed, so potent and fiery in its quicksilver flashes and pensive stirrings, so certain in yearning as to leapfrog entirely those sloughy stretches of angst and wish itself indeed into a storm, dispelling all clouds that drape a failed outing or mixed message to reveal once more those silver starmaps that twinkle the trajectory of her hopes. It's rich enough to lend layers, textures and depth to all it touches, a touch-starved Midas tracing her fingertips across a tale with a fairly unremarkable premise and standard building-blocks and leaving it a city of gold, every chapter more charming than the last, eminently capable of pulling readers all bundled in wintry cynicism back into a cherry-pop world.

What really helped this series make the jump in my mind from one I read out of habit to one I'm actively looking forward to is the sheer infectiousness of its enthusiasm to exist, its gamboling, rollicking exuberance in being brightly itself. You see it bursting in Minami's gosh-golly-gee-I'm-so-darn-gaaaaaay non-sequiturs, in the way Tatsumi cuts electrifying promos for local lesbians as proof of cosmic hope and justice, and in the way the girls just gush over how gosh-darn cool Nitori is. It's been a while since I've encountered a story that just loves girls so much- not just girls who're dating or girls with a certain style, but everything about girls everywhere and all at once, gay-as-in-rapture with that almost religious vision of ascending in choral fanfare into your paramour's arms, sighing-singing-praying-gaying class S if all the money that went into building ye olde all-girls school was used instead to build (more) girls. It's adorable.

Yeah, you've got the boatload of tropes, that Takeshi's Castle of silly old moats and ramparts a girl's gotta scale if she wants to be a contender, but the essential zest radiating from every page of this series makes every single one of those hackneyed old tactics work like its the first time anyone's ever belted 'em out. An ambiguously romantic line that our lead doesn't quite know how to process and will haunt her for chapters to come? Oh, rats! A confession that fails to go through because of some external disturbance? A bigger AUGH than Charlie ever Brown'd! A deceptive, unprecedented interest in someone else? Slender Aphrodite, cut me a break! I am slapping my knees and hollering my cheers like a middle-aged parent at their daughter's first baseball game. I want my disaster gay daughter to go out there and play her heart out and come back home all muddy and tired with the biggest ol' gap-toothed grin she can muster at the end of an absolute banger of a match. Fight on, Minami! Aim for the stars!

last edited at Sep 28, 2022 7:32AM

joined Jan 13, 2021
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Wake up babe, latest addition to Land of the Tengu canon(?) dropped. Praying for more eventual NishikixHisame content, because their whole 'super femme, dignified, responsible, dedicated princess-who's-actually-a-massive-freak-off-the-clock (she runs the clock)' x 'seemingly rakish rover of the cloud-courts lusting for battle and birdies who's actually incredibly noble when the moment calls' dynamic absolutely rules.

Tangentially, the ties on Hisame make me wonder about the role of bondage in high tengu society. One would imagine the incredible mobility naturally afforded to tengus by flight would make restrictions on movement far kinkier for them than for humans, and the general decadence of courts (which Nishiki's freakiness may be a result or catalyst of) would likely mean the tengu nobility get up to all manner of shenanigans when the owls begin to hoot. Millennia prior to the events of this series, some prehistoric human probably saw a strange winged being floating ominously over the plains and concocted some theory about the tengu being angels or demons watching mortals from above. Meanwhile, the tengu in question was just trying to fly home with one wing strapped behind her back after an attack by one of their many rival clans forced her wife to fly out to war without having the time to properly untie everything. The heavens are a silly place.

joined Jan 13, 2021

Oh hey, Fukaumi Kon's back! I love the peculiar way they use repetitions, echoes and shifts in perspective and memory to create these quiet, pensive tales that unravel years down panels, weaving recollections to realizations, mementoes to melodies, vignettes to visions all shifting as they're formed, a river of creases that whisper secrets in turning pages.

Here, too, there's a wonderful marshalling of space and setting, a helical progression that enacts time and time again that same pattern of closeness and distance, the constriction of bodies in a crowded train giving way to intimate havens that swell to wrap our girls in amicable bubbles, feeding back into the press of hearts that stand pressed in a common beat, blooming then into a vista of the sea as their voices soar to set tomorrow's date. And then we move back to memories clenched in Takamine's mind, panels of pain bordered in shadow, melting again with Sakura's springtime to burst forth into sweeping passions and singing loves, giving Takamine the courage to close the distance and make a commitment, comfortable at last with leaving her detachment behind to exist in a well-felt moment, and accordingly more content then to step back and appreciate a world no longer empty and numb, but positively glowing with promise and light, knowing it shall be every bit as resplendent tomorrow, knowing the girl who set her alight will be waiting. The last funnelling places us in Sakura's mind, reeling and breathless at an affection returned, in the dizzying knowledge that her little pocket of the train will be that much more crowded tomorrow, and all her words will be graced by eager ears, a lonely book read at last, the letters on her pages sent and received.

In every repetition of the pattern, closeness and distance take on new meanings, contextualized anew by Takamine and Sakura's experiences with each other, their memories and expectations, and also made more meaningful for us as we grow to know them better. And this itself ties into Sakura's gushing about the brilliance of books with subtle foreshadowing that take on new meanings, new secret signals with each read, and sequels to them that hint at shared universes and larger patterns without ever spelling them out, because magic shines best in ambiguity. Every aspect of the tale perfectly coheres, every element deployed in perfect concert, creating constellations of emotion that fascinate effortlessly, a naturalism polished so well as to become a dense, organic cosmos of its own- I adore the girl who seems to have a quiet eye of her own on Takamine, surrounded by knowing friends (one of whom seems quite similar to Haru of Haru to Midori fame, making Sakura's subtly-shared-universe comment even neater). All in all, a brilliant oneshot from a master of the craft. I hope we can see more of Fukaumi's work in the future.

joined Jan 13, 2021

Oh hey, double (triple?) episode of Air Crush Investigaytions. Thoughts:

Vol. 3: This series continues to grow more intriguing with each chapter, deepening and dyeing characters and themes in each others' hues, blurring and bending like light in flight, painting what-ifs on feather-brushed skies, and I am just loving it. Sometimes you get these wonderful stories that unite themes and aesthetics so profoundly that you can nearly taste a message's meaning, feel thoughts and reflections and art-dipped ideas thrum and drip across rivers of paint and text, and this is very definitely one of them, conjuring wintry gasps and hot flushes in contemplations upon freedom, singing cloud-strips to garland an elegy to childhood dreams, thatching nests with weavings of service and purpose, awash in humming exegesis of its own melodies. Shizuki soars in tandem with her shadow, painting herself with every wing-beat, particles of mineral dyes too tiny to see dotting the trails she sweeps down the blue, a reminder of heaven-fixed roots in glory, and yet also brambles that nettle her loftiest arcs. Paradoxically fitting, then, that she find refuge in branches, in perching-places, in cozy beds of leaves and ferns where the warmth of life can outshine the glare of the sun, Kureha's flame thawing a heart chilled by altitude, yet melting also those wings of wax that are both her flight and her fall. The chasm between her confinement, pressured into a gem with no choice but perfection, and Kureha's devotion, a purpose she writes upon her body to connect the symbol within, slowly erodes and unites, just as the sky in medleys of dawn and dusk, giving them salvation in witching hours, a place to descend for those granted and gaoled by the skies. There is no name for the passion ensuing, no brand that may impose upon it an obligation or deception, and in these heavens so contested and cartographed, they create in each other's arms a new space, a tender pocket untouched by seasons, unbound by treasons. I adore my birb daughters. Also, Amakake seems... kinda cool? I'd been apprehensive about her whole touchy-feely teacher schtick in the first chapter, but fortunately the author seems to be taking her in the himbo-princess direction for now, and she absolutely rocks the whole jock-schemer, I-crush-celestial-empires-within-the-curls-of-my-bicep vibe. Hope she gets to stir some cyclonic degrees of shit.

Vol. 4: Okay, so this was a very plot-oriented chapter in various ways and I'm mostly here for the brooding, meditative flight sequences and the flashy splashes of worldbuilding; I will say that the tidbits about the human conspiracies and the badass seasonal abilities (there's probably a metaphor there about the transient-yet-recurring nature of rulers) were damn cool, even if the author had to wrap stuff up early for practical reasons. I do hope we see more in this universe, whether as more doujins or the promised VN, because I continue to be enchanted by its messy-yet-layered profusions of ideas and imagery, its windswept, horizon-striding characters and ever-deepening and turning setting-spaces. Also, damn do the future versions of these (g)avians have drip- I would give a hand if the other could wear Kureha's murder-opera glove, and Shizuki's hair ornament is so pretty? I'm praying we someday get stories of these two as adults navigating political intrigue and a long-term relationship like the author intended.

Extra Chapter- On the Nocturnal Behaviors of the Mountain Tit: I see that Komera's carrying on the long tradition of multi-route VNs with jarringly introduced and oddly narrated H-scenes. I'm just going to assume that the amusingly awkward likening of a boob to an orb is an in-character extension of Shizuki's fondness for all things mineral, gemmed and bejeweled. Centuries later when she's a legendary figure in tengu history, historians will pore over her memoirs and engage in lengthy debates about the symbolic meaning of the numerous descriptions of orbs, beads and veins scattered throughout her narration of life in the palace. All in a day's (night's?) work for our erogay protagonist, I guess.

joined Jan 13, 2021

Through the Hooking-Up Glass and What Kashiwai Found There is a sequel to the acclaimed definitely-not-for-children's book Kashiwai's Adventures In Want-Her-Land, in which a little Victorian-minded lady once again enters a fantastical world, only to find that all the logic from hers is reversed like in a mirror there. Polyamory in this world is as common as it is successful, and indeed follows more rules than the bewilderingly vague proscriptions of monogamy Kashiwai continues to be disillusioned by. Wedding planners in this world are meant to have their notions and plans for marriage dissolved by their clients, and are beholden to them for appointments arrangeable by clandestine text or bathroom break. Engagement rings are mystic devices that manifest prior to the breaking of engagements in some way, and passengers of the train system frequently find their lives going off the rails. Kashiwai is both unnerved and intrigued by this world of illusions, but soon realizes that she cannot classify it as entirely utopic or dystopian any more than she could her own, because every part of the onlooker exists in the mirror, and the closer one peers for comprehension, the closer the spheres come to meeting. Rife with such humorous incidents as the Unwedding of Humpty Jun before his inevitable breakage, charmingly quaint characters such as the White Knight Awa, playful interspersed poems such as 'Jabberbussy' and 'The Bingus and the Heartbreaker', and many more pleasant diversions, this delightful book is guaranteed to grant you many a pleasant afternoon (in case of such side effects as sobbing, disillusionment or dread, please consult your local polyamitrician).

last edited at Sep 2, 2022 12:56AM

joined Jan 13, 2021

Another exquisite part of what continues to be one of my favorite tales in recent memory. This chapter serves brilliantly to illustrate Naekawa's talents in the field of horror, as intimate to cracks of skin as it is ordinate to churning depths, and never in all its reach too far from the moist machinations of the mind, masticating memory and mining malevolence. Fitting then, that this latest monster shall spring not from sepulchral waves or occultic woods, but indeed from the space between appearance and reality, perception and deception, the knots of the brain that hint at the abject, unavoidable litany of flesh beneath every dream. In a story where dualities waltz across liminality in the light of tidal moons, Ayame's nightmare is the very concentration of paradox, folklore and sin and emotion and residue packed so tight that the corpus has no choice but to crack open a mouth and scream. And the second mouth is no mouth at all, no more than phantoms can be second beings, and yet it gapes and grins and breathes and eats, begging with cranial lips the question- why?

There's also a pretty interesting marshalling of gynaehorror in Ayame's motif-cluster of motherhood, birth, consumption and reminiscence. Eating, as evidenced by the title, is a symbol-act intimately connected to this story's themes and indeed manifests in every monster- Shiori's contractual, tasteful, palate-oriented promises of consumption, Miko's not-quite-charlatan feeding on faith and present auto-cannibalism, and now Ayame's unfolding of herself into both expansion and contraction, of a mouth linked to trauma, sin and injury, whose eating and expression are curses wrought upon the host, imposing upon her a monstrous dependency, chopping what may have once been a composite and intersectional self into that most wretched binary of hidden and revealed, past and present, back and front. The mouth itself is not remotely human, and resembles indeed some creature coiling free of a poisoned, bloated carcass, the tongue a wrinkled, knotted viper whose speech is, in true monstrous fashion, more dread than silence might ever achieve.

Coupled with Ayame's motherly aura, the mentions of a child passed away and the clattering, rusted axe said to have sliced open a body, the composite image is a masterfully disturbing inversion of the birth-script, so to speak. The child that Ayame never bore and delivered now seems to have taken permanent residence in her body, and furthermore not in some womb which would be cumbersome enough to convey a child in, but indeed in the very chamber of her thoughts, seat of her individuality- one hears of mothers struggling not to let maternity define them, but in Ayame that fate becomes a hundredfold worse, for no part of her is now free of that second existence, rendering indeed absurd the very question of a separated 'other', for Ayame's monstrous othering stems indeed from the (un)life couched within the marrow of her mind. Whether this second entity is the stepchild's spirit or some traumatic aspect of Ayame herself (the indeterminacy of the primary individual as mother or child is a very testament to this birth-oriented-horror), the fact remains that it is not an adult, but something engulfing human adulthood, evoking from one side the unsettling primacy of children and stirring on the other a dread of unseen age that hints at innumerable sins and terrors concealed. The mouth is an inversion of the womb, the tongue an inversion of the umbilical cord, the axe wound in its brutal reduction of life and creation of a monster an inversion of the caesarian method that makes careful incisions in the hopes of saving both mother and child, and the monster the inversion of a mother. And yet inversions, too, depend on their antonyms for definition, and so is Ayame in abjection and uncanniness bound inextricably to that nebulous ideal of 'correct' and 'healthy' motherhood that Hinako initially associated her with and is now unsettled to find her violating in every way.

Indeed, Hinako's horror may be compounded by the largely mental and abstract image she has of her own departed mother, which in seeming reflection followed by violent subversion through Ayame may shake Hinako's own conceptions of the past, leading her to question the process of her own delivery, so to speak, from idyllic childhood to tormented adolescence, providing a glimpse up the temporal-canal at the conception of her present day. Moreover, as a seeming human consumed by a demonic underside, Ayame also reflects Hinako's own liminal position on the cusp of the midnight realm, her scars both mental and emotional, the very stretch marks and C-section stitches manifested in monstrous proportions upon her body reflecting also Hinako's hidden burns. These scars may be hidden from first sight, but weigh heavily upon the scarred subject, alienating them steadily for society and producing the possibility of a complete break from the status of human, although, as Miko and Shiori illustrate, monsters depend on humanity as mouths on eating, children on mothers, moons on stars and so forth, even as they sometimes eclipse or are eclipsed by these semio-symbiotic relations. And on the topic of monsters, this also raises questions on Fishwife and Foxtrot's origins- were they, too, originally humans who fell (or rose, depending on your perspectives on cannibal immortality) to monstrosity after some traumatic or unspeakable event? Could they, would they, should they turn back? With every chapter, Naekawa manages with style and poetry to further complicate their carefully constructed notions of 'monsters', 'wanting', 'eating', and 'me', making monsters scars, echoes, shadows, performances and states of heartmind. I cannot wait to see where this strange, fascinating tale goes next.

P.S: Also pretty intrigued by Miko's musings on whether Hinako's survival in a joyless life was better than the prospect of dying in happy innocence, because it very clearly also ties into dilemmas she and Shiori must face. Miko's example is more obvious, given her first fall from a natural, powerful beasthood to a difficult pretense of humanity that required obligations to the humans she once preyed on, and her second fall from a beloved, influential divinity to a bedraggled guard dog for a girl she's torn between supporting and sampling (not to mention a possible zeroth fall from humanity to monsterhood if the whole monsters-are-accursed-former-humans theory turns out true). Shiori is characteristically blasé about the issue, but if she has in fact developed an attachment to Hinako more meaningful than a customer at a food court to their meal ticket, then she too must face that same prospect of tumbling from a jubilant life of ocean-lining hedonism to the difficulties of a star-crossed love. Relationships are tough, huh? (Official motto of the Monsterqueer Club).

joined Jan 13, 2021

Oh, hey, I read the LN for this and it was v. nice. I love how Ayaka's like "I am CURSED to recall every excruciating aspect of my life in unavoidable detail and TORTURED by the sheer dreariness of daily life and HOPELESS in the face of the randomness of the universe and DETACHED from the dreary labyrinths of social conventions and NOBODY can fully understand my plight" and then Michiru comes in like, "Hi, so I'm a WITCH, like, a really cool, mysterious, liberated user of magic, but also more special than the other witches because I have DEJA VU abilities that I cannot currently define in detail because I'm still obsessed with the VIBES of it all" and then Ayaka's like, "I have EMOTIONS? DESIRES? HOPES? There are people LIKE ME in this world? There are people who actually LIKE ME? There are people I might possibly talk to for hours, uninhibited, about my unique and unconventional, but not entirely incomprehensible experience of LIFE, and they'll GET IT?"

Full speed ahead for Autistic Girl Autumn :)

joined Jan 13, 2021

Communication's the dominant idea in this chapter, and I continue to be enthralled by how masterfully Akiyama braids motifs around this tale's diverse themes, as intricate and complicated, as quick to bunch and unravel as the bramble-flowered relations that filigree our protagonists' affairs. From the message that kicks off our latest match of spousal squash to the clipped private conversations Kashiwai has with her colleagues, as well as the misdirected card from a marriage happier than anything on-page, the anecdote about planners arranging a series of talks to secure an ailing union (along w/ the money they'd otherwise lose), and the granting of a personal contact number, we see channels of contact and secret messages abound across this segment, and yet so often, there's a certain spillage, an unwanted listener or a distortion of meaning. Awa vaguely catches onto the private implications behind Kashiwai's correspondence, although she's violating professional ethics they haven't even put in the rulebook yet; Fukunaga receives a message meant for Kashiwai, detects the feelings she's been trying to hide, and preaches to her from the Book of Lothario; and both our protagonists are acutely aware of the sensuality of the meetings they arrange, and have grown close enough to develop private jokes, pick up on each other's hearts from miles away, and even confess their love (is that thunder I hear rumbling in the distance?)

Much like the transit motif from previous chapters, communication in Iberis serves as a means to dramatize the greater conflict between public and private spheres that runs across the story, as Kashiwai in this chapter comes to realize that just as there's nothing in the world that's entirely transparent, so can there be nothing entirely intimate. Language is both the lifeblood of humanity and yet as private to us as the blood in an individual vein, the words that web and shore our connections lent delicious secrecy, entailment and idiosyncrasy by the ways in which we perform them to diverse listeners. The dissolution that Kashiwai perceives in her notions of marriage and morality, the perilously enthralling complications that Tsuzuki blows into her life like a storm, now extend not only to weddings, but indeed the meetings that arrange them, the words that define them, the vows that institute them and the implications that bind them. And yet there's beauty in the unravelling of concrete paths, in the light that bleeds from shattered chapel windows, for in the spaces of broken language resides poetry, and all the breathless songs Kashiwai hears in Tsuziki's call, the sirens that once sounded the alarm in her wedding-planner mind for the melting of a matrimony now tempting her to jump ship and risk the waves. And leap she does, accepting the indivisibility of private and public, the irresolution of sin and convention, the intersectionality of work and home, both of which Tsuzuki has proved an admirable wrecker. She puts her cards on the table (quite literally in Tsuzuki's case) and lets the drama unfold, hoping to secure her private affections precisely by making them public, by elevating them from shame to proclamation, stepping onto the Other Side and inviting the peanut gallery to judge until their eyes pop out. There is, of course, a mild irony to the audacity of her revelation, a commitment to Tsuzuki that's not unlike a vow of its own, binding her in rebellion to her co-conspirator in sickness and in death (I trust Akiyama will serve up great helpings of both); it brings the motif of communication full circle with earnestness in the admittance of dishonesty, loyalty in disloyalty, a resounding "I do (not give a fuck)". It'll remain to be seen whether Tsuzuki's as much of a Ride or Die (2021) chick as Kashiwai'll need her to be, though regardless of whether they hop on a train or strap in for pain, I think Akiyama and Ching would both agree that you can never quite outrun yourself.

joined Jan 13, 2021

Excellent piece. I've always loved that particular brand of yuri stories that's sad and sweet and smoky, swilling maudlin memories in rueful grins and sleepy sighs, watering tears down with time to sprinkle the begonias with. Here too, there's parts of people curling suspended, captured in apprehensions poetic and orgasmic, the mists of memory and the fog of darkened rooms parted by runnels of light to illuminate the curve of a breath, the flicker of a hand, the chill of a tress, the shiver of an eye, parts hinting at wholes, shadows at bodies we'll never fully see and yearn all the more to know and be.

The workers in the story occupy a liminal role, shoring up, per Saki's ideal, a client's self, melting into them to make them more solid, crystallizing pleasure in movements and moments, that they may forget themselves in love, become complete in the arms of another, and bear with them a sliver to light the hollowness, led back some nights to secret hearths. It's a spiritual take on the trade quite common in this subgenre, and illuminative of a telling irony in which holy matrimony's mechanical and illicit pleasures sublime, where fairytales flower in dingy motels and paramours spring priceless from coin, telling of a legitimacy in illegitimacy, a comfort in exchange and trade for queer lovers whose affections don't figure in the daylight economy of relationships, and in becoming more economic still by night, create as by water-forged wine a value more fulsome for the secrecy, more precious in deprivation. In such an upside-down world, a shadow's as substantial as a person, a session more pleasurable than lifetimes, and so Miya can only taste life by descending into the underworld, where the ghost of her love for Izumi sure enough becomes flesh, the shadow vanishing in the absence of light, leaving only a body, a pleasure, and a farewell.

This circular dance of yearning strangers would be admirable enough by itself, painting in Miya and Izumi's relationship the ultimate irony as the yearning bridesmaid becomes the pleasure pursued, the happy bride a moonlit seeker, but it is Saki who elevates this tale to brilliance, breaker of cycles, beacon from purgatory. She puts up the star that guides Miya in choppy waters, letting her circumnavigate the oceans of her heart and find at the end of it all a place she can call home, even as she continues to rove a concrete sea. Saki teaches Miya of the pleasure that lives in a soul, the light that sparks itself and thus finally ends the search for suns, the hunt for shadows. She teaches her of the infinitude of the present, the eternity of nights, and the ability to make every union as sweet as first love, and so escape the shadow of an origin, the myth of the one that got away. It is Saki, being of both worlds and a world unto herself, who ushers Miya into the night where she can find parts of herself too faint to spot in daylight, and Saki who accompanies her back into the day once she's come to know herself in shadows. And perhaps just as Miya immersed herself in the night long enough to move the clock again and begin a new day, so too might Izumi, having bid her first love goodbye, decide someday to leave the shadows of brides and sirens to their dances and seek a solid form again. A crosser from one world to another, a dweller of both, and a drifter in neither- it's in a masterful interplay of these three characters that this story manages to puff binaries and archetypes to smoke and create a glittering taste of the delicious complexity of life in all its glorious feeling. Definitely a fave.

joined Jan 13, 2021

Oh wow, I didn't think I'd be seeing a follow-up to this one anytime soon. I really love this series' worldbuilding and ideas in general, since the application of a lot of general fantasy elements such as unique superpowers and ruling clans with dark secrets is nevertheless refreshed and honed by the very specific focus on tengu, flight and nobility that defines the premise. I'd be pretty interested in this setup even if it wasn't yuri, and I'd argue that establishing a strong collection of central themes and motifs will also make the sensual elements that much more compelling and striking when they do take center stage. Case in point, the establishment of Shizuki's gemstone-eating tradition and Kureha's fiery spirit made that scene where she's enchanted by Kureha's ember-gemmed eyes immensely more layered and complex than an equivalent 'Your eyes are so pretty' exchange without the added context would be- is Shizuki moved by the poetry of it all? Will she now hunger for Kureha's gem in a possessive, consumptive way? Shall the flame she'll almost certainly be savoring set her cool blood alight like a sun on the winds? And will Kureha, glowing upon inspection, made ever more glimmering in the radiance of Shizuki's brilliance, discover facets she never knew she had, come to value herself in new and ambitious ways? The possibilities are endless. Worldbuilding was created so gay people could engineer their own universes with physics and cultures that allow for otherwise-unimaginable exercises of homosexuality, and so this is the grandest application of the fantasy genre. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

P.S: I also love how the tengu's wings are framed as not purely biological, but granted upon them by a deity and thus a symbol of the degree to which they're favored by the heavens. In a practical sense, it is a cultural narrative that helps justify their ruling systems of clans, inheritance and family trades, building upon the mythic-motif of a birthright to imbue the privileged with a sense of genealogical supremacy while also encouraging those less-blessed (by standards the ruling classes have created, mind) to meekly accept their lot in life and perpetuate this unequal system. Even so, wings may likely break, bend, fail or be torn away, and the family superpowers are known to manifest in different ways, including virtually unprecedented ones like Kureha's, making people like her sites of tension, struggle and doubt, especially as she comes to lose certainty in her brutally competitive and hierarchical view of tengu society. Moreover, the tengu being granted wings by an unseen deity implies themes of stewardship, regency and an interpretive merit that may very well be overturned by force, allowing successful usurpers to claim that they now have heaven's mandate and recognition, staking new claims to segments of a fundamentally indivisible and unquantifiable sky (only a mildly exaggerated version of what happens with political disputes over land). The tension between the current narratives of descent, royalty and divine rights of rule established by the latest alliance and the lurking threat of an uprising from within or without that plunges the sky back into jungle law and makes the tengu as animals and humans again seems to inform in miniature the relations between our present characters. I do hope that either this series or the planned visual novel explores these themes in greater detail (just give me one route where birb-bians tear an autarch's wings off at the crest of a blooming horizon).

joined Jan 13, 2021

Borderline puritanical class rep characters who implode the moment a woman smirks at them deserve more appreciation, because they're the equivalents of those pro wrestlers who really excel at selling and can make the tiniest little guy waffling noodle punches look like a runaway freight train. Yatosaki Haru in particular has refined the portrayal of sapphic half-lives to an art form, and this is truly one of their finest displays.

joined Jan 13, 2021

There's something wonderfully poetic about Hinako gradually falling for Shiori, moving from thanatos (death drive) to thanatos (romance option), because those churning, coruscating emotions she now lets emerge from a heart both drowning and surfacing are so deliciously, poignantly human, enchanting in both Shiori's briny eyes and our invested-for-the-past-15-chapters ones. The stench of rot-in-life recedes, the tides of gloomy pasts retreat, and a child beached upon her scars begins to breathe anew, and yet that movement is seduction to predators, to those that'd snap this fledgling rebirth up and turn, with flicks of silver tails, back into a darkening blue. As Hinako rises from numbness, discovers her pleasures and pains, so too does Shiori the longer she's stained by land and light, dreading the imposition of names and fates, and of a value that is not meat. She crows selfishness, sings avarice, pledges allegiance to appetites, but whether they stem from a self increasingly less certain of its role, or are defined by her relations to other swiftly changing as well, the center cannot hold, cannot keep from leaking, taking on a fluidity of symbol and form that is, ironically, the very image of her swirling home.

Miko has already revealed a monster's potential, their capacity to grow just like their prey, each defining the other as not-itself, and yet, in evolving and changing, necessarily altering their opposites, until one suspects the line is merely one in the sand, vulnerable indeed to the wash of a tide, which so blurs sand and salt and swirl as to recreate the very bloom of life. Shiori jeers at this and is yet unsettled, disturbed by the success of her own venture, because Hinako was only human insofar as a monster wanted to eat her, and if her humanity grows self-contained and self-transcendent, moving to love both herself and others, including the very creatures who aspire to end her, then wherefore the monster, how now the prey? Shiori dreads eroding, falling as Miko did from her demonic estate, and yet even as Miko's tales are bound to her tails, every bite reducing the potential of her story, rendering more ineluctable the return of her beasthood, so are Shiori's possibilities multiplying, each scale a star, each drop a cosmos, vulnerable to interpretations she dreads and rejects, for in being a looming Other, nightmare on the waves, she is powerful. To eat is to consume and yet to be textured, to savor a flavor and alter your humors, to be blessed and poisoned, rend flesh to feed hearts, and with every chapter, those profound contradictions of life and nature grow more prominent, further disrupting that quaint little casting of Hoods and Wolves and Toothy Grandmas sketched at the opening of this tale. But in such an age, perhaps that is the very loam that'll give these drifters on times and tides their long-desired fairytale.

P.S: I love how Miko deals with the profoundly unsettling knowledge that her bestie/ward/divine-subject is dangerously attracted to an unfathomable fiend by acting like a stock romcom rival- "You're in her death wishes, I occasionally convince her of the value of life and friendship in a cruel and senseless world. We are not the same."

P.P.S: Not in the mood to speculate on MILFistopheles until we know more, but I like how she eerily echoes Hinako's mother, continuing the theme of all the monsters being bound to Hinako's past even as they do seem to have unique histories and tales of their own (Naekawa-sensei should really pen more spinoffs in the Tabeverse); it places the story in this fascinating space between being a tale of 'encounters' in a fictional world w/ detailed mechanics and traits to which the lead is a spectator and new actor, and a more personal psychodrama wherein all supernatural elements are largely meant to be interpreted as projected figments of a central character's imagination or psyche. In some sense, it mirrors how we take folktales and myths stemming from their unique sociocultural settings long before us and yet also find traces of resonance and meaning in them that lets us constantly adapt them in innovative new ways to the circumstances and concerns of our times, playing our own part in fostering their immortality, simultaneously making those myths our own even as we find, interpret and express reflections and aspects of ourselves in those very adaptations.

joined Jan 13, 2021

"I leave Ritsu drinking cheerfully in her apartment! One always finds a crushing beauty standard again. But Ritsu teaches the higher infidelity that negates social standards and raises a glass. She too concludes that all is well. This body henceforth without a consistent weight seems to her neither uncomfortable nor tragic. Each atom of her supper, each curve of her blissful gay chubbiness, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself towards a swiftly-abandoned diet is enough to furnish a girl's whimsy. One must imagine Ritsu happy." - Nikumaru, The Myth of Weight Loss and Other Essays.