Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

Finished the Mall Goth graphic novel by Kate Leth. I liked how the story was set in the early days of net gaming, around early 2000s, with MUDs and online servers. And I get that the story was semi-autobiographical and is an authentic and well-told account of things that happened, either to the author or someone she knew. All good. But the main takeaway to me, theme-wise, seemed to be guys are arseholes. So not the most nuanced treatment of gender politics, but there it is. At least it got me thinking about that, and here are my thoughts, which veer wildly beyond the scope of the graphic novel I just read. That is, let me EXPOUND.

Undoubtedly, we guys can be arseholes. So can women. So what? Cheating’s never fun for whoever’s the victim of it, and so on and so forth. Main thing is, are we going to remain self involved, or will we consider other’s feelings and situations beyond identity? I’m a bit sick of gender politics, actually. It seems kind of (I’m gonna use a very old word here) bourgeois or even conservative in comparison to economic, environmental and workplace politics. I’m thinking of the systemic problems we have under capitalism like inequality, poverty and homelessness. Undoubtedly the so-called patriarchy has a lot to do with this, and speaking truth to that kind of power is definitely a good role for gender politics. And I see how it can align with class politics, when people can be bothered. I’m just not sure its aims are in line with mine. Phew, it was just a graphic novel, after all!

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My next reading adventure is A Geek In Japan by Hector Garcia. The subtitle is ‘discovering the land of manga, anime, zen, and the tea ceremony’. The title caught my eye because it could very well have been written for, if not about, me when I was there last November. Skimming through the text I can tell it’s what I call a mid-knowledge read, namely there will be a lot of stuff I already know about mixed with stuff I don’t. A good mid-level comfort read for the aspiring Japanophile. I like it when books contain facts I already know, and pictures of places I’ve already been to. This will only feed my passion and set me up for a return trip, which is the plan.

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Still on the Japanese theme, I watched a concert bluray I brought back from my trip. It was Silent Siren, Live Tour 2019 31313. Silent Siren are a great all-girl four-piece rock band I like. The gig was at Zepp DiverCity in Odaiba. DiverCity has a giant Gundam (mecha robot) statue just outside the shopping centre, and I saw it. Anyway, the ladies put on a good energetic show in front of a large and appreciative crowd. I liked how they mixed things up with a slower acoustic set in the middle of the concert, which was also peppered with the usual ‘ments’ where the members chat to the audience at length. I only caught a few words (no subtitles) like ‘sugoi’ and ‘arigato gozaimasu’ but enjoyed watching them. My favourite is bass player, Aina, whose playing is astounding. There are lots of great clips on Youtube of musicians, especially women, playing along to her bass parts. With their combo of drums, bass, guitar and keyboard, and guitarist Sumire’s chirpy lead vocals, and their uptempo pop/rock style, they remind me of After School Tea Time, the group in anime K-On!. They just need to add another guitarist for the Asunan role. I see from their bio they did a collab with Poppin’ Party, the group behind the BanG Dream! anime, so clearly the anime link is strong. I also bought a Poppin’ Party dvd whilst in Japan, so maybe I’ll watch that next.

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Finished digitising that Ghost In the Shell 2045 album. I really love the song Sustain, by Mili. I only wish it was better produced – it’s very tinny, though that might be my hearing aids as well. Sustain is a reference to a storyline in the show where business conglomerates and the military want a sustainable war they can profit off of continually. Yep, that’s what they do, that’s what they want – just as long as it’s not in their back yard. The show itself was controversial amongst fans for its 3 D animation. I didn’t mind it. It also introduced a new character, Purin (Japanese for Pudding!), a young woman who headed the Tachikoma unit (armored tanks with cute kiddy voices) and who seemed to have a crush on Batou. She was hated by the fandom, but I like her. I actually saw someone in the Animate store in Ikebukuro who looked like her! Same pink hair, same specs and lithe figure. I think she was deliberately emulating her. I so wanted to talk to her. It’s a bit of a tangent, but I also think I saw Perfume member, Nocchi, in the store. She was wearing a mask but it looked like her. It’s the kind of store a known fan of geek culture (I won’t call her an Otaku, as that’s considered a bit rude in Japan) like her would visit. Legendary store, actually. So many attractive customers there going for the copious Yaoi (Boy Love) merch. Anyway, the only thing I didn’t love or felt uncomfortable about was the long scene in the second series of 2045 where Purin walks around naked. I mean, she may be an adult in her twenties, or possibly thirties, but she has the body of a twelve year old. It’s classic Japanese hentai/fan service. But I must say, the character design for this latest incarnation of GITS is very flattering. Kusanagi looks hotter than ever, and even Batou and Togusa are downright handsome – especially in the end credits sequence.

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