2018 in Review: Transness in Anime


It’s been a little over a year since I officially came out, during which time I landed my first console translation gig, met a ton of friends at Anime Expo and made a bunch more, and tragically became a rabid Fate fan. In addition to that, I kept up my tradition of watching as much anime as I possibly can (usually coming out to around 20 shows per season). This year, as you can probably imagine, trans stuff has been on my mind a lot more than ever before. And (coincidentally?) it so happens that there was a good number of shows this past year with either trans characters or that touched on trans-related subjects—some good, and some very bad.

Because it’s such an important topic to me, I wanted to take a little time to touch on each of them and collect my thoughts on how they handled the subject. There will be spoilers for all the series mentioned, so you’ve been warned!

cw: transphobia

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Wandering Heart

I picked up Wandering Son (the manga) shortly after Christmas in 2016, and over the span of the next ten days, I slowly worked my way through the series’s fifteen volumes. I quickly fell in love, and while I was reading, I juggled around the idea of writing something up to express how I felt, and how much it meant to me. But as I got further and further in, what it meant to me became something so intensely personal I wasn’t sure I could put those feelings into words. Or that, if I did, those could possibly come even infinitesimally close to demonstrating how important it was.

And then I hit the final volume, which depicts almost exactly the struggle I was going through, and the conclusion gave me the push I needed to give this damn thing a shot. It’s going to be messy, disorganized, and probably rather unpleasant—much like myself—but I feel like I have to do this. Like it would be, in a way, disrespectful to the series’s final message for me to not spill my heart as well.

So that’s what I’ve done. It’s taken a full year, but I’ve put together a mostly unedited, meandering pile of 5000+ words in the hopes that maybe a fraction of them can stand as a representation of my feelings for this series. And that maybe, at the end of it all, I’ll have at least somewhat sorted through some of my other feelings.

[Spoiler warning: while Wandering Son isn’t a story-focused series where spoilers are a big deal, I’ll still offer a courtesy warning before I get into the meat of things. This post touches on events from the manga that take place well after the anime ends, as well as from beyond what’s officially available in English.]

[Misc warning: this is mostly actually not about Wandering Son, but the boring person writing the post.]

[Content warning: brief descriptions of (fictional) self-harm and suicide, non-fictional homophobia and transphobia.]Read More

Sagrada Reset #1-11 – Adaptation Notes

David Production’s anime adaptation of Kono Yutaka’s debut novel series Sagrada Reset began airing this April, and even if you aren’t familiar with the source material, a quick glance at the episode list makes it clear that director Kawatsura Shinya has opted for a rather unconventional approach in bringing the story to the screen. The books are not only being adapted out of order, they’ve been split up and restructured, giving anime viewers a notably different experience.

Now, I’m not necessarily saying this is a bad thing—changes are inevitable when adapting a story from one medium to another, and a director that slavishly follows the source material is likely to produce something either dull or simply unsuited for anime (see: Kishi Seiji’s attempt at Danganronpa). However, some of the decisions made in the first few episodes are a bit confusing—especially for newcomers—so I wanted to elaborate somewhat on where and how the anime diverges from the novels. Rather than an in-depth analysis, though, this’ll mostly just be a scattershot collection of thoughts I had while revisiting the novels to put together my other posts on the series.

It goes without saying, but MAJOR SPOILERS for the first 11 episodes follow.
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Sagrada Reset – The World Through Rose-Tinted Contacts

Our memories are imperfect and full of holes at the best of times. Insignificant details are tossed aside. Events embellished or remembered outright incorrectly. Individual days reduced down to vague weeks, then again to months, years, and broad-stroke phases like “high school” and “before I stopped counting my birthdays.”

I can’t recall the exact words exchanged with the person who sat across from me at the table at my friend’s wedding last week, only the gist of the conversation—and in another year or two, I probably won’t even remember it happened at all. My youth is a slideshow of mostly disconnected scenes—tripping and hitting my head on the corner of a desk at three or four, leaving a scar above my eyebrow you can still see today; my first day at my new elementary school, transferring in halfway through the year and having to sit on the tiny couch at the side of the classroom because they didn’t have a desk for me yet; whispering among friends at the back of the dark school bus on the way home from a middle-school field trip; arguments with my dad and undeserved punishments; working up the courage to finally ask my crush out; nearly cutting off the tip of my thumb by mistake; being called a bastard for doing better than someone on a test; graduation day; the day my parents split up. Subtract even one of those memories, and I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Like the banks of a river, old memories are eroded away by the constant stream of now while new ones are deposited in their place—what stays and goes a mix of chance and whatever happens to be strong enough to withstand the current. And those memories that stick serve to form us. WITCH, PICTURE and RED EYE GIRL, comprising the sixth through eighth episodes of Sagrada Reset, is a tale about those memories which manage to leave a lasting impact, and how our time-filtered vision of the past doesn’t always line up to reality.

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Sagrada Reset – The Words We Speak

“I love messages,” opens Sagrada Reset’s first volume. On his way to deliver a message of his own, Asai Kei ponders these words, spoken by an old friend two years prior.

“And what if it’s something sad?” he asked.

“If it needs to be said, I’ll figure out the best way to say it, the best words to use, to ensure the message gets across as best as possible.” Be they happy or sad, trivial or deeply serious, Souma Sumire cherished the simple act of transmitting words—ideas, information, concepts, feelings—from person to person.

And what if you don’t understand what the message is trying to say at all? he wonders, a question he never ended up asking because she passed away before he had the chance.

Kei goes on to deliver the message, hoping the apparently meaningless words will bring someone joy, and setting the stage for a tale about how we communicate and the various ways that communication can break down.

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Sagrada Reset – Who’s the Android?

Sagrada Reset is a science-fiction/mystery series set in a city called Sakurada where roughly half the population has some kind of supernatural ability. The story centers around three characters: Asai Kei, whose ability gives him a perfect memory; Haruki Misora, who can reset time up to 72 hours (with some limitations); and Souma Sumire, the girl who brings them together.

The 24-episode anime adaptation, based on a series of seven novels by Kono Yutaka, is being directed by Kawatsura Shinya (Non Non Biyori, Tanaka-kun Is Always Listless) at david production (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Planetarian).

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Re:flections on 2016 #12: My Christmas List

Wait, where did posts #4-11 go?

Two are sitting half-finished in my drafts, two just have titles, and then I ran out of ideas for the rest of them. Sasuga me. Turns out powering through three posts in 24 hours was not the smartest idea (who’da thunk), and I sort of fizzled out pretty quickly afterwards. Which is probably for the best, since I’m pretty sure all three of the posts I did manage to complete suck, lol.

Blogging is hard.Read More