You know what’s the worst thing about being a trans girl who loves magical girls? It’s that they’ll sooner let boys be the heroes than ever consider you for it, and oh, you’ll fucking lap it up anyway.
The Sailor Starlights. Not talking about them though, but I do have some complicated feelings about them.
Although we’re still on the topic of magical girls, I’ll be going on a tangent and mentioning other things that aren’t magical girl. In fact, that’s how I’ll start this off.
Okay, so I recently read Pretty Killers: Diamonds and it caused me to dwell on certain things for, like, more than a week and I’m trying to organise it all into something coherent.
I was really excited when I came across the Pretty Killers series of novels. In case it isn’t clear from my writing about Sailor Moon before, I love magical girls, and these books promised to be about a socially conscious magical girl adventure with a black protagonist in a team of mostly girls of colour. Well, most or all Japanese magical girl stuff have all-girls of colour teams unless they get whitewashed in the US dubs, but I assume this meant a more diverse racial make-up and that’s always cool. Plus, a free e-book version was up on the site so I could read it first and, when I’m able to impulsively buy things, support an author who writes fantasy stories with heroes who aren’t molded from the cracker cutter.
You know what? I’m glad I couldn’t impulsively buy when I heard of these books. I try not to pay for anything looking to take a shit on me.
Have you ever watched The Last Samurai and thought “I’d really like to see this as a TV show, and as Power Rangers”? Well, hiring Tom Cruise would have blown the budget, but Saban’s triumphant return to owning the franchise made that wish come true. If you’re one of those who made that wish, I hate you.
See, he even wears red armour!
Now, this isn’t the first time East Asian cultural elements has appeared in the Power Rangers. Unsurprising considering that much of the footage is adapted from Super Sentai, a Japanese series where every year, you have a group of colourful heroes with different theme fighting monsters also with different themes. It’s only to be expected that it’ll have Japanese cultural elements. I did say East Asia up there though, because Dairanger and Gekiranger.
When I was little and I was watching Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, I noticed that the Red Dragon Zord was an East Asian dragon. Then when Tommy returned as the White Ranger and summoned the White Tiger Zord for the first time, and he gets into the cockpit and then it looks cool and stuff. I remembering going “Hey, those are Chinese words!”
Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the realm of Fantasy Fandom is bound to come up against a most foul lot who would crusade for marginalisations and non-representation in fictional worlds based on myths of Medieval Europe. “HISTORICAL ACCURACY!” is what they would bellow shrilly, believing that they have triumphed with their superior yet concise reasoning. Yet they fail to perceive history’s lack of frail folk whose ears are tipped and who often are caricature of the supposed supremacy of the supposed white race. Nor do they question the existence of terrible winged and scaled worms who vomit the element of fire: creatures which have not been proven to have lived in the Middle Ages.
The Concept of Fantasy is, however, not powerful enough to destroy this wretched enemy. It must be wielded with its twin, the Uncovering of Historical Lies, in order to strike the Dudebro Inquisition at its very foundation. For you see, the great irony is that their Historical Accuracy is inaccurate.
Now is where I drop the gimmick and say that this shall be the first post in an irregular series which tries to debunk myths about history. Specifically, history which is drawn upon by works in the fantasy genre. This one, as the title says, will be about homosexual attitudes and behaviour in Medieval Europe.
If there were no homosexuality back then, why would the Church have rules against it? Did they throw charges of sodomy at everyone they did not like without knowing what the word meant? Of course not. Homosexuality was heavily suppressed during the Middle Ages, but there’s a difference between that and total non-existence. It is possible to create a culture where a people who once normalises or glorifies homosexual acts would come to lose the ability of same-gender attraction. But to completely eradicate these impulses which are so natural that they are observed in about 1500 animal species? Impossible.
As I said, I will be talking about this roleplaying rulebook called Kindred of the East (KotE) and I have. But first, I made a mistake in saying that KotE dealt in South Asia. I was misremembering but for any South Asian readers, despair not! White Wolf already covered the region, or at least just India, in the main Vampire: The Masquerade books. You get the Ravnos clan which are basically Indian vampires organised into the Hindu caste system and whose western brethren are stereotypes of Roma people.
The Ravnos was also originally written as just stereotypes of Roma people, complete with the clan nickname “Gypsies”. And White Wolf also once released Gypsies, where Roma people are more magic than even vampires and werewolves.
Then you also have the fanatical Muslim assassin Assamite vampires.
As for vampires in Africa, well, I would be making a complete arse of myself talking about cultures which I have nearly no familiarity with. But looking at their track record so far… The title is Kindred of the Ebony Kingdom for anyone curious, by the way.
So after saying all that, how well do you think KotE would fare?
Sometimes, I read RPG rulebooks just for fun, which to me is imagining what kind of character I would make if I could play in a campaign. Just now, I finished skimping through Blue Dragon, White Tiger, which I guess is a supplement for Hong Kong Action Theater! (HKAT!). I don’t know and don’t really care.
I have not read HKAT! yet but I assume it is based on roleplaying scenarios where the player characters shooting gangsters with a pistol in each hand like Chow Yun-Fat, jump from building to building while fending off relentless thugs like Jackie Chan, or being just damn fucking cool like Michelle Yeoh. Well Blue Dragon, White Tiger is supposed to be based on wuxia films.
My debut article here on Ars Marginal talked about wuxia being a uniquely Chinese genre with a long history behind it and why non-Chinese should not claim to write wuxia. With a special focus on white people because, well, what other group of people can proudly claim such a high track record of cultural appropriation.
Let’s look take a look at the book cover.
Because it did not exist.
Yes. There was no such thing as heterosexuality back then. Nor homosexuality or bisexuality, for that matter. There was only sexuality and, as far as I know, we had (and still have) a gender binary system so sexual attraction was seen as something akin to flavours. Sometimes you want snails, sometimes you want oysters. You may like one better than the other or you may only like one of them or you may like neither, but you would not make an identity out of it.
This is also pretty much the Japanese view before the Meiji Restoration. Many of what I will be discussing can be applied to the Japanese as well, but I want to focus on my own experiences towards my own culture and history.
With all that business about the Best Sailor Venus Cosplay Ever, Triple J mentioning the Sailor Starlights in the most recent episode of Brain Food, and my own posting on the issue of whitewashing and dubs, how can I ever hope to stop having Sailor Moon on my mind.
Just kidding. I always have Sailor Moon on my mind.
I love the anime for a variety of reasons, and one of them is –you guessed it– the romances. Using only my memory, I can identify four significant romantic relationships throughout the five seasons of the anime. While all of them are flawed, it is pretty notable that the queer relationships make up the majority of all the romances.
While I will be focusing on the anime, I would also be making a few references to the manga to perhaps give things more of a perspective.
Firstly, let’s start with the headlining romance. Spoilers are sure to follow.
Chaka Cumberbatch’s article about white fandom’s bullshit towards her Sailor Venus cosplay (Which by the way is the best Sailor Venus cosplay. EVER.) set off a train of thoughts which got me thinking about how the US dubbing of anime.
Because I’m always so out of touch with the current, I don’t know if this is still the case but I do know that in the previous decade, anime dubbed in the US which are targeted at children (though some of them are targeted at teenagers back in Japan) have a strong tendency to give the English names to the Japanese characters.