If you, like me, long ago grew tired of the turf wars between Ford and Holden enthusiasts, you can now safely take a neutral side.
Japanese car manufacturer Subaru has made ingenious use of makeup, prosthetics and green screen technology to bring to life the monsters of a popular anime for a television advertisment.
進撃の巨人 (‘Shingeki no Kyojin’; Attack on Titan) is the hit anime based on the manga of the same name, written by Hajime Isayama, in which humankind have been hunted to the brink of extinction by giant humanoid monsters called ‘titans’.
The thrilling series has been well-received by countless fans in Japan and internationally (including some of us here at Gay Geek)!
In the commercial, which went viral overnight, a shiny new car can be seen skillfully evading the grips of two titans which have appeared in the anime. It concludes with a dramatic focus on the iconic recurring monster in the series; the aptly-named Colossal Titan.
Pokémon’s 6th generation of main series games is literally only days away and I am both excited and utterly demoralised since I promised myself to hold off on acquiring it for important personal reasons. However, I have been following the news and everything is so delicious. I’m kicking myself for making promises I don’t want to keep. There’s much about the new generation of Pokémon that has gotten me hyped and a few things that I am not so thrilled about but still interested enough to see how it works.
Things that I am so hyped for in the new generation:
Pokémon X & Y are introducing salons in some of the Kalos region’s cities. In these specialised locations there will be the option to change the appearance of your player character, causing him/her to appear different in battle animations and have a unique look in wi-fi matches. It’s still a couple of steps down from the kind of character creation that long-time fans have been anticipating but it’s a positive step forward. It also means that we can get rid of the stupid sunglasses. I hate the sunglasses. Seriously, who thought that was a good idea?
Its species name is “Poodle Pokémon” and it changes form by simply getting a haircut. Unlike other types of Pokémon forms where the Pokémon may be able to access different moves, change stats or even change type with a form change, Furfrou simply changes its appearance. Yep, it’s just a Pokémon poodle. And that is why I love and want it so much. You can choose between three different types of poodle-shape* and each has a dye job to go with it. For a person like me whom is so entertained by simple things like changing colours and shapes and sparkly things, I know I’m going to find this a lot of fun.
Depowering the Steel-type (a bit)
Getting technical now, did you hate it whenever a Steel-type Pokémon appeared as an opponent in previous generations? Yeah, me too. They’re not as super-powered as the Dragon-type but they have so few weaknesses coupled with a great ton of resistances, including immunity to Poison-type attacks, and high average defence stats. It is so frustrating to take on a Steel-type Pokémon, even the ones where the massive resistance of the Steel-typing is offset by a second type. So for Generation VI, the Pokémon Team have changed the type pairings a bit. Obviously they had to change them anyway to include the Fairy-type but they have also taken away Steel-type’s resistance to Dark- and Ghost-types, which makes a lot of sense and I am totally cool with it since I quite like the Dark-type. And like I said, fighting against at literal steel wall when so few of your attacks will do more than half the regular damage is really frustrating. I’d rather see defensive play being mixed up by adding more moves to the pool rather than more resistances to certains types.
‘Since you’re able to run right from the get-go in these games, there’s a new item you’ll be able to get that allows you to go even faster. As an enthusiastic roller-blader in my childhood, I am certain to identify strongly with this new element. I don’t know if I’ll ever not use them. Screw the bicycle, skates are where it’s at in this game.
Things that I am not so hyped for in the new generation:
This seems to me a pointless addition to make to the list of types. Everyone initially got super excited because ever since the introduction of the Dark-type fans have been speculating the creation of a corresponding “Light-type” and Fairy seems to be filling that niche. However, what got a lot of appetites wet for Fairy-type was the fact that it’s super-effective against Dragon-type and additionally is not affected by Dragon-type moves. Dragon-type Pokémon have long been revered for being powerful and having few weaknesses. If I had to spend hours in tall grass trying to catch a super-rare Pokémon and even more hours raising it to level 50 to get its fully evolved form, I think I deserve a very powerful Pokémon, thank-you very much.
This seems like a much needed move to depower the Dragon-type generally but when you take a step back it’s a pretty moot move. Despite having few weaknesses Dragon-type also has few strengths. Offensively, their moves are only super-effective against themselves and aside from Fairy, Steel is the only type that they’re not neutral to. Defensively, they take double damage from Ice-type (and now Fairy-type), as well as themselves and half damage from Water, Fire, Grass and Electric, making them neutral to everything else. The biggest threat a Dragon-type Pokémon possesses is high stats so I don’t think this addition to the typing categories is really well worth the hype just yet. More so since aside from its battle properties we still don’t know about the growth rate or the average base stats of Fairy-type.
It’s a Psychic-type Pokémon that has a drastically different appearance based on whether it is male or female. It also has different move pools based on its gender with the female’s being more aggressive and the male’s being more supportive. It would have been less offensive to just make them two different Pokémon. Meowstic takes gender alienation in Pokémon to a new level of dumb, up from the different designs of various accessories depending on your character’s gender from Generation IV onwards. Here’s a clue: for each accessory there was actually only one design but they came in different colours. And of course you couldn’t just choose your colour; girls were automatically assigned pink and for boys, blue. I can deal with the theme of sexual dimorphism that Pokémon has been going for ever since they introduced breeding but segregating this Pokémon so far that each gender has different move sets based on their sex is taking that too far. Can’t people just accept that boys and girls can do everything the other can do?
So far Mega-evolution seems to be one of the coolest things this generation has to offer and I can understand that. The designs for many of the megas look really cool and it shakes up the game strategy a lot but I am just not hyped. Mainly because this whole temporary evolution schtick has been Digimon’s s domain since 1999. I was a fan of both of them as a child but Pokémon eventually stole my heart away completely with its unexplored lands of wonder, beauty and mystery over the digital world’s wondrously confusing topsy-turvy Wonderland-ish world. One of the major things that really separated the Pokémon from the Digimon was the fact that Pokémon evolved permanently and without much assistance from an external device** while Digimon did not. In my mind that is still one of the most important distinctions between them. Mega-evolution is cool but from my perspective it just seems like they’re starting to step on Digimon’s toes now. The reason why I like Pokémon is because it’s not Digimon and Digimon is great because it’s a viable alternative to Pokémon that is not another Pokémon thing (like Pokémon Conquest – totally viable alternative to the Pokémon main series but it’s still Pokémon).
That’s really just a gripe, though. It would be cool to instantly be able to boost all of your stats in a single move and even change type to get some strategic advantage. Then again, there may turn out to be more advantage in equipping some other sort of item over the mega-stone, like a berry (never underestimate those rare berries; Charti Berry lets me breathe a little easier in the face of Stealth Rock***) or even a focus band for the sake of getting in just one more hit, or maybe it’ll be more worth it to use a Mystic Water or other kind of item to raise the power of certain attacks, especially attacks that your Pokémon already gets a STAB from. See, I’m already questioning the usual plan of attack. An interesting way to shake up the battling but why did it have to wriggle into the Digimon niche?
All things considered, I love Pokémon and I can’t wait for the fateful day when I have fulfilled my promise and Pokémon X sits snugly in my 3DS and shines its glorious digital light upon my visage.
*‘Poodle-shape’ is a general term to describe the shapes that poodles are trimmed into and it’s a totally legitimate way to describe things. Totally.
**Just to be clear, I am aware of all of the Pokémon that need to be holding items or have items used on them in order to evolve but Mega-evolution takes the further step of the trainer needing to hold a special item that will consistently trigger Mega-evolution. You know, like how the DigiDestined kids needed to be holding Digivices to consistently trigger Digivolution.
*** Stealth Rock has ruined everything.
You know who’s super excited for the 12th of October? ME!!!
You know why I’m super excited for the 12th of October? Pokémon X and Y!!!
You know why I’m super sad? Because I have a Real Life responsibilities around the same time to contend with the time I would have been spending playing this brand new awesomeness.
In the meantime, there’s the newly released OVA
that I can use to procrastinate with reckless abandon, Pokémon: The Origin. It’s already been aired and subtitled and the first episode really sets the mood. You’ve probably already seen this clip of Charmander screaming continuously as Squirtle mercilessly unleashes Bite attack on it.
It’s absolutely distressing. With this clip it’s clear to see that Pokémon is going down some dark, dark roads. I haven’t seen Pokémon get this hardcore since the Pokémon Adventures manga. It’s terrifying, it’s disturbing, it’s violent, it’s horrific and I like it! Give me MOAR!!
Image: [thanks Serebii]
In terms of news, this is really old. I mean really, really, REALLY old. However, I thought I might bring it up since nobody seems to talk about it, not even the fans. So the two pages you’re about to read are from a manga called Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler) and is a character guide for the officially confirmed second most powerful being in the entire story (it’s a manga, so read from right to left):
I just find it really interesting that despite the existence of this in canon (it can be considered canon since it’s from the manga-ka and it reveals some key aspects of the character as Yana Toboso designed her) fans of this anime/manga universally and unanimously identify Grell as male. Shipping between Grell and the male characters is categorised as yaoi/BL despite the fact that it’s technically heterosexual and her relationship with Madame Red is either ignored or classified as het despite actually being homosexual.
One of the most common reasons I’ve heard for this is that Grell’s trans identity isn’t prominently brought out in the story as part of the plot or even part of a sub-plot but does it have to be??? The way the Kuroshitsuji fandom seems to rationalising this is as such: nothing is absolutely, explicitly stated in the canon storyline since it’s not a massive deal plot-wise, so the fans are all confused and still mostly think that Grell Sutcliff is a cisgender, gay man. Seriously fandom? SERIOUSLY??? Yana Toboso has literally done everything she can in the main story to show the readers that Grell is trans*, from using feminine Japanese (read this article from Tofugu if you need to know more about that) to having Grell state several times that she wants to “be a maiden”. Everything except explicitly say that Grell is transgender. Thankfully the fandom seems to be generally okay with accepting that Grell is bisexual, yet frequently ignore the “bi” part of “bisexual”. Like Grell’s gender identity, Yana Toboso did everything to prove that Grell is bisexual, this time including a few lines where Grell explicitly states that she is bisexual.
This is one of the biggest reasons why Grell is my favourite character in Kuroshitsuji. She’s loud and proud about her bisexuality and gender identity. In an anime/manga that is absolutely full of effeminate-looking characters, Grell is a few steps above and beyond simply being effeminate – she does her very best to express her true gender despite her biology and is an upbeat, vibrant figure in an otherwise gloomy cast of angsty characters.
I honestly do not know what to think about this fandom’s response to having a trans* character in their canon. Is it because Japan and the Western world both have a very stringent view of sexuality that isn’t very kind to trans* people? Or do people in society still not like the idea of trans* people in general? Or perhaps it’s just because the Kuroshitsuji fandom is extremely problematic on a general level? (See: this Tumblr blog.)
Basically, I just wanted to put this up here now to show people that there is an admittedly excellent work of fiction out there where a trans* person is a main character who often helps to significantly drive the plot and who is actually one of the most powerful characters in the cast (Toboso stated that Grell is the second most powerful after the main character, Sebastian Michaelis). I don’t want people to continue to ignore her trans* identity. It’s a really important part of her character.
We’ve already introduced you to the new swimming anime called Free! Iwatobi Swim Club. The show is slowly warming up but already there is a cry from some of the haters out there that this show is “gay” and that it “objectifies men”.
Thankfully, most of this crap had already been picked up by the fandom and shot down in flames because there is nothing inherently gay about Free! Even if there was, it’s no big deal, right? Anime is infamously notorious for sexualising women all of the time, even when having sex appeal makes absolutely no sense. Sexualisation and sexual objectification is a staple of the anime genre and it’s rare to come across something that doesn’t see fit to draw your attention to the fact the female characters are sexy. So who even cares if Free! likes to draw our attention to the fact that the male characters in this anime are sexy?
Apparently lots of people do. The perceived sexualisation and objectification of the male characters has also, somehow, led some people into believing that this anime is simply gay. Now, when you think about it, that’s actually a really huge leap to make. What is it about sexualisation and objectification that is inherently gay?
This question on my mind reminded me of a YouTube video I once watched years ago about sexualisation in the media. I don’t remember the title of the video or the user’s name so, to my dismay, I have never been able to find it since. But something the uploader said was extremely telling of the situation we’re finding ourselves in here:
“Men do not accept sexualisation.”*
By “men”, I think what she meant was “cisgender heterosexual men”. They don’t accept being the victims of objectification. The more I think about it, the more I see evidence of this being true. The boys in Free! are often seen shirtless and wet. This is quite a sexy state to be in and so it must stand to be true that they are being sexually objectified. And if they’re sexually objectified then they must be gay or trans because there’s no way that anyone would ever dare to objectify a cis-het man. That’s a completely unacceptable notion.
The labelling of the show’s characters as ‘gay’ highlights the (non-existent) sexual undertones of the show and shifts the ‘victimisation’ onto others. Others who are not cisgender or heterosexual. It is also a way to criticise the audience who genuinely enjoy the show. This is actually a little odd because previously this came in two separate accusations: 1) a show was called ‘gay’ as a way of criticising the writers, directors, producers and everyone else involved in its creation and expressing that the male characters had unacceptable levels of femininity. 2) a show was accused of ‘objectifying men’ as a way of shaming the audience and tricking them into believing that they are participating in oppression.
For the first time I’ve noticed that these two tenets of “male-rights activism” have combined with the release of Free! Iwatobi Swim Club. The haters were quick to label this show as ‘gay’ and then justify this by alleging sexual objectification of the male characters. Thus, they criticise the creators and the audience simultaneously and add the damaging and dangerous conception that it’s fair game for gay men to be sexually objectified.
This is obviously terrible and it’s important to be pointing this sort of thing out. We do so much apologising for subtle discrimination like this instead of attacking it head on for being discriminatory in the first place. The idea that a slice-of-life anime about a swimming club damages male privilege and sexualises the male body is preposterous.
The moral of this article is: sexualisation and sexual objectification are not inherently gay! Always remember that.
*that’s not a direct quote either, that’s just as much as I could remember about what she was saying.
Images: [all sourced from entravity.]
If you’ve been dipping your toes into the anime scene lately, you’ll have likely heard the big stir around this new series.
With only two episodes released, the handsome boys of the Iwatobi swimming club are already making a splash. Free! Iwatobi Swim Club – a.k.a. Free! - is the latest project by Kyoto Animation. Based on the light novel High Speed by Kōji Ōji, the show falls into the ‘fanservice’ category of anime with its visual appeal, attractive characters and relationship-focused storytelling. So what can be said about the show so far?
Prior to the title’s announcement, the internet dubbed the project simply “that sexy swimming anime” – a nickname which has stuck even post-premiere. Rest assured, it delivers all that its name promises!
The visual appeal is flawless (I’m talking about the animation, oh sly-minded readers). The drawing style is pleasing to the eye and the setting is gorgeous to boot. What else would we expect from the studio which brought us gems such as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiyaand K-On!? Fans of the latter will instantly recognise similarities in the character design.
So far, the characters themselves are by no means unique. Each neatly fits into tropes familiar to anyone who isn’t new to the ‘boy love’ genre, making this a great introductory anime. However, that’s not to discourage anime veterans from giving Free! a shot. Director Hiroko Utsumi has expressed his desire to base the strength of the plot on the boys’ relationships with each other, as opposed to pure rivalry which other sports-based anime focus on. This has come through strongly, the writers using the first episodes largely to elaborate on the backstory to the boys’ current lives. While this meant there was less time devoted to character development beyond the basics, the story gets watchers asking enough questions to sustain interest.
What struck me in particular, as I unashamedly fulfilled my investigative duties, was the score. The soundtrack to Free! continues to entertain beyond the opening credits and really complements the youthfulness of the characters and the feelings of competition between them.
Of course, let’s not forgo the obvious: the primary reason you should treat yourself to this pretty anime is for some fit. Shirtless. WET guys who are really ridiculously good-looking. The main character alone is so eager to spend quality time in the pool he literally strips at the mere mention of the word. (You think I’m kidding? His strip count for episode one sits at three.)
In summary, Free! has made a beautiful debut and holds promise of big adventures ahead for the Iwatobi boys. GayGeek’s final verdict? Dive right in!