Monthly Archives: December 2010

Fan Fiction Friday!!!

I think I’ve mentioned multiple times that I like the idea of Shikamaru/Kurenai and not so much Shikamaru/Temari or Shikamaru/Ino, but Bob5’s Every Cloud has all three and it works.

The Shika-centric fic revolves around his inability to understand any of the women in his life. If you think about it, his relationships with Kurenai, Ino, and Temari make sense; any of them could end up moving toward romance. He wants to help Kurenai take care of her baby after Asuma’s death and spending so much time with her could lead to feelings he can’t control (no matter how much he tried). He’s closest with Ino, whom he’s known since he was a child and a friendship like that might be a decent foundation for a relationship (if Ino wasn’t, you know, Ino). And Temari? His relationship with her is nearly canon for the sheer fact that almost every time she appears in the manga or anime, he’s somewhere nearby; I could see him attracted to Temari’s pragmatism, but finding her competitive nature “troublesome.”

“Every Cloud” easily analyzes and categorizes Shikamaru’s three relationships, but this paragraph clearly shows that he’d trade all of them to have Asuma back:

“Shikamaru still dreams of a simple life. He dreams of a wife who is quiet and kind and children who are clever and well behaved. He dreams of Asuma. These are the dreams he relishes the most. He tells Asuma all his problems over cigarettes and a game of Go (strangely, in the dream, Asuma always wins) and his sensei laughs and slaps him on the back with a large, powerful hand and says, “The one thing you need to know about women is…” and it is here that Shikamaru always wakes up with a pain in his shoulder and an ache in his chest.”

Oh, Shikamaru. You and your women and your absolutely clumsiness when it comes them, despite the fact that you’re a genius. My heart goes out to you.

Every Cloud. Rated T. Grade: B+


Fan Fiction Friday!!!

While watching Darker Than BLACK, I kept finding myself rooting for Misaki Kirihara and Hei/BK-201. Theirs would’ve been a classic star-crossed lovers type of love story, really. Uptight law enforcement officer falls in love with a mysterious guy with a very, very dark side. She’s totally by the book; for him, there is no book. (Think George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez in Out of Sight, except instead of robbing banks, George Clooney kills people by shocking them with massive amounts of electricity.) In the series, Misaki is clearly attracted to Li, Hei/BK-201’s well-mannered albeit naive alter-ego. But would she risk her career for a relationship with a criminal? Viconia2000 poses this question in “A Deeper Shade of Black” and the answer is “yes.”

The story starts with Hei/BK-201 saving Misaki during a bust gone wrong. After essentially kidnapping her and fleeing to safety, he propositions her. Her first instinct is to object. “Anyone who knows me knows I don’t have time to date, let alone carry on a clandestine affair with the most wanted contractor in Tokyo,” she says. There’s no real rational reason for her to say yes to him. She merely does so out of curiosity. That’s the thing about clandestine affairs; they’re completely irrational.

“A Deeper Shade of Black” almost reads like a chick-lit novel, which I don’t tend to enjoy, but it works because viconia2000’s Misaki is just so in-character. The story is more about her and her entire life is filtered through the lens of her work than it is about Hei/BK-201 seducing her. In the end, Misaki finally puts the pieces together on her paramour’s identity, leaving her with a decision to make: turn him in or date him. I’ll let you guess which one she chooses.

A Deeper Shade of Black. Rated M. Grade B.

Fringe the Graphic Novel? Love.

I’m kind of in love with this idea. At the very least, it will tide my over until Fringe starts up again on January 21. Although moving the show to Fridays at 9 might kill it, my guess is it was already getting decimated in the ratings, having to go up against Grey’s Anatomy at 9 on Thursdays. *shrug* Whatever. I’ll be watching it on Hulu anyway.


My Review of Ooku: The Inner Chambers for Ghettoblaster Magazine

Volume 5 of Ooku: The Inner Chambers comes out later this month (December 21) and I’m excited to see what happens next. I reviewed the series for the fall issue of Ghettoblaster Magazine (on newsstands NOW!) and it’s a tense, complicated read that re-imagines gender disparities in women’s favor. Or does it? Here what I wrote:

Ooku: The Inner Chambers (Viz Media)
From prostitution to marriage dowries to pornography, history is full of individuals trading in sexual currency. And the most common characteristic of methods that use sex and sexuality as a means to monetary compensation and power? Women bear the brunt of the consequences. Fumi Yoshinaga’s Ooku: The Inner Chambers turns this subjugation on its ear. Set in feudal Japan, where a disease has killed nearly 75 percent of men in the last 80 years, women serve in positions of power, including that of the country’s leader, the shogunate. Each shogunate keeps a harem of handsome, young men to “service” her regularly in the hopes that she’ll get pregnant and give birth to a son who will live long enough to help jump start the male population and rule the country after his mother’s death. The politicking and back-biting that follows among the men within the inner chambers—all of whom wish to live the lush life afforded the father of the shogunate’s child—is the basis for most of the action in Ooku, whose fifth volume comes out this December. While the fake Victorian-period dialogue can get tiresome after a while, it’s compelling enough to keep readers turning the pages. It’s a intriguing character study of how things might be different if women ruled the world. Yoshinaga’s answer to that question apparently is “not much.”

What I didn’t have room to fully spell out because of space constraints is that women being in charge doesn’t mean much unless the gender mindset changes. In Ooku, most roles are reversed but the mental paradigm doesn’t shift along with the power structure. While they may be “in control,” the female characters still act as the weaker sex, deferring to the men in their lives whenever possible. The shogunate continues popping out kids in hopes of having a boy to whom she can turn over the reigns, essentially making her the most powerful woman in the country in name only.

With the exception of one female character, none of the women grab power in a way that asserts their true dominance in the times in which they live. That character’s assertion of power was cruel and downright despicable, and I felt that a clear distinction was being drawn between her and the other women of the series, one that counts on us to be taken aback by her actions due our general understanding that women are ultimately nurturers and caregivers. But if you look past what she did to get what she wanted, you’d see that it was still done out of her twisted desire to take care of someone else, so while her approach was outrageous, the underlying message is still the same.

I can’t wait to grab my copy of the latest volume. I appreciate Yoshinaga’s attempt to give us a different interpretation of power as seen through female eyes. Ooku can distract you with its drastic declines in the male population and what that means for the society physically, but underneath it all, the mentality about gender differences seem to remain unchanged.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Spike Spiegel? Yes, please.

This? This right here? This is so Spike Spiegel. I think it’s the broken cigarette that does it. Mmmm….