Individual posts about series and topics that caught my interest. Organized in more-or-less chronological order.
The Essays Next Door
Articles written and hosted right here on JND.
- The Hero Appears! Ping-Pong and the Asobi Spirit
Ping-Pong grapples with the moment in adolescence where hobbies become careers and “fun” becomes “work,” and challenges society’s focus on winning in favor of embracing play.
- Heroine Boys and Princely Girls: How Nozaki-kun is Challenging Gender Roles in Fiction
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun deftly flips the expectations of its characters and audience to challenge our understanding of traditional gender roles both in fiction and out of it.
- A Tokyo Ghoul Retrospective; Or, “Waiter, There’s a Tragedy in my Horror Anime!”
Tokyo Ghoul follows the beats of a traditional Hamlet-style tragedy… but is that the story it truly wants to be?
- My Love(ish) Story: Anime, Aces, and Suna-min Rolls
A personal essay about asexual representation in anime and the importance of Sunakawa Makoto in MY love STORY!!
- Capriccio of Fantasy & Power: The Silly Brilliance of Dance with Devils
This campy musical cleverly indulges in the “bad boy” romantic fantasy without ever losing sight of the important line between escapism and reality.
- Tanaka-kun is Always Listlessly…
- In The Moment; Or, Zen and the Art of Laziness
- Growing Up; Or, Taking the
StaircaseElevator to Adulthood
- Defying Appearances; Or, Delinquency is Only Skin Deep
A sequence of mini-essays about Tanaka-kun is Always Listless, a Nice Comedy doing lots of Nice Things.
- Magic-Kyun Renaissance and the Spark(le) of Creativity
In addition to being a pleasantly silly otome adaptation, Magic-kyun also uses its world of “magical arts” to deftly address the struggles of young artists.
- The Nail That Sticks Up: Haikyu!! and the Power of Weirdos
With its cast of unconventional players working towards a common goal, Haikyu finds a smart balance between encouraging individualism and fostering teamwork.
Manga, Western TV, &etc.
- The Korra Retrospective
A Legend of Korra series “review” that swiftly spiraled into an essay about power, privilege, and Korra’s journey towards empathy.
- No Geek Girls Need Apply: Bias & Blind Spots in Princess Jellyfish Vol. 1
Princess Jellyfish‘s early chapters often depict the prejudices people face because they don’t fit societal norms—and isn’t afraid to show how those prejudices can be held by anyone, even those who face prejudice themselves.
- Watch Me If You Can: Context & Nuance in Imperfect Fiction
A sprawling essay outlining my thoughts on engaging with our favorite stories (and one another).
Here, There, Everywhere
Articles written for and hosted on other sites.
From Anime Feminist
- So That I Could Be Myself: Gender Performance in Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju and Yuri on Ice
How two very different male protagonists use their art forms as an outlet to express their femininity.
- Roundtable: For the Love of Trash Characters
The team talks “trash characters,” those flawed darlings we relate to more than we’d like to admit.
- Gals of All Stripes: ClassicaLoid & the Girls’ Day Out
An exuberant exploration and celebration of what it means to be a girl.
- WorldEnd vs Hajime no Ippo: When bad frames happen to good people
A look at how framing can turn an innocuous scene into predatory one.
- A Dream of One’s Own: Finding a home outside femininity in Chihayafuru
Sometimes wrenching but ultimately inspiring, Chihayafuru’s first volume quietly challenges traditional gender norms and offers the hope of a supportive community to anyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t quite fit society’s gendered expectations of who they’re “supposed” to be.
- Review: In This Corner of the World
Not so much a review as it is a series of commentaries written by myself, Vrai, and Amelia. I really liked this film, so naturally I spent lots of words discussing its focus on feminine perspectives, “ordinary” strength, and why this story matters now.
- Know When to Fold ‘Em: “Loudly Laundry” and the feel-good feminism of Princess Principal
A deep-dive into the upbeat and inspiring seventh episode of Princess Principal, which offers perhaps the show’s most nuanced depiction of inequality to date, asking our central cast to acknowledge their own privilege—and encouraging them to find a better way forward.
- Review: Anime Supremacy! is the SHIROBAKO sequel you’ve been waiting for
A review of Mizuki Tsujimura’s novel Anime Supremacy!, a trio of interconnected stories about three women working in the anime industry
- Roundtable: Age-gap relationships in fiction
Caitlin, Vrai, and I discussed the line between reality and fantasy and how both creators and consumers can responsibility engage with age-gap romances in media.
- My Fave is Problematic: Fushigi Yugi
Untangling fifteen years’ worth of feelings about the messy, emotional, flawed, sincere shoujo fantasy that’s been a part of my life since middle school.
- After the Rain, Ristorante Paradiso, and the delicate art of the age-gap romance
Power, perspective, and how little decisions can create major differences.
- Emma’s Choice: The gender-norm nightmare at the heart of The Promised Neverland
What begins as a sharply crafted horror story soon reveals itself to be a sophisticated critique on restrictive social practices—including the hellishly limited roles expected of girls.
- All Folks Bright and Beautiful: The casual gender diversity of Heaven’s Design Team
Come for the neat animal facts, stay for the charming cast breezily ignoring gender norms.
- Lady Leads & Sidekick Lads: Flipping the script in Team Rocket’s “Training Daze”
Team Rocket’s special backstory episode defies as many conventions as they do, taking the classic team origin story and turning familiar gendered archetypes cleverly on their heads.
- A Girl Worth Fighting For: Kingdom Hearts III and the mystery of the missing heroines
Kingdom Hearts’s cast and audience may have grown up, but its tired “boy saves girl” gender politics remain just as outdated as they were when the franchise first launched.
- Nichijou and the Everyday Epics of High School Girls
Through its absurd comedy, Nichijou not only showcases many common (and not-so-common) trials and triumphs of modern female adolescence and friendship, but also expands the narrow idea of what it means to be a “normal” teen girl in fiction.
- Nonconforming in the ’90s: How Pokemon‘s gender variance caught the hearts of a generation
When the Pokemon anime arrived in the U.S. twenty years ago, it filled the space between “boy stuff” and “girl stuff,” treated both as having value, and—through its world, characters, and story—challenged why there was a division in the first place. I fell in love with it in 1999, and now in 2019, I can finally explain why.
- Speak, Fan, and Enter! Heroes & Gatekeepers in Akiba’s Trip
A refreshingly optimistic and welcoming look at nerd culture nestled inside a fanservice show.
- Like Its Pint-Sized Protagonist, The Royal Tutor is More Than Meets the Eye
Never judge a book by its cover or an anime by its quantity of chibis.
- An Introduction to the Saiyuki Anime (…As told by a fan who read the manga almost a decade ago)
A loving and extremely not-serious overview of an old favorite, written in honor of the Summer 2017 Saiyuki Reload Blast anime.
- Failed Tanuki and Half-Baked Tengu: Identity & Community in The Eccentric Family
Part 1 | Part 2
Through its colorful world and unique individuals, The Eccentric Family asks us what makes us who we say we are—and wonders how we’d find that answer in the first place.
- Life After Failure in Sakura Quest
This low-key inspiring series picks up where most high school anime leave off, exploring what happens after you don’t achieve your childhood “dream” and showing how people can still find happiness and fulfillment on the other side of professional failure.
- Moon Crisis Make-Up! How Chiaki Kon Saved Sailor Moon Crystal
A little love goes a long way in Sailor Moon Crystal‘s third season.
- How Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE‘s 2nd Season Struck Comedy Gold
This goofball series perfectly captures what it’s like to be in high school.
- Light Novel vs. Anime: Baccano! and the Art of Adaptation
How the anime differs from the source material—and why that’s a good thing.