A Dream of One’s Own: Finding a home outside femininity in Chihayafuru

Cards against gender conformity.

Chihayafuru is one of my all-time favorite anime series, so you can imagine my surprise and delight when Kodansha announced they’d licensed the manga for an English-language digital release. While devouring the first volume, I once again fell in love with this endearing, intense, emotional rollercoaster of a sports series about three friends in the world of competitive karuta–and was also struck for the first time by how insightfully Chihaya’s childhood arc depicts the plight of the “tomboy.”

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.

Click here for the full post on Anime Feminist!


Did you know? Have you heard? The Josei Next Door has a tip jar!

Fan vs Service: WorldEnd vs Hajime no Ippo

When bad frames happen to good people.

When I learned that this season’s new anime, WorldEnd (or SukaSuka), was based on a light novel about an adult man becoming a caretaker for a group of under-18 girls, I was understandably wary given anime’s less-than-glowing track record when handling age gaps and power dynamics. Fortunately, WorldEnd’s leading man, Willem, is (so far) completely uninterested in romancing the local teens. While 15-year-old Chtholly does have an obvious crush on him, Willem sees her and the rest of the girls as students, patients, or younger family members. He uses his power to help and guide, never to take advantage.

These are all good things, and a large part of why the pensive found-family story at the heart of WorldEnd has been so compelling to me. It’s also a large part of why a particular scene in Episode 2, “late autumn night’s dream,” stands out as so uncomfortable and out-of-place. Willem may not be a creeper, but some of the people creating him sure seem to be.

Click here for the full post on Anime Feminist!

Love in the Time of ClassicaLoid

Get your ‘ship on.

Welp, they’ve done it again. The creative team who assured us that being a girl was a state of mind rather than a state of body brought that same chipper progressivism to their silly romance episode, and they did not disappoint. ClassicaLoid may be first-and-foremost a wacky comedy about the importance of community and the transformative power of music, but it’s also proven itself adept at quietly challenging cultural norms about gender and sexuality. Guess it’s true you should never judge a book by its cover—or a series by its goofy premise.

Click here for the full post on Anime Feminist!

Speak, Fan, and Enter! Heroes & Gatekeepers in “Akiba’s Trip”

For the love of trivial pursuits.

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Akiba’s Trip is an up-front, silly fanservice show that takes its ogling about as seriously as it does its story. While I’m not usually a fan of the ‘service, Akiba’s Trip has charmed me with its enthusiastic characters and overall joyful tone as it takes its audience on a wacky, loving tour of the many hobbies and fandoms that make up the Akihabara district. And, unlike many series about nerd culture, Akiba’s Trip and its cast are positive-minded dorks more than happy to share their passions with others.

Click here for the full post on Crunchyroll!

She and Her Cat and Her Story

Adulthood, family, and the purrpose-driven life.

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She and Her Cat -everything flows- is a four-episode short which aired this time last year and quietly earned the honor of being 2016’s Show That Turned Me Into a Puddle of Tears. It’s the story of a young woman (Miyu) struggling to make a place for herself in the working world outside of college, as told through the eyes of the cat who’s been with her since childhood. Graceful, charming, wrenching, and hopeful, She and Her Cat is an understated, emotional gem. 10/10, would let wreck me again.

It’s also a refreshing take on the traditional female coming-of-age tale, which so often focuses on heterosexual romance and the importance of a man to help the woman achieve happiness or fulfillment. Instead, Miyu’s story and struggles are related to her career and—more importantly—to her relationships with two women.

Click here for the full post on Anime Feminist!

[12 Days of AniFem] ClassicaLoid & the Girls’ Day Out

If you hear any noise, it ain’t the boys.

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While I doubt I’ll have time to do the full 12 Days of Anime on my own here at JND, I am participating in the one being held over at Anime Feminist! Today I talk about one of my favorite episodes of the season: ClassicaLoid‘s silly, saucy, and joyfully inclusive “Girls’ Day Out.”

Click here for the full post on Anime Feminist!

The Nail That Sticks Up: Haikyu!! & the Power of Weirdos

Birds of a different feather flock together.

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You may have heard the somewhat gloomy Japanese proverb: “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” It works a lot like the English idiom “don’t rock the boat,” and can read like a threat against individuality. While it often gets over-used by us folks in the west as a way to (negatively and reductively) explain Japan’s cultural tendency to value the group over the individual, it’s still a useful phrase because it neatly summarizes the major downside of collectivism: If you don’t fit the mold, then you’re no longer welcome.

Haikyu!! is a show about volleyball. It’s a show about persistence and passion. It’s a show about friendship and teamwork. And now, after finishing its third season, we can add something else to that list. Haikyu is a show about defending the nails that stick up.

Here there be spoilers: Discussion about the finale for Haikyu Season 3 (Karasuno Vs. Shiratorizawa) below the jump.

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