Nonconforming in the ‘90s: How Pokemon’s gender variance caught the hearts of generation

Smashing gender norms at the speed of light.

Jessie and James in Rose of Versailles cosplay. James is Marie Antoinette and Jessie is Oscar.

Twenty years ago, I watched my very first episode of Pokemon and began my lifelong journey into the world of anime, manga, and JRPGs. I couldn’t tell you the exact date, but I can tell you the episode was “The Flame Pokemon-athon!” and that I was both confused and delighted by this weird show with electric mice and flaming horses. I can also tell you I swiftly fell in love with it, bringing my best friends along for the ride.

And now, two decades later, after diving back into the anime after years away from it, I think I can finally tell you why: why this strange, silly, sincere show mattered, not just to me but to the turn-of-the-century Western kids’ media landscape as a whole. How 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.

Click here for the full article on Anime Feminist!


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Podcast: Neon Genesis Evangelion Watchalong – Episodes 7-13

You guys. You guys. It’s an elEVAtor.

The Evangelion cast crowds into a elevator, smashed up against each other

Our multi-part watchalong of Neon Genesis Evangelion continues! Vrai, Dee, and special guests Isaac and Lizzie discuss gender roles, sex and sexuality, and overall have a pretty good time with this “monster-of-the-week” stretch of episodes. But why does Vrai keep chortling in the background…?

Click here to view the show notes and download the SoundCloud file, or find it on iTunes and Stitcher by searching for “Chatty AF.”


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Podcast: Jupiter Ascending Retrospective

Air-rollerblading into your ears.

Jupiter and Channing Tatum stand epically in front of a large image of Jupiter and the Earth

I’m real proud of this one, y’all. To celebrate Chatty AF’s 100th episode, the whole team got together to talk about the criminally underappreciated shoujo space opera epic, Jupiter Ascending. Join us as we discuss female power fantasies, isekai story beats, Academy Award-Winner Eddie Redmayne, and whether the film is Good Actually, Bad Actually, or somewhere in between.

Click here to view the show notes and download the SoundCloud file, or find it on iTunes and Stitcher by searching for “Chatty AF.”


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Podcast: Neon Genesis Evangelion Watchalong – Episodes 1-6

Get in the robot discourse.

Misato holds binoculars and leans over Shinji to peer out of a car window

Vrai and I got together with special guests Lizzie and Isaac to tackle the legendary mecha anime. This is definitely a great idea that won’t get me any angry emails at all.

Click here to view the show notes and download the SoundCloud file, or find it on iTunes and Stitcher by searching for “Chatty AF.”


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Nichijou and the Everyday Epics of High School Girls

A slice-of-life that really knows how to live.

Mio dives dramatically off a riverbank. Yuuko watches her, shocked, in the foreground.

Adapted from the manga by Keiichi Arawi and vibrantly animated by Kyoto Animation, this comedy featuring robots, talking cats, and murderous deer initially sounds far from “ordinary.” However, Nichijou‘s dedication to finding reality through absurdity—to showing how things feel rather than how they literally are—grants the series an authenticity that many grounded YA dramas struggle to capture.

More to the point, it accomplishes this with a cast largely composed of high school girls—in particular, the central crew of Yuuko, Mio, Mai, and Nano. Through these girls’ diverse personalities and adventures, 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.

Click here for the full article on Anime Feminist!


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A Girl Worth Fighting For: Kingdom Hearts III and the mystery of the missing heroines

Curses! Damseled again! Aqua stands in front of a young Kairi, her keyblade drawn protectively

The first Kingdom Hearts game launched just over seventeen years ago, and I’ve been an avid fan and sometimes-apologist of the series ever since. Despite its (in)famously convoluted storyline, the character relationships and emotional blend of melancholy, hope, and heart-on-sleeve sincerity has kept me captivated into adulthood. Because, really, who cares about plot holes when you’re watching a cutscene through a veil of tears?

Needless to say, I was elated when the mythical Kingdom Hearts III finally dropped this year. I couldn’t wait to see the many stories come to a dramatic close and all the tragedy children get the endings they deserved. I wanted so badly to adore it.

And while there was a lot to enjoy (the gameplay, the graphics, most of the worlds, everything involving Axel), there was just as much that left me frustrated—and all of it linked back to the way the game treated its most prominent female characters. 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.

Click here for the full article on Anime Feminist!


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Lady Leads & Sidekick Lads: Flipping the script in Team Rocket’s “Training Daze”

The lovely, charming origin story.

The Team Rocket trio stand together, wearing red training uniforms. Jessie clenches a fist and looks at James, who looks back at her with a determined smile. Meowth stands between them, grinning wide.

The Team Rocket trio have never been your typical villains. With a tenacity only matched by their incompetence, an enduring love for one another, a closet full of exquisite crossplay, and enough puns to sink the St. Anne, they’re about as charming as “bad guys” can get.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that their 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.

Click here for the full article on Anime Feminist!


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