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.

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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.

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Blog Carnival: “The Impact They Had On Us”

In which the Josei waxes nostalgic about the five anime that impacted her the most.


Fellow blogger Foxy Lady Ayame invited me to take part in my first ever “blog carnival,” and I thought it would be a fun way to get involved with the anime blogging community and give everyone a little glimpse into my personal anime history.

The goal of this list isn’t to discuss favorites or “best” series, but to talk about the anime or manga that had the biggest impact on us. I opted to just do anime since I’m notoriously long-winded and these got a little wordy. What surprised me was how varied the impact of these shows was – some of them I listed because of how they affected my involvement with the anime community (both IRL and online), some because of how they affected my own writing, and others because they changed the way I viewed art and fiction in general.

And oh, look, I’m being long-winded again. I’ll stop preamblin’ and get to the list. Hit the jump for the shows that (in roughly chronological order) made me the nerdy, over analyzing lady writer I am today.

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