Drama CD: Break Free!

I’ve been posting about this in various places, but I thought I’d add a post to this blog as well. Better late than never, eh?

So, this is going to be a shameless advertisement for a fellow author, who I admire greatly, and whose work has always been more than inspiring to me. Nowadays, I am lucky enough to call her my friend, and I am super excited about her having this project happening!

Basically she wrote a novel-length script which was adapted into an audio drama, starring such amazing voice actors as Narutu’s Junko Takeuchi and Noriaki Sugiyama, Daisuke Namikawa (K, Haikyuu!!, Hetalia) and Yuichi Nakamura (Haikyuu!!, Durarara!!).  The artwork is by Japanese illustrator Yamada Shiro.
For anyone who’s heard ‘Yours For An Hour‘, it’s by the same production company; Leaves & Bonds, and obviously, if you’re a SasuNaru fan (like me *coughs*) then it’s definitely a must-have!

The deadline for pre-ordering is on the 16th of February, Japanese time, so anyone interested should get to it, as pre-ordering is the only way to guarantee getting your copy (or copies)!

Summary:
Nobu has always put his family first, even before his own dreams. Just when he’s about to resign himself to the future his father has planned for him, a boy he met 10 years ago reappears and turns his whole world view upside down. Will Kaito be able to show him what it’s like to live a life that’s more free?

The Drama CD comes in two versions, with different epilogues. The drama is recorded in Japanese, but the CD comes with a transcript in English.

You can pre-order the CD until February 16th from Good Smile Shop.

Version A: https://goo.gl/zFyhFz

Version B: https://goo.gl/O478yb

This is going to be SO GOOD, so get your copy before the deadline~

You can also converse with Raz on her tumblr, ask questions and otherwise support the project on there.
Even if you can’t afford buying a CD yourself, please spread the word and help support her~

goodsmileshop-com

Image source: GoodSmile Shop

Full stop

Today is semicolon day.  Semicolons are kind of ambiguous as far as grammar goes; you either don’t know what they do at all, or; you abuse them. Guess which category I am in?
I love semicolons. When I was in elementary, and later middle school, teachers would get on my case for writing waaay too long sentences. When I learned how to use semicolons, this seemed to solve the problem. Ever since, I have happily sprinkled my writing with them wherever I feel they are necessary.

However, a semicolon is much more than just a grammatical tool. In recent years, it has become a powerful tool in the battle for mental health awareness.
Semicolon tattoos started appearing as the result of a social media movement in 2013, and is a way for people to express their struggles, progress or victory over their own demons, or to remind themselves that it’s not yet over.

For a very long time, I have had a small tidbit in my brain that I have been unable to write down, however, once I did write it, it came out nothing like what I had imagined in my mind. As usual.
In any case, I thought today would be the perfect time to share this little piece.
Please read, and don’t be shy to comment if you liked it~

Full Stop

The small, spartan apartment was unnaturally clean, and unnaturally cold. All surfaces seemed to have been meticulously cleaned of excess belongings, cleaned and dusted. A wastepaper bin was the only thing bearing witness to any kind of massive cleaning; it was overfilled with balled-up paper, one such ball having fallen out, landing a few centimeters away from the bin. It was as if the tenant had gotten rid of any kind of personal effects and purposely turned off the heat, even though it was in the middle of winter, and the sane thing to do would be to keep the heating cranked up.

To anyone unfamiliar with the tenant, it could have seemed like he was someone who didn’t possess a lot of things. Perhaps someone who was in the process of moving, who had left nothing but the essentials for the time being; or perhaps, just gone away for a period of time and turned the heat off in the meantime, to save expenses.  The faintly unpleasant odor might have been thought to come from a forgotten garbage bin in a kitchen cupboard.
To anyone, except to the man who had once been closer to him than anyone, who still loved the parts of him that he had loved, before it all went wrong and became too much for both of them to handle.
Standing in the unnaturally clean apartment, he had instantly noticed objects missing from their regular positions – before he had noticed the body.

His trembling hand was curled around a plastic cup patterned with mascot characters. He sat hunched forwards on the very edge of the bed, watching the paramedics.
The young man was cold. Not only from the freezing temperature in the apartment. The man on the bed tried to avoid looking at the marks on his throat. His gaze shifted, falling on thin, scarred arms instead. He knew those scars were only the tip of an iceberg, an ice berg which had now surfaced in its entirety.

He heard one of the paramedics commenting on the small tattoo on the inside of the young man’s wrist, his tone questioning. Maybe he thought it was only a scribble in marker or something, maybe he was looking for some kind of deeper meaning.

“It’s a semi-colon,” he heard himself, his voice hollow, echoing in the cleared-out space.

Symbolic. Victorious. Hopeful.

“A semi-colon is where the author could have chosen to end the sentence, but didn’t.”
He averted his eyes, feeling his throat tighten painfully.
The young man had written on, hesitantly, but the full stop had been unavoidable.

 

**終**

On the LGBT conundrum

Like pretty much everyone else in Norway, and apparently, the rest of the world, I have been sucked into the world of Shame – that is SKAM, the Norwegian drama series for teens that broke into the scene last fall and caused everyone within their demographic reach and beyond to utterly lose their minds. This post will obviously contain spoilers, so do not proceed if you haven’t seen the end of season 3.

I’ll be frank, to begin with I went from being clueless as to what this was, to being mildly annoyed at the hype, and then finally, a couple of eps into season two, this spring, I caved and binge-watched the episodes during one weekend where I was supposed to revise for exams. At first, I was skeptical, but I quickly found myself oddly compelled by the characters, despite the fact that the first season in particular deals with a lot of typical teenage things that I have never associated with neither as a teen nor as an adult. But the way that the series itself has been created; the way it realistically portrays these kids, and in particular, how different it is from the glossy American drama series that we are served on TV, focusing on rich teens who experience anything from arson to murders and all kinds of drama. SKAM is a lot more down to earth, even if it is situated around Norwegian teens from more well-off families, who seemingly only care about parties and Russefeiring. Regardless, it is real, it is intimate, and it ensnares and allures its audience by giving small drips of action throughout the weeks, as we are treated to several short clips that are compiled into a long episode on Friday night, but also real-time text messages, instagram and facebook updates by the characters themselves. It’s quite ingenious, and helps make the series extremely addictive – especially for anyone who’s looking for a good reason to procrastinate when they should be studying (Norway basically stopped functioning for the entirety of the period where William wasn’t answering Noora’s texts this spring).
Season two however, was the one that really convinced me that people were right concerning this show. The previous season dealt with more “typical” issues, like teenage angst and drama, and a pregnancy scare, but season two delves into sexual assault, and offers a very natural way to deal with the issue. SKAM doesn’t point fingers, but functions as a kind of older sister, or friend, giving advice and information in a way that is easily understood and remembered, and which was applauded by audiences as well as the Norwegian police.

With that said, despite that long-ass opening paragraph, this is not a blog post about SKAM. Or, yes it is, but not really.
Season 3 is what caused the massive rush of international viewers, and made the series rise to international fame and popularity, as we follow 17 year old Isak, who may or may not be homosexual. This season is massively important, but also ambiguous. I will get to this.
It’s been hinted at earlier in the series that Isak might be gay or bisexual, but the season doesn’t limit itself to the question of sexuality. Rather, it shows the context of the question. This season deals more specifically with the idea of identity, and being true to oneself. We are given small glimpses into feelings of displacement, uncertainty and despair, not all of which are connected to sexuality, but also to mental illness, divorce, religion and expectations from society and peers. It’s all interwoven together in a way that becomes very natural in the sense that the creators of the series aren’t attempting to over-explain or solve all the problems, but rather allow them to be presented, some of them to be explored more than others, and some of them to remain unresolved, but perhaps less pressing, very much like how we pick our battles and find our coping strategies in the real world.

The ambiguity then, lies in what I refer to as ‘the LGBT Conundrum’, and so, this post is sparked by a quick rant I wrote on Facebook somewhere mid-season, as I had just finished watching a particularly  jarring episode.
It is well known by anyone who has dedicated some time to watching and reading LGBT fiction, that in addition to non-heterosexual relationships being way underrepresented, there is also a distinct lack of not only happy, but also realistic stories of same-sex love. A typical trope is the tragic love story: often ending in death. Another trope is the ‘coming out of the closet’ or ‘will they or won’t they’. Here, the story typically focuses on a set of characters who seemingly are into each other, but struggle to convey it – in itself, not unrealistic, but the problem is that these stories (particularly in my field; BL), often end once the couple share their first kiss (or,  if we’re “lucky”, a night together). It seems that this type of representation presents the idea that once the hurdle of confession or outing is passed, that’s the end of all problems. Rarely do we get to see what comes next; the every day lives, the spats, the forehead kisses, the expired milk, the holidays.
There’s also the fetishization of female love in particular, where the relationship between two women seem to be more focused on the sex, than their relation, and very often seen from the male perspective. Increasingly, this type of fetishization is also becoming more visible in terms of objectifying male couples, not only in otakudom (BL has to take some blame for this I fear), but also in more mainstream circles, such as presented in the final episode of season 3, where a group of girls explicitly point out that they think it’s “cool” that Isak and Even are a couple, because “two boys are so cute together”.

LGBT characters are rarely cast as protagonists, and unless they are on their way out of the closet, they are often pushed aside, neutralized, or used for comic relief. In one episode of the series Queer as Folk, the flamboyant Emmett is informed by his friend that the reason he has been given a job as part of a newscast team, is because he is the type of ‘fun’ and effeminate gay man that makes him ‘acceptable’, because there is nothing sexual about him. We have a tendency of accepting the stereotypical gay man as a form of accessory; the BFF, the comic relief, the non-sexual character. The fetishization of the gay man is also very much present in this type of representation, as many seem to see him more as an accessory for a straight woman, than as an individual person/character. Making the gay man into a side-kick with a limp wrist and passion for shopping neutralizes the inherited perception of obscenity, and allow the audience to feel less threatened.
This is a representation that is as harmful as it is true; because let’s face it, gay people come in all shapes and sizes. Some are effeminate, others are masculine, some are monogamous, some aren’t, some are asexual, some are poly amorous, some raise families, some don’t, some have a straight, female bestie, others don’t. The damage comes in the form of the over representation of this type of character, which creates a stereotype that not everyone can associate themselves with, and in some cases creates a form of inherent homophobia – as presented in the masterfully performed scene between Isak and Eskild, where Isak is trying to explain that he’s not “that kind” of homosexual, while Eskild, clearly hurt by his words, is precisely “that kind”.

But I digress, the main focus here is that most of these tropes tend to be on the depressing side – I should know, the way all my writings concern boys who struggle, die and are subjected to scrutiny, bullying and self-inflicted suffering.
One reason why I think that this is such a common trope is because obviously, being young is never easy, and being different is always hard. In a world that is so very focused on heteronormativity , and consequently presenting LGBTQIA as some obscure ‘otherness’, it will be a struggle for a large portion of anyone not fitting into the mainstream mold. Homophobia, bullying, sexual assault, mental illness, discrimination and alienation are all factors that are all too common in the lives of LGBT youth and adults, so it’s only natural that these things become central in television and other fictional representations, where the main focus generally is on dramatic events and effects.
In the event that a story is “too happy”, it can be criticized for being unrealistic. The reason I started writing and publishing BL, aside from obviously loving the genre too much for words, was that I felt BL was all too black and white; often lacking in realism or overflowing with inherent and internalized homophobia, but finding a balance is difficult.
There is no such thing as a problem-free life, especially when existing within a society that is obsessed with an illusion of normalcy, so portraying someone’s life as rose-red will immediately be considered unrealistic.
Nobody lives a perfect life where they always get what they want, where they never get sucked into conflicts, or suffer heartbreak, or where nobody dislikes them, where they don’t lose anyone or where they have to see their dream job go off to someone else. But sometimes, that’s what we want to see. Sometimes we need to see that there are good things; that people fall in love, or that the dog survives, you know?

The conundrum therefore presented itself in season 3 of SKAM, by rearing its ugly head just as we thought that perhaps the main couple wouldn’t have to suffer any kind of conflict. Isak was conflicted enough, with his own identity, and how to break it to his parents, who are recently divorced and with a mother who seems not only zealously religious, but also struggling with mental illness.
When the conflict then bares its teeth, complicating Isak and Even’s relationship further by revealing Even’s own struggles as a person suffering from bipolar disorder, a lot of us got very worried. For several reasons.
As someone dealing with mental illness myself, I both worried about how this would be portrayed and dealt with in a season that has far fewer minutes a week than its predecessors, in addition to already having the issue of identity and coming out to deal with – as well as a huge disappointment that this had to happen now. I felt unnerved by the prospect of yet another tragic story where the creators felt the need to complicate something that is already difficult, by presenting another seemingly uncrossable obstacle. Silently, I was grumbling why can’t they be happy?!


I was also concerned because while I was glad to see them touching upon mental illness, which is something more and more people are becoming familiar with either through their own struggles, or through family, friends or loved ones struggling, I didn’t feel like this was something that necessarily would be given enough time or respect in this season. It felt overcrowded, and it was beginning to feel trope-ish.

The last few episodes of the season were touch and go for me, as I was terrified of which way they would take this story. On one hand, you just want Isak and Even to be happy, on the other, you want the show to be realistic; you want to see the creators respect the fact that bipolar disorder doesn’t magically go away, that even when you swear to be there for someone, it’s not always that easy in the longer run, and that struggling with your own identity and your relation to your parents isn’t necessarily something that can be conquered only once – but rather can be an ongoing battle. We didn’t want a quick-fix, but I don’t think anyone wanted to see the two of them part ways and be sad either. It’s a very difficult balance to maintain.

However, at the end, now having watched the final episode only moments ago (and then not posting this until two days later), I feel satisfied with how NRK’s production company chose to handle it.
When I wrote Jaded, I purposely left an open ending, some loose threads on purpose, because the boys and their relations to themselves and others were far too complex to be realistically tied up. I don’t allow Aki and Yuuki to define their relationship, because I can’t define it (yet). I can’t decide for them what their future is. And Isak tells Eva that he doesn’t know whether Even is The One, to the dismay of many romantics out there, and perhaps unnerving to those who really just want them to be together and happy. It might feel as a blow to their newly established relationship, that he is seemingly expressing doubt already, a way for him to brace himself for an impact that might very well come – but also a way to stay level-headed in a volatile situation and in a relationship that is ultimately, very new.
In a youth culture where the weighty words “I love you” (Norwegian; “Jeg elsker deg” which is the highest declaration of love, as compared to “Glad I deg” – which is also translated to ‘I love you’ but really means more like ‘I care for you’)  are said mere weeks or even days into the relationship, it’s an opposition, but also a more reflected and mature take on the difficulty that is human relation.
Ultimately, I would like to take my hat off for Julie Andem and the creators of SKAM, for yet another realistic and emotional rollercoaster-ride.  Through season 3, we have seen examples of self-doubt and uncertainty, wrestled with identities related to, but not confined by sexual orientation or status of mental health, and we’ve seen that even though it’s easier than before to be LGBT in Norway, it is still hard; sometimes on a personal level, sometimes due to external reasons. We’ve seen that ignorance often comes from curiosity, and that questions that often are interpreted as offensive, might actually be meant well but worded wrong, and yet again I find myself mentally apologizing to characters who prove me wrong as my judgementality is confronted (I’m sorry Magnus).

This isn’t a blog post about SKAM, but it is a post where SKAM shows us the ambiguity and difficulty of portraying subjective reality while at the same time making it relateable, and where the tropes are seen as more than tropes, but seemingly appear at their most basic level; where they come from, but without being allowed to define the season. The relatively open, yet content ending shows us that ultimately, we have been following two individuals who just happen to have fallen in love, despite the circumstances and context surrounding them, and creating ripples that aren’t necessarily positive, but reaffirm that nothing is one-dimensional. Hopefully, we will see more portrayals like these in the future, and the portrayal of same sex relations will be less tropey and more realistic and diverse.

(I’m lazy, so I haven’t proofread this text since writing it, sorry for any sloppy mistakes. Also, SKAM has been sold to the US, so watch the original version while you can.)

Absence and reasons

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time, but somehow time just never seems to be on my side. Torucon is about two weeks away, so I’m working with the rest of the crew more or less around the clock to get everything in place in time for the convention.
I also just came back from Tokyo three weeks ago, which of course was amazing! We had such little time, but still made it to several really cool and nerdy locations – not least a couple of locations from SNOW as well, which was super exciting, so I’m gonna make a separate post about that one of these days (I’ve been meaning to basically since we got back home).

But now for the main reason for this post: I’ve been more or less absent for an entire year at this point.
I haven’t written anything, on this blog, on tumblr or anything else for that matter in this past year, and it’s mostly due to two factors: I’ve been busy, but more importantly, I’ve been sick.

I’ve tried to be open about my struggles, and illness, so I want to continue in that tradition, but I haven’t had the time or strength to talk about it until now.
This past year has been incredibly difficult, with a lot of stuff happening in my personal life, not only to me, but to people close to me as well. I’ve also been a full-time student this year, which really wasn’t the best of choices as my health was already deteriorating before the school year had even started.
I’m not looking to go into detail, partially because it’s private, and partially because there’s just been so much happening, and I don’t even know where to start. I guess it’ll suffice to say that I’ve been, and to a certain degree, still am sicker than I’ve been for many years.

The thing about mental illnesses is that you get used to them, especially if you’ve been ill since you were born, which is basically what my life has been like. I don’t define myself as my illness, nor do I see the illness as part of me, but it has obviously shaped me and my life to some extent. When you’ve never been completely healthy, you don’t know what it is like to feel healthy either. So in a way, you get used to it, and you live with it. But sometimes you feel better. For the past few years I’ve been a pretty functional human being. I’ve been able to do a lot of things that were impossible before, and I’ve learned a lot, I’ve grown, gained skills and confidence. However, I tend to forget that I’m not entirely well, even when I do know my limitations and try to work with myself as best I can – but sometimes you relapse. This year has just been one long relapse, and for the most part, in addition to being dreadfully busy and stressed, I’ve been depressed, my anxieties have flared up, and I also received a “new” diagnosis (meaning that I’ve apparently had it for a while, but nobody bothered to tell me). It’s not “serious”, but my condition has been really bad. Add to this a lot of personal stress, and you get the reason for my absence. It’s very difficult when you are already feeling bad, and then you get the stress of uncertainty put on your shoulders as well. I don’t know what I’ll be doing after August, and that’s a huge stress factor as well. I want to write, but I don’t have any energy for it, or the time to do it.
I’m hoping that this fall will be calmer and that I’ll find my way back to my writing then, and also to posting regularly again maybe.
But for now, I need to listen to my body and take care of myself, because I haven’t really been doing that for this past year.

To anyone reading this who are struggling; Please know that it’s okay to take a break, it’s okay to break down, and it’s okay to be sick. You are not a failure, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to take care of yourself.

Also, I had my (long overdue) birthday celebration yesterday, and the fact that I have people in my life that makes me smile like this, makes me think that somehow, I’ll be alright. ♡

Smairuuu

Blue Blood-ties

I came across an old draft from 2012 that was never posted a while back. It was written on November 20th, the day X Japan’s Yoshiki was born, emotionally scribbled down as I was watching live DVDs, celebrating by myself.
I don’t know why I didn’t post it, but once the day had passed I supposed there was no point to it?

Today however, marks 27 years since X Japan’s debut album was released, and I can’t not re-write that old draft. Because this band has had such a profound role in my life and perhaps more than anything, in my writing.

The first time I heard an X song, I was around 17 and although the lyrics were mainly in English, the words were broken and hard to decipher, but it didn’t matter, I still found myself overcome with emotion, and like the name of the song itself, I was overcome with tears.

When I started working on SNOW,  X were a natural part of the process – largely thanks to those heart-wrenching and emotional lyrics, which were a perfect backdrop to the scenes I was writing down, but also because of Maaya.
When Maaya first appeared before my inner eye in 2006, he had pink hair; it was cut short, but I knew that he’d used to wear it long. I think from that moment, I knew he was a hide fan.

At that point, the connection between the music and the novel was made.

I didn’t make him a fan because I myself am a fan, but because it all seemed to fall into place so easily, so obviously. But this connection has been deepened by some really striking coincidences .

Maaya’s birthday is March 15th. I picked it for no particular reason, but as with all my characters, I spent a lot of time mapping out their personalities and matching zodiacs.
March 15th 2011 was set to be the release of X Japan’s single Jade – a song played at almost every show since their 2007 reunion, but which had yet to see an official release.
Jade  means an enormous deal to me personally, but the fact that it was scheduled for Maaya’s birthday with the name that it had, and the message it carried… It was almost a little too coincidental.

Due to the tragedy of 3-11, Tohoku and the subsequent tsunami, the single was postponed, and not released until about a month later, but that didn’t change anything, least of all the way Jade was a bridge between my two novels, between Maaya and Aki’s stories.

At the time, I was mid-Jaded, and at a crossroads. For the longest time I had no idea what I was doing, or how the story would turn out. I was struggling with an element that no longer seemed to fit into the story, but which I had been holding on to for years already. I didn’t know if I should keep holding on, or if I should just let it go and let the story evolve into the new direction I had staked out. Somehow, the decision was made – albeit unconsciously.

I’m going through the old draft as I am writing this post, and being reminded again, of how deep this connection runs. It’s almost a little freaky, I think to myself as I sift through the lines and find facts long forgotten.

Apparently, the night I finished Jaded’s first draft, though nowhere near completion of anything but the overall story, was on this day, the anniversary of Blue Blood.
When the album came out, I was 9 months old. I wish I could say I grew up with this night, but at this point that’s what it feels like. I didn’t, but my writing certainly did.

On the date of the original draft, November 20th 2012, I announced the release date for Jaded. I wrote the following:  “Seems only right that events would drag out long enough for the announcement to be made on Yoshiki’s birthday.”

Today, I’m having a day off, and by chance this first day off in months falls on the anniversary of Blue Blood. At the end of the original draft, I wrote that I was watching them play Joker while smiling crookedly. Four years later I am listening to Celebration, and I hope that this strange connection my writing has with this fantastic band will never let up.

 

 

A thank you

There are some people who make lasting impressions on your life, even if they only played a minor part, even if they were NPCS in your game of life; someone you didn’t really know much about, aside from the very basics – and that they were good people.

We lost a person like that a few days ago, and I only just learned about it on Tuesday. The news came as a shock, and I can only express my deepest condolences to his friends and those close to him, as I feel the strangeness and sadness flowing in.
This was someone who was a big part of my life in my teens, when I was starting to venture into the environment that I am now fully integrated in. He was one of the employees at one of (at that point two) comic book/nerdy stores in the city, when I started frequenting it, at first as a shy and held-back young teen, and then as I gradually bloomed into the very outspoken nerd that was on the inside. This was a man who was 20+ years older than me, with interest that to say the least, were a canyon of a distance from mine, but all the while spoke to me as an equal. He was someone who always greeted me – and everyone else – with a big smile and friendly chatter.
He was someone who would laugh and tell me not to be so proud of my uncanny likeness to Miyazawa, and Poemi, and who once gloated in basically guessing the entire plot of a yaoi manga they had held for me – without seeing the blurb on the back first.
He was a big man, and his fellow staff used to joke about making him a Totoro cosplay – because he was just that kind of guy; always friendly, always giving out the best bear hugs to anyone in need, or want of them.
As I went from being a casual customer, to a regular store-hanger (there was at some point talk of installing a hammock over the register for me) and then finally to an author selling my books in their shop, he was always supportive and encouraging. Even when I was a hyperactive, loud-mouth kid, he didn’t seem to mind, although it must have been exhausting to mind the shop with so many of us being so excited all the time.
He was a guy who would immerse you in discussions and make you miss your bus, and who always had the perfect recommendations when it came to books.
He introduced me to Redwall, and actually gave me the first volume, aghast that I had never heard of it. To this day, I have yet to read the rest of the series, but I treasure that book, and the memory of the man who gave it to me.

Trondheim’s environment of RPGS and geekery has lost a massive presence and a really good man.
I didn’t know him outside of the walls of the store, but he was still a big part of an important period of my life. In many ways, he was a major influence in the shaping of an entire generation of young nerds. And we shall all miss him greatly.

Thank you for everything, KIRR.

“Sometimes friends do go from us-it will happen more and more as you grow up […] But if you really love your friends, they’re never really gone. Somewhere they’re watching over you and they’re always there inside your heart.” –  Brian Jacques, The Legend of Luke

New Beginnings and all that

It seems I only pop in here to complain about never writing, and proceeding to never write…
Well, to anyone reading this, Happy 2016 in any case! I sure hope it will be for every one of you!

A couple of days ago, I wrote on my author page: “4 days into the new year, and I’m already behind on everything”. I still am, which is why this end-of-year post is six days late, and might be kind of half-assed. Sorry about that, but I also hope that you will still read it, because there are some things I want to express, though I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to say everything frankly or not.

To start with; 2015 wasn’t all bad. In fact, it had a lot of really good things to it, not only to me personally, but for the people around me as well, which to be honest, is a really great feeling!
For me though, 2015 was also a really rough year. The latter half in particular, which is largely the reason for my absence on social media, as well as my lack of social life in general.

Last year, I wrote about 2014 having been hard, with the tons of private exams, the change of jobs, the class I had to take and also a lot of private issues that put a damper on an otherwise good year.
This time around, the stress and tumults of 2014 appears to only have been the prologue of what was to come in 2015.
I really don’t want to go into details, because the wounds are still quite fresh, and the road forward from here is unpaved, but basically, after a rough start of 2015, due to some chaotic personal events, the months February ’till late July were full of exciting, good happenings; catching up with old friends I hadn’t seen in a while, traveling to Stockholm to not only see, but also meet one of my favorite bands, cosplay events, festival events and preparations for Torucon and so on.
From late July and into August this kind of died down, and though there were assorted flecks of light, most of the time until right before Christmas was fairly dark and depressing.
I had to take time off from social media, even tumblr, where I wrote a short notice on having become ill, but not elaborating.

It’s no secret that I’ve had my bouts with mental illness for most of my life, but for the most part, it’s manageable. The past years have been relatively stable, so when it it again with such force, I was completely bowled over by how bad it used to be. I haven’t been this sick since 2008/2009, and I was hoping I’d never have to be here again. This time around, I’ve got so much on my plate, obligations and expectations, and no idea how to decide whether it’s time to stop and move in a different direction. Making the right choices is terribly hard, and so I’m stuck in this stand-still, where nothing really improves, trying to move forwards as best I can. Because of this, I’m probably going to remain offline and vague about things for a while longer.

In many ways, 2015 was a complete hell, but I also had a lot of good times. Particularly the last couple of weeks of the year, spent entirely surrounded by the best people; my family and friends who were all home for the holidays. I know I am going to crash when these days are over, but it was nice to have a break, and things to look forward to for a while.

As usual, I kept one of these:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

A jar of lovely things that happened over the course of the year, and though the latter half of 2015 was so hard,  I still had a lot of good things happen that made me smile throughout the year:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

From the simplest signs of spring, to the greatest of 2015’s moments, some of the good memories accumulated this year included the following (no fancy image this year, because I had to reinstall my laptop and I haven’t been bothered installing PS yet):

♥In spite of it all, going to the reunion
♥Good friends and warm hugs
♥Sisterly bonding
♥Flopping bunny
♥ADAMS live
♥Meeting lovely readers
♥Reliving childhood, aka sliding down a hill
♥Surviving
♥Cosplaying Pinky
♥World’s best Gran
♥The year of BL (hopefully) (Comment; despite writing this down early in 2015, I’ve barely had time to check out any of these new BL things!) ♥Taking a walk for the first time in forever
♥Love and understanding
♥Hyde Cosplay ♡
♥Friends who buy you energy drinks and snacks
♥Still having things to be happy about
♥Love letter from Outland
♥“Team Bastard” vs “Team Loser”
♥Tears of happiness
♥Fanmail about Love Addict
♥Building a snowman despite the terrible snow
♥Crying Torucrew
♥Being a trusted ally for a friend
♥Shibuya-ward legislation!
♥Laughing again
♥Verdens kleineste filmkveld
♥Gaming inside with the storm raging outside
♥People being interested in Yuuki
♥Fangirling with Boo again ♡♡
♥Giving heartfelt compliments

This year, a lot of the loveliest things were related to love, support and co-dependency, personal feats and strength and…a surprising amount of mentions of food and presents (in the form of food) from friends, haha~ I’m lucky to have these people in my life!

I always like looking back at these notes of happiness in the start of the new year; to reminisce about every little moment, and smile at thinking about them. And it’s always so strange, like; there were some memories from last January, when we had a friend staying with us, of shopping, ice skating and trips to the forest – and then from December, having talked to the same friend on facebook. She’s back in Japan, and I received a present from her yesterday. It really makes you realize “Oh wow, it’s been a whole year!”
Amazing, but kind of melancholic at the same time.

2016 is looking out to have a rough first half as well, but I think eventually I’ll be fine. I have no resolutions, but I have made a few moves towards making a decision. I have some tentative goals. I hope that come summer, I will be back on track and back to writing. Even if this year won’t be the start of something grandiose, I think it will still be an exciting and challenging year, in a good way too!
Please wait for me 2016, I’m coming after you!

But first…I need to get to the doctor and deal with this eye infection. Such a great start to the new year!

If you read all of this, thank you very much!
I don’t know when I’ll be back in earnest, but I’ll do my best to hang in there. Take care guys, I hope you’ve had a lovely holiday season

 

 

Poinsettia Guidepost

Almost two years too late, here is the guide post for my 2013 advent calendar: Poinsettia.
Thanks to everyone who read and enjoyed it way back when, and new readers; please enjoy, and feel free to leave comments~ ♡

Synopsis: Mizuki doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but then one December, during his foreign exchange year, he has a rather peculiar experience that makes him doubt everything, including his sanity and reluctance towards the holidays.

December 1st

December 2nd

December 3rd

December 4th

December 5th

December 6th

December 7th

December 8th

December 9th

December 10th

December 11th

December 12th

December 13th

December 14th

December 15th

December 16th

December 17th

December 18th

December 19th

December 20th

December 21st

December 22nd

December 23rd

December 24th

December 25th: Christmas Day [Final ]

Want more? Check out my 2012 Calendar: Winter Song

Wisepresident of Wit

[This entry contains spoilers for SNOW, so new readers probably shouldn’t go further.]

Ah man, how long has it been since Arisu’s birthday?
Too long. And here I was talking about wanting to write up a post about her on her birthday weekend….. so much for that. I can’t even blame it on having been busy working, because I can’t say I’ve been writing much as of late…

In any case, it’s never too late to talk about the characters, even if there’s no special occasion calling for it. When looking back at SNOW now, there are so many things I want to change, most of them are very small and have to do with the general way I wrote certain things, or certain scenes I want to change a bit, wording, sentence structures….
I also want to give Maaya and Aki more time, but I guess that’s not happening.
A lot of the time, I’m thinking I want to go back and change things, not drastically, but for the next printing, I definitely want to edit some things I’m not too happy with.

However, I can’t change major things that might mess with the plot, and one of the things that makes me feel bad about that, is my guilt towards Arisu.
Since this is a BL story, there isn’t much weight on female characters. And I don’t mean to sound misogynistic here, because I’m not, but I’m the kind of person who instantly fears when a female
character enters a BL story – because there is such a common trope in this genre that one or both parts of the main couple has at some point been with a woman, and so the female character instantly becomes a threat and basis for a conflict that shouldn’t exist in the first place.
Of course, Arisu plays no such role, but to begin with, she wasn’t intended to play as large a role as she ended up doing in the main story.
And that is why I feel bad for her.
Arisu was originally created somewhat on a whim, because Maaya needed a fellow student council representative, and someone he relied on in class in terms of responsibilities. Because I already focus so much on male characters, I wanted to balance it out a little, and she came into play. However, like many of my characters, Arisu has a really strong personality, and I found that she ended up taking up a lot of space. Not in a bad way either. I’ve come to be very fond of her, and quickly realized that she was one of Maaya’s closest friends. I guess you can say that she stands somewhere between Maaya and Atsushi, personality-wise, as she is definitely smart and dependable, but she is also much less rigid than Maaya, and leans more towards Atsushi’s playful side in that sense.

My lovely friends portraying Arisu and Acchan. Aug.2011

My lovely friends portraying Arisu and Acchan (August 2011)

Ironically, it was after I finished writing the main story, and started doing little drabbles and snippets, that I found how well these characters balance each other out, and what nice dynamic is found between the three of them. I don’t know how well that dynamic comes across in the main story for non-biased readers, and that makes me a little worried…

When writing up these bits and pieces that probably won’t ever see the light of day, I have gotten to know this character in many new ways, and there are things I know about her now, that I didn’t think of when I first wrote her.

One of the things that always made me curious, was that she takes the train towards Shinjuku, central Tokyo after school, which means that she commutes pretty far every day. Now of course, this isn’t uncommon in Japan, and certainly not in the bigger cities. But it was a bit strange to me, the more I thought about it, that someone living in central Tokyo would commute to the sticks to attend school. Maybe it was a complete whim that I wrote her taking that train, but it did create a conundrum in my mind the more I thought of it.
I tried to settle with an explanation like “maybe she chose the school because the uniform was cute?” which is typically suggested in typical shoujo-stories, but then again, Arisu isn’t the type to think in such shallow manners. She’s smart, so she probably didn’t have any difficulty getting in anywhere she wanted, so why Norin?

It struck me sometime last year.
Arisu was bullied in middle school.
So simple, yet so difficult. I don’t know why, or how.
Maybe it was because of her witty comments, and habit of speaking before stopping to consider, and maybe that made it hard for her to fit in. Maybe she was too comfortable with her coeds, and it ignited a jealousy in her shyer female classmates? It’s plausible.
Arisu isn’t the type of person who cares what others think, or hold herself back just to be polite, and that kind of person can easily clash with others in a society that demands you think of others before yourself. She also lacks shyness, and is pretty straight forward.

One thing that I’ve struggled with a lot of mixed feelings about, is the scene in SNOW where Maaya has first confessed to having slept with Keiichi, and Arisu’s response is to jokingly call him a slut. No, it’s not politically correct, but neither is she (or most of my characters for that matter), and of course she doesn’t mean it. But I mean, it’s a horrible thing to say to your friend, even as a joke, and sometimes I worry what my readers think of this, even though I know them well enough to say that he wasn’t offended, or particularly surprised by her outburst. On the other hand, this scene is sort of symbolic for how she acts without thinking, and how open she is, and easily catches on. She knew before he said anything, and since then, I’ve always been pretty certain that she could tell, because she’s not the type to hold back, even in romance. If Maaya is overly paranoid about when the right time is, Arisu figures that any time that feels okay, is the right time. I was left with the impression that “Ah, she’s already done it. She’s confident about herself and sexuality in general.”

Of course, I’m not saying that she had her debut in middle school, that’s rather doubtful. But for a girl to be straightforward with guys in a vulnerable time where most people are afraid of talking to the opposite sex, rumors quickly develop, and can have devastating results.
Although she is open minded and outspoken, I have a feeling she’s not the type to shout it from the roof tops when she is going out with someone (ironic as that is for someone who feigns annoyance at not hearing about her friends’ dates), so it’s plausible she’s been hiding a boyfriend from her buddies.

Although I can’t say for certain why she was bullied, I think that she decided to apply to a school further away to avoid the possibility of going to High School with the same people as before, not because she didn’t think she could handle it, but because she didn’t want to let that color what supposedly were to be the best years of her life.
She chose to renew herself, by leaving the person she had been. I think that by her final year in middle school, despite her instincts, she was beginning to shut herself in, hold back more, so not to provoke anyone further. But she refused to break, and her renewal wasn’t of the drastic kind. What she left behind was the vulnerability. She utilized her weaknesses, and emerged stronger, raised her head and entered a school where she knew nobody, proceeded to be her cheerful, slightly over the top self, and made friends on account of that.

My guess is that nobody knows about her past. Not even Maaya or Atsushi. She keeps it to herself, not out of shame, but because she is over it. Arisu doesn’t hold grudges, and she doesn’t dwell on the past, but looks towards the future, and paints it with the bright colors of her choice.
At Norin, she found the place she belonged, and the best friends she could ever have had.

Arisu, high school version. (Official art by Lanny Suhandy)

Arisu, high school version.
(Official art by Lanny Suhandy)

Since she wasn’t supposed to be that much of a main character, I never contemplated enough of this to put it into the story, but I probably would have, if I’d had the chance. On the other hand, the story was complex and roundabout enough as it was. But I truly admire her for her strength, and for her honesty. If there is anything I’d definitely want to change, or rather add in terms of Arisu’s contribution to the story, it has to be how she fades into the background towards the end, after Maaya’s death. I wish she could have sat with the family during the funeral, and I’ve since written her reaction to hearing the news from Atsushi, as well as scenes where the two of them support each other through it, but none of these have been published. If anything, I want to give her justice as a very important character who was developed a little too late, and as a friend who meant the world to Maaya. He definitely benefited from her wacky ideas, and allowed himself to relax his shoulders when urged by his vice-president.

In many ways, I feel she ends up as a kind of comedic side-kick in many scenes, but she really is dependable. I was never able to write it obviously, but she somehow managed to take on the position of student council president for the rest of term, and took the position of valedictorian at graduation.
In many ways, she was stronger than Atsushi, but also more vulnerable, feeling like she didn’t have the right to grieve as deeply, because she’d only known him for three years, as opposed to half a lifetime.
Of course, this is a ridiculous thought, which Atsushi also assures her, but I think she wanted to keep it together for his sake, to be dependable for his sake, because she felt that he needed that.
And it’s probably these qualities that attracted Maaya to her in the first place as well. She has the ability to make her friends forget, and focus on the silly things, but she’s also a cliff when she needs to be, for herself or others.

As far as Aki goes, he’s actually quite fond of her. I wrote a piece about a year ago, about the two of them meeting by chance, and having a snack together. Even as a young teen, Aki was quite aloof, and not very interested in befriending anyone, let alone girls, but no matter how reticent he acted, he wasn’t able to push her away, or dislike her. Maybe he sensed something in her. And she most likely did pick up the same vibe from him that she herself had projected a few years earlier. She adored him for what he did to Maaya, and she admires him for his individuality. In Jaded, she feels a responsibility for him, not only because of his relationship with Maaya, but because she truly does consider him as a friend, regardless of how he might feel about that.

I realized far too late how much I care for this character, so here I am, writing this long ramble so that maybe she can get more of the appreciation I feel she deserves. I’ve gotten to know her a lot better through the many drabbles I’ve written, and also through her appearance in Jaded, and I have a lot more admiration for her now compared to when she first came into existence. I’m glad she developed into a much less static character, and I hope that you guys somehow ended up caring for her as well.
After all, it’s not easy being a girl in a BL story.

Maaya and Arisu at a station. Cosplay by me and my friend, August 2011.

Maaya and Arisu at a station. Cosplay by me and my friend, August 2011.

An ode to Gravitation

I just finished re-reading Gravitation, and I’m so full of feelings, I ended up sitting up all night writing this long-ass post.
[This post will contain spoilers if you haven’t read the Gravitation manga, so please steer clear if that’s the case.]

Raise your hand if Gravitation was your first BL!

Actually, I can’t testify that Gravitation was my first BL at all, for some reason my memory is a bit hazy on how and when I got into BL, or at least on what my first reads were…. I have a feeling it was mostly doujin and random one-shots first, but in any case Gravitation was the first BL I actually owned. And it was published in Norwegian at that. Can you imagine?
I remember stepping into a Narvesen (kiosk that sells mainly magazines and various lottery tickets) at the mall, and there it was, volume one. I nearly died. And the worst thing is that while the Norwegian translation might be…. Awkward, it actually suits the characters well. Maybe because they are all so crazy, and the Norwegian used in the translation is also kind of all over the place? I don’t know, it’s been ten years since I read them. Unfortunately the Norwegian serialization was discontinued when the publisher went bankrupt, and we were left at volume 6. So I had to get them all in English.

Anyway. From the very first moment, I was completely taken with this series. And this week, I re-read the twelve original volumes for the first time in years.
It’s funny. I have read hundreds of BL manga, both fluffy shonen-ai and hardcore yaoi since my first encounter with this series, and while there are so many things you could say about this series in comparison to other, perhaps better series (technically speaking)….I absolutely adore Gravitation till this day.

Sure, it is complete crack. Murakami-sensei, the mangaka spends every author’s note talking down herself, her art and her plots – she is well aware of the craziness and often the lack of consistency, and apologizes profusely to her adoring fans with each chapter.
The art changes constantly with each volume, and we find Shuichi, our protagonist to change from an awkwardly drawn young adult into a much better drawn, but somehow shota-ish creation, which is funny, considering Shuichi grows older over the span of the series, while his looks seem to be moving back in time..?

Gravitation_(manga)_vol01_Cover

Gravitation, Vol.1 (1996)

EX

Gravitation EX, Vol.1 (2004)

I think there are many people out there who absolutely abhor Gravitation, perhaps for all of the above reasons, and then there are those who look back and seemingly ridicule themselves about having had “a Gravitation phase”. This makes me sad. Maybe I’m biased but… There’s much more to Gravitation than meets the eye. And this post is going to be less of a review, and more of a reasoning to why I love this series so much.

Again, the author herself does admit to her own flaws and the flaws in her writing. And I have to admit, when I first returned to the series this week – I have watched the anime multiple times over the course of the last ten years, but the manga is better by far, I did have my doubts about whether I would still love it. It took a bit of time getting back into it, mostly because of Murakami-sensei’s erratic art style in the first few volumes, and how vastly different Gravitation is from most other manga in its genre. However, I have been squealing and laughing out loud to myself nightly as I’ve been reading, delighted to find that yup, it’s still got that immense charm that drew me into it all those years ago. Boys Kissing
I choose to label Gravitation as BL, but it could easily have been characterized a gag manga where the protagonists just happen to be two gay men – and maybe that is precisely where half the genius lies (Formally, Gravitation states to be comedy/shonen-ai).
I’m not saying that Gravitation doesn’t have a fling with the typical BL conflict “Omg we’re both men” , but out of all of the conflicts in the series, it is the one that matters the least.  Gravitation flirts with the idea of two guys getting it on right from the first chapter, where Shuichi and Hiro use it as a ploy to get out of chores at school, and it also plays on fujoshi-mentality and the attractive taboo of homosexuality in pop culture as a gimmick throughout the series, but as far as the relationship between Yuki and Shuichi goes? Their conflicts have deeper roots, although sometimes they are just flat out idiotic and hilarious.

HOMOS

There is no such thing as ‘no homo’ here.

Still, with all the BL I have read, and none of them even remotely close to Gravitation in silliness, this manga still stands out to me in the way it handles the issues at hand. Often the serious themes will be drowned out by such antics as people getting shot in the face (only to be perfectly fine two seconds later), a giant Panda demolishing New York City, or people getting kicked out of the house in the middle of the night for showing too many feelings—to mention a few, but it is still quite remarkable how this manga can tug at your heartstrings despite all of these things. The emotional trauma from Yuki’s past, and Shuichi’s desperation to break through to him runs as a recurring theme throughout, and grave seriousness often follows it regardless of how crazy the surrounding panels will get.

Panda

If I have to pick some favorite scenes from this series, there are a few that stand out and that get me every.single.time:

“When did I say that I rejected you because you’re a man?”
This slightly abbreviated line is spoken by Yuki in one of the earlier volumes, where he has tried to break it off with Shuichi, who gets the idea that Yuki has left him because he is a womanizer who can’t accept being in love with a man. In the anime, this is a very important line, as the storyline is significantly shorter and less complex, and thus seemingly deals a lot more with the typical conflict than its manga counterpart. In this scene, Yuki dismisses this overly cliched problem, and though it is vaguely touched upon a couple times more, he nips it in the bud here.

“Yuki is miiiiiiineeeee!”
This might be my favorite scene of all times. Shuichi’s impulse control completely falls apart as he is taken with violent jealousy upon seeing his beloved Yuki with his fiancée, Ayaka. So what does he do? He stops his own concert only to scream out his affection in a chock-full concert hall and cause a small riot in the crowd. Yuki’s response? A smile.
This scene is one of the many moments of pure honesty that makes me love these characters so much and at the same time, just crazy enough to make you laugh with glee every time.

Lovers“Yes, we are lovers.”
Again, slightly abbreviated and closer to the anime adaptation. But this is fairly self explanatory. While most BL is colored by the Japanese society and its archaic view on homosexuality, Gravitation’s characters never have any problem admitting that they are in fact, gay, at least not in the majority of the chapters. Early on, a young and confused Shuichi clearly states that he is into women, but that Yuki is special, but he soon changes his tune and screams at anyone willing to listen that he is in fact, gay.
Yuki on the other hand lives in denial of his own feelings due to his trauma, as well as to keep Shuichi at a distance (for the same reason), and that’s why this is so huge. Admitting you’re a couple on national television? How’s that for honesty.

I realize all three of these are scenes from the earlier part of the series, and that they are quite similar. I could go on, especially because there are some really emotional moments later on.
The fact that Gravitation so easily brushes off things that would commonly become huge issues in other BL stories (or shoujo for that matter), is incredibly refreshing.
There’s a scene in one of the last volumes, where Shuichi and Yuki get into an argument for no reason, because Yuki is embarrassed about having been honest about his feelings, where Shuichi shuts the whole argument down by simply stating that they keep getting into stupid fights because of so-and-so instead of beating around the bush and hoping that the other person will be a mind reader.

Complications

The darker side of Gravitation, dealing with emotional trauma, murder and rape can at first glance seem to be something that blows over quickly and is only thrown in by Murakami where she sees fit to create some drama, but are all recurring themes that help shape and explain the characters, and the scenes, albeit short and barely graphical are still immensely painful and well done.

It wouldn’t be entirely honest to say that Gravitation is progressive in terms of BL, I don’t think Murakami-sensei was trying to have any serious effect on society or people’s views when she wrote the story, but it deals with these themes in such an honest, straightforward and refreshing way, and I can only admire her for how she combines absolute hilarity with underlying seriousness. Although she continuously gripes about her terrible art in the comments, there are panels and illustrations, particularly of the characters when they’re on stage, or of Yuki, which are mind-bogglingly sexy.

on stage
And speaking of sexy, though Gravitation lacks in the sex department, and barely allows us to see a handful of kisses throughout the series, Murakami and her circle write their own doujinshi, with some of the most hardcore yaoi you will ever see. Some of it is disturbing, and some of it is completely “off its rockers” to quote K. And some of it, is even canon. Hiyoko mix is one of the recent releases, which elaborates on Yuki and Shuichi’s first time, which is everything you hoped for – and more than you bargained for, and slips right into the scene it was taking out of in volume 2, with the exception of the art which is vastly different.

But here’s the thing – Gravitation’s lack of sex is ultimately what lands it as being categorized as shonen-ai, and by all means, sex isnBodytalk’t necessarily what makes a BL manga (or any manga) good. However, if you’re like me, you want to see all aspects of the couple’s life together, and as most BL tends to be quite shallow and (on account of) being on a tight time line, you want to see the sex, and you want it to be hot. Often, BL without any physical developments in the relationship department gets tedious and boring, and you find yourself just waiting for something to happen. But even now, I don’t get that restless feeling with Gravitation. Of course, with its wild and over the top plotline, it could never get boring, but Yuki and Shuichi’s relationship alone is so challenging and complex, that the story works even without the sex. In fact, that seems to be the one thing that works out for them!

It’s not romantic in the traditional way, and yes, occasionally, Yuki might come across as your typical borderline abusive seme-character (not at all helped out by Murakami’s shotafication of Shuichi as her style changes, but keep in mind that Shuichi IS in fact 18+ throughout the series despite his looks), but somehow all the little

He said no

threads come together and explain his behavior nicely, without making excuses for him. Though there is a slight feeling of non-con about their first sexual encounter, Shuichi later dismisses this “fact”, something which is further confirmed in the Hiyoko doujin.
Yuki also really respects Shuichi, though he has a hard time voicing it – he is a spoiled brat who is used to getting anything he points at with just a bat of his eyes, but when Shuichi tells him he’s not coming back home with him – Yuki respects that, and leaves him alone although Shuichi’s really only fishing for an apology and some begging, and really does want to come with him.

Another thing worth mentioning here, is the existence of the (seemingly, I say seemingly because the character isn’t very clear on their own gender) transgendered character Yoshiki, whose role grows unexpectedly large over the latter course of the manga. Introducing such a character in a series that abuses its entire character gallery could be dangerous, and characters like Yoshiki are often bound to becoming one-dimensional, and ultimately the butt of the joke in gag manga. However, in the sense that Gravitation deals with anything tastefully, or fleshes out its random side-characters, Yoshiki’s gender, while causing some confusion (often deliberately, and much due to Murakami’s habit of using characters to push the plot along, even if it means altering them entirely) amongst the characters, doesn’t define them, but leaves that up to Yoshiki’s actions and involvement in the conflict at hand.
Again, maybe not progressive and revolutionary, but in this manga of crazy characters, Yoshiki doesn’t particularly stand out, and becomes one of the more normal characters in the series, as opposed to what they might have in other manga. Just worth noting.
Yoshiki
I think one of the things I love the most is how flawed these characters are, and how they not only work through it, but they talk these things out and they learn to deal with them, and it never feels like a quick-fix solution either, despite how haphazard much of this storyline is.
It’s also interesting to note that while Shuichi clearly possesses the looks of a typical uke-character (at least beyond the third volume), he is an immensely strong character. He cries easily, and he freaks out about tiny details, but he also holds it together when Yuki falls apart, and is willing to put his life on the line for the man he loves. He can be extremely dominant when needed – or when lust overcomes him (see Gravitation CD Dramas), at which point he will challenge Yuki for the top spot. But he also takes the lead of their relationship in other ways, not least romantically, confidently enticing Yuki both sexually, as well as in other matters where Yuki might not always seem to know how to deal with a situation.

AggressiveShu Shallowsolution

It’s not smut, or fluff, or slice of life, and it’s not pure comedy. Gravitation is unique.
In its genre, I don’t think there will ever be anything that can compare to this sentimental insanity.

I would like to say that I understand why people might dislike it but… I actually don’t. I’m far too biased I’m sure. But I am also of the firm belief that Murakami’s Gravitation has too much going for it for someone to dislike it entirely, in all aspects. And whenever the cliches or flaws sneak in, they’re easy to dismiss because of the humorous nature of the manga  – as mentioned earlier, Murakami utilizes her characters relentlessly to get her plot through, so it’s hard to take many of the twists particularly serious, which means it doesn’t kill the fun!

So yeah, I’ve written over 2500 words, and I’m not sure I’ve expressed everything I wanted to say. In fact, I could probably go on for another 2000 words to be honest. But it’s five in the morning.
Somehow, I ended up writing up some kind of defense here… I’m just overcome with feelings after having plunged into this universe once again, and feeling like it’s been so unfairly treated by so many people over the years.

Plus, if you’ve only watched the anime, you are really missing out. Not only in terms of plot development, but also on the characters and their true personalities.

Silly boyfriends

Silly boyfriends. Manga! Yuki is practically as crazy as his lover. And surprisingly dumb.

Please give it a read, it’s well worth it.
Ah, but stay away from its sequel: Gravitation EX. It’s absolutely gorgeous, but…..Somehow I doubt we will ever see the end of it, and as it stands right now, I am buried in a hole of depression, having fallen from the mother of all cliffhangers. ヽ(≧Д≦)ノ ウワァァン!!

Oh my god, I just keep adding to this draft, and now it’s nearly 3000 words, not to mention all the pictures…. Honestly, when picking out illustrations to this entry, I ended up using half the manga….. I just want to include everything, because it’s amazing, okay.
Somehow, I doubt I’ve shed any positive light on this schizophrenic piece of manga….. if anything, I think I’ve found my inner Murakami. (・ω・ )
But there it is, just a fraction of all the reasons why I will never stop loving Gravitation, and why you should read it too~