My 5 Favorite (and Least Favorite) Clichés in Anime

Anime is, in my opinion, one of the most creative and unique artistic mediums out there. But after you watch enough of it, you start seeing a lot of the same clichés over and over. Some of them are groan-inducing, but some of them are fucking rad and I love them. So I wanted to talk about some of my favorites and least favorites, because all my posts are super analytical and I just want to write a pure fluff piece for once!

Least Favorite: Overlong exposition

Image result for jojo speedwagon
Even Speedwagon is tired of this shit (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)

Okay, I kinda get this one. If you have a story set in a sci-fi or fantasy world, you’ll probably need to explain to your audience what’s going on so they’re not completely lost. But so often, anime will go way overboard with this. I don’t need a show to explain the plot, setting, characters, how the technology or magic system works, and the complete history of their fictional universe all in the first episode! It kills the pacing and implies that we’re too stupid to figure any of this out on our own. Isn’t “show, don’t tell” one of the first things they teach in writing class?

Favorite: Running Outros

Any shonen anime worth its salt has to include at least one outro of the main character running into the sunset. Maybe it’s cheesy, but I love it. It always puts a huge grin on my face and pumps me up for the next episode. Sometimes it makes me want to go for a run myself, only for me to remember I hate running and can barely go a mile and a half without getting winded. Maybe sit-ups?


Image result for black clover screaming meme
That “1 hour version” thumbnail terrifies me (Black Clover)

There’s being hot-blooded, and then there’s screaming so much I worry for the health of those poor anime voice actors. It always gives me a headache and makes me want to brew a mug of hot tea just to calm down. Didn’t any of these characters learn to use their indoor voices in kindergarten?

Favorite: Moe

Image result for k-on
K-On? More like Gay-On, am I right?

Whenever I’m feeling down or had a bad day, there’s nothing that lifts my spirits faster than Cute Girls Doing Cute Things. It’s like the anime equivalent of watching adorable puppy videos on YouTube. I don’t care if K-On has “no story“. Who needs story when you have MUGI?

Least Favorite: Beach Episodes

Image result for darling in the franxx beach episode
Not even Zero Two could save this show for me (Darling in the Franxx)

Has there ever been a single anime beach episode that’s actually advanced the plot, developed it’s characters, or done anything at all besides pad out the show’s runtime with shameless fanservice? It’s the worst kind of pointless filler. I don’t even like going to the beach, and I live in Florida!

Favorite: The tsundere

Image result for asuka langley soryu screencap
There’s a reason Asuka is my icon on here (Evangelion 2.0)

I’m not that big on romance in anime, but I always have a soft spot for tsundere characters. They might be brash and irritable, but deep down they’re sensitive souls who just want love and affection from their boo. Plus, if I don’t like the main character, I can get a laugh out of the tsundere constantly belittling them and calling them a baka!

Least Favorite: Accidental pervertedness

Image result for konosuba episode 8
J’accuse! (Konosuba)

Guys in anime sure are klutzy, aren’t they? They’re always accidentally walking into the room while a girl is changing, or accidentally tripping and falling with their hand right on a girl’s boob. Haha. It’s funny to violate consent, as long as you don’t actually mean to! The only show to ever do this well was Evangelion, and that’s only because it showed how disturbing and creepy this trope really is.

Favorite: Battle Girls

Image result for symphogear
Watch Symphogear

This isn’t exclusive to anime by any means, but many series have a lot of beautiful female characters who can kick just as much ass as any of the guys can. It’s always fun to watch and very empowering for female viewers. And sure, most of the time they’re just doing it to sell more figurines, but I’ll take what I can get!

Least Favorite: She’s not really 14, she’s a thousand year old demon priestess or something

Image result for milim that time i got reincarnated as a slime
I like this anime, but Milim needs a better costume design (That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime)

UGHGHGHGHGHG do I really need to explain why I hate this one? It’s just an excuse to dress underage characters in way too skimpy outfits to pander to degenerate lolicon fetishists. Can’t anime just have characters be their actual age and not sexualize middle schoolers so much?

Favorite: That moment in the last climactic battle when the heroes finally turn the tides and the intro music starts playing

It’s the last episode. The bottom of the 9th, bases loaded. The villains are winning, and all hope seems lost for humanity. But then… what’s that song in the background? Is that the… the song from the opening credits?

Oh my god.

It’s happening.


Sorry, I’m done. I need to go get a towel.

An Overly Long and Passionate Defense of My Hero Academia's Shie Hassaikai Arc

Image result for my hero academia season 4

My Hero Academia has gotten quite the backlash recently, hasn’t it? It seemed like the series could do no wrong a few years ago, but with Season 4, it feels like everyone and their grandma thinks it sucks now. The most recent arc in the anime, the Shie Hassaikai/Overhaul Arc, has gotten a lot of criticism for its slower pacing and a perceived drop in animation quality from previous seasons. And while I do think those complaints are valid, to be honest… they don’t bother me all that much. I think the Shie Hassaikai Arc of My Hero Academia is a fantastic addition to an already grand and emotional story. It takes the series in a darker path than it’s ever been before, introduces a ton of great new characters with fascinating Quirks, and has (arguably) the best damn fight scene in the entire anime thus far.

Image result for all might vs all for one
Yes, even better than All Might vs. All For One

SPOILERS for Season 4 of My Hero Academia incoming!

To talk about what makes this story arc so fascinating to me, I think we should start with its villain: Kai Chisaki, aka Overhaul. Because to be honest, this guy has not been given nearly enough credit for how complex and terrifying of a character he is. Almost all the baddies in My Hero up to this point have been in the League of Villains, but Chisaki’s from different stock – he’s a Yakuza boss who grew up on the streets until the leader of the Hassaikai took him in. He hates the hero society for causing the Yakuza to die off, and believes he owes a debt to his leader – the closest thing he had to a father – to help the Hassaikai control the world again. Basically, he’s Michael Corleone from The Godfather with superpowers. He holds a critical lens up to the hypocrisy of hero society, and is brutally cold and evil while still believing he’s doing the right thing.

Chisaki, about to give the heroes an offer they can’t refuse

But what makes Chisaki so utterly terrifying is how he uses his power to control and harm an innocent child. He physically and emotionally abuses his surrogate daughter, Eri, blaming her Quirk for hurting others and locking her in a dark room for days on end. Even though he claims to be her father, it’s clear he’s only using her for her Quirk. It’s an awful situation, and it makes the stakes much more real and personal. I don’t really know of anyone like, say, All for One in real life – but I know there’s a lot of people out there like Chisaki. Even his boss calls him out for his cruelty and hypocrisy:

Chisaki is far from the only new character to shine in this arc. All of the new characters are as well-developed and fun to watch as any of the main cast. Eri is a girl trapped in a seemingly hopeless situation, and clearly shows signs of trauma from her abuse – giving Deku and Mirio that much more of a reason to help her. Suneater has a unique Quirk that makes his fights a lot of fun to watch, and Nighteye is a master of wit and deadpan humor. Even Kirishima comes into his own this season, going from just being “Bakugo’s friend with the weird teeth” to one of the best heroes in Class 1-A this season.

But the breakout star of this arc, by far, is Mirio. He is the leader of the Big Three, and was chosen to be the inheritor of One For All before Deku showed up. The two form a close bond throughout the arc: Mirio admires Deku’s boundless idealism, while Deku sees Mirio as the strong and pragmatic hero he aspires to be. Mirio is a hero with boundless potential and could easily be the main character in his own series – which makes his loss of his Quirk and near-death at the hands of Overhaul that much more tragic. And hell, even when he’s Quirkless and about to pass out from blood loss, he still tries his damndest to make sure Eri is safe. That’s some real inspiring shit, y’all!

Image result for mirio my hero academia injured

The Shie Hassaikai arc of My Hero is dark, dense, and like nothing the series has done before. I’d compare it to the Chimera Ant Arc of Hunter x Hunter, which brought a ton of great new heroes to the forefront to defeat a seemingly unstoppable enemy. It’s also a slow burn: the first few episodes have little action, and there’s a lot of time spent on the new characters’ backstory and motivation. Sure, it is a bit much to include so many long flashbacks in the middle of big, climactic fights, but I don’t believe that slow pacing in an action series is necessarily a bad thing. It gets a chance to build up new characters that we haven’t seen before and adds to the dramatic stakes of the entire story. And it makes the eventual payoff – the final fight between Deku and Overhaul – arguably the most thrilling and emotionally-charged fights in the entire series.

At this point in the story, Deku is still a relative newbie. He’s still in his first year at UA, and he’s still struggling to control One for All without breaking half the bones in his body. He’s got a lot of potential, but he struggles to keep up with more experienced heroes like Mirio, Nighteye or even Fat Gum. (Fat Gum? That’s the worst superhero name ever! OK, I digress.). All of that changes once Deku finally fights Overhaul. Mirio has lost his Quirk, Nighteye is dying, and no one else can even come close to Overhaul’s power. Deku is the only person who can stop him. He gives everything he has in this fight, but he can’t possibly match Overhaul’s power and brutality. So what does he do? He asks Eri, the young girl who he was tasked with saving, for help.

Image result for my hero academia deku and eri

This is Deku’s Super Saiyan moment. This is what the entire goddamn series has been building up to! In that one moment, Deku and Eri turn Chisaki’s most formidable weapon against him, and together they give Deku the strength to use One For All Infinite 100% for the first time. Deku gains strength not by finding a newfound power within himself, but by humbly admitting he can’t do it all alone. He and Eri fight together, using their Quirks in tandem to save themselves and each other. And the powered-up fight is absolutely gorgeous, with some incredible sakuga animation and a heart-wrenching vocal version of “You Say Run”. To anyone who was complaining about a drop in animation quality this season, I just wanna say… did you watch this?

I cried. (I cry at everything, but still.)

I worry that the anime community these days has become too impatient and fickle. It feels like one minute, they love a series, and the next they think it’s garbage. Or they don’t even make it three episodes before complaining about a lack of action or slow pacing. My Hero Academia may be a popular shonen anime aimed at young audiences, but it’s not meant to be quickly consumed and discarded like the many seasonal shows that come out these days. It’s a modern-day epic, and one that rewards those who have stuck with the series this long. And I think the story, characters, and worldbuilding are a lot deeper and more compelling than most people give it credit for.

The Shie Hassaikai Arc is far from perfect – it does go overboard with the flashbacks at times, and kinda shafts its female heroes in favor of the male characters’ development. (Seriously, where were Tsuyu and Ochaco this entire arc?). And I get that not everybody has the patience to sit through so many seasons, or wants to dig so deep into a story that’s marketed as an escapist power fantasy for young people. But for my money, there’s no other long-running battle shonen that is as rich, exciting, and just plain wonderful as My Hero Academia, and this arc is proof of that.

(Okay, I still think Hunter x Hunter is better, but only slightly.)

Image result for one for all infinite 100

The Awesome, Amazing, and Fantastic Super Happy Love Award

I’m pretty late to the party on this one, but I really love the concept so I wanted to share this with y’all. First off I wanted to thank the amazing Irina for nominating me to do this and Pinkie for creating this challenge – they’re both fantastic bloggers so make sure you give them a follow if you haven’t already!

There’s a lot of negativity on the internet these days, whether it’s people arguing about politics, religion, or whose waifus are top-tier and whose are literal trash. So I want to do a 100% completely positive post on Valentine’s Day for everybody! Rules are as follows:

1. Thank the one who tagged you and if at all please tag the original post as well. This is my first blog tag and a bit of a passion project so I would like to see where it spreads! Oh and use Super-Happy-Love as a tag!
2. Display the Super Happy Love Logo in your post Share the rules!
3. Choose a minimum of 2 out of these 6 prompts to answer in this blog! More is always allowed! These six prompts are as follows!

– Tell about a person you love, this can be a friend, partner but also a celebrity or even youtuber who means a lot to you. As long as they once took breath on this earthly realm you are allowed to  pick them… Tell us why you love them.

While I don’t talk about my personal relationships too much on this blog, I wanted to give a big shout-out to my best friend Akira. She’s one of the smartest, funniest, and kindest human beings I’ve ever met. She’s always there to support me when I do well or give me a shoulder to lean on when I’m having a rough day. Plus she loves anime and I even got her to watch all 148 episodes of Hunter x Hunter, so she’s automatically the best person ever in my eyes!

Image result for killua hunter x hunter genderbend
Since she doesn’t post her pictures much online I wanted to just post her Discord avatar, which is a genderbent version of Killua 😀

– Write something about a fandom or franchise you love. It can be your favorite game series or about just about anything that is bigger than just a single product! Tell us why you live this so much!

My favorite game series, by far, is The Legend of Zelda. I could go on for ages about what makes these games so great (and hell, I probably will in a future post!). There’s the beautiful and expansive world of Hyrule, the amazing and underappreciated story and characters, and the MUSIC! Oh my god, the music in Zelda is so good. I’m listening to it right now as I’m writing this post! The Zelda games make me feel like a kid again, but they also have a lot of important themes that I’ve kept with me in my adult life. I love these games so much and I can’t wait to see what wonderful ideas Nintendo has in store for the next one!

Takes me way back…

– Tell us something about a character that you love. Do you have a Waifu, a Husbando, maybe a mentor or someone who taught you a valuable lesson. Tell us why you love them.

Oh jeez… do I have to pick just one?

I only watched Mob Psycho 100 like, a few weeks ago, but it’s already become one of my Top 10 all-time favorite anime. And one of the biggest reasons for that is its protagonist, Shigeo Kageyama (aka Mob). He’s a shy, neurotic kid with psychic powers and a dorky bowl cut (so basically me when I was 14, minus the psychic bit). But he always tries his best to help others and improve himself, and his incredible empathy helps him build deep bonds with those closest to him. His mentor Reigen says of him, “The greatest thing about Mob is not his psychic abilities, but his ability to say exactly what he feels.” I never thought I’d find such a relatable and inspiring character in such a goofy, over-the-top action comedy anime! (I’m definitely going to write a Character Arcs post on Mob… eventually)

Image result for mob psycho 100

– Tell us something about a piece of music that you love. Does a anime intro mean a lot to you? Did you have a special memory to a pop song, like your first dance at your wedding? Maybe a piece of video game music? If you love it, you should tell us why!

If there’s one thing in this world I love more than anime, it’s music! My forever favorite band is Against Me! a folk punk band from my home state of Florida. Their lead singer, Laura Jane Grace, came out as transgender back in 2011 and wrote an entire album called Transgender Dysphoria Blues all about what that experience was like. It’s some of the most real and honest music there is. This song, “True Trans Soul Rebel” – the first time I heard this song it legit changed my life. It made me realize there was nothing wrong with me being who I am and gave me the courage to come out as trans myself. Just listen to it!

– Show us why you love a piece of media so much! A Book, A Game, A Anime, A Movie maybe even a random piece of fan art, you are free to pick as long as you can show us why you love it.

Well they said, show, not tell, so, uh… I really love Re:Zero, so check out this fanart I did of Ferri-chan!

–  Write something about yourself that you love! For those who like a challenge, there is a hard mode in this blog prompt as well. Tell us why you love a certain aspect of yourself

This is definitely the hardest one. Most of the time, to be honest, I don’t really like myself all that much. But I think if there’s one thing I really value about myself, it’s my personal integrity. I have never really had much interest in a lot of the things people get worked up about like money, power, fame, social status, or whatever. I just want to live a happy and fulfilling life while doing as much good in the world as I possibly can. I always try to treat everyone fairly and don’t judge others for being different than me. Most importantly, I always am honest to others (and myself) about how I’m feeling, because after spending so long in the closet I don’t want to hide anything anymore.Tag 6 bloggers you love so they can take on this challenge as well.

5. Tag 6 bloggers you love so they can take on this challenge as well.
6. Everyone who comments something lovely about your post ALSO gets nominated. (Should they so choose)

I don’t know who to tag in this because I’m pretty sure everyone I follow has done this already – so if you read this and you haven’t done it, I challenge you to do it! I’m sure it will make people smile 🙂

Trope Overload: Romance in Anime

So, romance. It’s a huge part of our culture and the media we consume every day. And of course, it’s a big deal in anime – with Valentine’s Day around the corner, a ton of my anime blogging friends have been writing about some of their favorite love stories and romantic couples in the medium. And I want to write about it too, but from a different angle. I don’t really… get… romance. In fiction or in real life. Weird, right?

Image result for your lie in april kousei confused
I know how you feel, Kousei from Your Lie In April

I realize that this is a “me” problem and that there are a lot of amazing romantic anime out there. But whenever I try to sit down and watch one, more often than not, I end up feeling bored and frustrated. I can’t relate to the characters, I don’t buy their chemistry, and I get annoyed seeing the same tropes used over and over again. Even in anime not specifically centered around romance, I tend to find the romantic subplots to be the least interesting part of the series as a whole. So I wanted to figure out this weird bias of mine, and maybe talk about a romance anime I actually like!

The biggest problem I have with romance in anime (or really, any work of fiction) is the perceived inevitability of it. Romance is such a huge part of modern society that in some ways, being in a relationship is seen as the norm. Take almost any show or movie with both a male and a female protagonist, and chances are they will end up together by the time the end credits roll. This gets especially ridiculous in harem anime, where a seemingly endless cavalcade of girls will fight over one guy just because he is The Protagonist. Like, I know Sword Art Online is the ultimate low-hanging fruit of anime criticism, but why is it that so many girls in that show are in love with Kirito, a socially awkward otaku who’s most defining characteristic is being really good at video games?

Image result for sao 2 all characters
We all know that Kirito x Klein is the best ship anyways

Because of this, romantic stories can often feel forced, lacking in suspense, and overly reliant on tropes and visual shorthand to tell the story. Sometimes, all the characters need to do is stare at each other for a few seconds while soft, willowy music plays in the background to let the audience know they’re in love. And if one of the characters seems to have no romantic interest in the other? Well, they’re a tsundere! All they have to do is be nice to the protagonist once and the romance is officially on.

Image result for taiga toradora
Which is why I gave up on Toradora *runs from torches and pitchforks*

Now, these tropes aren’t bad in and of themselves (in fact, many of them are present in Fruits Basket, a romance anime I really like), but they can be painful to sit through if the characters themselves aren’t interesting or don’t have real chemistry. So many writers seem to assume that a romantic relationship, by itself, is enough to hold their audience’s attention. But I’ve sat through too many crappy rom-coms on date nights to believe that. And if the relationship feels too forced, it can have problematic real-world implications – like say, if one character is too eager to be in a relationship but the other just isn’t feeling it, the dynamic can often feel like stalking or a violation of consent. (No means no, kids!)

On top of all that, the pacing of many romance anime can often feel terribly slow for me. Many anime romances center around the characters’ inability to express their feelings to each other, until it all boils over in a dramatic love confession at the end. In fact, this is such a common thing in anime that they made an entire rom-com about two people who are too prideful to confess their feelings, so they try to make the other person do it first!

Image result for kaguya x chika
Though to be honest, I think Kaguya should just give up on dumpy old Shirogane and go out with Chika

A lot of this stems from Japanese culture, which makes a really big deal out of confessing your feelings to initiate a relationship. But so often, in both anime and Western media, the relationship actually starts when the series ends. This means you have to sit through 20+ episodes of characters playing this drawn out and tedious “will they or won’t they” courtship dance, only to have it end in an obvious and predictable confession (of course they fucking will!). It’s just baffling to me. Why would writers go through the trouble of making these characters wrestle with their feelings for hours on end, and then never actually show them being in a relationship?

Now, none of this is to say that I hate all romance anime, or that I can’t enjoy a good love story. I just wish that some of these series would try a little harder to make their romance a bit more true to life. Love isn’t just about making dramatic confessions while cherry blossom petals sway in the wind. Love is often messy, confusing, and scary. Human beings are complex, imperfect creatures, and we often hurt the people we care about the most – but we still try, because we need that connection with others. So I’d like to end this by talking about a romance anime I unambiguously love, 2017’s yuri romance drama Bloom Into You.

Image result for bloom into you

Bloom Into You is the story of Yuu Koito, a shy teenage girl whose only experience with love is from the idealized romances of shoujo manga. When she joins the student council, she meets Touko, a beautiful, intelligent, and assertive girl who seems to have everything going for her in life. When Touko confesses her feelings to Yuu at the end of the first episode, it seems like a fairy tale romance waiting to happen. But when they kiss, Yuu feels, well, nothing.

Yuu can’t reconcile the idealized fantasy romance she has in her mind with the uncomfortable reality of dating and relationships. She worries that something is wrong with her, and wonders if she even really loves Touko if she doesn’t share her sexual desires. Their relationship is awkward at first, like most real high school relationships, and they struggle to set boundaries and talk about their genuine feelings. But ultimately, Yuu realizes that none of this matters. She wants to be with Touko for no reason other than she likes being with her. She can still have a happy, healthy life with Touko, even if their relationship is messy and imperfect. This is more than just a love story – this is a story about finding yourself, about learning to be okay with yourself no matter who you are.

I haven’t talked about this much on here, but I’m on the asexual spectrum. I don’t dislike sex, but I don’t really have the same desire for it as most people. For the longest time, I thought I was damaged goods. In a society that constantly equivocates romance with sex, I felt like I had to have physical intimacy with someone to truly love them. Bloom Into You is the first time that a love story made me feel validated. It taught me that there’s nothing wrong with me being who I am. It showed two people in a genuinely loving relationship that I could identify with and relate to. And that, to me, is worth more than all the “boy meets girl” tired romantic tropes in the world.

Image result for bloom into you

Well, turned out different than I thought it would! I started by complaining about anime tropes and ended with a coming out story. (Jeez, I make these things too long sometimes…) What do you think of all this? What is some of your favorite romance anime, and your favorite (or least favorite) romantic anime tropes? Let me know 🙂

Character Arcs: How Artoria Pendragon puts a new spin on a classic myth

SPOILERS for Fate/Zero and all of Fate/Stay Night. Also, I tend to use Saber and Artoria interchangeably to describe our King of Knights, sorry if that’s confusing haha

Everyone knows the story of King Arthur, right? The peasant boy who pulled a legendary sword out of a stone and became king of England? Had a friend named Lancelot who was in love with his wife? Brought down by his illegitimate son, Mordred? Oh yeah, and it turned out that the real King Arthur was a petit, bisexual anime girl with magical powers and an obsession with food?

Seriously, there is a lot of fan art of Saber eating

The story of King Arthur has been told countless times in all manner of media, but the Fate series of anime and games is the first to cast the legendary British hero as a woman. I mean, turning famous historical or mythological figures into anime girls is kind of their thing! It can be easy to write this off as mere fanservice, especially considering the original Fate/Stay Night was a visual novel with several explicit sex scenes in it. But I think by making King Arthur female, author and creator Kinoko Nasu puts a unique twist on the classic mythos, gives her a more interesting and dynamic character arc, and makes her character a more inspiring figure for female viewers.

And, I mean, just look at her. She’s definitely a top-tier anime wife!

To understand why, let’s do some history. We don’t know for sure if King Arthur was a real person, but he’s said to be based on a Celtic general named Artorius who would have lived shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire. Britain was politically unstable and constantly being sacked, but Artorious drove off the invading Anglo-Saxons and kept British hegemony for over 100 years. As the centuries went by, the legends expanded, as authors added new characters and stories which reflected the values of their time. There are tons of different ways to interpret the legends – earlier medieval accounts were mostly about Arthur’s Christian morality, while later authors focused on the scandalous love triangle between him, Lancelot, and Guinevere – but they all ask one important question: “What does it mean to be a good king?”

Throughout history, Arthur has always been portrayed as a kind but powerful ruler who put the needs of his people above his own. That’s why he and his knights sat at the round table: so they would be seen and treated as equals. Fate/Zero illustrates this beautifully in the “Banquet of Kings” episode. Artoria sits down with her rivals, Gilgamesh and Iskandar (Alexander the Great), to discuss philosophy and what makes an effective ruler. The dictatorial Gilgamesh believes that the king must use his subjects for his own benefit, while the adventurous Iskandar believes a king must be strong and brave to inspire his people to do better. But Artoria argues that a king must serve his people – even at the cost of his own life. It’s a powerful sentiment, but the others dismiss it as hopeless idealism that can only end in tragedy.

I could only find this potato quality clip online, but it’s still worth watching. It’s my favorite episode of the series, and most of it is just the characters getting drunk and arguing with each other

Fate/Zero is all about the struggle between Saber’s ideals of justice and self-sacrifice, and the cruel reality that governs her world. But it’s only in Fate/Stay Night that her backstory is revealed in full. Saber knew that her people would never accept a female ruler, so she presented male for her entire life to avoid public scrutiny. She became distant, preoccupied with her enormous responsibility and the horrors of war, and unaware of her daughter Mordred’s inner turmoil. And though her people initially welcomed Saber with open arms, they soon resented her for being too gracious, too authoritative, too perfect to be human. Eventually, Mordred led a revolt, and Artoria Pendragon died having lost everything. The thing she wishes for – what she hopes to win in the Holy Grail War – is that she could go back in time and never become King.

By telling the story of King Arthur from a female perspective, the Fate series offers a surprisingly progressive take on gender issues, while also making its legendary hero a more nuanced and tragic figure. As a trans woman, I can definitely to Saber’s anguish at having to disguise herself as a man for fear that the world would not accept her as she truly is. You have to constantly watch everything that you say and do, and put on a steely macho facade so that you don’t look weak or effeminate. Combine that with the responsibility of ruling an entire country in a period of political upheaval and constant warfare, and it’s easy to see why Saber felt the need to suppress her emotions and distance herself from other people.

Nevertheless, she persisted. In spite of her guilt and self-doubt, she resolved to be a powerful warrior and king. She vowed to protect her people, even when they hated her for it. As a Heroic Spirit, she struggled tirelessly to win the Holy Grail War according to her ideals, even when everyone else was mercilessly backstabbing each other. She is so fucking Lawful Good that she sacrifices her identity, her privacy, her mental health, and her own life multiple times over to save people.

And what ultimately saves her, as cheesy as it sounds, is love. When she meets Shirou Emiya, someone who shares her idealism (though not her combat ability or tactical prowess), she finds someone she can genuinely open up to for the first time. And through Shirou’s friendship with Rin Tohsaka, Saber finally realizes that she doesn’t have to carry her enormous burdens alone. She starts going out on the town and pigging out on Shirou’s home-cooked meals, and looks adorably happy doing it. For the first time, Saber is given a chance to live not just as a king or a knight, but as an ordinary woman. Even though she retains her role as a tragic hero, ultimately dying in all three routes in the Fate/Stay Night anime series, it is nice to see a character who’s suffered so much finally get some closure in the end.

The Fate series is not without its problems, but I think one of its biggest strengths is the way it makes its all of its mythological heroes complex and unique characters in its world. Every character has a rich history behind them, and they way they play with the source material keeps these classic stories rich and relevant for modern day audiences. After watching Saber kick so much ass in the anime, I’ve been reading up on Arthurian legend, starting with The Once and Future King by T.H. White and even digging into some of those dusty medieval texts. And I always end up mentally picturing Arthur as Artoria, my favorite anime swordfighter.

Here is some official art of her and Rin, for no reason whatsoever

Please, Stop Calling Me That

Image result for angry gay sounds meme

First off, I’m sorry for writing two angry rant posts in a row; I try to keep the tone of my blog very positive but I really needed to get this off my chest. Second, this post has a big ol’ content warning for discussion of transphobia, transphobic slurs, white supremacists, and mentions of murder and suicide. Today I want to talk about the term “trap“.

If you’ve spent enough time in various anime forums and subreddits, you’re probably (sadly) familiar with this term, but for the uninitiated: “trap” is a word used to refer to transgender women and crossdressing men, with the implication that these people look feminine in order to trick, or “trap” straight, cisgender men into sleeping with them. The term originated on 4chan in the early 2000’s, and since then has become so popular that I literally can’t look up clips of Astolfo (my favorite character from Fate/Apocrypha) on YouTube without seeing it in the first batch of results.

Astolfo is way too pure for this shit.

I hate this, and “hate” isn’t a word I use lightly. I think “trap” is a transphobic and dehumanizing slur. As a trans woman, I’ve been called “trap”, “tranny”, “shemale”, etc. online more times than I can remember, and every time I die a little inside. Because when I see this word, the message I get is: “You’re not really a woman. It doesn’t matter if it says so on your ID and you’ve been living life as a woman for five years now. You’re a man playing dress-up to get other men to sleep with you.” And depending on who’s saying it, the other message I get is, “You’re not human, and you don’t deserve to live.”

That might come off as a little extreme, but “trap” as a word reinforces some truly insidious ideas that can lead to the literal death of trans people. In 2013, a black trans woman named Islan Nettles was brutally beaten to death in Harlem. Although the killer turned himself in three days after the attack, admitting that he flew into a “blind rage” when he found out her gender identity, he was not charged with murder or with a hate crime. This is known as the Trans Panic Defense, a legal strategy that blames victims for the violence inflicted upon them just because they are trans, and it is still allowed in most U.S. states. By implying that trans people are not who they say they are, but actually deceitful sexual predators, the term “trap” reinforces these hateful beliefs, beliefs that often get real, actual trans people killed.

Image result for alluka hxh
Okay, that was a lot, and I need a break. Look at this adorable pic of one of my favorite trans characters, Alluka from Hunter x Hunter

Unfortunately, it’s really hard to have a productive discussion about this online, because there are so many directions it could go and usually people take all of them at once. Nobody wants to hear that something they say is harmful, and with today’s fractured political climate it’s hard to get people to agree on fucking anything. But I want to meet people where they’re at, and talk about some of the objections I’ve heard when saying “trap” is a slur and they shouldn’t use it:

  • It’s not really a slur: Sorry to say, but I don’t think this argument holds any water at all. The fact is that trans people are called “trap” all the time, and it’s almost always as a means to disparage or ridicule us. I mean, I should know!
  • It’s only used to refer to crossdressers, not trans people: Unfortunately, many people who use the term don’t know the difference. (A crossdresser is someone who identifies as their birth gender but just dresses as another, while a trans person identifies as/is a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth.) Because of this misconception, “trap” is often used at crossdressers and trans people interchangably. And either way, it’s still a slur.
  • It’s only used to refer to 2D anime femboys, not actual human beings: David Duke, the former leader of the KKK, tweeted “Traps are gay” when the first transgender Playboy model was announced in 2017. I doubt that he’s a closeted hardcore otaku – he’s just a bigoted asshole who used trendy alt-right lingo to make fun of a real person while all his supporters clamored for her death in the comments. “Trap” is a slur directed at real human beings just as much as fictional characters, and either way it’s harmful.
  • My friend is trans and they’re fine with being called a trap: It’s a logical fallacy to assume that one person’s opinion reflects the opinions of the entire community they belong to. I’m not the only one out there who thinks “trap” is offensive: lots of people with a much bigger platform than me have said the same thing. Trust me: the number of trans people who don’t find “trap” offensive is much, much smaller than the number of those who do.
  • This is just political correctness run amok/something about free speech and the First Amendment: Okay, I know it’s 2020 and everything is political now, but I really don’t think this necessarily needs to be a political issue. It’s just about treating others with basic human decency and respect. If someone tells you that a word you use to describe them is offensive, you should stop using it. That’s just common sense, right?
  • I don’t care/I’m just going to use it anyway: Well… idk. *throws hands up exasperatedly* Do I really have to explain why it’s important to be kind to other people?

I know I’ve said a lot in this, but I also want to add that I don’t think that everyone who uses “trap” is a bad person. Some of them are just unaware of how hurtful it really is. They may not have ever been told that it’s a slur, or they are just emulating the things their favorite subreddits or YouTubers say. But if you do use “trap”, and you’re reading this – if anything I’ve said has connected with you at all – I ask you to please stop using it. You never know who might be reading what you post, and how much of an effect those words have on them.

Image result for lily zombieland saga
All trans people deserve love and protection – even the fictional ones!

That's Just, Like, Your Opinion (Why I Can't Stand Gatekeeping)

Image result for well that's just like your opinion"

I have a lot of opinions. Doesn’t everyone on the Internet? Especially when it comes to fandom involving any kind of geeky or artistic media. Everyone experiences the world differently, and we bring our ideas and our life experiences and our preferences with us whenever we sit down to watch, read, or listen to something. And because so much of our discussion is online, it’s easy to share our opinions and hot takes without really understanding the other person’s point of view, leading to, well…

Image result for demon slayer flame breathing"
There were no winners in the Great Flame War of 2019

One of the nastier side effects of this is that sometimes fandoms be victim to a kind of elitist mentality, where certain opinions are seen as better or more correct than others. They use social media and a groupthink mentality to give popular opinions a bigger platform and discourage people from disagreeing. If someone does disagree, they get called hateful things or told they have shit taste. If what I’m describing sounds like the techniques an authoritarian regime or a religious cult would use to spread propaganda and prevent people from protesting, that’s because it is.

Image result for konosuba axis cult"
Would you be interested in joining the Axis Cult?

And it all seems rather silly, at least to me. You should like something because it resonates with you, not because it’s popular or because some guy on YouTube told you it was good. That’s especially true when it comes to art, which is so subjective and personal. If we interpret every show we watch or every song we listen to differently, who can really say that any of us are right or wrong for how we feel?

I recently watched an anime series that everyone I talked to said was a masterpiece. Watching it myself, I could see that the art direction was solid, the music was awesome, the story was interesting and unique… and I still dropped it after nine episodes, because I HATED it! It wasn’t that I thought any of these things were bad, but I just didn’t like any of the characters and didn’t care enough about them to watch the whole thing. I can definitely understand why other people enjoy it so much, but just wasn’t for me. And that’s fine – just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean my opinion is any less valid than all the folks who did, or vice versa. 

I don’t want to mention the name but it rhymed with… Pines Bait?

That’s not to say we shouldn’t be open minded to other people’s perspectives, or think critically about the media we consume. I know my blog doesn’t look like it, but I actually do a ton of research for most of my blog posts! I don’t want to live in a bubble and I want to find out what other people have to say. But at the end of the day, I’m still going to write in my own voice, from my own perspective. I can’t expect everyone to share my point of view, but I can say how I feel and hope that we can at least come to some sort of understanding. 

Gatekeeping, elitism, and groupthink make this kind of understanding impossible. If people are so caught up in their prejudices about what good art should or shouldn’t be, it shuts out other people’s perspectives entirely. It silences people who don’t have as much social capital (often minorities) and encourages a cult-like mentality. And it’s completely counterproductive: we are all in this community because we love anime, so why are we shutting out those who might not agree with us? Our community is hugely diverse and includes people from all walks of life. That’s part of what makes it wonderful, and I think everyone in the community deserves a space to talk about whatever they want without having others push their own tastes and preferences onto them.

After all, wouldn’t it be boring if we all just liked the same thing?