Lola Olufemi | The problem with “accessible” feminism

An important article.

Fly.

The word “accessible” is thrown around a lot. When people use it to refer to activism in Cambridge (The Women’s Campaign, the BME Campaign) one of the main criticisms they level against those involved is centred on this idea. The campaigns have a reputation for being “unfriendly” “not widely supported” or even, “getting things wrong.” More people do not engage with them because their fear of making a mistake on a Facebook discussion page outweighs their investment in the issues they claim to support.

It is perhaps an unspoken truth that many (white, middle class, cis) people have silently felt locked out of these activist spaces because they resent not being able to exist in them uncritically.  By this I mean, a lot of these people’s engagements with feminism stop when things become “difficult.” When they are asked to move past the realm of overt displays of gendered discrimination, of…

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Review: Oniisama e (Brother, Dear Brother)

Oniisama e is about its characters: the sweet and naive schoolgirl, the prideful and manipulative Sorority head, the suicidal, heartbroken drug addict, the basketball star with a secret struggle, and it goes on. Character development is an extremely important ingredient in this anime, and each character in this series is well explored and developed, even the penpal (“Brother”) has a significant role in the anime. However, sometimes I felt some characters could have been more active, or that the explanations for their actions were pompous or unbelievable.

The anime is old, and based on an even older manga. The animation is absolutely stunning, as they give attention to detail and pan paused shots. Similarly, the music is beautiful and conveys the feelings of the anime.

On one hand, the manga is potentially groundbreaking for its time, as it discusses topics such as lesbianism, incest, drug use, divorce and disease. On the other hand, Oniisama e sometimes feels outdated and slightly conservative in its portrayal of such themes and its characters, despite the fact the anime is supposedly ‘happier’ than the manga (not by much, I would say).

The structure of the anime is, well, very loose, but well plotted as most character arcs are resolved and well-placed to drive the action. Sometimes this makes it fun to watch, since you never know what’s going to happen next, other times, there are weird shifts in mood and theme. The anime is also 39 episodes, which is pretty long. This is both an advantage and disadvantage in comparison to the 3 volume manga- the story is expanded, but also hella long. The anime is exciting at times, but can also be pretty boring and slow.

In the end, the anime is a character-centric drama that revolves around the themes of love, friendship and growing up, so if you’re not interested in those themes, don’t watch it.

P.S: there is a hell a lot of crying, but then it’s not surprising since the catch line at the end of every episode is: “Brother, Dear Brother… there is no end to my tears.”

Trigger warnings (because this is a triggery anime)
– self-harm
– eating disorder
– psychological manipulation
– suicidal thoughts
– death

Review: I’ll Give You the Sun

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NoahandJude are inseparable twins. Jude is a daredevil who surfs and wears dark lipstick and short skirts against her mother’s wishes. Noah gets lost in art and is in love with the boy of his dreams. Their relationship becomes tense as they struggle for attention from their mother, the same friends and a place at a prestigious art schools. A tragedy occurs. The twins stop speaking to each other. The twins only have one half of the story each, if only they could come back together…

The first chapter is hard to get through. It sounds like something I’d write when I was 12. But trust me, the prose gets better. Noah and Jude jump off the page as realistic characters with their own voices, dreams and fears. The writing is pleasant to read, although punctuated with potentially annoying features such as Noah’s mind paintings and quotes from their dead grandma. Noah and Jude alternate as narrators at different points of time, and despite this, Nelson manages to make the story flow very well.

This is a book about secrets and revelations. It’s about 70% revelation and 30% actual action. At first, I admired how much Nelson was able to tie her characters and plot together. But by the end I felt that there were too many coincidences. The last few pages felt very rushed and the ending can be interpreted as uplifting. Or as I would put it: the ending was too happy.

I’ll Give You the Sun is ultimately a book about siblings, love, guilt, family, recovery and art.

Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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Ari is angry and self-doubting. Dante is confident and poetic. Ari’s household is locked in silence as his older brother remains locked in prison. One fateful day, Dante teaches Aristotle how to swim, and the two boys who have struggled to make friends until this point, create a friendship that will change them.

This book had sweet prose and well fleshed out characters. The family dynamics and the individual struggles of Sáenz’s characters felt real. Although the book isn’t fast paced, it manages to keep you interested through little twists and turns before reaching the climax. The last part is quite fast in contrast to the rest of the novel.

The book explores topics such as sexuality, growing up, family and identity. Although the book is well-written overall, I don’t think all the themes were tied up neatly and some characters seemed random and their purposes in the novel weren’t clear.

I was glad to read this book and learn more about the Latinx community since I have only know properly known 1 Latinx person in my life (there aren’t many Latinx people where I live). I enjoyed the sincerity of Aristotle and Dante’s relationship as well as the tensions and developments within each family.

I want to say goodbye

to my old friend, Ennui.

For the last month I’ve gradually been slipping out of my very organised and high-stressed routine. I knew that the summer was coming and I didn’t want to fuck up. I tried to run a trial of what the summer holiday could potentially be like during half-term but it failed miserably because my eyes were hurting all the time from reading and going online  (and basically doing nothing else).

When the holidays come and my stress fades away, it seems like my motivation and ability to work just plummets. Even when I’ve been planning to finish a novel this summer and a million other things. I just need to figure out how to spend my morning and afternoon hours (since I can only go online for a few hours a day and I prefer to do it in the evening) instead of moping around trying to tidy my room and going to buy random things.

Ennui. Yeah. I don’t want to talk about it too much. I’ve been getting bored of people lately. I’m not sure if it was just that we had boring conversations. But maybe they were boring people. Or maybe I was just bored of life. I don’t know.

Ennui. A lot of that lately. When I’m under pressure, there’s a million things I want to do, but can’t. Now, there is plenty of time but I’m lacking in motivation. I don’t know what to do.

But I don’t want boredom or indecision to get the best of me the summer. It’s simply not happening. I’m going on holiday for around a week, so hopefully that will make me a bit more awake and energetic. I’ll come back, make a schedule, and do my shit.

I’ve got many headaches lately and I’m not sure why. Since I’ve not been around many people lately, I think I can rule out social anxiety. Stress is also unlikely. Reading or going too much doesn’t make much sense either because I’ve only been online for like 2 hours or less today (record! ha…). Maybe I’ve got the post-high pressure environment headaches that this person I know has… More pessimistically, it might be due to a deficiency in something.

Anyway, I’m ordering vegetarian supplements when I come back, a long with books I will definitely read! Although to be honest, I don’t have a piece of fiction that I’m dying to read this summer, which is somewhat concerning.

Things I want to do this summer:
– Finish my novel (the first one at least, I want to move on to the second if possible)
– Do subject-specific reading and prepare more for my application process
– Learn about more histories
– Pick up drawing again and improve skills
– Learn to cook
– Learn to programme
– Make revision notes
– Analyse anime
– Have fun and live!

 

Sailor Moon Crystal 3: Death Busters Review

Sailor Moon Crystal 3: Death Busters is a re-animation of the original Sailor Moon: Infinity manga, around two decades after the first Sailor Moon anime aired.

It’s needless to say that the quality of the animation is nothing to worry about, unlike the previous 2 seasons. It is arguably more creative, cleaner and more consistent than the original anime. However, I want to talk more about the how character development, plot, word-building was executed, as well as aspects of artistic direction.

The Senshi unite

Firstly the anime really showed the mental development of Sailor Moon (Usagi Tsukino) as a character, through showing her internal thoughts in important scenes.

Super Sailor Moon

However, other characters we not given anywhere near that amount of development, although I enjoyed the fact that the heroines took an active role in searching for the villains, instead of the more passive approach displayed in the 90s anime. As a consequence of the lack of focus on the other characters, we don’t really get to see the friendships of the Inner Senshi develop.

The Inner Senshi

Another disappointment was the lack of development of the romantic relationship between Haruka Tenoh (Sailor Uranus) and Michiru Kaioh (Sailor Neptune), which was what made the 90s anime stand out. Their relationship is never really explored beyond showing them together and giving hints about their relationship. Michiru’s character was especially neglected- if my knowledge of her was based on this series alone, I would know next to nothing about her personality.

Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune

Furthermore, there was a subplot between Haruka and Usagi that became neglected after a certain point, despite its importance.

Usagi (Sailor Moon) and Haruka (Sailor Uranus)

Although the anime was strictly no-nonsense in its absence of fillers and quick plot, it did not handle the plot and character development as delicately as it could have, leaving untied threads or unexplored characters. On the positive side, it does give ample attention to Chibiusa and her relationship with Hotaru Tomoe. Both of their characters were well-developed during the short series.

Chibiusa and Hotaru

In avoiding any filler, or anything ‘unnecessary’ to the main battle plot, Sailor Moon Crystal 3 lacked the humour of the 90s anime. More importantly, I think the tone and climaxes of the anime were not well managed. The plot became too focused on the battle with the final boss too early on, and consequently became too serious, and too focused on the battle and not on character development (except for Sailor Moon). The fact the anime reached the climax so early on meant that the tension stayed at the same level for a long time, which sucked the last episodes of their potential intensity for me. This was furthered by the lack of creativity in the use of colour and backgrounds in the final battle episodes. Another issue is that the tone would sometimes fluctuate from very serious to very happy at times.

The Inner Senshi

The serious tone of the anime would not have been a problem if there had been better world-building. Unfortunately, from what I have gathered, the villains of this season have no other reason for their actions except the cliched “bwahahaha let’s take over earth”, which is extremely unfortunate. Almost all of the villains and their intentions are only given surface attention and never explored deeper. However, this fault probably stems from the original manga. Not only are the villains lacking in character development, but there seemed to be little creative thought going into their creative designs (I am talking about the Daemon and the final boss, not villains who stuck to the same designs as the 90s anime), which made the battles less interesting to watch.

An important villain

Would I recommend this over the original? Probably not- lack of Harumichi and uncreative villains, also because the original has good character episodes and some episodes which have amazing direction. Of course this version has advantages over the original- less filler, more development for Sailor Moon and better animation (and fewer episodes). Whether you watch this series or not is up to you. If you’re an old fan in for some nostalgia, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this, especially as if you really liked the manga (I have heard that it is closer to the manga). But if you’re watching Sailor Moon for the first time and want to understand the hype, I would say, watch the original.

 

P.S: My views may have been affected my the fact I watched the anime weekly, not all at once. I may change my opinions if I watch it again.

Credits for the screencaps go to http://sailormoonscreencaps.tumblr.com/

Writing is Scary.

As I child I wished I could connect something to my head and beam my imagination onto paper. Unfortunately (fortunately!), there have been no such easy inventions.

Writing is a hard task. How many times have I sat there quivering in front of that imposing, white screen? How many times have I tried to sit down with a pen, trembling, shaking with both excitement and fear. But truly the question should be this: how many times have I written a beginning and then decided it was terrible, unworthy, and then deleted it?

Looking at a screen of words is always unsatisfactory. From a photographic perspective, small, semi-uniform shapes surrounded by empty space. Still a blank look. What of that fast, vivid imagination? The moving images, the dripping colour? Writers have only black ink and white paper.

I realise I must accept that I cannot ever fully transfer the precise and exact form of my novels in my mind to reality, and I must accept that in order to allow my stories to transcend that narrow space of my mind, to journey into bookshops, discussion forums and the minds of others.

Storybird Poem #1- Survival Fades

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Today I started experimenting with Storybird after reading about it on another writer’s blog.

I really like it, both in concept and in use. It’s a great way to procrastinate (spent an hour on it today…) but also to be inspired and to get creative. I especially loved the fact that it  allowed me to write poetry, which may sound strange, but hear me out, I am insensitive to poems and I am rarely able to appreciate them at heart. Using Storybird gave me a feel of how to write poetry, as well as making poetry enjoyable for me to read.

I like the format because you select a picture and they give you a random set of words, from which you construct a poem. This is great because it gives you words and ideas to play with but also restricts you, which is challenging. However, sometimes the word options can be objectionable (“LOL” or just the fact “am” is not there). Other times I find it hard to find the right picture, since you never know what kind of words you’ll get.

All-in-all, Storybird is a fantastic website and you should give it a go if you enjoy writing poetry or need inspiration. It also has options for picture books, but I haven’t tried those yet.

I’m very happy today, I’ve written several poems for my main literary project. I’m excited to upload them, although some of them may reveal a lot about the plot, so I’m not so sure about putting them online. Maybe I’ll use them for publicity when I actually get closer to publishing my books (haha, treachery).

Review: The Wall Jumper

Berlin before the fall of the Wall is a city divided, yet its ordinary residents find ways to live and survive on both sides. There is Robert, teller of barroom anecdotes over beer and vodka, adjusting to a new life in the west; Pommerer, trying to outwit the system in the east; the unnamed narrator, who ‘escapes’ back-and-forth to collect stories; his beguiling, exiled lover Lena; the three boys who defect to watch Hollywood films; and the man who leaps across the Wall again and again – simply because he cannot help himself.

All are, in their different ways, wall jumpers, trying to lose themselves but still trapped wherever they go. Ultimately, the walls inside their heads prove to be more powerful than any man-made barrier … (from Amazon)

Schneider’s The Wall Jumper is ultimately a novel about Berlin, divided Berlin. He is fastidious in his examination of the Berlin Wall, German identity and the relationship between the individual and the state. He makes great points, however, the book itself contains a main ‘plot’ (if you can call it that- very little happens and happens in a disjointed manner) punctuated and interrupted by stories of German individuals who attempt to surpass the wall.

My problem is with characterisation, style and plot. Schneider often ‘tells’ instead of ‘showing and the characters are not very realistic in their characterisation or depiction and they are more like caricatures. ‘. Although I understand that Schneider is trying to make a statement on how deeply a state influences someone’s character, his writing could have definitely been more subtle. It feels very in-your-face, and there is no rest from the topic of German identity. A relentless exploration. The poor characterisation is not helped by the lack of a gripping plot. Many of my friends struggled to finish reading the book and did not enjoy it.

On one hand, the cluttered nature of the text could be itself testament to the narrator’s ambiguity over the state of German identity and feelings of disorientation. On the other hand, it definitely could have been better written, even if still scattered everywhere structurally.

In short: a superb exploration of German life in a divided Berlin, a passable piece of work. The book is not dated, merely it could have been better written. It lacks subtlety. Good for people who like explicit writing and short stories. I think there were definitely gems in this book, even if it did not glow as a whole.

Review: A Visit From The Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption. (from Goodreads)

A Visit from the Goon Squad explores the effects of time on innocence, youth and success through its large span of characters. The novel works like a carefully threaded set of short stories, each short story relating to one of the main characters (Bennie or Sasha) and utilises new and innovative forms of literature, such as using powerpoint slides and interview texts. I enjoyed the revolving perspectives and styles, an interesting way to get a story across, these techniques allow Egan reach her goal of exploring the effects of time in a short novel.

The novel was definitely a great and gripping read, however, I really like to get my hands dirty with characters and I felt sometimes this wasn’t possible in this novel as we only get glimpses of most characters.

I would have liked a more diverse range of characters. Almost all the characters were musicians or professors, a horny boy/man, conventionally sexually appealing women/men, etc. The whole cast is pretty fucking white middle class if you ask me. Furthermore, the topics of gender and sexuality is very there when Egan portrays relationships, but never really given its own discourse. Which is a pity.

In conclusion I would say it was an enjoyable read, but not a book I’d go back to time after time. I definitely think characters could have been better developed and more diverse in terms of personality and backgrounds. The characters feel like a blur, when really after reading a book you want to hold onto them and cherish them.