LGBTQ Fiction: Fitting In and Non-Binary Representation

I love LGBTQ fiction, and I love LGBTQ representation in the media. But despite the increase in LGBTQ representation in the media, for a long time I still felt left out. And it’s only recently that I realised why.

When I flick through description of gay novels, they appear either to be endless remakes of Dorian Gray or cheesy YA fiction.  Lesbian novels seemed great but still not quite right for me. But ultimately I felt neither lesbian or gay novels really fit me or depicted the kind of relationship I wanted. I felt the same looking at images of same-sex couples, imagining myself with someone of the opposite or same-sex. I was only then I realised, that what I really wanted was a non-binary relationship. For a long time I have been really open, warm towards the idea of dating someone genderqueer or intersex, and recently I thought about how nice it would be to date another nonbinary person, so I wouldn’t have to cross-my-fingers and explain and hope they understand, but instead have someone who understands my view of gender and what it is to be non-binary. However, I never realise that this was what I wanted until this week. There’s something about the way cisgender homosexual relationships are depicted or are that never quite felt like an easy fit for me, and then this is when I realised that I was interested in genderqueer/non-binary relationships more than any other form of relationship in both fiction and real life.

However, that’s where it gets a little shitty for people like me. Non-binary characters virtually do not exist in YA fiction, and hell, give me a call if you find a non-binary character in adult fiction. Mainstream fiction. Even in LGBTQ fiction, I do not see many non-binary characters (mainly YA I am talking about). It’s great to see gay and transgender literature flourishing, but there’s always that bitter tear of being left behind and forgotten.

This lack of non-binary representation is a reflection of the lack of discussion of non-binary identities in the media and real life. After Caitlin Jenner came out, transgender identities have been a hot topic for discussion for the past two years. Most people know what the term means. But being non-binary? Haha. Hell no. There’s been very limited media coverage, if at all. My ‘liberal’ friends barely understand the concept- they told me that it’s contradictory to be putting yourself in yet another ‘box’ or ‘label’! Yet anyone who is non-binary will know that being non-binary is the ultimate anti-box.

Anyway, hopefully in the future there will be more representation for non-binary folks. This is something we can strive to do, that I will do. As if making up for the abominable lack of non-binary characters in fiction, at least 3/6 of the main characters of the long-ass literary/comic series I am writing are non-binary ;). If something doesn’t exist, you can always make it exist.

Anyway, this is not all rain and grey skies. The depictions of relationships which I feel are close to what I would like are those found in certain anime.

uranus and neptune injred

Although the relationship between Michiru Kaioh and Haruka Tennoh in Sailor Moon is often seen as being a typical butch/femme relationship, there is something in that relationship that seems to transcend those tropes. Maybe it’s because both characters have traits that transcend their supposed ‘type’. Maybe it’s because they’re so well-written they feel real. I don’t know.

Image result for utena

And then there’s Utena! The ultimate non-binary character! Although Utena never exactly says “I am non-binary” since I don’t think the term was really in currency back then, everything about her character and about how she is framed and portrayed screams non-binary (one of the CDs is entitled “androgynous me”).

Maybe I’ll write something more coherent and better structured another time, when my life is less hectic and when I’m feeling better.

Advertisements

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/