skygiants: Natsu from 7 Seeds, looking determined, surrounded by fireflies (survive in this world)
You may recall that yesterday I was shrieking about my Yuletide fics, including how lucky I was to receive a 7 Seeds fic that was hilarious, perfect, and fourteen thousand words long!

Then I received an apologetic note from my author explaining that they had forgotten to load the second chapter before the deadline.

My 7 Seeds Yuletide lesbians fic is in fact actually THIRTY-THREE THOUSAND words long, now featuring an even richer and more thoughtful emotional arc, more screentime for my other favorite characters, and basically everything I love about stories in which people attempt to build a community out of a traumatized box of scraps. I cannot fathom how I got this lucky. At this rate I'm expecting a pony to show up on my doorstep tomorrow morning.

(Also my further Christmas adventures have included dinner & screwball comedy with [personal profile] newredshoes and [personal profile] oliviacirce and the unparalleled entertainment of watching my mother attempt to explain the plot of the original Star Wars trilogy to an entirely uninitiated cousin. "So the movie starts out with a kid named Luke Skywalker ... and you think he and Leia are going to be the romantic leads, but then! it turns out!")
skygiants: ran and nijiko from 7 Seeds, looking faintly judgy (dubious lesbians)
My day started out with a cat throwing up in my bedroom at 4 AM (three hours after I went to bed), after which I fled the house to catch a 7:30 AM bus to New York, which promptly broke down half an hour out. It's fine though! We've got another bus and also I can't really be annoyed at anything because a.) once I finally get to New York I have a great day of Jewish Christmas planned with cousins and friends and Chinese food and possibly screwball comedy and b.) I AM STILL BUSY SCREAMING INTERNALLY ABOUT HOW MUCH I WON YULETIDE THIS YEAR, like?? I've had some amazing Yuletide years in the past, but this is ABOVE AND BEYOND.

I got all the stuff I was convinced I was least likely to get --

A Moment of Utter Stillness, happy-ending postcanon fic for Frances Hardinge's The Lie Tree, one of my favorite books to come out this year? Featuring Further Adventures of Paul and Faith, two of my best beloved terrible children in a long roster of terrible fictional children I have loved:

Faith imagined herself sinking deeper into the mud, entombed there forever, the eons slowly turning her to stone – a fossil waiting to be discovered by another little girl from the future, a girl with an alien face, but inquisitive, multi-faceted eyes, a fly-person looking back across the ages, to a distant time when mammals ruled the earth.

Ah, scientific creepiness and a death-wish. CLASSIC FAITH. <3 ...uh, but really most of the fic is a super hopeful happy ending for them and I'm so delighted that someone wrote it for me!

So this was wonderful and unlikely enough, BUT ALSO I got:

win me, win me, an ye will, an amazing?? PITCH-PERFECT???? crossover!!!! between Miss Marjoribanks, the greatest obscure Victorian social engineering competence porn novel possibly ever written, and Zen Cho's Sorcerer to the Crown, one of my OTHER favorite books to come out this year, in which Lucilla Marjoribanks is called upon to defeat a lady of the fairies in single! combat! TO THE SOCIAL DEATH! (and possibly also the death death) (but a lady prefers not to discuss such things explicitly)

"I am afraid that we find ourselves in a very awkward position," Lucilla told the Lady sadly. She had a horror of social awkwardness above all things. "Asking you to withdraw your influence from Marchbank was my intention also."

Every single one of you should read this; no knowledge of either canon is really necesary for enjoyment beyond a general awareness of the tropes of Victorian literature and/or fairy stories, and I spent basically every other sentence screaming in awe, hilarity, or both. Finally, Lucilla Marjoribanks has a sphere worthy of her prodigious talents! (I do have a suspicion about who might have written this; we'll see if I am right. Either way, whoever it is, they are clearly as much of a genius as Lucilla Marjoribanks herself.)

BUT ALSO ALSO -- as if this were not already a bounty far beyond what I could have dreamed! -- I got:

the year we built the windows, a NOVELLA-LENGTH 7 SEEDS LESBIAN ARCHITECT/ENGINEER CHARACTER STUDY AND ROMANCE?!?! This is at least the fifth time I've asked for 7 Seeds fic in an exchange without ever receiving it, and this has now become a lesson to me in the value of persistence; now and only now do I understand that the universe has just been saving up until now, when it has presented me with EVERYTHING I COULD HAVE POSSIBLY WANTED. The characterization and relationships are beautiful -- not just Ran/Nijiko, but Ran and Hana, Ran and Botan, Ran and Team Autumn, Nijiko and Team Summer A, Ran and the echoes of the past civilization, all of them get their due -- and it has everything I love in canon, all the themes of failure, and second chances, and slow, indefinable growth.

...AND ALSO IT IS HILARIOUS AND FULL OF POST-APOCALYPTIC ENGINEERING AND EXTREMELY GAY. *__*

Nijiko frowned through her ridiculous prison-bar bangs. "How did you know it randomizes water pressure?"

"I heard Ayu-san say so," Ran lied, because it was less soul-crushing than conceding she might have asked Akane to note the volume of water in a bath bucket, before-and-after, and dragged out some undergrad calculus to ascertain whether the Summer A girls had actually done womankind the service of getting massaging showerhead action out of a glorified flute.


Picking a part to quote was incredibly difficult because did I mention there's fourteen thousand brilliant words of it?? God. THIS YULETIDE. I almost don't want to go read the rest of the archive! I need more time to just wallow in the luxury of my gifts like a dragon with a fic hoard.
skygiants: Natsu from 7 Seeds, looking determined, surrounded by fireflies (survive in this world)
It's time for Yuletide reveals? It's time for Yuletide reveals! I wrote three fics this year, one assigned and two pinch-hits:

A Course to the Ocean, Ivanhoe

This was my assigned fic, which I struggled with a bit initially as it rapidly became clear that I should have thought a little harder about offering a dense text that I had only read once, and not in several years. My recipient asked for friendship between Brian de Bois-Guilbert and Maurice De Bracy; after rereading the book I saw some fun loose ends in the text of Ivanhoe to pull on that would allow me to put together a "Brian lives!" AU, and went from there. (It remains a challenge for me to write any kind of Ivanhoe fic that doesn't have Rebecca in it, but to be honest Rebecca is probably happier being out of it.)

As a sidenote, this was my second year in a row attempting to pastiche a Victorian author attempting to pastiche the medieval era. Sorry, Sir Walter Scott; I could not bring myself to go the full forsooth.

Germination, 7 Seeds

Pinch-hit number one! I actually had already bookmarked my recipient's amazingrequest for futurefic about Natsu, the world's most social anxiety-ridden post-apocalyptic heroine; when I saw it come up on the list I leaped upon it with the speed of a dozen giant feathered dinosaurs, because I LOVE NATSU and the slow process of watching her grow into herself is one of my very favorite things about 7 Seeds. It turns out writing futurefic for open canons is kind of nervewracking, especially when you are trying to juggle a cast of forty people, and also have decided to do several thematic conversations between people who have never actually met yet in canon, because ... it seemed like a good idea at the time? I also did not expect initially to be writing about extinct natural contraceptives. Or Hawaiian generation ships. Or evil dinosaur chickens. But this is what 7 Seeds does to your worldbuilding, basically. I also accidentally wrote myself into shipping Natsu/Semimaru, though Natsu/self-esteem is still my ultimate 7 Seeds OTP. I did sadly fail in my effort to get any one of the characters to describe the imaginary future town where Ran and Nijiko have set up shop as "the land of lesbian infrastructure," but that is what it will always be called IN MY HEART.

Impulse Control, Hexwood

Pinch-hit #2! And what a terrible title, wow. If I'd had another week, I would have attempted to write the EPIC POSTCANON HEXWOOD SPACE OPERA of my dreams, but with the 7 Seeds fic rapidly ballooning I only had time for this relatively short slice-of-ruling-the-space-empire life instead. Mostly I came out of this experience a.) happy that I had the excuse to reread Hexwood and poke a little at some of the MILLION sparky loose ends left at the end of canon and b.) deeply resentful that there isn't more Hexwood fic in existence. Come on, the book ends with our heroine forming a universe-ruling coalition with her ex-brainwashed ex-assassin boyfriend, their accidentally adopted son Merlin, and Merlin's two nephews, one of whom is our heroine's annoying fake little brother and the other one of whom is King Arthur. IT'S THE WORLD'S WEIRDEST SITCOM.
skygiants: Izumi and Sig Curtis from Fullmetal Alchemist embracing in front of a giant heart (curtises!)
I was supposed to do five favorite anime/manga for [personal profile] cinaed on the 14th, a full week behind on my December meme posts! I am shamed. :( ALSO this is a hard question to answer. Five? Only five?!

OK, I can muster up a pretty clear top five, but I refuse to rank them! REFUSE. Here goes:

- Revolutionary Girl Utena was not actually my first anime (that was Evangelion, about which I have now forgotten most of everything) but it was definitely one of my most ... confusingly formative. And it's so good! So often inexplicable, but so good! Just such an amazingly incisive and scathing condemnation of everything that is toxic about gender roles and savior complexes, wrapped in twelve layers of metaphor and boxing kangaroos.

- and Princess Tutu was my fourth anime! I started out strong, well done self. Perhaps part of the reason I love it so much is because it is in direct conversation with Utena, and not arguing with it exactly but providing a different slant -- a less brutal but no less incisive look at the kind of stories that shape people, and how they do it. Also it's SO ADORABLE. EVERYTHING IS ADORABLE.

- meanwhile Fullmetal Alchemist, in a different category, is emphatically my favorite shonen. It's a theoretically straightforward quest story, which is actually a nuanced exploration of sacrifice, responsibility and loss, dealing solidly along the way with issues of genocide and national guilt and national healing. Also, Hiromu Arakawa is one of the most charming mangaka that exists IN THIS WORLD.

- rivaled only perhaps by Yumi Tamura, author of 7 Seeds! I am a little bit obsessed with 7 Seeds, a post-apocalyptic manga that manages to be incredibly brutal and incredibly optimistic and INCREDIBLY HILARIOUS all at once, because Yumi Tamura's character development is a beautiful, complex thing and Yumi Tamura's plotting and worldbuilding are like Jurassic Park on crack. "And then we found these things in the desert and poured water on them and it turned out they were DEHYDRATED DINOSAURS!"

- I don't actually know enough about Naoki Urasawa himself to know if he is charming? Anyway, 20th Century Boys is my other all-time favorite manga, about ... a bunch of people running around to thwart the apocalypse! This wasn't an intentional theme. Anyway what it's really about is the way that the things that absorb you as a child do and don't continue to affect you as you grow up, and the power of things like music and stories, for good and for ill (also perhaps a theme running through this list, OK, I never said I wasn't predictable.)

OK THERE THAT'S FIVE. Honorable mentions go to Baccano!, Gokusen and the first 200 or so chapters of Skip Beat! as well probably as several other things I am forgetting. (I can safely leave Twelve Kingdoms off the list though because I like it best as a light novel series. SO THERE.)
skygiants: Natsu from 7 Seeds, looking determined, surrounded by fireflies (survive in this world)
For the 17th, [personal profile] bookblather asked about the thing that should have a fandom MOST and inexplicably doesn't have one, which means: IT'S TIME TO TALK ABOUT 7 SEEDS AGAIN. >:D >:D >:D

So for those of you who don't remember when I fell head over heels a year and a half ago, 7 Seeds is a manga about a bunch of teenagers who have just woken up to find themselves in a bizarre and terrifying post-apocalyptic Japan full of things that want to eat them. These kids -- carefully selected for their skills and arranged to wake up in groups of seven, plus one adult helper -- basically represent the last, most stupid, and most implausible plan of a whole bunch of really stupid and implausible plans developed to save humanity from METEORIC DOOM.

Bear in mind that when I say "carefully selected for their skills," I mean most of them are like "THE BEST TEEN BASEBALL PLAYER IN JAPAN" or "THE BEST PIANIST IN JAPAN" or "KNOWS THE MOST LANGUAGES IN JAPAN." Real useful apocalyptic skills here!

Then of course there is Team Failboat, who were selected for being the most socially maladjusted children in Japan, because our genre-savvy sinister mastermind did not want to gamble against the possibility that the only way to save the future would be to bank on a Wacky Band of Misfits.

7 Seeds has everything. It HAS EVERYTHING. A short list of stuff that fandom SHOULD LOVE that 7 Seeds includes:

- hilariously implausible doomsday scenarios!
- teamwork and friendships!
- kickass female characters!
- assholes who turn out to be surprisingly lovable!
- a ZOMBIE PLOT!
- a HUNGER GAMES PLOT!
- a PLOT about EVIL MUSHROOMS THAT GROW ON CROCODILES!
- infinite numbers of attractive teenagers to smush against each other in infinite combinations!
- plus a lot of CUTE PUPPIES!

In addition, a short list of stuff that I love that 7 Seeds includes:

- an incredibly diverse array of female characters who have really important relationships with each other!
- character development! in spades! for everyone!
- really thoughtful and well-done handling of trauma and abuse and cycles of abuse and the recovery process!
- teenagers who have realistic short-term crushes and then move on without having it be the source for endless angst!

There are a lot of things I love that I wouldn't wish a fandom on, because a fandom would probably do terrible things. But -- maybe optimistically -- I don't feel that way about 7 Seeds! There is just so much POTENTIAL. Like, okay, yes, probably if fandom did ever glom onto 7 Seeds, sixty to seventy percent of the resulting fanworks would be variations on dudeslash starring Awful Angry Ango, because that's just how fandom rolls. But I could ignore that and focus on the remaining 30%, which would be TEAM-BUILDING FIC and backstory fic and "today everyone has to face a new and EVEN MORE RIDICULOUS PERIL!"-fic and ridiculous AU fic and, like, silly crossover fic and some hilariously random pairing fics and at least a FEW amoral architect lesbian fics. AND IT WOULD BE WONDERFUL. I would be so happy!
skygiants: Azula from Avatar: the Last Airbender with her hands on Mai and Ty Lee's shoulders (team hardcore)
So here is the question: if you know the earth is basically about to be destroyed, and you're picking your team to rebuild humanity, who are you gonna call?

If your answer is 'a bunch of diverse and awesome ladies,' then you are not thinking like Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (yes, I am still bitter), but you are thinking like Yumi Tamura! SO LET'S TALK ABOUT SOME 7 SEEDS LADIES.

Click for PICSPAM OF AWESOME LADIES! )

And here's what I love about 7 Seeds, in the end: pop singers are awesome. Dancers are awesome. Action girls are awesome. Smart girls are awesome. Girls with social anxiety who love their cats are awesome. Maternal women are awesome. Women who never ever want kids are awesome.

And they all have something to contribute, to the world and to each other. AND IT'S GREAT.
skygiants: Nice from Baccano! in post-explosion ecstasy (maybe too excited . . .?)
SO FOUR DAYS LATER I have now read everything that is available to read in English of Seven Seeds, and all I have to say is that I feel like I've been punched in the gut forty times over and I keep happily walking into the fist. Yumi Tamura's brain, man. YUMI TAMURA'S BRAIN. I kind of want to spoil everything and gibber about it, but I'M NOT GOING TO.

I am, however, going to make a short list of things Yumi Tamura has done in her post-apocalyptic shojo manga that I never thought I would see in a post-apocalyptic shojo manga:

1. Two teenagers have sex for the first time; it's pretty uncomfortable, and they get halfway through and decide that they're not all that into it, and it's completely not a big deal.

2. Heterosexual teenaged boy: "Aw, man, sex is off the menu if it means popping off kids."
*TWO MALE TEAM MEMBERS APPEAR, COVERED IN BISHIE SPARKLES*
Heterosexual teenaged boy: "Hmmm. . . ."

3. A character gets pregnant. There is a reasonable amount of page space devoted to her prenatal yoga lessons.

4. One female character has long flowing hair that she's really proud of. But, you know, it's the apocalypse, so she grumbles for a bit about not having conditioner and all her split ends, and then cuts it all off.

5. Girls have periods!

6. NO, I MEAN, SERIOUSLY, and not in a way that's a sketchy plot device! I got really excited about one quick scene where a character was washing out her sanitary napkins, because even that much is never acknowledged in fiction. But then I got to the next arc, which includes a part where a female character has to climb her way through an giant creepy abandoned shelter and single-handedly rescue her two male teammates, while coping with cramps. Her next step, after all this exertion and successful heroics: check out the creepy abandoned shelter bathroom so that she can change her pad. (Then they carry off all the toilet paper.)

I LOVE YOU, YUMI TAMURA.


I was going to add a separate section in which I was going to complain about one non-realistic thing I would want fixed, which is that despite a reasonable amount of subtext (seriously, the Team Winter OT3 is so close to canon it might as well be) and the nod to homosexual sex as an alternative to procreation, everyone at this point seems basically heteronormative. But as of the most recent chapter I am pretty sure we are getting indicators that Yumi Tamura is shipping two male characters for real, so . . . never mind! Carry on, Yumi Tamura!

(But if you wanted to throw in some lesbians, I mean, that would be nice. Those two badass morally ambiguous constantly bickering rival architect ladies are right there.)

PS. It's been pointed out to me that I should put in trigger warnings here! So . . . yeah. There is definitely triggery stuff in here, and if you want details I can provide.
skygiants: Koizumi Kyoko from Twentieth Century Boys making her signature SHOCKED AND HORRIFIED face (wtf is this)
I am reading manga online again! As we know this is a dangerous proposition and should probably have been saved for after final papers were due. BUT ANYWAY, I am now about four volumes into the sadly only-available-in-scanlations 7 Seeds, the currently-running manga by Yumi Tamura, the creator of Basara.

7 Seeds is not quite as precisely tailored to my tastes as Basara so far -- for one thing, there is no crossdressing -- but it does hit a secret button of mine from when I was a kid, which is 'plucky groups of teenagers survive the apocalypse and must rebuild society!' 7 Seeds is ALL ABOUT THIS. The basic premise is that government scientists, finding out that the world was quite possibly DOOMED, selected healthy teenagers and put them away in cold sleep storage in teams of seven kids (with one grown-up guide to explain things when they woke up) until some ambiguous time after the apocalypse was over and life was presumably sustainable again. What this means in actuality is groups of kids going to bed one night at home and waking up the next morning to find that everything they know is gone and they are in the middle of a DESERTED ISLAND FULL OF MUTANT INSECTS. I don't even have words for what a great plan this is.

There are apparently five teams, and so far we've mostly been following three of them:

1. TEAM SPRING, aka TEAM LADYFRIENDSHIP

Team Spring has one tomboy girl with survivalist training, one logical and scientifically-minded med student trainee girl, and one very ladylike traditional Japanese girl who's good at cooking and mending and taking care of small children, and a large part of the Team Spring arc is them bonding and being friends and figuring out each other's strengths! There are also some dudes. One of them is a twelve-year-old genius and another one is a concert pianist who is like "well, I clearly have the perfect skillset for this mission. THANKS, JAPANESE GOVERNMENT. >.<" They make him an ocarina out of a potato.

2. TEAM WINTER, aka TEAM BROS, aka TEAM THREESOME

The most prominent characters in Team Winter are two boys and a girl. The boys are teen-prodigy baseball players who have admired each other from afar and hoped to come up against each other in a match for years and are SO EXCITED to be in a survival team with each other that being stuck in a post-apocalyptic landscape doesn't even seem that bad. They can play catch! They'll keep in practice! The girl is a bossy dancer with an annoying laugh who says things like "oh, so if it's coming from a boy it's self-confidence and from a girl it's arrogance?" and "um, come on guys, we might be the last humans left alive in the world, I THINK YOU CAN GET OVER SEEING ME NAKED SOMETIMES, jeez," which pretty much guarantees she was destined to win my heart immediately. Their arc involves adorable puppies and spoilers )

3. TEAM SUMMER B, aka TEAM FAILBOAT

So when the government was choosing people for this project they made up four teams out of the most attractive, talented, socially well-adjusted kids they could find . . .

. . . and then someone in the project got genre-savvy and was like "wait, wait, hang on, guys. We've forgotten something important. What if all our perfect people aren't the ones who can save humanity? WHAT IF the only way to keep humanity alive is to create . . . a RAGTAG BAND OF MISFITS?!"

Cue Team Summer B, the most protagonist-y team of all, which includes the girl so shy she can't raise her voice even if she's trapped on an island and menaced by monsters; the drug-dealing delinquent asshole; the boy who once nearly killed a few of his classmates; the teen-girl runaway; the weird psychic girl; and the boy who never talks. They'll have fun! Fortunately their guide is an awesome lady police officer who appears to be the only competent adult involved in any part of this operation.

I've read about up to where we finally encountered Team Fall, aka Team Mysterious Jerkfaces. We don't know much about them yet, but one of their dictates is totally hilarious to me: after learning that the project that stuck them in post-apocalyptic hell was intended to ensure the survival of humanity, and therefore no contraceptives were included in their survival kits, they placed a firm ban in their group on penetrative sex JUST TO SAY FUCK YOU TO THE (LONG-DEAD) MAN. No babies for anyone! HUMANITY IS DOOMED, SUCKERS.
skygiants: (wife of bath)
So did I ever mention I had finished Basara? I have finished Basara! It continues to be grade-A ridiculously dramatic crack all the way through.

There was a while there in the middle where I had a private theory that Basara and Angel Sanctuary must have been coming out at the same time; there were a few (hilarious) narrative choices that seemed directly designed to compete with Kaori Yuki's preferred incest-and-zombies plotting style. EXHIBITS A AND B are spoilers! )

But then I found out that Angel Sanctuary didn't start coming out until Basara was almost over so my pet theory was disproved. However, this does not make these scenes any less hilarious.

I also really approve of the profusion of different kinds of female characters in the second half. I especially approve of the fact that Yumi Tamura's way of getting the story out of severe narrative depression when both leads have plummeted into BSOD pits of despair is to throw in a SPUNKY TEENAGED GENIUS INVENTOR SPY ASSASSIN GIRL to be best friends with her heroine. Kikune, you make everything better! (I also really like Kikune's narrative arc towards the end, because how often do you see stories about ladies being torn between loyalty to a female mentor and a female best friend? NOT OFTEN.) I thoroughly enjoyed the whole Lady Purple storyline too. As for the White King . . . I was taking her tragedy seriously! I was! And then there was the side story in which, well . . .

WHITE KING: So I have lost everything I love, been horribly abused by my family, and am now partially paralyzed and psychologically scarred in twelve different ways, and as the icing on the cake my childhood boyfriend is directly to blame for it all!
CHILDHOOD BOYFRIEND: I know you will always hate me! I hate me too. I will dedicate my life to serving you and protecting you and allowing you to abuse me in an excess of unhealthy codependency!
WHITE KING: Oh well, the one upside to this situation is we can have lots of really hot hatesex, y/y? :D
CHILDHOOD BOYFRIEND: I am sorry I did not think to mention this when I applied for this unhealthy codependency situation, but . . . all of our shared trauma has left me impotent. :( Hatesex is unpossible.
WHITE KING: . . . . . WELL THIS IS JUST THE LAST STRAW, ISN'T IT.

And only then could I truly appreciate her tragedy as it was meant to be appreciated. (Never change, Yumi Tamura. NEVER CHANGE.)

The one thing that confused me about the ending was last spoiler-cut )

Is there other Yumi Tamura manga I should be reading? If her plot sensibilities are always as amazing as they are in Basara I will fall upon her other works like a whole pack of wolves!
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (Default)
OKAY GUYS SO CAN WE TALK ABOUT BASARA?!

Seriously I don't even know what Yumi Tamura was on when she was writing this but whatever it is I WANT SOME. I spend every volume with my face caught halfway between :OOOOOOOO and *________*!!!. I am only halfway through and this is already ranking as some of the most AMAZINGLY EPIC CRACK I have ever read. I mean, okay, this is how Yumi Tamura's brain works:

THE TELEVISION: Oh hey, it's marathon week! Everyone cheer for the runners!
YUMI TAMURA: Oooh, marathon week is exciting! Hey, I should put a side arc about a MARATHON in this volume! A marathon . . . OF DOOM! There can be CROCODILES and a GIANT HOT-AIR BALLOON and COMRADES FORCED TO KILL EACH OTHER IN CRUEL GLADIATORIAL ENTERTAINMENT and -
YUMI TAMURA'S EDITOR: But wait wait wait, won't this distract from the main plot with the star-crossed love and the rebellion and the pirates and gaining allies -
YUMI TAMURA: No no it's cool, I'll just end this arc with the heroine being kidnapped by evil dudes, DRUGGED AND SACRIFICED TO A SEA MONSTER, saving herself by the power of SHEER DETERMINATION, and using that to lead the REBELLION!
YUMI TAMURA'S EDITOR: . . . . . . well I'm glad we've got that sorted then?
YUMI TAMURA: Also the hero is going to be completely bald for this whole arc just so everyone can make fun of him. LOL!

I am not making this up, guys, her author's notes indicate that this is exactly how her plotting goes. And this is just ONE VOLUME. This is just a SIDE ARC. I am sorry if this is a lot of allcaps but I can't convey the DRAMA of this manga any other way!

(And the thing is that reasonably often she manages to say something pretty interesting about war and nationalism and cycles of oppression, too! It is just that all the plot twists she uses to get there are on Dorothy Dunnett levels of AMAZING IDTASTIC CRACK. I eat it all up with a spoon and cannot wait for more.)

Spoilers through volume 13! )

. . . . wow this is a long entry. Um, I guess I have a lot of feelings? SHINBASHI IS ADORABLE, THE END.
skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (Default)
This is a brief chronicle of how Basara won my heart in four volumes.

BASARA VS. BECCA: ROUND ONE

SARASA: My twin brother is the Chosen Child of Destiny who is going to lead us against the family of evil tyrants ruling right now, and I've always been overlooked because I'm just a girl. But now he and half my village have been murdered by the Red King and his men, so I guess I'm going to have to impersonate my brother so the people do not lose hope! And also for REVENGE.
BECCA: Obviously cross-dressing is highly relevant to my interests! And Sarasa, you seem interesting. The art style is a bit difficult to follow though; I do not know if I am sold yet.

BASARA VS. BECCA: ROUND TWO

SARASA: In between leading my people for REVENGE I will take a nice dip in the hot springs.
SHURI: Hello! I am a playboy who loves hot springs, and I think you're cute. >:D
SARASA: I think you're kind of a perv, but I will admit it's nice to talk to someone who has no idea that I spend most of my time running around LEADING THE REVOLUTION. And you are sort of cute.
SHURI: And I will admit it's nice to talk to someone who does not know that I am actually THE RED KING and spend most of my time scheming to overthrow my evil-er brothers and take over all of Japan for the greater good, when I'm not trying to kill the leader of the revolution! Want to start up a long-distance relationship via messenger hawk?
SARASA: Sure! I'll write you!
BECCA: Relationships between enemies that are doomed because of OPPOSING IDEALS is one of my weak points . . . and I have to say the long-distance-relationship-via-messenger-hawk thing also really entertains me. But the art is still hard to follow!

BASARA VS. BECCA: ROUND THREE

AGEHA: I am a very pretty and extremely smug one-eyed desert nomad who passes his time alternately being witty, coming to Sarasa's rescue, and cross-dressing as a beautiful dancer while I jaunt around with my troupe of performing ladies. In a past life, I was probably Francis Crawford of Lymond.
SHIDO: I am the Red King's right-hand man, and Ageha used to be my dad's slave. I was really nice to him when we were growing up, and I thought we had a great relationship - seriously, I really like the guy - so I really don't get why he's helping the rebels and keeps saying he wants to be there to enjoy the view when I die!
AGEHA: Man, can we please have a discussion about privilege?
BECCA: I will admit, I'm pretty impressed by the emotional complexity of this relationship. In fact, all of the characters are starting to develop interesting complexity, and the story is picking up on all these themes of responsibility and ruthlessness and . . . dammit, Yumi Tamura, I'm not ready to fall straight into love with another manga again! Skip Beat is still fresh in my heart!

BASARA VS. BECCA: ROUND FOUR
CHACHA: I am a morally ambiguous, totally hot and badass lady pirate. I've captured you, and now I'm going to sell you off as a slave. What do you have to say about that?
SARASA: What I have to say is . . . . OH MY GOD AN AWESOME FEMALE ROLE MODEL! *___* Let's be BFF!
BECCA: . . . OKAY, FINE, BASARA. YOU WIN.

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