Naruto’s dad is the 4th Hokage?—kinda of a letdown….

Sorry is this is a spoiler for anybody who didn’t know, but I’m sure most people who have been following the series know this by now… ~MsQ

One of my primary reasons for continuing to watch Naruto once I picked it up years after it came out was the fact that I believed Naruto was a common kid who happened to be an orphan. Come to find out his mother is from some gifted, old-blood type family and his father was the uber-talented, genius Fourth Hokage.

This premise of the show gives into the old orphan fantasy of discovering that their parents were millionaires or superheroes or government spies.

The producers of the anime and the manga artist Masashi Kishimoto spend a lot of time dancing around the fact that Minato is Naruto’s father. They tried their best to draw attention away from the fact, but the resemblance is apparent. I believe that this was to build Naruto’s character apart from his famous deceased parents. However, hardly anyone in anime/manga seems to be from a ordinary working class family. Everybody is from some well-known clan of super-ninjas. With the exception of Rock Lee–we don’t even know who his parents are….

The theme is this: Everybody is [secretly] a princess or prince or related to one from the past or something. Everybody’s from a privileged, wealthy and/or renowned family or something.

Bleach the animation is even trending towards suggesting that viewers feel sympathy towards wealthy/uppercrust characters like Byakuya Kuchiki and Rurichiyo Kasumioji because of their positions in society, their gilded cages. The truth is that I do sympathize…but only to an extent. The people suffering in poverty in the Rukon district (Rukongai) are treated like background noise for much of the show. Though Rukia and Renji are both from the area, they are both either elite Shinigami or adopted into noble families; even Toshiro Histugaya is genius-boy captain.

In the same vein, many of the Naruto movies are all about princesses and other nobility.

As a continuing theme in movies, shows, anime, and manga, the message that this sends to me as a working class member of an oppressed race is disappointing. Furthermore, people with these backgrounds aren’t the only ones who are interesting enough to be main characters. I do not want to pretend to be a princess or fantasize to that extent outside of my class and lived reality all the time.

A real challenge and lovable manga or anime would be one that doesn’t play to the princess/prince theme.

for real,

Ms. Queenly

Laurell K. Hamilton: Admiration is the furthest thing from understanding?

I’m tough to please in most arenas. I know that. I don’t settle. And I know that.

I stopped by and read the background bit/bio written by Laurell K. Hamilton about herself. As much as I criticize and sometime even loathe the Anita Blake series, I can’t help but admire this author. I realized it as I was reading and couldn’t help but smile.

She’s one writer that I can honestly say is published for a good reason. She has skill. She’s talented.

I am kind of disturbed by her track record in horror, as outlined in the ‘Laurell’ section on her website. I know sometimes Anita does things to creep people out in a show of power and I wonder about the information Hamilton selected to place in her biography. All the physical, psychological, and sexual violence the in ABVH series, plus her history in the horror genre (what she’s said she started out writing) makes me wonder about her being a sociopath herself. I believe this kind of writing has an effect on the mind and spirit and, to say the least, I find her writing “track record”…disturbing, kind of inhumane, and…frankly…creeeeepy.

But, then again, I think the same thing about Stephen King. What kind of person writes this stuff, you know?

Even so, I don’t know if I’ll ever make as big as her, but I love how she has shown everybody who ever said she wouldn’t make that they’re a bunch of fucking liars and I take heart in her success. I wonder if I’ll ever look back on all the people who said I wouldn’t/couldn’t make it with my writing style and energy and go “Muhahaha!”

I don’t want to follow her on my new Twitter buuut…I’m thinking about it, to be honest, just to show a little support (though she has enough of that, that’s why she’s still publishing). I also don’t want to overpraise her either. There’s definitely some stuff about her books that get on my nerves, for sure, and I talk about it extensively here. Call it bitchin’ and moanin’, whatever it is to whoever, I do my best.

for real honest,

Queen

ABVH Tight Bod Superiority Complex

Laurell K. Hamilton focuses a lot on exotified/exoticized bodies. I may have touched on the topic on several occasions at Elia’s Diamonds, but here’s the real deal. By making them normative, Hamilton hypes up the hype and fetishizing surrounding certain body types. For example, several of the polyamorous Anita’s guyfriends and/or significant others and sex partners are “exotic dancers” (I don’t know how PC that is, so the quotations), strippers, have been prostitutes, cops/ex-military/mercenaries, or trained dancers. Most of the men surrounding her are either totally survival-of-the-fittest-tight-bod or decorative beauties. Normal yet intelligent guys (Zerbrowski? Maybe? Though he is a cop….) with just enough fighting skill to get them out of a tough situation are few and far between. Women for that matter, too. Most of the women are either weaker than her or some kind of challenge to her. I understand that normal people will most likely die around her, sure, but that doesn’t cover the fact that Anita looks down on people who are, er, “preternaturally challenged” (meaning that they are human), or who are survivors of physical and sexual abuse and torture at the same time that she champions them.

It’s like taking all the beauty and the brutality of the world’s most prominently exotified animals, mixing them with human beings, and putting them in strip clubs and other places where people sell sex, and saying this is the world, deal with it. This isn’t to ignore the kitchen-bedroom-restaurant-life scenes; its just to draw more attention to the exoticizing. The most problematic thing for me is that if lycans really existed, this is probably how it would be. Although, Hamilton claims that being made a vampire doesn’t make you any sexier or rather it doesn’t change your appearance. But does lycanthropy change your appearance (since it changes your metabolism and eating habits)??? The unanswered question, yah! If I’m not mistaken.

The further you get along in the series, the less “normal” people you see as main characters. And primarily by “normal”, I mean usual body types or ostracized body types. Its all six-packs, broad shoulders, breasts-that-need-bras or cute small high tight breasts, muscles-in-extra-places-that people-can’t-see-and-that-mere-humans-don’t-have, sexy but petite lingerie, curls and waves and long hair, brushed silk drawers, kinky corsets, pale white this and pale white that, blonde hair-blue winter-spring sky eyes, the ardeur made me do this and the ardeur made me do that. And Hamilton seems to think that adding in some scars here and some folds there makes that big of a difference. Just like she seems to think that giving Anita curly hair and dark eyes makes her appearance less than that of a white girl.

Anita tries hard not to boo-hoo about being half-Latina in her blonde family. Reality check, honey, you’re white to most eyes….

A character like Jamil is portrayed as “dark-skinned ‘muscle'”, of course. And, of course, his body is probably very tight.

I’m not going to lie: I’ve been socialized to think that tight bodies and thinness are sexy. That defined curves and hollows reign supreme. In some part of my mind, I’m always questioning what I think is beautiful or sexy because I know its social conditioning from a society that has taught me not only to hate myself but to disregard and harshly criticize body types that aren’t of the type of molds Hamilton depicts. Those bodies that everybody secretly thinks of as sexy and slutty and beautiful.

The disclaimer here is that the tight bod, hypersexualized bodies in these books are kind of an embedded motif. That is to say, the exoticism is part of the package.

Ever more on point,

 

Ms. Queenly

Toying with Whitness and ‘darkness’

Elia's Diamonds

One of the few books I ever pick up anymore is Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series–and that’s saying something. As I get older, my tastes become more specific. I am less amused by the things that occupied me as a child and as a young adult, percieving them as a semi-exciting maze that has no other paths and leads eventually, always, to the same damn dead end produced by the publishing market.

This being said, I have yet to write about in detail Laurell K. Hamilton’s fixation, like most racist fetishist participating in racialized fetishism on the page, with paleness and whiteness as opposed to brownness and the so-called ‘darkness’. Hamilton’s Anita Blake is caught up in the racialized dualism of ‘darkness; and whiteness with little to no middle ground. I will suspend my belief in the concept of the willful muse to go so far as to say that Laurell K. Hamilton herself is trapped in the same dualism, seeing as how Anita comes out of her head: Anita is a reflection of the author’s own psyche.

Through Anita, Hamilton toys with the idea of brownness through summer tans and suggestions of “darker heritage’, but couches the entire story from the prospective of a woman who is half white and middleclass, with an angelic deceased Latina mother, a mean strict Catholic Latina grandmother, surrounded by her white lovers–a score of men telling her how beautful she is mostly because the women around her are either victims, “meat” for abuse and weak, tarts that just wanna start something with Anita, resources for Anita to learn for and therefore do not appear often (and nor are they called upon by Anita as allies regularly), or more evil, sadistic, and scary than Anita is and, therefore, must be killed. Examples are Vivian, Raina, the Mother of All Darkness, Jade, Belle Morte, Cherry, and so on and so forth. Infrequent characters like Sylvie (victimized by Hamilton as well) and Claudia being the exception (and still white and blond at that).

Hamilton spends all this time, all sixteen or so books, establishing Anita as a woman whose beauty lies merely in the suggestion of her ‘darker heritage’, when she herself is pasty pale, petite, and curly-haired and might as well be white. She toys with the idea of ‘darkness’ while never really presenting anybody besides minor characters like Raphael and Jamil as truly “dark” or ethnic, whatever that may mean. What is the (political) point of even building and portraying Anita as half Latina when she’s just going to play with the idea of her being Latina? You could easily swap her out for a white girl and there wouldn’t be that much of a difference. There’s no point in emphasizing her Latina heritage if all her worth is couched in her pale white skin. Her Latina blood is just something to eroticize and exotify.

Shoot, the only thing that’s Latina about Anita, as my friend who is Mexican would say, is her hair. Believe it.

I am sick of writers and the media couching racial commentary in multiracial and biracial terms, as if this is the only perspective valid enough to be represented because whites are more accepting of someone who is half white. Of course, not everyone who is multiracial or biracial is half white, that’s a given, but that’s the most common “combination” that gets recognized and fetishized.

Laurell K. Hamilton uses biraciality as a spring board to toy with color and brownness when in reality there are no main characters who are people of color. Everything and everyone is seamlessly and technically white. Everybody is white, even Anita, at the very least physically. And I think its because LKH knows that a person, particularly a woman, who is truly ethnically brown, or dare I say, Black even, would stick out like a sore thumb with all those pretty, pale, white Europeans that she’s crowded this story with.

Ever more real,

Ms. Queenly

Kishimoto’s Naruto [the anime], Commentary Part I, Pros

Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, Part I, Pros 

I will elaborate on what I view as the pros and cons of Naruto, starting with the pros.

++Naruto Pros++ 

1. Themes:

I enjoy several themes presented in Naruto–

  • love versus might
  • roads of peace and roads of vengeance
  • hard work versus natural talent
  • militant shinobi villages in lands that generally aren’t populated with them
  • philosophy of death
  • underdogs and perseverance
  • philosophies of pain
  • horrors of war and politics
  • proving and questioning one’s own existence
  • generational retention
  • following the rules and sticking by your comrades
  • bonds of love and friendship

2. Excellent opening and closing themes. My favorites:

Part I:

++Opening Themes++

  • E01: “Rise” by Jeremy Sweet and Ian Nickus (eps 1-52)
  • E02: “Haruka Kanata (遥か彼方)” by Asian Kung-Fu Generation (eps 53-77)
  • E03: “GO!!!” by FLOW (eps 78-103)
  • E04: “Seishun Kyosokyoku” by Sambomaster (eps 104-128)
  • E06: “Namikaze Satellite (波風サテライト)” by Snowkel (eps 154-178)

++Ending Themes++

  • #01: “Wind” by Akeboshi (eps 1-25)
  • #05: “Ima made Nando mo (今まで何度も)” by the Mass Missile (eps 78-89)
  • #06: “Ryusei (流星)” by Tia (eps 90-103)
  • #07: “Mountain A Go Go Too (マウンテン・ア・ゴーゴー・ツー)” by Captain Stridum (eps 104-115)
  • #09: “Nakushita Kotoba (失くした言葉)” by No Regret Life (eps 129-141)
  • #11: “Soba ni Iru Kara (そばにいるから)” by Amadori (eps 154-165)
  • #13: “Yellow Moon” by Akeboshi (eps 179-191)
  • #15: “Scenario” by SABOTEN (eps 203-220)

Part II:

++Opening Themes++

  • #01: “Hero’s Come Back!!” by nobodyknows+ (eps 1-30)
  • #02: “distance” by LONG SHOT PARTY (eps 31-53)
  • #03: “BLUE BIRD” by Ikimono-Gakari (eps 54-77)
  • #05: “Hotaru no Hikari” by Ikimono-Gakari (eps 103-128)
  • #06: “Sign” by FLOW (eps 129-)
  • #07: “Toumei Datta Sekai (透明だった世界) ” by Motohira Hata (eps 154-179)

++Ending Themes++

  • #01: “Nagare Boshi ~Shooting Star~” by HOME MADE Kazoku (eps 1-18)
  • #08: “BACCHIKOI!!!” by DEV PARADE (eps 91-102)
  • #09: “Shinkokyuu” by SUPER BEAVER (eps 103-115)
  • #12: “For You” by AZU (eps 142-152)
  • #13: “Jitensha” (自転車 Bicycle) by Oreskaband (eps 153-166)
  • #14: “Utakata Hanabi” by Supercell (eps 167-179)
  • #15: “U Can Do It” by Domino (eps 180-192)

3. Music by Toshio Masuda—too beautiful and well suited to the series! The music in Part II is mostly very militant and hometowny but I like some of it.

4. Good characters. My favorites are:

  • Rock Lee
  • Gaara
  • Might Guy
  • Anko
  • Lady Chiyo
  • Tsunade
  • Tenten
  • Hinata Hyuga
  • Shino Aburame
  • Naruto Uzumaki
  • Choji Akimichi
  • Shikamaru Nara
  • Zabuza Momochi+Haku
  • Neji Hyuga (*to Rock Lee* “Forget it!”)
  • Kankuro
  • Shizune
  • Pain

5. Character Foils–Naruto has good character foils. My few of my favorites:

  • Gaara++Naruto
  • Sasuke Uchiha++Itachi Uchiha
  • Iruka++Mizuki
  • Ino++Sakura
  • Might Guy++Kakashi Hatake (the best!, lol)
  • Rock Lee++Neji Hyuga

6. Shinobi battle arts and fighting techniques

7. Sensei and student relationships. My all time favorite is Rock Lee and Might Guy, followed by Hotaru and Utakata.

8. [SPOILER?] Last but definitely, definitely not least at all, the symmetry, the drama, and the poetic beauty of many of the relationships (in accompanied by Toshio Masuda’s music). Like when Sakura cut her hair or when Naruto and Sasuke fought at the end of Part I, and when Lady Chiyo sacrificed her life to bring Gaara back and left behind the legacy (though the potential symbolism behind her dying as one of the strongest female shinobi in the series is kind of troubling).

 See Also:

Anime, A Precursor

III. Bestiality in Hamilton’s Anita Blake series

My simple thoughts on the topic of bestiality in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton.

Bestiality as a topic of morality is a big deal for most people–I think its safe to say. Laurell K. Hamilton, in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series, has definitely toed this line in my opinion.

My easy thoughts on bestiality in this series are as follows: Do I believe Anita has committed acts of bestiality? Well, it depends on how you look at it. She’s only ever had sex with her were-lover(s) while he/they were in half-man form. Do you consider her lovers to be mostly human, mostly animal, or uniquely both while in half-form? I would say that only being in full animal form constitutes bestiality. If they can still talk to her and rationalize as usual while furry, sex with them can never be bestiality in the traditional sense.

I. Anita Blake series Inconsistencies

A response to inconsistencies in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton. Personally, despite all the things I enjoy about it, the series is just too violent and psychologically straining for me to want to comb through it again to examine all the inconsistencies, but I’d be interested in looking at specific inconsistencies across a couple of consecutive books if anyone has suggestions.

Queenly

A lot of readers and fans of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake Vampire Hunter books (ABHV) seem very interested, amused, or just plain fed up with the inconsistencies and plot holes in the series. I myself haven’t kept track of all them, but I’ve noticed a few and when I was active on the ABVH message boards I read about some.

I don’t want to offer excuses or definitive explanations, but I think of the whole situation as thus: My simple and easy response to these inconsistencies and plot holes is the fact that this is a nineteen (plus) book long series. Its complicated and nuanced and there’s a lot of stuff going on in these books, not to mention its written from the first person limited perspective. There’s bound to be mistakes because humans make mistakes. Hamilton is not exempt from the erring that is inherent in human nature, no matter how good a writer she is. If you want me to offer another explanation, then maybe the inconsistencies are actually Anita’s and she herself ain’t nowhere near perfect.

Personally, again, the series is just too violent and psychologically straining for me to want to comb through it again to examine all the inconsistencies, but I’d be interested in looking at specific ones across a couple of consecutive books if anyone has suggestions.

Its Official

As an avid reader of paranormal/fantasy/romantica/etc., I can now say without a doubt that J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood is a series that I will not be purchasing again. I got it for my birthday, but her last book nearly cost 40 bucks and to top it off it wasn’t that great, for reasons I will soon comment on.

The last book I actually bought was Lover Enshrined and I’ve regretted it ever since. I’ll buy with skepticism and return soon after from now on.

The Queen