We continue our scholarly pursuits by reading book two of the Mechademia series entitled Networks of Desire. I am personally glad to see that the University of Minnesota Press is still able to put of these books with a 4th coming soon. It’s gratifying to see a healthy forum for academic anime publications. This volume was printed a year after the first Mechademia so we are examining not only the essays within book but what changes and improvements have been made since their freshman effort.
We are always trying to broaden our horizons here on Reverse Thieves. One of the quickest ways is to really sit down and read a bunch of essays that you only half understand! Okay, so Mechademia isn’t that impossible to understand, but it certainly makes you take a closer examination of series or parts of fandom that you might not have before. There is a wealth of knowledge in this new volume!
The Shojo section is papers based around female-targeted manga and female otaku related issues. None of the essays had too high a level of prerequisite amount of knowledge needed to understand any of the articles. My favorite essay in the section was the article of the Rose of Versailles and it’s impact on shojo manga. As a huge fan of Rose of Versailles I enjoyed learning of it’s historical impact, back story, and behinds the scenes information on the manga. There is also a fascinating piece in the section about Mori Mari one of the founders of yaoi. The article looks at how yaoi works relate to both it’s primary female audience and the gay community in Japan. I am always interested in the gay community’s reaction to yaoi in any country. There was a solid article on Ranma 1/2 fan-fiction but I felt it was out of place in the section. While I admit the common perception is that most fan-fiction authors are girls this is hardly a hard and fast rule. Still the article was a interesting look at how fan-fiction has grown out of and changed anime fandom and fandom in general.
I was happy to see a paper about the influence of Rose of Versailles for multiple reasons beyond my fervent love for the series. The essay balances what was new and impactful about the story while weaving in the historical aspects of the famous manga. I learned a bit myself and the essay gives access for people to learn and understand a genre that, while not invented by her, was certainly taken by the reins and changed significantly by Riyoko Ikeda. The Doll Beauties essay was not about anime or manga, heck it wasn’t even about cosplay of characters from anime or manga, it was about the gothic lolita trends making it seem out of place while being well thought out. And while I thought the Mori Mari essay was a smart analysis, it was really more about the author and her relation to her father rather than being tied to yaoi’s rise and popularity. I’ll agree that this area of of the anthology is the most accessible, it’s all uphill from here.