After being interviewed by Ninety’s Blog last month, I also wanted to take a crack at interviewing. My first guests are a lady who deserves a best actress award for her role on Love Lab and her burning hunk of He-Man and Sports Illustrated worthy cover guy. I am referring to Foxy Lady Ayame and Neko-kun from The Beautiful World.
1: Introduce everyone to your blog. What can newcomers expect from TBW?
The Beautiful World has been our treasure chest for the past four years. There we gather our thoughts on topics that interest us and things we love such as anime and manga, art, LGBTQI discussions, sexuality. Be it in the form of reviews, essays or journal entries we try to give our best and share our enthusiasm. We hope this enthusiasm is obvious not only in the versatility of our articles but also in its fresh design and the extras we give (i.e. our Travelog, our fanfiction series, etc.).
Besides a treasure chest TBW is ultimately our home, a place where we both exist digitally. It’s our diaries of sorts as the subtitle suggests. We may live in the same country but distance and circumstances keep us apart for the most part. TBW was created with that in mind a year or so after we started dating. Its name comes from the OP of Kino’s Journey and the traveling spirit of Spice and Wolf.
3: What elements determine for each of you which anime to watch?
but to sum it up I have a strong inclination to drama, romance, and what is called ‘slice-of-life’. As long as a series has a good design, great plot and storytelling , interesting themes that beget analysis and I can empathize with the characters or identify with the message I’m in. Unique animation or manga layout and powerful soundtrack do help but are not prerequisites.
Neko-kun: I’d say that most manga originally published at least 20 years ago have a really good chance with me. For some reason I do have a weak heart for OVAs and darker TV series released during the late 1980s and the 1990s. The combination of blood, justice warriors (of any gender) and romance (especially if there is some yuri) is also something that gets to me. Depressive stories like Vampire Princess Miyu always get to me. Finally, if an anime has a great soundtrack then most probably it’s going in my “plan to watch” list.
I should note though that this is just a short list of some of the things I like, not the full picture.
4: Which anime series created the fondest memories in both your animeniac careers, and what about them was so memorable?
Neko-kun: That’s a tough one, since there are many shows. Devil Lady, the animated version of Devilman Lady, is surely one of those stories that made me go crazy over them, but I am not sure that beautiful memories is what I earned from it -an endless river of tears is closer to what I got. Even though I could mentioned Shoujo Kakumei Utena and Mushishi, I’ll go with Princess Tutu. The show itself was good (not great) but it was the first anime I had the opportunity to watch alongside Foxy Lady and I don’t think I will forgot how much fun we had at the time.
Foxy Lady Ayame: Certainly picking out just one title is hell lot difficult. But yes, if you think it over, the fondest memories are the ones when a series was the vehicle to connect you with other people. Neko-sensei from Princess Tutu had us holding our stomach from the laughs for sure. I shall also point out to Digimon, Pokemon and La Corda D’Oro. Digimon and Pokemon helped me bond with my sister over the sticker albums and the imaginary battles we had. And La Corda D’ Oro was my first reverse harem anime that lead me to enter a non-Greek forum and write fanfiction with a girl who lived at the other side of the planet.
Neko-kun: Sports anime and comedies are pretty close to being the most boring categories, even though I’ve watched some decent stories on those genres, like Taishou Yakyuu Musume and Ouran High School Host Club. The trophy of boredom though goes to anime versions of Western titles like X-Men. I can’t seem to remember one time where that kind of experiment worked for me.
Foxy Lady Ayame: Easy stuff: 99% of ecchi, action mecha and horror titles. And as Neko-kun said, comedy is a weird genre. A comedy title rarely entertains me.
Neko-kun: First of all, I love the design for his characters and, as an artist myself, I try to take elements of his style into my own work. Even though Nagai’s art is mostly cartoonish and it often has technical flaws, somehow it gives off a powerful vibe -which was the very first thing that I thought of as amazing and got me into going deeper.
I also love most of his stories, even when there are many controversial elements in them. There is an amazing combination of sexy tough women and men, science fiction, comical nudity, gore, sexual fetishes, huge plot holes, incredible battles and goofiness in most of his titles. Even better, throughout the years his bibliography has seen the publication of many spin-offs, crosovers and reboots, so there is always something new to look out for.
And finally, there is Devilman, my favorite story of all time.
Foxy Lady Ayame: Yuri and yaoi feature stories that can avoid the usual trappings of het romances like stereotypical roles and behaviors. Yuri are also more prone to show consensual sex and reflect the realities of lgbtq people. I like both sexes, so depending on my mood, I’ll choose yaoi over yuri or vice versa.
Neko-kun: Most yuri that I like are similar to the non-yuri shows that I enjoy -they have a good plot, interesting characters, good design, etc. I used to read yaoi for the seme/uke dynamics because reversible roles in relationships are not much to my tastes, but over the years I found it easier to connect myself with a yuri rather than a yaoi couple.
What I enjoy is a story that the gay/lesbian couple (or homosexual individual) is not there as some sort of commercial trick, but remains as important as the rest of the cast. So long as both genres offer such titles, I am always going to be a supporter.
Foxy Lady Ayame: I’m on the task of PR and I immerse myself more in reading other blogs than Neko-kun does, so I’m often the one that gets more friction with it. Generally, once you understand that there are real people behind blogs, you can comprehend how things are and why they are the way they are. There’s lots of negativity going around in the form of hate attacks in platforms like tumblr or backstabbing -and many bloggers love drama- and there’s lots of creativity and speculative power lighting the place as well. You just have to choose with whom you are friends and where you ‘hangout’.
Foxy Lady Ayame: It’s there, I guess, and doesn’t concern me much as long as I can get my needs met in another way and it doesn’t pop up even in otherwise serious titles. If we’re trying to explain why this happened, anything ‘sex’ sells easy. It might have to do with ‘more otaku’ inside the industry, as Miyazaki claims and/or the fact that in RL pornography things get all the more hardcore.
Neko-kun: I am not so sure there is an increase because one can see such elements in older anime too. Leaving Nagai’s endless heritage of panties and nude protagonists aside, shows like Golden Boy and Yoiko existed in the 1990s. I simply think people overestimate the past and look away from they things they dislike in it. Personally, I am absolutely fine with ecchi as long as it is smart and doesn’t mess up a story.
Neko-kun: Are you sure it’s like that? I think it depends on the genre one is interested in. One guess I could make is that most companies aim towards a young audience, so it makes sense to try and promote stories with an environment similar to that of your target group. Beyond that, I can’t think of anything else.
Foxy Lady Ayame: My best bet is that Japanese society is more judgemental towards anime than manga, with anime considered something a kid or a teen will watch. It’s also my impression that youth is highly fetishized in Japan, where the high school girl with the high thigh socks and the cute little face is being held as an icon. It may also have to do with high school as the place between childhood and adulthood and the intense emotions linked to that age.
11: @ Foxy. You have once been quoted as saying that you prefer realism in your anime. Care to elaborate?
I should make clear that I don’t hate fantasy stories and in such cases I won’t demand realism. But when it comes to character interactions particularly in daily life settings I want to be able to relate and that’s achieved through realism. Small details do make the difference for me because I find beauty in details.
The reason ecchi aren’t usually my cup of tea, for example, is due to breasts and skirts defying gravity, something that I find both unappealing and boring –since this is many times interpreted as no personality. Or some shoujo tropes make me cringe from the moment I, as a woman, project myself onto the heroine.
Anime and manga are there to entertain and work as an escapist realm; I can understand that. Therefore it’s all the more important to me that the alternative world I’m gonna dive in is close to me and my heart.
12: @Neko. Heroes or villains? Which side do you find most appealing to watch in all media?
I am always on the side of heroes, be it an anti-hero like Fudou Akira (Devilman), a justice warrior like Sho Fukamachi (Bio Booster Armor: Guyver), someone like Kurapika (Hunter x Hunter) who is ooking for personal revenge or the likes of cute and innocent Sakura (Card Captor Sakura). The only villains I have come to like are Wham (Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure: Battle Tendency), Dio Brando (Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure) and the Raalgon Empire (Irresponsible Captain Tylor). Beyond that lies chaos.
13: Do you see yourselves being animeniacs past the age of 60?
Foxy Lady Ayame: Oh my, of course! Animation is a medium that offers many lovely possibilities. It might sound silly, but it’s a goal of ours to keep blogging the longest we can; meaning even after we get white hair.
Neko-kun: Hopefully will we be as lucky as to be healthy and rich enough to watch and obsess over such things as we do now. If it is in our hands we’d surely want to, but one never knows what lies ahead.
14: What’s next for TBW?
Foxy Lady Ayame: We’ve had some articles of ours hosted on other blogs, we’ve co-written posts, we’ve participated in and created blog carnivals, so the next step is a podcast. We’ve been talking about it for awhile but it’s a lot of work if you want to create something neat, mix the sounds, take interviews etc. It will focus on fandom and it will span 3-4 installments. We hope that we’ll be able to present it in the following months little by little. In the meantime, there’s a 101 anime & manga on the works and some doujinshi ideas. Time will show.
Neko-kun: More reviews on 1980/90s manga and anime, more fanfiction publications, our second Travelog, hopefully a Go Nagai crossover fanfiction I have started writing and surely articles on new things we discover.
15: Any concluding messages for the readers?
Live your life heroically, with style!
*cough* uhm, aside from joking, enjoy yourselves unabashedly while being kind to others.
That concludes this G-Channel Special. I’d like to thank my special guests Foxy Lady Ayame and Neko-Kun for participating in this interview. Will I do another one? Who knows? For now I hope readers have learned more about this interesting duo and would consider visiting The Beautiful World and read some more insightful posts and stuff.