I think it’s safe to say that my blog is not a very serious blog. That’s a cultivated image in fact. I have never tried to make I Drink and Watch Anime any sort of rigorous academic environment. Just reading that sentence is kind of ridiculous. Still, once in a while, I will broach subjects that are a bit more serious. Either because I want to share something or because I think there’s an important conversation to be had in which I want to take part.
Before we get into this, there are going to be some spoilers for the anime Lovely Complex, more specifically for Kotobuki’s character.
I am currently watching Lovely Complex, it’s late March as I write this and a lovely fluffy snow is falling outside. I’m halfway through the series. A number of episodes ago, we got introduced to the character of Seiko Kotobuki. Kotobuki is a transgender character. Not a cross-dresser, the character specifically states that they were born in the wrong body and that they don’t think of themselves as their birth gender.
Lovely Complex came out in 2007 but it’s based on a manga that was published in 2001. Like 20 years ago. And although there are quite a few things that are handled clumsily and a bit insensitively by today’s standards, I was still very impressed by the earnest and generally thoughtful portrayal of Seiko Kotobuki. Aside from a few off-coloured jokes and the fact that the characters, Seiko included, do keep referring to Kotobuki as a “he”, Seiko is treated more or less the same way as all the other girls in the series are. And after the initial reveal dies down, they are accepted by the main characters and continue to have an active role in the series that is not linked to their gender identity.
Considering when the manga was written, I thought this was some pretty good representation. And I thought I could write a post about it and maybe include some other canonical trans characters for comparison. Maybe add a bit about inclusivity and representation in media. You know the drill. You’ve probably read the post I’m describing at some point in your life.
I was pretty psyched about it and I started writing an outline, looking up some characters, trying to figure out a historical timeline for representation and then, I stopped. I just kind of froze. I started thinking that, I’m not transgender. Not at all. I have friends that are but I have no personal insight into the experience and peculiarities associated with that journey. And so maybe, I shouldn’t be talking about it…
I can name half a dozen bloggers that are much better equipped to discuss this issue than I am. And that’s just from what I know. I bet there are more. And it’s not like there isn’t enough misinformation on this issue without me throwing my uneducated hat in the ring. So I kind of shelved the idea reasoning that this wasn’t for me to talk about.
And for a while that was fine. I have been watching so much anime lately that I am finishing series quicker than I can review them. It’s not like I was desperate for post ideas. But it kept nagging at me. Ok, so I kept watching Lovely Complex and the character is genuinely sweet so it kept the idea fresh in my mind. But there was something else nagging at me.
I remember a while back, I was part of a blogging group and we decided to do some posts for women’s day or something of the sort. It was a pretty open-ended theme and nothing too deep. However, a lot (if not all) of the men in the group decided to not take part, not because they weren’t interested but because they felt it wasn’t their place to do so. Just like I feel today.
And although I completely get it. Obviously, I’m in the exact same spot now that they were in then. I also remember what I thought at the time. And I thought that men absolutely had a place to talk about women’s issues and representation. I’m not saying that they have a responsibility to do so, just that they should feel free to do so if they want to. And it would make the conversation better.
So how does that reconcile with the position I find myself in at the moment. I don’t know. Where did all that goodwill about well-meaning communication always being a good thing even if it’s a little limited, go? Not to mention the benefits of getting an outsider’s perspective. And I do still believe all that but I also feel like I would be intruding. It’s a slippery slope. After all, empowered majorities speaking in the stead of disenfranchised groups is kind of the problem, to begin with. Even if it’s done with the best of intentions.
Yup, yet again I ouroborosed myself. Right back to square one. So this is what I’m going to say.
The character of Seiko Kotobuki made a pretty big impact on me for what is a minor supporting role. They made me think not only about gender identity and how that fits into modern society but also about how we discuss the changing issues in our evolving society. And that’s rather impressive. None of this will be in my Lovely Complex review.
And it also made me think that anyone should be free to talk on any subject they want to. However, I also understand that when a subject is important to someone, they will feel pressure to create a post that is as accurate and informative as possible. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to choose one’s words carefully. Or if even you don’t feel equal to an issue, there’s nothing wrong with just talking about how you don’t feel up to it :).