We cover cartoons here, and one of my oldest loves has always been manga and anime. When we got down to adding all the known queer animated females, I popped some corn and caught up on my old favorites like Yu Yu Hakusho and new loves like Hourou Musuko.
I knew, or had seen some of, the more classic weird anime. I was familiar with the traditional works where transgender characters were played up for laughs and where lesbians were super slutty or into twincest. The Big Bad Queers trope is well in play early on.
What I had somehow forgotten was that there’s a hunk of stories that read like they’re right out of fanfic.
Take, for example, Sakura Trick. Two girls are bffs in middle school, but find themselves separated in high school. As they grow jealous over each other making new friends, they decide that they should do something together that they don’t do with any other girls. They should kiss! Or Sweet Blue Flowers, which is about childhood friends who reconnect in high school. Ones gay, the other isn’t. Or is she?
To be honest, a lot of early anime is homophobic and horrible. It’s outright transphobic in many ways and unpleasant to watch. But then .. then you have the weird gems like Revolutionary Girl Utena, which makes no sense at all and are wonderful. Or the original Sailor Moon series, which is a heck of a lot gayer.
The weird world of anime has grown, just as live action television has developed. We’ve moved from being the evil weirdos to being totally normal. And isn’t that, after all, what we should have been all along?