If you compare the world map from Pokemon Red to a map of Tokyo, the two look pretty similar. In fact, every Pokemon game is based on a real-world location.
But if you look a little closer, you’ll see that they aren’t identical. Pokemon Red’s map isn’t based on present-day Tokyo, it’s based on the pre-sprawl Tokyo of the 1960s. The towns that are connected by forests and rivers in the Pokemon world are connected by concrete and bullet trains in our world. The fantasy of this world is not just that humans and Pokemon live side by side, but that the golden age of Japan never ended. This world is in a state of tranquility while its real-life counterpart was in a state of upheaval.
Occasionally, however, a contranym arises through a process called amelioration, whereby a normally negative word develops a secondary, positive meaning. This phenomenon is particularly common in slang: “bad” becomes good, “wicked” becomes awesome, and “sick” and “ill” become wonderful. (They have been ameliorated: made better.) The use of “no” to mean “yes” appears to be an example of amelioration, but with one important distinction: “no” can’t mean “yes” on its own.
Since the global success of Bishōjo senshi Sērā Mūn (Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon) in the 1990s, anime fans have come to associate mahō shōjo anime with a very specific type of heroine—a schoolgirl who transforms herself into a fetching super-warrior armed with a magical scepter or some other prop with which she courageously fights the forces of evil. But the mahō shōjo genre of anime actually goes back to the early days of Japanese television animation, and the magical girls of the 1960s were very different from today’s morphing warriors. What can the evolution of mahō shōjo in anime tell us about gender and the changing self-image of girls in Japanese society?
King, who options his works for $1 and likes to see progress, has been incredibly patient as this mammoth project — it’s his answer to Tolkien’s Middle Earth novels — has taken its time and its twists and turns. He’s sparked about where the project is now.
“I’m excited that The Dark Tower is finally going to appear on the screen,” he said in a statement. “Those who have traveled with Roland and his friends in their search for the Dark Tower are going to have their long-held hopes fully realized. This is a brilliant and creative approach to my books.”
The proclamation itself is signed by Mayor Walsh, and disclaims that it is in part adapted from Kathleen Hanna’s ‘Riot Grrrl Manifesto.’ A portion of the proclamation reads: “The riot grrrl philosophy has never felt more relevant, with misogyny still rampant in many cultural spaces;” and “Riot grrrls redefine the language used against them and continue to fight the newest incarnations of patriarchy. In doing so, they ironically confirm one ex-congressman’s accidental wisdom: ‘the female body has ways to try to shut that down.’ It sure does: women’s voices telling their stories can shut that down.”
By being gender free, Call Me Tree provides for some a much needed break from the constant boy-girl assumptions and requirements. It can also provide a moment to pause and consider those assumptions, requirements and their impact.
Despite the fact that there are no gender specific pronouns, reviewers have assumed the main character is a cisgender boy. The main character is actually based on someone assigned girl. The specificity doesn’t matter as much as the opportunity to notice the assumption. Many of us assume a child with short hair, dressed in a t-shirt and pants is a cisgender boy. What does an assumption like that fully communicate? About gender requirements? fitting in? living up to expectations? being accepted? Who does it leave out and what is the impact of being excluded?
Call Me Tree also opens up the possibility that it’s ok not to know the gender of a child. No matter what their gender identity may be, what is valuable is that they feel free, strong, a sense of belonging and appreciative of difference and sameness in themselves and others.
It’s one of the all-time classic scene setups of Japanese girls’ comics. Our heroine finds herself in a secluded hallway of her school, alone with a handsome but mysterious male classmate. He turns to her and dramatically pounds the wall behind her, executing a perfect kabe-don before leaning in close to tell her a secret.
So what’s the dramatic line going to be this time? “I love you?” “We actually met years ago and were childhood friends befire you lost your memories?” “Don’t hug me, or I’ll transform into a dog?”
How about, “Don’t you know how important protecting your smartphone password is?”