The Origins of Superheroes (and Magical Girls)

This is showing up on blogs I frequent, and I think it’s relevant here. Alexander Macris has divided superhero origin stories into three types:

1. Ordinary person accidentally becomes extraordinary through chance.
2. Determined person becomes extraordinary through dedication and will.
3. A person born with extraordinary gifts lives up to his birthright.

 He describes these three origin stories as “proletariat, bourgeoise, and aristocratic.” The examples he gives are interesting but not unassailable. For example, he holds Superman to be “aristocratic,” since he has superpowers on account of being an alien, but Superman is also a farm boy who learned values of honesty, honor, and hard work before moving to the big city, which would put him more-or-less into the “bourgeoise” category—and yet calling a farm boy “bourgeoise” sounds decidedly strange.

I wanted to add a fourth type of origin story, but John C. Wright beat me to it:

4. Ordinary person is selected to become extraordinary through the intervention of a higher power.

This is the origin story typical of magical girl warriors. Generally, they are ordinary schoolgirls selected by talking animals from space or from fairyland. They are frequently reluctant and would rather be ordinary girls, though there are exceptions.

Even those of the “deconstructive” brand of magical girl fall mostly into this category: Phantom Thief Jeanne, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Princess Tutu, and the girls of Magical Girl Raising Project are all selected by godlike powers, and even Madoka is harassed into a Faustian bargain, which is almost but not quite the same thing. What makes these girls different is simply that the powers who’ve selected them turn out to be infernal rather than higher.

By contrast, the typical cute witch falls into Macris’s third category: cute witches usually come to Earth from space or from fairyland and use their powers to help mankind.

Of course, some titles will change things up. Some magical girl warriors are also cute witches from fairyland, such as the Fairy Musketeers. And Sailor Moon falls into both categories, since she is an ordinary schoolgirl who receives her powers from a talking cat, but is also a reincarnated space princess and rightful ruler of the Solar System.

It Is Finished.

I have just put the last touches on the final draft of Jake and the Dynamo. It took me longer than it should have, admittedly, partly because of some procrastination.

After I made all the major alterations Lamplighter requested, I went back through the entire thing to make sure it flowed smoothly and that the new additions didn’t introduce any problems. While I was at it, I took the opportunity to improve several word choices, remove some wayward commas, and fix a few previously undiscovered typos. Three days and half a bottle of bourbon later, I’m satisfied that it’s reasonably well polished.

The process was painful, but it is, after all, my first novel, so I hope I can be more efficient in the future. Maybe I should go cry into a bowl of noodles like that chick in Whispers of the Heart or something.

Anyhow, it so happens that I have also got all of Roffles Lowell’s illustrations. He apologized for being tardy, but from my point of view, his timing was impeccable, as he finished at the same time I did.

I’ve a lot of other things going on. I’m back in school, of course, and I’ve kind of been letting my studies slide while I’ve been finishing this up. Also, I just picked up a new job directly relevant to my educational training, so that’s exciting.

As busy as I am, I can’t promise that posting here will become more regular, at least for a few days. But the book, at least, can go sit on someone else’s desk instead of mine. That’s a relief.

Kai Wai Cheah Goes Magical Girl

I’m going to have no serious content here until I FINISH MY BOOK (which might be today!), but I am pausing momentarily to note something that showed up in my Twitter feed:

This is from the Twitter account of Kai Wai Cheah, the author of No Gods, Only Daimons. He’s a seriously skilled author of military sf and fantasy. He’s also in my writer’s group, where he’s given some additional details about this project, but since he hasn’t posted them in a public forum, I won’t repeat them.

miko, in case you don’t know, is a Shinto shrine maiden. That’s a picture of his new character up at the top there …  nah, I’m kidding. I grabbed that off Pinterest.

Anyway, let’s just say that I’m very interested in seeing what a knowledgeable military sf writer does with magical girls.

Rawle Nyanzi on ‘Pretty Cure’

Rawle Nyanzi, who blogs both on anime and on Appendix N (that is, those fantasy works that inspired Dungeons & Dragons), noticed that I was preparing to review Glitter Force, which I will seriously get to after I’ve cleared some other things off my plate, so he tried his hand at watching the original Futari wa Pretty Cure.

His comments are amusing. He writes, Continue reading “Rawle Nyanzi on ‘Pretty Cure’”

#WaifuWednesday on Thursday

Featuring Nagisa Misumi.

I’m currently neck-deep in Glitter Force, the English adaptation of Smile Pretty Cure!, the ninth Pretty Cure series, but only the second to get dubbed in English.

Although its writing is decidedly better, Smile PreCure doesn’t have the technically impressive action sequences of the original Futari wa Pretty Cure. So this week’s Waifu Wednesday goes out to one of the original cures, Nagisa Misumi, also known as Cure Black. In addition to starring in the original series, she reappears in the sequel Pretty Cure Max Heart and in multiple movies.

Continue reading “#WaifuWednesday on Thursday”

Now Starting ‘Glitter Force’

The year 2004 represents a sea change in the magical girl genre. In that year appeared two series that would give a new look and feel to mahou shoujo. One was Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, a series aimed primarily at the neckbearded adult male crowd, and the other was Futari Wa Pretty Cure, aimed at young girls. Both would produce spin-offs. Pretty Cure became a cash cow franchise for Toei Animation, with an impressive total of fourteen series to date, the most recent of which, KiraKira☆Pretty Cure a la Mode, began in February of 2017 and is still ongoing as of this writing. There are also several movies, including crossovers that bring together cures from different series.

Both of these franchises are notable for introducing to the genre a heavier emphasis on physical combat. Both series also completed the process of all but eliminating the previously omnipresent romantic subplots in favor of a focus on feminine camaraderie. Continue reading “Now Starting ‘Glitter Force’”

Drawn Like My French Girls: ‘LoliRock’

They should have called it “Loli Auto-Tuned.”

LoliRock. Written by Madellaine Paxon et al. Directed by Jean-Louis Vandestoc. Marathon Media and Zodiak Kids, 2014-2016. Starring Kazumi Evans, Kelly Sheridan, and Vincent Tong. 52 episodes of 26 minutes (approx. 22.5 hours). Rated TV-Y.

Available on Netflix.

We now turn our attention to that other French magical girl cartoon, LoliRock. According to an earlier version of its Wikipedia entryLoliRock has the honor of being the first magical girl title from France, though this assertion was followed by the wisest and truest words to be found on Wikipedia, “citation needed.” One way or the other, we can can probably safely say that LoliRock is the first French magical girl show to get international attention. It made its appearance in France in October of 2014 and ran for two seasons. Its English dub now has a home on Netflix.

Continue reading “Drawn Like My French Girls: ‘LoliRock’”

#WaifuWednesday

Featuring Rose Lavillant.

Today’s #WaifuWednesday goes out to Rose Lavillant from Miraculous Ladybug.

Rose is in the same class as the protagonists Marinette and Adrien. Blond, blue-eyed, and presumably French, she is known for her sweet temperament. Look at the picture at the top there: does she have a finger pressed against her own eyeball?

I can’t stop staring at the characters’ freaky eyes.

When her classmates were attempting to make a homemade horror movie, Rose was in charge of the catering. Even when a real monster showed up and started devouring them one by one, she was still making sure that everyone had enough to eat.

That’s her in the back with her spread of fruit and juice.

Continue reading “#WaifuWednesday”