I do! From how all the characters describe her, Rose loved BIG and loved a lot, and she absolutely sounded like someone who would love multiple people at a time. Like, she definitely loved Pearl, and she loved other humans, and she loved Greg
Like, I don’t know if the show will be able to go into it but I definitely feel like she’s meant to be poly, anyway
Happy Birthday, @drakones! I know the love you feel for the Lost Children arc and how much this story and its characters mean to you, so I wanted to write a lengthy Rosine meta for you (and because I love her too). I hope you enjoy the read and have a wonderful day – so put your grasses on, nothing will be wrong. *hugs*
[TW for discussion and images of child abuse, brief mentions of rape, and lots of sadness]
of the big themes of the Lost Children arc is the human need to find
a place for ourselves in the world, and what lacking or losing such a
place can do to us. And Rosine is a girl without any place for
herself who desperately needs one, but just like Peekaf, she’s made
to be an outcast who belongs nowhere.
Part of why the “nudity = objectification” bad analysis bugs me, despite being very understandable because the vast majority of film nudity is objectification, is (like so much Bad Fandom Discourse) because of how I’ve seen it play out in anime fandom. In particular, how I’ve seen it used to dismiss one of my favorite anime, a series I’d really like to see more feminist commentary on outside of anime fandom.
That series is the very explicitly feminist Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, which is all about a woman regaining her sexual agency from people who want to define her and reduce her to stereotypes over it. This woman also likes to run around naked or partially dressed much of the time, and this isn’t just another “well she just likes it that way” excuse – it’s important to what the story is trying to say about an overtly sexual woman, what she wants and how the world wants to perceive her. And most of it is framed in medium shots that don’t focus on any particular part of her body. The OP zeroes in on her boobs, but only after she verbally invites the viewer in.
It has a lot to say about women’s sexuality, and in ways that can only be conveyed through how it uses nudity. (For a more in-depth discussion of this, you should check out this really excellent essay on sexuality in the series by @vraik.) And yet I see sooooooo many people just kneejerk dismiss it as MUST BE SEXIST MUST BE PROBLEMATIC because boobs.
If they learned some film theory, maybe they’d see how this show is different in how it handles nudity. Instead they run away from a feminist statement by a female director, back to more infantilizing moe anime made by men for men, because at least they don’t have nudity.
i’m glad the mine fujiko series exists. it took a lot of risks and it did some great, clever shit. hell, i think the OP is deliberately designed to make you sort of overdose on the hyper stylised boobies, like ‘here’s what you wanted, here’s more, here’s more, here’s some selfcest, nipples nipples niiiipples… is your brain melting yet’, with an arch voiceover dissecting the very male gaze it is inviting.
the problem with both the typical ‘fujiko is a sexist character by definition so we can feel free to pile on the hate’ animu fandom misogyny and the take you’re championing is…
precisely because fujiko is for a good chunk of the franchise history, the only female character in the main group and also this mysterious, treacherous, rapeable (and really not just talking about ancient history here, see the very recent ‘jigen daisuke’s tombstone’) cheesecake character, two important things should have been achieved in this show. one, to have much more actual fujiko pov than the other guys running around getting shit done. i mean hello, that’s what a spinoff is for. two, to make fujiko the person who frees herself with the truth instead of standing helplessly as lupin puts it all together for her. it’s like the writers were working to show that she’s ALMOST HIS EQUAL, but in the end, not quite, he’s top dog. (one could argue that this dynamic is the same as lupin and zenigata, but representation ratios matter– especially when you’ve got only one major sympathetic female character). these are all pure storytelling choices, and there is no good or intrinsic reason why they should not have been taken care of. it weakens the feminist strain in mine fujiko at crucial points in the narrative.
i have an issue with the abuse story and reveal. from one angle, it makes for a great twist. as someone who is convinced that fujiko is every bit as immortal and trickster-ish as lupin is, i was relieved by it. from another angle, we basically ended up with a lot of episodes of trauma porn, and i’m still articulating for a later piece of writing how that changed how i saw some of the most complex themes of the show (such as, how the abused often continue cycles of abuse), from a different perspective than the bad male gaze-y viewer it seems to have intended to mess with.
about the nudity, it’s all circular logic again. fuck yeah weaponised femininity, the nude female body exposes society’s hypocrisies, fujiko’s MO involves seducing people so of course she’s gonna be naked a lot… that’s great, but lupin is also known to seduce people. how is it that he’s not once depicted as naked and vulnerable in the way that fujiko is? and no, despite there being quite a bit more male nudity in the original series, it’s still pretty much mostly comedic or unsexualised. there are clear directions available to break out of a longstanding media binary in terms of representation and framing (i mean this in the most film theory-ffic sense), but as long as analysis is satisfied with the sweetened pill of heteronormative* choice rhetoric, we’re stuck.
(i mean, i’ve even read some people whining that the ‘modest’ fujiko in miyazaki’s movie is a travesty… i mean WHAT.)
also, funny thing, i thought many episodes of the blue jacket series did a better job of portraying fujiko’s personhood and total agency than a spinoff series apparently dedicated to doing so.
finally, sorta offtopic but also not: oscar the stereotyped, poorly written, violently misogynistic new gay (or trans?) male character… that was just lazy af. (and he ends up burning a bunch of women to death but we don’t gaf about that, right.)
*not touching the fujiko-seducing-underage-catholic-schoolgirls bit with a ten-foot pole, thanks, almost nothing in that episode made any sense
I feel like you’re making a lot of assumptions about Rose’s point and putting a lot of words in her mouth here. I’ve already written quite a few words about The Woman Called Fujiko Mine but what the heck, what’s a few more? However, it is after midnight, so I’m probably going to end up being a bit rambly…
Regarding your first point, I have mixed feelings about Lupin’s role in the series. (It’s also not at all salient to what Rose was talking about but eh I’ll ignore that for now) I was bothered by Fujiko seeming to be becoming less and less active in her own story and Lupin took the lead. Her pulling herself out of the hole would fit the ideal feminist rubric more ideally. However, I feel it was necessary for the conclusion to have the level of impact that it did, Fujiko had to hit rock bottom to a level where that was impossible. Her trust and affection for Lupin is made clear throughout the series, as is his adoration for and fascination with her. It makes sense he would be the one to pull her up when she could not pull herself up, that he would inspect her past. In many ways, the show is the story of how Lupin fell in love with Fujiko – in her time of need, he puts himself in peril to get to the root of her problem so that she can be her true self again. They are equal partners, and partners help each other out. Lupin doesn’t hit rock bottom because it’s not his story. He’s there to offer her assistance, to throw her a rope when she needs it most, and stand beside her as she faces her abuser and reclaims her self.
To be perfectly honest, I think you’re missing the point of the show a bit. The point isn’t, “Fuck yeah powerful women!” It’s so much more than that.
Regarding your point about nudity, there is a lot of nonsexual nudity in the show. It’s not all “Fujiko is using her body to get what she wants! Weaponized femininity!!” It’s her relaxing and drinking wine in a negligee. Enjoying her ill-gotten gains by swimming naked except for elaborate jewelry. Speaking as someone who tends to wander around naked in the privacy of her own home (and actually owns a nearly-identical negligee, even if I don’t look nearly as good in it), I actually enjoyed that part of the show. The camera doesn’t ogle her or linger on her breasts or butt. It’s hard for female nudity to be as unsexualized as male nudity – our bodies have been so aggressively commodified – but the context is often distinctly nonsexual. Vrai does a great job discussing Fujiko’s nudity in context and I really recommend you look at their essays. I think The Woman Called Fujiko Mine strikes a great balance between the grittier mood of the original Monkey Punch manga and Green Jacket – where Fujiko was usually a fan service vehicle, a damsel, or both – and appreciating her as a fully fleshed-out character. Sayo Yamamoto likes to make series about sexy, dangerous ladies, and I think there’s plenty of room for that in the world.
Thanks! I thought bbtree made some good points, but wasn’t a big fan of the (wrong) assumptions made about what kind of a feminist I was (I didn’t say anything about “weaponized femininity” or “choice feminism” and I’m not a fan of either of those things) and my sexuality (I’m not straight), and so on.
But yeah, one thing I was going to address is that I think TWCFM is something you have to view in the context of Sayo Yamamoto’s other work as well as in the context of other Lupin III series. Non-sexual nudity is a common feature in her work, as well as sexualized bodies of both genders. She wasn’t doing this to please male audiences here, and in this case, it’s salient to the point she tries to make (Yamamoto also frequently uses her series to explore feminist issues related to women’s sexuality and relationships with men, see also: Michiko and Hatchin). It’s how something that is so natural for Fujiko is so relentlessly picked apart and stereotyped by the world. The nudity here makes more sense when you know it’s directed by Yamamoto the same way the nudity in Yurikuma Arashi does when you know it’s directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara.
That’s also why the male characters also play parts in this where they’re less naked, because the point isn’t “yay Fujiko do your thing, slay kween!” it’s about the way that the world, particularly The Patriarchy, see her. I also, as I did in the OP, recommend reading Vrai Kaiser’s essays for more on this; their recap of, I think, episode 3 illustrates how all the main male characters in the series represent different misogynistic reactions to sexual women, except Lupin, the one man who sees her as she is, as his equal. Aisha also represents one, too: the woman whose response to patriarchal oppression is to internalize her misogyny rather than fight against it, and the way those women tend to particularly use it against “bad girls” like Fujiko. The fact that Fujiko doesn’t always have complete agency and is sometimes their victim is the point. (I’m also a little confused here: you’re not a fan of choice feminism or the story being ALL ABOUT Fujiko’s agency, but you seem to think a female character’s agency being compromised in service of a feminist point is an automatic negative?? And you’ll praise something where she has more agency because she’s a side character who only appears in a handful of episodes, and where the main female character is damseled at the end, as doing it better?????? I love the Blue Jacket series too, but come on.)
One thing I do want to address is the assumption of “cishet” in your characterization of why certain feminists excuse what you see as problematic sexualization. I definitely think a lot of “choice feminism” is motivated by an attempt to excuse sexist choices women make in order to appeal themselves to men, sure (and the relationships in Yamamoto works are primarily heterosexual). But discussions about nudity in film media? IME the discussion usually goes the other way. It’s straight women who I’ve seen generally assume that all female nudity = Problematic Objectification For Men, often to a very heteronormative degree (I’ve seen people do this with obviously lesbian-targeted media like The L Word, assuming that the gazey female nudity in it = it’s actually still made for men). On the other hand, a lot of lesbian and bi girls can be too forgiving of actually problematic female nudity in media because we enjoy it anyway. I like to think I can tell the difference even when I do, but if I am giving TWCFM too much of a pass here, I think it’s precisely because I’m bisexual, not straight, IYKWIM. For all you don’t seem to be a fan of Tumblr buzzwords, you’re using “cishet” in kind of a buzzwordy way here.
Lastly, I think I should point out that I don’t use the “feminist” label in the same way a lot of Tumblr does. I don’t mean it as “perfectly-empowering positive media with cool ladies in it.” I use it to mean that I think a work of media makes a feminist point, that its themes are feminist – even if it doesn’t do that perfectly or unproblematically. That’s why I would also argue that Legally Blonde is a feminist film, even if its feminism is really dated and not very intersectional (like with its stereotypical portrayal of gay people) and it IS basically Weaponized Femininity: The Movie. I think Mad Men is a feminist work because one of its (many) themes is the position of women in the 1960s and how the changes in the period allowed women to gradually rise above it: even though it makes that point through having lots of sexist dude characters and then often making women go through awful shit, and even though it also has serious problems with intersectionality.
So that’s the argument I’m trying to make about Fujiko Mine. I don’t think it has to be perfect to be deserving of that “feminist” label, and it certainly isn’t perfect (I have complicated feelings about Oscar’s portrayal that could be a whole different discussion). But I think it qualifies with the larger point it, I think, successfully makes about a feminist topic: how society views and tries to constrict women’s sexuality.
Berserk 2016 is not only a shitty adaptation. It is a shitty narrative. It can’t keep together constant character development or even focus on a fucking arc. It is a mess.
This third episode broke it. Any talent that coulda gone into this anime was in full lacking towards what was arguably the most important episode of this adaptation. I kept watching just to take in this roller coaster of a disaster and I am amazed.
Who do I blame for this? Why is Berserk getting filler episodes when we’ve yet to even get to a part where we need to make shit up to make up because we caught up on the manga?
You know what the dumbest thing about this episode is?
They chose to establish everything in a filler episode.
They established the God Hand and apostles and Gut’s goal all in a matter of LITERALLY, FUCKING LITERALLY, THIRTY SECONDS.
Farnese and the exploration of her character has NO pacing. NONE. She gets tempted by her thoughts FOR FIVE SECONDS. She gets possessed for LESS than a minute.
Serpico’s challenge to Guts is under lazily designed credit drops that YOU CAN BARELY SEE despite the fact that the episode strangely enough keeps going to foreshadow Ganishka’s coming up.
Calm the fuck down with this pacing. This is actually going out of hilariously bad into just embarrassingly bad territory. Professionals made this shit?
Don’t even get me started on this shitty fucking excuse of an apostle. You have a gallery of apostles to work with and I want to say that you chose one from the eclipse but why the hell is this the most boring character I’ve ever seen?
I can’t get over this. This is what the Count and Rosine got pushed aside for? This boring fucker unnamed dog keeper whose “tragic circumstances” is forced unto us in 3 second flashbacks that ruin both his character and Guts because NOTHING is explored?
Remember how tragic the Count’s circumstances were? That inside of his arc there was some bit of empathy towards somebody who is a merciless monster that shows that horrifyingly enough these demonic monstrosities are human and that they are the extremes of the human condition?
I do not give a shit about dog keeper. He wasn’t terrifying. He wasn’t tragic. Guts handled him so easily that the threat of apostles has just diminished completely before they were even properly established.
I can’t get over how bad this shit is. Money and talent and time is being wasted on something that should not exist. They are not giving this any love at all.
I had to pause out of sheer embarrassment because of this single shot.
“The Black Swordsman Arc and Lost Children Arc aren’t really important”
This. All of this. Well said. You know how most people get into the series by watching the ‘97 anime or the film trilogy, well I got into it by reading the manga first with no idea what to expect. After my first read through a few years ago and watching both the anime and trilogy, I often wondered why Miura decided to start the series with the Black Swordsman Arc instead of doing what the adaptations did and starting with the Golden Age one. But after a few more readthroughs it made sense why.
Starting off the manga, you meet Guts, a big badass dude with one eye, a cannon for one arm, and a huge slab of iron he uses for a sword. He going around killing off all these demons and other than his equipment, experience, and strategic mind, you can see that just an ordinary human. You have no idea why he’s doing what he’s doing and why he’s such an asshole about it. That’s where Puck comes in. Many fans think Puck is a worthless character, but in actuality, he’s the audience’s proxy. Just as Puck does, we think Guts may be a badass but he’s also an asshole. Why are we following around this dude who clearly has a deathwish? But we stay because we want to understand what drives him and we feel this unanswerable sympathy for his plight. And even through his gruff attitude, we see that he has some goodness in him, case in point the the Slug Count arc, with his interactions with Vargas, and him saving Theresia.
Then boom you’re hit with the Golden Age arc, and even though you know its gonna end in tragedy, you feel a sense of lull and wonder how it could all go wrong and it does oh boy does it ever. So you understand why Guts is the way he is at the beginning of the series, you understand all the grief and pain and rage and what what would drive him to take on an insurmountable task. In the Lost Children Arc, you see him start to heal and realize that even tho he lost so much, he didn’t lose everything (Casca and Rickert). Who in the beginning you don’t even know exist and if you did would probably think that they’re obviously dead. So you get angry at Guts for just abandoning them, as if they didn’t even matter.
TL;DR: Both of those arcs are crucial to Guts’ character development and if left behind take away so much of what make him HIM.
This studio doesn’t fucking get what makes Berserk as good as it is. Guts is more than “that angry guy with the sword.” The story is more than the barebones cliffnotes that they’re presenting. Casca is more than THAT scene. They’re just reducing it to the very minimum because they think that’s all it takes. That seeing action scenes with a big sword is all we want. People were excited to see the Black Swordsman arc because it’s post!Eclipse Guts with his very bitter look on the world. It allows for the character to develop like he did in the Lost Children and Conviction arc. Part of why Guts was so great is because he was unlikeable at first and, after first having an arc to show how he became this way, he grew and devloped, he learned to smile and laugh again. But since the new anime is skipping straight to the Conviction arc, he’s still just the angry guy with the sword who doesn’t have those two full arcs of character devlopment. And oh god Casca. Yes. That scene happened. But you don’t have to fucking have flashbacks to it and put it in the goddamn opening. And what the fuck is with them having Guts constantly flash back to Casca in some pure angelic state? In the manga he always looked back at the times she proudly stood armor-clad, sword-drawn, commanding her troops. Because that’s what was important about her. And Jesus Fuck what’s with the Holy Iron Chain Knights. Did they really wear those bright Power Rangers-esque colors in the manga? And why the fuck does Guts have the Behelit in the next episode preview if they skip over the part where he gets it? Goddammit this anime is fucking atrocious, and the story of Berserk deserves better than this.
I don’t think that Casca’s rape was entirely designed to punish Guts
alone. I think there were different reasons for her rape (although most
use her purely as a device to affect others):
- She was definitely used as a sexual tool to punish Guts. By
raping her, Griffith was destroying Guts’ dream (i.e. protecting the
ones he cared about; becoming a better, stronger fighter alongside the
ones he loved), and he did this because Guts was the only one who
managed to make Griffith falter and lose sight of his own dream.
- There is no doubt that Griffith loved Guts. His love was not
necessarily sexual in nature, although it was as deep as a lover’s
relationship. I doubt it could be described as friendship because
Griffith’s idea of true friendship was to have someone truly equal to
him, yet at the same time, he could never allow anyone to actually
become good enough to rival him (there is only one who can rule a
castle…) and so I do not think he really believed that anyone could
have managed to be that true friend. If he had really felt that Guts
was a true friend, Guts would have become his enemy at the same time.
So, when Guts left the Band of the Hawk, Griffith not only felt that he
had been abandoned by the one person he loved, but he realized that
there was someone who could rival him, a possible true friend – and
therefore enemy. He rapes Casca to punish Guts for not only abandoning
him, but for abandoning him to seek out his own dream, something which
could topple Griffith as it was the one thing that would have made Guts
- Casca’s rape was also used as the means for Griffith to destroy his
own human weaknesses. After Griffith was rescued, it was not Guts, but
Casca who decided to stay and care for him. Griffith knew this, and,
fuelled by a mix of his jealously/anger towards Guts’ love for Casca, a
desperate need for comfort in his weakened state, as well as a need to
comfort a person who cared for him so deeply, Griffith threw his weak
body onto Casca it a pseudo-attempt at rape/sexual intimacy (remember,
when he is vulnerable, he seeks out sex – even though it has other,
useful motives for him at the same time, see his sleeping with
the governor and the princess for reference). Just as rape is about
control and overpowering a person’s autonomy, Griffith was symbolically
owning his past weaknesses by overriding the autonomy of the one person
who loved him and treated him with pity, Casca.
- I think part of Griffith’s anger was also aimed at Casca directly.
Yes, she is used as a sexual tool to punish Guts, but I think Griffith
also wanted to hurt her. Griffith noticed that Casca and Guts
were in love. He noticed it when she wiped away the blood from Guts’
face and when they were talking about what to do with Griffith outside
the wagon. In the latter situation, Guts offered to stay when Casca told
him that she couldn’t leave Griffith. Griffith was jealous of the fact
that Guts loved Casca enough to abandon his own dreams for her, whereas
Guts had previously refused to abandon his dream for Griffith – Casca
didn’t even have to ask Guts to stay, where Griffith practically begged
Guts, and Guts still refused. For that reason he hates Casca. She was,
unknowing to Griffith until that point, a genuine rival for the number
one spot in Guts’ heart, and considering the fact that Griffith cannot
allow anyone to surpass him in any way, he raped Casca as punishment for
beating him in that one instance.
- I think Griffith chose to rape Casca because he knew the what the
symbolic impact of being raped would have on her. His torture was not
only the physical trauma of being raped (in fact I think that was the
lesser punishment), but the mental. Casca has never been in control of
her own destiny, not until she made the decision to leave with Guts,
anyway. She has always lived for Griffith, partly out of love and
loyalty, but also, deep inside, because she felt that serving Griffith
was giving her purpose. She was entirely dependent on Griffith, living
off of his dream to give herself meaning. He was very much aware of this
– when the aristocrat tried to rape her as a child he threw her the
sword and symbolically asked her whether she could be strong enough to
forge her own destiny, to create and follow her own dream. He realised
the answer to that question when she asked to serve him – that she
wasn’t going to follow her own dream, that she wasn’t capable of being
that ‘true friend’. When he found out that Casca was in love with Guts
and that she, at one point, was going to leave with him, he realized
that Casca was actually now following her own dreams, and no longer
relying on Griffith’s to give herself purpose. The rape was partially
punishment for this, and partially also because she chose to abandon her
dream and decided to tie herself back to Griffith when she realized she
couldn’t abandon him in his weakened state.
- Raping her, instead of killing her, was a symbolic act. It was
through rape that they first met, and it was through rape that their
relationship ends – he is no longer the Griffith that Casca knew. He
also knew that it would have a greater impact on her than death would. I
think in some ways, she was more afraid of rape than she was of death,
because rape epitomized the loss of control over oneself – something
which she lacks already with her almost-blindly loyal servitude to
Griffith. Him raping her is the greatest punishment he can inflict on
her, and I feel that it is the fact that Casca realised that Griffith is
actually cruel enough to use such a fear of hers against her, and
against Guts, which is what sent her over the edge (not so much the
physical trauma, although that is, of course, incredibly traumatic as