📝 End of Golden Week

2022 May 05

It's Children's Day in Japan, which means Golden Week is nearly over. This year was lowkey and comfortable, exactly how I like to spend my vacations.

Stuff I watched

DK and I have gotten really into Yuru Camp (Laid-Back Camp). It's not the most exciting show, and that's probably why I like it so much. It's just a group of high school girls who go camping, talk about camping, and go shopping for camping stuff. The stories are quaint little slice-of-life narratives, almost nothing bad ever happens, and it's just nice. It's got us itching to have our own camping adventures sometime soon.

We also started Barakamon, but don't know if we're going to finish it. The show starts off decently enough, but around episode three or four we are introduced to Tama, a "fujoshi" (girl obsessed with yaoi/BL) who is a little... much. I have a lot of complicated feelings about BL, specifically the notion that witnessing two men kissing means you're some kind of leering pervert (the characters for "fujoshi" are 腐女子, "rotten girl") makes me uncomfortable. It strikes me as homophobic (would Tama despair over her innocence being corrupted if she imagined Seishu paired off with a woman?) and objectifying, since for Tama, Seishu and Hiroshi aren't fictional manga characters, they exist in her world as real people. It's all a bit, whatever. She's a minor character, so maybe I can just ignore her and push through to the end.

Stuff I read

I'm still making my way through the backlog of lit mags that I've allowed to pile up over the past few years. I'm currently on the February 2021 ebook of Strange Horizons. The two stories that stuck out to me a lot were the ones that touch a bit on body horror. (I wonder what that says about my state of mind right now?) A Serpent For Each Year by Tamara Jerée is the easier to stomach of the two, a short piece on the grief of losing people and the instinctive desire to swath yourself in your memories of them; in this case, to have them literally crawling over your skin, armoring your bare flesh against the outside world.

Ootheca by Mário De Seabra Coelho is definitely the stranger story, building an abstract and nonsensical world that also just seems so mundane and familiar. It's impossible to read it and not be reminded of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, and then marvel at how effortlessly Coelho spins an entirely new and bizarre mythos out of it. Like Serpent, it is full of grief: grief for the people, the world, and the parts of ourselves that we've lost. Running parallel to that emotional core is the dehumanization that comes from being fetishized for being part of a marginalized class of society.

A while back, I got a Toshocard (a gift card that is accepted by the major bookstores in Japan) and it's getting close to its expiration date, so I walked to Junkudo and picked up a bunch of manga. I got all three volumes of Hirayasumi by Keigo Shinzo, the first volume of March Comes In like a Lion by Chica Umino, and the first volume of Blue Period by Tsubasa Yamaguchi. The only one I'm familiar with is March, after watching the first season of its anime. I liked it a lot, but I wanted to get the manga so I could read it and look up words at my own pace. The other two were recommended to me because they didn't have Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, the series I actually wanted to get. They look promising though, and the little I've read of Hirayasumi so far seems to be exactly what I'm in the mood for.

Stuff I played

I'm playing Core Keeper, which is a terribly boring answer. There is nothing remarkable or new or interesting about this game; it's the ultimate "Terraria but also Stardew Valley and also Minecraft" sort of vague everything-nothing, game-that's-like-every-other-game-combined game. And yet... I really like this one. Or, rather, this one is comfortable. It should be: it was algorithmically designed from the ground up to be immediately recognizable to anyone familiar with any of the aforementioned games. I don't really know what to say, other than that I am vaguely embarrassed for putting so much time into this one despite not really having any reason to feel this way. Like admitting that you don't change out of your pajamas on your days off (which I don't) or that you spent your Golden Week watching an anime where a bunch of cute girls go camping while you stayed home (oops).