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Why „Feeling Pinky Keen“ is missunderstood

In my little Pony now and again episodes sporn great diskussions among the brony fandom. One of the biggest is the 15th episode of the first Seasonwith the title „feeling Pinky Keen“. But I, after watching it again and thinking about it found it to be hugely misunderstood which is why I do this post.

1. What is the episode about?
In this episode the ever so scientific Twilight Sparkle gets to know Pinkies „Pinky sense“, a kind of vague looking into the future done through reactions on her body. Twitchy tail mean something fall down, a twitchy nose mean bes are near and there are even combos that can foretell the weirdest occasions like rainbows or opening doors.
This sounds beyond reason, and that is exactly what Twilight thinks. She refuses to believe the pinky sense actually does exist and tries to scientifically find out what happens in reality. Is it just weird coincidences or what?
But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t find any explanation for this until, after a big adventure involving running from a wild hydra, she finally accepts that the pinky sense is real,even if she can’t find any explanation.

2. What is the discussion about?
The moral of it all is: Even if there is stuff in the world I can’t explain doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Sometimes you just have to choose to believe it is.
This was widely received as a religious statement, that you have to believe in god and wonders as an explantion for the unexplainable… Some loved it others hated it I say: that is bullshit! That is NOT the message of the show, Twilight NEVER says a god is doing this or anything other supernatural is involved. she just admits: it is real, and I can’t explain it

3. So what is my arguement?
What is displayed in this episode is rather positivsm.
So now most will probably wonder: What is positivsm?
Positivsm is a branch of scientific philosophy and is based on the believe that everything follows certain laws and those can be perceived through empirical evidence. So what is there is there, whether you cans explain it of not.
Famous example is gravity. Until this very day we ALL believe in gravity, but where does it come from? How does it work and why? We don’t know!
Still no one would say gravity does not exist. We can even calculate what it does, we can scientifically predict gravity but still we can’t answer those basic questions.
The same happens to Twilight. She does her scientific research, is most of the time the one receiving the consequences of the twitchy tails or what not and finally has to say: Yes I believe it“ she scientifically did an empirical research (given it was for about a day and not years, but we know other ponies started believing after some time and this is a 22min kids show so I OK this) and comes to this conclusion. Just like she has to believe in gravity she has to believe in the pinky sense.

4. Still I got critique
So what I am still missing is the question when to stop looking for an answer? Just think about all the want to be fortune tellers in our world, people who sell pyramids that „energize“ your water or other frauds. how long are you supposed to look before starting to believe? You can’t just accept everything coming your way as a given because often enough there actually is a real explanation for things that are seemingly supernatural.
But in the other hand Twilight is seen to put up a fight, she does not just accept it and probably when something like that happens again she will once more try to get to the bottom of it (I hope).

Why the bad connotation on feminism?

Feminism is the believe that women and men should be equal.

That’s it. And that is not a bad principle now is it?
Many women fought and still fight for male and female to be on same terms but for some reason, especially in western countries this word „Feminism“ is some totally outrageous, something no woman want to be connected with.
People pretend in our „civilized“ society women and men were on same terms already which actually is BULL SHIT!
Seriously that is not true! Women are still under-represented in almost every facet of live, well except the we traditionally were allowed to enter few spots like child caring, education, or nursing.
In Germany 38% of all representatives in the Bundestag are female, which is quiet a record but really does not represent the amount of women in Germany which is about 50%.
In the UK it’s about 22% in America mere 17% and that is only for the lower or single houses. Most states don’t even have women in higher governmental positions at all (For example Spain) (source: http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm)
So much about the great equality of men and women is so called 1st world countries.
But this is Not because of laws that prohibit women in anyway. No it is culture and after more than 2000 years of oppression of women we can’t expect it to fade away in a few decades. But for it to eventually disappear we can’t just sit back and say „oh we are all equal I don’t care anymore“.

How did I get to do this post. Well due to a video by the gaming idea channel on a woman called Anita Sarkeesia who has a youtube channel called „Feminist Frequency“ where she takes a look at popular culture and talk about it in a feminist way.
Recently she did a Kickstarter Project raising a lot of money for a series called „Damsel in Distress“ where she took a look at the cliche in video games.
Apparently this made it into news and blogs and a lot of people hated her, she got death threads insults, and what not. She has no Comment section on her videos anymore.
Aside for Trolls and haters there are actually a lot valid critiques on her videos (I won’t go into the ‚where did the money go‘ or ‚it’s from Wikepedia‘ discussion here) in forms of blogs and video replies, I even watched a few of those and agree with them in a few point.
I did a few comments about how I though Anita had some valid point even if her way of phasing and even her arguments might not be wholly correct or at least debatable and immediately got into a discussion on how stupid Feminists are and that stating how women are under or misrepresented in popular culture is just nitpicking.
So that is why I write this post.

I don’t want to say what anita said in her videos if you are interested:

But quickly her main point is this: In mainstream video game franchises like Mario women are often reduced to a price for the hero. They don’t develop character have no power and are acted upon. Her main example for this is Princess Peach.

Although this is not wrong if you what the whole series there is much room for justified critique.
She does not simply state an opinion but says it as if it’s a general truth, she gives statistics without any source. She even denies strong female characters like Zelda to be a good character.
So yeah, she is not perfect, who is?
What is most annoying is that she deactivated the comments so you can’t even discuss with her and thus it feels like a statement of hers rather than something to discuss upon, making her seem like a small child drying to want something without listening to anyone.

Still She accomplished something amazing: She was heard! Proabably BECAUSE of this flaws, because people disagreed and hated it she managed to get into the news and opened a media wide argument about womens representation in media and this in itself is something great!
Too many women take what we have got for granted and just overlook how from birth on boys as well as girls are forced into specific gender roles which hinder both to actually be who they are.
Why are less women into maths and science? Not because they are biologically different, but because from birth on they are driven onto a different direction. For all who say that is nonsense just take a look at Children ads for example these two for Lego:

Kids a drilled toward the believe that girls and boys play different stuff and don’t have anything in common funnily enough in the 60s it wasn’t necessarily so:

This is the next step of feminism, we built up a land where it’s technically possible that anyone can be anything whether it’s a stay at home dad or the female physicist, so now culture needs to change accordingly and sadly since the 90s progress as come to a stand still.
So feminists like Anita are actually needed, even if one does not agree with everything, think that she overdoes it at some point e.t.c. it is worth it because it gets the discussion going and people thinking again.

For what is the goal of feminism?
Well it basically would be that gender roles all together seize to exist. that there are as many heroic action women as damsels, and as many princess in distress, as heroes because the pre-existing role models do not exist anymore.
Is that ever going to happen? Who knows? I don’t, if it’s no where soon, but don’t you always need an over the top goal to change anything at all?

What about mirrors in „Too Many PinkyPies“

Those who know me in person know that I have a fable for mirrors in Literature and especially movies and TV shows. My first term paper was about the mirror in Dracula and Jekyll and hyde and I kept doing it (for Bloody Mary in Supernatural and Ghostwhisperer, and in my bachelor Thesis in Snow White) so of course I had to take a look at the MLP episode of „Too many PinkyPies“ and the mirror-lake she uses to duplicate herself.
This again goes also into Doppelganger theory, for that topic please take a look at my last article „What about Cadence and Queen Chrysalis“

So thinking about mirrors and theory on mirrors:

First of all: You wouldn’t believe how much there is to say about mirrors! I my BA thesis I have like 10 Pages solely dedicated to them and their different real, cultural and psychological values so I can’t simply copy my thesis here and I can’t explain everything in detail. I’ll try my hardest to put things in a nutshell as well as I can and stick only to the stuff I need for the analysis. Still this will be a rather long article.

Observations on the real mirror (I talk about the plain, not bended mirror here!):
1. The mirror works as a prosthesis in the way that they broaden our field of vision (which is the origin of many believes linked to the mirror I will come to later)
2. The mirror is expected to show us the ‚truth‘ (Umberto eco „Über Spiegel“), meaning we trust in what they show us.
3. When talking about mirrors we use a language that makes it seem as if there was another reality in the reflection (the term ‚mirror inverted‘ or saying the ‚left becomes right and right becomes left‘ for example) (again from Umberto Ecos „Über Spiegel“)

Mirrors and Culture (all infos from:Hildenbrock in „Das andere Ich“) :
1. The mirror shows the true self/soul of a person
2. A soul of a dead person can be trapped in a mirror
3. The reflections the should thus destroying the reflection equals destroying the soul
4. Show deformities in the nature of a person

Lacans Mirror-Stage Theory (Book used: Lacan, Jacques. Das Spiegelstadium als Bildner der Ichfunktion, wie sie
uns in der psychoanalytischen Erfahrung erscheint, in: Schriften I.):
The theory basically and very easily said states that children from 6 months onwards start recognizing themselves in a mirror. Children then see themselves for the first time as a whole, single being, not connected to the mother and also not only fragments of itself.
This helps building the social self (Lacan describes as „je“), the child realizes others see it like it can see itself in the mirror and so it starts recognizing that its actions have a social impact on others (Children cry to get the attention from their mothers or to get what they want). In contrast to that would be the ego, so my personal view on my self with me wanting and doing what I do without taking others into account.

Mirroring:

Very simply put it means someone or something ‚mirrors‘ something else. Just what it sais basically. In her essay „Magic Mirror in Snow White“ Nancy Van den Berg-Cook explains how important mirroring is for children but on a smaller scale for adults. Parents need to mirror their children’s actions that they can learn what is right and what’s wrong. So when a child smiles, and the mother smiles the child will understand that it’s smiling can make others smile and it’s a good thing. If a child is neglected in this aspect it is likely to form a narcissistic personality disorder.

Ok I hope that was enough for mirrors and not too much either ^^

but let’s also check out mirrors and doppelganger ^^

1. Mirrors, like doppelgangers show the true nature of the protagonist, or rather is dark desires, which they try to hide but cannot suppress.

2. Since the reflection is the soul and the doppelganger is the reflection he represents a part of the soul.

3. Doppelganger helps in identity crisis and character growth, just like the mirror helps fixing external flaws and according to superstitions also show flaws of the soul.

4. That the soul gets a body in a mirror includes that as a reflection it has a body and can be hurt, this means smashing of the mirror will in fact attack the other self.

5. Lacans Theory: ego and Je, are now divided into first and second self. (usually the mirror is the ego and the first self the Je)

6. Additionally the moral deficiencies like the First Selfs fear to be unaccepted by society the doppelgänger are shown by mirrors. This way it works as a mirror on how others see them, or might see them if they knew about these character traits.

-> The mirror becomes a tool to help the first self to overcome anxieties and to unite the ego and the Je

Ok now let’s take a look at „Too many Pinky pies“
Sadly I couldn’t find single clips from the episode that would be helpful to re watch it if it has been some time ^^

So basically the story is about how PinkyPie figures she can’t have fun with everyone at the same time since ponies do stuff in different locations. Not being able to decide what to do she remembers a nursery rhyme from her Nana to a „mirror pond“ where she can clone herself.
The clone is all about fun but has no memory of anything, and it runs into the same problem PinkyPie ran into, not being unable to decide between two fun things. So real Pinky brings her clone to the pool and now there is 4 and 3 of those then clone again without Pinkie wanting them to do so.
In the end the Fun-Zombie Pinkies drive Ponyville crazy only the real Pinky gets all depressed because she herself has become unsure about her identity as PinkyPie. She suggests to Twilight who found a spell to send the clones back but has the problem she could accidentily send back the wrong Pinky as well a test so boring only the real Pinky could pass it. This test is watching Paint dry, and in the end all clones get send back, Pinky realizes its Ok to have to choose and sometimes even to just relax alone.

Analysis:

Ok now let’s take a look on what we can deduce from that!
First Pinky is in a state of crisis because she wants to have Fun (her Je talking) with all her friends but can’t do that, she needs more of herself.
Her clone is shown as a look-alike, so it’s a doppelganger and a very clearly only ego, it has not social knowledge what soever. And apparently they don’t care, all they want is to have fun.

Pinky has to teach her clones about her friends

Pinky has to teach her clones about her friends

Pinky on the other hand is in this episode described as Pony who does care about her friends well being (she is extra careful to let RD have some peace and quiet at the lake) and in „A friend in Deed“ we get to know how dependably she can be and how great her memory is. She is very much a social Pony, but in this episode her ego is about to overpower her.
The clones are her reflection so it is part of her soul… this is kind of disturbing thinking about the scene where all the clones are sent back into the Pond…but I would interpret their returning to the pool rather as the reunion of ego and Je for Pinky, her learning the lesson and solving her identity problem.
So back to the mirror: The mirror very clearly works as for Pinky as a prothesis, at least that is her initial goal. She wants to see and experience stuff she otherwise couldn’t, having Mirror-Pinky go to AJs Barn-Raise and experiencing the fun. As we see this does not work out the way it was planned but that’s at least the original goal.
The mirror also seem to hold a kind of reality, since the reflection of Pinky can just walk out of the water, like that. Also the other Pinkies are ’sent back‘ which also makes it sound like there is some actual space in the reflection of the Pond which your soul, at least the ego Part of it, enters and than can exit after saying the right words.
Now I want to come to the mirroring because this is what happens to PinkyPie when things get out of hand. In „A Friend in Deed“ we get to know how annoying Pinky can be, to Cranky Doodle she probable first felt like one of her clones, some mindless thing that just annoys everyone. Also in „Too many PinkyPies“ we start of with Twilight being very annoyed by Pinky time and again. Although she is not as over the top as the other Pinkies, sometimes, to some Ponies the real one feel probably the same (we remember in „Griffon the Brush-of“ RD’s reaction to seeing Pinky…) which Pinky hardly recognises or cares about.
Seeing her clones go on rampage in the Village that much over the top mirrors her own behaviour and she can realize how this is not always good, that there is something more important than fun. Until now her ‚having-fun-trips‘ always ended well, unlike in this scenario. She also sees the limits of mindlessly going on a fun rampage for the first time observing everyponies reactions as a bystander.
We see this realization in the very end where she, instead of trying hard to have fun with everyone simply goes to sleep.
Worst thing happening is her loosing faith in her identity

she is not sure she is herself...

she is not sure she is herself…

She was not really in an identity crisis before but her clones actually brought one upon her. Although to the viewer it is clear she is the real one, since she has memories of her friends and actually something else on the mind than fun, but even in the image of herself she seems to think she is nothing but a fun-zomby which is why she can’t identify herself anymore.
The Test is a way to acertain herself, and it works. Seeing how her clones are only her „Je“ which is not interested in social relatrions they have no reason to stay focused like the real PinkyPie has, wanting to keep her bonds she made with her friends.

the clones watch paint dry

the clones watch paint dry

So yeah interesting concept ^^ I LOVED the episode it’s one of my favourites (next to „Party of One“ 😉
Hope it was interesting for you guys ^^

Works cited:

Drydan, Linda. The Modern Gothic and Literary Doubles. Palgrave Macmillam. Basingstoke. 2003. Print

Eco, Umberto. Über Spiegel und andere Phänomene. trans. Burkhart Kroe ber. Hanser. München. 1988 . print

Hildenbrock, Aglaja. Das andere Ich. Stauffenburg Colloquium, Tübingen. 1986. Print

van den Berg-Cook, Nancy. “The Magic Mirror in Snow White” cgjung- vereniging.nl. C.G. Jung Vereinigung Nederland. 2006

von Franz, Marie-Louise. Spiegelungen der Seele. Kösel-Verlag. München.

What about Cadence and Queen Crysalis?

I know there is LOTS of talk going on about those too and I’m not even reading in any kind of forum. There is talk about whether Cadence makes any sence, being an alicorn and stuff and how dump the use of the changelings was (I LOVE changelings but they just ruined it…) and why and why not etc.
So no reason for you to read that up in my blog just getting another stupid opinion and this is NOT what this will be about

(though in short: it doesn’t work, Changelings should go into an open war especially if they feed on love! They should have done the same as the queen, the whole force shield also makes no sense since… well the queen managed to get it, why would she go in alone, if it was before the shield came up? MAKES NO SENSE!
This just as a side note ^^)

So let’s come to my initial topic I want to write about here: Doppelganger motif!
I did a lot of analysis on this topic in my studies (for „Supernatural’s“ „bloody Mary“ episode, for „Clueless“ for „Snow White“ movie adaptations“) so I really want to use the theory on Cadence and Chrysalis and see whether it works or not.

Doppelganger:

In literature and modern media the doppelganger is an often-used motif when the fight of a character with his self is portrayed. In her book „The Modern gothic and Literary Doubles“ Drydan calls the original person the “first self” and the double “second self”, for simplicity this paper will do it the same way.
Three things define the doppelganger. Usually the second self is a look-alike of the first self. Though in most cases the doppelganger can still be distinguished from
the first self, be it by looks, behaviour or the way they dress. This highlights the second aspect that defines the doppelganger: The personality. The second self incorporates the dark desires and wishes of the first self. This is also the part that makes the second self the monster. The dark side not only reflects the protagonist’s sense of otherness but of the culture the story originates in.
„Through his appearance, he brings to light the first self’s urge for something which is never c1early specified, which, however has been strong enough to inspire the First Self with a compensatory thirst for knowledge and power.“ (Drydan 2003 p. 29)
The first self has to fight the second self to truly become compatible with the society they live in. The third aspect that defines the doppelganger is the identity thread by invading the personal sphere of the first self. The doppelganger tries to steal the life of the first self which forces the them to find a new identity. As Drydan puts it:
„This inability of the First Self to get a firm grasp on his own identity will be seen to be a basic element of all the later double stories.“ (Drydan 2003 p. 33)
And this is what really defines the doppelganger, the role it has in the process of self-realization of the first self, fighting the dark desires and bad personality traits and
accepting that they are part of them.
„Identifiable as an allegorical agent, the Second Self is shown to as sume visible form exclusively in order to force the First Self to embark on the process of self-realization.“ (Drydan 2003 p. 49)
The doppelganger is the incorporation of the other and just as Faulstich explains the other can never be something totally unknown, but reflects a part of the self (Faulstich 96 S. 420). He explains the other as something that is immanent in the culture; something the culture or society is afraid of and thus has to cope with it. As the incorporation of the dark side the doppelganger is a primary example for the other inside.

Ok I know MLP is not a Horror story like „Jekyll and Hyde“ or „The picutre of Dorian grey“ but actually doppelganger can appear in other formats as well. For example in „Clueless“ (if you want the in depth thing on that post it in the comments and it will come ^^)
And clearly Chrysalis meets the aspects of a Doppelganger: She is a look-alike of Cadence, at least for the most time in the two episodes.
Also she is a threat to cadence, she does invade Cadences life and tries to steal it from her, even more important in the story she steels the love of the ’special somepony‘ from Cadence
Cadence has to fight Chrysalis. It can’t be anyone but her as we see Celesttia and even the magic of friendship fail. She has to do so to show she is worthy of being called a princess and that she indeed is an important part of society.
And lastly it’s a tool for identification and personal growth of the First Self, and yes we do see Cadence grow because of this. We can suspect that she never used such powers before (knowing she used to be a pegasus and all).

After seeing that indeed we have a doppelganger before us I want to stretch what makes a good analysis here a little difficult in contrast to the ones I deed before:
1. Cadence: We know too little about the Cadence before Chrysalis appears. It is hard to see what the identity problem used to be and what exactly the dark desired might have been, not seeing how Cadence used to be. Except for that little ‚best foal sitter evaaaar‘ scene and the infos we get from Twilight… I can just deduce from how Chrysalis behaves
2. Chrysalis: As little as we know about Cadence we know about Chrysalis. How did she meet Cadence? How did she take her place? That would be most interesting since usually in dppelganger stories the First self in one way or another summoned their second self (Jekyll took the position, Dorian wished for the picture to age in his stead, Sam calls Bloody Mary, The Queen uses the mirror,…).

So let’s take a look on what I do have.
Cadence and Chrysalis are, reduced to their core, two looks on love. Cadence is the warm and kind love that conquers everything as we know it from any Disney movie. Chrysalis on the other hand is an egoistic love. She just wants to use the people who love her, manipulating them to her hearts content.
When considering what a doppelganger represents: the dark wishes of the first self“ this gives a new look on Cadence. Has she actually thought about using the love others have for her to her advantage? Most certainly not to the extent Chrysalis does but maybe she had a fight with Shining Armor once and thought he should do as she said since he loves her.


We have a similar problem for the mane six, they are not the perfect embodiment of their elements and regularly have to overcome opposite feelings to what they represent. Apple Jack lies when she didn’t make first place, Pinky Pie stops laughing in „Party of One“, Rarity rather is awed upon by the Canterlot ponies than doing the dress for Twilight, etc.. So why shouldn’t Cadence have a trial like that too? Though it does destroy this perfect picture we have of Cadence it does make sense.
Before she can become the Princess of the Crystal Empire she needs to overcome any kind of selfishness, using her love purely for others and not her self.
Seeing how Chrysalis acts we actually can assume that Cadence used to always hide her true thought. When she didn’t like a dress she would smile and say it way beautiful and eat the stuff she actually doesn’t like. Her doppelganger (ok she does lie to apple Jack… which is kinda weird to me)does all this although she has no reason to. In the „Aria of the day“ she states how she doesn’t care about the dress and the ceremony. So why be so picky about it? It doesn’t make sense inside the story but if we assume that she is like this in her role of a doppelganger, showing the dark feelings of Cadence it does make sense.
Cadence is locked away by her other self. She probably was down there for a long time and had time to think about what Chrysalis would do, using her image.
Going with the doppelganger theory this would be the time span were she realizes her own faults in this matter and want to fight her alter Ego, Which she can’t until she is freed by Twilight. Than she comes in,ruining the wedding of her alter ego and battles her. Well and I already said my opinion on that at the beginning.

Love Spell

I know some of the stuff sounds like head cannon, like Cadence being selfish and using her love for manipulation and stuff and I don’t really have anything to prove it since I don’t have any information on what happened. Of course storyline speaking she could simply have been overpowered by Chrysalis being the nice, loving pony but
All Ponies, even princesses like Luna (not too sure yet about Celestia though) are shown to have flaws and being selfish and overpowered by that once in a while.

I wish they had shown Cadence before, making this aspect clearer. An episode where she an Shining Armor come to Ponyville to inform Twilight about the wedding for example. But we don’t have that… so I have to stick with assumptions.
Leave comments about your thoughts on this interpretation ^^

Oh and of course I will take a closer look at „too many Pinky Pies“ regarding doppelganger ^^ some time in the future ^^

Works cited:

Drydan, Linda. The Modern Gothic and Literary Doubles. Basingstoke: palgrave mac-millam, 2003

Faulstich, Werner: Zwischen Exotic, Heil und Horror, [Hrsg] Hess-Lüttich, Ernest W. B. Fremdverstehen in Sprache, Literatur und Medien, , Frankfurt am Main [u.a.], Lang, 1996

What is „My little Pony“

Ok before I do more analysis of contents and meaning here some basic analysis on what exactly MLP is, meaning what type of text.
This is not as easy as it may seem because there are tons of ways to define a text, looking at the medium, genre, mechanics, flow etc. So I’ll do that fo a change ^^

Ok the easy stuff first:
It’s a cartoon, TV Show. (duh)
Genre: obviously it’s Fantasy since it is set in an imaginary world. Now it is arguable if its High Fantasy or not depending on your definition on Highfantasy. Many would surly say it is, since we not only have Unicorns and Pegasi but also Dragons on a frequent basis as well as other mythological creatures.
I would say it’s not because the story is not about the fantasy elements. It uses them, yes but in a totally different way then, let’s say „Lord of the Rings“. It’s a mechanic used to make the show entertaining, but the plot evolves around everyday, normal things. Which is why I would say its main genre is rather „Slice of life“ than fantasy. It just happens to play in a fantasy world is the feeling of the show.

Narrator: Now it gets tricky, since it is a TV show it’s not as easy to define a Narrator as in a book. But still, let’s give it a try ^^
First of all it’s rather and most of the time personal narrator. The story focuses on one or two characters, we get to see their emotions and actions and stuff, but we interact with other characters only when they meet the character we focus on.
We see that greatly in „A party of one“ where we only get to know what Pinkie sees, we did not hear the others talk about a party whatsoever before hand.
This is true for most episodes, rarely the narrator switches between several persons.
In the second Episode of Season one is was done a little, also in the Discord arch, when the Ponies are separated in the maze we learn what happened to all of them, unlike Twilight who seems to have no clue (how comes she isn’t surprised about them looking so grey?… oh what evaaaaar)
But although the narrative focuses in the actions of one character we hardly get to look into their heads, meaning we have not ‚thinking voice‘ as we know it from other movies and series. Usually the ponies will then talk to themselves (great example for that would be „Lesson Zero“ where Twilight speaks out basically all her thoughts) but still I would argue it’s far from auctorial since there is so much we’ll never learn (for example about Celestia… or Pinkie Pie XD)

Dynamics. Now we get to the really interesting stuff.
I’m not sure what to argue for so I’ll see where this takes me XD
So I have two Ideas how the story works and maybe both is true.
So first I say this is a story of initiation.

What is a story of initiation?
Initiation describes basically how one person grows up/learns and in the end of this process rises to a new level. For example starting as a novice you learn, do you initiation ritual and become ne nun. In many tribes you men would go through a task, like hunting a specific animal, when they accomplished this task they were considered real men of the tribe.
This is an often used scheme especially in modern literature we see it more and more often. great examples are „Star Wars“ (4-6 at least), „Harry Potter“, „Narnia“ etc.
Some aspects this type of story holds is: 1. Leaving your home to learn
2. Having a teacher/master guiding your way
3. Character development through learning about yourself in a deeper level…
4. … by solving certain tasks (often dangerous ones)

So let’s take a look at MLP.
1. Twilight leaves Caterlot to learn about friendship (check)
2. She has Celestia (who loved at least for 1000 years) as a teacher. Celestia gives her several „tests“ to guide her along the way (check)
3. She has a great character development, from not understanding or even being interested in Friends to understanding the foundation of friendship, so far as to create new magic (check)
4. She developed this understanding through the everyday troubles she had with her friends, as well as enormous and dangerous tasks given to her by Celestia (basically all the two episode archs)

Most seems rather obvious I guess so why do I write it down? Because sooooo many bronies where simply SHOCKED by Allicorn Princess Twilight sparkle. I don’t get it. This is clearly a story of initiation, and like the novice will become a nun, Twilight (being the apprentice of the Princess) would have to become a Princess reaching the next level! I totally expected that from her, maybe not the Alicornthing since it seemed until Cadence that you had to be born an Alicorn but since there were Princes like Blue Blood it seemed likely. And latest after it came out that Cadence was not born Allicorn it was to be expected really.
Thing is, how will the story progress? Was this but one stage of her initiation process. Does she now have to grow even more to become a ‚real‘ princess? Well see I guess.

Oh yeah I said I had two theories at hand right? Ok the next one is the „Heroes Circle“
You should open that link to follow me here (sadly it was not a picture so I can’t place in here)
I will work with an example to explain things, most prominent is Odysseus but I know „The Hobbit“ better and it works just perfect!
So we start in the „normal World“ in this case at The Hill. There the hero-to-be gets a call – Gandalf comes along telling Bilbo about the adventure. The Hero first declines this call – as Bilbo clearly did. He oft (not always) get (or already has) a mentor – in this case this would be Gandalf.
Then follows the crossing to the „special world“ – The dwarfs show up, sing their songs etc. this amkes the Hobbit in the end wanting to participate. Leaving his home means going into this ’special world‘. In this special world the hero has to overcome tests and makes enemies as well as friends – Bilbo fights the trolls, the orcs, makes Gollum as an enemy, wins the dwarves as real friends. This usually goes up untill a „supreme Ordeal“ – Smaug the dragon i this case, which he has to overcome to then be rewarded. Then there is the road back into the „normal world“ – Bilbo comes home with bags full of gold. Mind though that the ‚returning back‘ aspect is often not inherent especially in more modern usages of this story

Ok now let us take a look at MLP.
The „normal world“ would be the surrounding twilight is used to, so her life in Canterlot, studying in the library there, without caring for friends. She then gets the call by discovering about Nightmare Moon. Twilight answers this call though… well you can also argue she gets a call by Celestia to go to Ponyvill which she tries to refuse because Nightmare Moon is more important to her.
Anyway, Ponyville is the ’special World‘. We see how irritated she is saying „All Ponies here are CRAZY“ in the first episode. Oh and of course we still have Celestia as a mentor!
Anyway then she has to find friends, which she does, has to overcome tests and problems, which she as well as her friends do (they are heroes too after all 😉 the „supreme Ordeal“ is, I would say the last Episode of season 3, the true understanding of Friendship and using this knowledge and magic she acquired. The reward then is her becoming an Allicorn and a princess.

Here again we see that all pointed towards her becoming at least princess…
Any way both things work and often they are found together (like in ‚the Hobbit‘, ‚Harry Potter‘, ‚Star Wars‘,…) ^^

I hope you guys found this still interesting, I will probably come back to this article time and again, so keep it in mind ^^

What about Gender in „Kuragehime“ II

So first of all the Theory part: What is gender studies?
Basically it means that as difference between the biological sex and the cultural gender is given and actually even something that constantly changes. There are certain aspects of masculinity and femininity and these can extracted by analysing a culture as well as media like books, films and you might have guessed it: Anime and Mange.
Gender studies is closely related to feminist reading or analysis of homosexual reading or cross-dressing.

So Gender roles in Japan, this is based on personal experience! I saw parts of Japanese society plus have some knowledge through reading, still this is but an attempt to grasp aspects and will over generalise some aspects that might not be true for everyone in Japan, please keep that in mind.

So since in this article I want to concentrate on male gender, this is what I will focus on in this gender description.
Actually what is believed to be a „male“ attribute is in Japan slightly different then it is in Western countries. This starts by our definition of „good looking“
Westerners usually prefer a masculine, sporty man, a little 3 days beard might even add to the charm, a clearly visible chin, thicker eyebrows, short hair, broad shoulders and a bit of muscles (but not too much, looking at male models they usually do not look like body builders 😉
Now comes something MANY keep telling me about any manga/anime they see: The boys look exactly like girls!
Well that’s not true for ALL manga, and ALL characters, but, yeah I see the point very often. But that is because many Japanese guys actually look very much like girls, actually I did mistook boys occasionally for girls or wasn’t sure when passing by. This is easily explained: 1. the Japanese face, also the one of men, is rounder and softer, reminding rather of women in our culture 2. they rarly grow, and if only a little, beard, generally they have way less body hair then what we know from western men.
Also what is regarded as „handsome“ in Japan? Just look for prominent Japanese bands or actors or models, you will find that most have feminine faces, at least in our perception. The rather square-cut faces of westerners with the bigger noses are not really seen as desirable in Japanese culture, so what we mock as feminine is actually good-looking in Japan. Just look at this japanese boygroup „News“
japanese-boyband-news
So much for the looks, but what about other gender attributes?
Although female appearance (not in the way they dress though!) is regarded as desirable, still some of our typical male attributes are also considered male in Japan: Do not be too emotional, a man is the bread winner, men should be strong and stuff like that.
Men and women are very clearly distinguished from each other by social norms and expectations on how they should behave.

So let us take a look at Kuranosuke from „Kuragehime“ which I introduced in the last post.
Kuranosuke is the son of a politician, that means he especially is burdened with societies expectations on him, since anything he does will fall back to his father, or even uncle who is prime minister of Japan.
But he does not really care about that.
Kuranosuke is very good looking, because his mother comes from abroad (probably France) he has a lighter hair colour and blue eyes
kuranosuke3
He loves fashion, especially dresses, since he always visited the theatre plays of his mother where the most beautiful dresses were worn.
Kuranosuke decides to dress up like a women, although his family naturally strongly objects to this, cross dresser, just like homosexuals and the like, are not really tolerated in Japan (which is funny enough considering the yaoi scene, but never mind).
Thing is in contrast to normal „okama“ (cross dressers) from animes, like Nuriko from „Fushigi yuugi“ or the okama in „one piece“ etc., Kuranosuke does not identify as a woman. He does not dress like a woman because he wants to be one, but because it is his taste. He wears skirts, and dresses which does not damage his gender identity as a man, at least not from his perspective (his family and society might see it differently though). Even being treated as a woman by the Amars, he does not loose his self recognition of being a man.
This is actually quiet amazing, if I may say so, especially when recognizing this comes from a very patriarchal society, here gender identity is challenged. Doing things a „proper man shouldn’t do“ does not make the character less a male.
Actually he incorporates many male as well as female attributes. besides his love for fashion and women clothes and make up he is shown as very emotional and caring. He cares for the amars, although he only knows them very little, he acts rash and not rational as can be seen with his spontaneous ideas like creating a brand. He has no idea how to do it but starts dreaming about fashion shows in NY and major shops in Tokyo, LA and Paris.
On the other hand he is protective towards Tsukimi and the others, he stands his ground and is a good leader. He is interested in women (he seems to have had rather a lot of girls friends actually) and, though emotional, also smart. He knows how to make good advertisement or how to manipulate people, a trade that is not really feminine. Just look at him, dressed all „female“ carying like the classic prince sharming the sleeping Tsukimi:
kuragehime 4
I think this shows very well that just like women could challenge gender roles like „women do not wear trousers“ men (at least in this manga) can challenge the concept of „men may not wear dresses“ because this man is neither gay nor an okama.

Ok that was it so far, I am no expert on Gender studies and I admit I did not do thorough research on it (yet) my information is basically what I gathered from various courses where we discussed gender reading time and again 😉
So if one of you know more about it and wants to add their knowledge, please leave a comment ^^

What is the „other“ in Death Note part II

Ok, as promised here is my reading of Death Note and the other.

First of all, what is meant with the ‚other‘. In it’s basics it is exactly what it sais: It is what is different from the norm. That also means the other is defined by the point of view, so within Germany everything and everyone from another nation is the „other“ and this shows that the other is something which describes the relationship of certain things (yes even things can be considered the ‚other‘) (Faulstich S. 414).
This conversely mean that not everything I know is for me considered as the ‚other‘, since it is a relationship between me and the thing or person or what ever in question, I have to know about and think about this thing. As long as this is not the case this is not the ‚other‘ at least for me. Erdheim considers the other thus as something that is unknown to us in the same terms as the subconcious is something unknown to us. We do not understand or can grasp it, but it does effect us. (Erdheim S. 167)
The ‚other‘ can come in many different form, and usually it either interests us, and we want to learn about it more, or is shocks us and we are afraid, sometimes even both at the same time. In movies Faulstich categorizes 3 types of the other the ‚exotic‘ ones, which usually deal with exploration of new lands or adventures into the unknown („Startrek“ mightbe a good example or „Indiana Jones“), the other as ‚healing‘ which is meant on a spiritual layer, simply accepting things that we do not understand (e.g. God), and finally, and this brings me to my major focus: Horror. (Faulstich S. 418ff)
In Horror Movies there usually is a monster, presented as the ‚other‘ incontrast to society. This ‚other‘ invades the realm that we know and thus threatens us and people get scared of this, which also shows a major difference to the first category ‚exotic‘ because there the ‚other‘ is actively searched for, not in the horror movie. The monster comes for us.
But what is important to note is, that this monster, since it is thought of by humans, can never be something entirely ‚other‘ because we can only use what we know of! Humans couldn’t possibly fathom something entirely ‚other‘ to what we know, untill we saw it. This shows that the ‚monster‘ always represents something that a society in which this movie/book/comic was produced is regarded as ‚other‘ or ‚uncanny‘.

Ok so much for the theory part, now let us look at „Death Note“, for all unfarmiliar with it, pleas look at my last post, there is a short introduction to the manga/anime. I will try to keep this as short as possible ^^

1. Ryuk.
Ryuk is probably the frst one you think of when considering the ‚other‘ in DN. This makes sense since he is no human, he comes from another worl even and has uncanny powers. Just considerin his looks, hus spiky teeth, the dark wings and his whole get up he is marked ‚monster’Although there is a weird connection to some Visual Kei clothing and make up when comparing…


the dark clothing, rather light skin, dark coloured eyes and such does in a way resemble some parts of Visual Kei Movement (for all who do not know: VK is a japanese movement, is describes primarily as clothing style that deviates from the norm and an indi music style in Japan)
After all the ‚other‘ cannot be anything we do not know at all, visual Key is not the norm in Japan (though it’s is popular among younger generation and is something japan becoem famous for abroad) it clearly is a deviation what is considered to be socially accepted. His charater also has seem attributes given to the younger generation: not caring, not helping, just going with the flow. Ryuk basically becomes more an observer then anything else.

2. Light/Kira:

On the first glance Light is the definition of normal. He is exactly what all Japanese students should be like, an ideal. He comes from a respectable family, his father works hard, his mother stays at home and he has a cute yet not overly smart little sister. He is good in sports, good in studies, popular, charming… you get the point. Even from his looks he remains normal, good looking but not in a ’star person‘ kind of way, he dresses in normal, good clothes, has a neat hairstyle, he is optically the opposite of Ryuk and L who even by appearance are visibly different from the rest.
Yet he incorporates the ‚other‘ but a different part of the ‚other the Ryuk I might say. Light is the ‚other within‘. Even before meeting Ryuk it is made clear that he does not fit into this society, he thinks about how boring life is and how meaningless, and how anoyed he is of all those normal people. But this is a thought many people can relate to! Especially young people probably often find themselves thinking something along those lines. But Light is given the Note Book and this gives him the chance to not only change the world, he even goes as fas as wanting to become its ‚god‘.
So what Light does is uncanny, but it is something society already knows: Killing as a punishment and scare off other criminals‘, death penalty in short. Sure he does it on a larger scale, and more importantly without a trial. You can only wonder how many innocent people he killed (even before killing the FBI agent and such).
But what might even be more scary then him killing is the effect he has on society, because just like Ryuk triggered him becoming Kira, Kira triggered that all those people who already thought the same thoughts as he did now spoke them out. In the anime as well as manga quickly websites that support Kira come into being and in fact many people support him. But for the reader these comments about how great Kira is are still considered the ‚other‘ because in our reality it would still be a taboo.
Just quickly coming back to appearances: Isaid before Light looks exactly what a Japanese protige should look like, true on the surface but in the anime as well an Manga the artis do show differences between Light and Kira. E.#G. as Kira his eyes become more narrow, often large black shadows will cover his face, later here even is shown as insanely laughing making a rather ugly face. The anime even goes as far as giving him occasionally red eyes.

vlcsnap-2010-09-22-19h30m51s36

3. L

L is the ‚good guy‘ so why even bother looking at him for the ‚other‘. Well especially because of that!Although L is the ‚good guy‘ (Ok Kira would refuse that and claim he is, but that is a different discussion) he is also the antagonist to the protagonist Light.
I also mentioned before how L just looking at him deviates from the norm!
First of all him Name, L is no name and it shows that he is different to the others who have normal names. L is but a latter, also a letter Japanese people cannot pronounce making him even more foreign. also at first he doesn’t even have an appearance, he is but a talking letter in a computer, and at least for the citizens in the anime he always stays this, which is why he can be exchanged so easily.
Once he does make his entrance, he also look peculiar. He is (like Ryuk) rather pale, his eyes as black and narrow. In contrast to the always accurately dressed Light he wears old jeans, and old white shirt and no socks and if it can be helped not even shoes. While Light always has a good posture, L is always bent over, he holds his spoon/Handy/other stuff in a weird manner. Well he has hardly any social abilities, and thus does not fit into society.
Also, he does not hunt Kira because of justice but out of interest. It is a challenge to him, kind of like a game of chess (or tennis? XD) So he as well as Ryuk is in a way an opposite of Light, and still he can be considered ‚other‘ to society, though in a less uncanny way then Light or Ryuk.

Ok what does this bring us to? First the question of what actually is the ‚other‘ in DN? Is there even a representation of ’normal‘ there? (if so, tell me…)
All the main characters deviate from the norm but they also represent already existing ideas of the society, which are felt to be improper and thus the ‚other‘, somehow threatening. In DNs case these thoughts are concerned with justice, but also with intellect. How scary can a genius become having the right weapon at hand (just think of the atomic bomb, and Japan had to suffer the most of it) is such a great intellect even something to desire? Or is it something uncanny that can turn against society any given moment?

yeah I know I left out Misa, and Rem and the policemen to safe space, so I concentrated on the three main characters of the first half, please understand 😉
I’m sorry this became al little flat but other wise it would have taken a lot of space. I you want me to go further into detail on this comment below, or comment and go deeper in your selves, I’m very interested about what you think about this
and also what other topics would you be interested in, pleas suggest Manga/anime and aspects to look out for, I will do my best at it ^^

Thanks for reading, and I hope you will continue following my blog. Also pleas bear with my bad spelling ^^***

sources:
Tsugumi, Obâ. Death Note. Shueisha. Tokyo. 2003-2006. print
Death Note. Obâ Tsugumi. Madhouse. 2006-2007. film

Streeck, Ulrich ¬[Hrsg.]: Das Fremde in der Psychoanalyse , Erdheim, Mario: DasFremde Totem und Tabu in der Psychoanalyse, München, Pfeiffer, 1993

Leskovec, Andrea: Fremdheit und Literatur, Berlin [u.a.], Lit, 2009