Das Leben ist ein Rätsel

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

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 ^^

Why so many haters?

Another thing about MLP that is quiet fascinating is the hater szene it evoked. As many Bronies there as many haters or „neighsayers“ as bronies like to call them pop up, search actively for Bronies videos/art/blogs etc to express their hate for the how and especially for the adult, male audience it has.
Why is that?

Ok before I will come to my personal theory why this is let’s take a look at how bronies came into being. It is hard to track down but I will believe what the guys from „know your meme“ said. I won’t repeat all that, for those interested check it out, the video is not that long ^^
Ok so basically we see that bronies emerged from a Haters comment. Because someone insulted the show others stood up for it. Would MLP still have gotten such a wide audience without this? Maybe, maybe not. Many got intrigued to watch the show because of the mean and commotion about it, kinda like me who only started to watch it to get what all this fuss is about. Anyway we’ll never know, still as it stands, a haters comment stands at the beginning of the internet culture of bronydom.
So could bronies even exist without „Neighsayers“ or „haters“? To me it feels like the two sides work each other up. The more hate, the more fandom to justify your interest and to show off the haters, the more fandom and love for MLP the more hate. A vicious circle.
I do not say bronies would stop watching MLP if it wasn’t for haters! obviously they watch it because they like the show, but would it ever have been this much discussed, this big a hit without haters? Personally I doubt it.
This only as an interesting side note of mine 😉

Ok now to why are there „Neighsayers?“ or haters?
haters_gonna_hate

Yeah… that is one explanationj, people just need something to hate but I don’t think so.
Many bronies think it’s just stupid and really t is. This is just a TV show, everyone has a right to watch what they want and really it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but it is.
Bronies are changing gender roles. The „Idea channel“ mada a great video about how brony hood is changing our concepts of masculinity. I don’t see the point in repeating what others said before me, but I think it is also fairly obvious. Bronies watch a show whose target group is little girls. This does not fit into the concept of ‚masculinity‘ of the last decades.
At any point when such lines as gender roles or classes get blurred and redefined there is a huge group against this. just think about women rights, a scandal of the first woman to wear pants! If the internet had been around I bet there would have been a massive amount of hating.
Thing is, this is just human! We love our fixed and safe boundaries. Changes are scary because you don’t know what will come out of it. It’s always safer to have things stay the way they were. This is I believe a huge reason for much hating, like homophobes od racism. When your surrounding changes, and you are not part of the group doing the change, your personality feels threatened.
I did not do a survey and I have no empirical data for this but I believe Haters to be mostly males who identify strongly through they conception of masculinity. They have a fixed ideal on what a ‚man‘ has to be like, watching action show, and sports and, you know do all these ‚manly things‘. But bronies do not fit into their idea of masculine, it was ok as long as there were only minority groups like ‚ok there is one weirdo watching MLP, dum but, ok‘ but when it started to flood the internet it creeped them out. All they identified with was questioned.
This is by no means an active process, they don’t think about how they identify and such, it’s mostly unconscious, they feel irritated by the mere idea of men watching stuff made for little girls, it feels wrong to them and because of this, they have the feeling it is up to them,m the ‚real men‘ to fix this.
But believe me, this will all die away sooner or later, that is if it stays with MLP! We see how it goes with women rights, there are still haters out there, claiming women should stay at home doing chores and bear children. If grown up, heterosexual men keep doing ‚girls stuff‘ it will be more widely accepted through time (haters might realize their identity does not get threatened because of this movement, it just broadens possibilities for men to express themselves) and naturally a group of haters will remain.

Of course there are some people who just have fun being antagonists and like to tease the bronies because when ever there is a HATE comment there will be many answers to it… to avoid those simply:

don't_feet

(for those don’t getting it: Parasprites is another name for trolls/haters, they are fly like thingies.. the tripples of MLP)

This is just a theory, as I said I don’t have any concincing data to prove this, maybe if I wrote my masters thesis about it (ooohh that would be awesome!) I might get something but, yeah it’s really kinda hard ^^***
So what do you guys think? Could that be a possible reason? let me know in the comments ^^

Ok world of MLP here I come.
Dear readers and bronies, please keep in mind I’m rather new to the subject I do not know all comments to certains subjects Ibase my assumptions mainly on the TV series. I do not follow up comments by Faust and other writers nor do I know many head canons etc.
That said lets start with some theory! (don’t we love it all?)

Ok so Utopia, what’s that? Despite the popular interpretation it first of all means „not-space“ or a place that does not exists. If that was al lthere is to it I could stop here because, seriously we all know Equestria is no actual existing land.
So let’s rather stick to the popular meaning: A perfect society. It came up mainly due to the Thomas Morus novel „Utopia“ from 1516 where he describes an imaginary Island with a seemingly perfect society. Well untill we get to the part about punishment, wars and slavery that is …
Soon the term dystopia was established as the opposit to a utopia, we can see that in novels like George Orwells 1964.
Often a seemingly utopian society is shown to have flaws, usually visualized by showing what happens if you don’t stick to the rules ofthe society, like in „Brave New World“ or „a handmaids tale“.
Concesequences are often: banshiment, mindcontroll/brainwashing, death, torture or similar things.

So let’s take a look ad Equestria.
As I understand it one key element why bronies are so drawn towards the show is the believe that, if we stuck to the ‚rules‘ they set up, the moral code they establish in the show, then this would be utopia.
And truly enough the whole show gives various lessons on how to live togetheri n e possitive way, like respecting differences, to not be suspicious but trust oneanother etc.
But that’s like the basic serface level and soem bonies seem to already have looked a little deeper. but first let’s see what we have got:

Rules: We actually never get explicit rules, as in Laws. We don’t get to see any policemen (yeah there is this one Sherrif but he is rather there because of the steriotypical western theme and seems to be rather the head of the town) nor jails or courthouses. Sure we can’t know for sure, maybe it just wasn’t shown yet but so far I will assume they do not exist. Ponies are expected to follow the morals of their society and if they don’t you try talk to them and make them realize it was wrong and yay if it works but if not… what then?
We don’t have an awfull lot of examples to look at but lets start anyways.
Luna/nightmaremoon is the first ‚villain‘ we encounter. According to history Luna felst sad because she was not as loved as her sister. She wanted other ponioes to loe her night as much as the day, but they didn’t so she grew bitter and if I heard correctly got possesed by ‚Nightmare‘ creatures. Out of her desperation and rustration she makes the night eternal. Celestia then uses the elements of harmony to ban her to the moon.
Ok so we have a, untill that point kind and caring princess who feels mistreates and sad und unrecognized. The one pony who should be able to reach out to her, and at the same time the mightiest pony and bearer of the elements of harmony which possess the stringes magic cannot free her from the nightmare thingies or make her realize that she is loved dearly and talk to her? SERIOUSLY? Instead she banishes her to the moon, yeah great that will make her hates the ponies and Celestia less and people appreciated.
Common who of you thinks this is fair and even remotely utopian?
But thousand years later some totally unrelated ponies are able to reach out and bring Luna back? Or did theyx just brainwash her? We don’t actually know for sure do we?
Anyway we have a very harsh banishment here in a case of someone who just felt lnoely and tried to get some attention…

Next up is Discord. We learn from Celestia that he had rules Eqestria in a very bad and minuplative way undtill she and Luna defeated him -aka turning him into stone while he remains concsious without the possiblitiy to do anything- using the elements of harmony.
We only hear that from her and we all know winnes write history. We have NO idea what his reign was like! Surely you’ll say that looking on his foirst appearance he seems to have a mean character (his name sais it all, right?) so if his reign was like that it must have been terrible.
I counter argue that: he was turned into stone for a thousand year. We learn later that beeing turned into stone does not deprive him of his senses and his thinking, so he had nothing better to do then think, the whoooole time. Who wouldn’t come up with quiet something to return this suffering? He rightfully was angry and Celestia and the ponies who could blame him?
Looking at his characterization he is by no mean evil. He has a different set of morals, he is super powerfull, he loves it a little chaotic, playing pranks but he also likes to laugh and have fun. He does not kill once and all the chaos he does is actually ridiculus then evils, I mean cottoncandy clouds and chocolatemilk rain and soap streets are rather harmless considering what he probably could do if he wanted to.
Also later we learn he can care about trust and friendship!
So WHY weren’t the sister themselves able to befriend him? Why did he have to be turned to stone? Simply because he had a different set of morals? He didn’t believe in harmony, which is what Equestrias foundation is based on, everything from seasons to the three tribes etc. is based on harmony but that doesn’t make chaos and evil thing.
Also it strikes me as very weird, that Celestia only frees Discord when she feels she has use for his magic! If she knew it was possible to reform him (mind Twilight would even have used some kind of magic to do that and there seem to be tons of books about spells to change a ponies personalyty judging on all the paper he eats…) or let’s say ‚make friends with him‘ (refrom does sound an awfull lot like brainwashing, doesn’t it?) why wait so long? Why have him suffer like this longer then he needs to?

Ok nextis Chrysalis. She is the queen of the changelings who do look awfully similr to normal ponies, even in their natural form. Are they related in some way?
Anyway we learn that these creature live by consuming the love of others.
In other words they don’t do that because they wantto, or because they are so evil, they do so to survive! (Let’s disregard for a moment how she tells her minions to feet on the ponies who are all afraid instead of in love and all that and take her first statement about love as the true one)
So what do you do with this kind of creature that doesn’T really fit into this society?
Right, we kick her out, presumably to starve of to feat on some others creatures love.

Last but not least there is Kings Sombre. I really don’t have much to say for him. We learn from the other Crystal Ponies that he actually was evil and stuff, we have no clue why he turned out like this, neither does Celestia. she and her sister simply ban him or whatever… so instead of dealing withthe Problem itagain is simply the banshiment of a force that does not fit into their society.

So looking at that I would say Celestia and Luna are FAR from beeing the perfect rulers and thus Eqestria is far from beeing a Utopia.
I do not want to imply that it is a Dystopia either!!! I know there are tons of arguements why things went the way they went and maybe the sisters really had not other choices but it still kinda buged me.
But that also might be why Celestia needs Twilight so desperately to become a princess! Twilight was able to accomplish all Celestia was not able to, because of her friendships! Maybe Celestia just doesn’t know that much about Freindship either and thus failed so often, and so for a perfect utopian society she needs Twilight and her friends.

Anyway so far for my analysis on wether Eqestria is a utopian society ^^

Ok, I admitt it after a hard struggle I watched the three seasons of MLP FiM and that after I first made fun of the whole brony movement and such. But I kept stumbeling across MLP, two ofmy best friends are brownies so I kinda felt, studyin cultrual studies I NEED to take a closer look into the series as well as this bizarr movement.
After watching 3 seasons and a movie I still canÄ’t queit see why grown up men would watch this and be huge fans… but well, so no I’m still not conerted to the bronydom. Still the series is queit nice, some episodes admittedly great and so I decided to talk a bit about my findings in the following posts ^^
Like about time in MLP and about it beeing a utopian society and stuff like that, so really rather from a studies point of view. so look forward to that ^^

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:
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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 ^^

The next Manga/Anime I will take a look at in terms of gender will be „Kuragehime“ by Akkiko Higashimura, published in Japan by Kondansha, the Anime was directed by Takahiro Omori in „Brains Base Studio“ in 2010 with a total of 11 Episodes, while the manga started in 2008 and is still ongoing. Like always I will first give you an introduction to the manga (this time a little earlier since I will be busy this WE) before taking a look at the cultural studies topic, this time Gender 😉

Plot:one with the afro)

Kuragehime is about an18 year old girl who, after her mother passed away, went to Tokyo to become an illustrator, Thing is, she is a total jellyfish Otaku! And she behaves like a classical otaku: the doesn’t dress well, has no soft-skill, is rather shy and not self confident at all. She also failed to get a job until now.
So she lives at a place where only Otaku girls like her live, men are not allowed at all!
amars

These are the „Amars“ as they call them selves and Kuranosuke, to whom I will come later.
From left to right its: Banba (the one with the afro) is the train otaku, behind her is Mayaya who is a „Records of the three Kingdoms“ fan, then comes Tsukimi she is the protagonist and, as mentioned jellyfish otaku, in the middle is Kuranosuke, next to him (yes him) is Jiji, who is osbessed with older men, and the last one is the daughter of the owner of the apartment Chieko, who loves traditional Japanese clothing and traditional Japanese dolls (dressed in Kimono XD)
One evening Tsukimi goes to a small shop for water pets, to take a look on a jelly fish but discovers that in the same tank is another jellyfish (btw: Kurage=jellyfish in Japanese) who will kill the other fish sooner or later. She tries talking to the shop-person but can’t since 1. its a he 2. he is even a hipster XD. Kuranosuke appears, looking like a stylish girl (similar to that he looks on the picture) and helps her out, she naturally does not realize his sex. So he comes along with her, and decides to stay in her room, and well only the next morning she discovers she spent the night with a guy in her room.
Since male persons are absolutely prohibited to enter the Amamizukan (name of the building) she has to keep it a secret, and against her hoped Kuranosuke simply decides he finds things around there interesting and keeps coming over.
To quickly explain about Kuranosuke, or Kurako as the other Amars later call him: He is the very rich son of a very rich and influential politician. In fact he is the grandson of the prime minister. But he is only the son of an affair who, for what ever reason, stays at the house of his father since he was I guess around 4 years old. His mother was an actress and Kuranosuke already as a child admired her clothing and was always interested in fashion rather the politics. He also has an older brother who is also becoming a politician. Kuranosuke started cross dressing simply because he finds female clothing more interesting then male clothing, not because he felt he was more a woman or something along the lines.
After this introduction the main plot is approaching: Amamizukan (a living district in Tokyo) is supposed to be mostly tared down to built a great luxurious hotel, this includes Amamizukan, but the tenants are all job less and couldn’t afford anything else. Kuranosuke decides to help them and via some side routes they start a brand. Yes all this not well dressed, in fashion not interested people are to start a brand called „Jellyfish“ because it is clothing inspired by Jellyfish, Tsukimi does the design, the others have to somehow get it together which brings them many nights awake with rather unprofessional results
Umz7c
this though became the first dress.
To save their home they do a fashion show with more of these dresses and try to make a less formal line and find out how difficult it is to actually make money with this.
In between a (possible) love story between Kuranosukes brother and Tsukimi is taking place while it is being hinted at, that Kuranosuke himself might actually like Tsukimi in a romantic way (tho ugh he himself doesn’t want to believe this)

As you can see the gender identity of Kuranosuke is rather interesting. He is neither gay nor a „drag queen“ (in Japanese Okama) or crossdresser because he feels rather like a girl then a boy. This is why I will concentrate on that aspect in the upcoming analysis 😉 But also the female Characters, like Tsukimi are not exactly the stereotypical „girl“ but it would be too long to include both in one article. If requested I can do another post on them later, if you want that, please leave a comment.
😉