The problem with moe in anime

I think some of the real problems with moe as used in anime’s that the characters are hardly ever relatable to female viewers, that’s if you take their personalities and behaviours into consideration that they start to resemble stereotypes of women. The tsundere woman’s always hard first, soft later; a bitch before becoming a softie. The yandere woman’s insanely in love yet hardly resembles women with actual mental illnesses (not that there aren’t any anime dealing with mental health issues in a realistic fashion but when moe takes over, that’s when it becomes inconsiderate).

If moe were a database as hypothesised by Hiroki Azuma, then it’s going to be a database of stereotypes that are endlessly mixed and matched but with little resemblance to the actual women in question. That’s practically the problem with the Fate/Stay series where the characters are assembled for their database elements, yet some of the character designs bear little resemblance to the people they’re based on and it can be bad when it comes to doing research on what you’re basing your character after. It’s one thing to portray Leonardo da Vinci as a woman, but when it comes to making him/her into a constellation of anime cliches that’s when the character design fails.

If moe were a database, then there’s bound to be shortcomings for the database model when it comes to inspiration for the characters’ personalities and appearances where if it were generated by expectations of stereotypes then it’s going to fall short when it comes to establishing characters as individuals so that’s why it’s necessary to be inspired by real life as well. (That’s also the problem with TV Tropes fiction, it’s based on stereotypes and cliches instead of things and people the author experiences and encounters in real life.)

Using real life as inspiration can make characters less stereotypical in some aspects, in the sense of resembling an actual person if not in appearance or at least something that exists. That does make you wonder why in light of feral dog predation being a thing in the real world, why aren’t there more anime and manga portraying dog girls doing the same thing? If farm cats exist in the real world, why aren’t there more catgirls working in farms for instance?

There are anime that do take inspiration from real life, all the better for it though I think there needs more of it if there’s ever a way to counteract the near overuse of moe stereotypes in anime. Again, basing characters after real life people more closely can lead to inspired personalities and character design choices. But the overreliance on the database can hinder it, thus it becomes little, if not nothing more, than a collection of tired cliches whether in personality or in appearance.

That’s where the grand narrative kicks in and turns out to have more advantages over the database model when it comes to constructing characters and stories, even though it’s not necessarily entirely free of stereotypes either. But I think with the database model, you’re more likely to be treated with characters created with stereotypes and cliches in mind as well as creating characters based off of stereotype casts. I do think that the database model’s limiting, especially in that it’s based on whatever stereotype’s around or popular at the moment.

There are anime that do subvert stereotypes or deconstruct them, but I think the best way to circumvent this is more closely portray anime characters after real people and things rather than being an assortment of stereotypes and cliches passed off as the real thing. That might be one of the problems with Fate/Stay, it’s a moe franchise where the characters who’re based off of real people are portrayed as an assortment of stereotypes and cliches that don’t make sense whether sartorially or story wise.

That’s why the database model of anime’s flawed.

Making a dress

I’m pretty used to making skirts and blouses myself but making dresses and trousers are something I’ve yet to master, something that I tried before with the latter but not without success. I also need a pattern or two to make something into a dress and a fabric with more yardage to turn into a pair of trousers, which’s going to be tricky as it’s something I’m not used to and I need more time to practise to get something right.

But I’m going to take a risk in making a dress, partly because one of my relatives doesn’t like it when I disrespect her based on the fact that I keep on sending something after she’s sent me sewing materials so to respect her I’m going to make a dress. It will not be easy, actually it will not be as easy as making a blouse because a blouse takes up less yards or metres of fabric whereas a maxidress needs more of that.

But I will make a dress to respect her, after days of disrespecting her by accident that I’m willing to take up the challenge and honour her.

The problem with Storm (and X-Men)

As Cheryl Lynn Eaton said, until recently Storm has been written by white people for such a long time that one of the ways to circumvent this is to portray Storm as having been brought up by white people. My opinions is that either Storm has to be written by a black person, somebody (regardless of ethnicity) who’s interested in Kenya or somebody who’s been to Kenya. I feel as if Storm (and to some extent, Idie Okonkwo) have been written through a white American lens for so long that it’s about time to be written by an African or at least somebody who’s been to an African country before.

That might already be done to some extent, but I do think this is the representation that’s lacking in X-Men and superhero stories that it’s about time to do something about it. It’s already been done to Black Panther, another African superhero and to a few others to some degree but what makes X-Men problematic is that the tendency to use mutant bigotry as a metaphor for racism doesn’t work well if most of the characters (both villain and hero) are white and the writers themselves are white that we’re missing out what a black or Asian American perspective would be like.

By contrast, Kwanza Osajyefo and Milestone Comics writers have a better approach to this by not just having more non-stereotypical and authentic portrayals of black characters but because they’re also black themselves so they can approach things from a perspective that X-Men stories fail to articulate. Marvel’s already doing this by hiring more people of colour to work on characters like themselves but I also think X-Men, despite the brand’s popularity, has aged rather badly when it comes to using mutants as a metaphor for racism.

Maybe not necessarily outdated but it doesn’t hold up well when it comes to the real racism that blacks and Asian Americans face that more writers of colour are needed to do something that white X-Men writers fail to address properly. Marvel’s already doing it to some extent, but I feel X-Men really needs to be thematically revamped to better examine what it would be like if black people have powers but for now Osajyefo’s Black and Sweetheart fill in the gap.

Insular References

I suspect that when it comes to superhero comics, until recently with the inclusion of editors and writers from a non-comics background, have come to include writers from a fannish background which doesn’t mean that they can’t do original characters (in fact, fanfiction writers do come up with fanmade characters all the time) but the fannish sensibility is there on some level. It could be bringing in an extensive knowledge of continuity, something that was absent in earlier stories or a stronger love for the character that the earlier writers lacked.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being a fan of something, people are always inspired by what they like but the thing with superhero media is that aside from movies they’re usually aimed at a niche audience and pander a lot to them when they do hire or allude to one of their own. The difference between football and superhero media is that football may have fans turned footballers and coaches but football’s objectively more popular and mainstream so they can get away with it.

But the similarity’s the overuse of insular references, which can be off-putting to those who’re not in the know or are merely casual fans. I know some Marvel characters like Storm, Psylocke, Wolfsbane, Tigra and Cable but I don’t always read up their appearances in comics so I’m practically a casual fan. The hardcore fans, I assume, are the ones who frequently read up on their adventures and escapades as well as having deep knowledge of the characters.

Here’s the problem with insular references: they’re only appealing to those who’re in the know. Maybe not always so but it does feel like it, when it comes to things fans care about which can be off-putting to outsiders and even casual fans. In my case, I can remember some Marvel characters but when it comes other things I’d have to Google it up to know what this character does, who the character is and what are their costumes like.

I don’t read comics that often, which again’s proof that I’m only a casual reader. But it seems until recently, superhero comics have come to pander a lot to an insular readership with all the references to continuity this and that, it becomes off-putting at worst and a chore at best. Superhero comics are trying to wean themselves from the cult audience they’ve grown attached to, but I feel they should take more risks in weaning themselves off of such an audience if they’re to appeal to wider audiences.

Which they already are to some extent, but it still needs more work to do.

The problem with veganism

Veganism is a lifestyle ideology that advocates less cruelty against animals by abstaining from meat, eggs, fur and milk altogether. While it’s a noble cause on paper, it’s not something many people can easily abide by, especially if they have allergies to things like nuts and soy (common vegan meat substitutes). To the point where good old meat and milk would suffice, if some people are intolerant of lactose then some people are intolerant of beans and wheat. Not to mention, you’d still have to kill animals when it comes to growing vegan crops so it’s not entirely cruelty free.

It’s possible to grow crops without killing animals but I think this usually happens if it were on a smaller scale such as a vegetable garden or fruit orchard. What vegans get tends to be on a larger scale so more animals will be killed to meet their demands and wants, farmers would have to kill pests to meet their demands and keep their crops safe. It’s possible to grow crops without killing animals, but I still think it can be done if it were smaller scale like a fruit orchard or a vegetable garden. But what vegans want tends to be large scale, so it’s not going to get rid of animal cruelty in any way.

Not to mention animals will still be killed if people use old-fashioned methods of pest control, which involves setting certain animals against vermin. Cats and dogs are useful for pest control, but both of them are invasive species and dogs are no different when it comes to making bird species extinct. It’s just that when it comes to pest control, there’s little option to do when one abstains from using gases and poisons to eradicate vermin with so it’s a case of choosing either a necessary evil (cats and dogs against rats) or a lesser evil (same thing).

(When it comes to cultured meat, it’s now possible to have meat without killing the animal so it’s a good thing both for meat eaters and animal lovers.)

Another problem with veganism’s that it disregards the context of cultures that either do regard animals highly but still using them for some foods (India and cows) or that there are cultures that tend to be heavy on meat, especially in the Arctic where it’s near impossible to grow fruits and vegetables all year around. It’s not that the Inuits don’t eat fruits and vegetables at all, they do to some extent but only if it’s the right season to grow crops because other times they can’t grow them and eat meat as one of the few alternatives around.

There’s a reason why greenhouses and hothouses are invented, they are the only places where people can grow warm weather crops and flowers at a time when winter and frost kick in. So it’s either you grow vegetables and fruits in a hothouse or you wait until another summer to grow fruits and vegetables again. It’s like that to some extent in tropical climates, but since they’re warmer longer you could easily get away with eating vegetables and fruits hence why I think a vegan diet only works in tropical environments and hothouse places.

Alternately speaking, a vegan diet won’t work in deserts where there’s little water unless if it happens in certain occasions that things have to be irrigated to grow crops with. A vegan diet’s only practical if it’s warm, wet and humid whether in the tropics or in hothouse gardens and those with plentiful irrigation. To further complicate matters, desertification has become a thing especially when animals aren’t allowed to roam about and eat grass, which keeps them from emitting methane.

That’s a thing with regenerative agriculture, which means animals are allowed to roam the earth to make plants grow and can be used to lower greenhouse gases with. Vegans are opposed to this, thinking this is animal cruelty even though with regenerative agriculture it’s possible to have the animal around without killing it. You could keep a pet cow and do regenerative agriculture with it. There are people who do farm sustainably and some even keep farm animals around.

Which leads to another problem with veganism: it’s too sentimental to work practically. The idea of freeing animals from farms is fine if it were factory farming where animals are kept in tight enclosures, not allowed to roam and eat plants on the ground. But when it comes to invasive species like raccoon dogs and minks being let out of fur farms, that’s when veganism and animal rights become short-sighted. They lack foresight in here, especially when it comes to minks and raccoon dogs wrecking havoc in foreign environments.

The only way to keep them from invading new environments is to never bring them here in the first place. Veganism doesn’t work for everybody, whether if it’s those who’re allergic to nuts and soy, those who have to farm and garden within certain conditions and the topic of invasive species. I am against fur farming but letting fur animals out creates a new problem where they wreck havoc on the environment. Veganism doesn’t work in practise to some extent, especially when it comes to problems like these that make it hard to live sustainably.

That’s why I think veganism’s very short-sighted.

Dog domestication–It’s not simple

When it comes to theories surrounding dog domestication, I don’t think it’s even that simple where in the case with some dog-owning communities where dogs are even allowed to roam at will and it does happen to some extent especially in some coastal villages in Mexico and possibly anywhere else to some extent as well. It’s very likely that prehistoric dogs were also allowed in roam, though this could’ve influenced a degree of distrust towards dogs as noted in the Bible and some Ancient Greek texts linking dogs to treachery (as noted in the book Shameless: The Canine and Feminine in Ancient Greece).

So while dogs (and cats) were deliberately domesticated to guard and hunt, they were also allowed to roam at will (to whatever extent) that may’ve been the case with prehistoric villages and farms as it is today. However sheep, goats, cattle and pigs are domesticated by people but they’re not allowed to roam and why would anybody want their food and fabric sources be gone? They’d most likely overprotect them, hence the need for fences and guard animals to keep them safe from harm. If it happened to cats and dogs, then cat meat and dog meat shouldn’t be marginal but big industries.

While cat meat and dog meat are a thing in some places, that doesn’t mean everybody eats them so they’re practically marginal at best. Dog domestication has less in common with sheep and goats and more in common with cats and rats to an extent that all three of them are the top invasive animal species (dogs might even be the first invasive animal by the virtue or vice of being the first domesticated). I still don’t think dog domestication’s as simple as say simply domesticating a wolf as that involves owners allowing their wolves to stray every now and then in prehistory.

As it is today.

Africa–Not a monolith

As far as I know, Africa isn’t monolithic and never was when it comes to the different nations, kingdoms and ethnicities. The kingdoms that predated modern African nations such as the Baganda and Yoruba kingdoms should tell you that Africa wasn’t that monolithic from the start either. For instance, it’s like saying cat meat is a thing in Africa but only a handful of African nations have cat meat (Angola, Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo and Togo) and even then not all of their inhabitants eat cat meat.

Cat meat’s not even a thing in other countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Uganda and Rwanda. That’s like saying Asians eat dogs and this is confined to only a handful of countries (South Korea, Hong Kong, China, The Philippines and Vietnam) and there are Asian countries that don’t have dog meat (Thailand, Japan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and India) just as not all Asians eat dogs. That risks being a racist cliche that paints and generalises either or both Asians and Africans.

That would be like saying Europeans poison dogs which’s a big deal in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. Not so much in other countries like Britain and Ireland where although it’s a problem, to my knowledge it’s not a big problem as it is in Germany and Austria. Not to mention Africa’s increasingly out of poverty, there’s a growing middle class in many African countries and there are African countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Morocco, Botswana, Egypt and Namibia which are in the third stage of the demographic transition model.

As in declining death and birth rates, increasingly becoming stable. That’s where several of them are, many more will join in the future. There goes another problem with generalising Africa, it ignores whatever political and cultural differences they have where Nigeria will be different from Ghana, Kenya’s different from Uganda and Rwanda and so on. In fact, even in Nigeria there’s a difference between the Muslim North and the Christian South. This is also felt to some extent with other West and Central African countries, though not as deeply as in Nigeria where at some point it was two different countries.

So Africa’s not a monolith, it never was a monolith when it comes to the Akan Empire overlooking both Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana, the Yoruba kingdoms of Benin and Nigeria and the Cameroonian fondoms.

Endangered languages

There are many languages that get endangered for many reasons, some like Irish get endangered because they’re not the language taught by the colonisers and have been marginalised for years until recently and even then you have some native speakers distrusting those who’re learning it just recently. (That’s the case with somebody learning Scottish Gaelic.) I do think when it comes to endangered languages, there’s going to be a wealth of things not found in other languages that risk being lost.

The Irish language could be lost if more people didn’t learn and use it on a regular basis, the same can be said of other languages such as Skolt Sami and Sakha. Dyirbal, for instance, has the word for dog be grammatically feminine (as shared with Russian and Oromo), so it too risks being lost to time if more people didn’t more using it in everyday life or learning it in some way. As for Breton, we could lose the only Celtic language still spoken in continental Europe if it continues to be neglected in favour of French but the same can be said of others like Picard and Occitan.

I still think that while we may not be able to preserve all languages, a lot can be taken to make many more of them still around for generations to come.

Invasive Species of Africa

When it comes to invasive species in Africa, it’s pretty much any introduced species that has a detrimental effect on native wildlife whether through competition, predation or spread of diseases. Dogs might be a good example of an invasive species in Africa since out of all the canids only the dog’s not native to Africa being introduced from Israel and the Arabian peninsula (which’s also how Islam, Christianity and Judaism as well as the Afro-Asiatic languages spread). One way of knowing that they’re an invasive species is their effects on primate populations in Morocco (Barbary macaques) and Uganda (Vervet monkeys).

In fact, there are two studies of dogs preying on Vervet monkeys in Uganda. Another invasive species is the cat, though there’s only one study on their impact on Cameroonian amphibians so far. This is a bit trickier than dogs in that cats were domesticated twice, once in Anatolia and once in Africa via Egypt so in some sense they’re native there in both. To put it this way, if dogs are native to Asia why are they considered an invasive species? They’re harmful to civets in Hong Kong, sea turtles in the Philippines, various species in the South Asian subcontinent and Israel and antelope in Mongolia and in Tibet, China.

So there’s your answer, though there’s another study or two in Cameroon on the predation of guinea pigs by both cats and dogs so this sheds light on them as invasive predators.

Cat ownership in Africa and Asia

I suspect that the idea that cat ownership going hand in hand with Westerners and Westernisation’s only true for the Americas and Oceania, the same can’t be said of Africa and Asia where with the former cat ownership could’ve been around for ages that’s if Egypt were taken into consideration as the place where the second wave of cat domestication happened. If we go by colonial accounts such as these, then cat ownership would’ve been a thing for years even if not everybody necessarily likes or owns cats. Possibly longer if only Ajami texts were translated, then we can get a better glimpse of what cat ownership in African countries were like prior to European colonisation.

As for the Philippines, they’d probably cluster with other Asian cats and since Pigafetta encountered both cats and dogs in the Philippines so domestic cats and cat ownership would’ve already been there prior to Spanish influence and possibly a little earlier than that. The only difference’s that cats would’ve come from India, which in turn got them from the Middle East and Africa. That’s from the book Animals in Chinese History where it documents the introduction of cats from India to China via Buddhism, which would’ve also been the case for cats in Southeast Asia though that too would’ve went hand in hand with Hinduism and trading with India. Which makes geographic sense as both China and India are next to Southeast Asia so trade of cats would’ve come along as well.

So cat ownership going hand in hand with Westernisation and Western colonisation only makes sense if it were the Americas and Oceania, but when it comes to Africa and to some extent Asia (cats were first domesticated in Anatolia, modern day Turkey and Armenia) cat ownership and domestic cats would’ve already been a thing for ages and if more Ajami documents were uncovered, we can get a better idea of what cat ownership was like in African countries.