The Saint’s Magic Power is Imposter Syndrome

US release cover photo of The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent manga
US release cover of The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent manga

One of the most anticipated shojou/josei animes coming out this spring is an adaption of “The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent.” Per the manga cover (released by Seven Seas) the story follows 20-something, workaholic Sei as she adapts to living in a new magical world after being (accidentally?) summoned to be a savior “saint.” Sei is dismissed as a spare by the eldest prince of the magic world, since a younger, innocent ingenue girl was also summoned during the same ritual. 

The readers follow Sei as she processes her new situation. From the first pages, Sei describes herself as someone who works very hard at her job, to the point of exhaustion. After sleeping for two weeks as a guest in a castle, she wanders into a new area that is the Medicinal Flora Research Institute where she eventually becomes an employee. Even though her new employment does not demand it of her Sei continues with her M.O. of overworking and needing to prove herself through her productivity. For example, even though for the first 2 weeks of her residence in the new world, she is a guest in the palace, waited on hand and foot by servants and put up in a plush bedroom, when she starts her “job” as a researcher, she says she’s “gotta work work if [she] wants to eat.” There is a dichotomy of expectations presented – the ones expressed by the locals who feel honored by her presence and welcome her to simply be in the palace (or as a token employee of the Research Institute), versus her expectations of herself, which is stated that she must work to eat and must contribute productivity to “earn her spot.” We see Sei’s self definition come from her work: After she makes her first potion, she states “That’s how I came to live here…not only as a medicinal flora researcher but as an inhabitant of [the] world.” 

With a light and fluffy isekai (read: magical world) framework, this story taps into and addresses a deeper transnational psychological trend, what is commonly known in the US as Imposter Phenonmenon (aka Imposter Syndrome). This phenomenon was coined in research in the 1970s on high-acheiveing women, but gained larger societal awareness as a buzzword in the 2010s. It is defined loosely as “doubting your abilities and thinking you are a fraud” (HBR) and “experience of feeling like a phony—you feel as though at any moment you are going to be found out as a fraud—like you don’t belong where you are, and you only got there through dumb luck. (VeryWellMind). 

This manga answers the questions that imposter syndrome poses, and the reader watches as Sei’s journey to accept herself and her impressive abilities improves her health and makes her stronger. This content and the light-heartedness and entertaining way it is communicated positions it to be relatable to audiences anywhere there is imposter syndrome, but for countries where that term is not used, anywhere where women are entering fields and achieving leadership in fields that are male-dominated. 

This leads to the drawback of the manga: As a comic, it would be targeted to teenage girls, but imposter syndrome is largely a college-age and employment-related phenomenon. To better fit a younger demographic, adaptation would need to highlight the some root symptoms of Imposter Phenomenon: the need to overachieve, the inability to recognize one’s own talents and skills, unrealistic expectations.  

On the whole, if executed well, the anime version stands a decent chance to garner international commercial success, and I’ll be interested to see how the production studios smooth over some of the rough edges of the light novel/manga (namely, pacing issues, some awkward word choices, and plot holes) and highlight the deeper emotional development of the protagonist to draw in and relate to the audience. 

For those who are familiar with Japanese demographics, Saint’s Power is a shojou manga that deals with josei issues.

For my fellow American otaku, if you liked “Boys over Flowers” (“Hana Yori Dango”) or “(Kaicho wa) Maid Sama” you’ll enjoy Saint’s Power, even though its set in a magical world and not a high school.

For European manga-fans, if you liked “Kimi wa Petto” you’ll enjoy Saint’s Power, which has a little less romance at the onset.

Signal Boost: Haute Couture and Sailor Moon

US American reporter and translator Angelica Frey posted an article yesterday on “Sailor Moon’s Fashion from Christian Dior to Theirry Mugler” on Jezebel. This is a great read on the intersection of East Asian storytelling and graphic novels, European fashion, and the US American market in the 1990s. If just one of those topics interests you, I highly recommend her article on Jezebel.

Link:https://theattic.jezebel.com/the-haute-couture-history-of-sailor-moon-1844488914?utm_campaign=Jezebel&utm_content=1598886989&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR2uAsHH8vdbHWB7sklYKZbG1gB-8whTy69wU595Xu5apsZlqdI6NQdWcWw 

A stylized drawing of Sailor Moon wrapped in pink ribbons

“Hate Commentary” in the German Language

"Hasskommentar" facebook ad from Duden

Last week, Duden (the Merriam-Webster of Germany) upped their social media game with their ad campaign for the latest edition of the comprehensive dictionary. “Hasskommentar,” which translates to “hate-commentary,” has officially been added to the German language. Their website defines this new word as “commentary containing hatred and threats, characterized by strong rejection and hostility, especially on social networks.”

As German speakers are more empowered by their linguistic tradition to create their own words and compound words, the German language is quick to adopt new words (especially technological terms) into its formal lexicon. For example, Germans used “ich google”/”du googlest” about two years before it became common practice to verb the proper noun in American English. (I noticed this personally while living there in the 2000s.)

Hopefully, the adoption of this new word does not start a trend in other countries, as formalizing such concepts makes them more valid and stable in culture and society. On the other hand, having a formal term for this oppressive behavior may help in creating practices to deconstruct it and policies to restrain and restrict it.

Presenting Panels…again

Greetings Folks!

I’m presenting  2 panels at Awesome Con this weekend in Washington DC.

#1 Friday, 4:00 PM – “Good Omen’s Good Theology” room 140

#2 Saturday, 5:00 PM – “Supernatural: Bible Canon vs Bible Fanon” room 140 again.

Both are with Rev. Will Green from Foundry UMC. (wgreen@foundryumc.org )

Hope to see you there!

PS Once the formal copyright comes through, we’ll have the material from these presentations published on this site.

The Burkini Debate Spreads to Italy, Australia, and the USA

The debate over the rights of women to wear modest, full-body swimwear is spreading like wildfire over social media and news sites.  Twitter and Facebook posts reached a fever-pitch after a well-documented incident involving a French Police officer ordering and forcing a woman to disrobe on a beach. Images and commentary are trending across all platforms, and mainstream media including CNN and the New York Times are offering more in depth journalism on the topic.   The Times article interviews the Australian designer of the Burkini, who defends her design. She is not alone–Italian author Barbie Latza Nadeau examined the duplicitous nature of the argument, pointing out that Catholic Nuns have never been shunned from beaches for wearing conservative garments while enjoying the sea and sand.

Worldwide outrage and censure of the “Burkini Ban” continue to gain momentum, and the tide does not seem to be turning anytime soon.

Sources/Links:

Facebook:  Image of French Police Officer and Woman he ordered to disrobe https://www.facebook.com/Thei100/photos/pcb.986202944825665/986202511492375/?type=3&theater

Twitter: “The Burkini Ban is Sexist and This Poignant Tweet Shows Why Its So Awful” http://www.bustle.com/articles/180372-the-burkini-ban-is-sexist-this-poignant-tweet-shows-why-its-so-awful?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=owned&utm_campaign=feminismbustle

New York Times article “Burkini is ‘Freedom and Happiness’ Australian Inventor Says”  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/world/australia/burkini-ban-france-aheda-zanetti.html?_r=0

CNN: “Police in Nice Force Woman to Remove Part of Clothing”  http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/24/europe/woman-burkini-nice-beach-incident-trnd/

Italian Author for The Daily Beast: “Where is the Outrage over Nun Beachwear”
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/21/where-s-the-outrage-over-nun-beachwear.html

 

Fashion vs the Government: The Burkini Debate

Over ten years ago, a Muslim woman created the “burkini”-  a full-body, loose wetsuit that would allow active Muslim women to swim while upholding ideas of Islamic modesty. Today, the burkini is a point of contention and debate across Europe. Outright bans in Germany, backlash in Britain, and, a few days ago, runaway public censure in France, all center around the conservative swimsuit.

Getty Images Burkini Stock Photo

In Germany, the mayor of small town Neutraubling banned the swimsuit from public swimming pools under the guise of “hygiene concerns.” His claim was undermined by the rest of his statement, as he segued into victim blaming, questioning women’s choice to wear the modest wetsuit: “Why it is necessary to wear a burkini at a ‘ladies only’ evening? I don’t understand.”  (Source: Express)

Earlier this year, British multinational retailer Marks and Spencer came under attack for stocking the burkini. Politicians from the EU reprimanded the marketing decision as bowing to “misogynists.” One politician, Laurence Rossignol, stated: [Marks and Spencer] are shirking their responsibilities and are promoting women’s bodies being locked up.”  Domestically, there was a similar backlash in the press. Telegraph reporter Allison Pearson opined, “It is yet more dismaying evidence that our own culture has failed to stick up for itself and is allowing misogynist attitudes to sneak in under the radar.” (Source: Telegraph)

These instances of xenophobia and religious intolerance, masked by “anti-misogyny” language, only result in the further enslavement and disenfranchisement of a group they allegedly seek to “free.”  

Just this past week, a French waterpark (SpeedWater) in Les Pennes-Mirabeau  was sharply criticised for its “Burkini Day,” which sold out. The mayor of two nearby Marseille districts, Valerie Boyer incited protest to this event. In a tweet, she called out anyone who “let” the private event progress as  planned as “accomplices.” (Tweet source). Boyer has also alleged, “Accepting this so-called fashion means we accept communalism [communautarisme] in our country.”

It is important to note that Boyer is not a member of the National Front, which has international infamy for its xenophobic platform, but from the more moderate center-right group called The Republicans, which is currently headed by previous French President, Nicholas Sarkozy. Her views are reflective of that party, even when she states that allowing women to wear a burkini “is…a question of women’s dignity, a question of our most fundamental principles.” (Source: BBC )

 Most succinctly, a French citizen retorted to reporters, “Today in France, you are free to sell your body but if you just want to hide your curves to go to the beach, it’s a problem and requires a veto. What’s all the fuss about?”

In “free” Western Europe, Muslim women are disempowered and disenfranchised by those who claim that their clothing and fashion choice is incorrect, divisive, or even “unhygienic.”  It is a long road to pluralism, and the amount of hate and debate surrounding a simple swimsuit is indicative of the amount of work to be done for Europe to be truly multicultural. 

 

Sources:

 

Additional Links:

  • My previous engagement on the idea of “communautarisme” in France: “Is France Allergic to Multiculturalism?
  • BBC’s overview of European opinions on the Veil: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-13038095

Compare/Contrast: Youth in Politics

Today, NHK and BBC are running stories about young adults in politics, but the pictures are very different. In the UK, Millennials are feeling the Brexit burn, while 20-somethings in Tokyo are disengaged from politics and passive towards policy changes.

Read more:

Is France “allergic” to Multiculturalism?

From WikiCommons: " 'Lamartine, before the Hôtel de Ville, Paris, rejects the Red Flag,' February 25, 1848. By Henri Felix Emmanuel Philippoteaux (1815–1884). Lamartine said that the red flag represented revolutionary violence, and 'has to be put down immediately after the fighting.' "

From WikiCommons: ” ‘Lamartine, before the Hôtel de Ville, Paris, rejects the Red Flag,’ February 25, 1848. By Henri Felix Emmanuel Philippoteaux (1815–1884). Lamartine said that the red flag represented revolutionary violence, and ‘has to be put down immediately after the fighting.’ “

A new op-ed posted on the French news-site “Le Monde” today offered a cutting criticism of France’s ideas of nationality tied to ethnic background. The article delves into the twenty year history of the idea of “communautarisme,” a concept foreign to USians, which has become a pejoratif term for the subjugation of a majority to the aspects of a minority culture. (Think: the extra costs it takes for a school cafeteria to accommodate vegetarian or Halal food.) The article traces the modern negativity towards multiculturalism through the burning issue of women wearing the veil in public (in public schools, offices, etc.) and the debate it ensued in the 1990s and to recent dialogue and reactionary language to the attacks in Brussels and Paris. 

While this “allergy” to “communautarism” has modern ramifications, the article’s author Anne Chemin points out that the idea of a monocultural France can be traced back to the French Revolution from 1789-1799.

Indeed, many fundamentals and symbols of French national identity are tied to monoculturalism. In the USA, we have jus soli–citizenship determined by the land upon which one is born. (Remember the debate of Obama’s birth certificate and place of birth?)  In France, the system is jus sanguinis–citizenship is determined by the nationality of one’s parents (and often grandparents). Furthermore, the red of the French flag is symbolic of blood-relations. Likewise, the last part of the French motto refers to “brotherhood.” The idea of purity of blood is further cemented to primary French national identity in the repeated chorus of La Marseillaise, the French national anthem: “To arms, citizens!…Let [their] impure blood soak our fields.” (Aux armes, citoyens!…Qu’un sang impur abreuve nos sillons.) Continue reading

“The Kiss” Viral Image Offers Commentary beyond the Shock Value

Photo-credit: Petras Malukas/AFP/Getty Images via BBC Culture

Photo-credit: Petras Malukas/AFP/Getty Images via BBC Culture

A piece of street art from Vilnius, Lithuania has been hitting the internet hard this week. The image depicts expected Republican nominee for the US Presidency, Donald Trump, in an unblinking embrace with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  From the perspective of an artist from the former Soviet bloc, this depiction reflects a cautionary wariness of the future should  Trump be elected. Internationally, its viral popularity illustrates a new dimension to the transnational dialogues on homophobia, xenophobia, and “conservative politics.”

Read more about this image:
BBC Culture Article: “a closer look at the mural reveals a level of subtle political commentary that cuts against the superficial sensation” http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20160518-what-does-the-trumpputin-kiss-really-mean