i admire the character

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Actor Fujimura Shunji, known by fans as “O-Hyoi-san”, passed away on Jan 25, 2017 due to heart failure at the age of 82.

He was both the model and the voice of Tanaka of Kuroshitsuji.

(this is him in the recording room for Kuroshitsuji, which happens to be the only anime he has ever worked on since the character is modeled after himself)


Toboso Yana expressed her condolences on Twitter.

Tanaka is a character I modeled after Fujimura Shunji-san, an old gentleman I have admired since childhood. Having Fujimura-san himself voice the character in the anime has been my utmost honor.

Without Fujimura-san, there would not be Black Butler today. Thank you very much. May he rest in peace.

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A Solitary King… no longer?

Everyone knew that Furudate’s character development skills are unholy, but chapter 224 has honestly just slain me. Naturally, a lot of people expected Hinata to help Kageyama snap out of it again, but who would’ve thought it was going to happen in such a beautiful, stunning and meaningful way. He didn’t just help him get rid of the unwanted title — he actually made him accept it. Hinata showed him that it’s a part of Kageyama’s nature, one he shouldn’t just try to get rid of because others thought it was making him useless as a setter. Kageyama did leave it behind once, but it caught up to him in Miya’s words still, so this time Hinata took no chances: he managed to actually make Kageyama see his own value in a completely new light, and the fact that there was nothing wrong with disagreeing with his teammates as long as he kept his temper in check (and if he couldn’t, the rest of them would certainly point it out). 

Sure, Kageyama realized that he hasn’t been listening to his teammates after the harsh feedback from middle school, and he fixed it with Karasuno, but he also completely forgot that this communication should go both ways, and that it shouldn’t be just him adapting to the spikers. 

Hinata took something that’s been weighting Kageyama down for over a year, and he didn’t just throw it away for it to haunt Kageyama again later — he twisted this dark metaphor into something fresh and something good, something that would definitely help them all become stronger. And he did it with such sincere, and yet ridiculously simple words.

What makes Hinata such a good person isn’t just him seeing the good in people — it’s about making those people see it, and not even just see but also get accustomed to it and start using it to reach their goals. And while Kageyama is just one example, he sure is one of the toughest and brightest yet. 

The Importance of The Unlikable Heroine

I’ve always had this tendency to apologize for everything—even things that aren’t my fault, things that actually hurt me or were wrongs against me.

It’s become automatic, a compulsion I am constantly fighting. Even more disturbingly, I’ve discovered in conversations with my female friends that I’m not alone in feeling this impulse to be pleasant, to apologize needlessly, to resist showing anger.

After all, if you’re a woman and you demonstrate anger, you’re a bitch, a harpy, a shrew. You’re told to smile more because you will look prettier; you’re told to calm down even when whatever anger or otherwise “unseemly” emotion you’re experiencing is perfectly justified.

If you don’t, no one will like you, and certainly no one will love you.

I’m not sure when this apologetic tendency of mine emerged. Maybe it began during childhood; maybe the influence of social gender expectations had already begun to affect me on a subconscious level. But if I had to guess, I would assume it emerged later, when I became aware through advertisements, media, and various unquantifiable social pressures of what a girl should be—how to act, how to dress, what to say, what emotions are okay and what emotions are not.

Essentially, I became aware of what I should do, as a girl, to be liked, and of how desperate I should be to achieve that state.

Being liked would be the pinnacle of my personal achievement. I could accomplish things, sure—make good grades, go to a good school, have a stellar career. But would I be liked during all of this? That was the important thing.

It angers me that I still struggle with this. It angers me that even though I’m an intelligent, accomplished adult woman, I still experience automatic pangs of inadequacy and shame when I perceive myself to have somehow disappointed these unfair expectations. I can’t always seem to get my emotions under control, and yet I must—because sometimes those emotions are angry or unpleasant or, God forbid, unattractive, and therefore will inconvenience someone or make someone uncomfortable.

Maybe that’s why, in my fiction—both the stories I read and the stories I write—I’ve always gravitated toward what some might call “unlikable” heroines.

It’s difficult to define “unlikability”; the term itself is nebulous. If you asked ten different people to define unlikability, you would probably receive ten different answers. In fact, I hesitated to write this piece simply because art is not a thing that should be quantified, or shoved into “likable” and “unlikable” components.

But then there are those pangs of mine, that urge to apologize for not being the right kind of woman. Insidious expectations lurk out there for our girls—both real and fictional—to be demure and pleasant, to wilt instead of rally, to smile and apologize and hide their anger so they don’t upset the social construct—even when such anger would be expected, excused, even applauded, in their male counterparts.

So for my purposes here, I’ll define a “likable heroine” as one who is unobjectionable. She doesn’t provoke us or challenge our expectations. She is flawed, but not offensively. She doesn’t make us question whether or not we should like her, or what it says about us that we do.

Let me be clear: There is nothing wrong with these “likable” heroines. I can think of plenty such literary heroines whom I adore:

Fire in Kristin Cashore’s Fire. Karou in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. Jo March in Little Women. Lizzie Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. The Penderwick sisters in Jeanne Birdsall’s delightful Penderwicks series. Arya (at least, in the early books) in A Song of Ice and Fire. Sarah from A Little Princess. Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time. Matilda in Roald Dahl’s classic book of the same name.

These heroines are easy to love and root for. They have our loyalty on the first page, and that never wavers. We expect to like them, for them to be pleasant, and they are. Even their occasional unpleasantness, as in the case of temperamental Jo March, is endearing.

What, then, about the “unlikable” heroines?

These are the “difficult” characters. They demand our love but they won’t make it easy. The unlikable heroine provokes us. She is murky and muddled. We don’t always understand her. She may not flaunt her flaws but she won’t deny them. She experiences moral dilemmas, and most of the time recognizes when she has done something wrong, but in the meantime she will let herself be angry, and it isn’t endearing, cute, or fleeting. It is mighty and it is terrifying. It puts her at odds with her surroundings, and it isn’t always easy for readers to swallow.

She isn’t always courageous. She may not be conventionally strong; her strength may be difficult to see. She doesn’t always stand up for herself, or for what is right. She is not always nice. She is a hellion, a harpy, a bitch, a shrew, a whiner, a crybaby, a coward. She lies even to herself.

In other words, she fails to walk the fine line we have drawn for our heroines, the narrow parameters in which a heroine must exist to achieve that elusive “likability”:

Nice, but not too nice.

Badass, but not too badass, because that’s threatening.

Strong, but ultimately pliable.

(And, I would add, these parameters seldom exist for heroes, who enjoy the limitless freedoms of full personhood, flaws and all, for which they are seldom deemed “unlikable” but rather lauded.)

Who is this “unlikable” heroine?

She is Amy March from Little Women. She is Briony from Ian McEwan’s Atonement. Katsa from Kristin Cashore’s Graceling. Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse. Sansa from A Song of Ice and Fire. Mary from The Secret Garden. She is Philip Pullman’s Lyra, and C. S. Lewis’s Susan, and Rowling’s first-year Hermione Granger. She is Katniss Everdeen. She is Scarlett O’Hara.

These characters fascinate me. They are arrogant and violent, reckless and selfish. They are liars and they are resentful and they are brash. They are shallow, not always kind. They may be aggressive, or not aggressive enough; the parameters in which a female character can acceptably display strength are broadening, but still dishearteningly narrow. I admire how the above characters embrace such “unbecoming” traits (traits, I must point out, that would not be noteworthy in a man; they would simply be accepted as part of who he is, no questions asked).

These characters learn from their mistakes, and they grow and change, but at the end of the day, they can look at themselves in the mirror and proclaim, “Here I am. This is me. You may not always like me—I may not always like me—but I will not be someone else because you say I should be. I will not lose myself to your expectations. I will not become someone else just to be liked.”

When I wrote my first novel, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, I knew some readers would have a hard time stomaching the character of Victoria. She is selfish, arrogant, judgmental, rigid, and sometimes cruel. Even at the end of the novel, by which point she has evolved tremendously, she isn’t particularly likable, if we go with the above definition.

I had similar concerns about the heroine of my second novel, The Year of Shadows. Olivia Stellatella is a moody twelve-year-old who isolates herself from her peers at school, from her father, from everything that could hurt her. Her circumstances at the beginning of the novel are inarguably terrible: Her mother abandoned their family several months prior, with no explanation. Her father conducts the city orchestra, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. He neglects his daughter in favor of saving his livelihood. He sells their house and moves them into the symphony hall’s storage rooms, where Olivia sleeps on a cot and lives out of a suitcase. She calls him The Maestro, refusing to call him Dad. She hates him. She blames him for her mother leaving.

Olivia is angry and confused. She is sarcastic, disrespectful, and she tells her father exactly what she thinks of him. She lashes out at everyone, even the people who want to help her. Sometimes her anger blinds her, and she must learn how to recognize that.

I knew Olivia’s anger would be hard for some readers to understand, or that they would understand but still not like her.

This frightened me.

As a new author, the prospect of writing these heroines—these selfish, angry, difficult heroines—was a daunting one. What if no one liked them? What if, by extension, no one liked me?

But I’ve allowed the desire to be liked thwart me too many times. The fact that I nearly let my fear discourage me from telling the stories of these two “unlikable” girls showed me just how important it was to tell their stories.

I know my friends and I aren’t the only women who feel that constant urge to apologize, to demur, to rein in anger and mutate it into something more socially acceptable.

I know there are girls out there who, like me at age twelve—like Olivia, like Victoria—are angry or arrogant or confused, and don’t know how to handle it. They see likable girls everywhere—on the television, in movies, in books—and they accordingly paste on strained smiles and feel ashamed of their unladylike grumpiness and ambition, their unseemly aggression.

I want these girls to read about Victoria and Olivia—and Scarlett, Amy, Lyra, Briony—and realize there is more to being a girl than being liked. There is more to womanhood than smiling and apologizing and hiding those darker emotions.

I want them to sift through the vast sea of likable heroines in their libraries and find more heroines who are not always happy, not always pleasant, not always good. Heroines who make terrible decisions. Heroines who are hungry and ambitious, petty and vengeful, cowardly and callous and selfish and gullible and unabashedly sensual and hateful and cunning. Heroines who don’t always act particularly heroic, and don’t feel the need to, and still accept themselves at the end of the day regardless.

Maybe the more we write about heroines like this, the less susceptible our girl readers will be to the culture of apology that surrounds them.

Maybe they will grow up to be stronger than we are, more confident than we are. Maybe they will grow up in a world brimming with increasingly complex ideas about what it means to be a heroine, a woman, a person.

Maybe they will be “unlikable” and never even think of apologizing for it.

I realized that even though I’d included Ventress redesigns in two different historical AUs, I’d never actually drawn her properly? So here she is in all of her terrifying glory.

People actually expect me to believe that if you throw a group of only one sex inside a fucking maze with no memories, no social, cultural or religious discourses forced upon them, no outside influences of any kind for years and years with only each other to grow close too, trust, survive with, protect, build with, bond with etc. 

That eVERY SINGLE ONE WOULD END UP STRAIGHT??????!??!!

REIGEN MAY HAVE LOST BUT HE’LL ALWAYS BE THE 2016 BEST BOY IN MY HEART

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“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something g r e a t will come of it.”

My Thoughts...

Having come to a new understanding on the topic, after discussing the issue with friends that are living with oppression, I’d like to address some of the statements and questions I’ve seen over the last few days concerning cosplaying as POC.

(This is coming from the perspective of a White individual, hearing the position and opinions of a POC individual.)

The media is huge factor in developing our sense of self.

Very often as children, we are drawn to the characters that look like us because we recognize similarities. These characters become our “favorite” characters… often not for any other reason than the fact that they have similar features.

As a child, my choices were endless in characters I could see myself reflected in. I could see traits/qualities I admired or even idolized in characters that looked just like me. This allowed me to reinforce my sense of security and self worth, because I could see myself over and over again, in almost every movie or show I chose to watch.

Over and over and over again…

As a white individual, think about the amount of characters that resembled you… main characters, characters that were the focus of the story.

Not everyone has that kind of representation.

Here is one example. The first African American Disney princess did not appear on screen until 2009. By that time, it had already been 72 years since the creation of the first Disney princess. In those 72 years, the amount of white representation far surpassed POC representation on screen… and it continues to.

In the United States (and many other places in the westernized world) the media lacks balance. This can cause a lot of harm to a child’s development of self.

If the vast majority of the “hero” based characters that you see in the media do not reflect you… but instead reflect those around you that do not share similar physical qualities, how hard does it become to develop a sense of self worth, and find equal footing?

In order to create progress, coming to a place of understanding, unity and level footing is necessary. This is why it is important to work together and create an environment that is safe for POC.

This mentality carries over into cosplay…

Here is how the situation was explained to me.

Having grown up with a wide variety of characters that represent me, the comfort I feel stepping across any boundary, and dressing as any character, is not very limited. This is because I am used to seeing myself represented.

However, for someone who is not used to seeing representation, coming into a community and stepping out of the box can be incredibly intimidating. The limited amount of POC characters become something akin to a “safe zone”, and although the individual may want to step out of that safe zone, the internalized fear and discomfort can sometimes be too overwhelming.

When a white individual, who has a lot of characters at their disposal to cosplay that reflect them, steps into that safe-zone, it can be both intimidating and hurtful to someone who is not yet comfortable doing the same.  

Now we have to understand, at the heart of it… anyone, of any ethnicity, cosplaying as anyone they’d like… is not a harmful thing… wanting to cosplay a character you love, regardless of ethnicity, is not a harmful thing…

If everyone is on equal footing.

If everyone is on equal footing, there is nothing wrong with this. This is the kind of equality that we are striving for.

However, where there IS a problem, is the fact that not everyone is on equal footing.

This particular issue is not about what is fair or equal… fairness and equality in this scenario would mean that everyone is comfortable playing everyone, and that there are no feelings of guilt or uncertainty when choosing to do so… but this is not the case.

POC do not have equal representation… and because of this lack of representation, it makes it extremely difficult to feel comfortable branching out and cosplaying whoever they’d like.

In order to reach a point where everyone is comfortable playing everything they would like to play… we, as individuals that are used to playing as many roles as we’d like (because we have been given a wide range of characters that emulate us to choose from), should allow those who have grown up with limitations placed on them by society to test the water, and become comfortable in their environment.

Here’s an example I was given… You are standing on top of a cliff, and your friend is at the bottom. In order to get on the same footing, either you need to make your way all the way to the bottom of the cliff, or your friend needs to climb all the way to the top… that is a long way to climb…

However, if you can both meet at the middle, and then help each other the rest of the way, the journey becomes a lot easier/safer.

Regardless of what may be “equal” or “fair”, there are steps that must be taken in order to reach that equality… it is a process that cannot be solved overnight, or by telling someone to “Just do it”.

It’s not asking a lot for us to take a small step back, and play characters that won’t infringe on the comfort of those who are trying to become comfortable in this environment. (This does not mean that if you have done so, you did something “bad”… it simply means that you can now become aware of how to help those around you, and become accommodating of their needs and help in their progress by adjusting your choices).

This is not about conflict… this is not about blame or guilt… this is not about creating division or emphasizing differences…

It’s about people having an open dialogue… and expanding our minds, on every front, to other opinions and life experiences. 

It’s about recognizing that someone else might not be in the same position because of the way our culture has conditioned us. 

It’s about realizing that we can change, within our own circle of influence, the way our world functions. 

It’s about compromising and reaching a point where everyone can feel accepted and equal. 

It’s about showing compassion and empathy for each other as human beings.

Ok so we all have to prepare ourselves to say goodbye to our most beloved rebels ever...

Farewell, Ghost crew. I loved you so much. And I am saying this early, first, to get myself prepared to accept this parting with Star Wars Rebels, which was an essential part of my life for past three years. I tried to suppress myself from crying all the time during the panel, managed to get it pressed during while the trailer was being displayed, but when it ended with Hera saying “May the Force be with you.”, I couldn’t hold it much longer. Star Wars Rebels Actually changed the course of my life. It gave me the courage to turn my head away from traumas and pressures that had been undermining my talents and my mental health, and face what i really needed and wanted, and look into who I was inside those masks i have created to deny everything that was going on around me. I will never forget this marvelous, gorgeous, fantastic, intricate, elaborate and so, so much beautiful and historic work of animated TV show, and how had it gave me courage to grow up and be a better person. Thank you so much, Dave. I have been cursing you since 2013, but at the same time, I admire you and the amazing capability you have shown as an executive producer of both of <Star Wars Rebels> and <Star Wars: The Clone Wars.> You are my hero aaaand a great role model as an upstanding figure in the animation industry. Thank you for working for Lucasfilm Animations….

Goodbye to the last years of my adolescence, which is now all after me, with the time I had spent with Star Wars Rebels, with changes, decisions, and growth that I made.

I am that one who grew up with your show that you were refering to, Dave.

Forever, with me.

Once Upon a Time: Colin O'Donoghue Teases Hook and Emma's Happy Ending

There are plenty of heartfelt love stories on Once Upon a Time, but none of them quite compare to that of Captain Hook and Emma Swan. They may be in a predicament at the moment, but not even Gideon can come between true love. While the future of the show is still uncertain, we have hope that these two will find their way back to each other in the end. POPSUGAR had the opportunity to talk with Colin O'Donoghue, who was promoting his new film Carrie Pilby, and he reflected on how far his fan-favorite character has come over the years, what it’s like working with Jennifer Morrison, and what he thinks Hook’s happy ending might look like.

POPSUGAR: Hook has changed a lot over the past few seasons. What do you think is his most admirable quality?
Colin O'Donoghue: I mean, he’s a different character now. It’s probably that he’s redeemed himself and is trying to be the best person that he can be, which is a difficult thing to do, to overcome those demons for the better of not just himself, but for the better of the woman he loves and her family. However, I did love playing the villainous Hook. It’s always fun to get to play the bad guy.

PS: Hook and Emma are definitely one of the most beloved romances on the show. What is the best part about working with Jennifer Morrison?
CO: I’m lucky that Jen and I have got a fantastic relationship. We get on so well and it makes it easy to translate that into the characters. Jen is friendly with my family and my wife and all of that is very important. Sometimes when you come onto a show, you don’t know if that’s going to work or if the chemistry is going to be there, and we just have a laugh. That’s the most important thing is to enjoy what you do. We’re at ease working with each other, because if you have tension with someone, that translates on screen. Luckily, on Once Upon a Time, we get along so well, so it works.

PS: I know the show hasn’t been renewed for another season yet, but what do you think Hook’s happily ever after would look like?
CO: Hook’s happily ever after would just be getting an evening or night where both he and Emma can sit down and maybe have dinner or watch TV or have a glass of wine, because in Storybrooke, they literally never get a chance to do anything. As soon as anything slows down, you guarantee Grumpy is going to come running around the corner saying that some sort of curse is coming or there’s a giant snowman attacking the town. I think his happily ever after would just be a week’s worth of peace and quiet where they can be normal people. Maybe we’ll get to see that in the second half! That would be good.

x

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“Tarth. I’m biased, but she keeps it together.” -Nikolaj Coster-Waldau to HBO on which character do you admire the most?

“I love the character of Jaime Lannister. He’s just so complex…” -Gwendoline Christie

“Gwen and I have a lot of fun together, I wish it could go on forever.” -Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

“And Nikolaj is a very special actor. He’s brilliant, hilarious and mercurial. And again, incredibly highly skilled. I felt nervous about acting opposite someone that was so highly skilled that I’d be working with so intensely, but he completely went for it from the beginning and was not afraid to go full-throttle on all of the scenes. And to really feed the relationship off-screen, too, by endlessly teasing me, haha. It’s really fun and hard work. He’s a brilliant actor. And I’ve had an absolute ball. I’ve had a real riot.“ -Gwendoline Christie

“If you meet Gwen, you’ll know that she is light.” -Nikolaj Coster-Waldau