This is a post (mainly) about nipples

This post includes links that are NSFW

If you follow me on twitter and were online in the early hours of Christmas morning 2011 (GMT), you may have noticed @LeaBecca, @jolantru and I discussing nipples. In particular colonialism, body politics and how they affect nipple colour. You may want to read their write ups on the topic before continuing, Body Politics and White Skin, Pink Nipples.

So now you know that there is a ‘right’ colour of nipples. And that there are bleaching creams available to turn brown nipples lighter even as there are ‘brightening’ creams for the face and the body. That pink nipples are a sign of innocence and lack of sexual knowledge.

When I reblogged this anime style drawing of a brown-skinned, female character on Tumblr, I wrote ‘Finally the artist got the right nipple colour!’ because at that moment it struck me just how often I’d seen brown- and dark-skinned anime style characters drawn with pale, pink-ish nipples. There’s been a lot of discussion on how ethnicity is presented in anime and manga, on the ‘race’ of characters in anime and manga. It is relatively rare to see characters with darker skin tones in anime and manga, nevertheless they exist and several people of colour who enjoy watching anime and reading manga across the globe are happy that they exist.

But what happens when your favourite brown-skinned character takes of his or her clothes to reveal pink nipples? Take for example, this image of Miyuki from the anime Basquash!. What would you think? Initially, I thought this suggested that the brown-skinned characters are actually white-skinned characters in blackface. The implications of imperialism and body politics that affect brown-skinned women did not occur to me at that point. I was genuinely confused, I understand some brown-skinned characters look tanned (and are supposed to be tanned) but why would you draw a brown-skinned character that has locs or a huge Afro and colour their nipples pink?

The first time I recall noticing pink nipples on a brown-skinned character was when I came across one doujinshi with characters from Code Geass by Nekomata Naomi, a female hentai mangaka. When I saw the manga, ‘Brown New Wife’, I barely registered that the new wife had brown skin and pink nipples on the cover (mostly because I was squeeing over Nekomataya being a female hentai mangaka). I must have laughed shaking my head and wondered if these artists had seen brown women topless before? Or who knows there could be brown women with pink nipples in this world. I convinced myself that it was a one time thing. I did not want to ‘overreact’ and basically silenced my own criticism.

I joined Tumblr recently and it did not take long for me to come across this photo blog dedicated to brown-skinned females in anime. As I went through the archives and saw that when they were shown, most of the brown-skinned characters had pink nipples I grew disturbed. I was confused and not entirely sure how to react, so I saved the pictures for later discussion.

That was until I saw the art I reblogged. I was surprised at how relieved I felt to see that at least one artist got the colouring things right. I believe it was at that point that I decided it was okay to say something. I am glad that @LeaBecca and @jolantru had things to say as well. As I mentioned above, most of my earlier thoughts revolved around blackface. I wondered if all brown-skinned characters in anime, doujinshi and art are actually white-skinned characters in blackface or tans? I briefly entertained the idea that all of us brown-skinned people who have adored brown-skinned characters in anime and manga have been hoodwinked.

I still do not understand why an artist would draw a brown-skinned character and colour their nipples pink but now I know how they conform to white supremacist ideals by doing so. In a world that regularly extols white skin, straight hair, skinny figures, and now pink nipples, as beauty ideals colouring a brown-skinned character’s nipples pink plays into the idea that there is something wrong with the natural tones of brown-skinned women.

More On The Last Airbender

The Last Airbender will soon be released in America soon and it seems my prayers have already been answered.

I am extremely glad that the people who have seen this movie seem not to be impressed. I also hope the movie doesn’t do well at the box office (though one of my primary concerns is that it could go on to do well in the international box office. I mean I’ve tried to explain to some of my friends here why the movie is racist but they just refused to listen. Goodness talking with them was like talking to a brick wall I just kept quiet after a while).

Anyway I just wanted to point out how The Last Airbender movie is not only racist but is also sexist. One of the reasons I adored the cartoon series was because of Katara. Katara is a brown-skinned girl with lots of agency. She is a powerful Waterbender, she is brave, she challenges customs…basically her character is so full of girl-power. However (as can be expected) all this is not shown in the movie. There is a breakdown of scenes in the original cartoon that were not depicted, altered or absent in the movie at Racebending.com. While reading the list what stood out to me was the way in which Katara was really undermined and pushed to the side in the movie. For example;

ORIGINAL:
Katara inadvertently frees Aang from the ice as she yells at her brother. Her anger manifests when she waterbends, breaking the iceberg surrounding the frozen Aang. After the ice is cracked open, Aang and Appa awaken. They ride back to the tribe on Appa’s back, with Appa swimming.

FILM:
Sokka notices that the ice beneath them is glowing. The sphere rises up, cracking open the ice surface. He yells “Katara! Don’t touch that sphere!” Katara cracks open the sphere and there is an explosion of light. The camera reveals a crater, where Aang and Appa lie unconscious. Katara and Sokka argue, then decide to bring them back to the village.

So rather than portray Katara’s anger as the main catalyst that the Avatar is released from his nesting state, everything is left to chance and pure luck. In the original you get the sense that if Katara had not being angry and if she were not a Waterbender, Aang would have remained unconscious forever yet in the movie all she had to was crack the sphere…

Here’s another example that really upset me (emphasis mine).

ORIGINAL:
Haru, a young Earthbending boy, uses his bending to protect an innocent. He’s captured and sent to a metal coal processing camp, with other Earthbenders. Their powers are vastly limited by their metal surroundings. Katara allows herself to be captured and is taken to the camp. She shows the Earthbenders that they can fight – and (with the help of Aang and Sokka) arranges for a huge supply of coal for the prisoners to use as they win their freedom.

FILM:
A nameless Earthbending boy hides behind Aang, Katara, and Sokka. Fire Nation soldiers arrive and accuse the boy of being a bender who “bended pebbles at their heads.” They are all captured when it is discovered that Katara is also a Waterbender.

They are taken to an internment village. Aang rallies the captured Earthbenders, telling them that they are surrounded by earth and can fight back. He begins to fight the handful of Firebender soldiers guarding the village. Katara and Sokka join. Finally, the Earthbenders intervene, and together are able to defeat the Firebender guards.

Why is it that in the movie it is Aang that gets to rally the captured Earthbenders while presumably Katara just sits back and only joins in the action after Aang has done all the hard work? In the cartoon both Aang and Katara (and Sokka as well) get their chances to shine on their own. There are other examples of how the movie fails to give Katara the power she has in the cartoon as a Waterbender. In the cartoon she is able to defeat Zuko once but in the movie she never gains the upper hand. This does not only happen to Katara as the Kyoshi warriors, a group of all-female warriors that appears in the original cartoon series were completely erased from the movie. I’ve noticed this disturbing trend in movies that are based on original works in which female characters who played important active roles in original works are reduced to two-dimensional beings in movie adaptations. All I have to say is; ‘Whyyyyy?!’

In conclusion, I urge anyone who reads my blog to boycott The Last Airbender no matter which part of the world you are in. Do not waste your money supporting a movie that is all kinds of FAIL rather why not watch the cartoon series instead?

Global Beats: SOIL & “PIMP” SESSIONS

To think that I may never have listened to them seriously because of their name…Soil and “Pimp” Sessions is a crazy awesome, unbelievable, wonderful, stunning, amazing, absolutely talented Japanese jazz band. The very first Japanese jazz band I listened to was Quasimode and when I saw Soil and “Pimp” Sessions mentioned as the group’s inspiration, my first thought was ‘What a weird name.’ Still I put decided not to forget their name and put them on the back of mind in the hopes of giving their music a chance sometime in the future. I subsequently forgot about Soil and “Pimp” Sessions till earlier this year when I was in London and a friend of a friend made me listen to their stuff. He even offered to give me all the Soil & “Pimp” mp3s he had but I gracefully declined even though I loved their music because I still was not really interested in them at that point.

Several months later while watching Michiko e Hatchin, I immediately recognised the sound of the anime’s opening theme. I was right in guessing that the theme had been performed by Soil & “Pimp” Sessions. Because I’ve got a lot of time on my hands these days I made sure to seat myself down and carefully listen to the songs from Soil & “Pimp” Sessions’ latest album, 6. I absolutely loved what I heard. I suppose part of the reason I went crazy over their music this time can be blamed on my current situation.

You see, back when I was doing my masters in that university in the north of England I was literally surrounded by jazz. One woman from my course was married to a trumpeter which pretty much meant she had to be in the audience most times he performed and I was the person who usually went with her so she wouldn’t be too lonely listening to him play (we became really good friends). Also I used to go to jazz nights quite regularly with two friends of mine. Back then, I didn’t need to have any jazz on my iPod because I knew there’d be a live jazz event at a new location somewhere soon and that was enough for me. However since coming back to Nigeria, I am yet to find fellow jazz fans to point out some good jazz cafes around Abuja. Listening to 6 made me seriously miss those jazz cafe days and the friends I went to them with even more (T.T) Anyway below are some selected Soil & “Pimp” Sessions music videos (and I couldn’t help including one from Quasimode).


‘The Man from Nagpur’ by Quasimode, simply because they are not as crazy as Soil & “Pimp” Sessions and by that I mean their music is more calm. For example, I’ve never wanted to get up and dance while listening to any Quasimode song. It is definitely not the same when it comes to Soil & “Pimp” Sessions.


‘POP KORN’ is a song from Soil & “Pimp” Sessions latest release 6. I love the song and the video. Now POP KORN is a song that really makes me want to dance.


‘Summer Goddess’ by Soil & “Pimp” Sessions. This is from their earlier albums though I’m not sure exactly which one it is.


‘MY FOOLISH HEART~crazy on earth~’ is another song from the album 6 by Soil & “Pimp” Sessions, I absolutely love this song (even though I hated it at first because its got vocals) and the video is amazing.

Absolute Desting Apocalypse, Take 1

The original post turned out to be excessively long so I broke it down into three parts.

I guess it is time for some another manga/anime related post. I have several things to say regarding the many manga I have read and anime that I have watched in the past 3 years (I have reason to believe I have entered the 4th year). I have decided to say something positive now, just so that I’m not entirely negative because there are some really good anime/manga out there. I have a problem with female representations in manga and anime however, one of the best shoujo (girls’) manga/anime titles out there with great messages and life lessons* is Revolutionary Girl Utena aka Shoujo Kakumei Utena 少女革命ウテナ.


Before I watched the anime series I was very cautious. Every single book I read that analysed anime mentioned it. The books would try to analyse the recurring themes in the anime (such as roses) and its feminist themes. Revolutionary Girl Utena is really unique and I didn’t watch it at first because I had I had reservations. As someone who reads spoilers before watching movies (because I would prefer knowing ahead what I am going to watch), I knew the plot of Revolutionary Girl Utena and was concerned because of its incest themes. Yes that is a biggie and I tend to avoid any work of fiction with themes along that line. I was also a bit reluctant with the lesbian themes as before Utena, I had never seen yuri (anime/manga with lesbian content). So I was sort of expecting the whole objectification of women under a male gaze as then I did not know that the person behind Utena, Chiho Saito is a woman.

Yet, I couldn’t completely rule it out because Revolutionary Girl Utena is one of the few manga/anime series out there with a dark-skinned character that plays a very important role (yes, that matters too!). In the end my curiosity got the best out of me and I watched the entire anime episodes and am currently reading the manga. I only own the first volume of the manga and I am aware that there are many differences between the manga and the anime. I’m yet to complete my Revolutionary Girl Utena manga collection (because I’m simultaneously reading at least 6 other titles) but I hope to in the future.


*Spoilers* abound in this post, therefore if you don’t want to know then it is better not to go any further.

Once upon a time, many years ago, there was a little princess, and she was very sad, for her mother and father had died. Before the princess appeared a traveling prince, riding upon a white horse. He had a regal bearing and a kind smile. The prince wrapped the princess in a rose-scented embrace and gently wiped the tears from her eyes.

“Little one,” he said, “who bears up alone in such deep sorrow, never lose that strength or nobility, even when you grow up. I give you this [a ring] to remember this day. We will meet again. This ring will lead you to me one day.” Perhaps the ring the prince gave her was [really] an engagement ring.

This was all well and good, but so impressed was she by him that the princess vowed to become a prince herself one day. But was that really such a good idea? (Emphasis mine)

The quote above really sums up our main character and the story. Revolutionary Girl Utena is a story about a girl called Utena Tenjou who has this sort of obsession with a prince she met in her youth. It is a coming-of-age story and while I watched the series I relived the emotions I went through while ‘growing up’. I picture that part of my life as a crossroad where I had to choose a path; either left or right, I didn’t know what is beyond the path but I knew I had to make a decision and I knew the decision is scary.

In my opinion Revolutionary Girl Utena is based on this, all of the characters are at the points in their life where they can either choose to ‘grow up’ or remain youths seeking some obscure goal that possibly does not exist (known as ‘the end of the world’ in the anime) for life. This complex decision they must take is symbolized in their constant duelling for ‘the power to bring revolution to the world’ and to gain the Rose Bride, Anthy Himemiya as a fiancee. Revolutionary Girl Utena also explores the loss of innocence, a sexual element is introduced complicating things further because now that characters have to deal with these new emotions. Revolutionary Girl Utena is one of the most complex animes out there and it really made me think, after I watched all 39 episodes I was completely speechless.

*Yes life lessons. I also used to think cartoons were just mindless fun however Revolutionary Girl Utena was like the first anime that I actually learned from. I liked its messages on ‘coming of age’ and to be honest, it has left an impact in my life especially in regards to folk/fairy tales and the ‘witch’ trope.