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Someone contacted me privately about some remarks I made about this line of speculation. They told me that they had met Winterfox in person, and that her appearance and presentation were consistent with her online descriptions of herself.

The person who contacted me is definitely not Winterfox - they have a fairly large online footprint and a completely different communication style - and I feel sure that they’re telling the truth as they understand it. So, my apologies to the people I named as possible Winterfoxes.

Theories that Winterfox is secretly a white person will need to incorporate the use of an actress, basically. Sorry, FFA, I know you guys were having fun!
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You know, all the racism and misogyny and homophobia and transphobia and classism and etc etc.

But the worst thing was that it made me think anchovies and liver were gross. They are delicious. What did the children's television networks have against anchovies and liver, what is wrong with those people?

I mean, aside from the, y'know, other stuff I just listed that's wrong with them.

...

Feb. 17th, 2014 12:44 am
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How badly has C. J. Cherryh been behaving? So that I know how uncomfortable to feel about all the Cyteen references in my awesome Homestuck fanfic.

I mean, I did replace Ari with a squid, which I guess makes it a different book in terms of the fic's own continuity, but still.
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The adult trolls have only ever been shown in-comic as being black. The Condesce has been shown in normal lighting several times now; there's no dramatic-silhouetting going on there. So, she's not gray like the kids.

Drawing them like desaturated white people is probably not entirely accurate, basically. So, why is 99% of Homestuck fanart like that?

(Trick question, we all know why.)
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The CEO of Simon & Schuster:

What changes with digital is that you can sit at home and if you have a library card you can order any book, you never have to go anywhere. And if you could get every book you wanted free, why would you ever buy another one? That’s the question we had about it in our first meeting. … That is the danger. You could literally undermine the market for every author and for [the publishers]. … Obviously, there is some discovery through libraries. There’s also some ability for who people who aren’t ever going to buy books to read them and be a part of the conversation. We’ve always believed that the cultural contribution of libraries is important.


[personal profile] coffeeandink, in response:

We believe in the cultural contribution of libraries and we think people who read but don't buy books are important, but we only arrange for them to borrow from libraries out of noblesse oblige and really they are all thieves.

Libraries are not a necessary evil. They are one of humanity's greatest accomplishments. I don't care if you think they're cutting into your bottom line (you are wrong about this, by the way), if you don't love libraries, I don't know what you're doing in a career related to books.


Maybe the publishing industry doesn't get this or something, but they do make money when a library buys an ebook. They do not, however, make money when people choose to pirate that ebook instead, because the library either couldn't afford to buy it, or is permitted to offer it only encumbered by DRM which makes it unreadable.

And when I want to read a book but don't yet know if I want to own a copy, I pretty much do choose to pirate stuff these days. Because my local library's written the whole thing off as a loss: the books are expensive, and no one checks them out because the process is a mess.

It's sad and hilarious that people associated with publishing are constantly saying that they've "learned from the mistakes of the music industry" - yet every major publisher seems to believe that DRM can prevent piracy. It can't! That's why the music industry stopped using it! That was the biggest mistake that they made.

Here's a recap for those individuals working in publishing who may have been out with a bad cold for the last fifteen years: The record industry threw massive quantities of time and money away on a technology that potential customers either hated or simply couldn't use, thus pushing them into piracy - which had the effect of normalizing the practice, even among people who might otherwise have had qualms about it! It was pretty dumb.

So they gave up on it, but not before building up levels of ill-will best measured in sieverts. Americans under the age of 35 react to the term "record industry" with a level of revulsion which one might expect us to reserve for "BP," "Halliburton," or "a company staffed entirely by deadly black mamba snakes."

Maybe what publishers feel that they learned is this: Becoming passionately loathed is a natural part of the life cycle of a media industry. There is clearly no way for English-language publishing to avoid this, so they're going big! Step two will be a redux of the RIAA's relentless campaign of lawsuits against frightened thirteen-year-olds and their parents' rent money.
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I'd only ever read any of the guy's short stories before, and that was years ago, so I decided I wanted to get through at least The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath before before I wrote too much more from Rose's POV.

And wow. Wow, HP Lovecraft. Come here so I can kick you.

On the other hand, to me this book is much more unsettling than his short fiction! It adds an unintended-but-oddly-effective layer of horror to the proceedings that this dude categorized nonwhite people someplace between livestock and the mute servants of the mad gods.

Also, on a level unrelated to the Stout Black Men Of Parg and Muslims Hiding Horrible Things Under Their Headcoverings, the thing is that Lovecraft's schmucks never seem to do or think anything in-narrative to make you give a shit about them. They're kind of bland, and you don't understand how their thought processes work, and if they do care about people other than themselves (or even about themselves), you're not sure why and there's not a whole lot of evidence of it.

I can't tell if that's a narrative choice he was making or just kind of how his brain worked; that these guys were an unwanted intrusion into the stuff he was trying to convey.

However, at novel length we're getting extended exposure to one protagonist, and even though the guy doesn't make much sense as a character, familiarity makes us care about him at least vaguely! So, that works.
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Way to trivialize a serious fucking issue, dude. You're super-awesome.

In slightly less exasperating news, episode 12 of Psycho-Pass is on Hulu (and, you know, the usual less-disgusting-ad-ridden places), and it was a flashback episode about Yayoi. We basically learned that it is sad to be Yayoi, and also that her decision-making process is still pretty opaque even when she's the POV character. So, we didn't learn anything.

I mean, I'm glad she got an episode to herself, but given that this is only a 22-episode series and she clearly isn't destined for a major role in the endgame, I wish it had been a little less shallow.
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You know, the thing this series really needed all along was some sexual assault. I mean, I basically just hung on through the first season because I was waiting to see the swordswoman heroine comatose and being groped. So this is great.

The first-season episode with the guy who kills his wife for being tougher than him was also pretty awful. So, maybe I should've expected this.

([personal profile] inkstone gave fair warning, but I was foolish and self-destructive.)
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I was in a hospital waiting room for most of yesterday while Papaw had a test done, and there was a woman there with her daughter. They didn't look alike - they were different ethnicities and had no facial features in common - but she called the girl her daughter, and they, you know, acted like mother and daughter. I thought, "I guess she's adopted?"

The mother at one point, in conversation with someone else in the room, told a story about "my daughter's mommy." My initial thought: "they hang out with her biological mother, I guess?"

My brain did work its way to the correct conclusion before the woman's wife returned from whatever tests she was there for, but I'm clearly going to be sent back to Homosexual Agenda Brainwashing Camp for another go-around.

Related anecdote: My high school calculus teacher once, for some reason, told the "I can't operate on this boy; he's my son!" story to a girl and asked her to explain it. She considered the problem for several seconds before saying in surprise, "You mean he's gay?"
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SyaBaba Obama Type Incense

I think it's just sandalwood, with some dye in there to make it black.
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I think that I do not want to know what sort of remarks were being made to induce NK Jemisin to make this post.

I CAN PROBABLY GUESS

But I don't want to know.
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(The comic to which all this refers is here, if you don't know the context. It may be upsetting for some people.)

Penny Arcade stops selling rape-joke shirts, offering a sincere apology to... the rape-joke fans!

It’s true that we have decided to remove the Dickwolves shirt from the store. Some people are happy about this but a lot more of you are upset. You think we’ve caved into to pressure from a vocal minority and you’re not entirely wrong.

First of all I would never remove the strip or even apologize for the joke. It’s funny and the fact that some people don’t get it, or are offended by it doesn’t change that.

- Mike Krahulik


No, they do not apologize to, like... rape victims, or anything. The entire post is an apology to creeps who think rape is a funny word. Stay classy, guys.

When I heard from a few people that the shirt would make them uncomfortable at PAX, that gave me pause. Now whether I think that’s a fair or warranted reaction doesn’t really matter. These were not rants on blogs but personal mails to me from people being very reasonable.


"Fair and warranted!" Because, if you're scared of someone who's voluntarily wearing a t-shirt that labels them as a rapist, that's a conscious and unfair act on your part, like cutting in line. You should apologize to the creep in the dickwolf shirt for worrying that he might be wearing it because he doesn't think rape's a big deal. I mean, he doesn't - that's why he's got a dickwolf shirt in the first place - but it's unfair to judge him for that. He probably, like, loves his mom and stuff.

He might even stop wearing the shirt if his mom got sexually assaulted, because then it wouldn't seem quite as funny somehow. It's still funny now, though! I mean, he doesn't know anyone who's been raped. No one who's mentioned it to him, anyway. And certainly, if any of his friends or family members had been the victims of sexual violence, they'd trust him enough to tell him about it. It's not like they might feel uncomfortable talking to him about these things, knowing that he laughs at rape jokes.

I also like how Krahulik thinks that, before he makes a move to keep the con he's organizing from becoming a threatening environment, he deserves to be asked very nicely, in private where he won't be embarrassed. I mean, he's doing these people a favor, here. It's not like they're paying him for admission to a video game convention, where they're expecting to have fun.

They don’t want to come to PAX or support PA because of the strip or because they think Tycho and I are perpetuating some kind of rape culture and that’s a different matter. First off it assumes a lot about us that simply isn’t true but more importantly it’s not something I can fix.


I don't think anyone's assuming anything about him that's not true. And one can, generally, fix the perception that one is a jerk. It's done by apologizing for acting like one, and then trying not to do it anymore. Not going to happen here! Dude's hands are tied.
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It appears that a one-hour thunderstorm is enough to shut Montgomery County down completely for more than twenty-four hours. The stoplights aren't even working yet; I'm presently in the cafe at the Whole Foods at Friendship Heights, worrying about my bus ride home.

I have been in the Whole Foods cafe in question for about four hours, working on the non-profit I volunteer for's email. Another volunteer who didn't know what he was doing, and then disappeared, made some obviously-doomed changes to it. When an organization has six employees who are constantly sending large scanned documents around, 150 MB space is not enough for every single email account to share. Their hosting plan and budget make scaling up impractical.

I went ahead and switched them over to Google Apps, but now it's got to do the records propagation business - fortunately they've got a backup address on Yahoo that they're all accustomed to using. I'll still have to wait until the propagation's done to forward all the old email on to the new system, and that might mean coming back up here tomorrow. The power company has issued statements suggesting that it feels inadequate to the task of, you know, supplying power within the next twenty-four hours.

I will buy lots of bread, sardines, and dried stuff - luckily, that's what was on the list already. Fortunately the water and gas lines are okay.
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* ETA: A Wikipedia article entitled "List of fictional cats."

...why does Wikipedia even have this? And theoretically, couldn't I just start making up cats and adding them, forever?

Jake - Keeps stealing the dogfood.

Miss Bootsy - Also keeps stealing the dogfood.

Chantal de l'Horloge - Following an affair with the King of the (Cat) Belgians, became the world's first scuba-diving cat, and shortly thereafter the world's first scuba-diving cat to be photographed and put on the internet with an amusing caption. It would be the latter more than the former which would put an end to her tumultuous diplomatic career.

Specks - Keeps stealing the dogfood.


* Scroogle is blocked again. Bah. It was previously blocked a couple months ago, but came back.

* [personal profile] bossymarmalade made a great, but very sad post re: the Airbender movie and the consequences of racist casting.

* In the New York Times, Errol Morris does that thing he does, which is 1) become obsessed with a strange thing, 2) interview all the smartest people who know about that strange thing, and 3) produce an object that is fascinating, but ultimately terrifying. This time it was about the nature of Not Knowing Stuff, by way of neurology.

A year ago it was about... well, basically the same thing, but by way of art forgery and the Holocaust instead. (Spoilers: It ended up being more about the Holocaust than the art forgery. Because the Holocaust, being what it is, must necessarily devour any immediately adjacent narrative, if that narrative is told with a sense of perspective.

It strikes me as indicative of some personal dysfunction that I refer to the Holocaust in the present tense. I'm also unable to read Heart of Thomas without thinking that Juli probably died in a concentration camp.)
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In de-celebration of the release of The Last Airbender - I made up that word, "de-celebration;" I like it - I'm slightly-editing and reposting a comment I made responding to an fairly ill-advised post over at The Comics Journal a while ago.

Sorry to be jumping all over Roland Kelts again a couple months after the fact; he's obviously not the only person who's been saying stuff like this, but he does happen to be one I was responding to when I originally wrote it.

The art form of Anime in and of itself is what's causing the confusion. The Anime artists intentionally put ambiguous features on the characters so that you see who you want to see in it. It's part of the art form. [...] If there's an issue with why Anime does not put particularly specific Asian features from the PC Asian types that people think should be there ... take it up with Anime animators. It has nothing to do with me.

- M. Night Shyamalan


Why do so many characters in Japanese art forms - anime and manga - appear to be ethnically Western?

The short answer is thanks to Frederik L. Schodt, author of Dreamland Japan, who notes that Western notions of beauty began to influence Japanese artists as early as the Meiji restoration (late 19th C). It's also true, as Schodt notes, that the big saucer eyes of Western-looking characters made it easier for artists to express the nuances of deep emotion. And Osamu Tezuka, the father of modern Japanese comics and animation, was particularly keen to create characters that were 'stateless' - appealing to a global audience.*

- Roland Kelts


Regarding the question of whether manga artists intentionally draw characters to look either white or "neutral" - there's no such thing as "ethnically Western," and "white" is not the same thing as "stateless" - I'd suggest reading Matt Thorn's essay "The Face of the Other". The short version is that they don't - people in Caucasian-dominated-societies think that manga characters look white because we consider white the ethnic default, while Japanese people think that the characters look Japanese for the same reason.

(I can confirm this from my own experience teaching in Japan - Japanese kids think manga and anime characters look Japanese. They don't think they look white. Only Westerners think that.)

Beyond that, the idea that most manga artists are deliberately trying to make their characters look white is a little incredible. There may be a few Japanese artists who are deeply concerned with the accessibility of their works to a non-ethnically-Japanese audience, but if these guys had, like, a conference? The conference would be a very small one where everybody looked slightly sad all the time. Probably they couldn't afford a really good hotel, the panels keep devolving into people reciting racist things their editors have said, and there's this one doujinka guy who just showed up so he could accuse everyone else of sympathizing with those dirty Brazilians who took his day job. Yukito Kishiro didn't come because he's been hospitalized for depression again.

And I got distracted there, but uh, it's a little like saying that, you know, because a lot of novels by white Americans don't have people on the covers - they have cars or lipstick or cats or something - white American authors as a whole are desperately interested in making it possible for a non-white audience to read their characters as their own ethnicity.

Anyone believe that? Make that argument for me! I am interested in your ideas.

Regardless, Avatar was not an anime - it was American-produced - so this stuff's irrelevant. The show's settings are pretty unambiguously derived from China, Japan, Korea, and pre-colonial North America. I just don't see how one can make an argument that these characters were originally intended to be white.

Hollywood, of course, requires major bank to get a story to the screens and cinemas across the U.S. and the world. And major bank means promised returns. Caucasian leads are virtually a necessity to guarantee that a film isn't a flop in the hinterlands of the US—and overseas. Can't hedge your bets with millions in tow.

- Roland Kelts


Probably the best counter-argument to this suggestion is to wave around a large picture of Will Smith. In fact, I intend to solve all my problems in this fashion from today forward.

Few Japanese actors can speak English fluently, and those few who can are often too old for the roles they might play (Ken Watanabe being the perfect example). Do Asian source stories like anime need Asian actors to deliver the aura properly? And if so: Where to find them?

- Roland Kelts


The suggestion that the casting directors somehow "couldn't find" Asian or Native American actors who spoke English is pretty silly. Native Americans living in the US and Canada are known for their persistent habit of speaking English, and I would suspect that there are quite a few Asian-American actors in California. You could even import some from other states, or even countries! If you can't find any in, say, Japan or China (HINT: you can) there are other exotic foreign lands with Asian people in them, like Canada, or Australia! They speak English in those places, too. I mean, there is no shortage here.

And anyway, the original casting call made it clear that they were primarily interested in white actors. So I think it's very, very risky to argue that they didn't deliberately choose to cast the heroes as white and the villains as non-white - and if you want to do so, I think you need to think carefully about why you want that to be the case.

About a quarter of the United States is non-white, but that's not something that's reflected in the ethnicities of characters in movies and TV, particularly the stuff aimed at kids - unless it's, say, a problem story about drug addiction or gang violence or something, the hero is almost always going to be Caucasian. If you want to claim that the casting of Avatar wasn't racist, you first have to be able to explain why this keeps happening, over and over and over. It's pointless to talk about "casting the best person" for the role, because in general, Hollywood doesn't do that. It casts the best white person.

Avatar was very good, very successful, and very unusual for an American-produced kids' show, in that it had an entirely non-white cast. This was one of the only shows that did that. There were a lot of kids who never got to see themselves as the heroes who this show made really happy. It's special to a lot of people. I'm going to leave it as a mental exercise to figure out what this movie's casting tells those kids.

- or, okay, maybe I won't. I recall an Asian woman saying that her nephew had seen the pictures of the actors, and was scared that it meant he and his friends couldn't "play Avatar" anymore, because it was for white people.

-

* If anyone has any actual sources, aside from Frederik L. Schodt, for this persistent claim that Tezuka tried to draw his characters as looking white, then I'd be interested in knowing what they are. I don't think that I've ever seen the idea attributed to any text but Dreamland Japan, and unless I'm missing something, Schodt doesn't make that claim. The closest I've found are a couple of lines on page 61:

Tezuka drew large eyes, and when he began drawing for girls' romance comics he further exaggerated this tendency. Tezuka, and the other men and later women artists who followed him, found that a Caucasian look, with dewy, saucer-shaped eyes, was extremely popular among young readers and that the bigger the eyes, the easier it was to depict emotions.

- Frederik L. Schodt, Dreamland Japan, p. 61


What we have here is Schodt's opinion, not Tezuka's. If there's evidence that Tezuka considered the way he drew eyes to be "Caucasian-looking," it's not cited here.

(I'm reading this on Google Books, which doesn't have the endnotes, so I invoke the power of the internet: if anyone has access to a copy of the book, could you check to see if there's anything there that looks relevant?)

Now, in deciding how much weight we want to give Schodt's own analysis, I think we need to look at the rest of this chapter. On the next page, page 62, he explains that improved nutrition and the use of chairs are making Japanese people healthier, which makes them look whiter, because healthy people look white. This claim is also apparently unsourced; that is because it is insane.

Though this may be the strangest thing that Schodt says about race in DL, he does say a lot of strange things about race; the whole chapter is extremely bizarre. For this reason, I kind of don't think it's a good idea for people to keep using DL as a source in these kinds of discussions. At least at the time at which he wrote this book, race clearly wasn't a subject with which Schodt was prepared to deal.
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* This post about Errol Morris's latest documentary is being linked around a lot. It's about a woman who abducted and raped a man in the 70s, but was only sentenced to one year (which she never served), apparently because the UK criminal justice system at the time wasn't quite sure it believed men could be raped.

This sounds pretty awful, so why's the post say this: The subject matter here seems right in the wheelhouse with other Morris profiles of the delightfully weird in films like Gates Of Heaven and Fast, Cheap & Out Of Control.

I mean, "delightful" is not the word I'd use. I think I'd probably use some other word.

* Since I've been encouraging people to watch Baccano!, I should probably warn for two items of mild racefail in there.

1) There's a Mammy stereotype whose role is basically to fret about the fate of the rich white girl.

2) One of the two newspaper reporter guys, Elean, is a black guy who shows similar tendencies to fawn over the same girl, and also gets humiliated a lot - not any more than the other reporter guy, but given that there are only two black characters in the show, it comes off as a little iffy.

* I tried making pinto-bean-and-salt-pork curry, but it didn't really work as well as the pinto-bean-and-salt-pork miso soup.

(Pinto-bean-and-salt-pork miso soup was a great idea, by the way. Thank me. Unless you're watching your sodium intake. Then you must curse me, for I come bearing your destruction.)
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Dear Fellow People On The Internet,

I think maybe we all need to stop using the word "special" to mean "not smart," because I'm pretty sure that the etymology there is that it comes from "special needs."

("Special snowflake"-type usage is a different case, and I'm not disposed to complain about it.)

Thank you,

Somebody who just realized that, when she's trying to write dialog for middle-school-aged bullies, she assumes that "special child" will be among their top five most frequently-used insults.
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The post includes a variation upon the phrase "I don't care whether they're black, white, or purple." Always a good sign!

Unrelatedly, it's alarming when you put down some thing you're reading, go back to it a couple days later, and upon googling discover that one of the people discussed therein has died in the interim. Specifically, Shio Sato died on the 4th, and I was reading this interview with Keiko Takemiya.
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In the Girl Power Kills comments I was having a spoiler-ridden conversation with [personal profile] kaigou about the finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender and its treatment of Azula and Ozai. (You should read her whole first comment, because she makes some really interesting observations.) This is how it was going:

Complaining about awesome things is surprisingly harder than complaining about horrible things. )
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I was writing a response to a comment of [livejournal.com profile] chomiji's and it got out of hand, so it's getting its own post.

At the core, 95% of shounen manga are fantasies of power. Most of them specifically work with the idea of an "inner strength" that's greater than outer strength - because, you know, most people reading manga are not big huge muscle-dudes. So the idea that this person of apparently ordinary physical size and strength could become the hero that everyone looks up to and fears, because of some internal quality, is very appealing.

Manga depending on this idea - and this occurs in shoujo as well as shounen - usually have some visible symbol of "inner strength." Bankai and transformations are Bleach's. Displaying and using your inner strength is simultaneously an act of aggression and a form of communication - if two shounen manga characters beat each other down with all their inner strength, they nearly always at least respect each other at the end. Sometimes they become BFFs! (See: like, half of Ichigo's current relationships with guys. He has beat most of these people up!)

In the most compelling shounen manga battles, when you agree to "show someone your true power," what you're doing is offering them a kind of intimacy, because you're showing them your soul.* And like in real life, making that offer requires a certain surety of oneself. This is why, when a Bleach character has summoned his Bankai for the first time in the past, he's always looked cocky or solemn or angry. He may also look tired or like he's under strain (Ikkaku did, and I think Hitsugaya?), but he never looks scared, because it goes against genre logic for a person who's not sure of himself to voluntarily put his soul out in front of someone else. It would be self-destructive - hence the trope where someone who's panicking or deluding themselves about something tries to use their secret technique, and either can't summon it, or loses control and kills themself with it.

Now, in later uses of the "true power," it's okay to portray it merely as a weapon, because the reader's already familiar with the character's soul, even if the opponent isn't. If every opponent reacts the same way to the revelation of the hero's power, the readers will start rolling their eyes. This is part of why characters like Ichigo just keep powering up throughout a shounen series. It's not purely escalation of the danger level; it's also a reassurance to the readers that the characters still have depths yet to be explored, and that they're growing and changing.**

(Some of the most successful manga of this kind are, I think, the coming-of-age stories, where these transformations mark a character's movement towards self-knowledge and responsibility. In my experience, shoujo manga does this better than shounen - Sugar Sugar Rune and Divine Melody are my favorite examples. Though Divine Melody still has time to kill everybody and break my heart.)

So, what all this was leading up to was: Soi Fong's first use of her Bankai, which is also the first time a female character has used Bankai in combat. Spoilers up to the end of Soi Fong's fight with Barragan (I don't remember the chapter number). )

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The contents of this blog and all comments I make are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike License. I hope that name is long enough. I could add some stuff. It could also be a Bring Me A Sandwich License.

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