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May 25 2017

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& we don’t need you to mediate our relationship with her 

four chinese & chinese american adaptations of the ballad of hua mulan


Lady General Hua Mulan (1964)

starring Ivy Ling Po & Chin Han, a huangmei opera film directed and produced by the Shaw Brothers

Lady General takes quite a few liberties––for example, Mulan fights her father in order to go in his place, and she’s given a cousin who accompanies her, but it’s still quite enjoyable. I watched this one quite a while back, so I can’t speak to too much about it, but it’s very traditional and operatic in its staging, and it’s instantly recognisable as a Shaw Brothers production.

This is a lot more restrained and theatrical (obviously, as it’s pretty literally filmed opera) and stylised in its modes of expression than the other adaptations I’ve picked––and though this might seem rather inaccessible to people who didn’t grow up watching huangmei (I didn’t), I found it to be very engaging.


Hua Mulan (2009)

starring Zhao Wei, Chen Kun, and Hu Jun, directed by Jingle Ma

Roughly, way darker and way gritter and also much better than that Butterfly Lovers remake he did starring Ah Sa, Wu Zun, and Hu Ge. This is largely a war movie about Mulan as she figures out how to be a good general and negotiate peace, but it’s also a contemplation of the price of peace, and what you’re willing to sacrifice to achieve it.

I did ultimately have a few issues with this film––it really fucking annoyed me that the one prominent Manchu actor in the cast is also the one who has to play the most abject character, who is bloodthirsty, “savage,” violent, unreasonable––and though quietly in the background is the knowledge that the king Mulan is fighting for is also Xianbei, this is all but erased, and the Tabgach family is assimilated into Han-ness, while Hu Jun’s character is made a caricature of the non-Han Other.

For what it is––primarily a war film––I liked it. It wasn’t sanitized, and Mulan isn’t sanctified––yes she is strong, but she is also deeply fallible, and her mistakes have cost people their lives. And every choice she has to make afterwards is one in which the consequences bear heavily on her.

content warning: graphic violence, one scene of self harm (not for the ends of self harm, but the imagery could be triggering), iirc violence towards animals, blood


The Legend of Hua Mulan (2013)

In many capacities, this shouldn’t have worked. The costumes weren’t great, the props were flimsy, the CGI embarrassing, and the makeup too heavy. The cinematography was nonexistent and the exteriors looked like Windows 95 desktop wallpaper. But somehow, this one is my favourite.

Because it’s a television series, The Legend of Hua Mulan is able to develop not only her, but also the cast of characters around her in ways that are politically complex and socially nuanced. It doesn’t have the political maneuvering of something like Nirvana in Fire, but that’s not quite the point, because The Legend of Hua Mulan is primarily the story about how a fairly normal girl in a quiet country village rises to become a general.

I especially loved the fact that we spend a good deal of time in Rouran, and that the desire to wage war against Northern Wei is adequately explored, even if some of it does stem from an assumption that nomadic people all want to settle and be agrarian, or that a settled agrarian society is necessarily more prosperous. But I enjoyed that each figure in the larger political institutions had their own agendas and their own agency, and that for the large part, the Rouran were not demonised.

This series plays up the weaving part of Mulan’s backstory more; the ballad mentions it, but it’s only a throwaway line about an everyday chore. Here, it becomes a central part of her story––Mulan lives in a village that’s famed for its embroidery, and she’s a weaver at a dye house her parents run. When the village is commissioned to recreate a piece for the treaty marriage, Mulan is eager to participate, but someone is intent on sabotaging the process of embroidery––and the treaty itself. When the princess’s carriage arrives in Rouran, it’s beset by a group of soldiers that seem to be Wei soldiers––and Rouran uses this as a pretense to start a war, and Mulan is forced to confront the Rouran prince she’s become close to, Duolun, on the battlefield.

I know most people care more about Mulan at war than they do Mulan before the war, and so for them, this adaptation might take too long to get to the war part itself, but I actually really enjoyed it, because it gave everyone a horse in the race and really raised the emotional stakes of being at war. So that the war is not just war in and of itself, it’s also a war that has real resonance for Mulan, for Duolun, for all their friends in both Rouran and Wei.

What I didn’t like as much (at all), though, is the regression to an easy plotline about a Rouran girl who is in love with Duolun, only to be rejected in favour of a Han-coded Mulan and who (the princess, not Mulan) ultimately sacrifices herself to protect the boy who rejected her. This is an insidious plotline that’s played out in far too many dramas––not only Legend of Hua Mulan, but also in Legend of the Condor Heroes and Heroes Without a Trace. It’s boring, it’s really ethnocentric, and it’s easy drama where better, tenser emotional turmoil might exist.


The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts (1976)

by Maxine Hong Kingston

This is the loosest of the Mulan adaptations, and undeniably Chinese American. I know Disney’s Mulan is often touted as being seminal primarily for Chinese and Asian Americans who prior to the production did not see themselves in mainstream films, but it was, despite the casting of Ming-na Wen, Lea Salonga, BD Wong, George Takei, James Hong, etc., directed, produced, and written by white people.

I first read this in high school, and to be honest, I identified with this a lot more as a Chinese American renegotiation of Chinese stories than as an adaptation of Mulan specifically. I don’t disagree with assertions of playing into Orientalist frameworks––I think it’s always useful to keep those frameworks in mind––but I find the discourses of authenticity to be ultimately useless. Because Chinese Americans are shaped as much by American as they are by Chinese notions of Chineseness, and because ultimately Kingston is representing herself.

Fundamentally, the only inauthentic Chinese voice is the voice that is not Chinese. That’s not to say that I don’t think that Chinese Americans aren’t capable of writing poorly about China/Chineseness––I’ve hardly been shy about disliking the self-Orientalising in some of the novels I’ve read, and that’s not to say that I think discourses of Orientalism aren’t useful in critical analysis of works written by Chinese Americans, but authenticity politics are uninteresting and restrictive, and I am interested in diaspora retellings of well-known Chinese stories and the ways we reshape and restructure them to our own experience.

A few historical notes for your (and tbh, mostly my) edification:

Keep reading

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On May 24, 2017, Taiwan’s constitutional court has ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, striking down the Civil Code’s definition as being only between a man and a woman as unconstitutional. It is the first Asian country to do so. 

In the next two years, the Legislative Yuan will have to either amend the Civil Code or to enact laws addressing same-sex couples. If the legislative fails to pass an amendment or legislation in the next two years, same-sex couples “shall be allowed to have their marriage registration effectuated at the authorities in charge of household registration.” 

The fight isn’t over yet, but this is a victory for everyone to celebrate. I am so proud to be Taiwanese. Congratulations, Taiwan! 

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oc doodles i recently posted on twitter (from the aethersphere? universe that still has no name)
some are old and idk what order i drew them in

my ocs are kind of like ‘they’re there, i like to think about and draw them from time to time but i never really end up fleshing them out much (and if i do i just keep changing details)’. i just can’t seem to get that drive to really do anything with them..

edit: forgot a couple

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some trails in the sky doodles

i just finished trails in the sky fc, and well…i enjoyed it really, really much!! i can’t wait to get to the next game. it’s been a while since i played a game that actually kept me up at night trying to progress through it lol.

i really recommend this game if you’re looking for a jrpg to play c: though i think it starts out a bit slow (and can be wordy), i do think they build the world quite nicely such that it’s rarely a bore to read through. THE ENDING THOUGH. what a way to make you want to play the second game u_u

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Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Second Chapter (trailer)

The skies show no mercy. They see and engulf all. And the gears of fate continue to turn…

Leaving his harmonica with Estelle, Joshua vanishes into the fading light. Estelle sets out on a new journey… to bring him home.

But the faint tolling of a distant bell indicates the dawn of a new era. A time of conspiracy… and calamity… More trials await the men and women of Liberl Kingdom.

Reaching, grasping for that familiar melody… Marching ever onward… Plotting out the trails of destiny once more…

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Sorry Goro/P5 fans, but there was a “pancake boy” before Goro. #AkihikoOGPancakeboy 8U

May 24 2017


*crushes my emotions with my bare hands* as I was saying,

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It’s been a rough semester! The first three are pen + watercolor/gouache + digital, and the rest are pen + marker. 

Reposted byRekrut-K Rekrut-K
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⚔️ Machi and Pakunoda ⚔️

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Hmm. Acceptable..

47 Hacks People With ADD/ADHD Use To Stay On Track


As with all these things, your mileage may vary, but I thought this was better than the lists I’ve seen on ADDitude. (On a side note: Buzzfeed is apparently full of people with ADHD. I’m not surprised).

A few of these I actually do. (Like writing everything down and keeping my keys by the door). Others I’ve never thought of, and would like to try.

Which “hacks” do you do, or want to try?

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I haven’t posted any cool auction finds in a while, so check out this cute pass case!

May 23 2017



fuck, marry, kill but instead it’s

get them randomly assigned as your lab partner for a whole semester, get trapped with them on a broken elevator for ten hours, and they’re your employee trainer for your new job at McDonalds

the important rule to this version is that no matter who is with you, you HAVE to be stuck in the elevator for the full ten hours. I don’t care if you’re in there with Thor himself. You can’t get out.

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This is your periodic reminder to stop feeding, petting, grabbing, and otherwise harassing the wildlife. In addition to the danger you put yourself and other people in, when you habituate a wild animal to human food or contact you set them up for disaster. A fed animal is a dead animal.

Pretty much this. This situation happened because the sea lion was habituated to people and brave enough to start looking for food to steal (my best guess is the edge of the kid’s dress looked like the paper wrapping on a sandwich). Don’t fuck with the wildlife, because it fucks up the life of the wildlife. 

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