Monthly Archives: June 2013

Beijin Story, A Wonderful Gay Fiction

It is probably fair to say Beijing Story is the most widely read on-line gay fiction in Chinese. It has become a classic, a standard and an inspiration. Whether you are gay or not, you cannot help but to be touched deeply by it once you start reading. -Unknown

Originally a novel published anonymously on the internet in 1998, Beijin Story garnered so much popularity that it was later adapted into a film titled ‘Lanyu’. This story follows Han, a wealthy man with an enviable background, playing around with women and men. Upon his boredom, his friend and subordinate, Liu Qisang, introduces Han to Lanyu and that’s when a beautiful yet tragic (in my opinion) love story was born. I won’t spoil anymore because trust me, it is worth the 30 chapters. STOP your train of thought. Thirty chapters may sound daunting but honestly, you’ll finish this story within a few hours (if you’re a fast reader and if you’re a slow one, then it might take a while) because it is addicting. So what makes this fiction worth it?

Han is just too confused and doesn’t see that he desperately needs to self-reflect. He has completely integrated into society from the very moment of his birth that he can’t break free from societal norms. The idea that he needs to marry and have a family are one of the practices expected from the heteronormative society and these notions have been deeply engraved into him as ‘his duty and purpose’. For me, Lanyu’s past prevented him from integrating into society but rather caused him to develop his own sense of purpose and what life should be lived for. The clashing between these two very differing sense of purpose and way of living becomes the foundation for this love story.

The use of emotions such as jealousy, anger, and repentance serve a meaningful purpose in Beijing Story. The emotions don’t simply define the characters but rather helps in developing them and move the plot forward. Through this development, I feel that the emotions the characters feel in Beijing Story resonate with our own emotions as the reader who is taken through the course of their love that spans over four years. It allows the reader to feel the emotions of these characters and really see a piece of ourselves in both Han and Lanyu.

There are some situations that start off cliché but take unexpected turns. As a reader, you will create expectations for these characters and the outcomes of their situations but you’ll end up surprised , or at least I was. It reflects the ever-changing nature of humans. We all change at some point and so do these characters, their actions, and reactions. The reader acknowledges the change in the characters but at the same time a sense of familiarity rushes over the reader when some of the characters’ actions mirror the actions from earlier chapters.

The frustrations from Han’s childish logic and selfish actions coupled with Lanyu’s naivety and satisfaction with just being able to be in a tiny part of Han’s outrageous life preoccupied in complying with social norms and infidelity in this love story really tugs at your heart.

An interesting point to note is that the narration of this story is from Han’s viewpoint and from this, we hear most of his inner thoughts and feelings. When reading this story, note that Han is the narrator which means that the reader doesn’t get Lanyu’s or anyone else’s views. The reader only has Han’s perception and interpretation of EVERYTHING including the interpretation of his own and of others’ emotions.

Normal is an illusion. What is normal to a spider is chaos to a fly. -Charles Addams

For me, the big issue that the story attempts to address is what and who defines ‘normal’? Han says that he loves Lanyu but time and time again, becomes unfaithful to Lanyu using the excuse that he plays with women to prove to himself that he’s still heterosexual, “normal”. There is an element of realism in Beijin Story as it mirrors the psychological and emotional issues in facing social norms and the notion of normative behavior. There doesn’t seem to be a glorification nor denouncement of Han’s behavior but rather it strives to present the hypocrisy as is. So then who is at fault for this hypocrisy? Is it Han or is it the society he is entrapped that had defined ‘normal’ and forced people to fit into these molds? What is the outcome of normative notions? The tragic love between Han and Lanyu.

In the end, the excerpt I opened this post with had claimed to present a beautiful love story and it had, for me. Regardless of your sexual orientation, I believe that the emotions, the characters and their circumstances are the real gems of this fictional story. In the case that I have convinced or sparked your interest in Beijin Story, you can read here. Be warned, the story has adult content with the use of explicit language to depict explicit scenes; however, if you’re old enough and are interested in this story, read it and let me know your thoughts on the story!

Space Brothers’ Lessons in Reality

Credit for this beautiful image goes to whoever created it, not me.

Before watching Space Brothers, I was somewhat intrigued by outer space but that only extended to the childhood school field trips around the first or second grade to the museums with one that specifically focused on aerospace. Ever since then, I didn’t really think much about outer space until I started watching Space Brothers back when it started airing in April 2012. It’s been over a year and I continue to love Space Brothers more and more despite having my ups and downs with it. I don’t necessarily make sure that I’m always watching the newest episode right when it comes out but I do make sure that I always catch up to the most recent episode at some point.

Upon watching Space Brothers, my interest in aerospace and astronauts have increased possibly because I want to be able to relate to the characters by finding those connections in real life. Every time I scroll through the Yahoo! News and stumble upon an article related to aerospace, I can’t help but click on the link in hopes that I could get closer to that fictional world of Mutta’s and finding his courage, determination, and dreams manifesting itself in reality.

So I would just like to share this article that I found:
NASA has picked eight of its new astronauts and the group will go on to Houston’s Johnson Space Center in August for training.

“In a statement, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, “These new space explorers asked to join NASA because they know we’re doing big, bold things here—developing missions to go farther into space than ever before. They’re excited about the science we’re doing on the International Space Station and our plan to launch from U.S. soil to there on spacecraft built by American companies. And they’re ready to help lead the first human mission to an asteroid and then on to Mars.”

After reading the article above, I just couldn’t help but imagine that Hibito and Mutta living out their dreams is exactly what these people in real life had aimed for when they chose to join NASA. Also, the bit mentioning the International Space Station immediately brought Serika to mind.

Anime and all forms media are forms of expression that have some objective they hope to achieve. For me, Space Brothers is an anime that really hopes to inspire people to do what they love and that it is never too late. These but you would be surprised by the amount of people who restrict themselves and become bogged down by commitments and promises leaving them tied down by their limits. People need a remind that nothing is ever impossible because we tend to set limits for ourselves. Those of us who continue to watch and support Space Brothers for our own various reasons may believe in the lessons that Space Brothers and its characters have to offer in hopes that we take charge of our own lives and really do something big.