research * the future * culture

the life and times of the Toronto anime student

Yesterday involved a trip to the doctor, a woman singing about God to the rest of the train, and a gibberish-speaker who nestled up close to me and asked me to hold a crumpled plastic water bottle in my open fist while he reached his finger down inside and tickled it, over and over.

Clearly in need of protection, I snagged some of the infamous Watchmen condoms from a promotional installation aboveground — a faux newsstand circa 1985 with Silk Spectre posters and Cure cassettes and girls wearing an excess of yarn just handing out prophylactics. (I almost asked for the latest Black Freighter. Almost. Then I decided to be nice to Warner’s street team.)

Suitably cheered, I attended a stellar seminar on anime and contemporary Japanese society, where I was Liana K‘s plus one, in her very own words. (Her date had bailed, and I hadn’t printed off the RSVP. Match made in heaven.) We whispered and giggled and still managed to take notes. It was a lot like being with a girlfriend of several years, only it was the first time we’d ever really met. My apologies to everyone in our immediate vicinity, but sometimes you just can’t hold it in. Later, I even offered her one of my condoms. She’s that¬†nice. (Then she, Derwin Mak, and I just grabbed more from the same installation. Among Derwin’s finer pieces of advice: “Eat the cookies while you’re young.” Yes, sir, Mr. Mak, sir.)

Today I touched a tutu originally constructed in 1973. I asked about the body and transience, how the image of the dancer will last long after her art has punished her body — the very mechanism of her livelihood — for its labours. The presenter told us that all ballerinas, from 15 to 35, cry upon seeing themselves in tutus, instantly transformed into fairytale creatures, lent momentary power by centuries of myth and legend and storytelling. I love colloquia.¬†

Anybody who wants to talk similar labour issues in anime is welcome; I’m due for a substantive re-evaluation of a paper.

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  • Madeline Ashby… a science fiction writer, futurist, speaker, and immigrant living in Toronto. She writes a column for the Ottawa Citizen. She is represented by Anne McDermid & Associates, and Jason Richman at UTA. You can buy her books here.

    She has worked with Intel Labs, the Institute for the Future, SciFutures, Nesta, Data & Society, The Atlantic Council, the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination, and others. Her short fiction has appeared in Nature, FLURB, Tesseracts, Imaginarium, and Escape Pod. Her other essays and criticism have appeared at BoingBoing, io9, WorldChanging, Creators Project, Arcfinity,, MISC Magazine, FutureNow, and elsewhere.

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