Well, I didn't say every post would be spot on time.

*Oh Dear Dept: I really do need to save money. My vehicle isn’t going to last forever. I have student loans to pay off. I would like one day to build a submarine and post comics reviews from the Arctic Ocean. All of these things involve money, and I ought to focus on piling some up.

And then ,inevitably, things appear. Like this.

Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents, a half-decade in the making, 528-page monster hardcover from Stephen Thrower, one of my very favorite writers on horror & exploitation films, and FAB Press, one of the finest English-language publishers of deluxe books on trash. There’s a 25,000 word history of US horror-exploitation films from the early ‘60s to he rise of the ‘80s slashers! Essays on dozens of mad, obscure filmmakers! A jaw-slackening 120 reviews of crazy fucking movies, some of which are apparently annotated by people involved in the works themselves!

God, this looks nice. It also looks like it’s going to cost a cool $76.06 to import from the UK, and that’s after FAB’s online discount shaves almost $25 off the cover price. I notice that US retailers like Amazon have it down to below $45, but they also haven't gotten their stock in (and the book's been out since late May). Fuck! I already spent enough money importing that dandy-looking Rian Hughes omnibus Yesterday’s Tomorrows, which is just now swimming across the Atlantic to greet me. But this book… you’re going to want to consider it if you’re interested in nasty American cinema. Strongly consider it.

*By they way, Brack, I certainly hope you’re proud of yourself. Ever since you pointed out at Dick Hyacinth’s that Yotsuba&! is serialized in a magazine known for its moé appeal (Dengeki Daioh - note that the title of writer/artist Kiyohiko Azuma’s prior project, Azumanga Daioh is a translation-unfriendly pun on both the creator’s name and the title of the magazine), I haven’t been able to even look at the new vol. 4 without contemplating the implications of the book’s concept.

I mean, yes, sometimes I also stare at beams of light through the window for an hour (hence the lateness of this post), but you don’t need to set me off like that!

Anyway, consider this. The contemporary anime/manga incarnation of a moé-baiting work generally features an emphasis on cute, funny, struggling, spotless, nigh-infantilized female characters, primed to spark warm and caring, possibly quasi-sexual paternalistic burbles in an adult male audience. Was it Miyazaki that once remarked that moé is like wanting a girl for a pet? Anyone have a link to an exact quote? Anyway, the objective is to rouse a protectionist fantasy about a particular fandom-detailed female ideal, reality stripped from the equation save for genre formula’s requisite nods toward such. Or, that’s certainly how it seems to me in the modern incarnation of the type of work this stuff grows in.

In this way, the curious particulars of Yotsuba&!’s concept make a certain sense. Yotsuba, the delightful little sprite, is not the biological child of Koiwai, the adult male - he simply found her, without having to go through the mess of interacting with an adult woman or engaging in sexual congress. He can delight in the zany cutie’s endearing and pure-hearted antics without a care beyond the work directly in front of him, perhaps so as to not spoil his status as stand-in for the reader. He is caring, but goofy, and loves to play, as well as slack - the alien elements of this setup need no in-plot explanation, as they are nods toward the stimulation of the moé impulse, that which requires no logic at all.

I can’t get this reading out of my head. Of course, I have to say that it only really applies to the series’ concept. Beyond setup, Yotsuba&! actually takes pains to mine humor from the grounded everyday realities of dealing with a young child, complete with misguided impulses like the kid barging into a friend’s home to mooch food, or revealing a little secret she doesn’t grasp the importance of. These aren’t melodramatic troubles, just basic ones - the stuff of relatable everyday affairs. This keen grasp of familial dynamics extends to the neighbors, all of them dynamically rendered, and actually sort of sabotages the cloying effect I get from a lot of moé bait. It’s fantasy, of a type, but fantasy presented in a way that deliberately undercuts the fantastic, forcing it into subtext. Subverting it, maybe.

God, I am reading very deeply into Yotsuba&! here. Maybe I should go to bed. I can dream of having money! That sounds good.