Periodical Political Post *86

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Troye’s Coming Out

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Born in Johannesburg, raised in Perth, Troye Sivan is the 21 year-old YouTuber turned pop favourite whose legendary Coming Out video has been watched over 8 million times.

His outspoken stance on issues of identity and sexuality has made him the voice of the internet generation – earning him a place on Time’s ’25 Most Influential Teens’ list in the process. In a video by i-D he spoke about the ‘efficiency’ of coming out online and how he got into the music business.

Sweet Pool

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It’s amazing how visual novels have taken off in English-speaking regions over the last decade. Even so, one genre has had an especially tough time breaking through via official translations. This is the boys’ love, or BL, genre featuring male/male romantic relationships. JAST USA then announced their brand JAST BLUE to exclusively focus on these titles.

It was huge news and meant that games from the Nitro+Chiral catalogue would finally receive an official release despite being years old at this point. Sweet Pool is the first game available from the JAST BLUE brand. It’s one heck of an initial title to make available to English-speaking audiences.

The game begins with our protagonist Youji returning to school after an entire year off. He didn’t want to miss school — his poor health made it a necessary move. Fortunately he has one friend in class with him named Makoto. The two make quite an odd pair. Makoto’s playful behavior contrasts with Youji’s reserved nature.

As the school year begins it looks like Youji has hope for having a pleasant, if uneventful high school experience. Almost immediately, however, he finds himself in trouble. For some reason, it appears he is getting new symptoms from his ailment — and they’re far more distressing than anything that came before. The weird thing is that they somehow seem connected to interacting with his stoic classmate Tetsuo. Everything spirals out of control from there. Read more…

One Night, Hot Springs

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A great thing about video games is that they let us experience things from a point of view we won#t otherwise be able to take. Even better is when you are given the opportunity to play out different scenarios from that person’s perspective. It allows you to not only learn about what the world can be like for another person, but to, in a small way, inhabit and experience it because of the agency that games can provide.

One Night, Hot Springs is a visual novel that does just this by having you experience a very specific moment in the life of Haru, a 19-year-old trans girl from Japan. One day, seemingly out of the blue, she gets a call from her oldest friend Manami. Manami is turning 20 (the legal age for an adult in Japan), and her parents are paying for her and two friends to go on an overnight trip to a hot springs resort.

Haru is reluctant to go on the trip because traditional hot spring baths in Japan tend to divide by gender. She’s worried about potentially making a scene regardless of which bath she goes to, as she is still legally male and hasn’t gotten gender-affirming surgery, but lives as a woman. Things unfold like in most visual novels; the crux of the experience lies in you being presented with different choices to make on Haru’s behalf.

Only playing through the game once doesn’t give you the full picture. Completing all of the endings gives a much greater sense as to who Haru is and what she goes through. And there is a level of empathy and caring that the other characters have for Haru that manages to show how important an accepting environment can be.

One Night, Hot Springs is free to play on Steam