Intro to South

previously, we read the first few pages before we read EGS:NP to fill in a reference. Through EGS:NP we learned:

Now I have this context, I realise the December comic that referred to EGS:NP actually took place before these two stories. Still, now we have context for this strip: the book Nanase is embarassed about is the lesbian fantasy novel (I wish that was more of a thing!) and Ellen does indeed stop by at the comic book shop.

Anyway, following that, we meet some fellow students of Moperville South, who are dressed in flashy outfits and consist of Diane (the leader), Lucy, and Rhoda.

Diane approaches Nanase, who’s having lunch with Justin, and invites her to join them. Apparently they are running an operation to attract male students and get them to spend money for them. (I think there’s a form of sex work - sugaring or something? - that works on that model but I don’t really know the appropriate terminology.) Nanase is very disdainful, accusing them of ‘cheating guys out of their money’, and my immediate reaction is ‘what’s wrong with that’ but Diane argues that they’re not cheating men out of anything which is also true.

But the comic basically wants to set them up as evil, so Nanase offers to sit with them if Justin can come too, but Diane says Justin would disrupt their operation because he’s out as gay basically. Then we get the nasty ‘female catfight about looks’ trope which is as terrible here as it is everywhere else and Diane is written to be fatphobic and pointlessly belittling of her colleagues. Rhoda is kind of implied to be gay because she blushes when Nanase compliments her.

Cut to Melissa and Noah. Noah talks over-formally with a flat affect. Melissa is homophobic. That’s basically her character trait.

Party Recruiting

The art receives an upgrade to include cel-shading! It’s definitely improving quite quickly now - it’s a lot more polished-looking than the early comic. Practice pays off I guess.

Grace sneaks in to hug Tedd. Tedd asks why she didn’t transform and she declares she doesn’t do that any more. Tedd has concerns about the theme of the birthday party and is afraid he won’t love Grace afterwards. (????)

Ellen is dreaming, continuing to experience the new childhood memories imparted to her by Nioi. In this school, there is awareness of Greater Chimeras. Ellen is attracted to a Greater Chimera called Archie.

This alternate Tedd asks her if she’s attracted to any other boys. She says no, to their disappointment.

Shortly afterwards, the mainstream timeline Tedd meets Elliot and briefly Sarah before school starts, and says he will explain about Grace’s birthday party at lunchtime. At lunchtime, Susan demands answers.

So the answer is: everyone (but Ellen, who can’t) is going to have their bodies’ sex characteristics switched by the transformation gun for the party. I was wrong about the body-swapping idea then.

(They present some additional reasons but like, isn’t it canon that if Ellen is hit by the transformation gun, she goes into Venus form? so that seems kinda moot)

And the party won’t go ahead without Elliot present per Ted’s dad’s ultimatum, so, Elliot has to choose whether it goes ahead. Given the name of this arc, we know he’ll say yes, but he puts the decision to Sarah, presumably assuming that she’ll say no. But she says yes.

Susan seems firmly against it but then we get an angel/devil on shoulder sequence (which I initially thought was Nanase projecting in even though it doesn’t even look like her!). Instead of an angel and devil, she has a cat-girl (representing ‘curiosity’) and a Vulcan (representing ‘logic’).

So we get this complete fucking mess:

Crop of a conversation wherein one of Susan's shoulder-angels suggesting that Susan's low opinion of 'males' is based on accusing them of being 'too influenced by physical desire' driven by 'resentment towards our father', and proposing using this party as an experiment to investigate it.

This honestly kind of pisses me off. Susan was introduced as a ~straw man-hating feminist~ which would suggest her resentment towards men would be on a basis of the power and patriarchy, not some cheap stereotype about men being horny all the time. even fucking TWEF rhetoric dresses up the ‘inherent male evil’ idea a bit by blaming it on magical permanent Socialisation? and to top it all off it’s turning into a whole ‘your resentment towards men is just daaadddddy isssssuuues’ thing

like this is a fucking terrible away for Shive try and address his earlly ~straw feminist~ mistakes

like ok, let’s be clear because like i make a lot of jokes about hating men but actually what i mean is:

i hate that men exist a class of people defined by their power over another class, women, and that my entire society is full of this massive ideological superstructure and system of meaning and signs that tries to make that situation into something natural and inherent. that doesn’t mean there aren’t quite a few individual men who, though i am never not aware of their position as men, i like and trust anyway. it also doesn’t mean of course that there aren’t other power structures at play that cause me to benefit from the exploitation of many men, such as men of colour, or disabled men.

but the thing is that it has fuck all to do with any bullshit idea that “male” biology (the biology i was stuck with, labelled as inherently belonging to men by that ideological superstructure) inherently makes men awful. and like, as a “feminist” stand-in character, susan being given such a cartoonish understanding of any feminist gender discourse is just… idk. it rankles i guess.

and i guess there are obviously factions within feminism such as TWEFs who insist that there is some inherent maleness that makes people who in no way materially belong to the class of men still be somehow threatening to cis women. but i don’t think what susan is saying here can be read as a good takedown of TWEF rhetoric.


anyway

the characters are also going to pair up and pick clothes for their counterpart. pairs are: Sarah/Elliot, Tedd/Grace, Nanase/Justin, Susan/Ellen.

So that’s the situation.

The word ‘transgender’ is being used increasingly, with Tedd referring to this as a ‘transgender birthday party’.

We learn why Tedd’s so morose about this: they’re afraid Grace wants to transition, which might end their relationship because Tedd is ‘not attracted to dudes’.

Anyway yeah so they have a rather awkward conversation about ‘what if Grace is trans’ with Tedd being kinda shit about it.

We unexpectedly get a coloured comic! Two French-speaking mysterious people wearing ‘everyday student’ shirts (so that’s the Tedd’s Dad school of inconspicuous disguises) with magenta and cyan hair are tracking Tedd.

Apparently they are ‘immortals’, and they forget stuff over time, so they’re not actually sure why they’re tracking Tedd. They’ve also forgotten how to perform their ‘special memory retrieval technique’, but Cyan Hair think they’re there to protect Tedd from something.

Tedd has troubling gender thoughts about sexuality and why they’re so hostile to the idea of Grace being a trans guy. They get home to discover Grace has transformed herself with the transformation gun, apparently uncomfortable not with transforming inherently, but with her own transformation abilities. She’s kind of played herself though, because she can only get back from cat form with her abilities.

The immortals can apparently become invisible and intangible, and spy on Elliot’s house. They feel the presence of a ghost who is also passing through - a ghost with a long fringe covering the face, who has apparently tangled with the immortals before and is seeking resurrection.

Even More Recruiting

Nanase is upset about being beaten by the Furry Crew and how upset she got over being attracted to Ellen and destroys a punching bag while shouting “I am not weak!”

Elliot lets Nanase and Justin know about the party. Justin’s not convinced, but Nanase is down for it.

Justin is persuaded by Elliot offering to let him braid his hair when they’re both transformed.

Greg asks Elliot to pass on an offer to train Grace in Anime-Style Martial Arts so she has non-lethal options in a fight.

Grace tells Tedd why she’s so upset: because she lost control when she used her powers to their fullest extent against Damien, and she doesn’t think she deserves them as a result.

Party Fashion

The Moperville North students attend an assembly. The principal’s plan (inspired by Tedd and Grace arguing over Star Trek) is revealed: he’s going to implement a uniform policy. Unlike any school I’ve ever heard of, they’re giving them away for free.

The womens’ uniform includes a skirt, and Susan justifiably gets furious and challenges the Principal across the hall. The security is too scared to intervene. But the Principal refuses to back down.

Elliot takes on Tedd’s role of being creepy about the adoption of uniforms and says it will be ‘hot’, so Sarah decides he’s going in the school uniform to the party.

In Ellen’s dream, she’s been turned down by Archie and we learn that Greater Chimeras are usually ace.

Ellen talks to Susan via IM. This is represented by their online avatars: Ellen’s is a skimpily dressed catgirl, and Susan is basically her real life self in what I think is a Star Trek uniform. She has spots down the side of her face, which I guess means she’s some Star Trek species.

Nanase meanwhile is RPing with Justin in a Trek/Wars crossover where she’s a Jedi. Nanase approaches her and passes the buck for picking out Ellen’s outfit.

In the RP, Justin is shirtless and holding a Bat’leth and yeah, the details probably aren’t important.

The next day they hand out the free uniforms. The school is extremely strict on its bullshit gendered-uniform policy, and Susan refuses to wear a skirt. Tedd meanwhile is trying to get one of the girls’ uniforms, and being refused. Susan presumably hatches a plan to swap their token things or something (??? why bother with tokens doesn’t the school have a register of students)

Meanwhile at Moperville South, Nanase and Justin chat about the party. It’s going to be time for Ellen and Grace to come to school soon. Nanase is getting into the habit of floating around, which the physics teachers don’t like and -

what the fuck if i was a physics teacher i would be so fucking excited like holy shit people can fly scientific discover of the millenium right there

anyway

Ellen says she doesn’t feel the same attraction to Sarah that Elliot did anymore. Apparently she also wants to have sex with basically everyone (oh look it’s time for bisexuality stereotypes)

Justin is still crushing on Elliot. He has a nightmare in which Elliot says he could only love him if he was transformed into a normatively-female body, and does so.

Family Reunion

Grace wakes up on the day of her birthday and receives a video call from the Furry Crew. Vladia has changed her name from Vlad, and is happier.

Grace lets on her guilt over her loss of control against Damien. Vladia has a go at her. Dr. Sciuridae steps in and is more reassuring. Grace lets go of her hangups about transformation. Aww.

Tedd is relieved but still has ‘but what if she’s trans’ hangups, but resolves to make Grace’s birthday ‘the best ever’ to help restore her ‘bubbly’ self. um. this is really not a good way to think tedd :/

anyway so yeah that’s where we are. Next arc is the party.