We can remember it for you, wholesale

“Among the first people who show up as early adopters of memory technology […] The first are pornographers and the second are ideological fanatics…”

— Abby Smith Rumsey: “When We Are No More: How Digital Memory is Shaping Our Future”, Talks at Google http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZJDFDscmWE (17:15)

I find the former far more interesting.

So this is not much to do about Contemporary Japanese Visual Culture, at least on the surface, but… wait for it… We might get a few ideas.

My long thinky piece on the representation of fujoshi homosocials in manga and anime, including the valid complaints against such and how the Genshiken gets BORING because fujoshi practice is represented as monolithic, is taking a bit longer to come together than I expected.

Plus an IRL gig is going to eat all my time for a while.

Whatever spare time remains and does not get eaten by yard-work (dammit grass is growing high!) will probably go to a quick and nasty examination of the flood of rude Genshiken doujinshi now readily available in the grey corners of the intertubes. It looks like the Harem Arc had one useful spin-off: it fueled the lurid imaginations of “secondary producers”.

Holy crap! (as Ogiue muttered) “My characters are making love” .

Well, they are doing something.

Oh, and chapter 123 should hit the stands soon.

 

Chapter 122: Kobayashi Maru Jigoku Omiai

Wherein mixed metaphor and weeaboo Japanese collide to pick apart the ruins of Madarame’s romantic prospects. SPOILERS ENSUE

I’m cheesed off.

I didn’t think I’d be so cheesed off.

I am also cheesed off for being snookered into being cheesed off

I am cheesed off at Kio Shimoku for putting me in cheesed-off land.

That so-and-so can write.

On the surface, chapter 122 looks simple, almost sloppy. No way: it is a finely crafted little bear trap, well sprung. This one was made to take a leg off. If something is there, it is there for a reason. What I tell you three times is true and will be on the test.

I am furious.

Deep breath!

Why so surprised when chess pieces move the only way they can move.

I am a good, right-thinking person. Why point that thing at me?

This needs to be taken apart. Examine all the sharp, shiny little pieces.

Where to start?

First, visit Ogiue Maniax for the latest corrected excerpts from the 4chan/ tumblr script for Chapter 122. Or you are reading this long after and the usual well-crafted English fan-translation is already available. I hope the scanlating crew is not mightily chuffed at all the amateur dodgy attempts that floated around. They have taken umbrage before and considering the work they put in, this is understandable. Yet the urge of the fans to find out, especially for this chapter must be equally understandable and ultimately, forgiveable. Nuance suffered, folks had their ships and their hearts broken. What did we learn from all of this? How did it play out?

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Lets put this sucker up on stands and tear it apart.

Thanks for all your support

Think wayyyyy back. When Ogiue was conflicted and Sasahara was interested, the club did not impede. It supported. And it gave them room to work things out. No one piped up that if you don’t chose Ogiue, perhaps you should stop coming by the club, get a job and move away. While there definitely was a bit of “matchmaking” from Saki and Ohno, no one chased them, ogled and spotlighted them.

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Madarame Sou-uke.

Although adopted enthusiastically by Hato upon joining the Genshiken, it was originally an Ogiue fantasy, as detailed in the infamous yaoi episode in the second season of the original Genshiken anime. It is, in effect the latest and last manifestation of Ogiue’s original sin and one that Ohno and the original female Genshiken crew are complicit in. ( Ch44, p27)

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A crossdressing fudanshi or male fujoshi or a trans* fujoshi?

Hato Kenjiro will not be “male” in the Genshiken. The Hatos have learned from bitter experience how males are “accepted” in female-exclusive fan socials in Japan. Not! As well, Hato finds something in BL that strongly affects him and wishes to process it as close to the original as possible. The distinction would be between the theoretical scopophilic (or scoptophilic, K. Nagaike 2005) and the threat of participatory engagement in fujoshi fantasies.(1)

The male-ness of a fudanshi imposes a different calculation upon the enjoyment of fujoshi stories. His participation within a social that values exchange of these stories imposes a strong presupposition that he will share his experiences, at least in abstracted form. It would be hard for him to avoid becoming a vehicle through which the female members of the social would enjoy how their cherished scripts and tropes play out.

What do you mean by Fu-Danshi

K.Nagaike’s improbable Japanese heterosexual male BL fan aside, what exactly does the term “fudanshi” connotate on the street or in the aisles of Comiket, among Japanese fans. Is it “I’m a guy who reads BL” or is it “I’m a guy who probably is interested in guys and reads BL“? Unfortunately English language academic reports list few examples of fudanshi/ male BL fans. One mentioned in an early McLelland article (2) is nominally heterosexual. The Nagaike article that speculates as to the existence of straight fudanshi as “herbivore males” still eludes my grasp, but the summary smells fishy. Over %90 of the Japanese audience for BL and yaoi is reported to be female. The remaining %10 is a mystery but if one estimates by the two existing amateur studies, the heterosexual and asexual male readership makes up only %1-%2 of total Japanese readers. It could even be less. Noted Bara artist Tagame Gengoroh is listed as the co-author of the follow-up 2009 study and ventures therein that it would be reasonable to assume that some of the respondents who self-identified as neither “gay” or “bi” could be “closeted”, given the stigma still attached to male homosexuality in Japan.

 

How does this apply to Hato?

Betcha this question sounds stupid. Fer chrissakes, Dude, you are reading the gay pr0ns. You like, right? Hato always previously denied real-world same-sex interest. Fantasy is fantasy. This also added an extra plot excuse for becoming-fujoshi; the “containment field”. Maybe it is “a guy who reads BL but is too scared to really try real guys“. Who knows? The confusion is Kio Shimoku’s fault; he has gone out of his way to make Hato non-conforming to categories, even non-conforming to categories of non-conformity.

Hato’s identity: Hato.
Hato’s sexualty: Hato.
Hato’s gender expression: Hato.

Real guys don’t do that” aside, there is always the strong suggestion that the fudanshi is adapting fujoshi stories to his same-sex desires. Whether or not to call them gay/bi/non-binary/pansexual/would-consider-romance-or-fun-with-a-male-under-certain-circumstances varies by individual social context, but in the end, yuppers, they are, as Hato is, “gay”(etc.,). At least in the eyes of the Genshiken fujoshi.

Is Hato trans*?

It is a stretch to consider Hato a “full” “conventional” transwoman. Not yet. At best, Hato is an emergent trans-fujoshi, at least; a “fujoshi world field exploration module”, an “avatar”. Hato’s denial of real-world same-sex desire leaves only the problematic “I’m not gay it is only him” canon BL pronouncement to explain his developing feelings for Madarame, as well as the confusion and conflict surrounding these. If Hato was to decide that ze was deemed male at birth with “the heart of a girl” Hato’s desires would be, after surgery and hormones, heteronormative by law if not custom in Japan. Note that the Stands, as subconscious guilt-complexes consider Hato male. If Hato was at core “female-souled” the BL shipping urges would be, as above pointless. It might work if Hato had two souls and the Stands were out to excise the “accursed remainder” but that gets too twisty-psychological to follow in a comic book story.

The older Hato variant in Spotted Flower is gender-queer but eschews a fundamentally female “core”. The idea of breaking and surpassing identity rather than fitting into one remains imperative. The goal of becoming a cross-dressing male BL mangaka is what unifies the project.

Affective and Transactional membership within a fujoshi social.

The position of a member within a fujoshi social will be a mixture of the these two concerns, as in any activity-related social. The closest studies available to mortal outsiders of such Japanese socials would be those of female executive drinking groups. (more here) Note that in one study, a member was excised from the group when her emotional neediness became a burden on the group. Friends will help to a certain degree, after which point the burden becomes too great upon the “wa” of going out and getting hammered on the weekend to de-stress.

In the case of a male fudanshi, the transactional demands would easily overwhelm the bonds of friendship. Even in the case of Hato-as-fujoshi, in full female-presenting mode, the friendships are tenuous. Yoshitake Rika values Hato as a novelty and as a pro-level producer of new and spicy smut drawings. Valuing the Hato output and advancing club interests is seen as one in the same goal. She considers a pairing between Hato and Madarame-is-a-loser as dangerous to the club and dangerous to Hato’s output (and possibly to his mental stability). Curiously, she does not see a pairing between Hato and Yajima as threatening to the club social or to Hato’s output.

Whether she sees Yajima’s layout and pacing skills as complementary to Hato’s drawing skills or whether she can approve a slightly variant heteronormative pairing, or has, even unconsciously framed Hato-chan as a virtual lesbian and slotted Hato in a neko to Yajima’s butch girl/tachi role is beside the point. Hato’s presence in a social that Yoshitake has anything to do with – and remember she is exemplar of a tendency, not it’s sole adherent – depends on a fully female-presenting Hato. Lesbian fujoshi are not a problem; they are still women and the desire discussed in the social is abstracted. “That happens in all-girl schools, no big deal.”

No Boys allowed

I had long groused about the lack of emotion and longing displayed by the supposedly crushing Hato, especially Hato-as-chan. The Niko trip chapters have whacked me upside the head for not realizing how overwhelmingly constrained Hato was when participating in the club. In rotten-girl mode Hato can do demure or can do fujoshi-overload. That’s it. Anything else risks the great project.

At Comiket, when only with Madarame, Hato could doff and don the wig as needed, otherwise Hato’s presentation becomes a straightjacket.
Comiket is “Holy Ground”; a truce operates within its boundaries.
The one time Hato ventured, in girl mode in the clubroom, to list the reasons why “loser Madarame had moe” Yoshitake’s urge to sanction the transgression was set in motion.

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Hato-as-chan is so committed to her project and yet so insecure about its fragility that she can literally only discuss attraction for Madarame in the context of acted out BL tropes, of othering her his-self as exchanged fantasy. This is probably the cruelest trick of the internal consistency laid down by the author. There is absolutely no way Hato-chan could ever consider mentioning to the rest of the club that Hato spent any innocent social time with Madarame, even as Hato-as-kun just hanging out with Madarame.

Doing so would break the spell. Hato would no longer be “passing” for a fujoshi. Hato would be an odd cross-dressing gay guy with a boyfriend who needs to fit in with a club full of women.

Only in the light of the enforced girl-mode of the Niko trip does the magnitude of the cruel joke become apparent. Instead of facilitating and encouraging male:male romance, it effectively adds further levels of prohibition against it. If you date a guy -poof- you are back to being a guy and guys don’t sit well with the club as it is. Hato loses all.

I wonder if Yajima Merei now “gets it”. How does she feel about how she kept after Hato to drop the masquerade?

Fantasy as fantasy as a reactionary force.

I have previously quoted critics and essays which have echoed Saki’s chidings: the male-male desire fantasies of fujoshis do not necessarily include comfort and familiarity with real-life male gay people, let alone real-life, politicised LGBTQ+ communities. Kio Shimoku’s renderings of them echo these observations. Realistic concerns may even be seen as intrusions against the structures of these fantasies. This is in marked contrast with ‘western” slash communities that long ago adopted a more inclusive and politicised stance. After all, approximately half of slash fan readers are male, presumed in some degrees “queered”, by all extant studies available. (Pagliassotti. Aoki/Viz)

The Japanese fujoshi social is not anti-gay. It is merely real-life-gay avoiding. Males, gay or not are raw material. Gay males are still seen as males with male privilege and freedom available to them, as long as they pay token obeisance to Japanese rules of hierarchical male social organization.

Gay males who might take umbrage at their portrayal in extreme BL/yaoi narratives are a threat and a nuisance; they heckle the stories or get angry about portrayals even if no real etc., are being depicted. It is just guys asserting their male privilege, again. Password the forum, post a disclaimer and switch to silent running.

Elsewhere in Asia, fujoshi enthusiasms end up as being conflated with homosexual practice whenever a government clampdown rolls around and the fujoshi are an easy target. The distancing effect is powerful, multifaceted and hard to counteract.

As for gender-queer, gender dysphoria, non-conforming or minority gender expression, these are interesting as varieties of raw material to the fujoshi project, but any momentary real-world consensus over status, presentation, rights, etiquette, let alone “political correctness” or solidarity just gets in the way of a good hawt tale. At best, it might make for a few points of verisimilitude in a story. why bother; it will just draw attention and bring the spotlight back on the easy female target. Progressive social movements are useless and always end in internicine mayhem, circular firing squads and clusterfuckery. Why stick your neck out? This is not relaxing. Best to avoid it all. We’re just here for the skin and the feels. Did the guys ever worry about similar concerns in their pr0n?

Note for the purposes of the Genshiken, these tendencies, remarked upon by academics and commentators are exaggerated and simplified.
Kio Shimoku does his research to create his fujoshi Genshiken but it always hews towards the larger, broad-brush tendencies within the literature.

History stalls without electricians… rusts…

For all I know, contemporary fujoshi socials in Japan liaise with LGBTQ+ groups and turn out for pride marches and the Genshiken is completely lost in the past. Perhaps there is even a gay male blogger in Japan who is rating BL tales on a scale of hateful shit to ridiculous fun to sensitively realistic and supportive, in a parallel to the great project that a certain lesbian blogger has undertaken in the west for yuri. If not perhaps there should be. Godspeed!

Such a real-life, politically engaged fujoshi group would never find itself caught in, let alone setting up a classic unwinnable Kobayashi Maru exercise.

Whereas Kio Shimoku slipped one over on us. How much of it and the extent of his purpose remains to be seen.

A test of character for the command-track candidate and the club itself. How better than to expose the weaknesses in the group?

Wither Madarame?

Madarame has been constructed as being very shy around women; recovering from a 3 year fantasy crush on Saki-as-Ritsuko Kubel Kettenkrad; prone to fugue episodes of pre-emptive over-geeking with women he considers attractive; a mildly pervy fan of jousou/otokonoko fantasy pornography and lately severely unmotivated, to the point of loser-dom.

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Yet he does have good friends, he tries to do the right thing and his insistence on the individual right of the fan to like and enjoy what fantasies they fantasize over has built him into a figure of admiration among the Genshiken readership, and not just male readers.

It was a shock to hear Madarame described as being “wide open” and “full of openings” or unguarded. Being ungarded and open is generally considered a good thing, except when male privilege is exposed by placing a poor schlep in the sights of a male-male rape (or at best forceful seduction) fantasy.

Those “forceful” pairing conventions are sacred within parts of the fujoshi fandom. How else is a conflicted, emotionally inarticulate hunk of testosterone supposed to express societally forbidden, overwhelming, madness-inducing desire? Just don’t point that at women. Here you go Bowser, go nuts on that pant leg.

Deeds not words.

Kio also raised the ante a bit while throwing in a few blocks and dodges. Hato-as-chan is the only one of the harem-ettes to break the embargo and visit, clean and cook for an injured Madarame. (Kio you sneak: you slipped some sanitized Hurt-Comfort into the tale!) Sue appears only as chaperone. Keiko; you blew it – Keiko would never get domestic for a guy. Angela might, but we never saw any evidence of this. Only Hato “made miso soup” and cleaned up the mess.

Beautiful Fighting Girl

Too bad Hato’s Nadeshiko no Genshiken is not exactly Madarame’s favourite fantasy girl. Sue is closer to the physical form, but Saki, especially as the vengeful Chairman Ritsuko busting an upskirt creep, was closer to the ideal of a heroic female character. Do not mistake Keiko’s dismissive cynicism for an engaged heroic stance. If Hato-as-chan had presented closer to an engaged, active female character; say in a persona closer to the sassy, teasing Suruga Kanbaru of Monogatari fame; as long as Hato became flustered when confronted with the possibility of affection, Madarame would already be shacked up with Hato. Too much demure femininity triggers Madarame’s hesitancy and self-sabotage fugue reflexes.

The end result is that Madarame finds the male Hato persona far easier to talk with, to discuss any feelings that he thinks he has developed or sensed from Hato. To this end, Madarame accepts that his desire might end up being same-sex, if not “gay/queer/bi/etc.”. However the circumstances are so wildly out of normal bounds (not Holy shit, I suddenly find guys of this type attractive!) as to be beside the point. For shy, unlucky-in-love Madarame, this is like winning an all-expense paid trip to Comiket on Mars. It is not going to happen again, so why worry about social categories.

Hato’s mistake is thinking that Madarame has fallen for Hato-as-chan and that this will be a thorny path because Hato-as-chan must be Hato-as-fujoshi and society will frown doubly on a romance with a gay fujoshi transvestite. A secondary issue also pops up, as it looks like Hato doesn’t have much experience with male friendship.

Madarame’s mistake is not seeing how intensely Hato as superficially an emerging- gay- male- fudanshi- who- crossdresses is invested in a far more complex project of becoming-fujoshi while in female- presenting mode. Mada should have made it clear that he prefers to talk with the male version; that his curiosity and interest considers the male persona dominant, or at least co-equal and that the male version is, for now who he cares to “let’s see what happens” with.

“The girl version always fans out too much. She should drop the sou-uke stuff! She makes me nervous!”

Madarame is diffuse as to his desires. He wants to “try it” and see what happens. Who is this Hato creature? How did he end up like this? What is in that BL stuff that turns his crank, that hides behind and lies beyond the weird butt-sex and dominance drawings? What really does Hato get hawt & bothered about? Will sex work? How and how much? Is it needed? Perhaps all night drinking and game-playing is a good enough consolation prize if the sex stuff proves too terrifying.  Is the lad huggable? Will it feel good to be hugged? How much romance and how much bromance? Will stripesu work when they are “packed” panchu?  Is there anything in all those BL stories that doesn’t have seme and uke and just has two guys that like each other? How do two guys make out, or even kiss? What happens? Questions, questions, questions.

Who knows? In fairness Kio Shimoku could have done more on these kinds of questions. He already had Madarame’s guy posse holding vigil with him after the wrist-break and discussing the hawt bits of their newest doujin score. An exploration of how and what boundaries would get pushed past with a guy who can also crossdress and “likes you that way” would be novel. Were they too far off in “No Homo, well perhaps Homo a bit, hey, but only you so far“, for Kio to manage?

But Kio can sure as all heck give the general impression that Madarame considers Hato a once in a lifetime chance to find out without taking any major hit-points.

Who says, beyond hard-core fujoshi and male ‘phobes, that a straight guy can’t have gay male friends? Get used to it. You don’t have to jump them and they don’t jump everything in pants, do they?

The easy way to find out would have had Mada and Hato-as-kun hanging out:
“Yo, Hato, why all the sempai? I know “Sempai notice me” but you are really into it. What gives?”
“Eh? long story ‘bro, gimme another beer…”

Too much to ask?

Would such an experiment have broken Madarame or Hato? I doubt it. The problem seems to lie only with the conflict set up by Hato’s project of becoming-fujoshi within the Genshiken social. The Genshiken could have not only made clear that they approve of Madarame and Hato, but demonstrated this by pulling back, making some space for the two of them, discouraging any need to for HatoMadaHato scripts, banishing the seme/uke/sou-uke as it applies to the two and made it damn clear through deeds that Hato-as-chan still has full %100 fujoshi status within the Genshiken, even as Hato-kun is hanging out with Mada on the weekend.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t run a destructive test on the participants or the group social.

For a test, we need Yoshitake Rika, the Genshiken’s own light, polite and stealthed version of Kaminaga. Not exactly Loki the cruel trickster demigod. She even means it well in her own clumsy way. And she does get off her ass and organise things. Still, her views on Hato and Madarame-is-a-loser were plainly set out. She views the pairing as potentially damaging to Hato, and to Hato’s output. And she could really ship Yajima and Hato and hope to see a rebound.

Whether or not she has voiced any more complicated concerns about Hato- as- almost- girl suddenly dropping to a glaring Hato- as- gay- guy- who- has- a- boyfriend- and- who- hangs- around- the club- in- a- wig- and- dress should have been alluded to, but lurks none the less. Such a creature could well be almost as disruptive as another Kuchiki.

When an event is put together to see Kuchiki well and truly out of the Genshiken, why not take the chance to end the harem nonsense? Especially if it resolves Hato and to a lesser extent Sue and gets Madarame and his sorry “I can’t make up my mind” ass out of the way as well.

Will Madarame nerve up to say he likes Hato or Sue? Did Yoshitake ever consciously sit down and factor the chances? Probably not. Angela and Keiko are disposable outcomes. Sue is a wild card, but is suddenly no longer antic and is being shy. It is doubtful that she could stand the spotlight of an organised public “omiai” ritual. Madarame is an indecisive coward who is stuck in “good to be king” stasis. Hato will be in pure fujoshi-girl-mode; easily flustered and/or prone to fanning out. If they really really like each other, they can bloody well prove it under the glare of the spotlights.

This should be a fun group trip. What could go wrong?

So much for a plausible motive for Yoshitake Rika. For the author, all heck is being set up to break lose. This story looks at first like it is all about Hato, but it is also about Madarame and about the Genshiken-as-character/ the “character” of the Genshiken. The chief custodian of the Genshiken is Ogiue as president. She has done wonders in upping the productive output of the club and has not fallen into the trap of the manken, by doing all of the output herself. Most of it, but not all. She can rightfully claim to have mentored and encouraged Hato, Yajima and even Sue as assistant. She has curbed her impulses towards destructive rivalry with Ohno’s formidable cosplay ancien regime; The two tendencies work well together in the current club.

But the harem problem has slipped by her. Hato’s crush is none of her business. As for Madarame, she must know in the back of her mind that she started the sou-uke thing. She has never quashed it or even properly limited it because she is guilty of it and that kind of guilt brings up terrible memories.

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Please note how robust and detailed the plotting of all this is. Mere accident of Kio Shimoku’s ad-hoc plotting? I doubt it. Such attention carries with it risks and responsibilities. No one gives a flying monkey about the plot and motivation holes in UQ Holder, as long as the skin and the magic battles keep coming. Genshiken fans expect more: when something happens and happens the way it does, they impute motive. They feel shocked and even betrayed when events play out in an insensitive manner.

The stage is set. Hato and Madarame and Sue will be in the forefront. The harem is really a reluctant love triangle. Sue’s interest is late in the game and tentative. She is almost shut down by the weight of her emotions. The real action will be between Madarame and Hato. Drunken Kuchiki provides the chance for Madarame to speak freely, if hastily with the Hato he can speak freely with. He declares that he felt something from the valentine’s day chocolates and then with with Hato’s sudden disappearance.

What he hears is a surprise. Hato clearly feels something for him but is pushing him away. “I felt something too and was scared. I am not the fantasy girl you think I am. Compared to the real women interested in you, I am barely able to hold my own as female-presenting. Romance would fail. Chose someone else“.

And then he adds one little bit too much: “Oh by the way, I can only draw girls’ boy-boy porn while crossdressed“. Huh? This is all too ridiculous! Next thing you know, Mada is on top and male Hato, glowing with booze and makeup is doing his best to deny any fantasy implications of the mishap. “Sorry, you get no handful of breast. Sorry that I disappoint.” Fantasy is fantasy and reality is flat-chested and very, very composed.

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And then Madarame brings up BL fantasies and Hato is lost. And Mada’s hunt mode has been flicked on. One Kuchiki bathroom run save later, Madarame is left to consider how it felt. “Holy crap, I took the initiative. Hato is actually kind of cute. Holy crap does this mean I’m gay? Maybe this is a special case because he can also be a shy, chaste otokonoko? Wait a second; there ain’t such thing as a shy, chaste otokonoko; them critters are sex-demons. Hato is a shy chaste something else that looks female. Whatever, I liked being the forceful one. No sou-uke here. Was all the sou-uke stuff so that girly-boy Hato could be sou-uke to a sou-uke? Does not compute.”

Felt good though.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Hato’s brief foray into boy mode only served to point out how tightly he has been sewed into his girl costume for the rest of the trip. He’s sleeping in a room with two other girls, experiencing girl-talk and his cover story is that he is a full, legendary “boy born with the heart of a girl”. Do not break cover. Maintain fujoshi mode at all costs. No slip ups or wig removings allowed. The great project is on the line. All fujoshi, all rotten, all the time.

Only briefly in male attire did he get a chance to marvel that he “was taken seriously” while walking back to Yajima’s house. That part must remain sealed away the next day.

At the temple in Niko, Hato and Madarame can talk for a few moments. Perhaps it would have gone down somewhat the same way without Keiko goading and stirring the pot. Except that Hato is now reeling from realizing that Yajima has developed a crush on (must be) him-as-him. And that ze has thrown the one thing that Keiko cannot process, Madarame interested in him-as-a-guy in her face.

Face to face with Madarame, Hato manages to get out one subtextual bit of “context” or warning. When presenting as female, Hato must devote complete attention to staying in character and avoiding any mistakes that would break the illusion of female presentation. And that means fujoshi presentation as well.

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Then after the “thrill of the forbidden” misstep, and some encouragement by Ogiue, Madarame is back for the mandatory thorny path warning. Then Hato fans out as only Hato the fujoshi can. MadaHato, HatoMada, seme, uke, sou-uke. Perhaps Hato is dead sure that Madarame is crushing on girl-Hato. Perhaps Hato is very scared of real male-male intimacy. Perhap Hato feels comfortable enough around Mada the uber-fan to let loose. Or all of these and none. But Hato is still locked into the absolute need to discuss any future relationship in full-metal fujoshi mode. Hato has accepted the stands into her, but here and now they own her tongue. Hato cannot say “I like you.”

Despite all this, Madarame is surprisingly considerate and reassuring. He does not make any promises of soul-mate-ry for life, but neither does he make fun of what clearly makes him uncomfortable. He does not act blunt and dismiss Hato’s fujoshi-voiced desires.(3)

Thank goodness he didn’t. Turns out they had an audience. Even that does not deter Madarame.

This is great buildup. Madarame is treating his desire seriously, even if it is same-sex desire. He is treating Hato’s conflicted feelings seriously. He is also worried about hurting Sue and letting Keiko and Angela down respectfully. He knows that things are getting weird in the group and its “wa” is under threat.

Then something happens offstage and it all turns into shit.

Madarame is overwhelmed. He refuses to announce his decision. His mind plays out the next day; when he has chosen Hato-as-chan and he is left in a cold sweat. He asks if there are any group thoughts on the situation. Did he really want them to decide for him or was he seeking to gauge if there was any consensus on who would be the most suitable choice? Was it only to take that into consideration as he plotted how to how to finesse his decision? Did he already realise that the situation was out of control and unwinnable unless he jumped on the grenade? Choose one, three will be miffed. Choose Hato or Sue and the spotlights will incinerate them.

Angela was always scary and impractical: the language barrier was too much, even putting aside the long-distance problem. Keiko was always out. Sex at the cost of being made to feel like shit continuously. Banter with The Adversary is fun; the morning after you wake up in hell.

If you decide that you are forced to deny any chance at love, must you spell out the true reasons in excruciating detail or can you just give the unforgiving crowd what they will accept and what they deserve?

Angela; “you are too much of a sex bomb for me, and too far away.” Keiko; “you are so goddess-like that you bring back painful memories of Saki”. Sue; (between you and me, you see how hostile this place is to any love, let alone what I was considering, please do me a favour and go along with this excuse:)I like it better when you are pestering Ogiue with fakee-lesbian attention. it’s fun and hawt.” Sue takes the hint and runs with it.

Now that we have made same-sex desire an abstract, not-serious issue we can finesse Hato. Isn’t dating a guy too stressful? (on the other club members’ maturity levels? good job, not Ogiue – enjoy your Sue!) Hato should be free to pursue (the project of becoming-fujoshi which I will not burn to these children, I’ll just call it ) being a cross-dressing fudanshi (and fudanshi means likes the idea of same-sex romance, may or may not be up to it in real life) without having to suffer (this nonsense).

I now take my leave. Your win Yoshitake-san, enjoy.

(“The more sensitive among you, once you digest it, might get the motive and the subtext of my excuses. Thanks for all the help, oh club of fans who will dream of queer romance but trample any real manifestations of it.“)

Oh Shit, not Kuchiki!Gehhhhhhhh! Phhhtt! Phhhhtttt!

Guess he bought the story.

kkobayashi-redux-web.jpg

Or Madarame just sputtered “Hah-hah I was just joking” gibberish to get out of a jam and then Kio had Kuchiki drive home the point. Released on the Easter weekend by chance. Thank goodness Japanese folks don’t understand Easter and the fuss surrounding the whole passion thing or there would have been roosters crowing.(4)

Fans who cared deeply about the emerging, fierce individualised queer-ness of Hato and the long slow build-up of Madarame accepting that there was something between them recoiled at the crudeness of the Hah hah hah, No Homo vibe that came out of nowhere like a slap in the face.

And it hit me too. I was really surprised how it hit me. It took a while, and the testimony of concerned fans to process the depths of why the fail shook me. Even if you don’t think that Hato was right for Madarame, you don’t shit in people’s corn flakes, repeatedly. …Just because you can and it is an easy gag ending to the harem arc. Even to do so to hammer home a point about how your fictional fujoshi social is unworldly didn’t need three bowls of shit-flakes.

Unless we were supposed to taste the shit in the subtext.

Madarame did win a few maturity points from this bruising exercise. He is little more confident around women he is interested in and he can control his impulse to self-sabotage. If anything, he has seen how tragic such impulses can be. He was not afraid to think of dating a guy, even though he never felt he wanted to before; he did not go into “gay panic“. He took his desires seriously. He could politely pursue, even manage some polite “forceful” behaviour, which is expected of courting Japanese manly males.

He has lost once more on the fields of love but he is not defeated. And he has learned a lot about the need to keep one’s affairs of the heart private. He does not have to be forced into a relationship, he retains the agency to decide and to reject easy, yet problematic opportunities. He may empathise too much, as an excuse to avoid troublesome situations – he will have to learn that sharing one’s heart with another will always be complicated and fraught with the possibility of hurt – but the impulse is better than pure horn-dawg “gimme naow!“.

However he did let himself be bamboozled into losing the chance to explore with afforded respect and privacy what would have happened, not just with Hato, but with Sue and even Angela. His fault for going along with the much-too-public harem omiai set-up.

What of Madarame and Hato?

Even now, while I have difficulty seeing a fluffy vanilla BL romance happen easily and naturally between Hato and Madarame, goddammit they should have had a chance to fuck up properly trying! How does a straight guy navigate friendship and maybe a little bit or a lot more with a gay or non-binary or queer male friend? Maybe that’s a story that Kio Shimoku wanted to tell, but couldn’t. And he couldn’t let them bumble off into the sunset.

Anything could have happened.

Everything was prevented.

talking c100p13.jpg

Plenty of old-school guy fans are uncomfortable with Madarame “going over to the dark side” and make a big fuss over what never threatened male status and privilege in earlier eras. I wonder who and what has jerked their puppet strings. Probably nothing more than a bunch of other schoolyard losers yelling “fag”. A serious 1950’s “beat” or 60’s  guy-o-the-world wouldn’t give that kind of chickenshit a second thought. “Part of the road, enjoy the journey…  At least it was real.”

Worse, they don’t have the time or curiosity to see the critique and examination of a female fandom as a logical extension of the critique and examination of the male fandom that the original Genshiken was. They see only Hato, the “annoying trap” flailing around, freak out and miss the nuance; the valid observations of female fan productivity (yo, dudes, aside from trolling 4chan, what the fuck does the reactionary male fandom produce? As in make? Like, uh, stuff?), gained at the price of the range of interests; not much gaming and model making or fan- reviewing in the new club – only cosplay defends the earlier multi-modality of the Genshiken.

They also miss the biting critique of the isolationist tendencies in the fujoshi homosocial as well as the part of that critique that has just played out to bitter disappointment among the western fans closest in approximation and outlook to the fujoshi members.

It is a crying shame that chapter 122 hit the diaspora Hato-supporting fandom so hard; they have struggled to put their early isolationist impulses behind them. The troll brigade hates them not only for their “queer” but for their social engagement. Fuck the troll brigade; the only author they respect is Ayn the Reaver and her petulant, narcissistic cant. Reavers make lousy fans.

The Doctrine of Authenticity was, for brief time being effortlessly honored in the Genshiken. If Madarame could convincingly be portrayed as being interested, then he should have had the in-story freedom to do so. If Hato, for all his confusion dared put at risk his single minded project to become a fujoshi in a fujoshi social because he and she started to feel something they couldn’t understand toward Madarame, would the ‘verse have imploded because of this slight glitch in sexualities and gender roles? It looks like they never were taken seriously enough to have the in-story free will to try. The hammer came down and decreed that that kind of feeling is too complicated or too troublesome or can be papered over as a joke.

Original sin Ch4419.jpg

And the Genshiken, the club that would not betray its members, as Ogiue’s high school friends betrayed her, as the University manga (manken) club betrayed her, as Hato’s high school art club betrayed him, failed. Failed miserably, tittering and tee-hee-ing over the small chance that two guys might feel something for each other, even if it only turned out to be friendship, in in-verse “real” life.(5)

The Kobayashi Maru exercise is a fictional test of character in the face of certain destruction.

The Genshiken; Ogiue and Ohno as executive officers, Yajima and Yoshitake as bridge crew and the rest of the assembled members performed below expectation. Hato was the sacrificial hostage, the eponymous damaged ship. Madarame’s performance was nuanced; on the surface shockingly below expectations, even if his excuse to Hato can be translated and subtext-read as “I only want you to be able to have a trouble-free love that leaves room for you to pursue your great project.” The Sue bullshit excuse either damned his performance or telegraphed that he considered the rest of the club the enemy within. And Kio’s framing the entire night, with Kuchiki breaking the tension but reinforcing the dismissive mood, walks the same dangerous knife-edge.

Chapter 122 was meant to question whether or not the club was truly as accepting and safe as it should be or claimed to be. What instead went down looked to many as small and ugly.

 

 

Endnotes:

(1)  It is a position beyond that of a male yuri fan. The most I can so “participate” is as fantasy, manga or anime voyeurism, making note of a few tips regarding foreplay and perhaps absorbing some of the ambience surrounding the romantic melodrama of the stories. Unlike the fujoshi experience however, yuri works better for me when written by a tojisha author. The fujoshi artifact has yet to evolve to the point where many gay male authors are successfully melding realism about gay male behaviour with the female “feels’ and interpersonal character dynamics/ drama that fujoshi readers prize.

This distinction is not that important; the fujoshi project has other aims. Contrast to realistic lesbian identity graphic novels in the west to yuri.

(2)

“One high-school boy says that “It’s not that I’m gay”…. He goes on to say that he and a group of two or three girls buy these magazines and share them. The girls ask him “Ma-kun [his name], how about turning gay (homo ni nachaeba?)”, to which he replies “they say such irresponsible things but, basically, if it’s beautiful then either is OK,” a statement which is followed by the character warai, signifying laughter (presumably the speaker is suggesting an ironic stance to his last statement).

Males who read such fiction, he observes, do so in a context which brings them into proximity with women (as in the reading circle described above). These men are exposed to very different constructions of masculinity than those they would find in a reading circle comprised of other men. Moreover, the images of masculinity present in shōnen’ai fiction are obviously attractive to many women, so a man who is sexually attracted to women, may, either consciously or unconsciously, seek to cultivate them.”

Male Homosexuality in Modern Japan: Cultural Myths and Social Realities p.246 Notes [https://books.google.ca/books?id=5SssBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA246&lpg=PA246#v=onepage&q&f=false]

More on the idea of the straight Japanese fudanshi would be more readily available if the Nagaike article was not locked down behind academic paywalls. The Google Books excerpt seems to indicate that the actual study of Fudanshi was done by a japanese aca-fan in 2008-2009. Approximately %20 of the respondents identified as “straight” or “asexual”; which would mean they comprise appx. %2 of all BL readers. Nagaike seems to impose a reading of “herbivore men” on the practice and -to my mind, distressingly – follows up on Dr. Saito Tamaki’s excursion into shota, which she does not differentiate the otokonoko/jousou  genre from.

Do Heterosexual Men Dream of Homosexual Men?: BL Fudanshi and Discourse on Male Feminization by Kazumi Nagaike pp. 189-209 IN: Boys Love Manga and Beyond History, Culture, and Community in Japan, edited by Mark McLelland, Kazumi Nagaike, Katsuhiko Suganuma, and James Welker (2015) Citation: https://muse.jhu.edu/books/9781626740662
Excerpt at: https://books.google.ca/books?id=QAIbBwAAQBAJ&lpg=PT235&ots=IEOdW_57SF&dq=Do%20Heterosexual%20Men%20Dream%20of%20Homosexual%20Men%3F%3A%20BL%20Fudanshi%20and%20Discourse%20on%20Male%20Feminization%20by%20Kazumi%20Nagaike&pg=PT235#v=onepage&q&f=false

I would not be surprised if Kio Shimoku has his mitts on the Japanese study.
The rest of us will have to wait until someone translates:

Yoshimoto, Taimatsu. 2008. Fudanshi ni kiku [Talking with fudanshi]. Self-published.http://www.picnic.to/~taimatsu/common/milk/milk_postal_taimatsu.htm.

Note that the 2009 follow-up study lists Tagame Gengoroh as co-author.
http://doujinshi.mugimugi.org/book/396607/

More: http://d.hatena.ne.jp/taimatsu_torch/

https://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&prev=search&rurl=translate.google.ca&sl=ja&u=http://picnic.to/~taimatsu/index.htm&usg=ALkJrhhoWTTK5M2pzzo0fAcy12Xjt_wJ7Q

Note that for both studies, sample sizes ran to 100-110 respondents. Finally, there is one further avenue for situating a Japanese male in somewhat sympathetic relation to the BL genre, without necessarily positing a fudanshi:
As a Cosplayer: if you cosplay bishies, you are going to be up to your neck in subtext.
As well, the urge to provide a bit of fan-service to female supporters must be extremely strong. As in cross-play, it would be clumsy to impute sexuality to the participants without first-person testimony and survey data.

 

(3) Perhaps Mada should have just came out and said: “Isn’t it a little early for pillow talk? Sorry lambchop, I don’t put out on the first date… ” But camp impulses aside, not going there was a real good idea. Hato was convinced that Mada saw him as some fantasy, and not as “just a guy”. The only other odd thing that does not fit was Yajima encouraging Hato to bring up HatoMada when Hato met Mada later. I can’t believe that Yajima was calculatingly trying to sabotage the meet. More of an “authenticity” issue I guess. I doubt that Hato needed he permission, but the reminder was there.

(4) Btw; never never mention to a famous American crime reporter in Japan the parallels between the Christian Harrowing of Hell subtext in the Easter story and the Buddhist “Ksitigarbha/Jizō Bosatsu” vow of forgoing Buddha-hood “until the hells are empty“. The tale predates the xtian mythos and is an obvious influence. Maybe it has some other local meaning in his situation – he’s known to be in a long fight with a very persistant troll, but he blocked me on Twitter for mentioning it. Come to think of it he blocked another twitter account of mine last year. What the heck did I do wrong? I give up!

(5) LATER:  Another thing that really bugs me. The great harem ending works against the “Helmut” option. Honestly, these two losers need to to be friends more than they need to fumble with each other…

Talk Talk

“Friendship is far more tragic than love. It lasts longer.”
— Slavoj Zizek

Chapter 122: Flow my tears the policeman said

Lost 117XLVII

Well, I have lost you; and I lost you fairly;
In my own way, and with my full consent.
Say what you will, kings in a tumbrel rarely
Went to their deaths more proud than this one went.
Some nights of apprehension and hot weeping
I will confess; but that’s permitted me;
Day dried my eyes; I was not one for keeping
Rubbed in a cage a wing that would be free.
If I had loved you less or played you slyly
I might have held you for a summer more,
But at the cost of words I value highly,
And no such summer as the one before.
Should I outlive this anguish — and men do —
I shall have only good to say of you.

Fatal Interview (Sonnets) – Millay

(chapter 122 raws have arrived)

Much in the way of considerations and updates in the comment section:

 

Ch122fic: another final fantasy

Go hard or go home web.jpg

Madarame: “I’m sorry. I can’t go out with anyone here, I already have someone I like!
Hato: (removing wig, male voice)Sempai ???
Madarame: “Glad you could make it. Your answer?”

Last bit of fic before Chapter 122 hits the shelves.

Mada is even too shy to date Hato-chan.

Attack of the Love Dalek schmex fail

Incredibly drawn out ruminations and highly subjective digressions over manga naughty bits below the cut. How can it be boring if it is about sex and pr0n?

.

“I’ll save you the trouble of reading the full list but it generally boiled down to “rub her clitoris while kissing her and touching her breasts,” to the point where I was saying this phrase like a robot, but whenever I try to channel a robot, I sound like a Dalek. I encourage you to imagine this.”

–Pumpkin Spice Sex Tips from Hell, by LM, The Lobster Dance 2015/10/23 (blog)
http://odorunara.com/2015/10/23/feminist-halloween-day-23-sexy-pumpkin-spice/

THANK YOU! I did, I feel vaguely uneasy, but curiously interested. It opened a whole new world for me. Whenever I feel stick-in-the-mud I go read some of the posts at The Lobster Dance.

Un refresco san egal!

“Exterminnnnnn.. No! Wai-ait!”

Continue reading

A raid for the shippers

I am at times overwhelmed with the enthusiasm displayed by some communities in the Genshiken fandom, especially those who champion the merits of a romance between Madarame and Hato. Not to everyone’s taste, but I admire their fervor. I find it sweet.

So I couldn’t help but think of them when I ran across this “name the ship” contest.

NERCship.jpg

“The public are being asked to name the UK’s new polar research ship.

The £200m, 15,000-tonne, 128m-long vessel is being built at Cammell Laird on Merseyside, and is due to become operational in 2019.

Anyone can propose a suitable name on a special website which will accept ideas up until 16 April.

The new ship will replace the existing polar fleet – the RRS James Clark Ross and RRS Ernest Shackleton – and work in both the Arctic and the Antarctic.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35825264

Slash-folk and fujoshi types are supposed to be resolute in the advocacy of their “favorite ship”.

Hijinx suggest themselves.

MadaHato or HatoMada would be wayyyy funnier than the current leading suggestion “Boaty McBoatface”, although I must admit it has its own charm.

Plenty of room for MadaSue and KeikoMada in the entries too!

For low vote count entries, it is easier to just suggest the entry as “new”. The vote will then be added to the name. The site is a bit slow, it might be under heavy load. Perhaps even some script kiddies have decided to play games. Multiple refreshes eventually get through.

https://nameourship.nerc.ac.uk/entries.html

The site is open to suggestions until April 16 2016

Gambatte!

Ps.. reminds me of long ago days when trek-fans agitated until the 1st shuttle mock-up was named Enterprise. We were all so earnest back then.

Kujibiki Unbalance Rakugu Shinjuu

… Something came up. Go on ahead and I’ll catch up with you later…

pulp scifi flowers

“The thing that is obvious to many not-young women is that no guy is owed anything just because he has an idea in his head of what he’d like. This is a very serious problem globally, apparently. These guys feel that their sincerity means they deserve the girl. And, to some extent, that is how this scenario is presented. Touko’s feeling are honest and sincere, so of course Yuu will come around to falling for her. But why? If Yuu doesn’t feel it, why do we assume she must eventually do so? This bugs me a lot. In real life, on Quora and in media.

Which leads me to the, I think, obvious conclusion about Yuu. What if she’s asexual? If so, she’s never going to have those feelings for Touko or anyone. She might come to love Touko and continue to admire and like her, but never have sexual interest in her. So, then I can’t help but see Touko’s coming on (to be crude) to Yuu as another burden, rather than a blessing.

Both these things nag at me while I read this manga. And I worry that Yuu’s agency will be stripped from her as the narrative continues.””

-Erica Friedman, Yuri Manga: Yagate Kimi ni Naru (やがて君になる )
Review in OKAZU, January 6th, 2016
http://okazu.yuricon.com/2016/01/06/yuri-manga-yagate-kimi-ni-naru-%E3%82%84%E3%81%8C%E3%81%A6%E5%90%9B%E3%81%AB%E3%81%AA%E3%82%8B/

“The dream which one comes up with on one’s own is a fantasy that is ultimately not possible to share with others. Although, of course, imposing it on others is always possible.”
Furuhashi Teiji, quoted in Mizoguchi, 2008, Ch6.

“Even if I might just be trying to force my own desires… All of our desires are just… Things we force on others anyway.”
-Hato Kenjiro, Genshiken ch 66

 

My previous post went over like a lead balloon. One more time; I have no knowledge of how the heck Kio Shimoku is going to play Chapter 122.. Jeesh, why do I even feel like I have to write that? It was pure speculation rendered as fanfiction; partly because I smelled a set-up, partly because there were problems with MadaHatoMada and also because there were a few things I wanted to work on – including that dreaded “default position”. I was not gloating, or if I was, it was over figuring out a plausible resolution, rendered as an overdone snippet of Mada speechifying.

I even had Mada go out of his way to emphasise that he was leaning towards Hato, before he pulled a noble (chicken-out) sacrifice. Amirite about Hato’s first love or not?

I have been true to my project. That solution was pure “Myth of the Oarsmen“; duty, honor, planet Genshiken. The alternative is scopophilia, which is presently manifesting itself to excess.

As for fanboy tears, most of us are too fascinated with the imminent train-wreck to shed much. Just because Genshiken is now about fujoshi fanning and features a boy in a skirt, it is not a work from Slash-land or a radical genderqueer manifesto or an allegory of feminist empowerment.

Hato is not going to wake up like Neo in a pod to discover that she was dreaming the entire Genshiken after a bullshit virus-fever and that she should go back to virtually running the algae photosynthesis factory controls for her wimmens-only cyber-dystopia that mixes elements from Joanna Russ, The Matrix and Ghost in the Shell, and completely leaves out men. They all died off last world war.

“OK, I remember now, but why does my avatar now look like this?”
“We found some old records while you were sick and voted to switch over our avatar design specs. It was all in this amazing ancient book of wisdom titled “Dykes Like Us”.”

My grumpy fanboy brothers; the Genshiken could be far more hostile or even oblivious to our patronage. Just sayin’… No Homo or not, it is still all about us guys. Note too all; spend too much time counting scalps and you’ll miss the razor blade in the shiny shiny apple.

Whoops, a sci-fi yuri-esque digression or two. I wonder how that wandered into my train of thought?

“Look, call it denial if you like, but I think what goes on in my personal life is none of my own damn business.”
Robert Mankoff cartoon

Like it or not, the heart of Hato Kenjiro is front and center in the dramas surrounding the new Genshiken. Without him (and her), we guys are just peeping into the sacred spaces of a female fandom; we are Kuchiki. If you want more Genshiken, you’re stuck with Hato, the fujoshi planet field exploration unit. It would have been so much easier, if not boring to have made him a femmish-presenting out gay male.

Unfortunately, Hato Kenjiro is not “gei”. Hato Kenjiro is a fujoshi, which is like saying that he is a duck that thinks he is a cartoon robot cat from the future. The simple declaration of his desire to “imagine desire and so desire as fujoshi women do” is such an insane defiance against the order of forms as to reek of privilege if not madness, were he “real”. It would be like Donald Trump announcing that he could get pregnant if he so chose, because he is very rich and has the “really really best scientists”.(1) Perhaps it is even more extreme; like a male middle-class teen in some midwestern American town deciding that he could become pregnant because, “Hey! if Donald Trump wanted to, he’d do it, so I should be able to!” And this doesn’t have anything to do with thinking that he is two-souled or born to the wrong gender either, just to notch up the count on the impossible delusion scale.

Give the kid a John Varley anthology and tell him to go back to studying for his college entrance exams. Hopefully he will figure his life out and not get rich enough to do something hurtfully stupid to other folks in the pursuit of remnants of his teenage dreams. (2)

Hato Kenjiro as a well-behaved construct owes much of his appeal to this kind of fancy. There must be a few guys out there who like reading BL and yaoi and probably most of them would enjoy the chance to fan out with other fans, even or especially if these other fans were rotten girls (or rotten women, or.. etc..) But how many would crossdress to do it? (Aside: I hope the Hato Kenjiro character has not caused any IRL pressure to be brought upon them – c’mon Stan, you’d look great!) And how many would deny that their real-life desires ran towards the guy side of the avenue?

At this point, anyone so ensnared in such customised and bespoke desires would be driven to consider, examine and elaborate them. “Why yes, it seems that I am more drawn to guys than girls, but the muggins gay scene does nothing for me. For some reason I really like the way the relationships play out in this, that and the other BL stories and those yaoi dojins. Oh well, such is fate, now how do I get me some?

It could make for very odd advice columns in gay male magazines. Dear Doc Feelygood, I grew up in a small town in rural Japan and…

Eventually either the fantasy or real world physical desire would win out. All groups socialize their members or the disaffected withdraw from the group.

The larger question remains. Why the heck, beyond weird storytelling is Kio Shimoku doing this?

I think we must include all, including nominally heterosexual fantasy otherings by the fandom as subject to his project. We must also consider isolating homosocials and the isolating effects of fandom from a larger riaju world, both in its satisfactions (safety, friendship, enchantment/ re-enchantment) and discontents.

Do issues of real world desire and gender expression come into this tale? Beyond “otokonoko” hobby crossplay, I don’t think very much does, at least on the surface. Kio Shimoku has been very clear about tossing out disclaimers. They may strain real world credulity but they are more than sufficient for a romcom manga.

In Hato’s case, fantasy and the social surrounding it are far more urgent to hir desires than any needs of the flesh that involve another person. Hato definitely cares about Madarame, but the uniquely Hato-ish way that care comes out is custom-built for serial comedic failure.

This is sleight of hand by Kio Shimoku. We would have no trouble deciding what Hato was if this was kinked heterosexual desire. “Uh, I have these fantasies about you in rubber underwear, cat ears, tied down with octopus tentacles, singing show tunes. And we’d probably switch roles once we got to know each other better, just for variety and by the way, I insist on blabbing about these romps to my friends before and after, if you go out with me”.

“Cause I really like you.”

I’m not saying it couldn’t work. It would just make for a rather specialized Tinder profile. If the vehicle of these desires was a hot girl, she would get a post-punk band out of it. (Ask me about the short-lived 1980’s “Dover Beach Young Communist Faction“, “Natasha” and her leather-boy posse sometime… Or not, as it was pretty well was what was on the label.)(3)

Beyond the questions of non-traditional desire, same-sex attraction, non-binary sexualities and non-conforming gender expressions lies the question of whether the desire expresses as paired intimacy, group bonding, hobby social activity or even competitive sport. Of such things, sweet dreams are made.

Who am I to disagree..

I may be pushing the analogy too far. Plenty of healthy confused young’uns mess up their first crushes with the usual bucket load of commodified fetishisms that they have absorbed from web pr0n. Usually someone they know will eventually “well Duh! Smooth move, asshat! What the fuck did you think would happen?” them.

Part of the blame for any Hato & Mada train wreck must fall on the Genshiken social itself. The harem sweepstakes have become crass; plenty of lobbying and side-bets on who would make the most interesting pairing but very little pre-emptive harm reduction. Ogiue and Ohno in particular have let this slip by. Both have executive authority, seniority and experience in somewhat functional relationships. It might be a bit unfair to drop the load onto them but why is Yoshitake doing all the pot-stirring? Why is Yajima Merei the only one who seems to think that it will hurt like heck? As one Genshiken fan has noted; very creepy but in-character with what can go wrong when University clubs turn into soap operas.

The Genshiken has featured at least two other fannish socials that have gone bad and hurt people. Is Kio Shimoku taking the dangerous mountain road turn too fast to make a point?

And let us not forget that “Madarame sou-uke” was not a Hato invention. That one carries over from Ogiue’s  SassMada dojin. In many ways it is the last or latest manifestation of her “original sin”

Is this set up is meant to suggest that a lack of practical real-world relationship interest/experience by fujoshis, plus the oddity of same-sex crossdressing fujoshi-but-a-guy pining, plus their drooling need for BL fannout has kept the rest of the Genshiken from raising any caution flags? The closest thing to harm reduction might be the entire Yoshitake-inspired plot as battlefield surgery. Fail the HatoMadaHato story as fast and hard as needed and rebound Hato at Yajima. Who Madarame ends up with is of no importance as long as it isn’t Hato. Best if he shuffles off stage. Ditto with Kuchiki. I wonder what will Yoshitake do if any new males show up wanting to join the Genshiken? She appears to have no qualms about defending an exclusive female space. I doubt if even an “out” gay male fudanshi with super drawing skills could slip by her shields. I wonder if a lesbian fujoshi could. In some ways she is an outwardly sympathetic steathed Kaminaga.

Meanwhile, as passionately pro-Hato correspondents have pointed out, we could view Hato and the Mada crush as the best an inexperienced, conflicted and confused crossdressing, “I’m not gay, It’s only you, No I don’t think I am a girl trapped in a body deemed male at birth, I made the female me to isolate, contain and process my enthusiasms for BL and yaoi, participate in the socials that surround and perpetuate the genre and experience the desires that are stirred in me thereby. One day I hope to try a variant of them in real life, eventually without the wig and dress, if I can only find someone who wants me the way the characters in my fave dojins want each other” young person could manage.

Whew! Tall order.

“Oh, and I’m going to blab about it and draw it into dojins so I can share it all with my fujoshi friends!”

Jeebus Buddha and Bob! This is going down the rabbit hole again. At least I have come up with one neato residual from the exercise. The next thing that Kio Shimoku or some ambitious BL author should come up with is a raunchy comedy wherein the uke is a gay guy BL mangaka, the reluctant seme-draftee is a shy gay-leaning civilian male and the mangaka is mining their relationship hijinks and tribulations for material. Add much trope overload. What made for an obnoxious yuri tale (Manga no Tsukurikata) could be retreaded into a bucket o laffs for a rotten audience because watching guys run themselves through the wringer is a hoot for the gals.

Just credit me as Character Design consultant and forward a reasonable fee via the contact form.

Given how nasty it could have played, Hato was being exceedingly, (even touchingly) earnest in their crush by dropping plenty of formal cautions in Madarame’s path. Unfortunately these came out like melodramatic romantic clichés: “I push you away, sacrificing my love, because I am conflicted, pursuit might sway me/ I need you to chase after me“. Then came the too-much-information flood as fannish excess. This too could be read as touching, because Hato trusts Madarame enough to think that Mada will understand the fanning impulse behind the weird. Unfortunately that was probably too much to ask of a celibate straight geeky guy.

The “shut him down hard” solution has not been used.

Dammit Hato, you used up all of Madarame’s “weird turn pro” reserves. Mada overload. Coolant leak, core shut-down. Emergency power reserves dropping.

Nor has the famous Hato-chan self-control slipped. Hato-chan’s self-control never slips. Hato-kun might blubber and teeter on the edge of bat-shit crazy; Hato-chan is bullet-proof. The worst that will ever show is a blushed face.

The Hato continuum is crushing hard, but never hard enough to let go of their first love.

If only Hato could shut up about the sou-uke and seme stuff. Of course hir can’t. The seme/uke convention is the currency of fujoshi exchange and Hato wants to participate in that exchange more than anything else in hir life. What Hato finds lacking in “gay” and in “straight” is hiding in BL. Hato want! Once Kio Shimoku came up with this algorithm, all manner of neato consequences popped up.

I have noted that there is something excessive, something that meets the bet and redoubles it about Hato deciding that it was inevitable that Hato-chan would end up as girl-bottom. To quote professor Rod Serling;

Who eats the sins of the sin-eater?

Did Madarame have to be conscripted as sou-uke just so that Hato could become sou-uke to a sou-uke, the ultra-uke or uber-uke. The lowest of the low, the lower depths, donzoko, a prince (and princess) of hell? Jigoku Otokonoko?

De Profundis:

“In the empty clubroom, I sat down and wept”

The lore of BL and yaoi makes the uke the most interesting character of any pairing. The ukes are the ones who get to crank all manner of conflicted emotions to 11 and beyond. All the girl emotions of the nominal readership, plus all the conflicted guy emotions that the girls consider exclusive male property and project onto male-dom, because in real life we disappoint and definitely need an upgrade. Just don’t point that mess at women, please.

“He protected me when I was crazy and I protected him when he was drunk.”
– Sherman on his friendship with Grant.

The Hato ship is a powerfully romantic idea, for at least a significant part of the fandom but its foundations remain ridiculously unstable. Hato is wonky. Of course everything will go sideways. Mada isn’t exactly Mr. stability himself, but at least he is predictable. And I’m not going to give up harping on how BL enthusiasts hold any male friendship in such rarefied regard that they must conflate it with incipient lust. Any Mada and Hato interaction needs a lot more work getting the two together to see if there really is anything there before asking if there is anything that needs “it”, and before they even consider “it”. Banging Mada and Hato together minus acclimatization is sloppy and cruel, as well as a sure fail. Unless the fans want and consider such details irrelevant.

The infamous Genshiken second season Ogiue yaoi fantasy bypassed vanilla BL take-it-slow setups in favor of an occult freemasonry imputed to all males. Betcha didn’t know this but if the yaoi requires it, all us guys invariably prefer man-schmex to girls. Only a super-freak like alt.yaoi.Kousaka cares to play both sides of the street for louche fun. Told ya this stuff was heavyhanded.

“I’m not gay, its only you” looks more polite, but is there for the contrast and the heightened shock when the madness strikes. Even if carnivores only kill one member of the herd at a time, they still regard the entire herd as ambulatory food storage. Oh well, we’ve been doing something similar to womenkind since the neolithic, so a bit of enlarged perspective might annoy, but won’t kill us guys.

One counter-intuitive aspect of assuming a default state of male swing-any-way-ness (magic BL lurv madness or too much beer may be required) is that on the surface it doubles the absolute potential for pairing breakdown via infidelities and dumping. It is assumed that women favor stable, monogamous, OTP (one true pairing) endings, if only because the real world imposes social and economic penalties on women who fall out of relationships while giving a free pass and/or praise to males who play the field.

One more time, with expository notes:

Hoggamous, Higgamous (guy audience porny) yuri (and heterosexual harem grinders) polygamous.
Higgamous, Hoggamous (gal audience, at least serially) BL (as shoujou/ romance derivative) monogamous.

The idea behind the “could go any way, anywhere with anyone” baseline is to isolate the deterministic, transactional variables of sexuality and gender so as to run simulations on the adhesion properties of various iterations of “romantic love”. Somewhat like computer modelling the search for new antibiotics in moldy dirt samples. If it invents and refines new delusions about how to run the romantic process it is considered to be worth the extra complications. Bonus points for hawt artwork.

Unfortunately few pairings, straight, BL-ish or otherwise offer any absolute guarantees when put up against a mangaka with a mortgage. Angela or Keiko instability easily sets up Spotted Flower. Either can vanish at the drop of a hat and all that remains is the Disappearance of Kousaka Makoto for the pieces to roll plausibly into place. Hato or Sue, as most complex offer a small hope that the author will have more material with which to drag out the story before moving on to the next arc, but this in itself points out a further structural bias.

There is a virgin-angst vibe in the Genshiken, as with other Kio Shimoku works that posits the beginning of intimacy as the beginning of the end of love. Only Ohno and Tanaka seem immune. Saki-Kousaka and Ogiue-Sass give off as much heat as Yajimacci’s mom and dad. This is by no means unique to Kio Shimoku, but his works favor the rule.

Once Angela or Keiko lapse, the current harem fuss could quietly reset and begin all over again. Magic Madarame syndrome.

Along with stability/ fidelity, one should as well consider privacy and it’s enabling condition, normative behaviour. Riajuu is boring, therefore the more riajuu a pairing, the more it will get more privacy.

I wanted to spin out another MadaHatoMada fanfic to consider an  alternative to an Angela ending, but couldn’t get much further than Hato and Mada realising during their continued walk, that if they announced a “try it”, they would get absolutely no privacy ever. That wasn’t as much of an issue back around chapter 119 when I buried a short fluffy scenario at the end of the second addendum to the post that would not die. But now the no privacy effect has been further cranked by the Mangaka.

Sempai! We are going shopping for some thick sided rectangular god-of-the-corporate boardroom seme glasses for you. And a suit that fits and then a visit to a hair stylist!” Cue the paparazzi. “Hato, Hato, how fares your fundament this morning?” Next door Sue would stalk Hato, the rest would take turns stalking Mada. Soon both Hato and Mada would have to sweep their premises for microphones. Hato would have to switch to illustrating technical manuals, lest every single panel he drew be scrutinised for hidden context and clues. Tubs of lotion and econo-sized packages of rubbers would be left at their doors.

Could classic sparkling fluffy BL play out under withering spotlights?

Hato can’t keep quiet during Chapter 121. Maybe they were both planning to say nothing until they could each mull over the other’s drawings and hentai games? Mada now has to come clean for chapter 122 and Kio Shimoku is being unfair. I am not saying that HatoMadaHato should be hidden in a closet, but sheesh, a little discretion would have gone a long way.

Why is Kio Shimoku highlighting naff club behavior? Saki is matter-of-fact about having real-world gay friends. Madarame, now in self-imposed bohemian mode doesn’t seem to think that a cute otokonoko-ish boy-girl-friend is as much of a hurdle as dealing with forceful female desire – at least until mechanical concerns are brought up. Something about being open to all manner of fantasy otherings vs IRL conservatism, reticence even fear is being suggested.

Could Kio Shimoku be advancing the concern that the very process of fantasy othering carries the risk of reducing one’s capacity for real world empathy and openness to new social arrangements?

Is the fandom truly more open-minded than the riajuu? Was it all an illusion and the Genshiken members are just a few steps away from passive acceptance, even support of right-wing retrenchment? Gate, Thus the JSDF etc. has tons of BL gags, even as the latest anime episode features a snickering corrupt Japanese journalist who is even harder on the heroic military than the “foreign reporters”.

Bad domestic press, Bad!

Awww heck, the Stargate franchise had its asshat militarism too, we still lapped it up and forgave it. Of course it had big-bads that were a lot more powerful than the American military industrial complex. Fantasy pohos with swords and spears tack a bit too close to the The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere for comfort.

Holy right-wing sound truck parade Batman!

Is the Genshiken truly a safe space for “live” same-sex couples? If Mada Hato happened would things get uncomfortably juvenile in the clubroom? Does a freak couple deserve any tatemae, or is it just a case of Madarame’s lack of tatemae privileges infecting the pairing?

The club members and alumni make twice yearly pilgrimages to Comiket. Would they muster to show support at a pride parade? Could they even back off and let the two be?

They (as proxies for their Japanese readership) should get their heads up and their game on. Some rightists in the current government think that sexual minorities are unnatural freaks and that too many women are shirking their baby-making duties. Abortion is illegal in Japan. There is “only” the widely used exemption for “economic hardship”. Contraceptive technologies are less widespread than in the west. Wink and small freedoms could vanish. Would Genshiken fujoshi be able to process the threat to their freedoms? Could fans be silenced if another right-wing governor of Tokyo decided to hit them in the Comiket if politicised dojins started to show up at SEALDs demos?

One further extreme question: by over-adopting canon of BL scripts is Hato Kenjiro acting out a “safe” form of self-hating denial. Is this an ultimate fantastic blowback, in effect a “new sin” of the genre that arises from the complaints first posited in the yaoi ronso debates made two decades previously?

Because if HatoMadaHato were ever to happen, Hato’s unstoppable need to share would move from self-sabotage to self-harm. And there would be Mada harm o plenty.

Hato and Sue are about equally matched for a “lets take things real slow and not hurt each other” relationship, but the lack of discretion that comes with Hato messes things up. Hato is a leaky bucket. Yoshitake pokes Hato, Hato blushes, then spills. Hato-chan is custom-built to exchange BL gossip with the other club members. Same-sex intimacy has no intrinsic value to the fujoshi field exploration unit, only exchange value.

It was my nature, cried the scorpion as both sank beneath the waves.

If Yoshitake pokes Sue all she’ll get is blushing, running away or an obscure anime quote. Poke Angela and you’ll get an enigmatic smile. Poke Keiko and you’ll get braggadocio and /or a punch in the snout, depending on her mood.

the Stands may have left the stage, their terrible legacy remains. Hato’s desires remain abject and alien to the core of their being; the Hatos must be danced through them, as a puppet is made to dance. And a puppet’s face bares scant signs of turmoil.

Clearly Hato needs some consciousness raising. Hato needs to believe that they deserve the formal respect and privacies of honne. The entirety of Hato has yet to give themselves permission to desire their desires and to love.

Hato-as-chan rarely (dojin production night shadow was another) lets down their guard to others in desperation. In the moments after Sue released Hato from her pin and looked through the MadaHato drawings, we saw a Hato who could express emotional turmoil. The honesty and raw pain of the moment frightened and shamed Sue. A similar moment of truth would have won Madarame.

How to arrive at one during this drunken evening at Yajima’s house? Can chapter 122 preserve the goodness of the club and get the club members to shape up, support, encourage and make safe a place for whatever happens?

Ye gawds that reads like mush, but the Genshiken is guy-written josei-ish slice of life manga. You got to admit that it is making a damn good go of slipping weightier themes in with the yuk-yuks.

Can fantasy support and inform reality so that reality can act better? (4)

 

 

(1) Don’t think too hard about this one, unless you are heavily into that variety of slash.

(2) The son of a Japanese billionaire, Mitsutoki Shigeta decided that there was a far more efficient way to become the father of a large family. http://www.thenational.ae/world/southeast-asia/thai-surrogate-offers-clues-into-japanese-man-with-16-babies#full

(3)”Natasha” (names changed to protect the foolish) was young, tall, thin, beautiful, crazy and enjoyed drinking her posse under the table. The few stock commie phrases she yelled out were a fashion accessory, like the hand-painted red hammer and sickle on the ass of her tight leather pants. The rest of the faction‘s program involved conspicuous intoxication, mild fetish exhibitionism, 2.5 chord guitar rock and trying to get into Natasha’s pants. Too exciting for me, but sure was fun to watch at the bar.

(4) Earlier I had a low probability notion that Kio Shimoku would take the easy way out and have Madarame collapse into his usual self-sabotage routine. At that point, some of the women-folk who are taking this seriously would be tempted to step in and break the stalemate. However this approach fails because the group still misbehaved and the breach needs to be healed.

Also I smashed the Hato ship and this time neutered Madarame in the process. He had it coming. Mada should have dragged Hato off to a hotel earlier that afternoon, before the little fool could indulge in dramatic self-sabotage. Even a simple “I like you” from either of them would have sealed the deal. Or end it there, humanely. There wasn’t anyone left after Hato’s “date”. You couldn’t buy a used scooter with this level of hemming and hawing, let alone attempt a hookup. It was a freaking miracle that Madarame didn’t just collapse and go along with another drawing of lots. He probably was too afraid he’d get paired with Keiko. Seriously disappointed in Mada(/his portrayal), especially after he showed some backbone…

Whatever. this was too much fun to trash, so here it is as addendum:

Heavy Object.

“Let me make one thing completely clear…” Madarame took a deep breath, a gulp of beer and continued:

“I didn’t want to insult anyone or hurt anyone’s feelings. I had long ago given up on any chance of having a 3D relationship. Every time I felt even a little bit of interest in a girl, I always screwed up and wound up being the jerk or the insensitive guy or the creep. I took a vow of “2D forever”. Even so, Saki slipped in under my defenses and look what happened. I thought I didn’t mind the hurt. I fell for a fantasy of Saki as Ritsuko Kubel Kettenkrad and was content with that. But of course everyone knew, including Saki and it ended up hurting her too. She had to keep up the pretense that I felt nothing towards her. After it was all over she cried, just for a moment. I didn’t mind hurting, but that made me feel like shit all over again, on top of ending it.

I am not up for this romance thing. At first I felt only at ease with Hato. Now that things are getting serious, it is all complicated again. All I could do was try to keep the balance in the harem and hope everything would stay friendly. If only one of you were interested in me I probably would have done my usual super-geek-out thing and frightened you off. Or creeped you out. I am used to that. It doesn’t hurt any more. Or maybe it does…

Now I’m in a real-life harem game. At least on the surface. Real life is far more complicated and random than a game. The harem genre is a well-defined structure…

Madarame took another big gulp of beer.

…But with this setup, it looks like a harem but all the characters are off, there are no save points and the stakes are too high. The harem genre has stock charactes that add a reassuring, even soothing feeling to the experience. There is the childhood friend, though perhaps I forgot her when someone moved away when we were still kids. There is the cool aloof beauty who will step into the tsundere role. There is usually an athletic girl character. Sometimes she even looks like she might be interested in one of the other girls but she will decide that the lead is interesting. There can even be the cute male underclassman who is often mistaken for a girl, like in “Girls Are Dinosaurs” or in “Lovecraft Aliens Love Comedy”. His role is to provide a manageable whiff of homeroticism. Many harem stories also feature a clingy little sister to add the spice of forbidden desire to the plot. The point being that the main character should get to experience a full range of desire, from pure to forbidden.

As harems go, this one jumbles up all the character types. It is too complicated for me to even…

“Madarame-sempai, stop!” Yajima Merei held up her hand. She looked angry.

“What, uh?”

“You heard me. Stop talking. shut it!.” She stood up. “I’m fixing this. Hato is mine. Both versions. If you two idiots were hot for each other, you’d have done something already. The rest is drama. You are going to do “we-should-no-we-shouldn’t” and the “I want my fantasies” forever or until you both go crazy or jump in front of a train. Chose him tonight or not, the drama will just keep going until one or both of you get hurt bad. And the rest of us will all feel like shit for having encouraged it. It stops here.

She turned and glared at Hato.

I am the only one here who can put up with your nonsense… And for some reason I don’t even understand, I like you.” She looked out at the rest of the club members and then back to Madarame.

“Hato mine!”

“So sit down. Or do you want to fight me for him?”

“Uh Yajima, why are you…” interjected Hato.

“You too. Be quiet!” Yajima looked back at Hato. “Do YOU want to fight me? Arm wrestle?” she flexed her right arm. “You try any judo nonsense and I’ll sit on you. You’ll probably like that. In fact I know you’ll like it. Too many sou-uke boys in this room.”

She then noticed her mom and dad staring at her.

“Oh! crap… Mom, Dad, we’ll talk later.” Her face was flushed with annoyance and embarrassment. Steam seemed to float up from her.

Yajima-san, please…” said Madarame.

“NEKOYASHI… SIT!” Sue yelled out. “SIT!”

Madarame looked at Sue and dropped to the floor. He let out a loud sigh.

Yajima looked over at Sue and held out a thumbs up.
“Good job Sue!”

Angela clapped and made a whoooping noise. “Not sou-uke! Susie’s Uke… Uke no Susie!” Then she looked over at Hato. “YajimaHato!”

Keiko looked annoyed for a split-second then grinned. “Told ya so!” she said, leaning back and crossing her arms.

Sue returned the thumbs up and exclaimed: “Good Job!” She too had a fierce grin on her face.

Hato’s face was full redder than red.

Yajima still standing looked again at Hato, then around the table. “Any questions? I now declare harem season over. Please enjoy the hospitality of my house.

I think I need more beer.”

She sat down. Hato edged closer to refill her glass.

-30-

Anyone have any other alternatives aside from a zombie attack? Less than 2 weeks left if you want to throw your version into the guess how Kio Shimoku pulls it off hat.

Win an internets.

LATER: Don’t skip the comment section

To denounce the error of truth and love

Some AU Chapter 122 fan-fiction; because Kio Shimoku can be a real demon of mis-direction when he wants to be. The only thing worse than being a stick-in-the mud, old-school cis het fanboy is being one with a plausible scenario that screws up everybody’s ships.

c 122 If you insist web

The Second President.

“Time to choose. This has gone too far”

Madarame turned to face them all.

I choose Yoshitake Rika-san – but only if she dresses like a boy.
That got your attention, didn’t it?”

“Ok; Not!

“I apologise to everyone. My deepest apologies to Kuchiki-san, whose celebration this trip is supposed to be for. Hold tight, I’m going to fix things for you.”

“My thanks to Yoshitake-san for trying to clear up the Harem, You were right, This could tear the club apart. Seeing what is happening tonight, I fear that it has already started. I must stop that even if it means ‘decide or leave‘.”

“I am the second President of the Genshiken, a club that I loved and am still very proud of. The new membership is different from my time, but in many ways just as exciting and even more productive. I will not be the reason that it breaks into pieces. I resign as harem-lead and circle-king.”

“Thank you Keiko Sasahara-san for your interest in me. You are right; like Saki-san, you stand in the riajuu world and can point out the obvious things that we miss. You are strong and beautiful… but I must consider the future. If we went out and it did not work, how could I ever face Sasahara-san or even Ogiue-san, your brother and your soon-to-be sister-in-law? Even while it worked it would be very uncomfortable. It is way too close; too much like a small village drama.”

Miss Susanna Hopkins. I am comfortable around you and I am very happy that you are now comfortable enough around me to look my way. What would happen if we ruined that?

You are a vital member of the club. I hope to watch you as your skills catch fire and you become a force at Comiket. And yet, neither of us know the slightest thing about real-world romance. The chance of it working is slim and the chance of bitter misunderstanding is high. And then I would never again be able to trade obscure otaku jokes with you.

That I could not bear.

Hato Kenjiro-san. How did we end up here? I tripped over you when we were both drunk and tired. You cooked for me and cleaned up after me when I broke my wrist. We both have a head full of fantasies swirling around us and most of the club looks at us as a pairing. I always said I didn’t mind… but I do mind! I don’t like being thought of as a sou-uke. And I don’t know if I can be a forceful seme either. These fantasies leave no room for me to just be me, a guy.

You gave me Valentines day chocolate and I felt something. Earlier I told you that I was not afraid of trying it, even as you tried to persuade me to give up. Thank you for your objections; If anything they re-doubled my interest. I don’t think I have turned gay and I don’t see you only as a guy or only as a girl. I wanted all of you. I have become greedy.

But you made your point. And we missed two bigger issues. Neither of us have the slightest idea of how to do 3D romance, let alone that we are two guys. I don’t think that is so much of a big deal; unless we try to behave like something in your dojins or in my trap games. That will not work, I guarantee that. And then we will grow to hate each other.

Right now, you are drawing, you can become a dojinshi artist, you might even follow Ogiue as semi-pro or pro. And you are an important member of the club. You said it yourself: If something was to go wrong, we would never speak again. And I fear that even if nothing went wrong, how you fit in with the rest of the club would be forever changed. You say that if I can understand that you have thought of both MadaHato and HatoMada that you will stop running. You have made me think of both of these and all the junk in my head from my trap games too.

And I am not afraid.

But I have also thought of how much effort you have put into becoming a fujoshi. I said I understood that you were a fudanshi. And you said you were a fudanshi. I was wrong and you are wrong. You are not a fudanshi, you have never wanted to be a fudanshi. You are a fujoshi. You are as real a fujoshi as the rest of the women in the Genshiken.

As a fujoshi you fit into the club. As a crossdressing fudanshi with a boyfriend, you de-stabilize the club, you break the magic circle, you destroy all the work you have done, you risk your friendships, you threaten the club. You can call me a coward but I have seen you with your first love. I have heard your true heart beat doki-doki.

I will not stand between it and you.

Had the stars been different, something different might have happened. Even now I hope that I can be your friend. But I am not your sou-uke. I am not your seme. I cannot even be your love. I must be your sempai, the second president of the Genshiken, who served this club and passed it on to Sasahara-san who passed it on to Ohno-san, as she passed it on to Ogiue-san. One day, it might be passed to you.

I will protect what was entrusted to me.

Susana-san, do you recognise the line: “No one will be happy. Everyone will be equally unhappy together”? That is the Japanese way. I will get my bags, catch the late train, get home, start looking for a job and think of moving close to it when I get one. I will see you all at Comiket, and maybe at the University culture fair. Do not disappoint me, become great.

Kuchiki, I return to you your harem fantasy. Don’t break it.

(Much angry grumbling from the group)

I am so full of shit right now that I am going to explode.
That cannot be helped. And I leave the story without a good ending.

I will try one last small hope. I will “look with unclouded eyes” at the one who has been right in front of me all this time.

Angela-san. (Ohno please translate – I must get a smart phone to help translate) I thank you for your earlier suggestion, but I would not care to be shared with you… or to share you. (pause) I think I would want you all for myself. (pause)

I hope that does not disappoint you. (pause) I know you have a wicked sense of humor. I thought that you were just playing with me when you went on about my fingers and stuff, but then you keep travelling all this way to come here. Thousands of miles, so many times! (pause) I know it is fun to visit with Ohno and Sue and the club, but I have been a fool not see anything else. I could be wrong. (pause) …But you were ‘first girl‘. First Girl always wins – if you still want to. (pause)

You are beautiful and scary and powerful and funny and I apologise for all the times that I have run away. I never meant to hurt your feelings. Please forgive me. I must learn from my friend Hato-san. (pause)

It is my turn not to run away any more. (pause)

And long distance does not look so far away any more. (pause)

Also; forgive me for being calculating, but if I am a complete loser and you dump me, It won’t hurt the club. I am new at this, please treat me well. Tell me soon how you feel.

I love you all. Speaking from my true heart and as your sempai and as the Second President of the Genshiken, this is my final decision.

And now I need another drink.”

-30-

 

 

C’mon! You have to admit it WORKS. Uses all extant parameters, dissolves the harem in such a way that everyone saves face, appeals to hierarchy and responsibility getting in the way of true whatever, leaves lots of room for happy fantasies, makes our loser hero so damn noble – he can snap to when put in an executive role – and lets him jump on the grenade heroically.. Only Angela can save his sorry ass if she wants to.

The fear of a runaway-harem-train-crash might be enough to overcome the fear of a sexy blonde gaijin bombshell who thinks he is cute. Pretty easy heroic sacrifice. Twist the other arm. Ooooh you forced me!

Booo Hisss Cheat! Yell the pro-Hato faction. Of course. I admit it.
Just sayin’. That’s why the patriarchy is a rat-bastard. It is always too easy. It owns all the default settings. The game is called Monopoly for a reason.

Doesn’t mean that I don’t think the pro-Hato forces of truth and justice aren’t up for the good fight:

Madarame: Hato, you’re the only one I can be forward with.
Madarame: Whatever’s stopping you from accepting that we could be serious with each other, I’ll help ease your worries.
Madarame: Seriously, don’t think the fact that we’re both guys means that we can’t work out together.
Madarame: Dang yeah, I’ve definitely thought about topping you.
Madarame: Sure man, I get that choosing you means I’ll have to consider role-reversal when it comes to sexy times.
Madarame: (literally in front of every one else, including the girls who are openly vying for his attention) Okay let’s continue our date in private, Hato.

Fuckboys: UHM YEAH, MADAHATO? IT’S JUST NOT REALISTIC. WHEN IS HE GETTING TOGETHER WITH SUE.
– muravie’s Tumblr

And:

“I’ve given up on trying to convince those types. Even if Kio dedicated an entire chapter to Hato and Mada getting it on in graphic detail, they’d still find a way to NO HOMO out of it like “Naw man he tripped and accidentally slipped his penis into Hato and because it was dark he couldn’t tell it was a man he was fucking so totes no homo Sue end when lmao”.”

#their tears are delicious though #they sustain me
-andialex’s tumblr

Even without the deep draughts from the tear bucket, they do make a persuasive set of arguments:

“Without a DOUBT Madarame is way more interested in Hato than any of the others he went on dates with, that’s just utterly blatant. And they’re able to discuss all this so candidly! They’re both trying their best to be totally honest with each other and say how they really feel and what they need and what they want, and it’s all looking just really good and really healthy, you know?

I feel like if they got together, they could have really good communication and that goes such a LONG way in a relationship. They could work out for sure, they really could.

This chapter IS beautiful, oh man. ;_; I love them both.””

-Hatomada’s Tumblr

Point taken. Well pitched. The “Fuckboy” contingent has been letting our end of the argument slip a bit. I fix.

I, or anyone else can write fanfic sequels where Angela told Madarame to go fuck himself, she is nobody’s last choice. Mada leaves, moves away and occasionally pops up again at conventions. (Which begs another question; where are the older Genshiken alumni?)

Or Angela and Madarame walk off into the sunset. Or Hato lends Rika boy clothes and they walk off into the sunset. Or Hato grabs Mada after the speech and sweeps him off his feet in a tango smooch. Or zombies attack just as Madarame is about to reveal who he has chosen.

For a manga about fans who take the stuff they love and make their own stuff to add to the love, there is a serious need for more Genshiken fanficton. Not to be a pest, but Hatozine Vol2 please! I’ll read it. I’ll help. Sorry, I have not enough cred to org it.

Now what do I do with this? I put it up here on this blog of course. Feel free to toss noodles at my ears via the comment section.

What next? I don’t think Kio Shimoku or any of his crew troll obscure English language blogs or English Tumbler space looking for ideas, or to frustrate obvious plot-line speculation by fans. Some time around March 25 we’ll get an idea of how Kio Shimoku wants to play this. If I come close I’ll buy myself a chocolate donut. If he does something else, I’ll look to see if he does it better and try to figure out why he did, what he did.

It’s a hobby.

No, wait. Put on your tin-foil hats and adjust them tight. Get your red and blue pills ready. The big secret that you are not yet ready to understand is that Kio Shimoku sends his minions to read this blog. He’s gonna be sooooooo pissed off that I guessed his solution for chapter 122 that he CHANGES IT. Yuppers! So if you get a nice juicy MadaHatoMada canon ship in chapter 122, it is so because of moi, this post and all my friends at the IATPT. You owe us all big-time. Don’t believe me? You aren’t ready for the TRUTH, Sheeple! Or you suspected it all along, forcing me into revealing it in a purposefully clumsy way as a false flag operation to cover the tracks of the great conspiracy. At least you have no idea yet about the Duck.

And there is no duck.  (1)

Yup, Uhuh!

Or I could just be desperately clinging to old stories. please see:

http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/film/2015/12/what-do-when-youre-not-hero-any-more

(You may have to reload a few times or turn off javascript to get around the effing sign-up pop-over.)

Thing is, I’m trying to get around all this. Maybe I just want ALL the alternatives. Mada walks away in disgust with everyone. And Mada walks off into the sunset with Angela or with Keiko or with Sue or with all of the girls or with all the girls plus Hato, as boy, as girl, as boy-girl. And Mada walks off with Hato and then…

No one said the modernist subject has to be a hysterically unified ego-structure. Duh; Joyce, Elliot, blah blah blah. We were fucked the minute they invented the movie camera. Read The Wasteland as screenplay, yadda yadda yadda. How sophomoric of me to mention this.

Does the way the walking off is done have to salve something in the way I want the forms of the symbolic order to play out?

Do the characters have to start acting brutally honest with each other and themselves? Is that just a fallback? Will I put up with some gay-lite if they act honorably and honest? What if Hato is being devious and Madarame is a poor little deluded lamb? What if Madarame is going to turn evil and exploit poor lovestruck Hato? Can they be equally deluded and make funny mistakes over and over and over again? An idiot guys’ guide to fakee gay relationship fun via BL tropes. Try this and fail! Hijinks Ensue. Ok Lets try the idiot guys’ guide to a fakee pervy-queer relationship fun via Josou game tropes. Even funnier fail. Haw haw Haw. Serves you all right.. Should have stuck to cis / het behaviour.

Don’t laugh too hard. In my youth I watched a horribly stupid and somewhat emotionally damaged young couple try to learn how to do “normal” romance by watching 1970’s soap operas. The results were ridiculous but probably better than their earlier attempt to figure out true love using massive amounts of recreational hallucinogens.

Or Mada and Hato walk off into the sunset and slowly figure it all out, with kittens and long walks in the park and finally after many many a chapter, in a special comiket-only 18+ dojin by “some other mangaka“, (special low comiket-only price Y1,000) the happy couple engage in a marathon of yaoi schmex acrobatics to consummate their union then hold each other tightly, talk of their futures together and profess true, unending love, forever, yawn and yawn ever, as Mary Jeanne Johnson once suggested; like happy, married, middle-aged lesbians. Of course she then added: “real gay guys don’t do that”. But what does she know? MJJ blogged before cialis, perhaps even before poppers. Heck, even before Shoujo Sect.

But hey… They could also turn into 70 meter tall kaiju and wreck Tokyo. (Bad fanboy in denial, Bad!)

HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! Chapter 122 will be an extended plug-piece for the new Genshiken Eroge Visual Novel! Yes, you can get all the endings! If you clear all the routes, you get naughty bonus stuff too!

(I just collapsed in a pile of fannish steam out of my ears or something!)

Probably not. Dream on. Some folks will be disappointed.

I could, at this point bring in a few poignant essays from writers, with female and/ or non euro-ethnic and/ or not-straight and/ or not-cis identities about the shit of trying to get through the academic maze and/ or the publishing industry with that old white guy at the gates (gates also staffed by unpaid rich white girl interns) and in their heads, but shit…

The idea that anyone is going to give anyone else a juicy $150K tenured job for life at a university teaching other rich folk’s kids the magic of writing is soon going to vanish down the toilet of the “sharing economy” aka the new serfdom. And fanfiction will displace official fiction as they merge into each other on Amazon. Then Bots will get better at writing and all of us can go home. Gresham’s Law. Freedom of the press means freedom to own one and crank it yourself, and you are reading this hideous mess on yours. Ps: it is also your own personal music and movie studio. Enjoy, please don’t overload the interwebs.

Meanwhile, I get more new content then I can possibly even read at the cost of all my time and a $30/month DSL charge. Let’s so not go into the failing economics of creative production and distribution. It will all soon go belly up and if we want more Genshiken, we will have to make the trip to see Kio Shimoku perform the latest chapter of Genshiken as Rakugo; live with subtitles up on a screen. But we have to all strip and change into yukata first, so we don’t cam the show and bootleg it up onto the web.

Guess I should start running ads on this blog.
Nawwwwwww. Not yet, Feels like work.

Serves Kio Shimoku right for opening the Pandora’s Götterdämmerung of fan-fiction and secondary production in an age when the traditional male gaze diffuses under the pressures of new economic realities, distribution methods and electronically aided production. He will weave tales that take us through the long night ahead. When he falls silent, others will take up the storytelling.

At least none of his characters pirate their manga and anime. No one in Japanese manga or anime ever pirates their fave stuff. They never even go to Book Off for used copies in great shape, for Y100.

Dog most assuredly is not barking.

Let ten thousand flowers bloom.

25 more days.

Ps: the Ogiue Maniax write-up for chapter 121 is up:
http://ogiuemaniax.com/2016/02/26/nayami-heat-genshiken-ii-chapter-121/

 

 

(1)  Later: I just want to make it perfectly clear that the “red-pill” section above is a pure “down-the-rabbit-hole” bat-shit whooohaah attempt at conspiracy humor. You know like that meta-joke Stargate episode… or sumthin’..  What with current US politix, I thought it timely. I haven’t quite lost it… yet. Occasionally over-enthusiastic, guilty as charged. Also, I have nothing against HataMadaHato ships. I think they are cute. I’m not picking on Hato. Just wanted to point out the obvious biases in the structure.  However, I have been reminded that some folks don’t share my sense of the absurd and others find me a bit hard to follow, so I just thought I better… Oh heck, screw it… 

A month later, after the mess that is chapter 122: 
Well this reads like suck in the light of chapter 122. That was not a resolution. That was not a serious response, to anyone and from anyone. I am ashamed of this post but I will leave it up. There is still a lot of Hato, especially in female presenting, full-metal-fujoshier-than-thou mode that is deeply troublesome but during the trip, Hato was locked in her like a straightjacket. She could not break character, lest she lose everything. Besides, the Genshiken is about fans and geek and Hato’s fanning is as legitimate as anyone elses. But that also means Hato should have the right to dial it back if needed.

And Mada… Mada was pursuing, Mada almost went through with it. Only the thought of having to be the lead in a Genshiken no-privacy-ever dojinshi collapsed his resolve. His responses to the others were perfunctory. The response to Hato-as-chan was an invite to pretend it was all a rotten fantasy and damn everything. And so they did. In too many ways, far more insulting than “and then they woke up and it was all a dream”. An honest confession demand an honest response. None was given.

The club did not help, it hindered. Yoshitake was allowed to run her setup. I wonder if she now smiles her work to see. She always assumed that Hato was gay and Madarame would run. I don’t think Madarame suddenly has eyes for guys in general but he felt something real for Hato. He should have been allowed to. Was he “fooled”? Perhaps some of the melodramatics from Hato pushed buttons, but who the fuck was there for Mada when he was stuck at home with a dead wrist? Was that all delusion? Even Hato’s fannish enthusiasms are shat upon. At least I tried in my stupid thing above to value them. How can they even ever face each other again?

We didn’t hear enough from Hato in male mode.We never found out what the two talked about when they continued their “date”. Ogiue was ineffective. Ohno was out of range – no fairy godmother help this time. Sue folded like a house of cards. The entire club was drunked up and then scared shitless of what they had done. This fails the Genshiken, fails the general readers, fails the readers who cheered for a gender-diffuse, non-binary, trying to figure it our Hato (Kio, that is really is low), Fails the stick in the mud middle-aged guy readers who were trying to get their thinking past the angry ghosts of earlier times and even fails the rabid fuckboys who could have lost a bit of the fear that hides behind their snark. It fails as comedy, it fails as tragedy, it fails as slice of life. Fail fail fail.

Damn you Kio, you shat in our cornflakes. Repent!

 

nao wot?

HUH?

The temple dates are over. Someone is looking overwhelmed…

02.jpg

Whaaaaaaaaaattttthapppppppppeeeeennnnnnnneeeeeeeeeddddddd?

Chapter 121 raws have appeared and the course of true love remains rocky.
Please, Mada, don’t screw up!

(and wtf is roku/ro-go-go-san/sa/za-go ?)

 

c121p13 cryptic number.jpg

Much Later: Turns out the cryptic 65535 on p13 isn’t Japanese number slang;  5-5 = go! go! No  ro-go-go-san-go. It is a Japanese forum-slang reference to counter memory limits in old-school games. For instance, the maximum amount of cats that one could ever lure into visiting in your Neko Atsume game, or something. Somewhat like “power level over 9000!” but more in context of “At Maximum”or “Overload!”,which could apply to confusion level, embarrassment, or any number of things.

Meanwhile, a fresh review of chapter 121 is up at Ogiue Maniax: https://ogiuemaniax.com/2016/02/26/nayami-heat-genshiken-ii-chapter-121/
What’s all this talk about Saki? Why did her name come up? Keiko? Sounds thin to me.

 

Somewhere between cosplay and requiring an exorcism

Wherein fannish practice slips its leash and goes for a romp.

It is hard enough for middle-aged Amish types like me to keep up with all the new-fangled stuff on the intertubes, fend off the chain letters on my favourite usenet groups and figure out how to get Netscape to stop web page banners from blinking. Then along comes this Twitter thing to chew up more of my time and make my trusty Motorola StarTac mobile phone beep every 15 minutes.

Worse, I now understand that many of the posts on the Twitter channel are the work of robots. I have nothing against robots, and with 140 characters (based on the length of a phone text message) it is fun to try to figure out who is meat and who is a folder full of cobol.

Now things have become stranger. I thought it would never amount to much, but now I fear it might be a thing. A while back, I attended an academic conference highlighting fan practices and listened as one fan detailed how she had decided to adopt the twitter identity of a character from one of the Star Trek series. She “became” the character on twitter, in effect cosplaying/ textplaying/ role-playing  her favourite character. Crossplaying, actually as she became a male character. She had a large, loyal following.

Here is some academic powder burnt on the practice:
https://www.academia.edu/19075490/Playing_with_Identity_Fan_Role_Playing_on_Twitter

At the time, I thanked what residual deities I still mumbled to that no one in the Genshiken fandom was doing this and promised myself that I would never waste a moment of my life following the tweets of anyone who had the temerity to “become” Hato or Madarame or Ogiue or whoever. And that went twice for any of the Monogatari or Zetsubo Sensei  characters. As well, I suspected that if the practice caught on, it would soon be sucked into a crass vortex of cross-platform marketing bullshit and would die miserably while trying to sell me sex pills and Pop Tarts.

Meanwhile, something was quietly gathering strength in the darkness, waiting for its time to come round at last.

Aside from an interest in Japanese popular culture, I used to be quite a political junkie, especially when it came to American politics. Astute readers may have spotted a few Thompson references. With the primary season upon us and with all the interesting chaos in the Republican pathology party, it is once again a fine spectator sport.

Imagine my surprise when I started seeing tweets by what I thought was a clever Twitter ‘bot assuming the guise of president Richard M. Nixon.

Nixon tweets

Whoooo Hahhh!

This was more fun than that  Futurama episode.

Richard_Nixon's_Head

For those of you who missed him due to accident of age, the 37th President of the United States of America was an interesting political figure to watch (and watch out for). Among other things, he was known for a ruthless, pragmatic brand of politics and a conservatism that while considered hardline in its day, appears moderate and curiously old-fashioned in light of the current scorched ideological landscapes of the American right. Also something of a football fan.

It only took a little time for me to clue in that Twitter’s Richard M.Nixon was not a ‘bot but rather a convincing case of roleplay/ RPF (real person fanfiction), with his presence and political acumen channelled by a producer/ playwright/ political junkie. Soon enough, President Nixon also began writing columns on the primaries for Mashable.

And here is a chance for some interesting trivia about the difference in allowable parody and appropriation under the laws and practices of the United States, Canada, Common Europe and Japan.  In the United States, parody of public figures is fair use and free speech, though trademark law might trip you up if you are swiping rather than commenting. Canada pretty well follows this, but has weaker fair use customs and potentially more expensive private defamation tort law precedents. Common Europe likes political satire, but protects personal privacy.

Japan is very big on protecting the feelings and the privacy of the politically powerful, enforcing copyright and trademark rights and just plain looking the other way when right-wing patriotic societies wreak mayhem on anyone who offends the well-connected.

Fan culture, especially dojin and cosplay “parody”/ transformative/ secondary production practices are very big on not poking this anthill. Centuries before, Edo had a great pr0n-ish publishing culture until some jerks started making fun of the powerful with rude shunga pictures. Wham! Instant crackdown, publishing bans, a few executions, many bonfires and everyone had to lie low for years until the naughty little pictures gradually came off double-secret ultra probation and went back to providing evening laughs and rudimentary sex education for the upper classes. There have been periodic moral panics and censorship sweeps ever since.

None other than the great Yukio Mishima got his stupid ham hocks caught in one of these during the sixties. The end result was more oppressive case-law; yeah, the big dummy lost his case and was hit with a judgement for “invading the privacy” of a sleazebag politician.

“The novel was inspired by the real-life affair between politician Hachiro Arita and a nightclub hostess — Mishima hated hypocrisy and Arita’s story may have pushed him in a new artistic direction. Arita successfully sued Mishima for invasion of privacy and the famous case has meant writers, filmmakers and TV producers since have shied away from the dramatic potential in the lives of celebrities and politicians. In part, this thin novel is effectively responsible for the dearth of satire in Japan today.”
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2016/02/13/books/book-reviews/after-the-banquet/

There is also the matter of “criminal libel”, though it appears that enforcement favours the powerful, rather than noisy activist types. And collecting judgements from the owner of 2chan (and now 4chan) remains a game of whack-a-mole.

All this means that fandom in Japan holds to 3 powerful rules for secondary production practices: No RPF on the powerful. No hardcore kiddie porn at Comiket. No fucking with Disney properties. (1)

I know of only three cases where folks tried and got away with testing the limits of the first of these rules.

A manga that features an ex Prime Minister as a super Mah-jong player
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mudazumo_Naki_Kaikaku

Independent low-budget film-maker Minoru Kawasaki’s “The Monster X Strikes Back/Attack the G8 Summitwhich you should hunt down, like most of his oddball films, it is a hoot – btw the Nech Koma joke involves a then-popular comedy routine about a young Russian Olympic gymnast’s tight outfit.

and

The manga pamphlet Monkey business (An idiot’s guide to Tokyo’s harmful books regulation) which viciously lampooned the then Tokyo Governor, Ishihara Shintarô’s “Nonexistent Crimes Bill”

“The bill regulates the sale and renting of “harmful publications” to Japanese youth: material that is “sexually stimulating, encourages cruelty, and/or may compel suicide or criminal behavior” in people under the age of 18″

See Even a monkey can understand fan activism: Political speech, artistic expression, and a public for the Japanese dôjin community by Alex Leavitt and Andrea Horbinski
http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/321/311

Whatever…

So, If you ever wondered about all those quaint O  and X  mungings of names and brands in manga and anime, that’s why. What a lost chance for product placement and cross-marketing!

And if you are on the twitter thing, you could do worse to make sense of the state-side political fun by following the shade of the tricky one. Now that he has his elder statesman reputation to uphold, he is restrained, quite astute and often dead nuts on.

Don’t know about Kasich’s chances though

 

(1) Mentioning flat-out that a certain women’s musical theatre ensemble might harbour any connection whatsoever to lesbianism is close to, but not quite as powerful as the Disney effect. It is a matter of legal budgets.