“There’s a point in any aspiring intellectual’s life when they must ask themselves: what can I contribute to the field of fujoshi-bataille studies?”
— some tweetor:
Time again to write something to justify this blog’s existence. Fortunately a shiny new thang from Dr. Tamaki Saito popped up while I was (am) stewing in pandemic lockdown, alternatively plowing through the 100+ eps of Kyou Kara Maou and spoiler-ing my future enjoyment of Ascension of a Bookworm with fan machine translations of the Light Novels…
Which has left me somewhat disorganised: attempts so far to do any in-depth critical appreciation have turned into mewling, spitting balls (and/or twitter threads) of digression, which means I once again must call for help from my occasional guest-host and emergency blogging interlocutor, Briggs N. Stratton:
Briggsy: Kaicho? You need help again from your imaginary friend? How… (pause) cute.”
Muda: “Urrm, you ok?”
B&S: “Muda-kaicho sounds embarrassed. What could have brought this on?”
Muda: “Dude, you’re a lawnmower. Knock it off with the ojou-sama.”
B&S: “Of course, please don’t feel uncomfortable. Should I make some tea?”
Muda: “Too shoujo! How defuk did you get ahold of…”
B&S: “Cut grass, sit around, cut grass, sit, get rained on, cut grass. You think I don’t have any other interests… Any needs?”
Muda: “You are a writing trick, a fiction. You are supposed to be a literal minded, no-nonsense foil when I go off on a tangent and then an excuse to get back on topic. Instead of hammering on and on and on about my latest hobby-horse, I set up a dialogue with you. I do the boke, you do the tsukkomi. The readers hopefully keep reading without falling asleep while I nerd out on some obscure Japanese manga/ anime theory wank…”
B&S: “But that means you still need me, even if I am imaginary… Kaicho?”
Muda: “Pandemic… Death counts… Lockdown… Isolation… Doomscrolling… Across the border Orange Nero and the GOP are trying to stage a coup by dogwhistling racists and nazi cops as a long hot summer of discontent looms. I try to catch a few moments distraction from the slow-motion train wreck, attempt a blog post on the first half-interesting notion on Japanese pop fictions I’ve had in six months and what do I get?
A coy imaginary lawn mower wants to be my stand.
B&S: “We were made to stan you, Kaicho.”
Muda: Stand, not stan. My karma weighs a ton. Shimoku-sensei says that emergent trans-girls get nekkid idealised versions of their girl-to-be selves floating above them to chide them. I get a lawnmower on Notepad. Then again I should count my blessings as a pale, straight cis oyagi; floaty ghosty lawn mowers make me nervous.
B&S: “Oh, oh! I know that one, you want two of us? I won’t be too jealous if Tecumseh-chan joins in. We can have a…
Muda: “Stop NOW!
Muda: “Change of plans. Shoujo isekai is too dangerous. We’re doing a 100th episode appreciation of Black Clover. “Never giving up is my power!” No Tamaki-sensei pandemic lockdown isolation counselling takes required. The advisor to the wizard-king; he’s named Marx. That must mean something!
B&S: “Bo-rinnng! Bo-rinnng! Also, too many peeps hate Asta’s dub voice.
Muda: “I don’t watch.. Oh… I see where you are going. Good call, not doing that one.”
B&S: “Kaicho is grateful.”
Muda: “Please, stop…
B&S: “On Tamaki Saito-sensei, you really want to write about his tweet where he compares the pandemic lockdown to the throwaway “permanent corporate war” thing in “Ghost in The Shell – Toy Story“? I’m all ears…
Didn’t you send a grouchy email response back to your sweetie when she noted it and forwarded you the link? Smooth move, lover-boy.”
B&S: “Oh yes, grouse at she-who-up-with-you-puts when she shows interest in your weird little hobby. She’s 6,000 miles away from you, the airlines are shut down, No more Skype calls for you. You messed up. Guess you’re stuck with me. C’mon, lets mow, you’ll feel better.”
Muda: “31. C. out. side. now. Fuck. off. (deep breath)
… The new Tamaki-sensei take caught my eye after I slogged through bad machine-translated tweeter threads and clicked on a short article he posted to an essay site. Background first; Dr Tamaki’s main project has always been the study and treatment of Japanese extreme social isolates; hikikomori. His pop culture musings, Beautiful Fighting Girl, etc., were side interests. While he’s still teaching and doing clinical practice, recently media types have been calling him up for expert advice on how to cope with social isolation during the pandemic.”
B&S: “Lawnmowers and huge lawns being less of a thing in urban Japan…”
Muda: “urrr.. I guess, I saw ONE lawnmower in Japan — in a pile of junk behind a key-cutting store… Uh! No digressions.”
B&S: “let me guess, more endless speculation on your “asymmetry” hobby-horse, along with some rotten-gaze BL?”
Muda: “Bzzzt, wrong! Well, half wrong, or two-thirds wrong depending on how much of a certain 2004 anime series was written as parody as opposed to…. uh, a parody of parodies?”
B&S: “Is meta-parody a thing?”
Muda: “It could be, or the writers have a contract signed for 70 more episodes and start throwing pasta at the wall. But that’s incidental to this brilliant Tamaki-sensei POV inspired theory wank if we compare one sprawling girl-gaze, uh,… not-shonen uh.. crap taxonomy failure .. restarting, isekai to a newer example.”
B&S: “This I have to see. Are you thinking of doing a compare-contrast between Kyou Kara Maou and Black Clover?”
Muda: “Honzuki no Gekokujou.”
B&S: “Big pot of tea, dollar store biscuits. I think the dollar store has re-opened…”
Muda: “Stay! I need you. Krissakes!”
B&S: “What brought this…”
Muda: “I watched a shitload of youtube anime cinematography videos and they are all really well cut, the arguments, the thesis of each of them was well-thought out and the clips painstakingly chosen and thy have (mandatory) Ozu clips and anime clips and
… then there is the voice, invariably some guy’s voice, doing the lecture.
Please god and what few friends I have left, plus she-who… why and how did I develop the habit, let alone the perverse urge and facility to ever do the lecture?”
B&S: “…A fuck-ton of univesity? Did I just say that? I’m blushing.”
Muda: “Oh Gawds, do I repent me of the lecture.
B&S:”Fascinating… Kaicho. You may have stumbled upon another entire new subdivision of asymmetry. Guys doing podcasts sound as if they are talking with their buds, while youtube anime video essays have the much too desperate jackhammer didacticism; the old “impress the smart girl in the university film class” vibe.”
Muda: “in her orisons, be all my sins remembered”. (Gawd she was hawt!) At least, pacing, fer krist sake, pacing! The horror vacui relentless essay reading. Arghhhhhhh! Shame! self-consciousness. And these video essays have great insights and well-reasoned arguments and I’ve learned all kinds of interesting neat things and…”
Muda: “…all I really want to do is: Wow! Lookie, this is neat! I don’t have any revealed truth, I just notice stuff. Wow, lookie, neat.”
B&S: “If you went all forceful and didactic again, you could try to convince your readers that if they like this or that anime, they must join antifa.”
Muda: “Porco Rosso refutes Evangelion, Q. E. fucking D.”
B&S: “I think it would be best if you start with a manageable topic; pick either KKM or Bookworm and do a seperate post on each.”
Muda: “And you would recommend?”
B&S: “Start with KKM. 2004 was a different time.”
Muda: “Because of KKM’s Tazio clone, we have to drop in a timeline of the recognition of same-sex marriage. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_same-sex_marriage]
B&S: “But because of the BL, especially in its parody form, we should also do a timeline of the origins of Comiket, especially since we got out hands on the 2019 Galbraith article.”
Muda: “TLDR: Early Comiket was a shoujo Year-24-Group appreciation glomp but why do the histories foreground 3 to 5 guy shoujo enthusiasts? Where were all the proto-fujo?”
B&S: “In the spirit of Sylvie-sensei, your fave art-school teacher’s admonition: This is not a blog post, this is a rummage sale!”
Muda: ” The original was “Installation”, a modern sculpture variant – think store display selling angst – but yeah, that happens around here. And if we go off and do a three-parter, folks are gonna to chuff in the comments about how they started reading the post to get a review of either KKM, Bookworm or Black Clover (or Dr Tamaki’s insights on pandemic lockdown mental health tips) and instead had to put up with a whack-load of digressive, self-indulgent manufactured banter.
B&S: “Aren’t you happy you do not monetise this blog? No one can ask for a refund on their Patreon pledges. (at time of posting – I would do it if I could work out the logistics).
Muda: “Shout-out to the one twitter reader who used my ref code to sign up with Aliexpress, a few months back. Hope it was worth it for you. I used my coupon to knock down the cost of 100 corks for the pandemic lockdown wine-making project.”
B&S: “You could scrap the entire theory post and just detail your adventures in making drinkable, affordable “trailer park” red wine. Considering your long history of brewing up vomitoxin in the course of attempting to make beer, mead, sake, Chinese rice wine, etc… this recipe has so far been fairly foolproof.
Muda: “I wanted to redo and repost my time- travelling- BL- hater- who- fails- to- stop- Comiket Tweetor fic thread, rather than doing a straight-up “new look at the founding of Comiket” post, using the Galbraith essay. Doing it as fic was a fun diversion. It had so many typos that I saved it and wiped it from my feed but it deserves a second chance.”
B&S: “Kaicho! Please name your fic characters better. “J.Snideley Yaoihata” is atrocious. Call him something believably evil, like “Stefan Mueller”.
Muda: “He’s not THAT evil.”
B&S: “No, he was (/is) a fuckup asocial hater who was about to scrub an 8-year+ time-travel mission the instant he was confronted by an adult mid-20’s fujoshi mangaka. %90+ of all performative male misbehavior rule. He should have learned 3-chord grunge guitar instead.
Muda: “some of us HAVE tried.. (sigh!)
B&S: ” Kaicho. I regret to inform you that this post is even more of a disorganised mess than those Tweetor threads you archived and deleted. Please choose ONE THING for a post and stick to it.
Muda: “Too late now. I must run a reader poll. What should I blog about?
1) Ascendance of a Bookworm x Dr Tamaki’s fictional temporality in time of plague.
2) KKM; The parodic urge in BL x 2000’s queer representation by an old straight cis guy.
3) Pandemic trailer park red wine with Aliexpress newbie promo codes
4) How I tried to stop Comiket with my time machine and ended up with a hot fujoshi girlfriend who ships me and my english cram-school work buds; a theory-footnoted scifi -fic.
B&S: “You’ll get max three (3) responses and do what you want anyway.”
Muda: “Procrastination — your best value in blogging. At least I don’t post paragraph after paragraph about my writing goals and how I hope to expand my Patreon/ Kofi support and affiliate link revenue over the next x months… Perhaps I should?”
B&S: ” I vote for the winemaking post. Your attempt at bread-machine sourdough created a fence post instead of a loaf of bread. The others are fairly self-evident; anyone who cared to could sketch out the elements on their own. Why not do something completely useless, like rhapsodising over Nurse Witch Komugi-chan Magikarte Z (2004).
There must be some obscure Genshiken-related background garbage in that franchise. Consider her nemesis, the Virus-Maid. By 2004 we already have examples of painfully exaggerated anime tiddies. You should do an entire 4-part series on anime tiddie inflation
5) “Her back must hurt” Anime chara bust sizes 1995 =>2010.
Muda: “Whoa! Scrap that one from the poll. That’s a doctoral thesis, not a blog post. You start with the Eva girls as baseline, or perhaps one of Rumiko Takahashi-sensei’s heroines and then work up to “possible but excessive” to “WTF?”… unless one was simply looking for a roundabout way to highlight how the Nurse Witch Komugi-chan OVA’s were nothing more than 90’s otaku shoutouts strung together with cleavage jokes.”
B&S: “And yet you watched every single one of them…”
Muda: ” I didn’t say that they were completely execrable. If anything, they displayed a certain naive charm, as if the producers believed they had discovered burlesque. In comparison, the 2016 remake was unsettling; Dentsu redoing the franchise for a PTA meeting.”
B&S: “They eliminated almost all the breast gags. Anyways, if you did that one, it would probably come down to spillover from low-budget 1970’s Nikkatsu porn movies, just like the pantsu stuff, (per J.E.Abel). Also, you’ll have to be careful to switch from male-gaze to breast-appreciator-gaze if you want to bring up that neato yuri manga you stumbled upon.”
Muda: “That one at first appears to be trash but I sense within it a radical deconstruction of the infamous BL “It’s only you” trope?”
B&S: “the “I’m not a lesbian, I am just a moderately endowed young woman fascinated by my acquaintance’s ample charms, to the point of being irresistibly drawn to fondling them” manga? It still is little more than ero-trash.”
Muda: “Ya gotta admit it makes for a new take on Story A. The single minded physicality of her obsession is refreshing; she really, really likes boobies. Why can’t gals like boobies? Why must girl-love desire be presented as some diffuse, gestalt effect? The way the story is going, her obsession is slowly slowly leading the bifauxnen sports girl into realising that -holy shit!- she might like her friend (duh!) that way.”
B&S: “The compare boob sizes in while at the hot spring is a revered fanservice… urrr… chestnut.
Muda: “Yes! But this time they decided to work it! The manga in question is “Sekai de Ichiban Oppai ga Suki!” Can an anime be far off?”
B&S: “It took long enough but this post finally made it to the important question.”
Muda: “Thanks and congratulations are surely in order. Time to drink heavily.”
B&S: “Cue podcast ending music.”