Marooned in real time

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!

B&S: “Cute…

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.”

Muda “Yeep…

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…”

B&S:” …yet…”

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. []

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.”


Easter — spring 2020 update

Greetings! Briggs N. Stratton, Emergency Blogging Hologram here and I’m guest-hosting this post because someone has been neglecting their responsibilities.”

Mudakun: “Leemmee alone, go away!”

B&S: “See what I mean? five months since the last post, only a few review threads on Twitter; even those have a meh! under-tone…”

Mudakun: “Terminate Emergency Blogging Hologram NOW!”

B&S: “Not happening Buddy Boy. Time to post something, anything.

Mudakun: “Don’t wanna, go away. Fyck off, get lost.

B&S: “Na-nee?

Muda: “For reason numero one, this is gonna be a self-indulgent as wot read for anyone who bothers…

Continue reading

Upwind from Yoshiwara

Kabukichou Sherlock [Case File nº221: Kabukicho[2] (歌舞伎町シャーロック Kabukichō Syarokku)]
Anime, Studio I.G., Fall 2019 –

Of course I will greedily watch all of the ongoing Kabukichou Sherlock anime that is streaming this fall season. That doesn’t mean that I have to gush about it or conversely drag it’s obvious exploitation. On second thought, dragging it could be useful but I insist that any such dragging get the context firmly set down first. Too easy to just hit it with a blanket dismissal, even if disambiguation runs a strong risk of at first smelling like apologia.

Apologia: Beware the cultural essentialist trick that all too many western-rightist-otaku pull when they go off to defend the glaring objectification and misogyny that pops up all too often in some Japanese vernacular narratives. Underage-appearing waifuus, jiggle-some cartoon mammalian excess, bikini armor clad Beautiful Fighting Girls who will magically call you master, exploitation, sexualized violence, the entire ugly mess. Little wonder that for decades, Japanese consumers of these properties were dismissed as rabid fans of low-resolution pornography. Note as well Dr Tamaki and the hornet’s nest he poked when he declared that libidinised content might well be a healthy adaptive strategy for life in a mass culture’s over-saturated media scape.

At no point did he issue a blanket pardon for IRL exploitation, violence and misogyny or the shadow of these in anime and manga, under the guise of “cultural practice”. Those who try this trick probably have other “cultural practices” of their own hiding in the wings that they are looking to rehabilitate.

LGBTQ vs QUEER themes: This gets extra complicated if one is of a certain age and/or steeped in the UK tradition of the word “queer”. Less loaded as a pejorative in North America, it was easier to reclaim via queer theory  and scrub the term of it’s epithet status. Gott Straffe England, they left us a similar mess with fag and UK boarding-school etymologies involving underclassmen lackies, bundles of kindling and cigarettes. UK upper-class boarding schools… That gottem Brexit, so maybe they’ll smarten up.

For the purposes of Kabukichou Sherlock (Kabulock?) it is more useful to start from the original, neutral “not-normal” meaning of queer, and thence veer towards non-conforming personal expression, as this tracks closer to the Japanese hentai (again; original neutral not normal, strange). This later will be useful in contextualising the fantastic Kabukichou setting,

IRL minority sexuality and gender expression Japanese folks are closer to LGBTQ (IA or + or IA+) usage. Boring, respectable sociology. For example, academic fieldwork suggests most Japanese guys who like other guys don’t have a lot of time for extremes of gender and sexuality non-conformity. Like the protrags in high-school harem romcoms, they seem to want average, no hassle, don’t make a fuss, “normal” lives, some of which to be enjoyed with other average, no hassle, don’t make a fuss, “normal” guys who happen to like them. Very bourgie, very human, very normal.

What’s wrong with that?

Meanwhile Japanese vernacular fictions keep trying to set them up with (or turn them into) Kabulock‘s Mrs. Hudson. Mrs. Hudson the Okama (venerable/ well used old rice-pot) crossdressing gay/ female impersonator-performer/ proto-non-binary character is a staple of Japanese manga/anime/game demi-monde settings (Tokyo Godfathers, Darker than Black, etc.) inherited from lurid pulp true-crime-sex-perversion magazine stories that enjoyed wide popularity from the 1930’s through the 1960’s. The term itself is loaded with crude, nasty double meanings; suggesting someplace a guy (or dick-haver) would be ill-advised to visit, due to past over-use and rice residue.

Some activists in Japan have strongly argued that the okama stereotype is overdue for re-claiming/ rehabilitation. After all, the spaces that these venerable queer icons ran, like the lurid pulps that often featured them and their clubs as characters and settings, served as “autonomous zones”/ quasi-safe spaces where important discussions and cross-class/ sexualities/ interests interactions took place, far from the prying eyes of censors and militarist politicians.

Lost amidst all of this discursive clutter is how much of this queer is queer, that is queer- derived and produced and how much of it are well-worn shadows-of-queer pulled off the shelves and paraded about by and for a straight audience hungry for a unique tourism experience™.

Sex, lies and deductive reasoning: Sherlock Holmes is reason over passion; cold-blooded clear-eyed observation and deductive reasoning! There be nooooooooo un-manly melodrama in any of the original stories… Much, errrr… nevermind. Fer pity sake. If not for the deduction drag, all the Conan-Doyle tales are lurid pulp pot-boilers with wagon-loads of gothic romance, slum crawling adventurism, secret society plots, inheritance swindles, misogyny, classist bootlicking and casual, colonial racism. Little wonder when Tarō Hirai took up his pen as Edogawa Ranpo [ ALSO:] and set out to create a modern(ist?) Japanese Detective Fiction with his Kogoro Akechi character, he borrowed not only from Conan-Doyle but Edgar Allen Poe as well.

“Although many of his first stories were primarily about sleuthing and the processes used in solving seemingly insolvable crimes, during the 1930s, he began to turn increasingly to stories that involved a combination of sensibilities often called “ero guro nansensu”, from the three words “eroticism, grotesquerie, and the nonsensical”. The presence of these sensibilities helped him sell his stories to the public, which was increasingly eager to read his work. One finds in these stories a frequent tendency to incorporate elements of what the Japanese at that time called “abnormal sexuality” (変態性欲 hentai seiyoku). For instance, a major portion of the plot of the novel The Demon of the Lonely Isle (孤島の鬼 Kotō no oni), serialized from January 1929 to February 1930 in the journal Morning Sun (朝日 Asahi), involves a homosexual doctor and his infatuation for another main character.”
— Ibid Wiki Edogawa Rampo

As I noted in a previous TLDR essay on Rampo, the floating world/ water trade settings and the role of sexploitation pulp fiction magazines in Japanese sexuality studies [], if you have a Japanese master detective, you gotta have the seedy, sex-trade district and a background of over-the-top “Black Lizard” queer. If you gonna do a Japanese Sherlock Holmes, you do not drop him and Watson into a koban next to a shopping district on the outskirts of Saitama Prefecture. You gotta Rampo-ize the setting and the gang and that means the forbidden back alleys of an exaggerated skeevy urban red-light district. Kabulock‘s East Shinjuku even has police checkpoints keeping the weirdlings contained, so that their poverty and messy lives don’t seep out and cause social unrest.

The entire Kabukichou setting and cast may be nothing more than a quick and dirty kludge to give the Western Sherlock Holmes experience™ a Rampo look-and-feel.

And at this point, the Isekai gets ugly.

Fox-eared demi-human slave girls rescued for the fighting girl harem of the “civilized” MC re-incarnated/ magically summoned into the very European Medieval-looking fantasy Dungeon-Quest game inspired “other world” are one thing — Curious how the ritual dragging of these stinkers routinely elides the glaring simulated Olde Euro-Medieval-ness of their settings (expect barbarians to do barbarism…). It is a whole other other-world/demimonde when the high-ranked “courtesan” is resurrected in a barred mansion in Saga Prefecture to work in an indentured-servitude-of-the-dead girl idol group.

Caution is advised when romanticising the sex-trade and sex-trade districts.

Fucking Hell! She was most probably originally sold to a brothel as a child, by her starving parents some 200 years ago. After she died, her nameless corpse would have been dumped behind the main temple in the Yoshiwara district, left for the monks to burn, with a few perfunctory prayers on the mud flats at low tide. Indentured debt-bond sex slavery was theoretically abolished by the post war constitution of 1945, with prostitution (and therefore contractual arrangements surrounding it) completely outlawed in Japan in 1958. []

more horror here:

” In her audio guide, which visitors can access on Soundcloud, the artist reveals that most of the women in the entertainment districts were sold into prostitution by their families as teenagers and were bound to restrictive indentured contracts for up to a decade in order to pay back the money their parents received up-front from the brothel owners.

Conditions were horrendous, and prostitutes endured unthinkable cruelty. The women were frequently beaten by brothel owners, malnourished, and often suffered from debilitating sexually-transmitted diseases. There are even records of women being housed in cages or boxes when they weren’t seeing customers.”
— []
See also; “The Other Audio Tour -The Truth Behind The Floating World” by Michelle Hartney

Quaint cultural practices warning remains in effect.

Not that we do anything so barbaric over here in the enlightened West, neh? I mean, our days of slavery, abuse, the sale of young women, state-condoned female servitude are long since passed, right?

Cough -Epstein- cough. Holy shit, a billionaire who most likely made his billions through pimping, trafficking in girls under the cover of “the fashion industry”, blackmail and insider stock manipulation.

In this light, a tiny bit of tourism in back alley bars where you can hire a motley assortment of private detectives from mama-san Hudson might well end up being the most enlightened, revolutionary, transgressive and -safe- locale in the entire demimonde. We have yet to encounter any Jake Adelstein levels of coerced heterosexual pimping, nine-fingered yakuza thugs and trafficked women from poorer countries locked in rooms above rub-and-tug parlors threatened with graphic murder when they seek to escape to an underfunded NGO, only to be quickly deported back to their home countries to deal with the loan sharks who fronted them a plane ticket for their “nanny job” in Tokyo…

Hard to make a Sherlock tribute from something like that.

When ep4 deals with a murder in a rock band, it is between members of an indie band, not between members of a recruited from farm towns and paid less than minimum wage and contracted into hock by shady talento agencies exploitation band. Sherlock, Watson and young Moria(r)ty bumble around in an upscale public bath. The Great Detective does nekkid rakugo and then faints in the steam room.

If queer representation in Kabulock is to be dragged for any reason, it should be dragged for its Disneyland-ifaction of “the queer” and queer spaces. The “mainstream media” in Japan has long ago adopted a strategy for dealing with the potentially disruptive, potentially dangerous outsider: “the other”; be they the poor, the queer, foreign or otherwise non-conforming to the monolithic ideal of the peasant-merchant turned post-industrial wage serf and HIS nuclear family. Isolate and contain them and then habituate the public to them by trotting them out as harmless, monetizable “entertainment”.

At least, that’s how it is supposed to work…

Must hysterically preserve the fiction of a uniform, monolithic, well-ordered and benevolently directed (by your favorite political party and its backers) society.

Similarly, when a right-wing politician goes on right-wing funded Youtube “talk” shows and condemns contaminating western activist ideas of homosexuality, she is careful to draw a distinction between the dangerous foreign ideas – undoubtedly advanced by an international communist conspiracy (I shit you not, she says this!) and “natural” historic instances of Japanese same-sex attraction, that even she once experienced at an all-girl’s school but of course, grew out of…

The regard of the acolyte for his master, the wandering 12th century monk = Authentic Japanese culture.
The warlord’s retainer warming the master’s sandals on his body =
Authentic Japanese culture.
The famous novelist’s Boy Militarist death cult = Oh those crazy authors, they always overdo it, still Authentic Japanese culture.
The faded female impersonator who runs a bar in the red-light district =
a committee of cultural experts are assessing these.
My Brother’s Husband = Filthy outsider commie subversion. Could even be a Korean and/or Chinese plot. Kill it with fire!

Please Like & Subscribe.

One can indulge in ero-guro story plottings and as your hobby, compile bibliographies of historical incidences of the love between men with your good friend (finally ensuring that Jun’ichi Iwata‘s massive compiled research was published after his passing) as long as you marry and raise and support a family.

Be a productive member of society


To go further with this, the reader would have to wade through chapter 6; [Pleasures of the Perverse. Male-male sexuality in Twentieth Century Popular Discourse] of Gregory M. Pflugfelder’s “Cartographies of Desire: Male-Male Sexuality in Japanese Discourse, 1600–1950“. Google Books will, as usual, chop huge sections out of what is freely available.

See also: Brad Borevitz, “The discourse on “love between men” in interwar japan: Iwata’s history of homosexuality”

TLDR: Slumming is your best tourism value.

Along with sensationalism and burlesque, we have erasure. The girl detective duo, Mary and Lucy at first look like a tight couple — then the writers go out of their way to disambiguate them into a sister act. Tall, athletic and striking Lucy (be still my heart…) is turned into a possessive, over-protective siscon. At least they remain formidable opponents in Mrs. Hudson’s winner-take-all case solving contests, although Mary’s methods cast doubt on her core “detection” abilities. Girls cheat.

This essay-post is going on far too much over what is shaping up to be a one-off concept, a time-slot filler – satisfying enough as it airs but unlikely to end up on anyone’s ‘best of the decade” or even “of the year” lists. If out for a serious Holmes-jones it might have been better to venture an in-depth deconstruction of Tantei Opera Milky Holmes — which at least has enjoyed a decade-long run as a franchise.
[ ]

And sexier (if still burlesqued) criminal masterminds…

Face it: Kabukichou‘s Sherlock Holmes – the man himself as character – is a grouchy bore. His frustrated rakugo urges are nowhere near the levels of eccentric, manic narcissism that we have come to expect from the great detective. The writers should have had HIM crossdress, wander East Shinjuku and draw ero-guro BL doujins in his spare time. And Watson is a brick.

The last charge to level against Kabulock is the most subtle, but to my mind, the most damming; The Dalgleish Reversal:

The mysteries written by UK author P.D.James [] were adapted into a string of BBC live-action dramas. Alternatively moody and fast-paced, they soon paled for me when I realised that it ALWAYS WAS THE GAY ARTIST WHO DID IT, because, uh… some gay trauma-ish whatever motive plus natural gay duplicity, blah blah blah. P.D.James is a real nasty bit of work for this – they should consider themselves fortunate that most of that shit was done pre-Twitter.

Edogawa Rampo was prone to this kind of cheap exploitation bullshit as well — which was par for the course for the magazines he wrote for. The ‘unsolvable” murder mystery is always easily understood once it is revealed that the victim was a pervert who would squeeze himself into a huge, overstuffed chair so that he could thrill to people sitting on him. He was murdered for related pervert motives. The dude in the other story murdered because of hidden, unresolved homo-lust. Taken to extremes, the habit of explaining the motives of incomprehensible crimes with ever-more-elaborately contrived fetishes and paraphilias quickly turns into “A wizard Did It!” (It’s effing magic) Even with the pervy frisson, the stories become absurd.

Kabulock inverts this: when one drops a murder mystery into a Tokyo red-light district and populates the cast of hunters and suspects with freaks, is it polite writing mechanics not to have any of the “freak” characters end up as the perpetrators – no matter how much the toupeed Inspector Lestrade would wish them so?

Or is something else at work here?

Kabulock‘s murders and/or crimes must inevitably turn out to have been committed by the most mundane, straight suspects, for the most mundane reasons. The settings are “queer”; the crimes, as exemplary of the dynamics of power within the greater society, remain “straight”.


An accessible, useful research paper was recommended on Twitter:
Queer desire in Japanese TV series” — Jasmin Rückert
Open access; published online: 21 Oct 2019 in advance of publication in the Vienna Journal of East Asian Studies
While it only mentions anime and manga genres in passing, it examines a number of noteworthy Japanese live-action television dramas from 1992-2016 and discusses treatment of characters, common themes and issues surrounding “visibility”.

I suspect that more then a few of the plot elements from these popular television dramas have “migrated” to anime and manga narratives.


Given; my little guy band, male friendship is magic

“melody awakens the mind, the rites perfect through performance, thus music completes experience.” — Lun Yu , Book VIII, Chapter 8

“Death awaits us all, what is one dalliance with perversion?”
— Max von Sydow to Werner Herzog per Twitter

Spoiler warning: Given [] anime spoilers to Ep7, manga spoilers to ch 28.

Tabby Praxis

Fetishization as an accusation of bad-faith practice seems to be a new thang in the discourse surrounding mass cultural vernacular narratives. As a practice, (praxis?) the actual mechanisms of fetishisation appear on closer examination to be slippery, diffuse and worse. inexorably bound to the process of simplified storytelling that makes up all that yummy, fast, cheap and ephemeral product that we fans gorge on and geek out over. Marge, You’re soaking in it. Worse, a useful definition and genealogy of the term is difficult to come up with. At least with appropriation of voice you kinda get the idea. Exactly what’s on the label. Fetishization is a whole lot harder to pin down.

Problematic, even…

If it is sexual, why not use the clinical term paraphilia? Or is schmexy-fetishism some kind of paraphilia-light/ not-quite paraphilia? Is it a fetish when you want your beloved to wear a bunny costume but hope to end up in the sack with them, bunny costume more or less removed; whereas with paraphilia, you want to rub the damn costume all over your nekkid body while sweetums is left to do the NYT crossword in the living room?

This is confusing.

A bout of Twitter discourse recently sent me down a bunny-costume-hole chasing current, useful examples. Then when the back and forth grew wearisome, I was tempted to do a stink-eye, declaring “SILLY COMRADES, I MEANT COMMODITY FETISHISATION!” because the internet, and Natalie Wynn’s Tabby

“Cat girls of the world, unite… Violence!” (1)

Be careful of what you poke with a stick. It had been decades since I had to fidget through any introductory Marxism reading lists but I thought a quick refresher at Wikipedia’s “commodity fetishism” page [] was worth a detour. Holy frick, the gang’s all here, hanging out back in the kitchen; Jameson, JimBo, Debord, Benjamin, Adorno, Lukács… TABBY!

Best I can puzzle out is that “fetishism”, as practice and shade, is kinda like those sci-fi stories where magic is blurred with science-y props and rituals; quantifiable, reproduce-able and easily invoked with a sufficient supply of brass mechanical difference engines.

“Marx said that fetishism is “the religion of sensuous appetites”, and that the fantasy of the appetites tricks the fetish worshipper into believing that an inanimate object will yield its natural character to gratify the desires of the worshipper. Therefore, the crude appetite of the fetish worshipper smashes the fetish when it ceases to be of service.”
— Ibid wiki per Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, On religion (orig 1842).

Karl and Fred could have given us a little more on this. They elide the mechanistic operational appeal of the magic. Drop the magic pebble into the bucket and the water turns into chocolate pudding (watch your teeth, there’s still a pebble in the pudding) Bad example — the rock had nothing initially chocolate-y or pudding-ish about it. Laws of similarity and contagion violated. Back to beans and beanstalks.

Worse, when you try to tar vernacular narratives and their derivative crap with the fetishisation brush, you run into a bunch of pre-existing, structural conditions that complicate the exercise (or charge).

A myth of originality

Plots, settings, characters – even chara designs get recycled. Contemporary Japanese Visual Culture is a very efficient recycler, whether because of a handicraft view of creative production, the doujinshi/ ani-paro tradition and/or a vigorous culture of interchange between producers and consumers/ fans. Outsiders decry this as “same-face”; pop-culture pundits whomped up elaborate end-of-history-end-of-grand-narratives visions of a “database”, while still others attempted to impose a quasi-linguistic taxonomy approach, (gotta catch em all!) taking street urchin “cliches” and giving them a good scrub, a clean track suit and lodging them in an ongoing repository of “tropes”. Cataloging is fun but the payoff comes with the permission and availability promoted by well-stocked shelves full of variously exaggerated forms. Amateur enthusiasts and underpaid hacks alike can grab armloads of pret-a-porter and keep cranking out product. So, yeah.. we might all look the same…

As well, there’s the schmexy.

We need the schmexy.

Fetishisation sounds like it must have something to do with naughty knickers but if you toss out any trace of the “yummy bits” you end up with Scooby Doo Mysteries. When Dr. Saito Tamaki (renown Japanese clinical psychologist – ) took a break from his work on Japanese (mostly guy) social isolates to throw some post-Lacanian theory at male manga/ anime fans and their libido(s), he opened up a giant can of beautiful/ magical fighting girl fantasies. These he pronounced as all good and healthy. Then he noticed all the porny aniparo doujinshi (fanzines) at Comiket. You would think he would ignore these, bhut noooo. All good too! Most excellent survival strategy(!) for young, alienated, isolated guys in a society that was increasingly globalised, unintelligible and overloaded with never ending shit-floods of visual narratives.

Fan-boy gets that strange feeling looking at the powered-up cartoon cutie, wonders if his wiring is off, finds all manner of variants, becomes a connoisseur of the effect and gets to spread the faith and bond with fellow enthusiasts. Hack the spew with cartoon pr0n!!! Your life is no longer endless grey concrete drudgery and kombini take-out meals — your rich fantasy lives have been re-cathected (cf Mary Shelley per Freud ) Then the FATE franchise was born and everyone lived happily ever after.

Lacanian as all fuck!

Lacanian as all…

Anyway, otaku have no problem whatsoever distinguishing fantasy from reality; their sexualities don’t get warped by all them weird cartoons and the majority of them are functioning heterosexual guys who will go on to marry and reproduce. Don’t freak out.

Feeling better? No urge to go hide in your room for 5 years? Good! Get back to work…

Later critics would argue that women fans had their version of this as well but it worked somewhat differently… (2)

Fuck you Muddy-boi, where is my Given review?

Can it! You want the free grub, you gotta sit for the sermon… Ok, whatever!


Given is a manga and a current season anime about a bunch of guys who get together to practice and hopefully start a band. The story puts their band interaction, taking place in a rented practice space at the center of their personal lives. Home, school, jobs are all places where the band members do time before they can once again get together and jam. The band-verse is the hub of their manosphere — everything radiates out from it. A male homosocial, to use the fancy-shmancy academic term. While contemporary “queer theory” grabbed that term and ran off yelling Squeeeeeeeeee! into the night (in many ways anticipating a variation on the slash/ fujoshi conceit that all guys, male socials and male power structures are and will be up to the same-old-same-old mischief, all the time) it is worth remembering that the concept was born out of sociology/ anthropology and was initially appropriated for use in literary criticism.

However BL guy homosocials are not like the ones that Sedgwick’s Between Men dissects. Buncha guys in BL is a magic.

This fun tradition of the BL genre has been shorthanded as “the fetishisation of male friendship”. The initial appeal of this notion appears to spring from two IRL conditions: 1) Japan does same-sex socials a lot and 2) the genre fandom, the audience for stories riffing off this conceit are notorious for the occult gender exclusivity of their socials. The girls only-club gets to have fun ascribing exaggerated characteristics to hypothetical boy-only clubs. Win!

If I run with my simple metonymic rule for build-a-bear fetishisations;
“Simplify a complex condition, exaggerate one remaining aspect, then ascribe that aspect machine-like magical powers within the story”

… then the simple act of putting some guys together in a band will have magical consequences within the story because while the guy social is a dumb-simple plot machine, it has one inescapable effect:

Guys within get love-stuck and properly paired (one, true-ly) off.

A somewhat similar effect can be ascribed to isolated forest cabins that offer shelter in the midst of snowstorms, when one of our two heroes is sick or wounded and will die unless his rival-companion lavishes care upon him.

“…reminds me of a German guy I knew in Tokyo to whom I lent some Eroica slash stories. Helmut returned them to me in agitation. ‘Don’t these writers realize men can be friends and not want to have sex?!’ Naturally, I said, but the point of the slash exercise is that the guys do have sex. He didn’t see it.”
— Mary Jeanne Johnson/ Aestheticism forum (ca 2000)

I should dial it down a bit; Given — especially the anime version — remains well-behaved, sympathetic and sets up its main characters in a way that maintains a good balance between leaving things unsaid/yet to be revealed and naturally developing the initial dynamics between the four main characters. At the start of the story, only one of the four is acknowledged gay and he’s had a bad time of it. Satō Mafuyu had a fight with his first ever boyfriend and then walked in on the aftermath of Yuki’s suicide. Now with Yuki’s guitar, given to him by the deceased’s mother he walks around in a grieving daze. Uenoyama Ritsuka finds Sato-kun nodding off in his secret high school napping spot and grudgingly re-strings the expensive Gibson hollow body, growing even more annoyed when he realises that its owner has no idea at all about guitars or how to play.

Sato Mafuyu then goes stray-puppy-to-11 and begins to stalk and pester Uenoyama, begging for guitar lessons. Uenoyama-kun is restless and easily annoyed but fundamentally good-natured. He also has a bad case of dogged determination; when young he had pushed himself not just to learn but to master the electric guitar his father gave him. Recently he has felt that his skill has levelled off and guitar is less fun than it used to be. Later we will find that he has little patience for going along with amateurs and has left at least one other band and/ or a school light music club because they were insufficiently “serious”. This won’t stop Sato-kun. Bit by bit, Sato wears him down until Uenoyama agrees to give him a few pointers.

Then Sato sings a melody line and Uenoyama is taken.

Uenoyama is in a band with two other guys, older university students. Nakayama Haruki is basist, band-leader and veteran of a few other bands. Although nominally straight, we soon find that he has somehow developed an undisclosed crush on Kaji Akihiko; drummer, music major, violinist and semi-pro man-whore. Akihiko-san is currently rooming with/ freeloading off his ex-boyfriend, the musical prodigy Murata Ugetsu who destroyed Akihiko’s musical self-confidence and stole his heart. Unfortunately Aki-san has irresponsible parents who travel abroad and neglect to send a regular allowance, so mr blond hunk music student has also found it expedient to cultivate the sponsorship of rich, older, generous girlfriends. The manga does more reveal on this than the anime has currently offered – including genius roomie’s toxic, sadistic nature. Initially, in both the anime and the manga, the two senior band-mates naturally take the role of sempai(s), with one important reservation; both feel that Uenoyama’s “serious” approach to music might be what they need to get a band to “click” and as such defer to Uenoyama’s musical tastes.

It doesn’t take long before Sato is introduced to the sempai, they get to hear him sing la-la-la syllables and encourage him to join as their singer. Uenoyama then has to stalk Sato to convince him to join the band, as Sato lacks confidence.

Sato puts in the effort to learn to play, begins to heal and starts to socialise at school but Uenoyama grows progressively more out-of-sorts. He wonders if he wants the responsibility of teaching Sato. A girl in his class who quite clearly has strong feelings for him takes him aside and blurts out the gossip following Mafuyu Sato: he openly dated a guy in junior high and then the guy committed suicide. “Don’t get involved with him, he is dangerous!” Huh? Involved? Uenoyama has no previous romantic experience, or for that matter unresolved desires — at least any that were not sublimated into obsessive guitar practice. He gets on great with the rest of the guys in his class but is often half-asleep because of band and part-time job (to pay his part of the studio rent) demands on his time and energies. He is not shy or uncomfortable around girls; at home his older sister expertly bosses him around. Why is everything suddenly getting complicated?

One makes allowances for anime and manga stories. We expect details to get brushed over, or rushed past. Still at 7 episodes and/ or 28 chapters in, we only have the vaguest idea of who has what in the way of parents, let alone where they are about or underfoot. Someone besides Mafuyu must be taking care of the dog… Please! Also; the shade of Yuki is an uncomfortable presence in more ways than one. A young lover’s suicide out of the blue, after a teen romantic spat between guys? Somehow his feels callous on the part of the writers.

Then there is the question of sexualities as fixed within the self; as a “born this way” innate characteristic of personal identity. While neither manga or anime has yet to pull the infamous “I’m not gay it’s only you“, it is still a stretch that %100 of the bishie guys in a band end will up paired off with each other. Sure it is possible that they all were so inclined but the happenstance, presented with little concern, foreshadowing or explanation beyond “lightning strikes” is a bit of a stretch. Also what of informal traditions of band exogamy?

Put it down to an aspirational staging rule — turns out all four were predisposed to the idea of loving another guy and the band social provided a safe space where this could happen. Like magic.

As well, the “reasons” for attraction are portrayed as complex, emotional and empathic. At least, Given does not reduce male same-sex desire to “Wow, whatta hunk, nize ass!

One week before their first show and Uenoyama is screwing up at practice, ostensibly over-worried about Sato’s ability to play and whether Sato will be able to finish the song lyrics on time. Kaji-sempai, talking to him after the rehearsal asks if he is completely out-of-sorts because he has developed a crush on Sato. Uenoyama, in one of the few, minor concessions in the story to notions of fixed sexuality and social conformity goes all “Huh?” Sempai replies “what of it? I’ve gone out with guys too… though it was some time ago.”

Sempai sez no biggie. So much for societal disapproval. Moving right along…

At their first live gig Sato sings a powerful song about his feelings of loss for Yuki and Uenoyama, overcome with the emotion of the moment, hugs and then kisses Sato backstage. Soon after they confess to each other and begin dating.

The BL manosphere/ magic guys club forcefield comes with secondary effects. Women characters vanish into the mist. They become negligible threats to the bonds between the guys or cheerleaders on the sidelines. Jealous girl had already apologised for “he’s dangerous” and although not “out” at high school, Uenoyama and Sato start spending more time together, though Uenoyama reverts to “tough coach” mode when it’s music time. If the two are “exploring” anything it happens off-stage.

The action in the manga then shifts to Nakayama Haruki; flashbacks about his growing attraction to Kaji Akihiko, the latter’s troubling relationships and behavior and finally, from Akihiko’s POV; cutting clean from Ugetsu-san, tracking down the wayward parental units, dunning them for proper support, dropping the host gigs, resuming serious attention to his music degree and otherwise trying to clean up his act, “so as to be worthy” of Haruki-san’s affection.

The left one now, it has bells on it and makes pretty sounds.

So far no 1970’s era bishounen-style, “Even after the flames take my body” vows of eternal and undying monogamous love (OTP! OTP! ) but we still have a few chapters to go. They could tone it down a bit and go for contemporary adult romantic realism “I’m gonna work real hard at this, call me on it if I get out of line — I’ll do the same for you because I’m all in as long as you are” — which would raise the exercise in my eyes and even tone down a lot of my snark. Putting up with anyone, in one’s face all the time, for any promised indefinite period is one of the big questions that drives BL and associated dreaming in queer het-gaze exercises in speculative romantic fiction. We’d like to think –even if only in our fictions — that maybe without all them dysfunctional rules, roles and expectations that someone(s) can come up with a new, workable approach to love.

Relationships are complicated. No shit, Sherlock. Takes work. Also needs agreed upon boundaries. What would be a “code of honor” for an equal, mutually affirming arrangement for two anyones to stay together and not crumple each other?

Audience is restless.

Unfortunately, another magic simplification fetishism trap now lies in wait for us. Part of the appeal of the magic BL guy-group effect is that male friendships appear, to observers to be simple and direct; as simple and direct as guy sexual desire. Indeed, the simple, selfish entitled stupidity of guy sexuality is one of the things that women find troublesome, annoying, threatening, even lethally dangerous about the way guys spark. Male:male desire, as imagined by a significant subset of the BL audience is prone to being simplified to these extremes, even if “only in stories, for fun”. Everyone gets to have their porn and porn needs to move fast and get on with the hot stuff but the simplifications can spread and contaminate even more restrained works. The guys in Given are fastidious, cautious and as empathic as they can manage in getting close and finding out if… but when Akihiko and Ugetsu have a hate-fuck the manga audience gets their satisfying glimpses of the rough “default setting”.

Then the stories overcompensate. If stereotypical guy attraction is short on “see the other person as a person, with unique characteristics, hopes, dreams, likes, dislikes and behavior patterns”, we get the temptation to have the guy-puppets in aspirational romantic same-sex fictions make good the shortage when they turn their attentions on each other. Guys only act “really” romantic with other guys(!) because uh, fetishisation and Tumblr


Too easy to toss water bottles at a nice, simple anime/manga romance. Ease off and enjoy. Part of the appeal of vernacular love stories is that they do one thing in a satisfying way. Close enough for rock and roll. Enjoy the band. Clap a lot and they’ll do an encore.

They will inevitably leave the stage.

Whining about fetishisation in pulp fiction is wasted effort. Only as technique is it worthy of consideration and study.



(1) “Tabby; a far-left communist anti-fascist Cat Girl […] is well-meaning but struggles to connect with the common person, coming across as overly intellectual and militant; either lecturing people on dialectical philosophy or threatening to bash their skulls in with her trademark baseball bat.”

(2) Dr Tamaki had a go at expanding his theories to include women fans (2006) but came up short, I suspect because the post-Lacanian framework he uses to take apart individual subjectivities gets confused when the subject in question doesn’t have a wee bit of patriarchy in their shorts. Besides, he was too busy having fun repeating “no… is the sexy bits, they are important” at other guy pop-culture experts who would get all worked up by the idea that guys might wank to comic book babe drawings. Dr. Nagaike burned a massive load of theory powder trying to bring the woman reader into this equation (see her doctoral thesis) but her solution remains prone to reductio-ad-shotacon. For now, everyone has settled on “asymmetry” as the compromise solution. Guys reportedly geek out on individual sexy charas while women are supposed to be more interested in character interaction and interpersonal emotional dynamics. Your mileage may vary.

Worthy of Grace


Two recent Twitter commotions serve as a worthwhile point of departure for digging deeper into themes of queer representation and subtext within heterosexual gaze/ normed narratives. To sneak up on it sideways, I’m going to bring out my old purposefully-dense-straight-guy head-space. Bear with me, I had it out in the shed.

Put some fresh gas in, check the crankcase oil, spray the air filter with starter fluid and… PULL!

Cough Vroom, chug, chug, cough vroom, brrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Whew! Lotta smoke.

Here we go!

Re-issues of parts of the Sailor Moon franchise’s official English dubs recently went on sale and while advance PR had made a big point of promoting that the new release would stop subtexting a famous girl-couple in the series, a lyrics brochure once again referred to Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune as cousins. Not a couple, not as lovers, but with the decades-ago North American market “cover story” as to why those two were so close.

Meanwhile, over in legal anime streaming land, a character who makes a one episode appearance as an eccentric 14 year old child soldier (as are all the kid characters) and/ or an alien and/or a clone and/ or an angel, has a soulful moment with our hero Shinji and tells Shinji that he is “worthy of my grace“.

Time to ask Briggs N. Stratton what he makes of all this.

B+S: “Huh? Why ask me? I’m here to chew bubblegum and mow the lawn — and I am clean out of bubblegum!”

HOFF: “C’mon Briggsey, you owe me for the spark plug.”

B+S: “Fine, fine, sure thing. I don’t know what the big deal is. So they were cousins and now an itsy bitsy brochure says they are cousins again. There wasn’t gay marriage when the show first ran, children’s show, not like anyone who cared wouldn’t see through the excuse, whatever… No one said they couldn’t be cousins and still be girlfriends as long as no one frightened the horses. Kind of hawt-er that way too.

…As for that Kaworu guy, weren’t the translators just being too cute by half, trying to sneak in a hint that Kaworu is not just a gay boy crushing on a teammate but, I dunno… an angel? You know, the eccentric gaijin whose behavior transcends the usual rules for plebes with added mad science Kabbalah conspiracy sparklies.”

HOFF: “Yup, that’s pretty much what I expected you’d say.”

B+S: “Waugh waugh waugh! I don’t see what the fuss is all about. I’m not going to do a right-wing bad-faith whine-fest about “keeping ess-jay-dubb-you pol-ee-tiks out of anime” because that’s a low grade cheat but c’mon. These are ANCIENT franchises. 4:3 aspect ratio video. Everyone had fleas back then, no air conditioning, barely any soap or food refrigeration. Ain’t gonna get the Sermon on the Mount from throw-away cartoon series. Whatcha want? Edward Said deconstructs Johnny Quest in a TED talk?”

HOFF: Save the TED talk; there are a few folks I follow on Twitter who just might be able to pull something like that off.

B+S: I’d rather have Fanon. Better kick-ass. Hey, just because I do landscaping doesn’t mean that I don’t read.

HOFF:”Look, there is stuff surrounding representation that we will hear about, process and think we “get” but will never “feel it in my bones.” Same for you. Shouldn’t we at least make the effort to acknowledge that it is a thing?

B+S: “Just strikes me as random, or a gratuitous versimultitude attempt. Here’s another example: Lily in Zombie Land Saga.

HOFF: “Hey! Be nice, that ep made me tear up.”

B+S “I developed a case of sniffles too but c’mon; the show was spinning its wheels because they never did anything with the shit-toxic work culture in Japan’s talento industry, except let manager-san act like a complete PIG — and show BARS all over the inside of the mansion. Why drop the sold-into-sex-slavery-as-a-girl-child Edo-era courtesan in the ensemble if you weren’t gonna use her? Lily’s story was as close as we got to karoshi but then; “second tear”. Gang-girl’s ep was OK too; otherwise wheels spinning, very little traction. As if because the production house couldn’t do fanservice with corpse-girls, or any significant yuri teasing they just started throwing random attempts at anything into…”


B+S: “What now?”


B+S: “Well exxxxxxxx-cuuuuse ME! Jeesh! You implying that transfolk and them who care about them get SO worked up about representation that they will take any kind of overt manipulative-y… “


B+S: “Uurrrrrrr…”

HOFF: “Come closer, I’ll whisper it to you”

B+S: “Huhhhhh? Whaddaya mean I don’t get to make that call? I wasn’t saying I don’t like Lily! “


B+S: “I LIKE Lily! Lily saved the entire effing show! Shit! I am feeling VERY made out of dried cut grass right now.”

HOFF: “No shade at Lily?”

B+S: “No shade at Lily!”

HOFF: “Who gets to make the call if Lily is important?”

B+S: “Not me… or you… Fine, fine, got it. GOT IT.”

HOFF: “whyyyyyyyy?

B+S: “(grudging tone) Because neither of us have skin in that game. Still don’t understand the anime history kerfuffle though… Guess I can’t have opinions on anything… but optimal cutting height for lawns in spring.”

HOFF: Wittgenstein time. Observe and zip it. Better, Observe, try to process and hold off for a bit before hitting enter.”

B+S: “Feels uncomfortable.”

HOFF: “Whyyyyyyyyyyy?”

B+S: (mumble)

HOFF: “Can’t hear you.”

B+S: “Fuck right off, same reasons why you won’t be anyone’s ally.”

HOFF: “Fuck You!”

B+S: “No; Fuck YOU!”

HOFF: “Well then, I guess all the fascist bas-turds win. Only one any of us disconnected monads can trust is Exalted Leader and his designated talking heads on Faux Nooz.

B+S: “I hate this shit… I’m stuck more or less trusting you”

HOFF: “D’Awwwww. Just to be clear for the folks at home, you’re not an actual 3.5HP four-stroke engine Briggs and Stratton lawn Mower, right?”

B+S: “Say for their sake that I am an aspect of you; some kind of alternate probability disassociative manga/anime fictional discursive device. Linear as fuck though. I Like to keep things simple. Gotta deal with my own shit first. A real man speaks with his well groomed lawn.”

HOFF: “I hope we don’t lose too many readers over this trick.”

B+S: Shoganai! Shit is complex. Needs must, the devil mows… “

HOFF: “It gets even more complex; for instance, WE might see Lily dying young under the pressures of being a child star; karoshi due to exploitative quasi-slavery work culture. A trans person would read the shock-fear of having puberty kick in with no HRT or blockers to stop their body steering them onto a highway that they desperately never never wanted to go anywhere near. Trans-kids have killed themselves when this, plus boneheaded parent units not supporting them came together — which thank effing gawds, Lily’s Dad didn’t overtly screw up. Sins of omission vs. sins of commission. The storytelling drops hurried hints at both readings because that’s what you do with storytelling: try to grab as much real-y-ness as you can, process it into fast takes and plaster it all over your chara’s motivations with the hope that something sticks.

…So yeah, we can go all Bernie Sanders and yell Class War but we be damned if we dismiss other folks having their own deeply personal feelings on their reads.”

B+S: “We’ll never yell Class War like Bernie, He’s been yelling since before we were born… Ok, got it already.

What happened with the Sailor Girls? “

HOFF: “The publisher clued in they goofed, issued a speedy full apology and is promising replacement corrected brochures. The actual video and audio tracks are so far reported as ok.”

B+S: “Good crisis management. That all there is to it? “

HOFF: “For slow on the uptake folks like us, the incident hammers home is how life-changing-ly important that girl couple was to a segment of the fandom that grew up with the anime and identified with those two characters. Subtext in USA & Canada might have been enough way back then – any representation was a balm – but over time the creatives responsible for the franchise had made it clear, or canon as they say in fan-speak, that them two are a couple. Plus, the rest of the show was major empowerment important for girls in general — it made a big impression; so those two having pride of place in it…”

B+S: “…And they didn’t have to fight each other to the death near a Shinto temple on the moon, which I suppose was also a big deal back then…”

HOFF: “You think “Kill off your gays” is gone?”

B+S: ” Point.”

HOFF: “So they are important and sticking them back into the closet via sloppy post-production was a BIG NO-NO.

Let’s try a better example for contrast: Midnight Occult Civil Servants /Mayonaka no Okaruto Kōmuin, a 12 ep anime that recently finished up.

Comes with two genderfluid characters; one a Central American god of chaos and the other, a coworker at the Shinjuku ward office Youkai relations office.

First time we and our newbie recruit/ main chara meet “Theo” (Seo Himetsuka) ya think: “Lab Coat Girl Chara”. Yup but nope. (Does their name mean anything in Japanese?) Gender-fluid/ X-gender science wizard of the office and before our MC discovered his gift for understanding youkai speech (ears of sand), the most adept of the crew at detecting youkai. Does not act femme. Returnee, obvious nod to Shinjuku ward “diversity”. Character visual relief, as the rest of the department are (mostly guy) Kado; The Wrong Answer clones — at times it gets hard to tell them apart. Soon to be followed by Huehuecóyotl / Old old Coyote/ Kohaku/ (Amber eyes), a casually dangerous Central American trickster god. who somehow wandered all the way to Japan and became attached to the MC’s powerful exorcist/ spirit medium ancestor, Abe no Seimei. Like many of the longer-lived youkai, the godling occasionally mistakes Arata for his ancestor.”

B+S: “I remember that one, nice light watch, not much in the way of heavy plotting. Lotsa “Let’s all get along”, punctuated by a nasty turn from a bad-guy ghostbuster from a neighboring ward office.”

HOFF: ” Kohaku is really heavily into the “Favor the newbie with grace” department, especially since the idea that humans age, die and break easily is not very high on their concern list — they often forget/ ignore the Arata/ Seimei distinction. Otherwise Coyote strikes me as a supernaturally levelled-up version of Komi-san wa, Komyushou desu‘s genderfluid hyper-sociable Najimi Osana.

B+S: ” Hmmmm… Najimi did occasionally overboard on the practical jokes… yup, Houston, we have an x-gender chara type trope.”

HOFF: “Thing I missed when the credits rolled on the last ep and I was left thinking; “Ok, Ho… HUM…”

…While those two had been thrown in for ‘Shinjuku variety” variety, so could any chara with a hook. What slipped by was how they played important parts in the story while neither of them were cranked up to burlesque levels. Theo didn’t drag out — in a pinch Theo held their own; especially since they had built all the “proton pack” mad-science-y youkai-effective stuff and had to be on point to pull pins and lob them. Meanwhile, Coyote was often popping in and about, checking up on old haunts and looking for the next matsuri — pretty much what trickster-Coyote lore usually is big on.

They just were part of the ensemble cast without being weirdly fetishized.(1)

B+S:” Good ‘un. Kohaku/ Coyote was so bishie-femme that I expected mashing followed by theatrical levels of petulance after a rejection. Didn’t happen. Clearly that kami had a soft spot for the MC and their memories of his ancestor but the ways of Gods and Shinto Onmyoji are best not turned into idle gossip.

Wow, get this; Abe no Seimei was/ is a real historical figure, as well as a popular as heck folklore legend chara [ ] That puts our MC as the heir to 1000-plus years of exorcists, even if only hs grandfather is mentioned.

“Since 1989, Abe no Seimei has been depicted as a bishōnen.”
— Ibid., wiki/Abe_no_Seimei

HOFF: “Gets more complicated with Neon Genesis Super Giant Robot Depression Psychotic Breakdown though. Apparently, a new boy soldier pilot pops up in one of the later episodes — though he gets more face time in the manga and spin-offs — and makes a big impression on the troubled main character, Shinji. Kaworu is an eccentric outlander, so the “doesn’t care about rules” rule is in force when he puts his hand on Shinji’s hand while they are both sitting nekkid in a sento bath and tells Shinji that: “You are worthy of my grace.”

…Followed by “That means I like you”.”

B+S: “Worthy? Grace? Like? Sounds like something out of a fantasy isekai. Or a 1970’s Pretty Boy shoujo story. “

HOFF: ” The earlier subs had Kaworu saying that “You have my regard for it” A flustered Shinji goes “Regard?” and then Kaworu tells him “It means I love you”. The new “worthy of my grace” version improves on the clumsiness of the “regard” bit but then downgrades the confession to a “like”. Context is ultra-ambiguous due to plot pasta. The entire Evangelion franchise piled on shitloads of fringe christian and Kabbalah mysti-mush-mush and later retreads/ additions to the story add more heavy-handed hints that Kaworu could variously be an alien, an angel, a clone, or even a clone of an angel made by a global conspiracy of Dr Frankenstein world domination mad scientist cultists. If Kaworu is “angelic” — which is also one big gay guy/ BL cliche – Hi Patti, play Horses for us – then odd goth poetic BL mashies are the best a mere mortal boy is gonna get.”

B+S: “Or so thought the latest translator, sticking their head into the woodchipper… You ever watched it?”

HOFF: “Christ in a Gernsbeck M9E knows I’ve tried! I wasn’t able to get past ep6 in full. Skimmed through a couple more eps to 8, maybe 9 and gave up. For this, I watched the “old” version of ep24. FF through 25. There is still something about the “feel” of of entire effort that leaves me cold. Contrast to how Cowboy Bebop immediately grabs you with its story and characters. Evangelion’s emotional overload held no catharsis for me. It felt slipshod, manipulative, cynically dark and potentially harmful,

…Oh fuck, this is the wrong time and place but I need to tear that thing a new one!”

B+S: “Tear away…”

HOFF: “I don’t give a rat’s ass’s flying fuck that it forms some Omega of the Gainax giant robo-verse. Most Gainax shit turns out to be sloppy kludged-out hackery anyway. The entire Shinji’s dad, evil conspiracy Kabbalah mysticism thing can go stuff jade rocks. It was canciferous plot pasta back then and it is still cancer whenever it is trotted out as a “tribute”, as in Franxx‘s Ape council. Everything could happen because… Its a culty conspiracy! Because… the power of scienced-up mumbo jumbo mysticism! Wow! Gravity stopped and we all now shit through our ears! Mama I want to fuck you, Daddy I want to kill you! The world is completely DESTROYED!

And then fanboys screamed that anime was DEAD, because…. Girls. Yup, Shoujo. Yo! You next to that horse you rode into town on? Good!”

B+S: ” Yup, pretty obvious all around, just not really worth the powder to blow it to ifny. Kewl robot fights though… Hey, Didn’t Shinji have to kill his gay admirer at a temple on the moon, too? Needs restorative justice. Evangelion X Clean up your fucking mess; You can(yes can, no slacking) mow lawns.”

HOFF: “But because of its place in the experiences of lotsa folks, the Netflix revival thing and the associated Twitter convos are more a chance for watching real-time fan effects; maybe learn something.

…Here is part of @Frog-Kun/ Kim Morrissy’s take on the problems of localizing/ translating them lines: “

“Some English-speaking fans have criticized the Netflix translation of “downplaying” or “erasing” the homoerotic overtones in Shinji and Kaworu’s relationship, pointing to a history of queer erasure in anime localizations, such as the Cloverway dub of Sailor Moon, which infamously changed Haruka and Michiru’s relationship from lovers to cousins. They argue that by translating Kaworu and Shinji’s lines literally, the translation gives fuel for deniers to argue that no romantic attraction exists between the two characters at all. This perpetuates a culture where gay relationships are seen as “just shipping” or “fan delusions” in media barring works explicitly labelled as “queer” or “LGBT.”

Such arguments bring to mind something that the famous Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki is said to have taught his students: the ideal Japanese translation for “I love you” is “Tsuki ga tottemo aoi naa” (The moon is so blue tonight). “I love you” may be too direct for a Japanese person to say aloud, even if the intent is implicit, an idea corroborated by some of the Nijimen commentors quoted above. This suggests that perhaps English translations of Japanese texts should be more explicit in regards to statements of romantic affection, depending on context.””

“Japanese Fans, Official Translator Weigh in on Netflix Evangelion English Subtitle Debate” by Kim Morrissy. Anime News Network, posted on 2019-06-27 13:45 EDT

Also; here’s a very readable essay-length take on the bigger subject, that (wow!) includes Sailor Moon and Eva Shinji-Kaworu:
“Queer Representation in Anime” by Nicholas Bennett. The Artifice (com), July 17, 2018.

B+S: “By your schema, It doesn’t matter if the author and production crew tossed in a gay boy confession for shock value, as resonance towards some personal life experience, as fujoshi bait or even as a nod towards the legitimacy of same-sex affection. Or all of the above. Or how much they wanted to tart it up and/or subtext it.

It only matters that them viewers who felt moved by Kaworu’s act and Shinji’s shock — and it was a positive shock that someone else might actually think human of him, because Shinji is such a mess by this point that it is a wonder he can crawl to the shitter, let alone climb into his nightmare fucking robot. Also, looks like you have to update that mega four parter post of yours about NO HUGGIES FOR STRAIGHT JAPANESE COUPLES so as to lay the blame at the feet of Great Japanese Author Soseki.

…And yeah, Genshiken Nidaime near the end with Sue on the phone. Big literary reference, even if a mouldy chestnut.”

HOFF: “Ok, we are getting closer to framing things. It is something like one of those Twitter pop ethics things where you have some “activist” being goaded to debate a net-nazi about completely someone else’s right to exist. Only “ethical” move is to lay shit on for the trolling, call out the debate as a vicious ploy and lob a few well-documented milkshakes…

B+S: Bhut fiction! What use is all my privilege if I can’t whomp up a storybook Abraham Lincoln or two, sprinkle in some charas who were minding their own business, shake well and make notes as everyone gets bruised?

KIRK: What did you offer the others if they won?
ROCK: What they wanted most. Power.
KIRK: You offered me the lives of my crew.
ROCK: I perceive you have won their lives.
KIRK: How many others have you done this to? What gives you the right to hand out life and death?
ROCK: The same right that brought you here. The need to know new things.
KIRK: We came in peace.
ROCK: And you may go in peace.

HOFF: “Mr. Spock, add to the report a rec that the Federation use this planet as a high level toxic waste dump. Helm, get us the fuck outta here

B+S: “Rock creature screaming “Debate Me!” into the void. Best stick with milkshakes as a gift from the angels. Warm, white, sticky vanilla milkshakes.”

HOFF: “It doesn’t matter what the original motives of the writers way back then were. Part of me wonders if the creatives weren’t cynically tossing some old fashioned 1990’s homo panic into the psychological breakdown stew pot. You have access to my core memories; remember that time a thousand years ago when sports dude from University called up drunk, six months after we graduated, in utter shock because… “

B+S: “Do we REALLY want to share dusty personal anecdotes here? Why not just say that long-ago times’ homo panic was really serious. The gay person, usually a guy, could easily end up severely beaten on, even dead, the straight guy acted like they had been de-manned and were immediately imperilled by a range of violent phobic fantasies. Shit was really vicious and stupid back then. Unlike, urrr, whatever…

… Anyway, How defuk did we ever get the rep for running an advice column? We was the Uni newspaper darkroom monk. Talked him down well enough. All over some bullshit “do I come across as gay?” Come across as? Does free-climbing make you look gay? Could have handed that idiot a big rusty sword and enlisted him in Commander Vimes’ Night Watch — he’d have had a hawt werewolf girlfriend in two hours. Or a boyfriend if he wanted. He could have had a pan-amorous harem if he wanted…”

HOFF: “Yeah.. the next uni posting was even weirder. Show ANY emotional clue-full-ness, even a 3.5HP variant and half the idiots, including the wimmin-folk at the midwest Amurrican grad seminar thought I was hanging out with communist hippies and screwing everyone from underage girls through old men to farm animals. I thought they were all mad as hatters, including… Her.

B+S: “TMI. Keep this up and we’re going to have to start drinking heavily.”

HOFF: “There goes the alternate probability line where I was a tall, slim, deadly eurotrash-villain crossdressing assassin for hire.(2) Mirablue! Maybe I was seen at one of them Friday midnight Rocky Horror Show screenings with my lady friend. She wore the evening gown though, I was in a surplus tux. Sheeeeeeet! Misspent youth in the American midwest… We didn’t even throw rice…”

B+S: “BZZZZZTTTT! That’s what you get for going to a Rocky Horror Show in prehistoric mid-America.”

HOFF: “Was either that or another dose of Harold and Maude.”


HOFF: “Fuck, right! Neon Genesis Psychosis Field. Just moi, btw… No shade on those who for their own deeply personal reasons, find NGE poignant and deeply moving.”

B+S: “Lawns! Must cut lawns, lawns, lawns…

HOFF: “To bring things back to a useful level of discussion, a majority/ cisgendered-heterosexual gaze can ignore characters and situations that show or suggest minority desire and/ or gender expressions. We can fetishize them or take them for versimultitude and scenery boosts. Our sense of self doesn’t get denied by their absence or assaulted by ridiculous, insulting misrepresentations. Neither are such moments of recognition for us so scarce, so rare that any reflection, no matter how distorted or fleeting means something to our feelings of who we are and how we fit in the world. I can write these words but I won’t ever feel the feels. When I look at my patch of the world my frame of reference looks back at me. I could use the term “privilege” and it is — but this again centers the subjectivity/ viewpoint on me and mine. The complexity of what “the other” feels remains in shadows.

Likewise, a much later Haruka and Michiru as a happily married couple (and I have no idea of how Sailor Moon verse lore treats them) would ultimately be a convenience to me, as it requires only a minor adjustment to my existing lazy cis-het-normed mental categories. Edit Married_Couple.def. Save.

B+S: “That’s some final argument against haters: “looks like work to me.” Sure a bit of “girl weddings are way kewl” didn’t slip in there too?

HOFF: “Could be… Rabbit… While we are at it, GOOD TWITTER THING: Some of the more inventive Twitteratti saw the “You are worthy of my grace, That means I liek you” screen caps decided to go all meme generator on them and drop chunky black bordered yellow subtitles to that effect into every ancient subtexty same-sex clench/ soulful gaze/ grope scene they could pull out of their save folders. It was glorious. (Unfortunately the thread originator got a hater-pile-on ban again, so couldn’t snag a selection for this post.. -sniff- )

So now ist fanon: “worthy of my grace” soon to be up there with the “I love you body and soul for the rest of my life, even after the fire takes my body, my soul will yadda yadda yadda” 1970’s Bishie love vow. Very queer-inscribed. though Hella No Way would I object if my sweetie…

B+S: ” T! M! I! 

HOFF: “whuttt?”

B+S: “Jeesh… My turn:”

Might not my love — although the curving blade
From whose wide mowing none may hope to hide,
Me long ago below the frosts had laid —
Restore you somewhat to your former pride?
Indeed I think this memory, even then,
Must raise you high among the run of men.

HOFF: “D’Awwwww! Mowing! And so the range of available-to-all romantic cheese expands by a few more words. Profit!

…Hey Lookie what I made for Spotted Flower’s HatoMada. I think it is cute:”

B+S: “Fringe appeal, for Genshiken-verse nerds only.”

HOFF: “We should do a podcast next…”


HOFF: “Whaaaaaaaat?”




(1) I had high hopes for Komi-san wa, Komyushou desu because x-gender Najimi Osana wasn’t cranked to weird levels but then the author took a school-girl same-sex crush and cranked Ren Yamai up to psycho lesbian stalker kidnapper levels. She also saves Komi-san’s hair and licks it. See my earlier post on the series:

(2) Crossdresser, as one correspondent reported their initial impression of me, to me,  after skimming my blog. Also non-binary. So much for disclaimers. I think their take was all kinds of sweet and a compliment, considering that in earlier years best I could manage was a passable Riff Raff for Halloween parties… Dat Tux…


Too Het #4: “Outlanders, Outsiders and Outlaws”

Initially I wanted to slot Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid [] into the yuri section but recurring complaints about how it plays fast and loose with busty dragons sexually harassing young boys (named Shouta — jeesh!) led me to notice something else. Boobie burlesque routines aside, the manga, the anime and two other spin-off mangas are loaded up with charas who all desperately long for company and affection. Dragons and wage slaves alike, everyone is ronery but some of the charas do ronery wrong:The most serious complaint that can be raised against Dragon Maid is one that is all too common to Japanese ensemble comedies: 

Foreigners, outlanders, gaijin are always too loud, too touchy-feely, clumsy and ignorant of local customs and codes of behavior. They lack discretion. They are inevitably in need of socialization — even if the freedom behind their irresponsible behavior is secretly envied..

WARNING: Adult themes and over-consideration of traditions of Japanese cartoon intimacy below the cut. Fourth and last of a 4-part essay series on Japanese vernacular visual narratives conventions surrounding the depiction of intimacy. Snark. Some spoilers.

Series starts here:

Continue reading

Too Het #3:”There are only girls at this school”

Approaching the yuri genre; Japanese pop visual culture’s stories of women’s same-sex affection and desire with the motive of finding (and perhaps borrowing) visual tropes of physical intimacy – from skinship to sex, adds one further point of view towards an already contested genre. Classifying stories and representational strategies according to imputed audience’s gaze seems to be the simplest way at first to try to winnow out obviously exploitative girl-on-girl-action porn that was custom-built for horny guys’ immediate needs and not much else. From there on, it gets complicated.

hanjuku_joshi_011 girls school web

A wide range of readers, including straight guys can develop a taste for light romantic melodrama which yuri does very well, thus avoiding the need to sneak into bookstores at night to purchase Harlequin romances. Neither should we discount the appeal of watching the main character(s) progress through a shadow-of-lesbian (or even semi-realistic lesbian) bildungsroman, especially when we can cheer the character(s) on from a safe emotional distance. I have speculated on yuri as a site for such an expanded take on the iyasheki effect, even as this emotional distance risks trivialising real lesbian subjectivities.

WARNING: Adult themes and over-consideration of traditions of Japanese cartoon intimacy below the cut. Part 3 of a 4 part series on limitations within Japanese vernacular visual narratives depicting intimacy. Snark. Some spoilers.

Continue reading

Too Het #2: ‘Unlimited rulebook! Boku wa kime-gao de sou itta’

“…She said in a poised voice…”

There are a few things that commend the BL (Boys Love) genre to its creators and traditional core audience that madden the outside observer. Why can’t fujoshi just be satisfied with regular heterosexual pr0n? They could amp it up with more romance or schmexy and even change the characters so that they can act freer from societal restrictions; why do they have to use shadow-of-gay-men characters to act out their prefered bodice buster pulp fictions? If the characters are guys, why make them sometimes – but only sometimes – follow a strict formulaic script that ill-fits the bodies and what anyone who cared to ask would find out about IRL (In Real Life) guy:guy sex? Why does one subset of the genre insist that the story is far more emotionally poignant and melodramatically overwrought if neither of the two characters considered themselves “gay” before their fateful encounter? Does the problem with the BL genre lie mostly within the yaoi sub-genre and does yaoi even exist any more?

WARNING: Adult themes and over-consideration of traditions of Japanese cartoon intimacy, including sex below the cut. Part 2 of a 4 part series on limitations within Japanese vernacular visual narratives depicting intimacy. Snark. Some spoilers.

Continue reading

Too Het #1: A tyranny of impregnative mimesis

Manga whoopie for the disappoint.

Futari Ecchi; seinen manga, Young Animal/ Young Animal Arashi (extra chapters only)
by Katsu Aki, 74 Volumes, Hakusensha, January 1997 – present
[ ]

WARNING: Adult themes and over-consideration of traditions of Japanese cartoon intimacy, including sex below the cut. Part 1 of a 4 part series on limitations within Japanese vernacular visual narratives depicting intimacy. Snark. Some spoilers.

Continue reading

Japan trip 2019

wherein I announce my intention to play hookey again and run off to see cherry blossoms.

This is a bit early but I thought it a good idea to announce in advance that I will run off to the Enoshima – Kamakura region again this year, from mid-March, through the third week in April. I need to barbecue meat on a beach and only a beach on Sagami Bay will do.

That is if I can manage some nagging health issues. I have approximately a month to heal up; I need to get some exercise in as well so that I don’t end up sprained and lame as I have recently been wont to do. When I get there, I will immerse myself in my riajuu life. That barbecue. It folds up into its nice little canvas carrying case. I blame Yuru Camp/ Laid Back Camping anime. You can buy the little compressed charcoal bricks at Y100 stores.

Niku Niku. Eat meat! Meat is all you need!”

Also; cut down on pop culture consumption, eat good food, go for long hikes in the hills, get the inflatable kayak back in service, de-rust my trusty one-speed granny bike, all while spending quality time with my sweetie.

Kite flying! Art exhibitions! Touristy stuff!

If by chance you know of any fun academic conferences or need me to go on for 90 minutes on any of the theory wanks in this blog for your university class, drop a note in the comment section (mention if you want it private and I’ll keep it so). I might even post a few updates and pictures here and/or on my Twitter feed. They will be boring and have nothing to do with manga or anime.

I am so sick of winter. Bleh!

There is a secluded hilltop mini-park overlooking my sweetie’s town with cheery trees — including some monstrously huge, old ones that tower over the grove. We eat onigiri and share sakura chocolate there every year.

This year too.