Briggs N. Stratton: Welcome blog readers new and returning. This time on Hearts of Furious Fancies; simulated banter about a tradition in Japanese Magical Girl tropes presented in an attempt to divert ourselves from freaking out over the big powerful country to the south turning into a Heinlein by way of Atwood -described christo-fascist theocracy.(1) Grab a drink and get comfy, here we go.
Mudakun: OH… (wracks brain for a suitable expletive) SNAP! Not this again.
B&S: Yup… Time again to justify this blog’s existence even if your fave “emergency blogging hologram” has to lead off.
Muda: This is NOT a good time.
B&S: To quote one of the fave sci-fi writers of your youth “You owe for the flesh”. Also, Ms. Smith, Piss Factory; “Time to pay off.”
Muda: I hate this. Also, your intro sucks. Go ahead, get it over with and explain yourself and then we’ll see if I can scrape up any enthusiasm to expand on that Tweetor thread I did a few weeks back.
B&S: Hi gentle readers! I am a literary conceit; something that sounds better than “imaginary friend”. Buddy boy came up with me because he got sick of his usual drone-on essay style of writing and he wanted to try a fakee-dialogue format. At least he didn’t name me something lame like Phaedrus. I am an imaginary interlocutor, a straw man, a foil, a contrived alternate point of view and/or a 3.5HP 20″ cut 4-stroke lawn mower. Or not. Muda’s fingers type out my lines but who controls Muda’s fingers as he does so? Whooooooooo Hooooooooo…
Muda: Can we just end this now, hit post and leave this as-is?
B&S: NOPE. We just read a suicide note on Tweetor.
Muda: Christ that sucks. Didn’t follow them, just stumbled on it ’cause someone we follow follows a follower who is frantic. Not like we can jump into that person’s thread and do anything. Feel completely useless. I hope they live. Wish I knew more Buddhism stuff. FUCK!
B&S: Been a rough last few months.
Muda: Everywhere. Social media convos on nice harmless stuff veer off into dire shit-fights. Blocking is easier than engaging. I am trying to stick to cat pictures, obscure manga and anime, possum every hour and outdoor low-impact recreational diversions like non-white-water kayaking. Also budget wine-making how-to posts.
B&S: Lots of great Japan tourism day trip blog posts popping up. Better than “Encouragement of The Climb” and “Laid-Back Camping“.
Muda: I’m not getting back to Japan any time soon. Also, Covid.
B&S: You never followed up on Doc Tamaki’s theories (“Infected Time” Dr Saito Tamaki https://note.com/tamakisaito/n/n4f33ed806037) about time-binding in fiction re: Ascendance of a Bookworm.
Muda: Folks should seek out the translated light novels, both authorised and fan machine-translated and read both for maximum effect. Bad machine translations first; the story is good enough to suffer them, then the official costs-money versions. This gives you almost twice the immersion in Myne’s world as she processes through its seasons. It really is an amazing feat of world-building. Sure it gets magic-school-ish eventually and Myne becomes a freaking Tank — if I get game tropes right. No spoilers! It is worth the trip.
TLDR; Tamaki-sensei suggests that a story with a fictional world and a long, somewhat regularised timeline can be a balm for readers suffering from IRL uncertainty and upheaval. Anyway, It was GOOD and it took my mind off the realsies hellscape for a few days, back during the summer.
B&S: Rosemyne Kobo! Want a team jacket. We could order a few in from that Aliexpress seller who whomped up the Akira “Good for Health” jackets for the kayak club. CA$13 ea, custom print job, with shipping! They stock blue ones…
Muda: I’ll drop a link, the affiliate new-member code and the Akira .png in the endnotes (2). The $25 hoodies from the other seller have yet to show up and it’s been over 2 months — though they gave me help with the design .png even if I had to dig out the ancient CS2 Shoop install and try to remember how not to mess things up too much when using “free transform”.
B&S: Why we have not seen anything from the Lenin Polytechnical Institute et al., of late?
Muda: Laptop died, backup laptop old, weak, yadda yadda yadda.
B&S: Spotted Flower update?
Muda: Last I saw was that Alt-Ohno and Alt-Tanaka have a happy marriage and a bit of cosplay can still work magic. The latest “free web extra” on the Le Paradis site featured Alt-Kousaka, The Wife’s ex who, while still a playah “will never betray his principles”. It was characteristically Shimoku-sensei wistful, almost bittersweet.
While the link still works: https://hakusensha.tameshiyo.me/200820KIOSHIMOKU
Issue page: https://www.hakusensha.co.jp/rakuen/vol33/
B&S: Them Le Paradis “web extras” undoubtedly turn into the “tankobon extras” when the manga gets collected into volumes. Smart merchandising! I hope that Kio-sensei doesn’t tire of of his louche band of 30-somethings. Dr and sensei Ogiue Maniax had good write-ups on them some months back:
Muda: I concur regarding Ohno/ Tanaka but would emphasise how their turn your enthusiasms into a viable independent business is something of an otaku version of the dream of quitting the advertising business and opening a soba stand or a surf shop.
B&S: I was a Free Man in Paris, La, la, la…
Muda: One peripheral reason I brought the Genshiken/Spotted-verse up is to finesse a past observation/ bit o’ speculation. From some of the social media knife-fights observed, I outsider and interloper hazard the observation that while… (refers to past delivered-with-assurance conclusions) (deep breath) a supportive larger “queer” social for Hato/ Alt-Hato might be advanced as desired and curiously absent in the G-verse, with a segment of Japanese fandom set up to serve as wonky replacement within the fictional narrative-verse, it would be up to (!)Hato if they felt comfortable enough to value, trust and join any such socials. The Spotted Flower trans-fujoshi genderqueer ero-mangaka is plainly written as not inclined to do so. That choice, of the chara, within the story, as written by, etc… can be read as resonant to larger contemporary IRL concerns. It is not merely a matter of “a closet”, even if it can look like it is. It should be respected.
The supportive (or not) club, the social, the group has always been the ghost character in The Genshiken.
B&S: Any other “new business” and/ or past agenda items before we can get to the super-duper-secret key to understanding Maid Dragons?
Muda: The Owl House is quite good, even if it bears the accursed Mark of the Mouse.
B&S: I hope any future season doesn’t have the stuck up rich girl pull a “whaddoyoumean you’re a girl?” or similar nonsense on our spunky heroine.
Muda: OH Heck! Do I have to do a speed-rewatch to see if Amity ever refers to Luz in the third person with a gendered pronoun? Not that that can’t be fixed in time for season two. Amurrican audiences, they need dramatic whacks over the head with large cartoon mallets. Might as well get some mileage outta it. The writers have been deft leaving almost all of this up in the air, though the torn note and the princess carries are WAY CUTE! Headcanons ensue. Charas are young and Disney. The evil big-bad’s evil-big-bad-power-thing continues apace. Our plucky band of misfits are reunited but have taken hits. Courage, it’s always darkest before the dawn. Time, place and occasion.
19 more episodes, please.
B&S: The lack of subtitles was a new(-old) thing. Also, dodgy re-streaming sites and low-res downsampling.
Muda: Why do all the “we’re gonna own all the IP in the world” corporate assholes think that everyone can sign up, pay and watch their –precious– at 4kres, at fiber internet speeds? Why??? The only idiots who get this right, by accident are youtube and the legions of dodgy restreamer sites. 360p or…
B&S: BUFFERING CIRCLE!
Muda: Anyway this is sorta-kinda edging towards our main subject for this post: A neglected tradition of influence in Magical Girl tropes that pops up to help contextualise Miss Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon.
B&S” Or “Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid”
Muda: The wiki sez “Kobayashi-san Chi no Meidoragon”
B&S: Then we have to factor in possible allusions to Nagoya’s fave baseball team; the Chūnichi Doragonzu and “Choragons”
Muda: This leads to the extremely pressing need for Choragons Baseball uniform shirts as Miss K anime swag.
B&S: At least Miss K finally said the words to Tohru:
Muda: Took 97 manga chapters and then by ch 100 she is stuck with an incarnate magic sword and ‘a pesky thing” again.
B&S: The male POV as a temporary inconvenience, redux. A beach episode and nood Choragons.
Muda: I am SOOOOO warped by this tale that I find Tohru’s dragon form cute, if not sorta-kinda attractive in its own way. The mangaka is a perv of high power.
B&S: A fact that has drawn more than its share of ire from readers…
Muda: Back to trope lineages. Everything fell into place when I was doing a re-watch of Haiyore! Nyaruko-san which (cue stock desc:)
“centers around Nyaruko, a formless Cthulhu deity of chaos (Nyarlathotep) who can take on the shape of a seemingly ordinary silver-haired girl. Mahiro Yasaka is a normal high school boy who is chased by aliens one night, until Nyaruko saves him.”
B&S: Nyaruko is a (bog-standard) monster-girl high school harem rom-com. It has its moments but gets repetitive fast. Also lewd. Lewd in ways that Miss K never even comes near…
Muda: The Haiyore! Nyaruko/ Nyaruani franchise started as a string of light novels, then appeared on screens as Flash-animated shorts (the Nyaruani versions), then finally won a “conventional” anime, an OVA, a second season and one more OVA. The last of these were taking place around the time Cool-sensei was just beginning to pen his Miss K manga.
B&S: That alone isn’t enough to claim “anxiety of influence”.
Muda: Mahiro-kun inevitably ends up with a house full of eldritch horror turned cute (mostly) girl suitors/ freeloaders. Domesticity ensues. The “please eat my alien food” trope re-occurs as Nyaruko tries to impress Boy with her kitchen skillz. Plenty of Mahiro fending off wayyyyyy-too-insistent romantic pestering by Nyaruko and the other two (Cthuko-chan has resigned herself to polyamory to get at Nyaruko) taken to “lets make babies” levels almost immediately. Yes, Hastur-kun somehow fits into this mess. Even misdirected love-potion candy and “There is a thing called trust” gets done.
Maid Dragon filches liberally from Nyaruko-chan.
By the time the second season rolls around, they are flying into alternate universes on the back of a very chubby dragon that, even if Shanta is a pet-like character, bears a striking resemblance:
All this merely paws at the surface, whets the appetite for what comes next.
B&S: Are we STILL mucking around with the mighty Erica-sensei’s deft dismissal of the Miss K’s Maid Dragon anime ep 1?
Muda: It stung but it was dead on. That’s why it stung. I’ve touched on it previously.
B&S: She expressed annoyance with Miss K and likened her to Bewitched‘s Samantha’s hubby, “Derwood”.
Muda: In short; why would a powerful being put aside their power and agency to be stuck in a less than optimum relationship with a mortal fool? For Luuuuurrrrv? Ugh!
B&S: We could ask the same of many romantic comedies, including a legion of Japanese rom-coms. Hooray for yuri — it is supposed (most of the time) to sneak around this problem, uhh because, patriarchy.
Muda: Why put up with anyone in your face for any extended period of time anyway?
B&S: Fafnir-san would (grudgingly) say “gaming!”
Muda: I stan Faf-san, even if I am not convinced about the gaming.
B&S: Soooooo… Bewitched?
Muda: Didn’t know this until recently but the archetypal Amurrican 60’s rom-sitcom starring Elizabeth Montgomery et al was way BIG IN JAPAN. Bewitched ran for 254 episodes, from fall 1964 to 1972. Dubbed Japanese broadcasts of the series on TBS began in 1966, running on various networks through 1970. Then came reruns.
” [ Bewitched ] was a big hit in Japan and was rebroadcast until the 1980s. In the Kanto region, it was repeatedly broadcast on NTV in the evening and morning. In the process, multiplex TV audio broadcasting was started , and it has been made into a bilingual broadcast with the sub-audio as the original language version . CM parody that reproduces the characteristic narration of Tadashi Nakamura is often produced, and later remade as a Japanese version. The opening narration is not in the original language version, but is an original dubbed in Japanese only.”
— machine translation, Japanese Wikipedia page for Bewitched https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%A5%A5%E3%81%95%E3%81%BE%E3%81%AF%E9%AD%94%E5%A5%B3_(%E3%83%86%E3%83%AC%E3%83%93%E3%83%89%E3%83%A9%E3%83%9E)
see also https://youtu.be/fBETo44Cjjg (OP, color ver, original)
B&S You are not the first to note Samantha’s role in the evolution of the Japanese witchy Magical Girl, starting almost immediately with the 1966 Sally the Witch anime. Watch for broom riding in the OP, it endlessly reappears:
Muda: Of the numerous articles mentioning the role of Bewitched in the evolution of the Mahou Shoujo, this one makes the important distinction:
“Two Prototypes of the Sixties
The first magical heroine in Japanese TV anime debuted in 1966 with the program Mahōtsukai Sarī (Sally the Witch). In this animated series, a little princess from the Magic Kingdom arrives in the world of humans in the guise of a girl named Yumeno Sally and creates a stir with her special powers. In addition to bringing the mahō shōjo to television, Mahōtsukai Sarī was the first Japanese animation series specifically targeting young girls.
According to Sally’s creator, the plot was inspired by the popular American sitcom Bewitched, which was dubbed into Japanese and aired on Japanese television around the same time. In the American show, Samantha—a young, pretty witch with a conventional human husband—delighted viewers by introducing the extraordinary into ordinary middle-class life. Another inspiration may have been the very special British nanny who drops down from the sky and magically disposes of household chores in the movie Mary Poppins (1964), released in Japan in 1965. In any case, it is clear that Japanese anime’s first mahō shōjo was conceived as a sorceress in the Western mold.
Like Bewitched, Sally the Witch was an episodic comedy show, and like Samantha, Sally adhered to the Western image—rooted in Christian tradition—of the witch or sorceress who uses spells to perform magic. But as a visitor from another world, Sally also stood as a potent metaphor for Japan’s westernization and modernization in the rapid-growth era. Bringing novelty and transformation to the world of humans (Japan) from her remote and magical realm (the West), she gradually assimilated with her new home as she interacted with her human friends.
Another pioneering mahō shōjo anime of the 1960s was Himitsu no Akko-chan (The Secret of Akkochan; 1969–70), about an ordinary girl who is granted magical powers in reward for a good deed. The heroine of the story, Kagami Atsuko, or Akko-chan, shows such respect and care for a broken mirror that the “mirror spirit” rewards her with the gift of a magical compact that allows her to transform into anything or anyone she chooses. With the appearance of Akko-chan, the world of anime had established its two basic mahō shōjo prototypes: the Sally type, a conventional witch who brings novelty and transformation to the world of human beings; and the Akko type, an ordinary girl who suddenly finds herself in privileged possession of magical powers.”
— Sugawa Akiko, “Children of Sailor Moon: The Evolution of Magical Girls in Japanese Anime Culture” on Nippon.com, Feb 26, 2015, https://www.nippon.com/en/in-depth/a03904/
B&S: I’m guessing that you are gonna emphasise the “As a visitor from another world” part. neh?
Muda: I have been going on about it for Maid Dragon:
“The Choragons are Outlanders, the Choragons are US”.
I only found this Nippon.com essay today, but yeah, obvious. Point I want to hammer on is that it’s not just witches/ magical girls/ Mahou Shoujo. The effect spreads to all manner of over-powered alien/ outlander girlfriends.
B&S: C’mon, trying to assimilate Lum into this collective is a stretch.
Muda: But for one small “tell”:
Bewitched was notorious for its casual use of “Darling”, by and at everyone. Wait for it…
B&S: Darling in the meringue pie?
Muda: Lum is a direct offshoot from the overpowered magic alien girlfriend branch of the Mahou Shoujo tradition. As is Nyaruko and Tohru. Resistance is futile, assimilating them looks like work.
B&S: And therefore Miss Kobayashi herself IS Bewitched’s Darrin (Derwood) Stephens. QED.
Muda: As is Nyaruko-chan’s Mahiro Yasaka
Yup, the entire routine:
B&S: Yikes! She was right in soooo many ways !!!
… as your lawyer, I suggest you avoid over-advocating Maid Dragons, manga, spin-offs, first or even potential second anime seasons, in certain directions. No matter how much you are geeked about Tohru, Miss K and their somewhat para-queer-ish fam. Have we not been taught that we must respect others’ tastes if we want ours to be respected?
Muda: Yup, gottit. I just found it wild that one… Awww… fuggettit. Anyway… By the time Nyaruko’s Bewitched tribute was sprung (2013) , other recent Japanese Bewitched remakes were still fresh in memory:
“TBS, the flagship station of Japan News Network, produced a remake called Okusama wa majo (奥さまは魔女, “(My) Wife is a Witch”), also known as Bewitched in Tokyo. Eleven episodes were broadcast on JNN stations Fridays at 10 pm, from January 16 to March 26, 2004, with a special on December 21, 2004. Okusama wa majo was also the Japanese title for the original American series.”
— per; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bewitched
As well there was the 2005 anime Okusama wa Mahou Shoujo, which really pushed the Bewitched Witch = Magical Girl equation, though it doesn’t quite fit the greater tradition
— she is more of a native deity who creates/ maintains her town than an outsider.
Samantha casts a giant shadow.
B&S: Can we snag Oh! My Goddess, (manga 1988 – 2014, 48 Vols, var anime 1993 – 2013) into the convo?
Muda: The Goddess-verse is a bit too internally structured to draw much in the way of useful trope carry-over. It has its own stand-alone cosmology. I never really got into Belldandy and co., so I hesitate to spin up anything around her stuff, though I note that she was massively popular in early guy doujinshi cultures.
B&S: One teeny widdle problem with positing a strong Haiyore! Nyaruko-san influence on Miss Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon is that Nyaruko also inherited the studio aniparo tradition. Shout-outs and trope-quotes fall out continuously, as for example in the 2004-2006 Nurse-Witch Komugi [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nurse_Witch_Komugi]
EVERYTHING is a shout-out, trope, burlesque-ization, hat-tip and quote.
Lookie, she rides a hypodermic instead of a broom…
Muda: Komugi-chan is clearly the OTHER Magical Girl variant; local Japanese highschool girl given powers by one of those damn mascot critters. She might be a klutz but she doesn’t have to be brought up to speed on “unique-to-Japan” read-the-air (room) -isms. No Outlander Assimilation Discourse, just pop-cult tributes.
B&S: So what happens now to the Outlander Magical Girl trope? Outlanders, even outlanders with jobs, visas and permanent residence cards are going to have a hard time getting into Japan for the next while. Also, they will be suspected of bringing the plague in with them. Cruise ships full of feverish furreign magical girls! Ready to corrupt innocent Japanese High School harem rom-com main character boys…
Muda: …With ultra-nationalist LDP proportional representation list nominated lady Diet members doing henshin and seeking to bar their way. Obviously a plot by the Queer Socialist International. Expel the Foreign Witches!
Muda: …seeking to contaminate and infect Japanese anime studios! Black Ships!
Nurse Witch Mio-san holding them off! The Red Menace, on broomsticks… but she’s ready!
“Die Commie Witch!”
B&S: Please… stop.
(1) Yup, gonna insist on RAH when the subject comes up: Atwood-sensei, way, way-way back when she was mostly known for “feminist Canadiana” was scathing in her dismissal of “genre fiction” including sci-fi, all while she secretly was a voracious reader of such — because she worried that if she gorged on “real literature” she ran the risk of subconsciously picking up bits and getting nailed for “plagiarism”. Uh huh. Piss on your influences is a gross move. And that time she showed up for a signing doing Cirocco Jones cosplay… Then again, Handmaid’s Tale is a brutal warning, while the Heinlein thing was a boys own adventure novelette and it sure looks like that bell needs to be rung HARD. By women. So, props. I found Cats Eye charming.
(2) Sign up as a new user on Aliexpress, DL the app, go to the “account” section and enter my affiliate code [INSNGUZM] and we both get some discounts.
The seller who did the jacket in the pic’s listing (price and availability and shipping costs subject to change at a moment’s notice — I get no kickback on this one): https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000369074412.html
Here’s the transparent .png for the jacket back, have fun:
And… Here’s the listing for the seller of the hoodies I’m still waiting on. They are helpful with getting your artwork ready and will send you a rough preview (that you can snag and muck with). I just don’t yet know how long the shipping takes or how the quality is, though the feedback comment are mostly positive. [ UPDATE: They arrived after 3 months. Covid + customs delays. Good quality printing, fluffy thick poly-cotton hoodies. Good zippers. Satisfied! ]. I get no kickbacks, know ‘nuthin ‘cept what I just wrote. They’ll want a bit extra if you order a front pocket and large back printed design: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/33057081927.html
(3) Works and posts of note:
Sugawa Akiko, “Children of Sailor Moon: The Evolution of Magical Girls in Japanese Anime Culture”, Nippon com, Feb 26, 2015
Kara Dennison, “How Witches Cast a Spell on Magical Girl Anime From Sally to Little Witch Academia, these anime spellcasters made the genre what it is today”
Crunchyroll.com, October 23, 2019 12:00pm CDT (23/10/19)
Hannah Collins, “How Sabrina The Teenage Witch Inspired an Anime Institution
It’s entirely possible that without Archie’s Sabrina the Teenage Witch, there would be no Sailor Moon.” CBR.com, Oct 23, 2018
N. Rabino, “Analysis and Qualitative Effects of Large Breasts on Aerodynamic Performance and Wake of a “Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid” Character”
Researchgate, January 2018
Astro Nerd Boy, “Haiyore-Nyaruko-san W-01”
also, as ref’d in ANB’s article, the site with ALL the episode references: