On rude doujinshi
“Poets and story-tellers are guilty of making the gravest misstatements when they tell us that wicked men are often happy, and the good miserable; and that injustice is profitable when undetected, but that justice is a man’s own loss and another’s gain — these things we shall forbid them to utter, and command them to sing and say the opposite.” (1)
From the looks of Genshiken’s chapter 123, Kio Shimoku is doing his best to have the club-as-fujoshi-social re-assemble after the great harem crash and get back to being productive. Unfortunately, Kio Shimoku has very little idea what actually goes on within fujoshi socials, so he’s going to have to wing it a bit.
One distraction can be had in Kuchiki attempting to pillage the sacred Genshiken doujinshi collection; note that Ogiue takes her responsibilities serious enough, at least against Kuchiki, to complain about him raiding the male-gaze Kujibiki Unbalance stash. Why she should even care is beyond me. Perhaps they are in trust from past members, like Sasahara or are considered to be liquidate-able collectors works that might fund future group excursions. No more box ’em, trash ’em and then (ooops!) torch ’em when the ciggie butt goes awry, (pace Saki).
The other doujinshi-ish note, according to the preview at Ogiue Maniax [https://ogiuemaniax.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/reading-is-fundamental-genshiken-ii-chapter-123/] is Hato’s now revised first effort. Apparently it is hardcore yaoi and raw enough to give even Yoshitake pause. Whether it is an original character story or a parody of an existing property is yet unknown. If one wanted to read too much into this, one could speculate that the Hato continuum has been levelled up from “in denial” and “fantasy is fantasy” to “oh yes, can I have another?” (2)
Hato-as-chan is still aiming for %100 rotten-girl fujoshi status and identity within the club-verse but the base unit is now a “would consider IRL male:male desire” fudanshi, even if a discriminating “it’s only him” one. The Hato continuum can be fully ascribed as “queer” rather than “just visiting”, if there was any room for deniability before. (3)
Making lewd BL doujinshi is now the primary task of the fujoshi Genshiken – even if they lean on the talents of a trans-fujoshi to crank up their power level. While this might leave them open to the charge that their fandom is far more monolithic and limited than the male-interest fanning of the earlier guy-Genshiken, it must be noted that rude doujin over-production was and remains the most outwardly visible power of Japanese female fans.
No women fans, no Comiket.
Run the numbers, check the historical attendance and participation figures. You might turn up your nose at the product, but you would need MKULTRA level brainwashing to scrub out the historical fact of their presence and influence within the larger Japanese fandom over the last 20+ years. While Maiden Road might not yet be as big as Akiba, it is still one heck of a valuable commercial market. The women don’t make a lot of fuss, they just do the work, show up and vote with their wallets and their enthusiasms.
Yet the female fandom remains opaque to snoopy guys (and uninitiated women); at least those of us who stop short of Hato’s commitment to embedded reporting. At the risk of committing gender essentialism, a clueless guy might listen to western slash-y fen podcasts on any number of shippable fandoms to get some feel for the social vibe. Be warned; the learning curve is steep and the terminology is maddeningly contextual, serving as both shared affective exchange and shibboleth to the uninitiated. Do Japanese fujoshi post fannish podcasts? If they do, Kio Shimoku should get out the headphones, steel himself for hours of shipping/ pairing-talk and keep the notebook handy. The alternative is to simply recycle five or six existing thin manga/ anime portrayals of fujoshi clubs in perpetuity. And one study by Galbraith.
Fujoshi Rumi, 801-chan, Princess Jellyfish, the rotten girl arc in Girl Saurus X, and one or two others. Two or three young women in a casual fannish friendship doesn’t cut it. We need pure examples of fictional yaoi enthusiast girls’ clubs and there are not that many of them out there. If you have any other candidates, please leave a note in the comment section, I’ve been having very little luck finding a good sampling of examples and it has stalled a major essay on this issue.
Back at the Genshiken, it is going to be all yaoi doujin time all the time, again. True to the theory-moe roots of the Genshiken as a special club for extreme enthusiasms, the interest remains “libidinized” and highly committed to “secondary production” and/or the appropriation of commercial content by the fans and the work of transforming it by adding the missing secret ingredient: SCHMEX!
The manken and anime clubs do not (overtly) do this. If individual members are too public in their ecchi or even hentai enthusiasms, past practice at fictional-Tama-Art-University was to ease them out and point them toward the pit of pervy-ness that lay beyond the Genshiken club room door. The propensity of otaku and rotten-girl fans to start monologuing about lewd cartoons was always one of the main reasons why otaku and fujoshi were considered distasteful to proper Japanese society. Amateur pr0n enthusiasts who had nothing but their weird fetish stories to talk about.
The Genshiken was and remains a light fictionalised restatement of Dr. Saito Tamaki‘s views on otaku fandom: libidinized enjoyment and appropriative secondary production being the two most accessible components of his schema. In many ways, the current Genshiken also suffers from a shared original sin with Dr. Tamaki’s analysis, in that it gets mighty thin when it turns to female libidinised fannish enthusiasm.
All that Dr. Tamaki could venture was a vague asymmetry of interest in the thematics of the raunchy materials – the girls to be more interested in something involving inter-character dynamics, while the guys to be more interested in T&A and quick nasty sex. There was also his diversion into shota and robo-shota, following on his fascination with the outsider artist Darger which later post-lacanian essayists, especially female ones, conflated into crossdressing and otokonoko genres.
Finding Tamaki-sensei’s seal imprint on the poured cement foundations of the Genshiken does not dismiss the enterprise. If anything, it raises the stakes to a level of theoretical discourse that might even threaten the happy unfolding of a nice sweet tale of fan-hijinks, friendship and romance. Kio Shimoku must be praised for keeping the god on the wires hidden up in the rafters. (even if Hato remains the virtual-lesbian fujoshi and Risa the shotacon threatens to drop in) The audacity of his project remains: Tamaki’s introduction of This is what I fap to shocked the critical discourse surrounding otaku studies for almost a decade. Azuma’s database remains an attempt to de-sexualize the sex-laden praxis of fandom. The complaints of the Ota-king echo a lament for the eclipse of red-blooded shonen action-adventure (no sex, no relationship garbage) primacy. Only Eji, with his relentless critique of the mechanics of the genre’s accommodation to statist and capitalist power escapes Tamaki’s geas.
As well, few feminist theorists of CJVC escape the questions that he tentatively posed; if anything they have spent the better part of the last decade and a half mapping the nature of the asymmetric interest that female fans have in their supported and self-created libidinised content. Tamaki-sensei wisely admitted that he had very little idea about the details; his venturing was tentative and incomplete, even as it was subject to the conceptual flaws in Freudian-Lacanian schemas surrounding the formation of female subjectivity. What Tamaki-sensei never followed up, what still is glossed over with simplistic notions of “avoiding masculinity‘ and “herbivore men” is how supposedly asymmetric interests spilled over into not only queer camps, but into the shadow-queer of straight readers’ imaginations.
Even if only to recoil from them and so re-affirm our norms, we straight boys share in the odd habit of considering and/or making up reflections and shadows of the “queer”. At very least we are surprisingly prone to doing a bit of tourism when they show up in odd little comics that pander to our imaginations. Yo! My brothers, these queer don’t exist, except as fictions that play out behind our eyeballs and between our ears. If anything that looks like them does, it is because some of us went off the reservation and re-created them. Google the weird whole-body costumed cross-players called “dollers“. All of these odd little “queer” are as ‘real’ as vampire-aspiring goths. This just cranks the rage factor among their detractors. Dammit you perverts aren’t even real perverts! You are fake-poser pervert perverts! (pervert!). The Japanese meanwhile will call it “asobi” and remain as indifferent to it as to sail-boarding maniacs, as long as you don’t disturb your neighbours.
It’s a hobby. (…did I mention pervert?)
Meanwhile, back at the clubroom, the Genshiken fujoshi are tasked with the project of illuminating the variety and depth of fujoshi interest in devising
fake -ahem-, fictional, repurposed, shadows and reflections of male same-sex desire, so that the general readership can peek in and determine if this is fun or wrong or comprehensible or whatever. We even get an undercover guide; too bad that Hato also gets used as a smoke-screen when the background material runs a bit thin. We still need the Hatos though, unless we will settle for Joshiraku and endless chapters of cute girls doing cute (boring!) things.
Hooray! She brought cakee!
We still need a bit more than one jointly drawn Ogiue-Hato smut doujin.
Some token cosplay might later round out the media mix. If Risa Yoshitake pops up, we will get a highlighted schism between shota-interested fujoshi and shota-eschewing fujoshi. Missing will be plastic models, Visual Novels, Otome games, character goods, voice actor fixations and radio show/ drama CD bonus content, autograph-hunting, mangaka signings, vidding/ niconico mashups, blogging, forum posting, reviewing, criticism or pirating. Perhaps there will at least be some token, good-example over-spending on approved licensed fan products.
No yuri either! (or full-page floral background portraits!) (4)
It still remains a serious charge that Kio Shimoku’s young fujoshi do less serious obsessive fannage than their male precessors, or even Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dō Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui(!)‘s anti-social (anti-) heroine Tomoko Kuroki. She is so far gone that she will cluelessly play with an electric “magic wand” massager while fanning out alone in her room. Try to imagine any of the Genshiken rotten girls dropped into a Kuroki doujin-reading or otome-game-consuming mis-en-scene. You have to admit that Kuroki’s despair-laden fan-power level is far above any of the Genshiken fujoshi. And what’s with the drama CDs that supposedly have bishie guy voice actors yelling insults at the listener? (?!?) They sell those?
“Who am I to disagree…”
If the Genshiken is to be, at least in the near future all about lewd BL doujins, we should return to the question of secondary production/ appropriative parody/ transformative work that is derived from the Genshiken franchise, both manga and anime. Kio Shimoku made a point of showing Ogiue transfixed with Hato’s take on her published characters. Added to his secondary output; Kujibiki Unbalance, Pretty Ramen Angel, the Project G (5) curated pseudo-doujin, the anime’s second season episode 5 yoai howler and his not-a-sequel Spotted Flower and it becomes glaringly obvious that Kio Shimoku values, if not solicits fannish takes on his oeuvre. The only problem is that he makes so much of it himself as to over-awe would-be parodists with his output!
However, if he has been holding off adding synthetic fan-production to Nidaime, in hopes of a flood of authentic independent production, he has waited far too long. The original Genshiken was loaded with chapter extra glimpses at Unbalance and the conjured-up club-works surrounding it. These lent a look and feel to his introduction to the fandom. Time to get editor-san at Afternoon Magazine to hire a yaoi/ otokonoko genre veteran like Suemitsu Dicca (find your own samples (6) ) and start dropping in some examples of synthetic Hato-drawn filth.
A few years ago, Genshiken-themed doujins were in short supply – at least to us thieving, leeching outlanders. Say what you will about the long Madarame harem arc; it at least seems to have spurred some renewed interest in secondary production surrounding the Genshiken and the scanlation and dissemination of such products around the world. These are not to be found on the usual grey aggregator sites. No Manga-[insert random animal name] here; if you want pr0nish Genshiken wares, be prepared to harden your browser and anti-virus software and prepare your heart.
Opera Developer Edition comes with a built-in VPN and adblocker. Adblock Plus and incognito mode won’t hurt either. A bit of Google-fu with the terms Genshiken, hentai and doujin should reward the curious with an impressive pile of dubious tributes to Kio Shimoku’s creation. It is worth noting that similar searches done even two years ago yielded up far less in the way of results and involved a lot more obscure nonsense to get at them.
Rejoice! There is no longer any shortage of amateur Genshiken pr0ny cartoons on the interwebz.
What they concern themselves with is in some ways even more fascinating than the naughty pictures.
At this point this essay breaks down.
The proper way to approach this would be to pick the biggest site, whomp up a spreadsheet and plow through every single instance of the 211 smutty doujins listed. Many are duplicates and/or scanlations into different languages. Many are identified by the Comiket number at which they were released, so these could be ordered by proper release dates. Done that way, I could at least offer percentages and sample sizes about all manner of pairings, sexualities imputed thereby, diffusion through different language markets, yadda yadda yadda.
In the meantime, it must be noted that there appears to be no sudden spike in source output from 2012 to 2016. Genshiken is well-known, but has never been a barn-burner parody property. Only one or two titles per year seem to make it to a table at Comiket. Winter 2015’s Comiket catalog listed one work; with Hato as an Adult Video star but it was only on sale for one day. Anyone going to Tokyo can spend hours in Mandrake trying to find it (or reg up with Comiket, use the online catalog if it is still up, search out the listing, follow the link to the blog page of the circle and send off some horribly machine-translated email. Good Luck Mr Phelps.)
Or we could try to find some online Japanese sales:
同人誌 or 同人 (doujinshi or doujin)
Searching げんしけん 同人 パロディー
…yields up such wonders as http://doujin-labo.com/げんしけん/
“free erotic doujins for your smartphone reading!”
…yields a few older already extant titles. The machine-translated reviews are opaque:
“I only Deremashimashi soup duct images produced in Tochigi fleshy grade best Ribusaimega prime My Girlfriend’s a Geek to place your Chatcha system ice milk of Harigane banana at the top and bottom and the back of the mouth ($ 0.00 Smile) of Dakudaku please !! “
That sounds dirty. Best to save this for advanced research.
Yet without any systematic approach, how can anyone make sense of all this, beyond noting that we have a fine pile of smut available?
Here are a few superficial observations; based on a scattered sampling of the material and referencing an earlier survey of the material some two years prior; this is what Genshiken fans who have sufficient drawing chops to make a doujin wanted to see their fave characters do.
The Madarame harem arc has had a noticeable effect on the subject matter if not the available volume of material. Newer efforts consider the notion of Madarame finding hot love with Angela, Sue and of course, Hato. First generation efforts were limited to Saki or all the girls if a rapey orgy was set up.
Keiko is glaringly absent; she just doesn’t make for good fantasy scenarios. Newer efforts are also Kuchiki-free. One back-cover illustration even highlights this with a grumpy “Hey what about me?” cameo.
The Harem effect is contagious. One of the funnier efforts have Yoshitake, Yajima and younger sister Risa sneaking into Hato’s apartment and jumping him when he returns. Rika even does a Lupin III clothes-off-dive at Hato.
One artist spends a lot of time and effort answering the question “How would Madarame and Hato even have sex?”. Thirty some pages are devoted to Madarame and Hato-with-wig-on going mechanically through the process of inserting Mada into Hato-chan. Then the entire sequence is repeated for 30 more pages with Madarame and Hato-without-wig. There is no extreme fetish-play, both puppets are respectfully enthusiastic about the other and the entire romp is only a bit naughtier than Keith Harring wallpaper.
The impulse seems to be somewhat along the lines of “You couldn’t imagine those two doing it? Here’s what it would look like!” I suspect the artist is informed by gay male light erotica. Just so you don’t miss the point, important phases of the procedure are given near-duplicate panels (which later repeat minus wig) so that all curiosity is sated. This reminds one of the pose-books sold to aspiring artists; perhaps it is intended as a fanfic writers’ reference?
Ok, that’s what it could look like. (Btw; an image search plugin will do wonders if you feel compelled to hunt this crap down. Go nutz!)
There are also two other more conventional Mada x Hato-as-chan works available if a too clinical approach is not enough. Ratings: enthusiastic prosaic male:male. With all the steam, one would think there would be much more MadaHato and/or HatoMada but I can find only three examples and the last of these occurs as part of a “try every route” (except Keiko) effort.
This is surprising. One would think the HatoMadaHato pairing would spur the legions of creative fujoshi to fill in what “should have happened”. Perhaps the aggregator sites don’t bother hunting these down. At this point, one could easily scour Tumblr space and put together more pages of cutesy, mawkish Mada & Hato making longing glances at each other than contained in the extant doujins on the subject. Get someone who knows Japanese to make a cover “Western rotten fans love Hato and Mada picture book” and bemuse the Japanese fandom at the next comiket.
Plot is never a big component of pr0n. When the plots are not burlesque or tender, they go off into fetishized violence and rapey manipulation. A first-generation trilogy has Saki blackmailed by an appropriately disgusting Haraguchi into degrading sex, which he videos for the enjoyment of the First President. The video gets loose onto the net and Kousaka and then Saki go psycho with big kitchen knives and kill both miscreants and then their friends before finally killing each other over a three-volume release.
In a lighter story, the “Angela misses her plane so she heads to Madarame’s apartment” doujin is sweet, even as she enthusiastically takes him. The finger sucking foreplay is inventively depicted and a nice touch. Angela is of course drawn as athletic and voluptuous, even as the whole romp is rendered in messy “name” quality sketching.
The previously noted Ogiue-got-uked doujin has a follow-up. How many times can Sas peg her? The buildup is well done and Sas even brings over cakee before they retreat to the bedroom. Public health protocols are followed. The circle appears to have given it a rest after this encore.
One Mada x Sue effort has Sue showing up soaking wet in a rainstorm at Mada’s door. Sue changes into a big Mada dress shirt. Hato knocks on the door so Mada hides Sue by spooning with her under a blanket and pretending to be asleep. Hato lets himself in but then leaves. Excited Mada and Sue go at it. Hato-chan returns.
From the earlier days of the Genshiken, a few SasMada efforts survive, They follow-up on Ogiue’s original speculations in the manga and avoid the scenario in the anime fantasy sequence.
Then there is Ohno. Lots of Ohno. Ohno and Tanaka. Ohno pr0ny girl on girl action, Ohno cosplay fucking, Ohno getting gangbanged, Ohno with mammalian over-expansion, Ohno leading Ogiue, Saki and even an early Keiko into a degrading life of sluttery and probably much more and much worse but I gave up at this point because the stuff is too nasty and mean-spirited.
So far nothing has made it over to these heathen shores that might pass as a really feelthy example of how Hato would draw a HatoMada bondage fest. The few available attempts are vanilla and light-hearted. Both parties’ guy bits are invariably ghosted-out. Both Hato’s and Mada’s junk spend most of their time phasing into an alternate space-time continuum.
This brings up an odd characteristic of doujins in general. The boy-girl stuff revels in big manly-man meat displays, with only the slimmest, token pixelation, black bars or other concessions to censorship. There is probably more cartoon sausage in straight pr0ny doujins than in BL or even hard gay pr0n – another reason why I favor yuri.
I find the entire “I am supposed to identify with the symbolic disembodied junk” thing just too weird a vibe to indulge in. It has a creepy high school Coach feeling. For me, there are only two reasons why anyone would need a big cartoon veinous member in their smut. Neither are applicable for me. Consider this one more plug for sensitive wimmen-authored yuri.
Similarly, I am disappointed with the cut-to-the-chase emphasis during most of the sex scenes. While doujin sex allows the artist to devote pages and pages and pages to intimate acrobatics, most of these involve ramming character A’s cawk (and/ or sex toys) into character B while character B makes odd expressions and thrashes about on the sheets, table, couch, toilet, shower floor, etc., etc., etc..
Earth to doujin artists: More foreplay, please. Foreplay that does not involve orifice-ramming would be even better. Again, sensitive yuri pr0n does a much better job with this kind of stuff. Unfortunately the Genshiken girl-on-girl doujins are pretty well old-school nasty and fail by this measure as well.
Back to our in-club Ogiue. Are “our” characters “making love”? Some of the time, Yes. Some of the time they are just “making out” and too much of the time they are just being deployed as inelegant sex-puppets.
One correspondent brought up the shock that a guy fan might face when confronted by a fujoshi friend with a BL doujin pairing that violated his core sense of order within the mythical imagination; a jarring trespass, one that perhaps the guy never even knew he cared deeply about until he saw it despoiled by the depredations of the rotten tribes.
Once again, we are deep into Dr. Tamaki’s post-Lacanian thicket. The lacanian “trauma’ of imagining a cartoon character in an eroticised setting is not just that one may suddenly feel aroused by the scene but that a sense of the sacred had been rendered in a profoundly profane manner. It is as bad as walking into your washroom and finding your fave deity taking a dump, smoking a joint and grinning.
Creative blasphemy has its own thrill. If the shock is great enough, one is tempted to speculate as to why we were so affected and offended. Then one wonders if one could re-create the effect…
All this leads as well to the differing potentialities of lewd doujins and text fanfiction. Both are secondary productions/ transformative works but the obvious visual bias of the doujin form inexorably leads in the direction of direct representation of all that schmex that was inexplicably left off-screen. With the “this is what it would look like” bias, there is less room for elaborate what-if plotting. A doujin is not a derivative erotic manga. Few attempt the leap. There appears, at least for this limited sampling, a pronounced lack of more elaborated story-telling, as one would find in such typical fanfiction exercises as, say the “curtain-fic”. We have no Mada and Hato out shopping for furniture then coming home and making out. No Mada and Saki looking for curtains for their new apartment either.
I am probably doing this wrong in any case. The idea behind the classic slash curtain-fic is to have two unlikely action-adventure-ish male characters act all newlywed-domestic towards each other. The women find this funny and tender. Genshiken critters are all too domestic already. Maybe Keiko advising Yajima and Rika on the proper manners and movements required for the tea ceremony would be jarring enough?
While we are at it, why no “losers club” Kuchiki-Keiko romps?
There could be all kinds of high regret vs romance material to exploit here. It is a wonder that Kio himself has not Spotted Flower-ed both of them yet.
Even if circles sell out a publication run, no one can expect to get rich drawing Genshiken doujins. The economics of convention sales are brutal, (cf Noppe) almost as brutal as the wages and work conditions for a journeymen mangaka. Far better to apprentice to a master plumber. No matter how vile the doujin, the poor idiots who made it spent innumerable hours drawing it and selling it could have chosen any other more popular series to waste their time on. Something about the Genshiken called out to them, fitted them with magic shoes and danced them to exhaustion.
While both lewd doujins and lewd fanfics are transgressive, despoiling acts, both are also extreme examples of tribute; acts of “love”, or at least of “affect”. And just in case you missed the set-up, consider Hato’s unfolding desires: not towards Madarame but towards mastering the art of creating a tight, readable narrative to go with all his naughty drawings. The portrait of the artist as a young male crossdressing
fudanshi fujoshi BL mangaka must proceed and graduate through the successful mastery of the same acts of secondary appropriative production as the doujins that feature him and her, as well as their fellow fanning characters as fantasies pitched at we the readers’ desires.
Perhaps what we outlanders miss in all of this “production” is a curious side-effect of the historically high rates of literacy and engagement with popular fictions within Japanese society. Even the smallest town will have at least one giant slab of stone with the name of some long-dead poet or author carved deep into it, commemorating that worthy’s struggle to preserve and expand the realm of Japanese culture. Japan venerates its auteurs. While not all writers, film-makers, mangakas or even smut-drawers are judged to be worthy of the laurels, all are at least afforded the honorific of sensei within the small circles of their enthusiasms. They might toil away in poverty or end up clerking at a municipal government office, but their wager with memory, history and culture remains on the table.
We never really did this. Perhaps that is our loss and why their efforts carry with them, no matter how lewd and puerile at first glance, a whiff of the dust of the grave.
Ars longa, vita brevis
(1) Yes, I just prefixed an essay about amateur pr0n with a quote from Plato’s Republic. It’s all downhill from here.
(2) Someone or some ones sanitized the Uncyclopedia Making Up Oscar Wilde Quotes page. Great sadness!
(3) Previously I have expressed extreme discomfort and distaste at the habit of some activist writers, especially academic essayists throwing “queer” and “queering” around. It seemed to be a strategic, almost fashionable move that described non-normative or fluid ideas and practices in sexual and gender identity in such a way that only a hypothetical biblical patriarch could serve as the heteronormative baseline. Then I ran into a ridiculous twitter-bot, an expansion on the theme of self-care reminders; take a drink of water, take a deep breath. This one defiantly adds a little extra: “Take a drink of water. That water is now queer!” “Take a deep breath, breathe out. That air is now queer!” Point made. It ain’t “queering” that should be feared, it is “curmudgeonization“. The latter creeps up on you and the next thing you know, you are screaming “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!”
(4) Another thing that really, really needs to be done is a scrape of extant online manga about doujin-drawing to build up a gallery of bad drawing. Hato’s “where should I go” panel and Yajima’s sketch efforts must hold pride of place but there is so much more of it out there. Only an authoritative collection can soothe the broken hearted longing I feel now that I know that Kio-sensei will never do a shoujo-style full page floral background portrait of any of the Genshiken critters.
(5) And you wondered when the heck Kumeta Koji of SZS fame drew a scene for the Genshiken? (above, first illustration) The quasi-doujin bonus Project G can be found on a few of the pr0n aggregator sites, even though it is work-safe. Some versions have been scanlated. Why it never appears on conventional aggregator sites lends insight into what everyone expects from doujinshi.
(6) Earlier posted link redacted. I should look closer at the stuff I link to. YIKES!