Between work pressures, research continues, and my health improves a bit. For relaxation, I have been reading plenty of happy, nothing-bad-or-difficult-happens manga, while picking at online journals, Mechademia (must do more with the article that highlights the twin influences of mr. Database vs mr. Gainax) and have been continuing to enjoy massive real-world news fix(es) with the help of Calibre ebook management software’s amazing ability to absorb online periodicals. Too much news can be a mixed blessing though.. But first:
Going back through my posts, I feel I must add one small thing in praise of Hiroki Azuma’s (mr.database’s) analysis of the Otaku. While I still feel that the “database” theory can be wildly over-applied, I must commend him as the first to seriously comment on what Western bloggers now call the echo chamber effect in online political discourse. So that while using “the database” to find (and/or create) perfect loli characters might be fringe activity, using the Fox News blogosphere or the Huffington Post -verse to insulate yourself from “annoying wrongheaded bullshit that you just don’t have time to deal with”, is now a major feature of contemporary politics. He spotted it. Cue the end of public debate. Two cheers and a tiger for Hiroki Azuma.
In the news, more on troubles in Japan rebuilding after 3/11: As part of the background of this blog is exploring how fiction mirrors the breakdown in workable societal roles and processes surrounding individuation, identity, mating and desire in Japan, it comes as a shock (but not too big a shock) to see that the finely tuned mechanisms of political consent in Japanese society are cracking up under the strains of the horrible damage inflicted by earthquake, tsunami, nuclear accident and the later summer rainstorms. Of course the Diet is in a mess and the bureaucracy is thomping around using the crisis as a great opportunity to seize territory (heh, so apparently is the Yakuza, we await hearing more from Jake-sensei) But the last straw surely must be taking reconstruction money and spending it on RESEARCH WHALING !!!!
I am happy that this is a manga blog. I gave up on polisci.
If it was about Japanese politics I would be three miles past I AM IN DESPAIR stage and well on to FUCK YOU ALL nihilistic mode. I am keeping an eye open for some other blogger to do the dirty work.
I WILL NOT be setting up a “Let’s predict future Japanese government policy by assuming that every dead-stupid asshat- worst-possible-idea will be implemented by a confluence of crazed bureaucrats, fringe political party backroom operators and desperate industry sleazebags “ generator…. Nope… not me…
“The Reconstruction ministry has partnered with extreme right-wing political insiders to develop a loli brothel comfort women theme park in [ x ] devastated prefecture. Under-age North Korean and Thai orphan children to be “hired” as “trainee workers” to help develop “tourism”. Whale meat to be served at theme park food stalls, along with raw, freshly killed puppies and kittens. Power for the facility will be provided by incinerating tsunami waste, unclaimed bodies and e-waste until the unshielded Monju breeder reactor can be brought online.” ….
News Flash! An epic fail policy balls-over-tea-kettle scandal at the highest levels of Japanese politics was averted when Big Japanese Man and an un-named superhero who could only yell “Netch koma, netch koma“ appeared on the scene of a secret late-night backroom conference between high level bureaucrats, far -right party insiders, board members of certain failing industries and utilities and shadowy talent agency executives. The two heroes proceeded to subdue a phalanx of bodyguards and then mysteriously vanished, spiriting away with them the aforementioned conspirators. . . . . .
Within the hour reports emerged of a disturbance hundreds of miles away at the famous “Monkey Hot Spring“, where it it is reported that more than a dozen drunk angry nekkid old men suddenly appeared out of thin air above the monkey pool and dropped, in a tangle of pasty flesh, into the warm waters below. The commotion then brought to the pool the senior matriarchs of the hot spring monkey band, who jumped into the pool and proceeded to groom and stroke the angry, confused old guys. Within 15 minutes, all were weeping profusely and apologising to the monkeys and annoyed park staff, pledging that they would stop acting “Baka”, make public atonememts, and devote themselves to trying to help all the people of Japan get through this difficult time.
Press conference scheduled for 10am.
Of course the Murphy’s Law Asshat Policy Generator Engine is not limited to use in Japan; I cannot watch American news lately. It is too depressing.
One word: Newt.
Like I said, Not going there…. Back to desire in manga:
I came across the spoiler (warning!) last episode of the rather sweet not-qite-Yuri series Sasameki Koto (Ikeda Tasheki). and was touched by the scene where the (finally) happy pair get to ring the bell at brother’s wedding. I gather the bell ringing is some syncretistic catch-the-bouquet thing at Japanese weddings (or a good proposal for one) and remembered something similar in my past, when two friends had a wonderful back-yard marriage ceremony and then expressed the hope that the much-loved-by-all gal couple in attendance could also soon tie the knot (if they so chose). Well, since I live in Canada, this all worked out well soon enough. Hooray for sentimentality!
Enthusiastic western fans, both guys and gals have been gushing about Koto for years, and have noted that while it dragged on forever and remained extremely chaste, its heart was in the right place. True love conquers all. No one expected Koto to end up as a loser-fan-boy pandering tangle of two-good-15-better 2D nubiles groping each other, which is always a danger in a genre which presents wimmen’s “love” for a male audience. (That’s what donjishi and the works of Ken Kurogane are for).
Monogamy in narratives of desire is one of the odd variables within the Yuri and Yaoi genres. As others have noted, the classic Yaoi story line – especially the hard-core smut variety – is not only informed by a formal seme/uke characterisation, but also by an exclusive, obsessive, monogamous desire that drives to seme to transgressively pursue and take the uke. Questions of gender identity and sexual preference are subsumed under the older idea of love/desire as a madness for “the one” that impels a catastrophic break with rules (as well as much odd speculation on aspects of male arousal).
Issues of sexual identity, class, power, ethics and plot all fall before cupid’s arrows.
Yaoi posits that monogamistic obsession (and a lot of 2D boy skin doing rough things) is very appealing to the fujoshis and (what the heck) a wider female readership.
Monogamy in sexual fantasy = gal thing Duh!
In contrast, classic exploitative Yuri work either features nasty gals doing lots of nasty things to/with lots other nasty gals for (one assumes) boy readers to fap to, or nice girls doing lots of nice things with lots of other nice girls for boy readers to etc. If you drop one or two boys into it, they recall late R.H.Heinlein (gahhhhhhhhhh! Oh shame! Oh mortifying embarrassment!) tales – No wait! Lets leave the hero’s mom out of it!.
Polygamy in sexual fantasy = guy thing Duh!
Higgamous hogamous Yaoi is monogamous!
Hoggamous higgamous, Yuri polygamous!
What is absent in both genres is any idea of individual development while attempting to hold fast to prescribed societal models of growing up, falling in love, getting married and holding down a job. Does that make the (very odd – I thought it was only a heavy-handed sex-education manual manga) Futari Ecchi manga the most transgressive manga of them all?
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