Reverse pairings: Ch84/85

So, is it Fantasy x Reality, or Reality x Fantasy?


“There is a robust literature in Japan on the reality of fiction, including contributions by psychologists, manga scholars and academics from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds. One leader in this has been Saitō Tamaki, who has conducted clinical work with so-called otaku (specifically, fans of anime, manga and game) and written widely on otaku sexuality (see Saitō 2000). He proposes that due to an absence of Platonistic ideals, fiction in Japan has not been seen as necessarily subordinate to reality or striving to reach it.
Contrary to the idea that otaku are immature and confused about the boundaries of reality, Saitō argues that otaku have in sustained interaction with fiction developed a mature awareness of reality (Saitō 2000: 279-282). They are extremely strict about observing the distinction between fiction and reality (Saitō 2007: 227). As Saitō sees it, otaku are those with an affinity for “fictional contexts” (kyokō no kontekusuto), or those who react to fiction itself as a sexual object (Saitō 2007: 227).
Otaku realize that the object of desire is fiction, and desire it precisely because it is fiction. Anime, manga and games provide them “an utterly imagined space with no correspondent in the everyday world, a space of perfect fictionality…deliberately separated from everyday life” (Saitō 2007: 245).37
Thus while representations of sex may be radical, otaku are by and large sexually conservative in their daily lives.[emp. added] Saitō specifically defends lolicon and stresses that it is not an expression or symptom of pathology among otaku. Ironically, he implies that the United States and Europe, which have not established a distinct and separate “fictional space” (kyokō kūkan) and therefore cannot accommodate lolicon, might in a sense be less mature than otaku. (Azuma, Saitō and Kotani 2003: 182).”
– Lolicon: The Reality of ‘Virtual Child Pornography’ in Japan Patrick W. Galbraith, Image & Narrative, Vol 12, No1 (2011) PPS 105-106

It would seem that Kio Shimoku has a beef with professor Saitō Tamaki. Sure thing they are separate. No bleed over whatsoever. Private space and public space, just as always in Japan.

La la la…

Lest we let Kio Shimoku continue to slip a fast one past us, it would be wise to remember that a strange double “dance” has been going on with Madarame and Hato for a while now. Sure there is some tentative homoerotic frisson (which is an excellent smoke screen in itself, as well as fine comedy), but for the most part, the story dynamics have played out as each has confronted his own idealized, unobtainable crush.

Crushes 2 : Boys 0

Both are completely hopeless in the face of the wimmins precisely because their characters have been molded by their tastes in fringe, highly libidinized popular visual culture materials.

Mada is a moe-freak, dangerously close to being a full-blown lolicon.
Hato consumes tons of yaoi.
Both seek to live by the code that “reality is reality, fiction is fiction”.

How’s that working out for you guys?

Hato! Stop trancing out while staring at Mada’s neck!
Mada – you can drop the wallowing act, now that Keiko has blown your cover!

All romantics Gen85_017The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in ’68 And he told me all romantics meet the same fate someday; cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark café You laugh he said you think you’re immune Go look at your eyes they’re full of moon You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you all those pretty lies, pretty lies. When you gonna realize they’re only pretty lies?

He put a quarter in the Wurlitzer and he pushed three buttons and the thing began to whirr, and a barmaid came by in fishnet stockings and a bow tie and said “Drink up now it’s getting’ on time to close”

“Richard, you haven’t really changed” I said It’s just that now you’re romanticizing some pain that’s in your head. You got tombs in your eyes but the songs you punched are dreaming.. Listen, they sing of love  so sweet, love so sweet, when you gonna get yourself back on your feet?
– Joni Mitchell – 1970

Shimoku-sensei is no slouch when it comes to depicting the realities of “real” intimacy, especially when they grind up against odd enthusiasms. Who cares if Spotted Flower is an alternate Saki x Mada universe. Yo Otaku boy! Your young wife is gravid and horny – pay attention! Soon you will have a child to deal with! Hell’s Princess is even more fun. Tough love for Otaku time. What is more important; that crying baby, or the two tons of Otaku/ fujoshi/ goth loli crap lying about your apartment?

Decide now!

One would think that fujoshi fantasies pose a similar risk to the Genshiken girls: perhaps modern fujoshi desire has already been normalized into Japanese society? Perhaps it has been judged harmless fun; a sop to powerless school girls and office ladies?

Are fujoshis safe from “the bleed”, as long as they are careful not to get caught shipping their high-school friends?

“The phenomenon of BL as a male-homosexual text but written and read by mostly heterosexual females piqued the interests of researchers who largely employed it as a case study of social and gender studies. One of the most popular theories to answer the question of why girls love BL is escapism. Sociologist Chizuko Ueno argued that females can experience the freedom and ambition they are prohibited from by relating themselves to the “boy” in the BL text (Ueno 1998, 127). The identification of female readers with a boy character is made possible because of the androgynous nature of bishōnen, which Ueno calls the ‘idealized personification of self’ (females) (ibid, 131).
Another notion on the subject was also made by author Azusa Nakajima, stating that girls can escape their sexual inferiority by associating themselves with the uke in BL (Nakajima 2005, 323–324). This theory sounded more reasonable to the public, especially remembering that this theory was proposed by Nakajima, who was also active as a BL novelist under the pseudonym of Kaoru Kurimoto.
However, opinions towards this genre have changed and BL is in dire need for researchers to study it as a text instead of a superficial reflection of mentality of its authors and readers. First, there is now greater diversity in readership motivations. While BL is still regarded by some as a ‘massage space’ free from forms of oppression unique to individual readers (Fujimoto 2007, 42), BL as a sub-culture (Ueno 2007, 36), is also enjoyed as a form of entertainment as opposed to escapism from social insecurities (Kaneda 2007, 13).
There are also differences in the emotional identification of readers. Female readers cannot be generalized as identifying with the uke as the one fulfilling female sexual roles; readers can empathize with either the seme or uke (Mizoguchi 2000; Yoshinaga 2007), to both the seme and uke (Nagakubo 2005, 259), or to neither and instead enjoy the third party voyeuristic view (Mizoguchi ibid.; Yoshinaga ibid.).
Hence, it is impossible to reach a general consensus on the BL reading phenomenon, given that BL works have expanded diversely and taking into account the tastes of readers.”
– On The Iconic Difference between Couple Characters in Boys Love Manga; Febriani Sihombing, Image & Narrative, Vol 12, No1 (2011) 152-153

This leads to a curious question of societal accommodation vs female agency within the Genshiken story. The new gals (no, not including Hato) get to grind up against Hato, but reveal little in the way of past ostracism or persecution for their interests. The last woman to have to deal with the fantasy x reality problem was Ogiue.
She got a “male” role in the sense that the conflict between her fantasies and reality lead her to act out a series of impasses (jumping out of windows, retreat into heavy yaoi doujin production, running away) that she solved by heroic (yet still over the top ) actions to counter and or make peace with them.

She dealt with hers, then Mada had his and is chewing on the aftermath, and now Hato is right in the middle of dealing with his. He’s going to have his own personal ship-all-boys-naow!!! nemesis as a sister-in-law.

Compared to these, Ohno is barely out of the gate in the suffering sweepstakes. Her cosplay passion, her strong relationship with Tanaka and the relative lack of demons in her anxiety closet make her problems too comic-relief for a serious multi-chapter angst fest. Two chapters and a large bottle of sake and alls well that ends well.

None of the other Genshiken characters have yet to confront a tragic fantasy-reality bleed-over, so none of the other characters will get to grow to find true love, or properly make peace with the real world.

Once again: Disenchantment is the sacrament of Modernism.(tm)

Yajima could use some demons! Shimoku -Kami (like jump magazine) demands suffering and struggle as the price of personal growth! Unrequited Hato-lust by a big hefty girl would be a good start. Someone is going to have to take over the Genshiken leadership and Yajima is the natural choice, but only if she undergoes some transformative character growth spurt.

Sue is out due to the alien factor, so is drunk-girl (oops Yoshitaki), but Yajima displays little passion and no one is mentoring her.

Six current Genshiken members, no new members in sight: Sue and Ohno are out of the running.  Madarame is an alumni – unless he decides to go take a grad degree, and even then past presidents are supposed to stay in the background. (but look how he takes sempai-ship when needed – no sou-uke waffling this time!) The same rule crosses Ogiue off the list.That leaves Yajima or Yoshitaki… and Hato.

So herr Rommel we meet again web

Another blogger opines:

“Sue is at the opposite extreme, a foreigner whose knowledge of Japan is almost entirely taken from otaku culture (though she does know her Buddhist chants). She communicates by quoting manga, and cosplays possibly more than Ohno. She seems to be in her own otaku subculture, puzzling even the other club members. But often it’s Sue’s imput that sets the direction of the club.
She came up with the solution to Hato’s change-room dilemma, and she also had some romantic advice for Madarame which he may or may not ultimately follow. In the newest chapter, when the school festival magazine seems on the brink of implosion, it’s Sue who mandates a new partnership between Ogiue and Hato. It’s very likely that Sue will never be Genshiken president. I think Ogiue’s concern for the survival of the club will lead her to a safer choice, either Yajima or Yoshitaki. But I expect to see more of the eternal spirit of The President from Sue in coming chapters.”

So unless Hato goes hard gay for Mada with disastrous results and Sue, Yajima and Yoshitaki are plunged into some horrible fit of despair over their (minor) roles in encouraging the misunderstanding to the point where  3D male homosexuality shows up in the clubroom, (remember they can’t deal with it) the current setup is lacking in plot mojo.

One last permutation holds promise: “Out” Hato.

Now that “his little friend” has been jerking his strings even while he is in his protective Hato-chan get up, perhaps he will decide that he needs to drop the masquerade a bit:

Arm the playset field!

Perhaps he needs a little push – say a very, very, very solicitous visit from the student council boys, all swearing to respect his confidentiality and rights, while embarrassingly quoting all manner of anti-harassment and tolerance regs that the student council has just adopted…

Followed by a visit from the campus LGBTQ group reps who will look him over with suspicion and leave a pile of brochures in case he has any problems that he needs their help with.

You think he’s turned red before?

Nothing like getting some well-meaning uncomfortable patronizing “help” to take all the fun out your fun.

Go ahead Hato; yell about how you are “not gay” until you are blue/ red/ purple in the face.

Thereafter, we could safely speculate that only counseling from Kousaka could calm him down:

“Yaoi? sure I  read that too, even Saki likes it! Cross-dressing? No biggie! Would I?  I wouldn’t say “impossible!”, but hey; I’ve got Saki – you fall in love with a person, not a car model, neh? Decide what YOU want – or not..  You don’t even have to.. Calm down, have a relax, follow your dreams, have some fun, yadda, yadda, yadda..”

In which case a slightly androgynous, not quite cross-dressing Hato gets to be the new Genshiken president.

Good Job! 

Guess I should put away the playset now.

pissed off mada

ooooohhh! he be rather annoyed!

Meanwhile, it looks like I am not the only one riffing about decepticons:

Behold the perverse desires of cutlery:

“In this paper, BL works display differentiation between two characters that instantly introduced the readers to the coupling presented in the story. In written text, these differentiation are designated by a simple “×” between character names or descriptions, while visual image showed the iconic differences through character codes.
The differentiation in both written and visual text is fundamentally based on gender appearances and power or hierarchical dominance as stated by Nagakubo and Watanabe. However, this genre is still growing and is nurtured in part by the initiative of the BL fans challenging the clichés.
In present time, the combination of pairing has jumped the barrier of animate characters into the realm of inanimate objects, giving rise to anthropomorphic pairings such as spoon and fork, buildings, countries, animals, retail stores, stations, and weathers. [emph. added]
Determining the basis of differentiation in these novel types of pairings, whether fundamental or iconic will prove an interesting subject for the future.” – Ibid p163

Note: Febriani Sihombing ( is Ph.D. candidate majoring in Media and Semiotics in Human-Social Information Science Department, Graduate School of Information Science, Tohoku University.

Her Gaming Industry News columns are archived here:

Here’s one of them on ero games: Japan Loves Erotic Games: What’s The Problem?

“The internet community was shocked and amused by the game, which boasts a “right hand free-mode” feature, blatantly proclaiming to the world, that anyone buying this game will probably want to heh hem…pleasure themselves with one hand and play with the other. “But of course, an erotic game would fail as an erotic game, if you cannot fap on it,” or so I read on an erotic gamer’s blog. Needless to say, the release of the game was big news on Japanese Twitter that day. Erotic or R18 (rated 18 years old and above) games refer to games with sexually explicit contents. Games that depict violence and or politically/culturally sensitive topics are not called R18, if they do not center on love simulation with sexual themes.”

Welcome Ms. Febriani! You’ve just joined “the usual suspects”!

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