Don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story

Wherein male accommodation to a fujoshi social is considered:

With so much Hato in the Genshiken of late, and with Nidiame-the-anime going into crossdresser game genre trope overload, the rest of the club seems to have faded into the background. And as background the pack of rotten girls appear commonplace, even normal. It is a bit hard to remember how radical back in 2009, a club full of young female DIY porn enthusiasts was for a comedic slice-of-life manga.

Sure we had 801-chan and Fujoshi Rumi, and even Kuragehime, but these lacked the raw edge that the earlier Genshiken series was known for; a particular way of using self-conscious humour to sugar-coat some really painful aspects of Otaku life. Welcome to the NHK approximated this for the Hikikomori market, but Genshiken always held a lock on Otaku-ology. When Kio Shimoku decided to try his hand at a pervy pit of University age women, he knew he was going out on a limb.

.... Just as I had planned it to be..

Sure he had backed himself into it with Ogiue, but the turning the Genshiken into a near-female-only space was a daring move at the time. Today, the fact that Japanese women might want to amuse themselves with a BL tale now and then is seen as a near mainstream hobby and a profitable market niche, as the blocks of stores on Otome Road testify. The plot trick of dropping a stealth mode male yaoi enthusiast into the mix served to background the club’s main activities as “normal”, at least in comparison to the layers of contradictions that were stuffed into Hato’s character.

Perhaps a review is in order:

My name is Ogiue and I hate Otaku!

President: Chika Ogiue. Jumped out of at least two windows when her fujoshi habits caused her to be wracked with guilt and or embarrassment. Almost kicked out of high school for drawing a lewd dojin starring a boy who was sweet on her. Once accepted into the Genshiken, started drawing dojins that shipped all the male membership, including one guy who was kind of interesting. It took a lot but the two worked it out and now she is a newly published successful BL mangaka, while Sasahara gives editing tips and tries to hold down his manga-editor-for-hire job. Her compulsive yaoi habit causes her to have atavistic expectations about the proper behaviour of a male in a m:f relationship. Actively recruits more fujoshi members to the Genshiken.

Past president: Kanako Ohno. A cosplay enthusiast who likes middle-aged guy themed yaoi, especially if they are bearded and/or bald.

First year member: Rika Yoshitake. Drinks too much. Assumes that an odd bit of plastic left around the club room is Hato’s butt-plug. Has a bad case of yaoi goggles. Likes her m:m pr0n to be set in Japan’s middle ages, with the generals getting chased by each other and various underlings. Has no drawing skills. Outspoken to the point of inadvertently causing hurt feelings.

First year member: Mirei Yajima. Less blatant than Rika, but still enjoys BL and Yaoi. Can draw a bit, so she helps out when Ogiue goes into full dojin production mode. Was viscerally troubled by Hato’s crossdressing, but the main problem seems to be that female attire or not, Hato to her was and still is completely male. And she doesn’t trust males who butt into fujoshi activities. She probably doesn’t trust males in general. Her initial resistance to Hato’s crossdressing is just a setup for her discovering her latent shotacon tastes. She finds Hato’s testosterone deficient “smoothness” strangely alluring and it troubles her, as she had never seriously considered 3D desire.

Transfer student: Susanna Hopkins. Bakka Gaijin De Gozaimus Hai! Enjoys BL and yaoi and has shown great enthusiasm for hard-core dojin products. Cosplays as loli characters. Is fixated on Ogiue and is prone to yell out “Ogiue is my Waifu!” Ogiue ain’t fooled, and has called her on it. She does however have a massive case of hero-worship towards Ogiue and is a bit embarrassed about it. Behind her over-the-top antics, she is alternatively extremely shy and yet a formidable weapons and martial arts enthusiast. (Oh and there’s the cloaked M9E Gernsbeck parked in the empty lot near the University…)

Potential member next year: Risa Yoshitake. Rika’s athletic younger sister who can crossdress convincingly as a bishie guy and enjoys shota… As in pedo bear, as in pre-pubescent and abjectly illegal as all heck in most western countries. Krist! And yet because she’s an 18-year-old girl (that makes her a minor herself in Japan) it just slips by in conversation, La la la…

Potential members if they ever give up being ronin: Yabusaki and Naoko. They ran their own dojin circle from within the Manken, but were expelled for hanging out with Ogiue, who left a lot of bad blood behind her when she defenestrated. They help Ogiue out with her dojin production and Comiket sales but Yabusaki is too proud (and too hurt by getting booted out of the manken) to appear to crawl over to the Genshiken. I think she wants to be actively and publicly begged to join, preferably within earshot of those bastards who drove her out of the Manken. Naoko will do as she pleases, but right now hanging out with Yabusaki amuses her.

Visiting irregular: Angela Burton. Her cosplaying and flirting with Madarame shouldn’t obscure the fact that she is a big fan of both yaoi and yuri dojins. She is probably nowhere near as over-sexed as she makes out to be, or at least reserves it for fan conventions. Of course she treats all of her Japan visit(s) as conventions-in-toto, and glomps, vamps and burlesques otaku tropes in her pursuit of Madarame, who she views as a fun potential “convention romance”. I got a big feeling that someone showed Shimoku sensei a translation of Dramacon and that he is lifting bits to build her character. Understands more conversational Japanese than she lets on.

Longshots who could pop up as new recruits:

Konno from Hato’s high school art club

Yajima’s high school friend Mimasaka

Rika’s high school friends, Sawatari and Fukuda.

Distinguished female alumnus: Saki Kasukabe. First female member of the Genshiken. The boys were doomed the minute she walked in the door.

Fearsome relatives to be:

Keiko; the only non-fujoshi riajuu female anywhere near the current Genshiken.

and of course

Kaminaga: an uber-fujoshi who can be a real asshole in her single-minded determination to live the truth of her enthusiasms. Yeah, I know her determination shows the courage of her convictions, yadda yadda yadda.

genshikenn7-1 the girls

The current Genshiken character line-up is obviously a nearly isolationist women’s space. There are extreme tropes associated with women’s spaces in Japanese manga and anime, but Kio Shimoku appears determined to steer between these. One extreme is the harem route, and Genshiken misses few chances to parody the genre whenever it needs a quick laugh, complete with Mada moteki and Hato smoothness fun. But one would have to be in a complete fantasy daze to consider it as anywhere near a potential harem (Kuchiki as lampshade) or to think that the women’s interests revolve around any 3D males. Collecting and exchanging and occasionally drawing naughty 2D males is its main objective. It is an anti-harem. Intruding males are seen as an annoyance, or as in the case of the student council Romeo, a threat.

The other more dangerous extreme is the quasi-lesbian separatist temporary autonomous zone, of which Japanese fantastic fiction of the feminist variety has no shortage of. The vulgar exploitative shadow of this is of course the all-girl yuri/ shojo ai space; the all girls school, girls club, well ‘o’ loneliness dyke bar, etc. Here Shimoku sensei is really, really careful: we see barely a whiff of yuri gags in a place where there could easily be as many as there are harem route gags. The dog most assuredly is not barking. What few there are center around Sue and her hero-worship of Ogiue.

I think Ohno dropped a yuri reference once in jest. It was pointedly ignored. The most overt of the rest of these are reserved for “volume extra” marginalia and one variation on the long-running Kumeta tribute “Don’t open it” gag. Others are more than they seem: Sue boob-feeling a Japanese woman (Yajima) in a public bath is a cultural stereotype reversal joke. It is the gaijin gal who is supposed to induce extreme boob curiosity from less endowed Japanese women. Aside from a brief allusion by Angela, yuri is never even mentioned as a genre of interest in the Genshiken. If it is present, it is subsumed into a generalized fog of guy-oriented smut along with Lolis, BFGs, and gawd knows what else.

If Shimoku ever lost control he could drown the current Genshiken in yuri tropes. It would work for about 2 chapters and then the series would be shot. Some dojin circle might do it, but he ain’t going there. Leave it to the fannish smut peddlers.

To the reasons above, I would also like to add my fave hobby-horse: Dr. Akiko Mizoguchi

Where Kio Shimoku got the background information on fujoshi culture and practice is crucial. I would argue that he heard a bit about it from friends, read Saito Tamaki’s mentions of it in Psychology of Fighting Girl, and went looking through journals and pop magazine articles for more details. If he did, he would have been hard-pressed to avoid Akiko Mizoguchi’s early writings on yaoi and fujoshi practice (cf Yureka magazine 2005-2006). There were of course other folks writing about fujoshis and BL and yaoi at the time, but finding an intelligent, articulate, lesbian “native guide” to the unknown territories of the rotten girls is somehow easier on the heteronorm-ed male point of view.

At least it was for me.

Aside from championing better behaviour among fujoshis (drop the yaoi rapes and the “I don’t like guys I only like you” tropes – they are insulting and hurtful to real gay folks), she is adamant that fujoshi space is a virtual-lesbian sexualized woman’s space, even if %95+ of the women who hang out in it are nominally heterosexual. The simple reason she gives is: “reading all that stuff has got to have some effect”. Yup! The dreaded Kaminaga’s line is a direct Mizoguchi lift. And why would an “out” Japanese lesbian academic enthuse over yaoi instead of yuri? The bodies in yaoi might be male, but the minds and hands that created them are female, the converse with yuri, and that, and the implicit gaze therein, taints the latter for her.

Extra bonus weirdness: Dr Akiko Mizoguchi is a part-time lecturer at the real-life Tama Art University, Faculty of Art and Design. The Genshiken club is set at a fictional University in Tokyo that bears a striking resemblance to Tama U. See: http://lintel.typepad.com/plentyofnothing/2011/08/genshiken-bench.html

Q.E.D. (add. see below)

This also means that the whole Genshiken crew could at any moment run into a manga analogue of the good Doctor if Kio Shimoku wanted to really pull our leg. Yipes! One day she’s gonna Google her name and find all these weird theories about her purported influence on the series and characters. And on that day I will be mightily embarrassed. Especially the whole Kagemusha / Kage-Mizoguchi thing I did last year. I hope she gets that I meant that the Hato character is contrived to be an outsider enthusiast that can slip in and pass even while upsetting the dynamics of a homogeneous social. Even this is pushing it. There are plenty of lesbian slash fen, and probably more than a few Japanese fujoshi who like real-world women. At least many more than Japanese crossdressing fudanshis who present as female only to do fujoshi stuff.

Later: Well I goofed! Genshiken is set in the alternative universe version of the Tama campus of Tokyo’s Chuo University. Tama Art U. is a full hour by monorail- train- bus across the city. Curses! Got Tama- confused; should have google- map’d it earlier!  Foiled again…

On second though, a Mizoguchi doppelgänger has very little chance of popping up in the Genshiken. Kio Shimoku is wary of the whole virtual lesbian space thing – I am guessing because he fears that his woman empowered space could be trivialized by a fall into yuri-dom, and he goes out of his way to banish any but the most ridiculous hints of 3D female:female frisson within in his creation. Comrade-in-arms-ship Da! Productive cooperative effort, yes! Girls night out, sure thing. Anne of Avonlea heartfelt soul-mates? Nein! Verbotten!

The point is that fujoshi-space may be female separatist or isolationist, but it remains overwhelmingly heterosexual, though extremely perverted and subject to suggestions that all manner of “other’ urges and tendencies are being sublimated. Even Dr. Mizoguchi will admit as much and will, despite her urges to reveal the entire enterprise as a virtual lesbian space, pull back due to Japanese society’s habit of throwing all its outcasts into one big undifferentiated sack. Kio Shimoku appears to value the distinction as well.

The only other point worth exploring in all this is the possibility that the nominally heterosexual rotten girl has supplanted the class-S female homosexual romance as the number one act of mildly transgressive, though societally tolerated “free space” available to young Japanese women before dreary reality kicks in. Would not competing though related religious sects be the most wary of encroaching on each others’ turf?

“It begs the question, what does it mean that all of these female-authored stories – which, I’d wager, constitute one of the largest existing bodies of erotica written by women, for women – should hardly feature women’s bodies at all?“
Audrey Lemon – How Slash saved Me
http://web.archive.org/web/20040804102800/http://www.goodgirl.ca/how%20slash%20saved%20me.html

Into this dark nabe pot add one crossdressing fudanshi and stir.

There are plenty of female socials in manga-land that have no need of an intruding male to chivvy the plot along, but Genshiken Nidiame is not K-On! or Joshiraku.

gen-ii-04 the difference

How do males approach a powerful female social? How does a female social deal with intruding males? The Genshiken girls are all nearly adult females and their hobby is smut. The target of their smut fantasies are fantasy males, so a male-intruder-as-fudanshi is an interesting approach; the tension between Hato as shipper and self-shipped is good for a whole bunch of plot fuel. Yet behind this, Hato’s high school trauma serves as a cautionary tale of how hard it would be for a guy to casually waltz into a fujoshi circle, declare interest and ask to hang out. What was he thinking?

To be fair to Kio Shimoku, Hato’s cautionary tale unfolds in such a way as to avoid such a superficial mistake. On the surface, in the art club Hato is all “get serious” and aloof. Only curiosity and his secret desire to see what Kaminaga can draw doom him. Once outed, all his protestations and blabbing of “lore”, knowledge and enthusiasm for the genre do little to save him from being excluded as a pariah. Kaminaga’s girls have strong and simplistic expectations of male behaviour and male sexuality. These reinforce the isolationist tendencies of their social and they like it that way.

We will soon see how Kaminaga negotiates 3D males, including the one that she plans to marry. I have a feeling that it will not be pleasant if only because Kio Shimoku has written her as being so overcommited to her hobby as to be completely unconcerned with real life niceties. These niceties also include the very structures of institutional sexism in Japan, so perhaps she is simply a thought experiment to highlight how obnoxious male otaku (and general male) institutionalised sexism is in Japan, and how it cripples the individual stuck with it as much as it grinds on the objects of their gaze. That being said, she is still an asshole. And she gets away with it because Japanese societal sexism (and a few other societies, including our own) trivialize female social misbehaviour as long as the woman in question fulfills her primary duties to the patriarchal order.

all i can do genshiken-nidaime1

The Genshiken females are nowhere near as asocial as Kaminaga. Ogiue juggles her fannish interests and her responsibilities as club president; she tries hard to ensure that her members enjoy a safe, productive space and that the club has the potential for orderly succession. Ohno is accepting, and likes to play matchmaker, and the first year cadres do show concern for Hato, and even Madarame when misunderstandings lead to hurt feelings (and broken bones). But they still value their female majority space. When Hato de-cloaks and hangs out with Madarame and Kuchiki, territorial grumbling ensues.

Madarame presents another approach to male accommodation with a fujoshi social. Outwardly he respects their practice at a distance, taking their tolerance for his creepy enthusiasms as a given. He won’t utter a dismissive word about their rapey fake-gay dojins and their habit of shipping him as sou-uke. In return, all his upskirt pantsu loli cleavage fantasy crap, even to the point of s+m videos, “the initiation rites of peeping”, the understood solitary uses of fan materials and the distorting effects of all this garbage on one’s ability to deal with real-life members of the opposite sex are assumed to be equally off-limits. This is the basis for a peace treaty and a demilitarized zone. Two solitudes! (Waugh! I threw in an obsolete canuck-ism!). Of course all can find common cause in creating a safe space for their enthusiasms, making the pilgrimage to comiket and even can bond over the creation of fan artifacts – it was a nice touch that the last episode of the Nidiame anime had Madarame being invited to contribute to the next issue of the club publication. Still the fact remains that Madarame has been thrown under the sou-uke bus, and that while Hato did it, the rest of the gang set up the joke.

A bit of grinding on this pivotal moment might be in order. Sure it can be seen as unconscious jealousy on Hato’s part. And it can be seen as Hato being foolishly overprotective of his sempai’s not-so-hidden crush. The fact remains that she blurted it out because the girls and Hato-chan were already shipping all the males who had any association with the club: Hato-chan was overdoing it (and/or indulging in romantic m:m fantasies) by offering her male self up as exchanged fantasy to the female social. With the sudden appearance of josou-Kousaka it was all too much to hold in. In a battle between competing strategies of accommodation, Madarame’s live and let live strategy takes the hit, while the wimmen’s Genshiken lurches close to the errors of both Hato and Ogiue’s high-school circles.

To the “Fantasy is fantasy and reality is reality” must be added: “… and people are all still individuals who have their own individual hopes and dreams and fears and they bruise easily. Play Nice!

What do the other Genshiken males represent as personified approaches to a female isolationist social? Sasahara is a bit of a cypher as the almost ideal boyfriend to Ogiue. While he has learned to appreciate her BL-ish manga as accomplished “writing” and even to accept that this talent walks hand in hand with the urge to draw someone who looks a lot like him into overdone man-sex-melodrama dojins, he stays out of the day-to-day affairs of the present Genshiken and even needs to be brought up to speed on current events by Kousaka. We also get hints of some of the fantasy/ reality fall-out in the bedroom that real-life fujoshi theorists have noted:

“The majority of yaoi women fans are heterosexual. […] But, if their sexual fantasies are filled with male-male homosexual episodes, is it still accurate to call them completely heterosexual?

A friend, a happily married woman in her 30s with two kids, told me, “Not so much these days, but until a few years ago, I could not really recognize sex with my husband as a male-female act. In my mind, I transformed what I was doing to the male-male act in the BL fictions”. Is it adequate to call her completely heterosexual? From the point of view of defining sex as genital activity, the answer is yes. At the same time, however, we know that fantasies are deeply involved in human sexuality. My friend’s male-male fantasy, which happens simultaneously with her heterosexual genital act, is as important as the act itself. In this sense, it is not accurate to consider her 100% heterosexual. In addition, I would argue that a person’s sexual fantasies, accompanied by her genital act with another person, a masturbatory act, or no act at all, are equally significant for the subject of such fantasies to such an extent that calling such fantasies “virtual sex” is appropriate (Mizoguchi 2007: 56-62).

Of course, at the most overt level, my friend was engaging in sex with her husband as “virtual gay men”, just like the male characters in yaoi narratives in her mind, but at the same time she was aware that the characters were women fans’ agents and not really representations of real-life gay men. Thus she was psychologically in the company of her fellow female fans in the yaoi community while physically she was with her husband.”
-Akiko Mizoguchi, “Theorizing comics/manga genre as a productive forum: yaoi and beyond” http://imrc.jp/images/upload/lecture/data/143-168chap10Mizoguchi20101224.pdf

Mizoguchi will even go as far as to posit yaoi-space as a completely new form of sexuality, somewhere within a queer continuum of desire. No biggie – Fujoshi Rumi had a bit of this “I can only have a boyfriend if I pretend that I am a BL male character” thing too, but it needs to be highlighted if only to show how Shimoku grabs interesting stuff from the social anthropology of fujoshi culture and works bits of it into his narrative. The other thing to note is that the males in question can acknowledge it or pretend to ignore it, or worry that they sometimes forget that they are supposed to be semes in the bedroom but they still get the benefits of a female partner with a very active sexual fantasy life. The women in question easily accommodate their fantasies to real life in the sense that they see male desire as simple, physical and indiscriminate. The only thing that has a problem speaking its name, is (as in Last Tango in Paris) love.

Kousaka is at first hard to place in a typology of male reaction to a fujoshi social, but upon consideration can be placed thanks to Ohno and the “other” social within the Genshiken. Admittedly the Cosplay Brigade plays second fiddle to fujoshi culture within the club, but it has gained a grudging sense of place. It gives Kuchiki something to do, Hato and Rika don’t really mind it too much, Sue appears to be a big fan of it, though her participation in Ohno’s on-campus sessions occur mostly off-stage. Yajima grumbles, but puts on the costumes, and lately they have been better chosen to respected her frame. Angela’s twice-yearly appearances also lends clout to the tradition, and even Ogiue can get connived into donning a sexy costume every so often in the name of club solidarity.

So what exactly did Kousaka have in mind by arranging with Sasahara and Tanaka to have a full complement of costumes from that otokonoko ero game  on hand for the school festival cosplay booth? How did Shimoku-sensei slip that one by? Don’t tell me that he guessed a month in advance that Mada would need to be cheered up after finally resolving things with Saki. It was written in as a Kousaka – Tanaka surprise for Ohno, because she missed Kousaka’s debut at comiket, Was it originally meant to give Hato a bit of reassurance? Another attempt at conniving Saki into cosplay?

01 Genshiken 2 Episode 3 tanaka hands

The only explanation I can think of that works within the internal logic of the Genshiken narrative is cosplay as echo of Tanaka’s earlier model-building segment: a display of the Genshiken’s strength and resilience because of its tradition of embracing a wide range of otaku-ish interests that can cut across the isolating fixations of its sub-groups. Pluralism posited as an antidote to sectarianism. Now all they have to do is find some excuse to get Madarame (and Tanaka (Hey boy, you thought that you were on the safe end of that camera?) into costumes. We can wait. The Bodacious Space Pirates session at comiket was a beautiful story conceit. It is a wonder that the Genshiken is not written as enjoying a reputation of being a force majeur in the greater community of cosplayers within its “verse”. Will a whole bunch of out-of-town cosplayers show up at the club door one day and issue and invite/ challenge? Or is all the rep accruing to Ohno & Tanaka Cosplay Consultants LLC?

Without the Cosplay Brigade, it is all just boys vs girls locked in their respective pornish fixations. Admit it Ogiue, cosplay as “sacred common ritual” is saving the Genshiken.

Next we have Kuchiki. As butt-monkey and ill-socialized enthusiast, he displays a curious over-suggestibility to the reality distortion field created by the girls. First, he considers the collection of women as a potential harem. Then when he realises that he is not being taken even seriously enough to ship, he surpasses Hato’s over- accommodation by deciding that he is going to become a puppet to the collective will’s idea that Mada must be a sou-uked. Clearly he is the only overt male left, so it is time for him to trance out on jumping Mada. At no time do we see any indication of desire: it is a preview for Hato’s later fugue state, done as burlesque.

genshiken_06_03 run mada

Because it is Kuchiki it cannot be serious, and it must fail. Soon it turns into simple provocation for some Hato-erotic asphyxiation. Skinship is where you find it: Because it is Kuchiki, he enjoys it and overdoes it. In the last episode of the Nidiame anime he decides once again that he must annoy Hato-chan. This gets him some Sue attention. All great fun!

All this masks the fact that Kuchiki’s over-the-top behaviour makes him virtually un-shippable. While he is barely tolerated by the fujoshi social, and has only Madarame as a fellow male otaku – until Hato tries the guy otaku route. He also spends a lot of time (off-stage) with the Cosplay Brigade. Ohno and Tanaka seem to respect his enthusiasm enough to keep coming up with costumes for him, but obey Ogiue’s injunction and draw the line at cross-play (no BSP or otokonoko game cameos!) Recall too, that he can speak and understand enough English to get past Sue’s antic masquerade. Ohno is an English speaker too, so the Cosplay Brigade is also the more cosmopolitan faction in the Genshiken. Besides Madarame, he is the last gaming enthusiast in the club, but we don’t get to see much of this from him. He has some familiarity with the tropes of BL and Yaoi, but has never tried to fudanshi-ize himself to better fit in. Of all the characters, he is the most socially clumsy, and one could argue the most doggedly courageous: he refuses to let his “handicap” stop him from pushing himself into a circle of people who eventually must grudgingly acknowledge him as a friend.

qualia kuchiki

Sue can pull the Bakka Gaijin (De Gozimus Hai!!!) routine all week and get away with it because she is a petite blond foreigner, knowledgeable fan and dyed in the wool fujoshi. Her antics serve as a mask for a deeper character that is only beginning to emerge. Kuchiki has no such hidden reserves, and yet he will not be stopped by his failings, even as he is painfully conscious of them. He persists in a near hysterical mode of trivial over-acting-out because his only alternative would be to vanish away. Because of this, at the deepest level, he is a noble and tragic character, I Pagliacci.

The final male approach to fujoshi-space is that of the riajuu male: the nameless student rep Romeo, and older-brother-Hato. Both are oblivious to rotten girl behaviour and are firm in their belief that they know the proper role for women. The Genshiken rotten girls treat their version as an intruding threat, while Kaminaga considers her variant as a meal ticket.

These are the default positions reserved for guys who confront the Genshiken as women’s space: Ignorant intrusion, male hysteria, respected yet distanced fellow traveler, lapdog, mutually assured acceptance of perversity and Stockholm Syndrome. None of these can make a serious dent in the shields that surround the magic circle. Alumni, including male alumni are accorded sempai status, but as predecessors/ outsiders. As such they are useless as devices to advance the narrative and force contradictions. And they only serve to highlight the isolationist weirdness of a fujoshi social.

It is left to Hato to serve as antagonist in the guise of protaganist vis-a-vis the fujoshi social. Hato’s main trick to slip through the shields is not his crossdressing, but his ridiculous liminality. He is a rolling pile of neither-nors, and the mangaka keeps adding more to his pile. It now looks like the Nidiame anime didn’t have to time to slowly trot out all of these contradictions, so it made do by dropping 16 tons of otokonoko-genre references onto his character. As previously mentioned, I’m betting that the opening credit sequence lifts freely from crossdressing themed anime and otokonoko games. The Kousaka game inspired sequences lay it on thick and the after-Mada-confession consolation round lampshades the whole mess. It might have been too much. The whole edifice is now uncharacteristically unbalanced. The part-resolution that is supposed to pave the way for the anime’s second season now looks clumsy.

The manga is still maintaining the balance, except for the fact that so much has been loaded onto Hato that it looks like he might suffer a breakdown. Folks are getting concerned, and now he is off to the family home and an inevitable confrontation with his sister-in-law-to-be, his brother, his parents, and his Stands. Once again it looks as if it is all Hato all the time, but only as he spends all of his time reacting to women’s spaces and desires.

Whenever his character proves a bit thin to the task, Kio Shimoku adds more contradiction. I cannot recall anything in the long reveal of Hato’s background that does not add to his contradictions. It would be nice if a few pages were spent on him reminiscing about how he liked chocolate when he was in high school. Maybe he had a puppy? Instead, each new layer of Hato is a further painful puzzle piece. The more we hunt the pieces, the less attention we pay to the passle of pervy wimmens behind the curtains, pulling on the levers.

And behind them, more curtains…

the only web-extant picture of Kio Shimoku

the only web-extant picture of Kio Shimoku

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8 thoughts on “Don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story

  1. If you do a Google image search on the kanji of Kio Shimoku’s name you can find some other pictures of him at signings, or rather, pictures of his hands and the back of his neck. Wait. His hands and the back of his neck …

  2. “The majority of yaoi women fans are heterosexual. […] But, if their sexual fantasies are filled with male-male homosexual episodes, is it still accurate to call them completely heterosexual?”

    Strict gender roles are one hell of a drug, huh. Where do assertive heterosexual women fit in? “Fujoshi Rumi” comes off unintentionally like a trans man. From what I’ve seen, lot of young trans men had their realization thanks to BL, but trans women find it alienating, since they can’t put the “men with women’s hearts” aspect as a distancing fantasy. Plus there’s the whole “not real gay men, actual gay men are gross and trans people aren’t real!” aspect. Of course, this is the POV of a normie adult in a space meant for teens and immature kidults so what do I know.

    • okay, “kidults” was too mean. I meant, I guess trying to make sense out of a fantasy thing like this isn’t recommended.

  3. I have been trying to make sense out of it for close to 8 years on this blog and I remain fascinated by the puzzle. I will add that while a “widening” of the perspectives in -lost for words here- , let’s call them “shadow of queer”/ “dreaming in queer” stories to include IRL queer subjectivities can only be seen as a major power level increase, the why why why for the “nominally straight” audience gets further muddled. Dreaming-in-queer readers are looking for displacement, while the appeal to – some – queer readers is representation and still others, such as Dr. Mizoguchi, a complex blend of displacement PLUS representation.

    For a while, I have been wondering if I needed a new approach to hack at this puzzle and I believe I have found one; again using an oblique take on the Genshiken characters as a point of departure. As a bonus, I get to one-up Dr.Tamaki’s post-Lacanian take on Otaku and the “electric charge” that smutty stories (ok just the libidinous potential of these stories and characters) create for their readers and how the hook gets set.

    What if it is all about the terrible, fearsome power of trashy romance stories?

    • Yeah, I can tell, this blog has been running for quite a while lol.

      What was I trying to say….from what I’ve seen, many young trans men realized their gender identity thanks to BL, but trans women usually aren’t too keen on it because of they don’t have the privilege cis women have of distancing themselves from characters because of the body/geniital differences, plus the “men with women’s hearts aren’t real” aspect is a tad distasteful.
      I remember when a short shoujo manga about a young trans woman was once included in the “shonen ai” section in a manga scanlation website and MANY comments were complaints about how the main character “shouldn’t be called a girl, that’s a crossdressing guy!” At least Fujoshi Rumi acknowledged gay people exist (trans people not so much….), while Genshiken avoided showing actual gay people at all costs while treating them as fantasy fetish creatures.

      • “while Genshiken avoided showing actual gay people at all costs while treating them as fantasy fetish creatures.”

        …And Kio Shimoku gave himself an alibi on this one too by having wordly Saki show up at the club early on and chide the fujoshi for this, mentioning that she had IRL gay friends (some of my best friends are…) Hmmmph. That’s the reported nasty edge of fujoshi practice – Kio was well aware of the mid80’s “Yaoi Ronso” and the club mantra “fantasy is fantasy and reality is reality” was always a swipe at Dr. Tamaki’s assertion that Otaku (etc.) could keep the distinction clear in their own heads. Japan hardly at all framed this problem in the western academic “appropriation of voice” debate; Bishonen and later BL and yaoi boys were supposed to be so improbable as to strain any IRL comparisons.

        Originally BL/yaoi was SUPPOSED to be a +%90 woman’s effort in Japan. Current figures suggest numbers above %70. In “the west” what few studies were done hinted at a 50:50 readership, with a large “queer” component. Some slash fans even went the extra mile and invented the shared conventions of “omega-space”, a 3 gendered/sexed? scifi/fantasy rapey werewolf aliens thang (of which I am aware of only by hearsay and undoubtedly get wrong), I presume to further distance their puppets from any “real” gay people.

        What I always must return to is the hunger that drives the nominally straight readers/ creators in these dream-in-queer genres. One “would expect” queer folks “in the life”/ tojisha to write their stories but straight-gaze male:male (and josou/ otokonoko) and a large percentage of yuri (though yuri has always been more “slippery”) do “something” that “real” narratives were seen as not being able to do.

        For example, in Nidaime, I always wondered why Kio-sensei did not have the at-first-skeptical Merei or Yoshitake corner Hato and make him answer if he reads/ had ever read gei-comi/ gay comics/ bara. I always suspected that Hato would do a confused “Doesn’t work for me” exposition. Fujoshi Rumi’s at first stereotypically scary gay young man is a gei-comi cut-out, even if his heroic stolen kiss is pure BL.

        The problem of representation/ fetishization is one that is currently being slowly, tentatively eased past in Japan – at least if reports by some academics and publishing folk are to be given weight. That’s why I keep up on T. Baudinette’s research, even if it is pure, contemporary Tokyo male gay anthropology and why should I care (ok; the urban spatial analysis resonates with my mostly useless degrees and leads me to make rude guesses about the inspiration for Pokemon Go’s geolocation features… Just sayin, someone on the dev team knew of gay dating apps.)

        TLDR: Even if BL/yaoi (and josou) representation remains “off” and fixates on misapprehensions of fringe parts of “the real”, enough IRL gay guys are finding that the current, commercial wing of BL is presenting reflections of their lives that are a teeny tiny bit more “realistic”, less ridiculous and…. more to the point… still “useful” (if stuck out in the boonies, with real gei-comi harder to get). And behind the grudging “cover band is fail but I’ll listen” effect, I suspect also lies a taste for good trashy romantic melodrama stories.

        Meanwhile, outlander-gaze academics in Japan and nearby have found a new thing to explore in these reflections-of-queer stories; the effects that kick in when the Japanese product circulates around South-East Asia. Nothing like doing some jitsu on Japanese cultural nationalism impulses – lotsa funding there. “Soft Power.” “Cool Japan.” Not like some government ministry is going to send out warning brochures to Taiwan and Philippines booksellers stating that it is official Japanese Government Policy that gay folks in Japan don’t really act like this, their situation is –policy goal restatement– and blah blah blah. Understandably though, the overwhelming majority of the research in this direction is being done from a queer, even activist queer perspective. If straight-gaze academics were to crowd in, things would get all neo-colonial-analysis really fast and I suspect that my original question “why do straight folks need dream-in-queer stories” would be swept aside. Yeah yeah yeah: fetishization. Bell book and candle. Thing is named and exorcised. Mechanisms? Oh screw that, go read some 150 yr old German stuff (no fricking way! I need more ancient just-so myths like I need toe fungus)

        And this TLDR also slips by the obvious elephant in the clubroom that Kio Shimoku hid there, in plain sight: Kio is suspicious of women’s fan homosocials and wants to point out their flaws in a way that is FAR MORE CRITICAL than his view of guy otaku fan spaces – male-only or not. That’s another big essay post I never got around to.

        Final take-away, again left over from “that essay post I never got around to”: Guys, mangakas, researchers and otherwise, are NOT WELCOME in Japanese fujoshi spaces and manga/anime simplifications of lotsa-members fujoshi clubs/socials/ spaces are PRACTICALLY NON-EXISTENT. Fujoshi Rumi: 2 members. 801-chan ??? Kiss Him Not Me – 2 members. And so on. A few Japanese academic studies interview FUJOSHI, but not within groups. I suspect that it there was a somewhat “realistic” depiction of a many-member fujoshi club, it would look like a CGDCT set-piece (K-on, Joshiraku) and the dialogue would come off as a distillation of shipping discussions, with the opacity of say… a Fansplaining ™ podcast. [https://www.fansplaining.com/episodes/21-trash-ships-and-fandom-irl] (Fanspalaining podcast good but boy here confused…. Eyes glaze over…)

        Oh heck.. went on and on and on again. Trying to get the flat tires on the cart rolling and start another big essay post. Thanks for reading and the comments!
        /M

        • welp that was long. Thank you for taking the time to reply, those are all very good points.
          I was mostly referring to trans people, not just gay people, but it’s okay. The way trans people are treated in media is even worse than how cis gay people get treated, if they aren’t conflated. Just look at the okamas in One Piece :/ Notably I’ve seen trans women gravitate to jousou/otoko-no-ko characters, since despite being obviously made by and for cis people, they tend to resonate with them.

          I agree that the way Kio Shimoku portrays fujos is very different from the way he portrays male otaku (and not just because non-fujoshi otaku girls and women, or at least those with bigger interests outside BL, Do Not Exist, unless you make them male otaku stand-ins like Konata or the girl from that shitty imouto series). Most male otaku IRL are nowhere near as chill and down-to-earth as the ones from Genshiken; they’re often Kuchiki-levels of creepy. Even early!Madarame is more tolerable than most male otaku, especially those into idols.

          Which, again, makes me wonder about the apparent lack of fandoms for female characters and series with mostly-female casts aimed at girls and women, other than young girls watching mahou shoujo anime, that aren’t filled with lolicon creeps and waifu-obsessed nerds. I can tell shoujo series still sell well, but they don’t have fandoms to the same extent as BL/fujobait, jousou/otoko-no-ko and waifu stuff does.

          (sorry for spamming so much with comments, I have a lot of Opinions pff)

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