The shards of Mulberry Dover

Wherein another survey and research methods dump post gets a few extra bits of detritus tossed into it. 

Too many things going on at work and in my life to frame a coherent essay. I am however in a much better position to blog, as my home internet connection has been slightly upgraded from no-speed to low-speed. I will now be able to watch the dogsled races on Youtube – if I toggle the frame rate to 144p, crank the buffers and shut down all the other programs. The end result of this, of course is that I have been catching up on all the anime I have had to forgo for years. I expect no work will get done for some time to come.

Tracking with close-ups…

Which leads me to admit that once again Erica-sensei’s recommendations are worth noting, especially when she waxes enthusiastic on something. And when it also shows up as a reference in Genshiken, it becomes unavoidable. I might be the last person left in the blogo-verse to mention this, but I thoroughly enjoyed Mōretsu Pairētsu AKA Bodacious Space Pirates. I was even going to snag it as a gift for the nieces until I hit the very Takarazuka Revue rescue sempai from an arranged marriage with a sleaze-bag episode. And the set-up: D’Awwwwwwwwwwwwww!


However the nieces are still a bit young, and Mom and Dad might get cheesed at me for having to explain to tender youth why the two girls…  Ahem! …So they will have to contend with last year’s Aria collection for a while longer.

Not (yet) considered by Erica-sensei  is the ridiculous Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil, which I also found charming, lighthearted fun: It has giant magical mechas, huge swirling seals-of-solomon incantations, an unfair and corrupt special court system for magic-users and Lucifer as Lucy-fer with a crush on our genki heroine. Probably the smartest resolution to the kidnap-the-heroine-to-use-as-a-sacrifice-to-summon-a-demon trope I have yet seen.

Wizard_Barristers ep01

As I find the entire “Potter-verse” insipid, I like this retread better: it does one thing and does it sufficiently well.

The anime treatment of Mysterious Girlfriend X felt a bit creepy, so I gave up on it. So sad…

Perhaps, rabbit, perhaps…

Re-reading Blue Exorcist scanlations at the same time as catching up on UQ Holder really really tempts me towards a cross-analysis of influences. For detailed analysis of the latter though, I defer to senior bloggers.

Gi itai yo!

Japanese manga will try anything to add a new twist to a high school romance, including hemorrhoids. The Maoyuu Maou Yuusha ‘Demon Lord” parody therein is a fine example of how far down the rabbit hole some of these in-jokes go.

This one is hard to explain

A wondrous hoard.. can be signed up to by anyone (time to use all those degrees you racked up years ago or heck, make up some degrees and interests) and thereafter you can indulge your taste for theory-moe and academic weirdness to one’s heart’s content. Recent articles searched under Japan include excerpts in translation of a scholarly treatise on tentacle porn and a thesis on how gay Japanese guys hook up on internet forums. I suspect that if the latter falls into the hands of western slash-fen/ fujoshi, a whole lot of realism points will get added to the genre. Here is an earlier study on straight Japanese internet dating sites. No sign yet of an equivalent study for Japanese wimmens. One thing that jumped out during a quick skim of the paper was how the community uses an elaborate typology as shorthand for personal descriptions. I wonder how much cross-over occurred from rotten-girl typologies, and which came first. We may have the roots of modern Japanese visual culture chara tropes buried somewhere in here…

Oh lookie: They have a whole section on manga studies too! Here is a paper on yuri, in its canon Japanese form contrasted to an American webcomic.  A better roundup can be found here. And while we are at it, here are a few more post, rants, essays and sites-of-note that have been piling up for the whole “let’s make manga out of constructed others and have them do the nasty” studies:

Obvious perhaps, but with a certain flair:

You might have it backward, unless you start in the 1920’s:

Previously noted for the big Sailor Moon essay:

Ouran High School Host Club???

A thesis on Yuri: Yuri japanese animation: queer identity and ecofeminist thinking by Kimberly D. Thompson July, 2010. Eco-feminist ???

This one is interesting: The possibilities of research on fujoshi in Japan by Midori Suzuki.  Translated by  , who is working on a massive thesis about fujoshi fan practice.

Defeat Hegemony with frills and the five year plan:

Real-life Hikis:

Here is something I cannot afford: How Lacan supplanted ghosts: I should collect a few more Demon Lord -troped titlesThey would make a great counterpoint to an in-depth review of  “Perversion and Modern Japan”, starting with the very funny bit in the intro:

” Unlike the traditional 19th century disciplines such as English and European national literatures and history, the study of literatures and cultures outside the West had to wait for the postwar period, and then emerged only as a result of the perceived need to “know our enemies” in an atmosphere of Cold War paranoia. Since the 1950s area studies programs throughout the United States have produced knowledge in multiple disciplines about strategically identified geographical “areas.” But this knowledge tends to remain ghettoized in area studies departments and only rarely feeds back into the mainline disciplines. This is a result not only of continuing Eurocentrism in academia, but also of the isolating effects of the organization of area studies departments according to nation state, as well as, in the case of Japan studies, an insistence on Japanese cultural uniqueness that is underwritten not only by many Japanese scholars themselves but also by the funding priorities of Japanese government entities that are charged with propagating Japanese culture abroad. The vast amount of knowledge produced outside Japan about Japan thus remains suspended in a curious limbo, jealously guarded by its producers, like a fetish that compensates for their lack of access to the “larger” scholarly community. As Harry Harootunian and Masao Miyoshi put it, employing a striking metaphor that Freud would have had a field day with, “More than fifty years after the war’s end American scholars are still organizing knowledge as if confronted by an implacable enemy and thus driven by the desire either to destroy it or marry it.”  -intro, Ibid

Here are some goodies from the world of Japanese Office Ladies  high power female execs: ‘License to drink’: White-collar female workers and Japan’s urban night space,  Swee-Lin Ho,  National University of Singapore:  More good stuff from the same author here. It looks like some of the women are not just pouring tea any more. This one which further examines friendship among businesswomen has an edge; better read the “wa” and suck it up:


A Radical disenchantment of the world…

Perhaps some of this research, suitably translated into Japanese should be made available to Hato and Mada, or better (or worse) the double-double-universe versions thereof in Spotted Flower.

Chapter 12 of Spotted Flower might well be the saddest, most frustrating thing that Kio Shimoku has ever done, which is remarkable for 8 pages of light fluff.

The wife is at home, The husband is meeting with his university days kouhai, who at first glance appears to be a rather sophisticated, good-looking woman in her thirties. I liked the magic circle manga pentagram design on her scarf, but its placement is suspicious; setting off her cleavage, hiding her throat.

And of course her face is vaguely familiar.

She is an accomplished ero-mangaka, who leads a distinguished dojin circle, obviously earns a respectable living doing so, and has contacts sufficient to the task of scaring up a rare copy of an obscure dojin that usually sells online to maniac collectors for over $1,000. And of course she will go out of her way for the sempai she still has feelings for.

And of course she didn’t start life out as a female.

And of course she somehow has heard of his broken wrist, as well as of his impending fatherhood.

And of course the husband is still too much of a chicken shit to take her up on her “joke”, or more importantly to answer her honestly.

And of course, what could have been a great friendship never really had a chance to develop.

And of course this doppelganger Hato knows that doppelganger Madarame won’t ever change. But she is trapped as well.

And of course, the wife can figure it all out from the scent of perfume on her guy’s coat and despite hubby’s josou games, considers the whole thing an annoyance; of less immediate concern than the fact that her guy won’t lust after her while she is gravid.

So nothing really has changed: everyone is still in suspension with all their university years otaku character flaws and hurts still unresolved. No Ano Hanna moment with tears to fix everything, just life creeping inexorably onward.

Or I might be making much too much out of it…

Spotted Flower is where Kio Shimoku plays out and then mucks around with fandom’s demands for happy futures for his characters. Madarame should have ended up with Saki: behold a somewhat Madarame-ish character married to a somewhat Saki-ish character (though recently she is looking a lot less Saki-ish). And lookie; they are a typical couple with child on the way, Hijinks ensue. How nice, how droll.

Hato must have been gay and trans all along so Lo and behold; the kouhai reappears with post-op cleavage and a leftover crush from university days.

unresolved SF 12_4

It is almost as if Kio Shimoku is setting up story lines for the dojinshi circles, or even his own dojins. Any interested dojin-ka could have a field day with this setup. After all, most dojin circles share a common impulse with the late Robert A Heinlein and even manage to accomplish what he never could: get Lazarus “Woody” Long to finally STFU in bed.

Do I hear a whisper of a chorus of Culture Justice Warriors chanting “Check Your Privilege!!! ” at my melancholic reading of chapter 12? Is this just fear of a gay Hato (or trans, or both…) on my part? Nawww… There is just too much hurt and bitter memories beneath the surface of those panels for a simple reading. Well done Shimoku-sensei.

Meanwhile on other fronts, a whole clutch of updates and revisits should be tackled, sooner or later…

Happily ever after…

The scanlators who deal with Usotsuki Lily are undoubtedly waiting for the last tankobon to fall into their hands. The series is now over and from the raws it looks like it ends in a wedding. Before that the happy couple will have broken up; En the crossdresses for a reason male lead will have to deal with an authentic trans character; the gay younger brother and the female lead’s younger brother will have to sort their feelings out and happy endings will have to be arranged for all. Not that hard a task for the author – the lead couple has already consummated (in a brief departure from the usual chastity of the series – fear not, it was tender and romantic as all D’aaaaaawwwwww…) and now they just need to work a few things out. So cute!

In other news…

Mousou Shoujo Otaku kei ended a long time ago, but has finally appeared through devious grey channels to finish up the odd and yet trope-naming story of the geeky fujoshi girl and her hapless boyfriend. It ended cute (of course), and she didn’t have to put her head into imagined yaoi-male-ness too much in order to process romance. The series remains noteable: It might be second most important early fujoshi-ish studies manga ever made (801, itself, with Genshiken somewhere close behind). What stood out in the latter chapters was the importance of the situation/ emotional complexity of the chara feelings influencing the plotting of their fan books. It is not just naughty clench scenes, but the emotions -the endless crap that one thinks the other is thinking and vice versa as the “juice” that powers these fen exercises.

Moving on…

Now that Fujimurakun Meitsu has ended, the Haganai / Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai  franchise remains unchallenged. And yet it ups the stakes as the crossdressing meek lad is unmasked as a cross-cross-dressing young woman with gender dysphoria and/or a “family situation”. And the snarky ex-tomboy’s childhood friendship is reveled. I didn’t expect that much plotting in a gag high school harem grinder. The again, both are archetypal high school harem setups. Another version: Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou. I should start collecting them! (much later: caught the Daimaou anime – what a fanservice and trope trainwreck !!! What didn’t they toss into it ???? Sheeesh!)

Perseverance furthers…

I have yet to do anything with the last few chapters from vol 3 of Murasaki-iro no Qualia I hold in my sweaty hands the authentic Japanese light novel plus volume 3. Raw scans of the latter are also easy enough to find. Guess who still cannot make head or tail of written (or for that matter spoken) Japanese. I fail, waugh!

The eventuality of things is paramount…

Two serious takes on art school and becoming-animal mangaka: Kakukaku Shikajika  and  Natsu no Zenjitsu. The ecchi fluff Shounen yo Taishi o Dake! can now be consigned to the ashbin of history – although it should be mentioned that a rumored animated short was spun off as a marketing ploy for a Hokkaido region University. Then again, there have been earlier manga with the same general title, as some dead euroethnic guy’s quote somehow made it over to Japan and got lodged into Japanese culture as an educational truism/ trope. It all gets a bit confusing.

and so it goes…

Kumo no Graduale is just plain fun! Studio Ghibli should option it.

Absent thee from me a while felicity…

Which is worse? Watching 47 Ronin or The Big O?

By the pricking of my thumb…

Why is a significant minority of 4chan’s /a board so geeked on Witchcraft Works? The plot ain’t much, the male lead is a cypher… It must be the “nightmare of girly frilly stuff at %1200 ” artwork. The design conceit is the oddest thing I have seen in ages: Menacing!

Gion shouja no kane no koe…

My eternal gratitude to the folks doing the grey work to make the classic 1970’s manga Sabu to Ichi Torimonohikae available to us heathens. So what if every crime in Edo is a twisted sex-murder that has to be resolved with a blind masseur’s blade. Again the artwork is astounding, captivating, mesmerising…

Primal scream therapy…

Again, something about the art style in Fukumenkei Noise keeps me reading it. Pure punk-ish shoujo romance grinder. It also is set somewhere near Kamakura, so I can be snookered into playing spot-something-I-recognize.

A secret history of Akihabra…

radio wave man paranoia_agent05

So this is the Japanese equivalent to tin-foil hats?  A side note on an obscure series throws light onto Radio Wave Man from Paranoia Agents:

“A pun on the Japanese word “denpa” from the title, whose casual definition “crazy” as it is used here is derived from its technical usage to refer to electromagnetic or radio waves, this image’s particular relevance will become more obvious in the sequence’s final moments; for now, it serves to introduce the sequence’s sparse, primary color scheme, with all of the bolts colored in bright red, yellow and blue. This sparseness is also suggested by the other main motif of these preliminary moments: a number of radio towers, framed first with just one, in the foreground, in symmetric isolation; then followed by two arrangements of five towers each with the spires distributed throughout both the fore and background. The scale of the shots here suggests a wide, open space, too, which provides a sharp contrast with the following scene.”
Symbolism in Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko’s OP sequence: Part 1

And finally…

These don’t really fit in with the usual theory pile favored by this blog, but so what:

A new post on  neojaponisme, which has been dormant of late (Hooray!!)


Film theory is an excellent resource, especially if one needs an oblique view of narrative and identity construction in mass culture: Visit  and browse away a weekend.

And Good Night, from all of us here…


4 thoughts on “The shards of Mulberry Dover

  1. Submitted on 2014/09/08 at 5:13 pm | In reply to mudakun.

    Yajima is the other woman, I believe, in 12.5 of Spotted Flower.

    But I wrote to advise of Bokura no Hentai manga which around chapter
    25 either ended or began to fly. It has a TG/TS as a main character.
    It has a transgressive gay young man and a young man trying to deal
    with grief overwhelmed mother.

    If you have Usenet you can see my recent post to rec.arts.manga
    or you can easily find the story online.

    I enjoy your site nearly as much as reading Genshiken and of course
    Genshiken Nidame. I enjoy Genshiken so much I even wrote a fan
    anthem for it but so far it hasn’t gotten on any of the Usenet groups
    to which I attempted to post it.


    • Moved your comment(s) here, i like to keep the “about’ page clear…

      Yup, I keep an eye on BNH and its close relative “Himegoto – Juukyuusai no Seifuku/ 19 in a sailor uniform” just to see how other manga tread the line between exploitation and somewhat serious treatment in manga that centers on Hato-ish characters and other youth with “issues”. Neither are “Wandering Son” – which of course sets the standard for sympathetic treatment. I find that the two seem to merge into each other.. almost. I will leave it for some one with skin in the game to comment on how badly either of them screw up. BNH’s one transgendered character comes off heroic and sympathetic. The other two “cross-dress for a reason” seem to manage worse, with lots of powder burnt about being dark and rotten. HJNS is far more exploitative, and not only about crossdressing/ trans characters; Genshiken’s treatment of Hato could easily slide over into that kind of thing if Kio Shimoku gets careless. Ain’t Contemporary Japanese Visual Culture sumthin’ else? So many touchy issues handled with clumsy abandon! What Fun!

      I wonder what Kio Shimoku will have Hato-chan do in Genshiken 104 ? The Spotted Flower treatment still looks like RED DWARF’s double-double universe to me, and yup, I thought it was “not-yajima” too, which is either cute or opens a whole other can of worms…

      PS: USENET wow! Glad to hear that the lamps are still burning. I haven’t fired up AGENT or XNEWS for a decade, I wonder if Google is still indexing em. One day, when work isnt after my soul, I must dip in again..

      Cheers and best regards

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