“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.”
― Kobayashi Issa
This blog will be on hiatus soon, as I forsake the last of winter in Southwestern Ontario,
for the regions around Kamakura during the month of March.
( UPDATE/ ASIDE: Sket-Effing-Dan !!!! Admiration !!!! Good Job !!!! )
Hopefully there will still be plum blossoms when I arrive and cherry blossoms before I leave.
There is a very interesting community festival that is going into setup mode and I want to see how they do it. Carpe Diem!
The Takarazuka Revue is doing a Lupin III musical with a silly story line that includes time travel, Marie Antoinette and Count Cagliostro: Lupin III ~ Chase After The Queen’s Necklace!
When my friend mentioned this I went all happy-crazy and tracked down what I could find on the internet… And sure enough, I had read right past it in a Okazu review by Erica-sensei of a show she attended last fall. I should pay better attention. Last year when hit by a nasty cold and fits of sleeplessness I enjoyed hours of promo Takarazuka somethings – infomercial rehearsals(?) on Japanese cable TV late at night. Done the Sumo and the Noh already; must see the Takarazuka Revue even if I won’t understand a word of it. Tickets prices for the nosebleed seats are reasonable.
It’s Lupin III dammit! I would have preferred a green jacket Lupin, but I understand the choice of red.
UPDATE: Who’d have thot: The Taka Tokyo shows are all sold out! The scalpers are out in full force, asking ridiculous prices! Much running around to follow…
FURTHER UPDATE: Yahoo auctions comes through, helping an enterprising reseller of Takarazuka tix more than double their money. This better be good, I could almost get that wide-angle lens I have been lusting after for what we just dropped on balcony seats for the Saturday matinee.
FURTHER UPDATE: WOW!
Lupin III works as a Takarazuka musical and yup, there was singing and dancing o plenty and they do it very well. Executive summary: It isn’t just about Otoko-Yaku, it’s about Hero-yaku. The Takas did indeed nab something precious. I salute them.
UPDATE: http://www.anime-japan.jp/en/ Will be running the third weekend in March at the Tokyo Big Sight. Dare I venture into the crowds, cough up the admission and wander around like a complete illiterate?
A Comic Market Special “OTAKU Summit 2015” will be held at the old Chiba Comiket location, the Makuhari Messe during the last days of March. Since I could never make it to Comiket, this is a chance for a “lite” Comiket experience. It is run by the official Comiket Committee and looks like it will try to feature as much “Cool Japan” international participation as possible. The weather should be fine too. http://cmksp.jp/cs6/en/
UPDATE: I have secured press accreditation for the event. I will be able to take a few discrete photos! hooray!
There are a whole bunch of interesting Media Arts/ New Media events I need to catch, including a co-presentation from the 18th Japan Media Art Festival – Digital Choc 2015 : The Real Factory http://www.institutfrancais.jp/tokyo/events-manager/digital-choc-2015-la-fabrique-du-reel/
J’espère que je peux me souvenir d’assez de mon français pour profiter des événements.
And while it looks like there aren’t any interesting academic conferences on Contemporary Japanese Visual Culture -ish topics in the Kanto region that I can crash during March, I will be keeping an eye on the few listing forums I have found for such things. I wanted some academic theory-moe about CJVC, in Japan. Is that too much to ask for?
I should settle for a Genshiken “pilgrimage” to Nikko.
And there will be cherry blossoms.
There’s a reason why I am sharing all this besides crowing. I am moving towards doing a lot more freelance cultural and research work in the near future. I haven’t had the time to do any “projects” for a while – though more folks seem to read this blog than ever saw my art, even when I was landing solo shows and spots in regional group shows. Work had become futile, stressful and ugly. My health was failing and nothing of worth was getting accomplished. It was time to hit the eject button. So: Consultant to the community arts, independent curator and researcher; I am waiting for the cards to come back from the printer. All the online expert advice on this kind of adventure advise that I shouldn’t be so furtive. The last academic conference on fandom I wormed my way into reminded me of what I was missing, what I enjoy and what I could be doing with my life. Time to take a chance, chase after the good stuff and share anything neat I find!
I might even be a bit less pseudonymous in the future, now that an ability to string words together in something approaching essay form will neither get me fired or be added to my responsibilities without a pay raise. Did you ever wonder how reviews are written?
So, if you happen to be in the Tokyo/ Yokohama/ Kamakura area this March and you see an over-enthusiastic, bald, once tall, now stooped, middle-aged outlander with a collapsible walking stick being elbowed by his friend as she reminds him to lower his voice… Or wobbling down the street on a one-speed granny bike with a huge box of groceries lashed to the rear carrier… Pay him no mind.
Unless you know of a show, a conference or something else really neat going on…
Also of note, from the point of logistics and Japan-visit-fu: I think I have at last figured out how to have a local cell phone number, plus a smartphone with a data plan for Google Maps, translation and instant pic-posting, working, in Japan, on a tourist visa, without breaking the bank. One month, appx $65 total. This is harder than it sounds unless you care to pay insane daily rent-a-sim rates for your unlocked iphone. Softbank pay-as-you-go on the old flip phone for text and calls, a data-only sim from Asahi.net / NTT for the Android beast. This actually makes sense in the highly restricted Japanese mobile phone market. There are things you just cannot do on a tourist visa. Japan does not believe in free public wi-fi. Past trips and minor pratfalls left me obsessive in the accumulation of legitimate, activate-able Japanese cell phones (I have spares that I could be bribed into parting with, drop a line if), but getting a data plan always eluded me. This time I think I have nailed it!
So that’s the plan!
In lieu of next month’s posts, here are some interesting reads and news bits:
Congratulations to (the soon to be diploma’d) Dr. Nele Noppe!
Her thesis, with its research on dojinshi culture and economies can be read here: http://www.nelenoppe.net/dojinshi/Thesis
Also of interest: two earlier posts by her with ca. 2011 tips on how to navigate comiket:
Comiket report, part 1_ The basics, the catalog, and keeping things fannish
Comiket report, part 2_ Finding the way, fun with crowds and queues, and Snape-spotting. http://unjapanologist.dreamwidth.org/34365.html
…because I have noted that while everyone assumes that detailed information on “How to Comiket for outlanders” is already all over the blogosphere. It ain’t…
In case you missed it, the new ANN interview with Kio Shimoku is out:
Ogiue Maniax‘s proprietor had his question accepted, posed and answered, as did one of his correspondent’s. The reader questions and the interview are excellent – a lot of information was teased out of the elusive, secretive mangaka. Still, I feel teeny pangs of jealousy even though 1) I only learnt of the open call for questions through Ogiue Maniax‘s blog, 2) I only got mine in late and 3) posed an arch question about the influence of theory writings on Hato’s construction and 4) and I got my Japanese wrong in constructing a neologism and had to send an immediate correction, which probably made my question look even weirder than it already was. Good that someone had their stuff together.
You should visit Ogiue Maniax‘s blog (at the very least) for an excellent translation of a Japanese fan’s musings on the current state of the Genshiken (and Otakudom in Japan). This one is gold. https://ogiuemaniax.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/translation-otaku-are-hybridized-genshiken-nidaime-is-painful/
Visit “What is Manga” https://whatismanga.wordpress.com/ as its proprietor rolls out his book on the history of manga in short posts. This is fine stuff, with previous posts discussing neglected resources in the field, material that has been passed over in the rush to jump on the Mechademia pop-theory-ish Cool Japan mikoshi. Hey, I like reading Mechademia as much as the next academic weeaboo, but It really bugs me that it is paywalled, expensive and a bit too sloppy for the coin I have to cough up for it – even used on Amazon. “What is Manga” serves as a long overdue corrective, as well as providing a broad historical perspective on the form.
A really good thing, referred to me by What is Manga‘s proprietor: “Where Do I Belong? The Shape Of the Heart As Reflected in Shoujo Manga.” by Fujimoto Yukari (1998). A fan translation of the first chapter can be found at OWLECTOMY http://owlectomy.dreamwidth.org/114796.html
This is a much quoted book on shoujo manga and proto BL from the late 1980’s.
I do not believe that it has ever been translated into English in full. Use the tag ANDROGYNY to get the four following posts for the entire translation.
“Amongst the mountains of scholars’ papers on shoujo manga, there was one thing in common: a reference to Yukari Fujimoto‘s “Watashi no Ibasho wa Doha Ni Am No?“, in which it clearly shows its writer’s extreme knowledge of the history and social contexts of shoujo manga.
The rather long title of this book actually reads, “Where Do I Belong? The Shape of the Heart as Reflected in Shoujo Manga“. With hundreds of examples and pictures of classical pieces (which a lot of us are familiar with ^^), Fujimoto explains how shoujo manga reflects an adolescent girl’s intense desire to have her self-identity affirmed positively by the self and others in a Japanese society.””
– from, a further consideration of the work at:
MANGA TALK ? “When a non-manga about shoujo manga is more interesting than a shoujo manga“, FEBRUARY 20, 2014
An interesting approach stands out from chapter one: that the girl reader of fantastic gender-blurred shoujo manga in the 1970’s and 1980’s gendered or “sexed” herself as subject only in the presence of the male gaze. This looks like the old “Tomboy’s lament” trope: an interesting way of explaining how easy to digest and popular asexual, gender-switching and gender-blurred characters could have been for a young female audience. Reminds me as well the plot device used on Family Compo‘s Shion.
Interesting work by Tomoko Aoyama:
Note: Prof. Aoyama wrote the very interesting (from the point of Genshiken II and fascinating as background now that Eureka Magazine is doing Yuri) article on how Eureka magazine stoked the yoai BL boom in the mid 2000’s : “Eureka Discovers Culture Girls, Fujoshi, and BL: Essay Review of Three Issues of the Japanese Literary magazine, Yuriika (Eureka)” by Tomoko Aoyama at: http://intersections.anu.edu.au/issue20/aoyama.htm
My earlier comments on it at: https://heartsoffuriousfancies.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/the-possibility-of-global-causality-violation/
The Peach Girl Views: Appropriating the Gaze by Tomoko Aoyama.
Original location was scrubbed but The Archive worked once again. On the history of the Shoujo. https://web.archive.org/web/20120211141846/http://coombs.anu.edu.au/SpecialProj/ASAA/biennial-conference/2004/Aoyama-T-ASAA.pdf
BL (Boys’ Love) Literacy: Subversion, Resuscitation, and Transformation of the (Father’s) Text by Tomoko Aoyama, 2012, Jōsai International Center for the Promotion of Art and Science, Jōsai University. Published in the U.S.-Japan Women’s Journal, Number 43, 2013, pp. 63-84 (Article), University of Hawai’i Press.
The love that poisons: Japanese parody and the new literacy by Tomoko Aoyama. Japan Forum, 1994 – Taylor & Francis.
More Aoyama, a bibliography: http://espace.library.uq.edu.au/jataoyam
This looks interesting:
The Female Gaze in Contemporary Japanese Literature by Kathryn Hemmann
Dissertation for a PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations,
University of Pennsylvania 2013
A short compare and contrast, with some bibliography:
On the depiction of love between girls across cultures: Comparing the U.S. American webcomic YU+ME: dream and the yuri manga “Maria-sama ga miteru” by Verena Maser. International Manga Research Center, Kyoto Seika University. http://imrc.jp/
Time to bug her to upload it to Academia.edu:
Taking Otaku Theory Overseas: Comics Studies and Japan’s Theorists of Postmodern Cultural Consumption by Casey Brienza
“scholars of popular culture should start looking east for renewed theoretical inspiration, to the writings of the so-called `otaku theorists’ Hiroki Azuma, Eiji Otsuka and Tamaki Saito-. Though they write about fans and consumption, they think neither in terms of, say, British cultural studies nor Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology of culture. Instead, the three theorists, working in dialogue with each other, apply postmodern theory to obsessed consumers called `otaku’ and find new, and sometimes problematic, forms of cognition, sociality and relations of power.”
Which pretty well sums up half of the theory moe in this joint.
This was a good read:
Gender Ambiguity and Liberation of Female Sexual Desire in Fantasy Spaces of Shojo Manga and the Shojo Subculture by Maana Sasaki, Critical Theory and Social Justice / Journal of Undergraduate Research / Occidental College, Iss. 1 Vol. 2
Referenced previously – not quite sure of the chronology but I guess it depends on what yuri is being considered:
The Structure of Yuri_ the Shift from Female to Male Audiences, by Kylaran, in Behind The Nihon Review, February 15th, 2010 http://behind-the.nihonreview.com/20100215/the-structure-of-yuri-the-shift-from-female-to-male-audiences/
An oft-quoted old standard in the genre. Lots of folks have quibbles with it, and it is pure 1990’s but still worth a look: Japanese Subculture in the 1990s: Otaku and the Amateur Manga Movement by Sharon Kinsella, Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Summer, 1998), pp. 289-316
More web archeology ca. 2002 (the Archive is your friend for dead links):
The crap one has to put up with to sneak around paywalls!
An Unholy Alliance of Eisenstein and Disney:The Fascist Origins of Otaku Culture by OTSUKA EIJI, Translated by Thomas Lamarre
No idea how long this link will function, get it while you can.
If unreadable, shorten the file name-dot-pdf
Here is something on Chinese yuri-esue shippers of IRL talent show contestants: QUEERLY INTIMATE:Friends, fans and affective communication in a Super Girl fan fiction community by Ling Yang & Hongwei Bao, 2012 https://www.academia.edu/10593408/Queerly_Intimate_Friends_fans_and_affective_communication_in_a_Super_Girl_fan_fiction_community
Here is a critical take on the “My Little Sister can’t be this cute” thing. Glad I gave the manga a pass; the slapstick takeoff on the genre that I reviewed earlier is a lot more redeemable, funnier and comes with less sqick-pandering plot-line. Details of what was avoided, and a consideration thereof, in:
My Little Japan Can’t Be This Tolerant: Deviant Sexualities in the Anime Industry
by Stephen Henry. https://www.academia.edu/10441962/My_Little_Japan_Can_t_Be_This_Tolerant_Deviant_Sexualities_in_the_Anime_Industry
Wherin “oreimo” is presented as exemplar of “the death spiral” in manga and effects on the export market are suggested. Needs a bit of work on the background (newer ‘ket figures, please) and the author should consider the related arguments from Neojaponism (quoted previous post) -but that’s just my 2cents.
Finally, of interest only to readers of old-school American sci-fi and anyone who actually paid attention to the Darger outsider art chapters in Dr Saito Tamaki’s Beautiful Fighting Girl. Must all dojinshi-like impulses be born out of a secret obsession? Someone should email Dr.Tamaki the link: My Dad, the Pornographer – A memoir of the sci-fi writer A.J. Offutt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_J._Offutt) by his son at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/magazine/my-dad-the-pornographer.html?_r=0
If anything else interesting pops up in the next few weeks, I will add it into the above list.
Cheers and thanks for dropping by!
Have very good time in Japan. We await your return and resumption of your
commentary with new insights(hopefully).
In the meantime I have found two more TS/TG stories.
Currently though I am reading the translation of “Sasameki Koto”
titled “Whispered Words” and it is fine but has some typos or
On to the main event of this visit.
Kyoukai no Nai Sekai
Alternative Name:境界のないセカイ; 沒有境界的世界; A World Without Boundaries
Genre(s):Comedy, Ecchi, Gender Bender, School Life
Summary: What if the person you liked was the same gender?
A beautiful girl suddenly appeared in front of the main character, Yuji!
But what’s her real identity…!? A new generation love comedy that
questions “true love” in between tales of laughter and sadness.
Kyoukai no Nai Sekai aka A World Without Boundaries
is a TG/TS dream of a world where anyone over 18 can
get a sex change and it is a complete sex change not
merely re-assignment surgery.
A lot of the stuff is fan service but it touches
on the serious issue of acceptance including self-
There are agitators against the Policy of Sex
Change after the age of 18. What a surprize!
KYOU KARA YONSHIMAI
Genre(s):Gender Bender, Seinen
Status:Ongoing Kyou Kara Yonshimai 12 will coming next
Kyou Kara Yonshimai Manga
Summary: Sakura Manabe is a 16-year-old in high school student and is
living with her 12-year-old sister Momiji and 27-year-old sister
Botan, who works to support the three of them. Their 19-year-old
brother Kashiwa has been away at college for two years and has
suddenly decided to come back as a girl.
This not only discusses the TG but the feelings of the sisters.
Thanks for dropping by, and for the referrals.. Have seen both, but haven’t discovered much theory-moe potential in either yet, though the second one is far more dramatic as the family situation starts to fall apart due to financial pressures. The first one reminds me of 30yr old John Varley sci-fi stories. Meanwhile; perhaps all this pop culture gender-role questioning and tourism-fiction is having some real-world effect. I note a recent article in the Japan Times that some Tokyo wards will be moving to issue their own “civil union” certificates to couples that don’t fit traditional definitions of marriage. This is interesting because you have reform coming from the “grass-roots” when a federal system’s politics are so gridlocked, cynical and dysfunctional that nothing can get done. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/12/national/same-sex-couples-to-get-recognition-under-plan-by-shibuya-ward/
Could 20 years of pop culture “gender tourism” in Japanese manga have a teeny tiny effect on local politics? Of course not to dismiss the hard work of folks on the ground pushing for change, but you don’t see hater protests against either..
(Later: perhaps not that easy, per: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/20/national/social-issues/gay-marriage-push-faces-constitutional-barrier/ Note the numbers from the Asahi poll.)
Hi! This is really random and I stumbled upon you by google, but as a fellow geek and Takarazuka-goer, could you let me know how to find these scalpers? I was unlucky enough for my only time in Tokyo ever to be during a farewell show, so toujitsuken are right out. I’m kind of desperate, so this is kind of a hail mary information finding attempt.
Jeesh, somehow the comment flag didn’t show up until now, so this might be too late, but Yahoo auction Japan has a whole ticket section and a subsection for the takas, divided even between their main stage and the Tokyo stage. Auto-translate in Chrome helped. A Japanese friend is a necessity as unregistered folks can only bid to $50 / Y5,000 and a Japanese credit card (not a western one) or bank account (both unavailable to tourists) will be needed to register to the auction site to bid more. One last hope: there is a limited SRO routine for each show, but it works by pre-registered que number and even those sell on yahoo. So hanging around the ticket office during a matinee might be your best chance to see a show, standing, leaning up against a railing at the very topmost aisle of the top balcony; which was only 7 rows up from the seats we ended up paying Y8500 each for.
I hope it somehow works/worked out for you.
2016 Update, in case ANYONE hits this through a search engine:
Buy official Taka Tix online in English for the tokyo stage