Wherein the shock of chapter 120’s apparent developments causes a mild case of dis-associative writing conceit.
AKA, the post that will not resolve! Updated and added to on Jan 30; even more stuck in on Feb 01, 2016… Some one stop me now!
Our 53rd “Genshiken used to be good but is now nothing but gay fujoshi shit” discussion is now in session.
Mudakun, confused: Soooo… Chapter 120 raws are out. I was expecting Madarame to just stand there, or to get all angry and bitter and spit out at Ogiue that he’s been set up to be the coward. Hato can back out of something that the Hatos got too deep into and the girls can have their melodramatic story of failed boy love. Swear a lot, then go home and call a moving company.
Mudakun, sympathetic: On the other hand, Mada has sure shown some spine, going after Hato, not giving up after a classic manga “thorny path” speech on top of Hato’s earlier “I am not the pretty thing you think I am” speech. He might be wondering what the heck he’s getting himself into, but he feels something and he’s acting on it. That’s commendable… Manly even… Am I committing a spoiler? Ok:
SPOILER WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!
Mudakun, angry: I think Keiko was right after all. While Hato might not be consciously setting out to fuck Madarame around, the Hato continuum is such a great big screaming drama-queenish mess that anybody who gets sucked in is gonna get hacked up. Ya’ dont put your hands under running lawn mowers. Scorpion and frog…
…Closest thing to Hato acting honorable were the two attempts to back out, but both times Hato wanted to save face and be the hero. “I am not the perfect girly girl I present as, choose someone else !!!” “you are not ready to walk the thorny path, you are only in for cheap thrills!” Such self-sacrifice from the conflicted kouhai. C’mon; what is bugging Hato is that Madarame is leading, not following and that the Mada-sou-uke script is in shambles. Also it looks like shit is getting real and maybe the Hato continuum ain’t ready for
butt-sex intimacy. Maybe Hato fears that a real m:m romance will jeapardize their membership status in the magic Genshiken circle of fujoshi-dom?
…Also, not buying the “Brave Mada” thing completely either. Hato as proxy for Shimoku-sensei has set up the readership by running a wish fulfillment script for the fen-dom. Mada is patheticly overwhelmed by the harem interest. That doesn’t sound like a recipe for true love or even a weekend of fun. The Hato-wanting-Mada story still feels like Hato is dancing to an internalised fujoshi script and acting it out for his idea of a gift for the Genshiken wimmens, as proxy for the shipping (assumed rotten, female) readership. I don’t buy Hato’s want-him-at-first-sight pity-moe and I don’t think they know each other well enough to have any other reasons to suddenly want each other. Any evidence of even “he’s my type” physical desire? Do either of them look at any other 3D male body parts? Even each other’s? At least Rika thinks Mada has a sexy neck and collarbone. Sure Hato has ingested metric shit-tons of yaoi, but then hitting on the first vulnerable guy in sight isn’t exactly fair ball, is it? I read nothing but opportunism and sempai pity-moe from Hato and “Hato is interested in me and I’m not as scared by that as I am scared of interest by Angela, Sue or Keiko” from Madarame.
Mudakun, analytical: Well, one thing you gotta hand to Kio Shimoku; He has dragged whatever straight male audience of otaku his series had left into gradually accepting that the senior geek character could go soft-gay (as opposed to hard gay?) for a crossdressing and rather confused young.. ahem.. might as well use the rude gay term, twink. Assuming the author still wants to sell shit, this is quite a high wire act. And Shimoku has now started drawing boy-Hato as overexaggeratedly “cute”, Check this out:
Mudakun, confused: Yikes! That’s not just rotten girl bait! Pretty boy Hato! That’s massive ‘phobosity-inducing poking at us insecure guys and possibly some service for whoever… Does Shimoku plan to write Hato into a boy band? I hear that some of the managers want droit-de-seigneur from their charges.
Mudakun, angry: You give him too much credit. Kio Shimoku is just running a boys-in-skirts retread. Otokonoko, otokonoko, otokonoko. If it wears skirt it’s a girl… etc. Figures that if that “Dicca” mangaka can sell a few pervy fujo retreads to straight boys, that mining the “Reversible” market will extend the life of a long-in-the-tooth franchise.
Mudakun, analytical: I would remind all of you that no one has got nekkid with anyone else and a tub of sex lube yet. Aren’t these charas still (if not paired off) all angsty, clumsy virgins?
M,sympathetic: There still is plenty of time for the happy couple to talk it over and realize that while they both might be uncomfortable with the idea of fucking, there is something there… Something, maybe like friendship? What a roundabout way to go about it. This, by the way is what I call the Helmut error, and even Sedgwick makes it. It assumes that everything for guys leads inexorably to guys fucking, all the time, above all else. The goggles – they are hard to avoid, both for the rotten contingent and for a gay community that wants to see any affirmation of their lives in the crushing weight of straight narrative. This is understandable as sex is very good, but all indications, including the dating scene in modern Japan sez that this is in no way absolute. Straight or gay, folks, even male ones, can be hesitant and choosy.
M,angry: Yeah, yeah, yeah… I’ve heard all this before, but ya’ know: The complainers on 4chan and some of the forums have a point! Where is all the geek lore? Where is the otaku social stuff? It has been all romcom hitch-Mada-up for a year (or more like 3) now. And you haven’t heard it all yet… Get this: Some anon on 4chan said that in the dialogue in ch120, as Mada is going on that he’s not completely scared off yet, stooopid-Hato comes out and insists that Mada has to be the uke if they are going to go out. The Uke! Fuck That!
M,analytical: Any idea what Mada has to say about that?
M,angry: Fuck what Mada says, he’ll probably just mumble something or whatever. Thing is, that’s a pretty shitty way to start off a relationship. Kio Shimoku is being nasty! Neither of them know jack-shit about how to do man-sex – not that I do either, but it sure doesn’t sound like something one tries to fake from what you picked up from trap games and yaoi. One of the big complaints that real gay guys have about yaoi and BL is the whole seme/uke thing.
Behold the fearsome seme!
M,analytical: Maybe Shimoku is after a bigger de-construct of fujo fantasies and will go into rude grotty details of the scared couple making a terrible mess of man-sex. I mean, it is almost a miracle that they can hold hands without one or the other getting hurt, the way they have been written. The first kiss is going to end up with at least one broken nose. Could they even get up the nerve to try a first kiss? What if one of them doesn’t smell right to the other? Shimoku will have to get them both really drunk first! Then someone can ralf all over someone else.
M,less angry, now skeptical: Yeah, I mean putting aside that they are cartoon characters and can be written as realistic or unrealistic as needed, the only way that either of them has ever considered same-sex desire has been through fantastic representations of it – BL and josou games.
M,sympathetic: Careful… Remember that for angsty virgins even vanilla m:f intimacy will be clumsy the first few times. No matter how much porn they have read. Same for romantic relationship stuff. If you put heavier conditions on same-sex romance and -urmm- the mechanics, you come off a bit phobic, neh? Similarly, where were the objections over Angela, Keiko or Sue being interested in Mada? Not much to go on there, neh? Isn’t the whole premise of this dialogue contaminated with an undercurrent of phobosity; fear of a gay or trans* Hato and “mourning” for the “queering”/”gay-ing” of Madarame? That, in the very least looks sad. Didn’t we expect more from ourselves than that?
M,confused: Isn’t it easy to blame-wash discomfort as something a lot worse? We are working on it. If anything we were lulled into a false sense of security by all the denial being spouted within the story. Sure, the denials became more and more strained as the story went on, but these mirror the not-gay/ fantasy-shadow-of-gay of lots of BL and yaoi, plus the long-standing slipperiness of public identities like “gay”, their application to same-sex practitioners in Japan; plus the whole sociology/ gender studies thingy about “men who have sex with men”. You could run a grad seminar on sexuality and gender issues on the Genshiken.
If Hato and Madarame do become an intimate couple, will either of them ever admit to being “gaei” (or however Japanese folks are pronouncing it this week) or “bi” or non-binary, or queer or any other of our familiar western labels? Or will the happy guys just take refuge in “I’m not… , it’s only him”? Or Hato will finally cop to “The heart of a girl, so the couple are now all progressively and nominally “straight” again. Perhaps they’ll just call it a “hobby”? Kio Shimoku likes to tease his readers.
M,now skeptical: It would have been easier if the readership was not put in the position of either assuming a default state of heterosexuality for the characters, then adding “fantasy sports” to their tastes as a side effect of their pervy fannish enthusiasms and had, in the matter of those who grumbled and dropped the series, just assumed that all the Genshiken characters were all going to be “just-so” polymorphously perverse as a story-telling trick: The Genshiken as a slow, toned-down, better behaved Rocky Horror show.
M,sympathetic: That would have made all the characters read as obnoxious posers, rather than conflicted, shy young-adult fans. The only odd thing is that their hobbies involve displaced, fantasy minority sexual and gender expressions, while they themselves default as angsty straight virgins. They just like reading about under-age lolis, magically sexy girly-boys and bishie guys (or rugged oyagi) struck by fits of lust and passion for each other. No fantasy lesbians though (so sad…) The ‘phobosity is a side effect of the exoticism. We are into a more complex “othering” than simple fear/dislike/phobia.
Besides; once we have invested in sympathetic characters, the doctrine of authenticity calls; we want them to “be happy” by being true to themselves. Hato can announce to Madarame “I hope this doesn’t freak you out, but I feel something” Madarme can then decide. Everything above-board, upright and very boring story-telling. If only Hato wasn’t such a conflicted tangle of desires and denial… Both Keiko and Rika have addressed this obliquely within the story.
M,now skeptical: Hmmmph! Are you sure that lurking the rotten-girl feed on Tumblr and those little fanfiction experiments haven’t swung you from one extreme of bias to another?
M,confused: Ok, Angela is still paper-thin, but at least from Kio Shimoku’s slightly nihon-jiron perspective, athletic carnivorous convention-going American girls might be predisposed towards a ride on the yellow taxi and develop a geek crush on Mada. Angela is alien and aliens do alien things. My past objections to her characterisation still hold; the character type is troublesome, even if the way he draws her and the few lines he gives her softens it a bit.
Sue is still best girl because she and Madarame are equal in otaku lore and fanatic devotion to the culture – they have been trading obscure references since day one. The only thing wonky about her chara is how she bounces from exuberant fannish whirlwind to paralysed shy Sue. I know that the second version is to level her up from joke character and is supposed to manifest only if she is experiencing any “feelings”, but the execution has been a bit rough. Her little talk with Madarame has fixed this a bit, but not enough. I used to think SueHato would be a great power couple but Spotted Flower convinced me the YajimaHato is better, because the Hato continuum is a heck of a lot of work. And don’t tell me that Yajima Merei would put up for any BL uke-seme nonsense. Guess seme-uke doesn’t come into play if you are with a woman, boob job or not…
Keiko? Keiko is Keiko. As The Adversary, she is still the most believable, but shouldn’t she be raging? She just proposed to Madarame, even saying that she would support his useless ass and he stood there paralysed.
M,now skeptical: Ok, I buy all that. Let me recontextualise: I question not the gayness but Hato’s sincerity. Hato trying to back out might even be read as the last honest part of him trying to trick himself into behaving decently. Asking Mada to be the uke? Jeeesh! That’s like asking the girl you are meeting for a first date if she will please wear rubber undies, cat ears and high heels later that night. Hato is running on a script: from sempai crush and the Stands cheering section onward to little miss Nadeshiko no Genshiken. It reads as selfish and predatory and devoid of love or even friendship.
M,analytical: All our desires are just things we force on others anyway? Still, would sincerity be a big issue if it was a m:f crush?
M,now skeptical: I recall that someone had a very cynical reading of Sasahara going through the motions of not freaking out while reading Ogiue’s dojin. Brain to Sass: smile and compliment her silly gay smut = get into her pantsu. WIN!
M,analytical: Point taken; aren’t we all the big mushy romantic.
M,sympathetic: Look, you might be a bit right about my point of view shifting, or at least acknowledging how other fans can get caught up in their enthusiasms. What’s wrong with that? They are pretty damn resourceful; they “add value” and make “secondary product” and do what academics call “transformative works” and they came up with the link for the raws really fast, because I was too lazy to sit on /a for days waiting for the post. Pretty impressive. We all get more material out of our fave franchise as long as we don’t freak out and go all phobic. Some of their insights are GOLD! It’s not like the Genshiken fendom are doing Nazi S&M bara and stuffing it in our faces. Given that Kio Shimoku wants to be the numero uno producer of fanfiction for his own property and routinely sucks the oxygen out of the room, it’s a wonder anything gets made.
Besides, you were pleased as punch that you snuck into Hatozine, and lookie how all the other pieces in it were good. No horses got frightened. No Mada screaming that his butt hurt. And what of all that other weird fic you wrote in order to quote: “work out the possibilities”.
M,analytical: Hey! You were there too. We can’t blather on about fandom and dojins and fans making a story their own and never know how it feels to do it, can we? It was all worksafe. You gotta admit that the Sue and Hato-kun piece wouldn’t have come together unless we got all the other crap out of the way. And a Qualia rip-off is as good an excuse for a multiverse as any. We LIKE Qualia. Gaku is frighteningly romantic in a psycho lesbian way. Gaku could out-psycho Muracielago; maybe not the first 600 times, but she wouldn’t give up. Gaku never gives up. She’s in love. “What other purpose does my existence serve?” You know she is lurking in the wings. Much psychotic mojo is bound to rub off. Just wait until Keiko shows up.
M,skeptical: stop self-promoting. You even wrote a gay Hato and happy (absent) Mada into the mess. Besides, if it was so much fun, why haven’t you fixed the dialogue yet? What about all those tips your beta reader red-pencilled up for you? Got bored and distracted again?
M,sympathetic: We had better things to do IRL, neh? And please remember that the one probability-variant Hato was out about his sexuality, had had a lot of interaction with his Mada before-hand and the happy couple were working it out without the stupid BL stuff. We had to throw in at least one Mada and Hato pairing, vanilla as fuck, or it would fail as a multiverse.
AHEM! GENTLEMEN! Aren’t we a little off-topic?
M,confused: Uhhhh, right, Ok; Here’s another thing I don’t get. Many of the past works by the mangaka have relationships that barely hold together and then painfully fall apart. Or deal with their aftermath. They are serious and big-time realistic – well except for the in-verse Genshiken spin-offs. Spotted Flower suggests that Saki breaks it off with Kousaka – or vice versa, or did he get hit by a beer truck? So far though, the Genshiken ‘verse rules are that once paired, folks stay that way for good. BL scripts: are they still big on happily ever after? The wimmins love that kind of stuff. Pure Shoujo. Is the Genshiken going to stay monogamous?
M,now skeptical: Yeah, good point. Mada could turn into the bad guy and develop Magic Dick syndrome. Worked once, lets see what else it can do. What if Mada starts spouting “I’m not gay, its only Hato – but you are cuter” lines? He could, even innocently, completely destroy the Genshiken. Was Kio Shimoku dropping a hint when he had Kuchiki bring up up the “circle queen” trope with Ohno? “I really like Hato, but the physical stuff doesn’t work for me“, confides Madarame with a sad face… Keiko would fall in an instant. The rest of the harem might waver, but a few would fall. That would salve a lot of bent phobish noses, including mine. One pretty boy while in University; not like it’s murder, incest or folk dancing.
4Chan as usual has much to say:
Ooops that died, try this : http://desustorage.org/a/thread/136565463 and this:
http://desustorage.org/a/thread/136702355/ as well as this earlier thread:
M,sympathetic: That’s pretty harsh.
M,now skeptical: What do you think powers the whole josou/ trap game thing? It could even be considered a working evolutionary strategy if it gets Mada out of his shell of intimacy-fear and it eventually leads to sex with women, pair bonding and baby making. An alternative to “childless single men who masturbate to anime and do not matter in the over-all course of humanity” (see previous post). Hey: maybe that’s why Hato kept trying to back out. The Hato continuum suspects treachery. Get used as “training wheels” and then Saki changes her mind and it’s “see you ’round kiddo”. It’s that old yuri trope, retreaded.
M,confused: So in a way the seme/uke stuff is standing in for larger issues of who can bail and who gets left behind once the initial thrill wears off? Also; are we missing some big joke for the fujoshi community; that Hato is just as improbable a seme as Madarame? Maybe Hato needs to go all judo-psycho on a sempai, any sempai to avenge the hurt that Kaminaga caused him? That’s a great way to run a romance; not. I keep thinking that Kio Shimoku is more likely to poke at fujoshi foibles after setting up their expectations, then to completely pander to them. Madarame has a head full of otokonoko games, Hato a head full of yaoi. And I am willing to bet a cookie that Hato is being written as still thinking that Madarame has fallen for a fantasy female Hato. Big mistake. It sure reads as if Madarame has always seen Hato, kun and chan as a guy otaku with a taste for BL who has a crossdressing hobby and who will blubber “I’m not gay”, all while having a head full of male:male fantasies. Fantasies that were made by wimmen for wimmen. So far into the wrong closet that he is half-way to Narnia.
Gawd! Maybe the problem is that Mada has developed a severe case of Hato-moe! All that hemming and hawing and denial and running away and “No! I get to be seme” (pout!) stuff is the twink/otokonoko version of tsundere?
M,sympathetic: Poor Madarame, odds on he will lead with his heart on his sleeve, rather than as a gormless horn-dawg who got a chance to give it a spin around the block. Mada doesn’t think that Hato is chan or even a josou game otokonoko. Hato however is not “all in” in the romance department. Hato is acting out. Mada will ache for Hato long before Hato aches for Mada. Perhaps Madarame is fooling himself into thinking that while not the girl that Hato presents as, Hato does have the heart of a girl, rotten as it may be, trapped in a boy’s body.
M,now skeptical (not the least bit raging any more): Kio Shimoku seldom writes characters that ache. Very reserved, very Japanese. Perhaps we have finally hit on the reason for Keiko’s inclusion in the Harem; she at least shows emotion! Is this a subtle social-class thing as well? File that one away…
At the very least Kio Shimoku has pulled off one further slight of hand. He has managed to make desperation into an attractive after-shave for Madarame. As if ill-socialized nerd losers can suddenly go HoYay, “get lucky” and find true lurv. Or is the subtext that shy, tongue-tied losers weren’t motivated enough, or could not put aside their fears until they twigged to man-love? Scary as all heck, all that shyness just meant that buddy was LATENT. That’s a real old bogeyman. It causes nasty IRL fallout too.
M,confused: What about the rest of the Genshiken and the other harem members?
M,now skeptical: Right! Good call! Are their motives and behavior acceptable, or must they be denounced? Once again, I nominate Keiko for most authentic and honest. She has no BL sloshing around in her head and only suffers from relationship cynicism. She is the only reality and morals-check in the whole excursion, even as she has let her competitiveness get the better of her. …Or she is hubby hunting. Mada would be a marry-up and would make for a good provider if she could clean him up and send him out to bring home the bacon.
M,analytical: Second that; but her deferring to Sue is odd. A few minutes earlier she had characterized Sue as borderline autistic. Of course Sue did win the New Year’s eve games for Mada and since Keiko considers Madarame a loser geek, another geek would be an acceptable pairing. Plus as an outlander, Sue could later evaporate. Picking up after Sue wouldn’t be demeaning. Playing rebound girl to Angela would be.
Sue of course is amazing and deserves happiness, but she has a fierce pair of the goggles as well. Part of her will always be cheering for a BL romance played out in front of her eyes and that blinds her and biases her towards cheering HatoMadaHato on, despite the obvious problematics of the pairing. Add to that how she feels guilty for outing Hato’s secret stash of MadaHato sketches and killing (for 2 weeks) his fan-love. She is as prone to let a trainwreck occur in front of her nose in the name of storybook lurv, as the rest of them.
Angela has a similar weakness: she may be interested in Madarame for all kinds of reasons, but again, the goggles get in the way. Her reasons and how serious she might be about Madarame are opaque. Her past romantic life is a cipher – we assume that she takes what she wants but no one has wormed the details out of Ohno yet, and Ohno supports her as best choice for Madarame – which should mean something. Despite this, her “Hato is Madarame’s heart” stuff is pure shoujo tripe. Her fujoshi tastes have blinded her and she has stripped both Hato and Madarame of their reality as human beings by cheering on a fantasy script.
M,confused: I don’t like how Rika fits in. Playing Loki the trickster is going to backfire. On one hand she is quick to “get real” and announce that yup, Hato is probably 3D gay, denial or not and Madarame ain’t, so it might start all gushy BL but it won’t end pretty. The VIP member will get bruised; output of good steamy yaoi clench illustrations will decline. Weighed against this is her natural urge to stage manage a far-too-complicated plot. HatoMadaHato to launch, much drama to ensue, followed by heartbreak and then friend Yajimacci gets her heart’s desire. Hato the creative wunderkind gets a babysitter. Dojins flow freely through the land of the Genshiken. Perhaps the shock of a broken heart will even be the kick needed to jump-start Hato’s story-telling engine. Madarame therefore is expendable to the greater cause. Hey wait a second; How happy is Yajima going to be if Hato really IS gay? Setting your friend up for a future of “Geh, he’s out with some guy again” doesn’t seem to be that nice a trick. Or does Rika consider Yajima so “manly” that she will be enough to “cure” or at least stabilize Hato?
M,analytical: Yajima Merei is acceptable as all heck. We can at least look at Spotted Flower as one possible fate for her and her alternate self doesn’t seem too phased at being stuck in a weird relationship with a possible Hato. Japanese society is full of good sensible wifeys who put up with the odd habits of their spouses, as long as it keeps freak hubby productive, happy, out of trouble and devoted. So you have the heart of a guy after all, but you’ve always wanted boobs? Fine, whatever. Keep drawing. The fool needs me.
In real time however, Yajima is a mess. Her angst is going to be the way Kio Shimoku levels her up and showing the end product before you show the shovel work that got there is a bit of a cheat. Her early “why don’t you stop crossdressing?” insistence made her look like a ‘phobe but of course was just a setup for her “awakening desires”. She has beheld the smoothness that is Hato-kun and she feels something she thought she would never feel. She has just begun to give herself permission to feel it and it is driving her crazy. On the other hand, smooth-boy sure looks to be as queer as a 300 Yen coin or better, in deep deep denial and therefore a great candidate for a starring role in a BL tale. Yajima, while not as vocal about it as the others, enjoys her BL. She also has her pride. Hato-chan still bugs the heck out of her. Too bad Rika decided to give her desire a nudge. If she sits quietly, she is complicit in the inevitable trainwreck as she waits to pick up the pieces. If she tries to stop it, she is jealous and will most probably fail in any case. That would crush her – she has very little confidence in matters of the heart. Either way, she’s guilty as fuck. But she will still stand by and watch Mada and Hato go off hand in hand.
M, analytical: And then there is Ogiue blundering into the fray. “Go after Hato! Sass went after me, so of course that’s the way it has to work“. Funny how Hato-chan had not yet rejoined the group, was just hanging around, waiting, waiting, all by her little lonesome…
M,skeptical: It all boils down to the absence of women in BL tales. The only roles that gals can have in a BL tale are cheerleader or “that bitch”. The women of the Genshiken cannot put their desires foremost in the face of a juicy 3D ship. Another thing: It looks to me like Kio Shimoku has abandoned almost all of the fan-lore in favor of stealing the focus on emotional, relationshippy stuff from Shoujo/BL/Josei: only he is going to do it “meta” and by adding disappointment plus “reality don’t work like that”, prove that he can hold his own against the standards. And he wants to snooker otaku guys into reading the stuff. Josei manga for guys. Hah hah hah!
M,sympathetic: Hey, you still after him for moonlighting at Paradis?
M,analytic: You have to admit, he’s moving towards Josei territory. And moonlighting a thinly veiled spin-off at a josei/yuri/what the hell izzit??? smutty magazine is a damn fine insurance policy. “Wrap it up, you are cancelled” they say? “I have prepared for treachery!” Paradis even allows for 18+ steam. Where else could you shop a sex scene between a cynical but still in-love big girl and her manic “new half” lover? I bet that Kio Shimoku could even make it tender. Dirty, but tender and slightly melancholic. Might be even better than yuri smut. Boy’s got needs, ya know…
M,confused: whoa! you all are too pervy for me to keep up with.
…Heard that one before…
…So, hand in hand into the setting sun are they? Where they off to?
…Liquor store and a pharmacy first!
…Manners! Don’t ‘phobe out!
…It’s Ok if they are both in Lurv. Its OK if they are both just out for kicks. Consent concern!
…Eyes wide shut!
…Whatever… lunch time!
A FEW DAYS LATER:
Mudakun, skeptical: This is problematic, reopening a post to process new developments. We should be writing a new post.
Mudakun, analytical: I think it is better to cover this like “breaking news”, but you are right in one way; there’s a big danger of it looking like we are covering our bets and “explaining our position” in a way that reeks of bad faith. And the whole “dis-associative discussion” conceit is getting strained.
Mudakun, sympathetic: But lookie at all the developments! More info about what is going on in ch 120 from Dr ogiue Maniax’s post [http://ogiuemaniax.com/2016/01/29/final-fantasy-genshiken-ii-chapter-120/]. Lots of great comments here (please visit the comment section!) on this post and at his blog – (Jeesh I went overboard in his comment section; embarrassment! )
Remember you made this blog so many years ago precisely because you were overdoing it commenting on other people’s blogs!
Also: this is a major development in a series that anchors this blog, its research and the hearts of the disparate fandoms that follow the Genshiken and CJVC. To radically simplify; the guys who liked the old male-otaku comedy slice of life social anthropology in the first iteration of Genshiken plus the (assume mostly, not all) women who have invested in the romantic tension between Hato Kenjiro and Madarame Harunobu. Note that as in the Genshiken, the latter seem to be more productive in terms of secondary/transformative work on the canon. This is a force-multiplier for their points of view.
Add to that the phenom that we must process this as western fans, which involves an odd dynamic apart from Japanese readers and fandom – they get the chapter and mull it over. We wait for -ahem- unauthorised fan translations and the more rabid of us search out copies of the original Japanese. These are then “understood” from a range of; completely by the pictures, through “somebody said that chara said this” to “review with care not to drop too many spoilers” through to fan scripts and finally, a month or more later, the careful fan translations that we all rely on. You have to admit it is a different, more drawn-out “reading”, one that may even have its own benefits in terms of building and maintaining a certain kind of, even obsessive fan interest.
Mudakun, confused: So what is happening is kind of like real-time, dragged-out, play by play, pop literary criticism? Jeesh! It is all really tenuous. We read too much of our own biases into the scraps and wisps that we glom onto. Take chapter 120’s indications that as Hato is telling mada that if they go through with this there will be MadaHato and there will be HatoMada.
As Dr. Maniax has lead his review with: (Yikes!) Anal Sex!. But of course it is nowhere that simple. What, and with what nuances is Hato dropping the bomb? In the immortal words of Bill Clinton, “what do you mean by sex?” Is Hato saying; “You wont get any boobs or pussy from me, and at some point we will have to consider the possibilities of each others’ backsides? Well, heck, plenty of male:female couples try it, even some female:female couples use toys to play in the back lot. Depends on how slow and considered and safe and extremely attentive to consent folks go about it, neh? The possibility for getting hurt is high. There is plenty of discussion about the symbolism, politics and best practices about that in minority sexuality’s discussions and lore and even boring straight folks can find lots of consideration about going there, if they take the time and effort to educate themselves.
Or does Hato Kenjiro refer to his/her/their fantasies instead or as well? Because the Hatos have been pretty well recognised within the Genshiken as having a habit of drawing “hardcore” stuff. Lotsa mosaics when flashes of it are shown, but it is strongly suggested that the sex presented is “rough” and comes with a bit, (or more) of bondage fetish. Note that Hato’s ukes’ hands are often out of sight, behind the back. They ain’t scratching their tailbones. Hato doesn’t seem to do happy western-vanilla-slash style holding hands, happy glances and buddy-skinship.
Hato-as-written-chara aside; this would be perfectly in keeping with a critical representation of the harder yaoi artifacts within the Japanese BL fandom, by Kio Shimoku. Lots of criticism has been raised at the fandom for this kind of stuff; even if straight (and faux lesbian for straights) pornish smut manga etc., gets just as nasty; the politics of representing gay males by straight women, as overwhelmingly into overblown rough, over-dramatic angsty sex is downright regressive. But defenders of the practice from the ranks of Japanese female hardcore yaoi fans are adamant that they need this, want it, fantasy is fantasy and they’ll even go out of their way to hide it well behind lots of warnings, disclaimers, book slipcovers and very secure, passworded online venues. “We apologise, but we ain’t giving this up, it is ours!”
Go back and review the Nagaike stuff, if you need a refresher on the extremes of fujoshi practice, Recall hat we did a messy walkthrough of her first big thing, some time ago: https://heartsoffuriousfancies.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/the-girl-looks-at-the-boy-looking-at-johnny-while-his-father-is/
(and remember to play Patti Smith’s Horses at the end -pure punk slashy stream-o-consciousness eroticism! Hawt as blazes!)
I would even add the testimony of BK, friend of a friend -aw heck we worked with him years past, back at Uni. He had to suffer being a campus “gay spokesperson” back in the neolithic age. Had been to Japan a few times, liked the gay scene there. When asked about yaoi, his comment was: “Yeah I’ve seen it, but it is wayyyy too rapey for me.” So I draw a line from one or two points on a graph? What else do I have? Outlander academics including Dr. Mizoguchi ?
Some points of discussion from within CJVC (gleaned from past posts)
Mudakun, skeptical: Yeah, yeah, yeah, thanks for the seminar, professor. But you are falling for Kio Shimoku’s trick. Of course a certain part of the fandom, guys, not-too knowledgeable stodgy and uncomfortable with “gay stuff” male fans (yup, that’s us!) are going to get snookered by this. Shock and Outrage! Mourning for Madarame’s lost heterosexuality. One can even argue that Hato tossed it in the way of a pursuing Mada for exactly that reason. “WhoooHooooo! Butt Sex! Scary, scary butt-sex! And guess what? My fantasy version of it is gonna hurt you bad, and I might just need that so much I demand it as a precondition, even if I have no freaking real life experience in it or how horribly it can go wrong.” Is this what Hato is saying? Step back and it is obvious that if Hato wants Mada and Mada wants Hato, they can figure out (be written as figuring out) almost an infinite variety of ways to achieve and/ or give each other/ share pleasure, orgasms without sending each other to a proctologist for surgical reconstruction and fistula/ hemorrhoid/ anal wart removal. As some gay guys have pointed out in “ask a gay guy stuff” web video explanations to confused straight guys: “we’re guys, we can figure out what we like.”
So I call “Red Herring!”
Counter to this the very persuasive arguments from those who advocate for a sympathetic reading of Hato’s frustratingly evasive behaviour. See comment section, (really.. please, go read the comments… Feel free to add also) Where “we” read “dancing to a script like a puppet” others have advanced the equally possible and far more sympathetic reading that Hato is wracked with insecurity, prone to self-sabotage, damn committed to making sure his “trap” persona will not under any circumstances “trap” and desperately doing what small things he (and she, they…) can for Madarame because he (and she, they…) are wracked with feelings for Madarame and cannot figure out how to “honorably” and significantly show these. So Hato is left with presenting to Mada as Nadeshiko no Genshiken, cooking him meals and cleaning up his place. That’s all that Hato can do: “care” for Madarame. Oh, and valentine’s day chocolate…
Which actually puts Hato in the most traditional (and sympathetic) of all female courtship roles. The rest of the women interested (a bit) in Madarame are not into doing domestic stuff for him. Is this a snuck-in critique by Kio Shimoku? That’s a minefield in itself. Feminism “ruined” the modern Japanese young woman, etc. VS. Japanese males still need to be taken care of by their fufu‘s because they are helpless and infantilized?
Mudakun,analytical: Also of note: correspondant Winter (below) picks up on our throwaway Hato-Moe idea and amplifies it – if I may restate: Madarame has “interest” in Hato, Hato has shown interest in him and it is flattering, even pleasurable but then Hato backs away. With a woman, Madarame would (to stay in-character) feel too uncomfortable to even ever have that much interaction. But Hato is suddenly bringing up objections. Trouble is that Madarame has gone into “seek” mode and is looking at the Hato objection dance and reading it through the lenses of 10,000 romcom heroine protestations. It is beginning to look cute, even endearing. It is beginning to trip a “chase’ switch in Madarame. Ogiue blunders in and validates this course of action. Madarame might be wondering why he is suddenly chasing, but he also must feel a rush of power, or agency, of no longer being the wishy-washy coward. Suddenly from being least adventurous in the lists of 3D love he finds himself as the most adventurous and damn if it doesn’t feel good. And all of Hato’s protestations are beginning to look cute. (Though if that is what Kio Shimoku is pulling, a bit of a lampshade would go a long way, just saying…)(Maybe we get one when we get to read the fan translation?)
Worse (or better) Hato must really be tripped up by this. If Hato really wanted to save Mada from a tragic thorny path relationship, Hato could, in the words of any savvy 16 year old female, cis or otherwise, “slap him down hard”. “Fuck off creep. Do not want you. Get lost Now.” Problem solved. It would hurt, but such is self-sacrifice. But Hato looks to have been snared by Mada’s sudden show of resolution. Hato is blubbering. Sou-uke! Thorny Path! MadaHato! HatoMada! Grotty physical concerns. Rotten fantasies. Difficulties in crossdressing… Dry skin, got a headache, oh heck, is that my phone?, I completely forgot this appointment I had 600 miles away…
D’awwwwwwww…. thinks Madarame, staring at the curious boy-girl in front of him. How cute, how moe…
Mudakun,sympathetic: Another angle to be considered from our reactions and the fandom: “Can it work?” Bill Clinton time again; what do you mean by “work”? The rude version, we put forward, above: One pretty boy at University, it’s not murder, incest or folk dancing. A kinder reading could be written as “puppy love”, “first love” or even (cue heroic music and sound of engines starting in the fog) “We’ll always have Paris”.
So far, Genshiken couples look pretty long-term, except of course for the alternative universe of Spotted Flower. Without AltHato’s chewing out AltMada for being a coward, this would be easier to consider. Add to this that past major works by Kio Shimoku are relentless in the showing of how young relationships fall apart and one has to admit that a romance between Harunobu and Kenjiro might not be a for always thing.
This can be played in a number of ways too, from regret, long-simmering anger and the need to give it one more try (stop dressing up like a tart every time AltMada drops in) to, (again cue Casablanca music) “This looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship“.
Mudakun, skeptical: Fuck You Muda! You swore you wouldn’t hook up the arduino board to the summoning grid and drag the angry shade of Dr. Sedgwick into this, at least not yet. Put Hato-chan on the plane, walk off into the foggy night with Hato-kun as bros’ after all that confusing stuff has been worked out? Do you really, really think that Kio Shimoku has decided to do a Russian Reversal on Dr. Sedgwick’s Between Men and use the female Hato as a transitional object; not to go from intense male friendship to male:male intimacy, but from intimacy to intense male friendship?
Pull the other one, it has bells on it and makes a pretty noise!
Mudakun,sympathetic: You gotta admit, that would be one heck of a tale. Now that Queer Theory is out and about. running around in academia and underlying the plot-lines in western cable-tv series, everybody – including stogey straight writers get grab the bits and rudely jam them into improbable tales. Do you think the creative class was going to endlessly keep their distance and be content with warmed over Freud? How many more stale stories can you spin out of pappa-mamma, fer chrissakes?!!
Mudakun,analytical: If Kio Shimoku was really, really into stretching it, he could spin this out in such a way as to mollify both the old guard guy fandom and the more romantic, don’t-need-graphic-sex-angst BL fens. Mada and Hato have to talk it over more, right? Both have problems talking. Precedent and parallelisms in story telling suggests an Ogiue/Sass-like examination of Hato’s drawings, including the really repressed MadaHato ones. Madarame has to bring some of his raunchiest loli-pr0n to the session too – Mada’s trap games are by no means vanilla grade, not if reports on the genre are to be believed. (for details please review the Girl Comics essays via archived links in the earlier post: “Through all your houses wandering” [https://heartsoffuriousfancies.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/through-all-your-houses-wandering/])
The obvious reaction must be: “Fantasy is fantasy, this stuff looks like it could be really hurtful in real life; do you, me, us, really need this?” Then they are back to tentatively pawing at each other, trying to re-invent “making out”. They are both scared and flustered, even more than they are horny so things will take some time. Besides, they have plenty to talk about. They are, after all otaku…
-ahem- mind if I engage the playset field?
Mudakuns, the rest in unison: Oh fuck, why the hell not?, we have the multiple voice thing going, might as well crank the self-indulgent knob to 11. More fanfiction! Blergh! You really have been corrupted by the Tumblr crowd!
Mudakun,analytical: Try this: Genshiken club room, a few days after the trip. Enter the wimmens. Madarame and Hato-chan are sitting next to each other, reading a doujin, pointing out stuff. A BL doujin. Bonus for Hato with wig off. Bonus for Madarame dressed better than usual, but disheveled.
“Sooooooooo… what happened, spill it” That’s gotta be Rika who asks. Sue makes perhaps angry-snide obscure quote. Ogiue frowns, requests decorum. Cue Ohno, senior fairy godmother of all happy relationships:
“So, how is it going, you both look a bit tired. Happy but tired. All good?”
Both beaming, completely confident; either to answer: “We stayed up all night playing video games.”
Further prying questions, some regarding sex acts; response by either along with much blushing: “He should learn how to floss properly” “Hey you ain’t exactly sweet breath-san either… You are squeezable though… that’s fun” Affectionate shoulder bumping. Turn to stare at each other “Are we in a hurry?” “Nope, no hurry here, Do I look hurried?” “Not you, how’ bout me?” “Nope, you good.” Both turn heads, stare at the rest. In unison:
“Answer your question?”
Girls outraged, press home for details, Sue poking for HatoMada and MadoHato, plops sketch pad down in front of him. Hato draws nice vanilla western slash-fen style hand-holding guys, smiling at each other, no schmex.
“You liek my new, more realistic drawing style?”
Genshiken girls reaction shots, shock, disbelief, disappointment, beaming, d’awwwwww, entire range…. Rika enraged that numero uno source of in-house smut has just been destroyed.
Kio Shimoku chuckles, commences next story arc. Potential for serious drama kept in back pocket. Parts of both fandoms grumble; all keep reading. “Hah! Managed to pull off an aspirational, activist sensitive happy-smiley Shoujo-style compromise resolution. Shit, I deserve an award for this one.”
Mudakuns, rest of them:
(updated January 30, 2016)
STILL LATER, FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS :
Mudakun, now really skeptical: I am not convinced. Something is still wayyyyyy wrong here.
Mudakun, concerned: Oh Double-Snap, we’re back? Again? What’s the matter – Heh, I know it’s been a shock; Madarame in pursuit of a boy, turning down Sue’s confession. Turning down his last chance at Angela. Turning down a common-law proposal from Keiko. Still, if that’s the way things have worked out, Amor Vincit Omnia, neh? An author can write anything he or she wants to. Give it a rest. Go back to sleep.
I hope we are not doing something as naff as going off into a mild state of male hysteria over the symbolic death/ becoming-gay of a long cherished geek icon? We might have well saved a lot of time and effort and just gone with the lazy bubba short-form solution: “Yeah, Genshiken: used to be good, is all this gay fujo shit now…”
Mudakum sympathetic: Oh Puh-lease! If anything we are just over-fanning on our favourite past-time. We have a bit of free time in our life now, right? And isn’t this a good writing and thinking exercise? Add to that a bit of fun with photoshop. Still can put the word-things one after another and make with the sense thing! Lookie, the web-thing is not a fricking mess and we are getting familiar with Twitter and Tumblr. …Have even figured out #tags. Ojisan ain’t Amish. Don’t be so uptight! Roll with it!
So, what’s with reopening the post?
Mudakun, skeptical: Something didn’t feel right. Something still doesn’t feel right. A few points: The Harem Arc has been going on for three years real-time now, since Jan 2013’s Ch 84 when Mada quit his job after the fall festival, declaring: “I want to be a loser” In Genshiken time, perhaps 5-6 months have passed. One could argue the fun started earlier in chapter 82, with Yajima Merei suddenly fantasizing about Hato.
Girl; you need that “signifier”. otherwise it’s yuri!, or fakee-yuri (wait, where have I ???)
Two things happened to launch the arc. Madarame went NEET and Hato’s Kaminaga-Stand appeared, impelling Hato towards Madarame. “We” were wrong about “no physical attraction”. Hato-as-puppet, controlled by the Kaminaga-Stand is very interested in Madarame’s neck:
And while we’re here, this is about the time that Sue started to act flustered. Should we have been calling this the Love Trapezoid Arc instead, all along? Sue will go on to find the super-secret HatoMada stash in the next chapter. This will confirm that Hato has gone gay for Madarame, Stands notwithstanding – they are him, after all, right? Perhaps that is emblematic of the whole problem. The stands “stand-in” as (paranoia) agents of delusion, avoidance and denial within Hato’s BL obsessions. They vanish when he “accepts” them. But they leave one last parting gift: Hato’s desire for Madarame Harunobu is still framed and bounded by the conventions of an odd genre of popular, amateur erotica – a genre that Hato, by rights should not be playing around with.
The damn BL stuff has “queered” Yajima. It has queered the heck out of Hato, or to use a better contextualisation; imposed a less than optimum set of fantasy narratives upon the emerging sexuality and gender expression of his character. It will go on to get its paws on Madarame. Sue? Not so much, perhaps she was insulated from it by her admiration/yuri-flavored sensei-crush on Ogiue. It has also “queered” the mangaka, and to the extent that we have been Stockholm syndromed into cheerleading a once improbable MadaHatoMada romantic plot, it has gently “queered” some of the readership – just a teeny-tiny bit. The effect is minor; Kio Shimoku is handling the “killed-virus” version, rather than the active pathogen.
If the Genshiken wasn’t, if this was the manga or anime club, or the campus radio society, perhaps a young guy named Hato, with a cross-dressing hobby might be written as beginning to hang around with the graduated senior member who has recently quit his job and is decompressing/ bumming around in the clubroom. The story then would be of how an angsty virgin closeted gay male who has adopted one of the older traditions of the Japanese gay community can come to terms with his emerging sexuality and reconcile his desire with the etiquette of hitting on a straight friend. Whatever; give him a backstory with some theatre or film-making or acting experience – of course he got snookered into a female costume – that’s an old chestnut. One of the other club members, the “big girl” has also been wondering about Hato. She generally doesn’t trust men, but Hato puts her at ease. Campus life story ensues.
It’s not the Genshiken that is the secondary character. It’s the damn BL!
Mudakun, sympathetic: …And Hato has been lately crossdressing at the club for kicks, under the cover story that he doesn’t want his professors to hear that he is goofing off and not working on his big research paper. I remember a certain student who wrote for 3 years under pen-names at a campus newspaper…
Mudakun, skeptical: late-onset “chuny” again! But isn’t the whole BL exercise an agent of female agency? A “fatal strategy” that inverts and disrupts the patriarchal order, or some such tripe? Sure one can look at any MadaHatoMada as a blow against hetero-whatever-hegemonic-woowoo, and two points for queering-everything-until-queer-is-this-year’s-newest-fashion-accessory but the story is all still about the guys. Aren’t Hato and Mada just doing the same thing as Kuchiki, jumping in and flailing around center-stage in women’s space? They are just performing with more panache and fanservice for the women.
It is the BL stuff that is making everything feel forced. All fictional tropes of romance get in the way of the romance as much as they enable it. Everybody follows the scripts and worries at the same time, that when they say “I love you” it will sound and/ or feel fake. Without the BL background, Hato, the kid with the odd hobby might end up out-and-about in guy clothing and run into Mada. Both get gloriously drunk and Hato blubbers out his bro-crush. Mada, feeling adventurously free and bohemian, if not a tad intrigued by the presence of a bishie Hato goes along with it – he might even jump in with enthusiasm. Next morning they both feel scared crapless for making out. If you are cheering them on, insist on mutual blinding world-class hangovers – the pain will give them time to get over the shock of whatever clumsy and limited intimacy they were able to manage before passing out, while putting it in context. Problem solved.
Mudakun, analytical: The Genshiken is all about how the fandom gets in the way, even as it weirdly empowers relationships. Yes empowers. Younguns in Japan are nowhere near as frisky as they used to be or they should be, if Japan is not to depopulate. Or they are all as frisky, but a crappy economy, changing social blah blah, round up the usual suspects has put a damper on pair-bonding. And yet, the Genshiken as social for a fandom of libidinized imagination (doujin culture, aka amateur peer-made porn) offers the happy tale of 3 paired off couples. A better score than showing zoo pandas panda-porn to get them to mate! Sure Saki had to put up with her martian-boy-wonder paying more attention to ero-games than to her. Sasahara had contextualise Ogiue’s habit of drawing male charas that looked like him boffing other guys, then learn to “be more forceful in his seme” with Ogiue. “Right! No males, cross-dressing, gay or otherwise with my woman unchaperoned! And you get spanked tonight for doubting my resolve!” Gehh! Reads like 1960’s Heinlein.
Only Ohno and Tanaka have the romance bits worked out. All they worry about is economics. Oh wait; Ohno does get fearsomely jealous if Tanaka makes an outfit for another woman without first clearing it with her. But Tanaka has shown no alpha-male rage over the legions of rutting slobs who photograph Ohno at convention shoots; an actress’ lover cannot be jealous of her audience. As well, the Genshiken came within a whisker of pairing up Mada with Sue Hopkins. It may yet pair Alt-bent-Hato with Alt-Yajimacci and Alt-Mada with Alt-Saki.
Trouble is the new Genshiken does not run on heteronormative moe and cosplay. It runs on women’s melodramatic fake-gay smut. The question then becomes: If you bang moe boy and BL girl together, do you get adhesion? So far, not so good. The Kaminaga example suggests that rotten girls and oblivious, strong riajuu guys are a better match – which runs closer to IRL field data. Fujoshi are practical (and the guys, if they twig to their girlfriends’ hobbies can continue to dismiss the stuff, secure in the knowledge that at least their girlfriends are very, very interested in sex. (win!)) It’s similar to IRL art-school students. Exogamy is the preferred norm, at least among undergraduates. Two artistic egos stuck in a one-room student flat is a recipe for homicide, not romance. Grad students might look for alliances of convenience within their field, but even then it is rare that they spark within their cohort.
The MadaHatoMada problem remains. Madarme and Hato will always be framed within a discourse of the tropes of BL, as MadaHato or MatoMada. The seme-uke pairing conceit will not vanish, because it is the “genre marker” that stands in place to signify the whole damn “Night at the Opera” over-the-top narcissistic event horizon of soap opera melodrama; shame, violence, fetishistic sex because intimacy is beyond their reach, jealousy, lustmord and regret and A cruel god rules over us, that runs around nekkid, rampant and grinning in the genre. That’s Entertainment! Fortunately, Japanese rotten girls have yet to discover Hannibal-slash or there would be same-sex eroticized cannibalism lurking in the wings as well! The only other alternative, the escape hatch is the “frozen time” of the perfect vanilla male:male lovie-dovie friendship. And because there are not a whole lot of real-life stories of long-term male couples to draw on, these run on the thin side. Hetnorm=unfair again.
Lookie at the example of Kinou Nani Tabeta? (What Did You Eat Yesterday?) Activist outlander reviewers have noted, if not grumbled about how asexual the couple is. Japanese het couples act neutered after a long period of marital bliss too, but a gay couple is expected to keep up appearances and be a bit more true-to-their-desire-as-reality-and-discretely-yet-confidently-demonstrated-social- fact. In other words, stuck in the campus gay spokesmen role again. Jeesh, they cook for and groom each other. Miso soup and haircuts.
Mudakun, skeptical: Bad example! You know that there is politics around THAT manga. Woman BL author doing activist “normal-life” representation of gay male domesticity. Severely enjoined from scaring any horses. Also, perhaps a “real” gay mangaka’s series got bumped because a vanilla BL author’s take on a gay male couple was easier to sell. Perhaps you scrapped a post because the whole kerfluffle was really the publisher’s call; capitalism is unfair; “this space program runs on bucks, not Buck Rogers” and it is a bad idea to juxtapose a (straight female) BL mangaka to a gay male mangaka and let that proximity appear to be a fight for scarce magazine page space, for the entertainment of the peanut gallery. Everyone shut up, salute the flag and keep marching.
Mudakun, sympathetic: Yup, happy ever after into the sunset, just like a yuri genre “story A”. What do you want from a Uni romance rom-com? Rubber Biscuit? And like the yuri genre’s story A, isn’t the freedom of agency available to the true, if unconventional love the whole point? It is not as if Hato and Mada have to be inevitably torn from each other like the fifty-plus young women in the 1920’s Flower Tales. The same societal change that has made marriage, even dating a near-toxic chore to %20-%40 of young Japanese folks also allows the freedom for two guys to make eyes at each other. No one cares.
Mudakun, skeptical: Besides, there is still male privilege. Yukio Mishima was married, fathered children and yet was notorious for his liaisons with fem-ish demimonde gay guys and his later “koha” manly-man patriotic society death cult. Guys can get away with all kinds of shit in Japan – as long as they keep up some token display of obeisance to the order of forms.
Here’s an alternate Hato, lest all the other “nice” versions become cloying:
Mudakun, was sympathetic-now horrified: Nooooooo! Ugh! proto-fascist, oblivious to politics, artist-is-beyond-good-and-evil Hato is not good at all! Will become a famous mangaka by filching Spinrad’s Iron Dream and retreading it as a manga; featuring the crossdressing/ emergent trans woman political savior “Sam” Palin, “her” rival turned sidekick/lover Dougie Trump, and their growing troupe of sexually liberated and reactionary minded politicians and billionaire allies, as they beat down the forces of lefty-commie-wimpery in global Mahjong Tournaments!
Mudakuns, rest of them: Ugghhh sickness! feel nauseous. Need fresh air!
Mudakun, concerned: I believe that IATPT Bulletin 1147 does not apply in this case. This is a low order probability fork. Anyone care to drop a dime on it? Do I hear a seconder? -brief shuffling, check email, etc – Ok, that’s fixed, except for the fall-out with an older, bitter Madarame joining the Japanese Communist Party to atone for his doomed romance with that monster.
Mudakun, skeptical: Where the frick were we again? Oh yeah. Pairing up Hato Kenjiro and Madarame Harunobu seems forced. But breaking them up seems forced and unfair too. Turning them into best bud ‘bros after some unsatisfying groping feels like a cheat. Yet none of this would be a problem if it was girl+boy rather than boy+boy-perhaps-in-denial-about-that-girl’s-soul-he’s-got; marinaded in BL sauce. And Hato is a big perv. Is Madarame into really pervy trap games like Boku Pico too? It would be easier if he hadn’t tossed all those S&M AV’s. Evenly matched depravities could go happily wild on each other and the bystanders would cautiously applaud. The freaks are out tonight. Let’s do the time warp again…
Add to this the “meta” that all these contradictions, kept aloft and in play, are money in the bank for Kio Shimoku. Easy stories end too soon.
Mudakun, sympathetic: So the Genshiken can keep going for all eternity? I guess he can put a happy Hato and Mada couple into the background and bring in a few new members. Now that he has a gay male (or male with emergent trans woman) couple, he could even dare to bring in a -gasp- lesbian(!) Fool around with the idea put forward by the Japanese cultural critic whatsizzname that CJVC perviness sucks the oxygen out of much of the energies that would otherwise go towards IRL activism to advance LGBTQIA rights. Or play with the idea that otaku spaces can serve as safe “queer” spaces, or if they can’t; doesn’t that need fixing? The Genshiken was a pervert dumping ground for other clubs that, thanks to its recent female membership is now powerful in the fields of its interests. Its power derives from its schmex-fixation. Might as well get an honest days work out of the stuff.
(Feb. 01, 2016)
Going to go ahead and say it: I find Kio much better at writing people already in relationships vs getting together.
Ogiue and Sasahara for example: I think it’s possible that Sasahara sincerely admired the passion Oguie put into her “silly gay smut”, even if he couldn’t enjoy it personally. But Ogiue was such a train wreck of low self esteem and unspoken mental health issues, it was hard to imagine Sasahara willing to put in the effort for her, unless he was also a clueless, desperate, self-deprecating NERD! (Oh, wait!) I think their progression went much better, and much cuter, after they got together, even if the worst of these issues were kind of shoved under the rug in the process.
But, idk, I think about how much I like the Nidaime chapter about Ohno’s insecurities about the job market and finishing school, and where her relationship with Tanaka fit into all that. Kind of understated & undramatic, but still the kind of thing that could potentially pull a relationship apart, if left unchecked. And not underscored by the beginnings of their relationship – they got together off-screen, and it only became an issue when Saki got curious.
And Saki and Kosuka. Kiss the girl! OKAY! And then the rest of Genshiken was wonderfully spent swimming in the fallout.
“One pretty boy while in University; not like it’s murder, incest or folk dancing.”
I’m reminded uncharitably of Koi Kaze, which dealt in a pretty pretty classy way regarding the internal struggle of Genetic sexual attraction (GSA). But it kind of fell off the map before it got to dealing with the external struggles. Oh, getting with your sister in spite of all odds may seem well an good when you’re finally screwing for the first time. But how does it feel five years out when people are wondering why you’re living together, and judging her for being an old maid, you’re forced to live daily without any external validation of the importance of your relationship, and when you get into a stupid fight over leftover rice you can’t discuss it with anyone. I think that was Jesuotaku’s criticism of the series. And it may not be a fair criticism, if it’s not the story the author wanted to tell. But I know I’m more interested in the struggle of making it work in spite of the full ramifications of the world, rather than “Oh, no. We shouldn’t for *moral* reasons! But we will anyhow!”
The point, if I wasn’t on the nose enough, is that I think it would be similarly disappointing if the Hato struggle ended here.
So I agree with your criticisms. And there’s something misleading about the way these two got together. There’s something misleading about Hato, himself/herself. Manipulatively so, as Keiko said. And I don’t think it was intentional. But I would have felt differently if Hato had been a little more frank, and a little more obviously selfish. “Look. I know it’s going to be hard, and I have no idea what this will look like from a physical standpoint. But I really like you, and you seem to like me, so I think you should give us a try.” But, of course, that type of frankness doesn’t win points with Madarame. So of course Hato framed it in a much more sly way. “Oh no, we shouldn’t…” *steps just out of reach and turns to look anxiously over shoulder*
I’m not writing them off. I think they could work. And I’d listen to the little tumblr-side of your brain telling you it’s pretty shit to assume they couldn’t be sexually and/or emotionally compatible. But I think that Kio’s a long way from having sold that issue, both within the context of Hatomadahato itself, and in the context of the Genshiken and Japanese society exteriors.
Thanks for a considered weighing in. I am still wracking my head over this one. I hope a good solid translation will reveal stuff that puts some of my doubts to rest, but I would go further for now: not only “getting together”, but male:male attraction. Perhaps male:female or ANY attraction. Needs work Shimoku-sensei. I know nuthin about the specifics of male:male attraction, but I as a guy I can generalize from my straight experience. Thinking of the one I lust for will arouse me. Feeling “love” for the same person will plop mushy “want to be with, touch, help, protect, please, see happy, etc, “good” feelings on top of the raw physical arousal.
So Hato looks at Mada and gets hard? Or looks at Mada, fantasizes about dominating him in some over the top BL seme way and gets hard? Then on top of this, also feels longing, protectiveness, need for skinship, concern for the happiness of the beloved, etc? DO NOT SEE INDICATIONS OF THIS. Same with Madarame. I will stretch it and give Mada a case of Hato-moe. So Madarame sees all the “go away, no come closer” stuff as something like tsundere (which Madarame was said to enjoy in charas) Ok, that’s cute. Now Mada also looks at Hato, imagines Hato’s boyish bod and gets aroused? Might happen, might be happening, but fer chrissake Kio Shimoku, YOU AINT SHOWING IT. Madarame wants to hug Hato? Hato wants to hug Mada? Waiting…
Kio Shimoku and 3 economists are on a desert island: Assume that Hato and Mada are now hot for each other. Assume a can opener and a case of canned beans too.
It is like they are not just angsty virgins but borderline asexuals as well. DONT TOUCH ME !!!! Or robots trying to do “that human thing called love”. Even holding hands makes them feel uncomfortable. This does not read as conventional attraction, male:male or otherwise, especially for young healthy guys. Ok, then they have feelings for each other but both just so happen to dread any kind of human touch? That’s a pretty big stretch. Maybe they poke at each other with chopsticks for the next 3 months? Or they steal a page from Sasameke Koto and practice snogging with an ultraman mask between them???
This one makes my head hurt. The tumblr crawling part of my fannish enthusiams wants to give it the benefit of the doubt. There is nothing wrong with the way the shipping fandom has invested interest in the possibility of Hato Kenjiro and Madarame Harunobu being sweetly in love with each other. It doesn’t even have to be perfectly honorable and up front. There can be asymmetry. Something more just has to be there. Kind of sad that the fans are not only being asked to make the stretch of a same-sex pairing from out of the blue, but then to fill in all the missing pieces.
Hmm… As you said, “neither of them know jack-shit about how to do man-sex”. And maybe I or you don’t really know either but… does Kio even know?
I agree that the physicality of this m/m attraction has been lacking all along. And there’s bias because it’s m/m and not m/f, but I don’t think that counts for everything. I’m biased against Sue, for instance. I don’t really see what anybody might find arousing about her, but I get the idea well enough when Mada goes “she’s really my type speaking technically” and rakes his eyes up her petite figure. None of that with Hato. (Although there was with top surgery Alt!Hato in SF. Thanks Kio!) But there’s the whole thing that Mada really does consistently view Hato as male, and he feels comfortable with men on an emotional level where he doesn’t with women. And I think that’s a cop-out. There are differences in the way the average man vs the average woman thinks, but I don’t think it’s as profound and limiting as Mada acts.
And Hato’s been putting forward the line of Hatomada this chapter. But, really, he’s been drawing Mada on female!Hato in secret. Why are those are the drawings he acts most ashamed of?
And, more importantly, which drawings does he spend his time jacking off to?! Genshiken has mostly been upfront about the use of animation and drawings as a masturbation aid. But it’s been a tiny bit quieter on the *ahem* habits of the girls, and near silent when it comes to Hato. And I think it’s an odd time to go quiet on the subject. It really does make Hato look near-asexual. And it makes it hard to take him seriously when he says he likes women. (Although Alt!Hato groping Yaji in Spotted Flower was a big help. Thanks Kio!)
But, regarding both Hato and Mada, it might just be that Kio doesn’t want to gross us out. The readership is already grossed out by Hato and Madarame as a couple. Is making it the idea that they might actually like to have sex with each other crystal clear a step too far? If it is, I think affirming Hato and Madarame as a (monogamous, non-asexual) long-term couple is a bad decision. Because they can’t help but coming off as less compared to the other straight couples for which physical attraction and romantic care are more explicitly defined.
AKA: I don’t think MadaHato fans should have to fill in those missing pieces either, if that’s where we’re being told this is relationship is going.
I don’t actually know where Kio is going though.
But cheers to you, mudakun! For this chapter analysis! For hatozine! For hypothesising the Genshiken future!
Ok, I fixed the chapter. That was easy. [grin!]
Thanks for the reply-reply and the extra insights! Yeah, I wondered about some of those things too. And yeah, It sticks in my mind tho is how effortlessly Kio telegraphed the relationship between not-Hato and not-Yajima in Spotted Flower when he glomped her and pleaded for a quickie. That was tender! That was sweet! That was almost yuri…
Thanks for posting so that I could go find chapter 119.
As for the content what did you guys expect?
Of course they experience some strange feeling when Hato and Madarame hold hands as they point out they violate a taboo even if it appears to observers to be a normal activity, H & M know better.
If it is Saki in the Spotted Flower why did she give up her business to become a housewife? That is a more important question to me than what Hato and Madarame may or may not do. As for Makoto he may have died from overwork, or been snapped up by an American business and
Drawing comparisons between Oguie and Kanji with Hato and Madarame is totally invalid as the one relationship is totally accepted by society while the other is indeed a more thorny path. By the way all relationships are thorny paths and subject to problems the virgins cannot envisage.
Even when a partner dies the relationship is not over especially in Japan. So I cannot see Saki grabbing Madarame as she grieves.
I have been reading since chapter 1 of the original Genshiken and still maintain the club it the main character and the members only express themselves through the activities they chose. Rika is as weird as any other member and will help continue the tradition of creative weirdness when she gets on stage.
Howdy! Thanks for weighing in. Ok… Maybe I’ll try to process it another way: IT”S NOT A BUG, ITS A FEATURE! Kio Shimoku is purposely setting up the most improbable “can’t work” relationship so that the rest of club members have to rally like mad to support it???
I get that two guys trying to invent male:male romance out of the blue with only BL and Otokonoko games for guidance are going to have a lot more problems than say, two guys who have the support of a gay community, but Shimoku is being really unfair.
As for Spotted Flower, well yeah. Continuity problems if it is a direct sequel, but of course Shimoku is cagey on that. Still, well spotted: he’s made the continuity plausible for “the husband”, “the mangaka” and “the assistant”. Even “the wife’s cosplay enthusiast friend” and “the blond who is part of another successful dojin circle”. Only “the wife’s” continuity is wonky. Hmmmmmmmmm.
Also: where is gappel-Ogiue?
After reading your thoughts, I think you’re missing the whole point completely? I mean you have to put yourself in Hato’s shoes if you’re wondering about his behavior. Why does he keep sabotaging himself? He likes madarame and vice versa. But are mada’s feelings genuine? Right now mada gets to choose any girl in his harem. Why would he choose hato? Hato isn’t a girl (even if he looks like one) doesn’t have to female “parts” and as hato stated, their relationship will be frowned upon by society. (But they’re otaku anyway so.. It’s not like people don’t think otaku are already weird). My point is, you should see where Hato is coming from. He feels insecure.
Then there’s sue, Angela and what’s her face. They all were very sexually forward, using their body parts to try to seduce madarame. And they all failed. Sue asked for a kiss I think? Hato doesn’t have the parts to seduce madarame. He’s a guy. So he has been going a different route, cleaning and cooking for madarame, actually taking care of him. That’s pretty much all he can offer.
Madarame can’t function properly around 3D women. He is awkward and self conscious around them. Hato is a trap. It works out.
As for the whole sex/ uke seme thing, I don’t think any of that matters. Does it make madarame gay to go for Hato? No. Straight men who go for trans women still consider themselves straight. Madarame played that trap ero game. Hato likes bl. I mean come on, is it that hard to imagine that having sex?? Lol.. And they would be perfect for each other. Hato is the only one out of the girls who actually took care of madarame when he was sick, and madarame sees Hato as a person. There’s tons of examples in the manga. Anyways idk if it’s cause ur a straight man but you are having trouble grasping some things lol. I think you’re trying to dissect and understand sex when you really should just try to understand love
Ouch! A hit; a palpable hit!
Mudakun, sympathetic: Thank You for your comment, and the valuable POV shift, even if it is causing a bit of whiplash. Guess I (we) are all still in the midst of a Kübler-Ross routine here. Madarame! where do I start?
Mudakun, not raging at all anymore, skeptical; Sheesh, he’s not DEAD, he’s only fallen for a boy in a skirt, and one that -all things considered- could be read as severely in love with him (rather than dancing like a psycho puppet to some need to act out a BL script to appease the fujoshi-dom of the Genshiken; all appearances of that were just Hato-denial???) Ok, Madarame made his choice… but Sue! Sue came out and said “I love You”. Sue! I love You! Sue….
I know he has the right to chose… ‘Guess that everything you mentioned re: Hato showing care, affection, and the fact that Madarame is strangely comfortable with all of Hato must be seen as what won the day. That said; Did Hato come out and say it? Can he or she say it? Will Madarame say it?
Madakun, concerned: Two points then to Hato, if all that trying to back out stuff was not putting on a poser/ melodramatic act, but a cry of despair over the disadvantages (they) faced if they really really really wanted Mada. A shout out too for above Winter‘s remarks that perhaps the Hato-moe thing I ventured as a wild guess was really in operation. The more the Hatos protested and edged away, the more Madarame was interested. All the other harem girls were too forward for old-school Madarame. He wanted to do the chasing!
Mudakun, analytical: Madarame needs to have the talk all over again with Hato in male form. One thing that my slow, guy-brain is beginning to process is how Hato, especially in girl mode is , while not deceitful, an extremely unreliable narrator. Conflicted as heck. Your “self-sabotage” observation: Can the rumored “you have to be the uke” comment be the ultimate scare- Mada- off attempt? Didn’t work very well. Perhaps Madarame really can only act “forceful”, ie: like an old-school guy in pursuit, with Hato, in that he feels confident enough to not give too much weight to Hato’s attempts at backing away? I guess that would count for “gleam in the eye” and sign of desire from Mada. Kio Shimoku way too subtle.
Mudakun, sympathetic; You gotta realize that the old guy (or old-guy) fandom had a special place in our hearts for Madarame. It’s a heck of a lot for us to process that he decides on Hato, whether this mean any Gay or not Gay – It’s not the gay, but how he ends up there. We feel like we are his, how can I say this? “Honor guard”. If he decides that Hato is his heart, then he has to go for it heroically, %110, eyes open, with honor, in a manly-man way. (sounds like he faces a firing squad?) Best if he has a fuller understanding of what he wants than even Hato/ the Hatos do. “Will you please stow the seme/uke stuff Hato! This is reality and I want You!” Fearless and aware. We could buy, even cheer that. Well most of us. I will be sad if one particular blogger gets completely bent out of shape but I am sure the senior franchise blogger will be even more adult about this than I am managing. His take on ch120 is due out tomorrow, and he can read Japanese. (update: http://ogiuemaniax.wordpress.com/2016/01/29/final-fantasy-genshiken-ii-chapter-120/)
Mudakun, skeptical: Right now it looks like a win for Hato, but it is not a true win and a win for Madarame unless Mada sweeps the little fool off his/her/their feet… In a manly way!
We could handle that. Well, I could, I think…
Hows that for Kübler-Ross? .
Haha, thanks for your reply. I do see where you’re coming from and agree with some points.. Sorry if I was a little rude when I posted that. I just kinda know what Hato is going through, because I go through similar problems in real life, if not exactly the same. I took it personally in a way. I’m really… Confused I guess would be the right word with how the author has decided to portray this trap character. It’s kind of scary because of how detailed they are about Hato being a trap. Things like epilation and facial hair growth during the night, how Hato needs a certain hairstyle hair to cover his face (jawline) and is self conscious of his man hands (I use he because idk if Hato has chosen female pronouns yet?) it’s all very specific. Very unlike other anime with trap characters. Usually they’re used for comedic effect but not here. But the author is a man too, so how why would be care about making Hato seem “real” in a sense? He didn’t need to go into that much detail.
I think there is a lot of things that normal people just don’t realize. If madarame were to choose Hato, mada wouldn’t be able to take Hato home and introduce Hato to his family. They can’t have kids, can’t marry. Can’t introduce his “wife” normally to other people. Right? It just seems like.. Why even bother? Can Hato truly make madarame happy then? I’m sure all of that and more is running through Hato’s head. So when Hato’s indecisiveness is seen as a tool or some sort of cheap cowardly deception or game it’s kind of unfair. Really unfair!
Am I rooting for madahato, yes. Do I think they are compatible, yes. Do I think they are actually going to end up together, no. If the author really is trying to make this slice of life anime as real as possible then I think madahato is too early for its time.
Stop picking on Hato though!
As for madarame.. I don’t know what he’s thinking. Sure, he has only initiated advances towards Hato and not any other girl in his harem. Its obvious he likes Hato. And with his personality, how they’re going to have sex is the last thing on his mind. He gets flustered from just holding hands. In ch. 120 mada did run after Hato didn’t he?
I think madarame will choose Hato in a way? But Hato will decide for the both of them that an actual woman might be good for madarame in the grand scheme of things and self sabotage once again. Other ppl might think that it makes Hato flaky but self sacrifice has always been the greatest form of love no?
…Well, I didn’t take it toooo hard, and you did go out of your way to constructively comment, for which I am grateful. If anything, I was going with a little more detail into, what the chorus, the chan-talk, some of the aggregator site forum reactions were, as well as my own surprise. I really did think for a bit that Mada was going to just sit there and be “the coward”, cursing himself and his lack of spine AND how he’s been set up to play that role. Remember that in Spotted Flower, Alt-Hato always chides him for being chicken. I also expected it to go down in such a way that would have wrecked any chances for him to nerve up and date any of the girls also. Mada=goat.
I guess Mada still has plenty of chance to be “chicken”, in Alt-Hato’s eyes – if there is to be continuity, rather than it being an AU probability split-off. Or the split in the time-line just happened; P1, ch120. We were there to see it.
I am going to go off on a tangent here, but what the heck. This is a blog I made to fan out in, so I’m going to fan out. It’s jet-lag insomnia time! This is going to go on and on and on….
What does Hato say to him/ her/ their selves about all this?
We have piles of internal dialogue for him/ her. The Stands… I have gone on before that they are generally stupid and mean and rather single-minded, which makes sense as they adopt Kaminaga’s tone for Hato’s hobby enthusiasms. They sure as all heck don’t speak of love; it can be argued that they take any feelings of affection that Hato “really” feels and turn them into fujoshi shipping tropes to guilt him with. Too much of Hato’s libidinal economy runs on shame and guilt. They aren’t very helpful. When he finally made peace with them, and “absorbed” them, or at least one of them, he stuck with the “I’m not gay, its only him” classic BL pronouncement that he had “talked-with-himself” on/into, back at Comiket. There has also been a few “I’m going to fall for sempai”, “My sexuality is going to change” moments before this. The “only him” decision is the most that Hato has done in internal dialogue about “deciding”. There has been NO, repeat, emphasis NO “Oh My! It sure feels like I have gotten a huge crush on Madarame-sempai!” “Do I really want to do this? Yup, Madarame is the one, I want! Mada makes my not-quite-girlish knees weak”, etc. etc.. Or the converse traditional tsundere “There is nothing good about Madarame! I must be reading too much BL!” “He is lazy and undependable and a coward in his personal life”, Yadda, etc. (Did Rika doing it out in the open rob Hato of the opportunity to do it as internal dialogue?). And the only-him decision is fraught with BL-tropery associations.
It’s been pointed out that THOSE SKETCHES are probably telling as all heck and yeah, rudeness aside; what the hell does Hato really fantasize about during -ahem- but he doesn’t even let that slip out into his own internal discussions. The “fap to BL” chiding from the stand in the nidaime anime was most probably the fansubbing crew having some fun. So Hato can only draw to himself truthfully,rather than internal dialogue?
You can see how Hato running the whole thing scripted by BL romance tropes is a reasonable way to view the goings on. Then the big question becomes: is it JUST a script – because the script must be followed to “prove” fujoshi-dom/ allegiance to the collective/ charmed circle, or is it real, but the scripts both enable and get horribly in the way. It wouldn’t be so confusing if it was boy-girl otaku dating and their “real feelings” kept getting tripped up by both of them trying to slot in high-school romance tropes into their courtship, because that’s the only way they know how to do romance. Oh my, off to the aquarium for the first date, etc. The very sexy “After-school Play” manga went into this with various otaku-ish boys and girls deciding to just visit each other to play vid games (and invent flirting for otaku along the way) though lately it has been doing this interminable retro RPG gaming arc which bores this piss out of me, but I digress…
Add to that how the author has gone out of his way to make Hato’s internal dialogue and presented sexuality, its own unique made-in-Hato (by Kio Shimoku) genderqueerdom. “Trap?” Well, thats the english-translator convenience term, from trap-game. I have burnt plenty of powder on how the larger implications of the term are a problem, researching what some folks “in the life” have rightly gotten pissed off at. The Japanese, as far as I know still uses the otaku term “otokonoko” spelled to drop “boy” in where “child” used to be. (if I am getting the kanji-joke right) It’s a fan term, or at least it was in 2009. Trans-Hato? perhaps in denial, but no “heart of a girl, or “I wish I had been born a girl” and always dropping back to “I’m a guy”. His female self has always been tenuous, as it was created as a vessel and a containment field for his BL enthusiasms. More like the movie “Avatar”, something put on or “become”. In this respect, Madarame seeing Hato as a unity is commendable. I could make this REALLY effing long and go theoretical; the 3rd sex josou game/ otokonoko as lineal descendents of the supernatural “chigo” archetype, heaven-created beautiful boys sent to console and teach a lesson to buddhist monks. (There is even an anthropologist/ curator/ art historian that is working on a big gallery show for this, slated for Toronto soon.) The term has also been adopted by a cross-play hobby-ish fandom, kind of levelled up crossdressing as cosplay, so the boundaries are fluid when comparing to real-life. But Madarame plays otokonoko games and Hato Kenjiro is NOT an otokonoko in any sense of the IRL usage. Madarame does not see Hato as a game-trap and Hato doesn’t know enough about the genre to adopt its tropes (lampooned above in the 4chan pic) Perhaps Hato is closest to the cross-playing otokonoko fandom, which is “become a girl” temporarily as you would “become” your fave hero character. But Hato has always purposed “the girl” as a fujoshi-world-exploration-suit. I await IRL otokonoko fan crossplay of Hato Kenjiro -as- chan to multiply the confusion exponentially.
I bring this up because Hato Kenjiro works hard at not being a “trapping” trap/otokonoko. No deception. “I’m still a guy”. Always, “But I’m a guy!” He really does worry that he will be accused of using his female persona to lure/trap. Again, Madarame’s reaction, once past “Otoko, otoko, otoko” is commendable. Sue is like that too. Sue spends and inordinate amount of time staring at Hato in a way that burns through him like a plasma torch – so much so that I was sure that instead or as well as Madarame, Hato interested her. Sue is also the only other person who has seen Hato’s deepest fantasies; she knows, in visual form what Hato has refused to even discuss in dialogue with himself. But even these are probably “marked” by his BL enthusiasms, if not tainted. There is probably some BL that has a cross-dressing ukes and it would be hard for Hato not to incorporate the trope of such works, as he is too damn imitative for his own good. Also, heteronormativity is unfair, in that he don’t have as much of a cliche pool to draw on for his fantasies, let alone for dating and relationship tips. Add to this that the Shimoku M.O. has always been showing how the hobby can mess up 3D relationships…
You asked if I had ever looked at it from Hato’s prspective. Well yeah… but in a “constrcuctivist/ mechanical way, perhaps too much of a “guy” way. The reading you advance cuts through the internal conflicts; desperation at not being a girl, (because Mada should be wanting a girl, boobs, right?) doing what could be done for the one that, even if Hato wont say it in his head, let alone out loud, he loves. He makes Miso Soup for Mada. Nuff Said.
And this is what Kio Shimuko needs to push, lest he lose (a significant component of) his loyal readership. Real relationships are of course full of compromise and each side seeing the other as something that they really aren’t; all the usual delusions of romance and lust. But comics demand more! The fandom, at least the part I’m poorly mouth-piecing, is poised to see this little romance as a fail. Less than… And perhap not all of that feeling is bigotry. We will however buy intent, preferably at least for me, heroic intent.
As for Mada could have chosen a girl and gone off and had kids and family? Well guess what the numero uno fantasy of Spotted Flower is… NOBODY is pairing up in Japan any more. Jobs scarce, cost of raising a kid is through the roof, sex-roles so rigid they kill from overwork, the gummint social safety net sucks and and the whole economy set up to cater to singles, by necessity. ANY relationship “looks like work” in such circumstances.
For Madarame to decide that Hato feels right for him, that Hato can make him happy and give him joy, rather than Hato is a consolation prize because wimmens scare him and that he will pursue and defend this feeling… AND for Hato to open his stupid mouth or even pick up a sketch pad and pen and show/tell Madarame that, even with all the BL stuff enabling and/or getting in the way, what he-and-sometimes-she feels IS “Want Madarame”, and that Hato will do as much as he and she can, (heroically), even if that means jettisoning the scripts of doomed lurv within the BL genre and just blubbering (yeah, hetnorm=unfair again) or talking in stereotypical guy mode to Madarame, while in guy mode, or SOMETHING ????? That wouldn’t be any more un-tenable than any other “for love” pairing.
And a bit of gleam in their eyes would be convincing too. C’mon Shimoku, surprise us!
(And fer chrissakes, drop the fucking SEMPAI! Use the name of the one you love, fool!)
We could buy that. A lot of guys are big stoopid mushy romantics too. We just sneak up on it differently.
WHEW! That went on. I didn’t even drop old straight guys misreading Sedgwick’s “Between Men” for story ideas, or how Japan is nothing but functional “homosocials” all over everyone’s entire life into the pot! Future post…
“Seduction, however, never belongs to the order of nature,
but that of artifice – never to the order of energy, but that of signs and rituals. This is why all the great systems of production and interpretation have not ceased to exclude seduction – to its good fortune – from their conceptual field. For seduction continues to haunt them from without, and from deep within its forsaken state, threatening them with collapse. it awaits the destruction of every godly order, including those of production and desire. Seduction continues to appear to all orthodoxies as malefice and artifice, a black magic for the deviation of all truths, an exaltation of the malicious use of signs, a conspiracy of signs. Every discourse is threatened with this sudden reversibility, absorbed into its own signs without a trace of meaning.
This is why all disciplines, which have as an axiom the
coherence and finality of their discourse, must try to exorcize it . This is where seduction and femininity are confounded, indeed, confused . Masculinity has always been haunted by this sudden reversibility within the feminine . Seduction and femininity are ineluctable as the reverse side of sex, meaning and power.
Today the exorcism is more violent and systematic. We are entering the era of final solutions; for example, that of the sexual revolution, of the production and management of all liminal and subliminal pleasures, the micro-processing of desire, with the woman who produces herself as woman, and as sex, being the last avatar. Ending seduction. Or else the triumph of a soft seduction, a white, diffuse feminization and eroticization of all relations in an enervated social universe.
Or else none of the above. For nothing can be greater than
seduction itself, not even the order that destroys it.”
Jean Baudrillard, De la seduction, 1980
Oh heck, one more…
Dr. Ogiue Maniax has more on this, hot off the presses:
Anonymous’ argument has stuck in my head:
Confessions minus cooking dinner equal zero.
I know this is an old one, and that nearly all the points here have been (mostly) solved, but-
“The Kaminaga example suggests that rotten girls and oblivious, strong riajuu guys are a better match – which runs closer to IRL field data. Fujoshi are practical (and the guys, if they twig to their girlfriends’ hobbies can continue to dismiss the stuff, secure in the knowledge that at least their girlfriends are very, very interested in sex. (win!))”
But I thought you have made it clear that in general, fujoshi, regardless of sexual orientation, do NOT want sex with men. They want to see/read about men having sex with each other, but not take part on sex with men themselves. What kind of straight man would want a girlfriend/wife who doesn’t want to have sex with him? Unless he specifically wants that, I guess.
OH MY, did I? Thanks for dropping by and considering an old post — one that dates from the heat of the almost-end of Nidaime.
What scant field data and musings that are available are all over the place. Interviews with University-age IRL Japanese fujoshi, and those who dropped the fandom and later returned to active fandom suggest that no hard/ fast generalization is possible. One interview-ee mentioned how her fave BL chara type was a tall aloof (square glasses, etc.) businessman seme but her husband was a “normie” height, pudgy guy. The Kaminaga example tracks with the Néojaponisme “Everybody’s Fujoshi Girlfriend” essay ca 2009. It would, as a trope, also strongly track with the otaku sour-grapes complaint of the time; that a guy had to earn at least 40K$/yr equiv to be considered as a marriage prospect, as well as (speculation) with Kio-sensei’s art school experience. (OH HECK, I REPEAT MYSELF!) Art school women tend towards exogamy, etc.,
Then again we have the closeted lesbian/ queer/ NB fujoshi contingent which must parallel “western” experience (cf How Slash Saved Me, MJJ of Aestheticism, etc)
And.. who knows who else. I should have been clearer: BL offers respite from the overwhelming, everpresent structural and institutional sexism of Japan but I would be a massive fool if I thought that it was the sole province of real-men-shy Japanese women; though undoubtedly some jerks would level that accusation, as they level similar ones at otaku guys.
If anything, perhaps Kio-sensei is at fault here, turning the Genshiken into a pit of virgins a few year late “in their savage season”. (That includes the guys too.)
My fave Art-school prof was an ex-religious philosophy major who had walked out of her doctoral program and re-invented herself as an internationally showing installation artist. Every “talent” she had was painstakingly learned — she had ZERO naive “born with a gift” artistic talent. Since I was the same, I figured that she had methods I could swipe. That worked. Meanwhile every time some prof with “talent” tried to teach me they just showed off their “talent” in an impossible to replicate manner. And watercolor is witchcraft, users have made unholy pacts to get that stuff to flow where they will it…
Kio-sensei is exactly like that when it comes to Otaku and even more so Fujoshi Anthropology. He reads up and lashes together a convincing scene but is it “authentic”? Above all he know that his readership expects the incremental restatement and elaboration of familiar fictions and tropes… and so he does.
I can smell this technique a mile away, just as I knew that Jean Baudrillard had read bad xated yankee sci-fi FIRST and then tracked down the Levi-Strauss anthropology examples he needed. Which is why I find Kio-sensei’s little detective story so endlessly fascinating.
TLDR: KIO CHEATS
He tried “authenticity” with his earlier josei works. Didn’t pay the bills.
Unfortunately, the great “Is Kio-sensei unfair to fujoshi clubs?” essay remains stalled, as it must follow the equally difficult and equally stalled “Fujoshi clubs in contemporary Japanese vernacular narratives: why are there so damn few of them to swipe from?” essay.
Your question however hints at a bigger problem,one that BL fandom squarely addresses, not with the smut but with everything else that surrounds it — aka; the feels. The BL male, for all their ridiculous antics and exaggerations represent a desired “improvement” on the model. At least they don’t immediately fall into “make me a sammwich” mode. Improvement is possible! BL, etc even at its smuttiest and melodramatic is fundamentally aspirational.
Cheers and thanks for the considered comment.
ahhh you’re very welcome, and thank YOU for replying to my comment.
I agree with everything you say here, *except* for this one part:
“The BL male, for all their ridiculous antics and exaggerations represent a desired “improvement” on the model. At least they don’t immediately fall into “make me a sammwich” mode. Improvement is possible! BL, etc even at its smuttiest and melodramatic is fundamentally aspirational.”
Of course they don’t immediately fall into “make me a sammwich” mode, they’re into men. Their important relationships aren’t with women, but with other men. Sure, they’re written by women, for women, but those characters are NOT women. No BL male could ever be considered a “role model” for straight men unless those straight men ignore/avoid women completely and only have romantic/sexual relationships with other men, because nobody wants gross, *filthy* women in their BL fantasies (other than the cheerleader or the daughter/sister/mother that stays away from the romance betwen men) and men showing attraction to women *at all* is immediately gross, creepy and predatory.
I’m starting to think that the reason why there are no m/f romance manga/anime that’s genuinely sweet and affectionate is because angels, demons, dragons, vampires and magical girls are all more realistic than a man being kind and considerate to a woman, or women not being treated as inferior to men. And yes, that includes shoujo and josei made by women; how many series do NOT include men insulting/assaulting/beating up women and getting away with it?
(sorry if this got too pessimistic, I have too many opinions)