A problem of shadows

Now with improved faux-German neologisms!

“Fans of romance […] are known for being overzealous, dim-witted and irrational. Being part of this board, we stand not above them.
Let’s avoid driving the point even further home…”
-Anon, 4chan 

Now that Hato Kenjiro has captured the interest, if not the surprisingly adventurous heart of Madarame Harunobo it has become more difficult to avoid the genre from which Hato draws (and draws) his overwrought notions of romance. And overwrought they must be, otherwise the happy duo could just hang out, drink beer, consider pawing at each other and then fall asleep on the couch.

Or as I ventured previously in a spasm of fanout; stay up all night playing video games.

This is especially important to Hato and Madarame because they are both guy characters, written by a guy mangaka, “forced” to work out their posited, tentative feelings according to these shadow scripts. Madarame might be referencing otokonoko/josou game scripts but I consider these as work-in-progress crude retreads of BL and yaoi-light tropes. Kio Shimoku is banging the internal, structural, isolating “sexism” of a genre, against an in-story “real life” to see what can go horribly wrong.

advice forum web

Mudakun,enthusiastic; …And that means you need us again.

Mudakun,concerned; This is troublesome! Is the whole BL and yaoi thing so profoundly unsettling to us that we go dissociative whenever we do anything more than the most superficial discussion of it?

Mudakun,analytic; More like the layers upon layers upon layers that pop up in any discussion make it really hard to do a formal, expository, hammer- home- one- point- all- the- way- through- the- argument writing. And even if we pull it off, it reads as hectoring; worse than pedantic. Better to try a conversational, messy, parallel-processing approach.

Mudakun,sympathetic; It’s also easier to get the ideas down in text. We’ve been scrapping too many draft versions lately.

Mudakun,sceptical; We can’t avoid the discomfort effect. The fact that there is a whole set of overlapping communities of women fans who have taken it upon themselves to support and create gay-ish/ kage-dōseiai/ male:male romance tales, as well as outright pr0n is fascinating, but that doesn’t automatically make their narratives “accessible” to my understanding or interesting to read. And as for “authentic” gay narratives, I’m not sure if they would be any better or worse. Both variants are built for their respective communities. The stuff is just too alien to me.

Part of it is ‘phobosity, fer sure, even though nekkid pictures of dudes don’t freak me out as much as they did before I went through 2 years of art school life drawing classes – at my school nude models were %100 nekkid. One of my favourite profs was also very into Tom of Finland and “classical” poses. It helped though, that he was also a brilliant instructor and had the patience of a saint. He died young; there is a scholarship in his memory. My best work was always managed from female models. Also, fujoshi notions of man-schmex are something light-years removed from  Bridgeman or Nicolaides. Too much rotten work gives off a chip-on-the-shoulder vibe. Often it displays an outright grudge, as if it must elicit the infamous Yamete, oshiri ga itai cry. Yeah; het pr0n, including fake-lesbian stuff gets really nasty fast too, so we can agree that avoidance is easier than having to hunt down brain-bleach?

Mudakun,allegorical; Thou doth protest too much. At very least, they unsettle you.

Mudakun,sceptical; Well, duh! If I trip over a mention of some nice upright, (uptight) aspirational stories involving middle-class gay guys experiencing nice understandable middle-class emotions without dumping a bucket of pig blood on the prom queen and supernaturally trashing the auditorium then running up a bill at the sex toy store, my faith in common humanity is pandered to – no matter who wrote them. If stories wallow in self-harm, I get annoyed. I get annoyed at stories with straight charas that wallow in self-harm too. I also get annoyed that I am being played, on the cheap. “I Babbitt” is a better place to be than all choked up that they killed Bambi’s Mom.

Mudakun,allegorical; We are channelling that imagined painting from the motie planet again: “Return to your appointed tasks!“. Feeling stick-in-the-mud lately?

Mudakun,sceptical; If I want tales of human acting out leading to chaos and disaster, I find it easier to navigate straight ones. Or I can turn on the news feed. Real-life adult chuunibyou , contains %1000 more tragedy and gore. Have you watched the GOP candidate debates lately?

Mudakun,analytical; Let’s stay on track please. We are “other-izing” again and that is at very least naff, if not offensive. And it is too easy to set off a battle in offended land to avoid digging deeper. Let history fix the representative samples. I’m sure that now that western literature, tv, pop culture, etc., has “discovered gay”, the range of stories will expand from western ero-guro/ nostalgie-du-bou/ true crime exploitation pulps to plenty of nice boring, respectable “doing the best we can under difficult situations” stories. The women seem to be ahead of the game once again; lots of middle-age lady private detectives that just happen to like other ladies and go about balancing their mundane daily lives with solving crimes. Maybe Charles Stross will do one of his Laundry stories from the POV of his “Pinky and Brain” side-characters, his Dr. Mo attempt wasn’t toooooooo bad. (props for the superhero plague gamergate allegory)

At the very least, we won’t have an entire sci-fi multi-volume epic turn on the lead male character’s paralysing repressed dread and guilt of remembering that he once tried male:male intimacy and then let his new squeeze and the rest of his ship’s crew fall into a black hole, while he escaped. (-Cough- -Heechee- -cough!) Whatever!

Mudakun,sceptical; Careful with the generalisations. Besides, there are plenty of IRL lesbians who enjoy reclaiming the outlaw/ negative stereotypes of their sisterhood and setting them lose to wreak mayhem on everything and everyone, including these charas’ main squeezes. I think the main squeezes get to be equally skilled at swatting back, so it is kind of affectionate. It’s undoubtedly a very in-community thing, even if it looks like dyke-variant shonen/seinen battle grinder farce-to-11 burlesque.

Mudakun,enthusiastic; Ooooh ooooh! Just thought of an interesting not-quite-parallelism! Ooooh ooooh!

With yuri, you have improbable stories of female:female (and female: female: female: female: female: female: female: female) schmex cooked up by and for guys to fap to. The fix was obvious: what do real women who like other women have to say about the matter? Especially when it comes to the “feels” stuff. We guys so seldom get to dwell on the “feels”.

But with BL and yaoi, you can’t “fix” the genre by having a more realistic “gay” male authorial voice, because the stories are built to satisfy mostly straight female fantasies (yes, yes, at least in Japan, %50-50 gender ratio for outlanders, Ghu knows what range of desires in the mix, yadda, yadda, yadda). They have to act over-the-top, or as in vanilla BL, in some isolated pas-de-deux romantic bubble.

Mudakun,sceptical; Your point? Besides the fact that some yuri fans enjoy both improbable tangles of pseudo-lesbian bodies and insights into how real female same-sex desire might, perhaps, somewhat play out?

Mudakun,enthusiastic; A moment, I’m on a roll… As well, the Japanese variant is a lot less worried about politeness; about being pee-cee than the western slash variants; it tips the hat, when it bothers, to a far more diffuse and non-politicised set of real-life communities of minority sexualities and gender expressions. It historically gives less of a rat’s ass about being sympathetic to “others”. Obviously, part of this is what Kio Shimoku is going to riff on as he bangs Hato and Madarame together.

But there’s more: We’ve already given a passing nod towards the scary-scary unrealistic and outre fantasy schmex thing. We can also tease out the whole idea of the “back-story” of the characters as indication of how the characters diverge from “polite, sympathetic reflections of real life people” and approach symbolic “machine” status, even desiring-machine functions.

Mudakun,sceptical; You realise that if you drag even the tiniest bit of Deleuze-speak into this mess, that you are going to lose whatever train of thought is left in this discussion.

Mudakun,allegorical; Let me jump in. I think what we are edging around is a kind of vulgar Nietzsche “beyond good and evil” lack of “sentimentality” in the Japanese approach to dealing with character back-stories. It is further out along the “pity-less” range than say, Calvinism. The story is more likely to treat bad luck and bad circumstance as indicative not only of fate but as somehow a natural state.

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Listen to shikigami-girl berate Araragi at the conclusion of Owarimonogatari. No sympathy for your bad circumstances, you are just lazy. Think of Hell-Girl; a crazed drug-addled homeless guy can curse a saintly ER nurse. Drag to hell of Nurse ensues. The universe and the fates have no pity. Think way back to (lets get ridiculous here) Pokemon cartoons. We get Team Rocket’s members’ back stories but they remain fuck-up villains with paper-thin motivations who have to keep doing the same stupid shit over and over again because it is their place in the universe to do so. Bad things naturally happen to unlucky people, chaotic things naturally happen to fuck-ups and it is best to stay out of their way.

Throw rocks at the stranger who comes to your village, because they are trouble; because they are not back home in their village; so they will naturally bring trouble.

Act like a proper salary-man or good-wife-wise-mother, lest you fall into the lower depths. If too many people go all “creative” or “eccentric” or “individualistic” society will grind to a halt and collapse into a bloody smoking ruin. Then will come earthquakes, tsunami, gas pipe explosions and fires that destroy whole cities and nuke plant meltdowns.

All die, oh embarrassment.

Keep your after-school interests out of the public eye and don’t annoy your neighbours. Don’t play loud music and make sure you sort your garbage and put it out properly. And be seen to be doing so! Greet your neighbours in the morning. Dress well in public, don’t litter and bring something good to the neighbourhood pot-luck every six months.

Mudakun,sceptical; Again, your point?

Mudakun,sympathetic; My turn! While not venturing towards nihon-jiron, perhaps the fantasy is fantasy thing really is stronger in Japan. Or at least “allegory is allegory” or “characters built to do weird shit are just characters”. There is very little concern given to “some emerging young’un in a confused, isolated, closeted situation might take these wacky shadows as indicative of their own sad fate and thence shuffle off the train station platform“. And if any do, it is their own stupid fault. Just buy a job interview suit, suck it up and soldier on. Why do you think bullying is such a problem in Japan? A Nation of Honey Badger.

…Cannot afford to/ are not permitted by an oppressive power/ social structure TO give a shit (adds my virtual Sanders-bot).

Consider Hato as written by Kio Shimoku. The author did not have to go through all that work of muddying Hato’s back story. He could have been a gay lad who gets off on crossdressing and reading odd m:m pr0n because it works for him. He could be a deemed male at birth person who then realizes “he” has the heart of a girl, even a virtual-lesbian rotten girl, who gets off on m:m naughty stories and who will begin to construct a public persona that reflects this [see Spotted Flower]. No need for the Stands, or at least for them to be so limited in their prodding.

Not insulting gay males who present in a femme manner and/or transwomen was probably not on Kio Shimoku’s radar as he built Hato up to who they are today. And he gave Hato judo skills so that, while discreet, Hato at least arrived at university in one piece. Hato is merely complicated because a complicated Hato works better.

Look at all the allegiance the character had garnered as fans have projected their interpretations of hir sexuality and gender expression upon the chara. Only Keiko hates hir guts. If Ken Akamatsu was to weigh in, the solution to that problem would be obvious.
(Later: screw Ken-sensei, it slipped my mind but one of the Hatozine tales did a very nice riff on this. Seems Keiko had ideas about how to “cure” Hato.)

Mudakun,analytical; So Hato, like many fictional characters, is made-as-interesting. That’s what characters are supposed to be, unless they are male harem leads (in which case, the chaos that the harem brings makes life interesting). Or are you advancing an argument that the “interesting” provides a cover, an excuse for socially non-compliant desires to manifest?

I guess we don’t have to try to unpack the Russian Reversal Mulvey [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Mulvey] male-gaze transposed to female gaze thing, even if we edge around it. What was her fave takeaway line again? Fear of castration? Or something. Does the rotten-girl mockingly indulge in feelings of something analogous for women to castration; say, “rotten/ soured/ fermented- to- mouldy- vinegar” deep in her/ their symbolic/psychic woman-ness ???

Mudakun,enthusiastic; You read it, do some pronoun subbing and tell me:
[http://www.asu.edu/courses/fms504/total-readings/mulvey-visualpleasure.pdf] and [http://www.virginiabonner.com/courses/cms4320/readings/mulveystudyguide.html] and: [https://www.academia.edu/3071544/Entry_on_Laura_Mulvey_Visual_Pleasure_and_Narrative_Cinema_1975_]

Mudakun,sceptical; This is why anything Lacanian might as well be written by Loki. And Lacan was a rat-bastard in his personal life too, so piss on his ashes.

Mudakun,enthusiastic; Well, at least the part about the beautiful objectified woman having “phallic” desire-power transposes easily. The guys are “beautiful” for their readers (bishonen) and sure nuff, got plenty of “signification”. A Search & Replace hack looks like an easy win. (Which brings to mind my ancient neato idea that you could take all early Margaret Atwood feminist Canadiana stories, run them through search and replace for the background description terms and re-situate them on a space station? No? Ah, perhaps later…)

Mudakun,sceptical; Less of a trick now that she has finally owned up to her taste fer sci-fi, but yeah, perhaps a hack of Visual Pleasure etc as Narrative Pleasure in Yaoi might be a hoot, if it doesn’t end up reading like Nagaike…

Mudakun,analytical; -AHEM- Where were we again? Something about back-stories, perhaps?

Mudakun,enthusiastic; Yes… What got me off on this tangent were two odd things I recently stumbled upon. The first is an artifact of western slash fandom/ fendom. It seems that same-sex werewolf porn fanfiction needed to be spiced up a bit and so a few extra fantastic elements were stuck in. Bonus! Even less chance of insulting IRL gay guys and far more of the hawt nasty stuff!

In what is termed “A/B/O” slash, the “sou-uke” male werewolf-ish ones not only -ahem- magically self- lubricate, but emit pheromones and (get this) somehow lock their penetrator’s wolf-hood into their yaoi-holes so that the delirious growling pair go at it (tadah!) like a wild animals for hours, perhaps even days. No snickering! It solves all kinds of story problems and delivers exactly what is says on the label. A perfect mechanism for exploring/ expressing over-wrought desire. Has anyone in psychoanalysis coined the term “lustgerat“? I think it is a much neater term than Deleuze’s desiring-machines. Great band name too!

A converse fantastic example, even if we have to stray from tales of male:male desire: the outrageous melodramatic back-story that recently popped in UQ Holder. Evangeline/Yukihime’s ferociously clingy and jealous factotum, Karen could have just been a sad, angry, over-possessive immortal lesbian with a crush. As adult female in the room, she also gets to be first in line to have her clothes shredded in battle because Ken-sensei wants to keep his export market. No battle-stripping under-age girls. Karen-sempai will fight on, just like a proper western female superhero should. Send the rapey-pervy assassins her way, she’ll deal with them, no matter what damage she has to sustain.

Not good enough. I doubt Ken Akamatsu was worried about insulting the Tokyo chapter of whatever, but the fans want more. So lets level her up:

Judy, you say web

WTF !!! Karen, were you really once known as Judy Iscariot? Pleased to meet you… etc. Uh, I guess that would give you you a massive guilt-trip to work off. Guilt has far more mojo than trauma. Karen is a Vergangenheitschuldigtrauerbewältigunggerat (engage funky German neologism module: a machine/apparatus that tries to cope with/overcome the mourning and guilt of the past/ a past sin.)

Mudakun,sceptical; So what you are getting at is that either the extreme psychological damage implied by the Karen back-story turns her into some form of clinical psychology allegory and/or she is massively messed up and therefore lost to “normal” behaviour. Her “abnormal” desires are the best she can manage? That’s a pretty nasty subtext! Or is her case so dire that it is heroic, and therefore as a hero (flawed variant), she can have any damn desires she cares to indulge?

…Aside; that is one impressively dire Judas-suicide scene. The mangaka and assistants really went to town.

Mudakun,enthusiastic; Even so, some folks have complained. They should take their complaints up with Andrew Lloyd Webber and the European medieval peasants who invented La Befana, the immortal Christmas Witch who cannot die until she brings gifts to the returned Christ child. Then there are parts of Christian mythos/ apocrypha that have at least one other disciple as not completely immortal, but simply ill-disposed towards death until “teacher” returns. For a carpenter who turned to street preaching, he sure had a knack fer pickin’ them, neh? Maybe she betrayed him later, in Aomori prefecture, so she’s a variation on the theme? Whatever…

Mudakun, analytical; You forgot to mention the Adrian Piper appropriative modernism effect, also known as “swipe any other culture’s myths and stuff, but only in a superficial way”. Feel free to get the details wrong. Japan loves its short-skirted machine-gun toting nuns fighting Santa Claus Vampires and hipster fallen angels. What’s the biggie with one Judith Iscariot tossed into the nabe pot? Complete aside: I highly recommend looking around for an online stream of the rather goofy and very queer Canadian low-budget film: Jesus Christ_Vampire Hunter (2001) 
[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Christ_Vampire_Hunter],
if only for the masked Lucha wrestler.

Mudakun,sceptical; …None of this is as annoying as Karen suddenly developing confusing feelings for idiot-boy. Judy I can indulge, but that overloaded my bullshit meter. Is Touta exuding pheromones? I do acknowledge the earlier brilliance of indeterminate Kuroumaru. An a-sexual/ pre-sexual youkai who can endlessly get all flustered about which way hir is verging towards, even as the harem tropery requires hir to incline towards the female. No boy or girl bits. A Barbie-Ken doll trying to figure the whole mess out. No IRL gender-non-conforming folks need take umbrage. Kuroumaru is a bit like Hato in that they are both Gelüsteverwechslunggerat  (desire/ longing confusion devices/ engines)

Mudakun,concerned; Hold up! Back to those odd werewolves. The point could also be that for hardcore slash, yaoi and even to some extent for nice fluffy vanilla BL, the “gay” doesn’t matter as much as the ‘guys”. If pressed, I am sure that most fujoshi and even a large number of western slash-fen would argue that the presence or absence of a formal “gay” identity, or even a diffuse “men who have / might have sex with men” impulse is of less important than the essential imagined “male-ness” of the characters.

All male-units into the shipping sack, then shake. We are, after all, such odd creatures. Sure you can have one or many characters announce their gay-ness or act “out” or “practising” or “closeted” or “in denial” or “bi” or “anything that moves” or whatever, but these are shorthand within the stories. And you must have the inevitable “I’m not gay it’s only you/him/ze“, the better to have the chara hem and haw and go crazy as the madness sets in. Formal labels and sub-species of the male critter-dom seem less important than the play of advancing a tale of gender essential-ism that must manifest during desire.

Mudakun,analytical; Each narrative advances a core argument: this is what males do when man-lust strikes, can do , could do and should do (and it would make the authors/ readers very happy to see it happen naow dammit!).

That’s standard for most fictions. A further odd effect then sets in as the “males” begin to be written in ways that not only highlight certain perceived essential character traits and flaws in the male psyche, but also take on “improvements” that make them more entertaining, comprehensible, even sympathetic. (or more completely fucking psycho if a villain is needed) Some of the “male” characters become quasi-female. Write what you know is easier, after all.


These stories of imagined male:male intimacy do things for women that they find difficult or impossible to do with heterosexual or even female:female pairings. Both (or all) actors are equally endowed with agency at the start of their dance. If they fall into the classic seme/uke roles, these often highlight and/or overturn other societal roles and hierarchies; money, power, status, age, etc. At very least, they offer up the contradictions of the pathologies of excessive reliance on hierarchy for social stability and personal identity that is endemic within certain uniquely masculinist interpretations of what it is to be Japanese. Too much of the discourse of male identity and power within historically male realms of education, work and politics (aka public life) slides into “pecking order hysteria”. Women as historically chattel or chatelaine are below and outside these considerations; and free to jeer and throw brickbats from the sidelines.

Yaoi joyfully acts these questions of roles and power out with plenty of improbable and often violent allegories of raw sexual performance. Even within fluffy vanilla BL, where dominance displays are held to a minimum, the hierarchy is critiqued by its very absence. Instead the questions become those of attraction, fear, reluctance, need, autonomy, desire and the sense of one’s self as a whole; all played out in a field where hierarchies, indeed most of society is held at bay.

Mudakun,sceptical; Glad you got all that off your chest. You know of course that they use these tales for more than just pecking-order detournment? Right? Further questions, ones that grow pressing in a society that has moved away from high-fertility family based social units, through couple-based units to single-dom emerge:

“Why on earth put up with someone else in your face all the time?”

“Sex is good” fails as a long-term answer. Extant models are thin:

Child-rearing unit.

Economic support unit/ business partners (then why stop at a pair-bond?)

Domestic companion

Master-servant/slave

His and Her wings of the manor house.

At very least, male “homosocials” and imagined ideas of male friendship offer up the tantalising possibility of additional models. Consider Faye Valentine as honorary guy mooching around the ship in Cowboy Bebop. She ain’t Lupin III’s Fujiko Mine and she ain’t Inara aboard Firefly’s Serenity.

There was a good CBC radio drama series about Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, with a platoon lead by a female officer. The guys called her “Coach”. Much gritty Sgt. Rock-ish-ness ensued, no schmex. The aftermath episodes, back in Canada with various members facing PTSD, were riveting. But these had no pairing-offs in them so I guess they don’t count.

Perhaps military examples are unworkable without mecha (cf: Eva, FMP). There is a tradition in some branches of feminist criticism that looks longingly at the male “buddy” pairing and reads all manner of things into it, even while going on how such friendships seem to be denied to women. Whether this is obsolete nonsense is a whole other thing; it sure makes up the dynamics of tons of action narratives. Perhaps we will soon get a spate of Hollywood action flicks where the Gay side-kick is the new Black side-kick. Dies heroically all the effing time. It must already be an old chestnut in fanfic.

(A bit later: watch the josei anime Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu if you feel the need for some of this, from an auteur who is an expert in the field but [so far] holds off from the urge to ‘consummate’ the tense relations between her male leads. The female characters are left ignored and exasperated for the entertainment of a josei audience.  So yeah; so far BL-free, whew! Just a bit of Sedgwick-lite, very fine animation work, interesting intro to rakugo.  ENJOY:
http://www.crunchyroll.com/showa-genroku-rakugo-shinju )

The last author I read who extensively played with the problem of non-traditional pairing/ living arrangements was Delany in his “Triton”. The work is long in the tooth and suffers from 60’s hippy commune hangover, but had its moments. You had bachelor flop-houses for guys, not as an impoverished condition, but as choice for that point in their lives/ head space/ whatever. Wimmens co-ops, artist troupes, an entire freaky panoply extrapolated from campus living options, stretched to the nth. Hard to notice though, as the main character, whether male or female was a whiny annoying asshat throughout the whole tale. In the end, the only way Delany could wrap up the story was with a terrorist explosion that killed off almost the entire cast.

I mention this only because of that BBC documentary that showed a Japanese “share-house” full of young, impoverished creative folks (and one alarmingly large iguana). Strange how there are no manga/ anime about this phenomenon.

Mudakun,concerned; Must we default to two main choices; fantastic or tragic/ pathological for back-stories? The genre appears to be very formulaic. And once the poor fools get pushed together they have to endure more rules.The entire seme-uke convention, with all of its sub-categorization is a ridiculous but durable set of scripts for how emotionally unbalanced males are supposed to react to their new neato non-conventional desires. It looks at times like ritualised domestic violence.

The “manly” seme is emotionally brittle, jealous, possessive, inarticulate, fearful of showing weakness and fearful of losing the object of his desire. He compensates with near-psychotic lust and a forceful display of possessive desire. Any confidence and/ or assertiveness has to be revealed as a show, a sham, a cover for his deep fear of losing his lover and/or of being lost within the intimacy; otherwise buddy is just a fucking psycho.

Meanwhile the uke, aside from serving as designated orifice, acts out all the emotional stuff for both parties, plus a bit extra for pyrotechnic effect. All the emo stuff, cranked to 11. The seme is allowed to shut down, after a meltdown when faced with the prospect of losing his one and only.

If this is a Korean buddy movie, omit the sex and add a binge drinking-to- tear-soaked-vomiting sequence.

It appears however, that stories of two individuals who just so happen to enjoy each others’ company and do sex 3 times a week (decreasing to 1.5/wk after 6 years) do not sell a whole lot of manga. That includes straight characters. Unless they come with interesting dinner recipes.

The alternative to too much drama is the nod to the beyond- realistic, aspirational, very-well-adjusted queer character. Good looking, self-confident, sociable, friendly, excellent tastes, money enough to indulge them: top him off with minor endearing personality quirks and turn him loose. Such characters are not de-facto insulting, but curiously draw flak from real life gay folks for being unrealistic, lacking passion and being so perfect as to be impossible to identify with. Suitable as background characters but useless as main characters. Note to Hollywood and manga/ anime auteurs: use different body types. Win for Kio Shimoku.

Asexual Jughead


Not even interesting enough to qualify as a secondary character

Mudakun,analytical; We should also bring up considerations of Emotional
vs Transactional pairings. It is posited that because pregnancy and childrearing are off the table, the parties in a male same-sex pairing retain their autonomy. Therefore any ongoing relations must be emotional, at the deepest level. Note how the dreaded “arranged marriage” can always be brought out to threaten the true romance.

A further observation and maybe I am comparing one genre that I barely read anything from with one that I read more of, still it strikes me that the sweet young things in yuri tales are much less messed up. Oh sure they might pine quietly on the sidelines for sempai, but they are generally not dire. They just know that they like girls. I suspect that a different version of gender essentialism is at play here as well.

Mudakun,sympathetic; Back to the fantastic and the tragic/pathological.  I stumbled over some very vanilla BL (the English word Qualia seems to be a flavour of the month) and was surprised enough to read through its seven chapters. At first it appears to go out of its way to be inoffensive. Even the scan-group that presented it characterises their work as “sparkling, fluffy BL“. One would think one was going to get pictures of kittens, and for some of the chapters, this isn’t too far off. One through a door ajar barely visible gay sex glimpse for cred.

Only after the thing is about to wrap does the method become apparent. The story is a happy-ending muted retread of the old-school bishonen classics a la Song of the Wind and Trees and Thomas. Bishies, supposedly 21-24, look 15 and androgynous (squint and it could be yuri on some pages). Check! One is emotionally cauterised from absent parents, almost asexual; the other had an abusive, loveless upbringing and will let himself be fucked by evil predatory male sempais in a desperate bid for emotional connection. Check. Clingy guy begins to hang around disinterested guy. Check. Disinterested guy saves uke-ish Clingy boy from near rape. Check. Disinterested guy grows slowly interested when he realises that he can mildly tease and get a reaction from over-emotional Clingy guy. Check. Happy soon-to-be couple end up cuddled together on a futon like puppies or kittens, no sex please – we are emotionally damaged and/ or blank. Check.

Many years ago, a rejection and then a murder or suicide would occur and the disinterested “not-gay” guy would later realise that he had feelings that he kept buried because of cowardice and shame, but what the heck, he will die soon and then their spirits will be forever together…

Instead, what resolves the impasse is a curious form of pressure-free momentum, which I assume was the object of the exercise. The two improbable young critters just find themselves hanging around with each other a lot. Clingy wants, but won’t push the issue. Distant decides that getting some reaction from Clingy is amusing and this might be what those humans refer to when they speak of love. Distant announces to Clingy that he stayed up all night on the interwebs researching this thing that humans do called gay sex. Clingy comically chokes up with emotion upon hearing this. practicing you say p022web

D’Awwwwwwwwwww! Have another chocolate.

Mudakun,sceptical; So the tragic/ pathalogical or fantastic back-story rule still applies. They might be fluffy kittens, but they are emotionally damaged. Not too cool, in retrospect. Looks like the rotten girls could learn something from Riverdale V3.0

Mudakun,enthusiastic; You are being too hard on a piece of fluff. Besides, the solution to Hato and Madarame’s impasse now presents itself: Ogiue pulls out a sketch pad and draws an Genshiken-verse analogue of the last chapter of Kii Kanna’s Yuki no Shita no Qualia, then runs off to a kombini to photocopy it. The rest of the gang makes haste to a grocery store where they purchase many 1/2 kilo bricks of cheese and string. Back at the temple grounds they meet up, wrap and tie the work to the cheese bricks, locate the reluctant pair and pelt them with fromage-y scripts that offer an officially approved BL way to move forward. Because as otaku/ fudanshi/ fujoshi they cannot work anything out on their own.

Autonomy web

Problem solved.
Happy Valentines Day!

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