Kujibiki Unbalance Rakugu Shinjuu

… Something came up. Go on ahead and I’ll catch up with you later…

pulp scifi flowers

“The thing that is obvious to many not-young women is that no guy is owed anything just because he has an idea in his head of what he’d like. This is a very serious problem globally, apparently. These guys feel that their sincerity means they deserve the girl. And, to some extent, that is how this scenario is presented. Touko’s feeling are honest and sincere, so of course Yuu will come around to falling for her. But why? If Yuu doesn’t feel it, why do we assume she must eventually do so? This bugs me a lot. In real life, on Quora and in media.

Which leads me to the, I think, obvious conclusion about Yuu. What if she’s asexual? If so, she’s never going to have those feelings for Touko or anyone. She might come to love Touko and continue to admire and like her, but never have sexual interest in her. So, then I can’t help but see Touko’s coming on (to be crude) to Yuu as another burden, rather than a blessing.

Both these things nag at me while I read this manga. And I worry that Yuu’s agency will be stripped from her as the narrative continues.””

-Erica Friedman, Yuri Manga: Yagate Kimi ni Naru (やがて君になる )
Review in OKAZU, January 6th, 2016
http://okazu.yuricon.com/2016/01/06/yuri-manga-yagate-kimi-ni-naru-%E3%82%84%E3%81%8C%E3%81%A6%E5%90%9B%E3%81%AB%E3%81%AA%E3%82%8B/

“The dream which one comes up with on one’s own is a fantasy that is ultimately not possible to share with others. Although, of course, imposing it on others is always possible.”
Furuhashi Teiji, quoted in Mizoguchi, 2008, Ch6.

“Even if I might just be trying to force my own desires… All of our desires are just… Things we force on others anyway.”
-Hato Kenjiro, Genshiken ch 66

 

My previous post went over like a lead balloon. One more time; I have no knowledge of how the heck Kio Shimoku is going to play Chapter 122.. Jeesh, why do I even feel like I have to write that? It was pure speculation rendered as fanfiction; partly because I smelled a set-up, partly because there were problems with MadaHatoMada and also because there were a few things I wanted to work on – including that dreaded “default position”. I was not gloating, or if I was, it was over figuring out a plausible resolution, rendered as an overdone snippet of Mada speechifying.

I even had Mada go out of his way to emphasise that he was leaning towards Hato, before he pulled a noble (chicken-out) sacrifice. Amirite about Hato’s first love or not?

I have been true to my project. That solution was pure “Myth of the Oarsmen“; duty, honor, planet Genshiken. The alternative is scopophilia, which is presently manifesting itself to excess.

As for fanboy tears, most of us are too fascinated with the imminent train-wreck to shed much. Just because Genshiken is now about fujoshi fanning and features a boy in a skirt, it is not a work from Slash-land or a radical genderqueer manifesto or an allegory of feminist empowerment.

Hato is not going to wake up like Neo in a pod to discover that she was dreaming the entire Genshiken after a bullshit virus-fever and that she should go back to virtually running the algae photosynthesis factory controls for her wimmens-only cyber-dystopia that mixes elements from Joanna Russ, The Matrix and Ghost in the Shell, and completely leaves out men. They all died off last world war.

“OK, I remember now, but why does my avatar now look like this?”
“We found some old records while you were sick and voted to switch over our avatar design specs. It was all in this amazing ancient book of wisdom titled “Dykes Like Us”.”

My grumpy fanboy brothers; the Genshiken could be far more hostile or even oblivious to our patronage. Just sayin’… No Homo or not, it is still all about us guys. Note too all; spend too much time counting scalps and you’ll miss the razor blade in the shiny shiny apple.

Whoops, a sci-fi yuri-esque digression or two. I wonder how that wandered into my train of thought?

“Look, call it denial if you like, but I think what goes on in my personal life is none of my own damn business.”
Robert Mankoff cartoon

Like it or not, the heart of Hato Kenjiro is front and center in the dramas surrounding the new Genshiken. Without him (and her), we guys are just peeping into the sacred spaces of a female fandom; we are Kuchiki. If you want more Genshiken, you’re stuck with Hato, the fujoshi planet field exploration unit. It would have been so much easier, if not boring to have made him a femmish-presenting out gay male.

Unfortunately, Hato Kenjiro is not “gei”. Hato Kenjiro is a fujoshi, which is like saying that he is a duck that thinks he is a cartoon robot cat from the future. The simple declaration of his desire to “imagine desire and so desire as fujoshi women do” is such an insane defiance against the order of forms as to reek of privilege if not madness, were he “real”. It would be like Donald Trump announcing that he could get pregnant if he so chose, because he is very rich and has the “really really best scientists”.(1) Perhaps it is even more extreme; like a male middle-class teen in some midwestern American town deciding that he could become pregnant because, “Hey! if Donald Trump wanted to, he’d do it, so I should be able to!” And this doesn’t have anything to do with thinking that he is two-souled or born to the wrong gender either, just to notch up the count on the impossible delusion scale.

Give the kid a John Varley anthology and tell him to go back to studying for his college entrance exams. Hopefully he will figure his life out and not get rich enough to do something hurtfully stupid to other folks in the pursuit of remnants of his teenage dreams. (2)

Hato Kenjiro as a well-behaved construct owes much of his appeal to this kind of fancy. There must be a few guys out there who like reading BL and yaoi and probably most of them would enjoy the chance to fan out with other fans, even or especially if these other fans were rotten girls (or rotten women, or.. etc..) But how many would crossdress to do it? (Aside: I hope the Hato Kenjiro character has not caused any IRL pressure to be brought upon them – c’mon Stan, you’d look great!) And how many would deny that their real-life desires ran towards the guy side of the avenue?

At this point, anyone so ensnared in such customised and bespoke desires would be driven to consider, examine and elaborate them. “Why yes, it seems that I am more drawn to guys than girls, but the muggins gay scene does nothing for me. For some reason I really like the way the relationships play out in this, that and the other BL stories and those yaoi dojins. Oh well, such is fate, now how do I get me some?

It could make for very odd advice columns in gay male magazines. Dear Doc Feelygood, I grew up in a small town in rural Japan and…

Eventually either the fantasy or real world physical desire would win out. All groups socialize their members or the disaffected withdraw from the group.

The larger question remains. Why the heck, beyond weird storytelling is Kio Shimoku doing this?

I think we must include all, including nominally heterosexual fantasy otherings by the fandom as subject to his project. We must also consider isolating homosocials and the isolating effects of fandom from a larger riaju world, both in its satisfactions (safety, friendship, enchantment/ re-enchantment) and discontents.

Do issues of real world desire and gender expression come into this tale? Beyond “otokonoko” hobby crossplay, I don’t think very much does, at least on the surface. Kio Shimoku has been very clear about tossing out disclaimers. They may strain real world credulity but they are more than sufficient for a romcom manga.

In Hato’s case, fantasy and the social surrounding it are far more urgent to hir desires than any needs of the flesh that involve another person. Hato definitely cares about Madarame, but the uniquely Hato-ish way that care comes out is custom-built for serial comedic failure.

This is sleight of hand by Kio Shimoku. We would have no trouble deciding what Hato was if this was kinked heterosexual desire. “Uh, I have these fantasies about you in rubber underwear, cat ears, tied down with octopus tentacles, singing show tunes. And we’d probably switch roles once we got to know each other better, just for variety and by the way, I insist on blabbing about these romps to my friends before and after, if you go out with me”.

“Cause I really like you.”

I’m not saying it couldn’t work. It would just make for a rather specialized Tinder profile. If the vehicle of these desires was a hot girl, she would get a post-punk band out of it. (Ask me about the short-lived 1980’s “Dover Beach Young Communist Faction“, “Natasha” and her leather-boy posse sometime… Or not, as it was pretty well was what was on the label.)(3)

Beyond the questions of non-traditional desire, same-sex attraction, non-binary sexualities and non-conforming gender expressions lies the question of whether the desire expresses as paired intimacy, group bonding, hobby social activity or even competitive sport. Of such things, sweet dreams are made.

Who am I to disagree..

I may be pushing the analogy too far. Plenty of healthy confused young’uns mess up their first crushes with the usual bucket load of commodified fetishisms that they have absorbed from web pr0n. Usually someone they know will eventually “well Duh! Smooth move, asshat! What the fuck did you think would happen?” them.

Part of the blame for any Hato & Mada train wreck must fall on the Genshiken social itself. The harem sweepstakes have become crass; plenty of lobbying and side-bets on who would make the most interesting pairing but very little pre-emptive harm reduction. Ogiue and Ohno in particular have let this slip by. Both have executive authority, seniority and experience in somewhat functional relationships. It might be a bit unfair to drop the load onto them but why is Yoshitake doing all the pot-stirring? Why is Yajima Merei the only one who seems to think that it will hurt like heck? As one Genshiken fan has noted; very creepy but in-character with what can go wrong when University clubs turn into soap operas.

The Genshiken has featured at least two other fannish socials that have gone bad and hurt people. Is Kio Shimoku taking the dangerous mountain road turn too fast to make a point?

And let us not forget that “Madarame sou-uke” was not a Hato invention. That one carries over from Ogiue’s  SassMada dojin. In many ways it is the last or latest manifestation of her “original sin”

Is this set up is meant to suggest that a lack of practical real-world relationship interest/experience by fujoshis, plus the oddity of same-sex crossdressing fujoshi-but-a-guy pining, plus their drooling need for BL fannout has kept the rest of the Genshiken from raising any caution flags? The closest thing to harm reduction might be the entire Yoshitake-inspired plot as battlefield surgery. Fail the HatoMadaHato story as fast and hard as needed and rebound Hato at Yajima. Who Madarame ends up with is of no importance as long as it isn’t Hato. Best if he shuffles off stage. Ditto with Kuchiki. I wonder what will Yoshitake do if any new males show up wanting to join the Genshiken? She appears to have no qualms about defending an exclusive female space. I doubt if even an “out” gay male fudanshi with super drawing skills could slip by her shields. I wonder if a lesbian fujoshi could. In some ways she is an outwardly sympathetic steathed Kaminaga.

Meanwhile, as passionately pro-Hato correspondents have pointed out, we could view Hato and the Mada crush as the best an inexperienced, conflicted and confused crossdressing, “I’m not gay, It’s only you, No I don’t think I am a girl trapped in a body deemed male at birth, I made the female me to isolate, contain and process my enthusiasms for BL and yaoi, participate in the socials that surround and perpetuate the genre and experience the desires that are stirred in me thereby. One day I hope to try a variant of them in real life, eventually without the wig and dress, if I can only find someone who wants me the way the characters in my fave dojins want each other” young person could manage.

Whew! Tall order.

“Oh, and I’m going to blab about it and draw it into dojins so I can share it all with my fujoshi friends!”

Jeebus Buddha and Bob! This is going down the rabbit hole again. At least I have come up with one neato residual from the exercise. The next thing that Kio Shimoku or some ambitious BL author should come up with is a raunchy comedy wherein the uke is a gay guy BL mangaka, the reluctant seme-draftee is a shy gay-leaning civilian male and the mangaka is mining their relationship hijinks and tribulations for material. Add much trope overload. What made for an obnoxious yuri tale (Manga no Tsukurikata) could be retreaded into a bucket o laffs for a rotten audience because watching guys run themselves through the wringer is a hoot for the gals.

Just credit me as Character Design consultant and forward a reasonable fee via the contact form.

Given how nasty it could have played, Hato was being exceedingly, (even touchingly) earnest in their crush by dropping plenty of formal cautions in Madarame’s path. Unfortunately these came out like melodramatic romantic clichés: “I push you away, sacrificing my love, because I am conflicted, pursuit might sway me/ I need you to chase after me“. Then came the too-much-information flood as fannish excess. This too could be read as touching, because Hato trusts Madarame enough to think that Mada will understand the fanning impulse behind the weird. Unfortunately that was probably too much to ask of a celibate straight geeky guy.

The “shut him down hard” solution has not been used.

Dammit Hato, you used up all of Madarame’s “weird turn pro” reserves. Mada overload. Coolant leak, core shut-down. Emergency power reserves dropping.

Nor has the famous Hato-chan self-control slipped. Hato-chan’s self-control never slips. Hato-kun might blubber and teeter on the edge of bat-shit crazy; Hato-chan is bullet-proof. The worst that will ever show is a blushed face.

The Hato continuum is crushing hard, but never hard enough to let go of their first love.

If only Hato could shut up about the sou-uke and seme stuff. Of course hir can’t. The seme/uke convention is the currency of fujoshi exchange and Hato wants to participate in that exchange more than anything else in hir life. What Hato finds lacking in “gay” and in “straight” is hiding in BL. Hato want! Once Kio Shimoku came up with this algorithm, all manner of neato consequences popped up.

I have noted that there is something excessive, something that meets the bet and redoubles it about Hato deciding that it was inevitable that Hato-chan would end up as girl-bottom. To quote professor Rod Serling;

Who eats the sins of the sin-eater?

Did Madarame have to be conscripted as sou-uke just so that Hato could become sou-uke to a sou-uke, the ultra-uke or uber-uke. The lowest of the low, the lower depths, donzoko, a prince (and princess) of hell? Jigoku Otokonoko?

De Profundis:

“In the empty clubroom, I sat down and wept”

The lore of BL and yaoi makes the uke the most interesting character of any pairing. The ukes are the ones who get to crank all manner of conflicted emotions to 11 and beyond. All the girl emotions of the nominal readership, plus all the conflicted guy emotions that the girls consider exclusive male property and project onto male-dom, because in real life we disappoint and definitely need an upgrade. Just don’t point that mess at women, please.

“He protected me when I was crazy and I protected him when he was drunk.”
– Sherman on his friendship with Grant.

The Hato ship is a powerfully romantic idea, for at least a significant part of the fandom but its foundations remain ridiculously unstable. Hato is wonky. Of course everything will go sideways. Mada isn’t exactly Mr. stability himself, but at least he is predictable. And I’m not going to give up harping on how BL enthusiasts hold any male friendship in such rarefied regard that they must conflate it with incipient lust. Any Mada and Hato interaction needs a lot more work getting the two together to see if there really is anything there before asking if there is anything that needs “it”, and before they even consider “it”. Banging Mada and Hato together minus acclimatization is sloppy and cruel, as well as a sure fail. Unless the fans want and consider such details irrelevant.

The infamous Genshiken second season Ogiue yaoi fantasy bypassed vanilla BL take-it-slow setups in favor of an occult freemasonry imputed to all males. Betcha didn’t know this but if the yaoi requires it, all us guys invariably prefer man-schmex to girls. Only a super-freak like alt.yaoi.Kousaka cares to play both sides of the street for louche fun. Told ya this stuff was heavyhanded.

“I’m not gay, its only you” looks more polite, but is there for the contrast and the heightened shock when the madness strikes. Even if carnivores only kill one member of the herd at a time, they still regard the entire herd as ambulatory food storage. Oh well, we’ve been doing something similar to womenkind since the neolithic, so a bit of enlarged perspective might annoy, but won’t kill us guys.

One counter-intuitive aspect of assuming a default state of male swing-any-way-ness (magic BL lurv madness or too much beer may be required) is that on the surface it doubles the absolute potential for pairing breakdown via infidelities and dumping. It is assumed that women favor stable, monogamous, OTP (one true pairing) endings, if only because the real world imposes social and economic penalties on women who fall out of relationships while giving a free pass and/or praise to males who play the field.

One more time, with expository notes:

Hoggamous, Higgamous (guy audience porny) yuri (and heterosexual harem grinders) polygamous.
Higgamous, Hoggamous (gal audience, at least serially) BL (as shoujou/ romance derivative) monogamous.

The idea behind the “could go any way, anywhere with anyone” baseline is to isolate the deterministic, transactional variables of sexuality and gender so as to run simulations on the adhesion properties of various iterations of “romantic love”. Somewhat like computer modelling the search for new antibiotics in moldy dirt samples. If it invents and refines new delusions about how to run the romantic process it is considered to be worth the extra complications. Bonus points for hawt artwork.

Unfortunately few pairings, straight, BL-ish or otherwise offer any absolute guarantees when put up against a mangaka with a mortgage. Angela or Keiko instability easily sets up Spotted Flower. Either can vanish at the drop of a hat and all that remains is the Disappearance of Kousaka Makoto for the pieces to roll plausibly into place. Hato or Sue, as most complex offer a small hope that the author will have more material with which to drag out the story before moving on to the next arc, but this in itself points out a further structural bias.

There is a virgin-angst vibe in the Genshiken, as with other Kio Shimoku works that posits the beginning of intimacy as the beginning of the end of love. Only Ohno and Tanaka seem immune. Saki-Kousaka and Ogiue-Sass give off as much heat as Yajimacci’s mom and dad. This is by no means unique to Kio Shimoku, but his works favor the rule.

Once Angela or Keiko lapse, the current harem fuss could quietly reset and begin all over again. Magic Madarame syndrome.

Along with stability/ fidelity, one should as well consider privacy and it’s enabling condition, normative behaviour. Riajuu is boring, therefore the more riajuu a pairing, the more it will get more privacy.

I wanted to spin out another MadaHatoMada fanfic to consider an  alternative to an Angela ending, but couldn’t get much further than Hato and Mada realising during their continued walk, that if they announced a “try it”, they would get absolutely no privacy ever. That wasn’t as much of an issue back around chapter 119 when I buried a short fluffy scenario at the end of the second addendum to the post that would not die. But now the no privacy effect has been further cranked by the Mangaka.

Sempai! We are going shopping for some thick sided rectangular god-of-the-corporate boardroom seme glasses for you. And a suit that fits and then a visit to a hair stylist!” Cue the paparazzi. “Hato, Hato, how fares your fundament this morning?” Next door Sue would stalk Hato, the rest would take turns stalking Mada. Soon both Hato and Mada would have to sweep their premises for microphones. Hato would have to switch to illustrating technical manuals, lest every single panel he drew be scrutinised for hidden context and clues. Tubs of lotion and econo-sized packages of rubbers would be left at their doors.

Could classic sparkling fluffy BL play out under withering spotlights?

Hato can’t keep quiet during Chapter 121. Maybe they were both planning to say nothing until they could each mull over the other’s drawings and hentai games? Mada now has to come clean for chapter 122 and Kio Shimoku is being unfair. I am not saying that HatoMadaHato should be hidden in a closet, but sheesh, a little discretion would have gone a long way.

Why is Kio Shimoku highlighting naff club behavior? Saki is matter-of-fact about having real-world gay friends. Madarame, now in self-imposed bohemian mode doesn’t seem to think that a cute otokonoko-ish boy-girl-friend is as much of a hurdle as dealing with forceful female desire – at least until mechanical concerns are brought up. Something about being open to all manner of fantasy otherings vs IRL conservatism, reticence even fear is being suggested.

Could Kio Shimoku be advancing the concern that the very process of fantasy othering carries the risk of reducing one’s capacity for real world empathy and openness to new social arrangements?

Is the fandom truly more open-minded than the riajuu? Was it all an illusion and the Genshiken members are just a few steps away from passive acceptance, even support of right-wing retrenchment? Gate, Thus the JSDF etc. has tons of BL gags, even as the latest anime episode features a snickering corrupt Japanese journalist who is even harder on the heroic military than the “foreign reporters”.

Bad domestic press, Bad!

Awww heck, the Stargate franchise had its asshat militarism too, we still lapped it up and forgave it. Of course it had big-bads that were a lot more powerful than the American military industrial complex. Fantasy pohos with swords and spears tack a bit too close to the The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere for comfort.

Holy right-wing sound truck parade Batman!

Is the Genshiken truly a safe space for “live” same-sex couples? If Mada Hato happened would things get uncomfortably juvenile in the clubroom? Does a freak couple deserve any tatemae, or is it just a case of Madarame’s lack of tatemae privileges infecting the pairing?

The club members and alumni make twice yearly pilgrimages to Comiket. Would they muster to show support at a pride parade? Could they even back off and let the two be?

They (as proxies for their Japanese readership) should get their heads up and their game on. Some rightists in the current government think that sexual minorities are unnatural freaks and that too many women are shirking their baby-making duties. Abortion is illegal in Japan. There is “only” the widely used exemption for “economic hardship”. Contraceptive technologies are less widespread than in the west. Wink and small freedoms could vanish. Would Genshiken fujoshi be able to process the threat to their freedoms? Could fans be silenced if another right-wing governor of Tokyo decided to hit them in the Comiket if politicised dojins started to show up at SEALDs demos?

One further extreme question: by over-adopting canon of BL scripts is Hato Kenjiro acting out a “safe” form of self-hating denial. Is this an ultimate fantastic blowback, in effect a “new sin” of the genre that arises from the complaints first posited in the yaoi ronso debates made two decades previously?

Because if HatoMadaHato were ever to happen, Hato’s unstoppable need to share would move from self-sabotage to self-harm. And there would be Mada harm o plenty.

Hato and Sue are about equally matched for a “lets take things real slow and not hurt each other” relationship, but the lack of discretion that comes with Hato messes things up. Hato is a leaky bucket. Yoshitake pokes Hato, Hato blushes, then spills. Hato-chan is custom-built to exchange BL gossip with the other club members. Same-sex intimacy has no intrinsic value to the fujoshi field exploration unit, only exchange value.

It was my nature, cried the scorpion as both sank beneath the waves.

If Yoshitake pokes Sue all she’ll get is blushing, running away or an obscure anime quote. Poke Angela and you’ll get an enigmatic smile. Poke Keiko and you’ll get braggadocio and /or a punch in the snout, depending on her mood.

the Stands may have left the stage, their terrible legacy remains. Hato’s desires remain abject and alien to the core of their being; the Hatos must be danced through them, as a puppet is made to dance. And a puppet’s face bares scant signs of turmoil.

Clearly Hato needs some consciousness raising. Hato needs to believe that they deserve the formal respect and privacies of honne. The entirety of Hato has yet to give themselves permission to desire their desires and to love.

Hato-as-chan rarely (dojin production night shadow was another) lets down their guard to others in desperation. In the moments after Sue released Hato from her pin and looked through the MadaHato drawings, we saw a Hato who could express emotional turmoil. The honesty and raw pain of the moment frightened and shamed Sue. A similar moment of truth would have won Madarame.

How to arrive at one during this drunken evening at Yajima’s house? Can chapter 122 preserve the goodness of the club and get the club members to shape up, support, encourage and make safe a place for whatever happens?

Ye gawds that reads like mush, but the Genshiken is guy-written josei-ish slice of life manga. You got to admit that it is making a damn good go of slipping weightier themes in with the yuk-yuks.

Can fantasy support and inform reality so that reality can act better? (4)

 

 

(1) Don’t think too hard about this one, unless you are heavily into that variety of slash.

(2) The son of a Japanese billionaire, Mitsutoki Shigeta decided that there was a far more efficient way to become the father of a large family. http://www.thenational.ae/world/southeast-asia/thai-surrogate-offers-clues-into-japanese-man-with-16-babies#full

(3)”Natasha” (names changed to protect the foolish) was young, tall, thin, beautiful, crazy and enjoyed drinking her posse under the table. The few stock commie phrases she yelled out were a fashion accessory, like the hand-painted red hammer and sickle on the ass of her tight leather pants. The rest of the faction‘s program involved conspicuous intoxication, mild fetish exhibitionism, 2.5 chord guitar rock and trying to get into Natasha’s pants. Too exciting for me, but sure was fun to watch at the bar.

(4) Earlier I had a low probability notion that Kio Shimoku would take the easy way out and have Madarame collapse into his usual self-sabotage routine. At that point, some of the women-folk who are taking this seriously would be tempted to step in and break the stalemate. However this approach fails because the group still misbehaved and the breach needs to be healed.

Also I smashed the Hato ship and this time neutered Madarame in the process. He had it coming. Mada should have dragged Hato off to a hotel earlier that afternoon, before the little fool could indulge in dramatic self-sabotage. Even a simple “I like you” from either of them would have sealed the deal. Or end it there, humanely. There wasn’t anyone left after Hato’s “date”. You couldn’t buy a used scooter with this level of hemming and hawing, let alone attempt a hookup. It was a freaking miracle that Madarame didn’t just collapse and go along with another drawing of lots. He probably was too afraid he’d get paired with Keiko. Seriously disappointed in Mada(/his portrayal), especially after he showed some backbone…

Whatever. this was too much fun to trash, so here it is as addendum:

Heavy Object.

“Let me make one thing completely clear…” Madarame took a deep breath, a gulp of beer and continued:

“I didn’t want to insult anyone or hurt anyone’s feelings. I had long ago given up on any chance of having a 3D relationship. Every time I felt even a little bit of interest in a girl, I always screwed up and wound up being the jerk or the insensitive guy or the creep. I took a vow of “2D forever”. Even so, Saki slipped in under my defenses and look what happened. I thought I didn’t mind the hurt. I fell for a fantasy of Saki as Ritsuko Kubel Kettenkrad and was content with that. But of course everyone knew, including Saki and it ended up hurting her too. She had to keep up the pretense that I felt nothing towards her. After it was all over she cried, just for a moment. I didn’t mind hurting, but that made me feel like shit all over again, on top of ending it.

I am not up for this romance thing. At first I felt only at ease with Hato. Now that things are getting serious, it is all complicated again. All I could do was try to keep the balance in the harem and hope everything would stay friendly. If only one of you were interested in me I probably would have done my usual super-geek-out thing and frightened you off. Or creeped you out. I am used to that. It doesn’t hurt any more. Or maybe it does…

Now I’m in a real-life harem game. At least on the surface. Real life is far more complicated and random than a game. The harem genre is a well-defined structure…

Madarame took another big gulp of beer.

…But with this setup, it looks like a harem but all the characters are off, there are no save points and the stakes are too high. The harem genre has stock charactes that add a reassuring, even soothing feeling to the experience. There is the childhood friend, though perhaps I forgot her when someone moved away when we were still kids. There is the cool aloof beauty who will step into the tsundere role. There is usually an athletic girl character. Sometimes she even looks like she might be interested in one of the other girls but she will decide that the lead is interesting. There can even be the cute male underclassman who is often mistaken for a girl, like in “Girls Are Dinosaurs” or in “Lovecraft Aliens Love Comedy”. His role is to provide a manageable whiff of homeroticism. Many harem stories also feature a clingy little sister to add the spice of forbidden desire to the plot. The point being that the main character should get to experience a full range of desire, from pure to forbidden.

As harems go, this one jumbles up all the character types. It is too complicated for me to even…

“Madarame-sempai, stop!” Yajima Merei held up her hand. She looked angry.

“What, uh?”

“You heard me. Stop talking. shut it!.” She stood up. “I’m fixing this. Hato is mine. Both versions. If you two idiots were hot for each other, you’d have done something already. The rest is drama. You are going to do “we-should-no-we-shouldn’t” and the “I want my fantasies” forever or until you both go crazy or jump in front of a train. Chose him tonight or not, the drama will just keep going until one or both of you get hurt bad. And the rest of us will all feel like shit for having encouraged it. It stops here.

She turned and glared at Hato.

I am the only one here who can put up with your nonsense… And for some reason I don’t even understand, I like you.” She looked out at the rest of the club members and then back to Madarame.

“Hato mine!”

“So sit down. Or do you want to fight me for him?”

“Uh Yajima, why are you…” interjected Hato.

“You too. Be quiet!” Yajima looked back at Hato. “Do YOU want to fight me? Arm wrestle?” she flexed her right arm. “You try any judo nonsense and I’ll sit on you. You’ll probably like that. In fact I know you’ll like it. Too many sou-uke boys in this room.”

She then noticed her mom and dad staring at her.

“Oh! crap… Mom, Dad, we’ll talk later.” Her face was flushed with annoyance and embarrassment. Steam seemed to float up from her.

Yajima-san, please…” said Madarame.

“NEKOYASHI… SIT!” Sue yelled out. “SIT!”

Madarame looked at Sue and dropped to the floor. He let out a loud sigh.

Yajima looked over at Sue and held out a thumbs up.
“Good job Sue!”

Angela clapped and made a whoooping noise. “Not sou-uke! Susie’s Uke… Uke no Susie!” Then she looked over at Hato. “YajimaHato!”

Keiko looked annoyed for a split-second then grinned. “Told ya so!” she said, leaning back and crossing her arms.

Sue returned the thumbs up and exclaimed: “Good Job!” She too had a fierce grin on her face.

Hato’s face was full redder than red.

Yajima still standing looked again at Hato, then around the table. “Any questions? I now declare harem season over. Please enjoy the hospitality of my house.

I think I need more beer.”

She sat down. Hato edged closer to refill her glass.

-30-

Anyone have any other alternatives aside from a zombie attack? Less than 2 weeks left if you want to throw your version into the guess how Kio Shimoku pulls it off hat.

Win an internets.

LATER: Don’t skip the comment section

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9 thoughts on “Kujibiki Unbalance Rakugu Shinjuu

  1. Oho! Did you last post really go over that badly? I greatly enjoy your speculation fanfiction! Even if your Mada strikes me as more eloquently worded and direct than I could ever imagine him being.

    In my own speculations: I think it’s likely that Mada doesn’t really return anybody’s feelings, or at least not in such a way that he feels comfortable entering a relationship with them. The next chapter might just drive home that this isn’t a harem manga. It’s not a romance at all. Mada may be the first to formally bow out of the harem, after all. If the girls let him.

    And, that being said, what self-respecting person would agree to go out with Mada after this?! After being dragged along for so long, after making their own feelings abundantly clear… there’s a limit to how wishy-washy you can be, Mada. And this whole thing has been made so public – how could Keiko or Angela or Sue or Hato leave without feeling humiliated? I think that’s definitely the route I would go with, if I were writing. I’m not sure where the series itself is going, though, so I’m hesitant to break out my pen.

    But I guess that’s it. I was hesitant to jump onto your cry for Hatozine vol 2, because I so often write in directions I know a series won’t go. What were the chances Kio was gonna make Hato a quarter Korean, and have her experiment sexually with Keiko? I think I’ll put that at exactly zero. (Although the gender stuff is a more likely bet, I suppose.) To some extent you’ve also done this. Where are all the Sue & Hato conversations?! The series itself sure isn’t delivering. Write more!

    As for the rest of it… to be honest, I’m dubious of my ability to respond to the points impartially. It’s not really a secret that some of my hobbies are at least a little rotten. And, on one hand, I don’t see why Hato’s BL fantasy need to be so fantastical as to be incompatible with his reality with Mada. A same-sex relationship, but with a little of the romance that opposite-sex relationships are optimistically, if not always realistically, afforded – that’s not too much to ask, is it? On the other hand, your criticisms of BL are criticisms I’ve leveled at the genre myself – the universal conflation of male friendship with lust, the violence inherent in its sexuality, the lack of connection with real gay relationships… And I don’t think all fujoshi are the same in their tastes or reasons or ???, but the Genshiken presents an overall homogeneous group within the confines of its club walls. Maybe the things I don’t like about a lot of BL really are the things Hato expects from this relationship???? My lenses are so fogged I really don’t know.

    Cheers, Mudakun!

    ==

    Madarame stuttered. He went red. He averted everyone’s eyes. He looked for all the world as if he wanted to take back his words. How could he have spurned Yoshitake like that? Yoshitake and the lottery sticks and the goddess of fate that would take away these problems – problems Madarame hadn’t even created. He was about to say something. He didn’t know what, but he was going to do it when…

    “Twelve,” Keiko interrupted.

    Everyone turned to her. Madarame could barely contain a sigh of relief, as everyone’s eyes rolled away from him.

    “Twelve,” Keiko repeated. She took a long drought of her beer and slumped backwards in her seat, staring at the ceiling and resting on her palms.

    “Twelve is the number of guys I’ve dated in the last year,” Keiko said. She looked bored. “I don’t want to even say how many of them actually managed to dump me before I could dump them. …Somehow watching you like this… I don’t want you to be number thirteen…”

    She swung her head up to crane it at Madarame. She lifted a hand up off the ground and held it out in refusal, measuring the distance between them.

    “I’m out,” she said.

    The silence hit him and then…

    “Aha…” Madarame said.

    “So it’s just Hato, Angela, and Sue, then…” Yoshitake narrated.

    “Eh-” Angela shrugged. “I offered to share, and even that wasn’t enough to convince him. Maybe I’m really not his type.” She smiled carelessly. “Kampai!” she announced brightly, before downing her drink.

    Madarame relaxed, his options were narrowing by the minute but still… his eyes darted to Hato, and then to Sue, who was huddled safely in Ogiue’s arms.

    “Sue really is a great girl. A great opportunity!” Ogiue enthused.

    “I… I really don’t know what I want…” Sue said quietly. She seemed to shrink… pulling herself under the kotetsu… “You should just… hatomada…” she finished in a whisper.

    “…” Madarame turned to Hato. “Eh… Would you… even…?” he asked. He felt suddenly lacking in confidence.

    Hato didn’t answer immediately. His face was burning red, but he didn’t meet Madarame’s eyes. “Well… it seems… by process of elimination…” He looked at the other members of the Genshiken, to Sue and to Angela and to Keiko, and then, finally, shot a bitter and triumphant grin at Yajima.

    “I win,” Hato announced.

    ==

    In other news, Hachimitsu Scans new series looks promising.

    • Even later! More Kudos!!!
      Followed your breadcrumb trail, found:
      Hanayome wa Motodanshi by Chii (AKA; The Bride was a Boy)
      Deserves a short WOW LOOKIE AT THIS! post in its own right.
      “Tojisha” autobiographical primer manga by a M-F transwoman in Japan.
      No prurient fantastic stuff, honest and heartfelt. 11/10.

      • Grazie! Although I think (I hope) I’ve sold Madarame a little short, though. I want to see the girls take a little more agency than they did when accepting the Kujibuki sticks last chapter… but Madarame too. I think he should make sure he gets his say on who he is or isn’t comfortable dating… I wish I had more confidence that he could actually do that.

        Hanayome wa Motodanshi is definitely worth a look & I liked it. But I think it’s in a strange position of being both autobiographical and a love story. I think Takeuchi Sachiko’s “Honey & Honey” did something similar better – if you can consider the different letters in LGBT+ similar(?)

        I was actually talking about Shimanami Tasogare, although it’s probably not your thing. Josei-ish seinen manga with a gay male protag that bills an older woman (and a female classmate by the looks of it) as the other main characters? Can’t say I’ve seen anything like it before. I’m glad we’re branching out a little.

        • Hi again… Working in reverse order: I’ll definitely follow Shimanami Tasogare, if only cause it looks like a supernatural riff on an IRL thing I heard of in Tokyo, loosely translated as the “maybe I am..” meetings, which are not exclusively about sexual +/or gender identity issues. Filed under “community strategies toolkit”.

          And, yup, MotoDanshi sure follows on “Honey & Honey”’s approach and undoubtedly glosses much, but primer works like it are amazing, at least from my spectator position. Was looking for more examples of “Tojisha”.

          Finally, please consider letting lose, even in a non-‘impartial’ way here if you feel bullshit by omission or commision here, whether it relates to my approach to my fave genshiken charas and their problems and /or my treatment of certain genres, because yeah… I am by no means well-versed in slashy fandoms, classic bishonen, the last 15-20 years of BL, dojinshi-ish excesses etc. I work too much off intros to the genre, classic studies, plus limited, very selective readings, because, etc. etc., That said, Dammit I wish Kio had invested more in character growth for Hato and Madarame!!! Chapter 121 looks like backsliding. I suppose backsliding is more realistic.

          And my previous over-dramatic Madarame as past-president thing was thin, based only on his behaviour after the binocular-Sue chapter. I did stop before having him yell out “Let history remember the name Enterprise!” but just barely… Dammit! Hato as is written the last few chapters is consistent in male and female version presentation, but I wish that guy Hato could have talked more to Madarame. I think it is being spun as Hato thinking that Mada is “really” processing his interest on the female Hato, whereas I am betting Mada finds the lad version easier to talk to (and perhaps less likely to “objectively” do scary self/rpf speculation). The Stands again! Hato doesn’t have to strangle them but I wish ‘could give ’em a 7 day rail pass and send them off to Kyoto so that a couple of Madarame & Hato just hanging out occasions could take place. Then sparkling fluffy no biggie happy would be easier.

          The Spotted Flower virtual lesbian alt-Hato flatters one of my hobby horse theories, so I had to throw a bone at a Yajima ship. Managed to sneak a link for the Mizoguchi PhD thesis into this post (again) – I’m damn sure Kio used her Jp. writings as primary research material when he built Hato, so yeah, can’t stop…

          Anyways, thanks and cheers!

          PPS: 2+2=Duh! “An Inconsistent Logic” was wonderful! The Korean angle was great versimultitude. And what can i say but -squee- about “And you’re not my sempai,” ? Good Job!

      • Oops. Well, I meant to get back to this sooner, rather than later. But I got distracted by something, and then by something else, ad infinitum. Luckily your ship post and Miss Wilgus’s new post on wildgoosery.tumblr rocked me out of my stupor. Place your bets – you’ve got a few days, tops.

        In all my non-impartialness, and off of the coattails of the wildgoosery post: I think Madarame has definitely shown the most interest in Hato, out of the harem members. Whether that be Hato as male or Hato as female, I think their relationship has been constructed with far greater attention, far more blushing what-am-I-feeling??!! moments, and far greater page count than the other potential Mada-harem endgames. And, I guess if it’s just a friendship, that’s standard. This is the kind of thing that has lead to BL as a cultural phenomena, I think. If your standard, run-of-the-mill pop fiction story gives more attention/care/realism to the importance of a male friendship vs the importance of a female partner – women are going to say, screw you, if you love your friend so much, why don’t you marry him instead. (Fujos: Plus 2 guys is sexier.)

        But Genshiken Nidaime has openly acknowledged that the HatoMada relationship has a romantic overtone, even a sexual one. Hato is a possible choice in the harem. So, in light of that, it makes little sense that Mada would go with somebody he’s spent less time having conversations with, and spent less time developing a relationship with. I don’t think that Sue, or Keiko, or Angela are bad choices but, as Yoshitake said, it seems from an outside perspective he’s leaning Hato. So, in light of that, I don’t think Mada could choose somebody that isn’t Hato, without having that decision be less about them, as a person, and more about how he /didn’t/ choose Hato. The narrative becomes one about how Madarame was too afraid to try things with Hato – how he got close to Hato, and then chickened out and lied to himself in the process.

        Basically, what wildgoosery said.

        Okay, not exactly. I would understand and sympathise with Madarame’s fears a lot more than her.
        I’m also think she’s analysing from a very lgbt+ studies perspective – which I think is fair from an outside perspective – but it’s still maybe not the perspective the story is coming from. (Hato within the story goes out of his way not to analyse himself as lgbt+)

        And I would understand if HatoMada was not sexually compatible at the end of the day.
        But I think Madarame and Hato are interested in one another and have been circling around each other, trying to puzzle things out – and I think they need to take the next logical step and go out – or they’ll leave the mystery of what they’ve been working towards (something that may or may not be a viable relationship) unsolved. And if Madarame’s not willing to do that after all they’ve been through – yeah, I’d think he’s a giant coward. (What else is new?)

        So, sometimes I get the idea from your posts that you find HatoMada less viable than the other pairings for reasons I’m not exactly clear on. Surely, they’d have problems related to their respective genders – if not on a personal level, then on a societal level. But I think, at this present stage in their relationship at least, it’s a smaller roadblock than how Madarame hasn’t been able to find common ground with the other ladies that are pursuing him.

        That being said thanks for throwing Yajima a bone! I’d like to see her confidently defend Hato like that! I’m very fond of Yajima, and YajiHato, and I wish more people liked them. I want to see where HatoMada might go now, but I actually prefer YajiHato in a long-term sort of sense.

        And thank you for your kind words re: An Inconsistent Logic. My fondness for Keiko is another defining trait, I think. She’s vicious when she’s pursuing what she wants, but I can’t help but feel what she wants is so poorly defined that even when she wins she’s grasping at straws. She’s also nobody’s sempai 😦

        I really enjoyed your writing too. I have to reread, and I’ll try to leave feedback through the proper channels soon.

        • Thanks, and as well for the pointer to Wildgoosery. Before I met the tumblr space, the idea of shipping was a novel theory. Now I cannot help but be moved by the passion and aspirational impulse. This goes beyond romantic urges, almost to high Modernist “romance”, “The Angel of the New” and the urge to rebuild what is broken.

          So yeah, dammit, I wish the two fools well…. IF…..

          You are right that I have a problem with the current situating of Madarame and Hato though, and it is not, anything as low as anti-lgbtqia, or even that Hato is X and Mada is Y. That works itself out, if given a chance.

          My problem is the love triangle, not any of the other girls, but Hato, his first love (no not Kaminaga) for the Fujoshi experiment and his second love, Madarame. Right now, Hato wants threesome. And I don’t mean Hato-girl-unit either, she is only the vehicle, avatar, etc., even if she almost holds at least half of Hato’s soul.

          And going out with Madarame will at very least change the way the project continues to unfold. It must.

          At this point I don’t think that the current Genshiken could look upon Hato dating Madarame as they used to look upon Hato-as-chan, as-fujoshi. Unless Hato can force them to acknowledge something new, a male fujoshi. One that participates fully in the club and is entitled to privacy. It would have been easier if Hato was one “with the heart of a girl”.

          In that sense, the problem is very Kio Shimoku. The fannishness is getting in the way.

          And now, I must get back to the next horrible long bit of weirdness that must get posted before 122 hits the stands.

          PS: if you wish to consider the ‘qualia’ verse experiment, please go easy..
          I must enter the hardcopy dialogue tweaks from my beta reader sooner or later,
          but I fear even with the mild upgrade therein all of them are just marionettes for the various theories I have played with over the last 5 years on this blog. The “short” kind of worked, I think…
          Great Ghu, I love Murasaki Iro No Qualia! Gaku! who became a demon to save her god lover! Wow! That’s how ya overdo romance!

          (And I never got around to having Keiko crash the party, even though I planned to give her some futuristic heavy armament and harry little miss busybody until she admitted that she too can fuck up big time too. Oh well, one day…)

  2. My you all do go on!
    But just offering some obscure information, about the Princess of Hell, the pre-modern and religious explanation in the Judeo-Christian world for transgenderism is possession by a succubus (which is also an incubus depending on the interests/gender of the victim.)
    I can suggest about a tender-hearted succubus and her suffering victim.
    So maybe exorcism is in Hato’s future? I hope not.

    ==================================

    Other than that a newly posted manga is up about a gay young man coming
    out to himself and a few others.
    SHIMANAMI TASOGARE Manga
    しまなみ誰そ彼; 岛并黄昏
    Released: 2015
    Author & Artist: Kamatani Yuuki
    Genre(s): Drama, Psychological, Seinen, Slice Of Life
    Status: Ongoing, Shimanami Tasogare 5 is coming next..

    After recently moving to Onomichi, Hiroshima, high school student Tasuku Kaname is thrown into despair at the possibility that he may have been outed for being gay. Convinced his life is over, his despair turns into shock when he sees a woman jump out of a window of a nearby house. Tasuku races to the house in a panic only to discover that it’s a public meeting lounge owned by the woman he saw before. Tasuku comes face to face with the woman as she walks past him unharmed, but not before she implies that she had been watching him from afar. Confused, Tasuku follows her up to the top of a steep hill where she offers to briefly listen to what’s on his mind. Although Tasuku doesn’t go into too much detail, he later accepts her invitation to come to the lounge to meet others with similar troubles.

    Anonymous is more like a kami walking on air.
    The boy is quite conflicted about coming out.
    Only 4 chapters so far.
    ==================================

    As to Genshiken, Madarame turns toward avoiding a decision
    and Hato and Yajima team up to produce dojin. Kousaka Makoto
    dies of overwork, a pregnant(unknowingly) Kasukabe Saki marries
    Madarame by the shear force of will.
    New members join Genshiken mostly fan-subbers(who need
    glorification) but both genders and not all from the same groups with a
    few very otaku and fujoshi girls. to keep the pot boiling so that humor
    will bubble to the surface endlessly. Kio may have to take a another
    couple of years off before he begins to get the Genshiken season(? whatever)
    into print.
    bliss

    • Welcome back and thanks! You are the second person to rec SHIMANAMI TASOGARE. I think that “Anonymous” is a famous bodhisattva.

      I am grinding on an idea that Jean Baudrillard turned Hato into Jigoku Fujoshi. Or not, I am retreading the “Fatal Strategies”, in other words, if guy Hato makes fujoshi desire his and her own, will it be regular BL/yaoi, or will it be boosted to an extreme level with deeper desires behind the desires involving bonking bishies?

      Spotted Flower 18 is out. Not-Saki is going to get that fool to pay attention while she still can.

      Meanwhile, so much wandering around in dark corners of the interwebs!

      If you have not caught it yet, http://www.crunchyroll.com/showa-genroku-rakugo-shinju
      is a lot of good!

      If you want to gorge on IRL US primary madness, I found some full MSNBC feed:
      http://www.newsviews.tv/news-views-video-three

      Thanks and cheers!

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