Upon a stage of sand

A status update of sorts.

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Soon, the last chapter of Genshiken Nidaime will show up on various grey places on the internet, with magically shooped-in english words. To say that I am feeling withdrawal symptoms already would be an understatement.

Rest assured, I will keep this blog going: the search is on for a viable approach to the continued examination of how Contemporary Japanese Visual Culture and its artifacts do so many neat things with fan desire. It is just going to get a bit bumpy as I fit new landing gear to this thing.

Meanwhile… Diversion Time! 

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From the 11th, on through to the 25th, the September Grand Sumo Tournament is on!

Don’t ask me how I became a somewhat-fan of Sumo. I loathe professional sports. I loathe professional sports on a visceral and intellectual level. Do not go there, Just think of everything you despise and hate, add logical arguments for your feelings plus a gut-level disgust and then multiply by a factor of as much free time as you can muster. I have lots of time.

Fortunately, Sumo is different.

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It is a socio-religious ritual.
No tournament, no more Sumo?
Perhaps the sun will not rise tomorrow.

This leads to a few considerations:

  1. If it is 4pm through to 6pm in Tokyo, what time is it in my time zone?
  2. Why must the Japanese Sumo Association and NHK be so freaking tight-fisted about live-streaming the tournaments? $10 a day on Ustream or a cable subscription to NHK sports, IF the local cable co has it and IF I have cable.
  3. Highlights and daily summary videos don’t cut it. It is all WHOMP when the wrestlers launch at each other and then one of them is out of the ring. No build-up, no drama, NO RITUAL! In short; it is treated like a sport. Add one more thing to the “why I hate” pile. It has to be live feed to capture the drama and the spectacle.

However, If I find that a Japanese government cultural initiative has made the live NHK feed of the tournaments available to an asian country’s national broadcaster, on the basis of that country’s longstanding interest and involvement in Sumo, and that for some reason, their web streaming service is available to me…

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There goes my sleep schedule.

Here’s a pile of web links:

Official NHK site: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/tv/sumo/

Good sports fan site: http://www.cibersumo.com/index.php/en/

http://www.squidtv.net/asia/mongolia/mongolia-009.html
(you’ll need a throw-away email address to reg up on the streaming site, plus Google Translate to navigate)

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A live Sumo tournament is a wonder to behold, even if one is way back in the cheap seats during a weekday, early on in a tournament. Actually there are no “cheap” or “seats” but you and a friend might manage to get an entire four-cushion railed-square to yourselves. Yes, you take your shoes off and don’t spill your food and drink on the carpet, please! The crowds are well behaved, except for the drunk oyagi who yell out their fave’s name and sing randomly during matches. If a high-ranking wrestler wins a difficult bout that clinches a loss-free tournament, the crowd might toss their cushions in celebration. These displays invariably only happen after the last, highest ranked match of the afternoon. Everything is usually over by 6pm.

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Unlike western pro sports, the wrestlers make a show of good sportsmanship, modesty and serious behavior in the ring. There is no trash talking, prima donna acting out, or cheap shots. The closest I have ever seen to a foul was what looked to me like a masterful fake-out: a high-ranked veteran, nursing an injury on his left side, faked to one side, then dodged to the other during the face-off and effortlessly face-planted his bewildered opponent with a light tap on the back. To me, it looked like a genius move but it earned the winner the vocal disapproval of the crowd and later, a warning from the association. It might be a “legal” move but it was considered a cheat to the fans, who paid to see the wrestlers wrestle.

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So: a holy rite. Stop with the TV coverage that treats it like a mere “sport”.

If I had the ears of the highest ranks of the Japanese government, I would beg they knock heads at the NHK and the Sumo Association, then drop a nice hefty subsidy on both in the name of tourism and cultural exchange, that the tournament feeds be made available free for a worldwide audience.

Make sure the bow ceremony at the end doesn’t get cut out, DAMMIT!

That also means showing the entire award presentation at the end of the tournament too, down to the last 40kg bag of rice and chromed tractor engine (the awards get odd, it becomes a charming form of product placement) that the lucky tournament champ has to lift to accept. I swear, I would never get tired of it.

Damn! It’s 5am!

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3 thoughts on “Upon a stage of sand

  1. So you are into Sumo! Great.

    But you are whining about the end of Genshiken Nidaime but even if no more Spotted Flower is produced you can find manga that discusses similar subjects. <manga danna_ga_nani_o_itte_iru_ka_wakaranai_ken Or I (OL)cannot Understand what my Husband(an otaku) is saying, Art is scratchy but… it is funny,
    ==================================
    Then we have Sabishisugite Lesbian Fuzoku Ni Ikimashita Report
    Status: Ongoing, SABISHISUGITE LESBIAN FUZOKU NI IKIMASHITA REPORT Manga さびしすぎてレズ風俗に行きましたレポ; The Private Report on My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness; A Report on How I was so Sad that I Went to A Lesbian Brothel Released:2016
    Author & Artist: Eita Kabi
    Genre(s): Drama, Mature, Psychological, Seinen, Yuri

    The personal story of an aspiring mangaka, college dropout who's led a
    lonesome, unfulfilling life. The series Sabishisugite Lesbian Fuzoku Ni Ikimashita Report has been licensed, it is not available in Manga Fox.
    The art is a step ahead of the other story as an angsty young woman tries
    hard to find her 'real' self. But she is now beginning to sell her work and only 3 chapters out so far.

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

    CHUUGOKU YOME NIKKI Manga
    中国嫁日記; A Chinese Wife and an Otaku Husband; Chuugoku Yomenikki
    Released: Author(s): Artist(s): Genre(s):
    2011 Inoue Junichi Inoue Junichi Comedy, Romance, Seinen, Slice
    Of Life Read Chuugoku Yome Nikki Manga Online

    From DrCoke at MangaHelpers:
    This is a diary-style 4koma manga that depicts the daily life and
    observations of the 40 year old author, who married a 26 year old
    Chinese girl. The author immediately states that this manga-style blog
    was meant to show the quirky and interesting nature of his young wife.
    He is an extremely stereotypical "otaku" (Japanese nerd), while she is a
    Chinese girl enjoying and learning the Japanese culture.

    ==================================
    WOTAKU NI KOI WA MUZUKASHII

    Alternative Name:ヲタクに恋は難しい; 宅男腐女恋爱真难;
    It's Difficult to Love an Otaku;
    Otaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii; Wotaku ni Koi ha Muzukashii
    Genre(s):Comedy, Josei, Romance, Slice Of Life
    Author and Artist :Fujita

    Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii Manga Summary:

    A gaming otaku and a fujoshi reunite for the first time
    since middle school at work.

    So this is like a couple of people from Genshiken who meet each other later. A mutally supportive friendship is developing and may turn to deeper affection, low key humor so far.

    ==================================
    Aannnd just for fun… If you are not reading it already
    TOMO-CHAN WA ONNANOKO! Manga
    トモちゃんは女の子!; Tomo-chan ha Onna no ko!; Tomo-chan is a girl!
    Released: 2015
    Author & Artist Yanagida Fumita
    Genre(s): Comedy, Romance, School Life, Shounen

    Tomo loves Jun, but she is really boyish (speaks like a boy,
    is the strongest karateka of her school…) and can't get
    him to think of her as a girl. Read the funny lives of Tomo, her best friend Misuzu and Jun!

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

    Just look around a bit and don't be too obsessed by the
    great work that is finishing up and look for more manga…

    bliss

    • Thanks for the recommends. I had seen most of them but votes in their favor are always welcomed.

      Tomo-chan is by far my fave on the list. I am a sucker for sweet, even as I shy away from grinding on it. If I wasn’t, I’d be trying to shoe-horn cynical Zizek quotes onto long-winded deconstructions of Jitsu Wa Watashi Wa – which would be a crime against nature. I could of course just try and go all bullshit-mode on UQ Holder, except that there is a limit to how many way one can say “the mangaka loves drawing nekkid young females and over-blown fight scenes. Expect a monthly helping”. Of all the characters, only Karin Yuuki (Isht Karin Orte/ Iscariot) is mildly interesting in an Andrew Lloyd Webber kind of way. At least she isn’t an emo-goth vampire fanfic trope. Evangeline is being wasted so far. She’s been turned into “Mom”.

      The Private Report on My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness” will undoubtedly be covered by Erica-sensei. I really like it so far but I end up being ham-fisted when dealing with “realistic” LGBTQIA consciousness-raising works, even as I appreciate them both as works and as applied sociology. Too easy to say, do a contrast between “My Brother’s Husband” and “Kinou Nani Tabeta?” and then later have to scrap the post because one then finds a blistering interview with the first of these’s mangaka, where he alludes to how years of pitching a “normal”, respectful (not extreme S&M Bara as he was known for) series to a general interest magazine ended up with the project going to a straight female BL mangaka. Hmmmm could it be that? Oh shit DON’T GO THERE. Do not foment division! Editors… Circulation… No bucks, no Buck Rogers, etc., keep marching…

      Much more profitable to find more examples of straight boys and girls “dreaming in queer”. It is fun to watch them go sideways (As I sometimes do myself), once they venture beyond simple exploitative pr0n.

      “Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii” might be a win. Not much faux sexuality but plenty of office-world, slightly more adult settings and characters.

      I can’t see myself going full-metal-sumo fan blogger. I stopped trying to remember names after Baruto retired, NHK feed still cuts off all the important cultural-ritual stuff (Dammit! I want to see the whole Bow Ritual !!!!), 3am to 5am is NOT VIABLE and I still loathe spectator sports. If you are on Facebook, scroll through recent “after show” video clips from MSNBC’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. In a recent one, he confesses that even though he played high-school football, he can’t watch football any more without thinking about how the players are all trading away their grey matter for scar tissue – because that’s how they make their living. I wonder if Sumo affects the wrestlers’ life-spans? I dislike slave-economy-derived public spectacle. Extirpate! Extirpate!

      I will come up with something. Was I whining?

      In the meantime, I have promised myself a few wrap-up essays on the Genshiken:.

      “Spineless” Madarame and why The Sarraryman Herd is Alway Right
      Hato Kenjiro and his Amazing Fandom-shaped Closet.
      Kio Shimoku’s Happy Endings are too Easy – The Flower Stories Curse
      and of course:
      The fujoshi homosocial in CJVC; Get lost! We ain’t telling, go retread Fujoshi Rumi or K-on

      For a wot-the-heck surprise; the Re-Zero anime isn’t too stinky. An “I woke up in a fantasy world with game-plot derived one-stupid- power” plus loli-moe heroines, plus the Taka warrior young woman and her otokonoko side-kick too! One would expect a putrid mess. It is actually not bad at all. Amazing! Thanks to the proprietor of Fantastic Memes, I also found a whole bunch of current speculation on another generational shift in anime (if not manga) From sci-fi & mecha to “domestic” themes, now being overtaken by well-developed game/VN-structured narrative tropes. This last has been a long time coming, but the influence is now overwhelming. (update: the finale’s last few minutes are overblown dating-sim cheese but ok, pass)

      But that’s for a later essay. Wow, I went on again… Anyways,

      Cheers and thanks for dropping by!

      • Addendum: Must add that your first rec; “Danna ga Nani o Itte Iru ka Wakaranai Ken” is one of the current manga penned by Cool Kyoushinsha, who also draws one of my really big faves: “Kobayashi-san chi no Maid Dragon“.

        Maid Dragon is such an amazing weird thing that it gives my mind whiplash. Kobayashi-san-chi (chi as in Yajimacci) is an amazing harem lead; otaku, asexual female, programmer, sarraryman (even though she is nominally female) and binge drinker. She keeps collecting dragons! She is well on her way to becoming some form of weird job-tired nerd restatement of Iono-sama (the) Fanatics. The only thing that keeps it from being highlighted as pure pride propaganda is the cartoonist’s fanservice fixation with BOOBIES. The dragon-girls must all have aching backs! Of course, the MC grimbles about this, as she is flat as a board and has resigned herself to excising any idea of romance from her life. Aside from all the BOOBIES and cheesecake service, there is absolutely no sex and practically no romance. Instead, the series is an exploration of nerdy quasi-familial friendship. The closest thing Kobayashicci has to desire is an extreme case of alcoholic Maido-moe. So far, she has collected a quasi-wife/ maid (dragon), a quasi-adopted child (dragon), a psycho-unruly teenage girl (dragon) and a live-elsewhere work-kouhai OL (dragon). Her only male friend meanwhile has picked up a snarky game-obsessed dark bishie guy (dragon), for a bit of guy chorus and fujo-bait.

        Unruly teenager (dragon) even gave her a magic “thing” for 2 chapters, just to annoy her. Kobayashi-san (chi) just waited out her newfound phallic signifier, grumbled a lot and tried not to stare too much at her family’s BOOBIES while they jumped around acting even more suggestive than usual.

        This has got to win the weirdest yuri harem ever award, hands down!

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