I think (after scrubbing the follow-up essay 8 times) that I finally can wrap my head around Spotted Flower Chapters 22 & 23
Yup, that’s it:
I think (after scrubbing the follow-up essay 8 times) that I finally can wrap my head around Spotted Flower Chapters 22 & 23
Yup, that’s it:
Genshiken Dropout‘s asandyrabbit considers Kiss Him Not Me, fujoshi socials and harems, Genshiken Nidaime/ Spotted Flower and the power of the One True Pairing.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I have have enjoyed working with them to bring it here. Be sure as well to visit their blog for the companion essay ‘I an Hato” (link below in notes).
Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda / Kiss Him, Not Me!
Comedy, Reverse Harem, Romance, Slice of Live, Shoujo
Junko (2013 —)
(Also you better bet I am talking about Genshiken and Spotted Flower. Spoilers for all three series.)
I cannot wholeheartedly recommend you watch or read Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda— it’s kind of just bad in a lot of ways. It’s a mashup of generic shoujo tropes, typical reverse harem stories, and it just looks worse than its competitors in the reverse harem market. However, it unintentionally hits on a lot of points regarding Fujoshi Culture and through this, one can find way more character depth than really was probably intended in one of the members of the harem. Here’s how.
Serinuma, the girl at the center of the reverse harem, is a through-and-through fujoshi under the specific definition of “A woman who likes BL” (as opposed to a generic term for a female fan of anime / manga, as I have seen some people use). There are not many fujoshi in anime, and only a few more in manga. When you look at most of the titles, though, Genshiken, Fudanshiism, Mousou Shoujo Otaku-kei, Tonari no 801-chan, Ruriro no Yume, the number of manga written about fujoshi that are by fujoshi is rather small, and those that are less well-known. This means that the majority of portrayal of fujoshi is not by fujoshi at all— in fact, often times it’s a male perspective of fujoshi, writing fujoshi characters from what they see on the outside. There are a lot of assumptions that must be made about what fujoshi actually do, since it’s kind of secretive a lot of the time, and, again, most of these stories about fujoshi are not actually written by fujoshi. The few exceptions, Fujoshi Kanojo, Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu, etc, put greater priority on non-fujoshi characters (though in the case of Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu, the fudanshi largely just act the same as fujoshi would but they’re male so you can ship them).
Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda is then one of the first manga and then anime written by a fujoshi, with a shoujo and fujoshi audience in mind, featuring and focusing on a protagonist who is a fujoshi. This is special because it can be seen as the author giving a role model to the audience of what a fujoshi is and what fujoshi do. It’s the first time I have seen a fujoshi protagonist in a role the audience is supposed to relate to, and it’s good to see her being a fujoshi is influential upon the plot beyond “Oh, look at this weird thing that she is.” In cases like Fujoshi Kanojo, et cetera, the girl who is a fujoshi is that way just as a way of defining her personality, with its influence on the plot limited to “Oh she’s weird so I have to get used to her being weird.”
The idea of fujoshi rejecting romance in favor of BL has been hashed and rehashed to oblivion, but usually it’s more from a perspective of “I value my BL more than romance.” Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda is the next logical step in this— Serinuma acts like she values her BL more than romance, but in reality she’s afraid of going out with a guy. So why not have her go out with a girl instead? After all, fujoshi are virtual lesbians, guys! Haven’t you read Akiko Mizoguchi’s Male-Male Fantasy Narrative as Women’s Sexual Subculture in Japan yet? At least you remember when Patrick Galbraith mentions that some fujoshi identify as lesbians because of their sexual connection to one another in Fujoshi: Fantasy Play and Transgressive Intimacy among “Rotten Girls” in Contemporary Japan! Come on, get with the times already. I highly doubt Nishina, the lesbian in the reverse harem, was made with the intent of commenting on this idea, but with the understanding of fujoshi as virtual lesbians, Nishina’s relationship with Serinuma becomes much more complex.
When Nishina first invited Serinuma over to her house, there was an implication of Nishina making a move (hence why the boys all interfere) while she was there, to bridge the gap between virtual lesbians and literal lesbians. This transition is much easier for one to make than from straight to lesbian, since there is a pre-existing quasi-sexual bond between the two. Had Nishina and Serinuma not been fujoshi but just regular friends, Serinuma may have still accepted the invitation, but she would not have been so willing to demonstrate to the boys how to pose for their BL photo shoot. It’s the implicit bond of “We’re fujoshi, therefore we can talk about sexy things,” that makes this so easy for Nishina to make advances the way she does. Add to this the predisposition Serinuma has toward rejecting they boys’ advances because she’s a fujoshi— she would rather watch them fuck each other than fuck them herself, and Nishina presents herself as a painfully obvious resolution to the harem within a couple of volumes. She’s the only one who Serinuma can be with without taking away from people Serinuma can ship (Well, you COULD ship your boyfriend with other guys while in a relationship, but you may have noticed how Ogiue’s attention on SasaMada seemed to decline the more she realized her attraction to him). The farthest extent one can go in denouncing all men so they are left available to ship is by being a lesbian, which is precisely what Nishina represents.Wait a second, did Nishina just confess to Serinuma in the sixth episode of the anime?
Oh shit! She did. In the manga, this mini-arc was structured after the scene where all the members of the harem confess all at once, but in the anime, the full harem confessing is at the end of the show and Nishina is in the sixth episode. So in the manga, when Nishina says, “I love you senpai!” it is simply restating what we got a couple of chapters ago. But in the anime, Nishina’s beaten everybody to the punch by six whole episodes. Now her advantage is not only the first kiss, but the first confession. So Nishina wins the harem, right? Wrong!!! Here enters the trials and tribulations of any good generic harem show and… you know, why the fuck did Sue win the Madarame harem because she confessed first, but Nishina hasn’t won the Serinuma harem???
This is bullshit!
So, what happened? Why hasn’t Nishina won? Why is everybody in the harem so freaked out about Mutsumi attempting to confess to Serinuma in episode 11? Is it really just because the anime team did a stupid panel-by-panel adaptation of the manga without consideration to these things, or is it something more?
Nishina made it clear from the start that she was interested in getting some sweet sweet fujoshi alone time with Serinuma, but ever since then her interactions have been so platonic. The only exception to this was in the episode where Igarashi refuses to let Nishina sleep in the same room as Serinuma (and even here a character other than Nishina is reminding the audience that Nishina’s aiming to be more than just a fellow fujoshi). So why is it that after Nishina confessed to Serinuma, she seems to be falling behind the others as more of just a fujoshi buddy to Serinuma?
Dismiss this as a result of poor structuring by the people making the anime, but I like to believe there is something else going on, something that gives Nishina a level of depth far beyond any other character in the series:
The fujoshi zone.
The only explanation for how Nishina confessed to Serinuma, but everyone freaks out about Mutsumi attempting to confess five episodes later, is that Nishina’s confession was only as a friend, or rather, as a fellow fujoshi. When Serinuma describes Nishina, she calls her a soul mate. Not friend, not lover, but soul mate. This enters a nebulous gray zone (we’re kindred spirits, so claims Chiba Saori of Hourou Musuko) of not-quite friend, not-quite romantic interest. This is much like the realm that fujoshi occupy with one another. The bond created by virtual lesbianism is stronger than typical friendship —after all, most friends don’t comfortably chat about their sexual fantasies with one another— but it still lacks something from a typical romantic relationship, and that is the direct interest. One’s sexual fantasies are filtered through BL rather than directly stated to one another. It’s not quite having a partner, rather, it’s more of a formalized communal experience.
When Serinuma is on the date, she claims Nishina is “fun to be around.” There is no mention of an actual romantic interest, or her own personal fear thereof that she experiences with all the boys. Meanwhile, on Nishina’s side, this should be an opportunity for her to show all her love for Serinuma, which she 100% nails in the setup. A romantic cruise, fancy clothes, a classy plane flight. She even makes it partway into her pick-up after introducing her probably-rehearsed line about the plane itself. “When I see such beautiful scenery…”
We wait in anticipation. Here is where Nishina gets serious! She’s showing her love for Serinuma that has been weirdly absent for the past few episodes!
…And then we get discussion of yaoi pairings. Dammit Nishina! You were so close.Nishina had the crutch of virtual lesbianism to get close to Serinuma before any of the boys could, but now she has found herself unable to stand without that crutch. Serinuma’s continually reinforced her love of Nishina as a fellow fujoshi, a virtual lesbian, and not as a romantic interest, and Nishina’s found herself unable to remind Serinuma of her actual interest. Nishina is ignoring her romantic interest in favor of having a fellow fujoshi friend. So, while in Nishina’s confession to Serinuma in episode 6, she may have been trying to express her romantic love, it comes off as nothing more than a token of their close friendship, their fujoshiship.
One could argue that any harem is built around boxing oneself into the friend zone, but quickly Igarashi brings Serinuma to understand he’s not there to just be her friend, and the others soon follow suit, except Nishina. (1) Each of them go on the dates with Serinuma, and, even if they seemingly do not succeed, everyone but Nishina is going for the romance. But the moment that Nishina has a romantic line ready, she chickens out and turns it into an excuse to talk about BL. It’s not a case of obsession or of miscommunication, it’s a case of Nishina boxing herself into the friend zone, or rather the fujoshi zone, ever since the fallout over their reversible pairing argument. She had plenty of opportunities besides the date in the last episode to make a move on Serinuma— they spent an evening in the hot spring together, just the two of them. Hell, given how much they talk about conventions and BL and how buddy-buddy they are, surely they visit Otome Road together, just the two of them. It does not make sense why she would not have made a move already, unless it’s the fact that Nishina’s too afraid to express her legitimate romantic interest in Serinuma out of fear she will lose the bond of fujoshiship they already have.
We can pinpoint the exact moment where things change. In episode 6, her original intent was to assert her superiority as a fujoshi and cut ties with the BL side of Serinuma, meaning she can pursue her as a romantic interest exclusively. But she realized that hurting the BL side of her relationship with Serinuma would hurt her chance at romance, so she was stuck doing the only thing she could: not interfering at all with her connection to Serinuma as a fujoshi, and hoping that she could pursue romance as well. But, because of this, and because Serinuma reinforced their connection as fujoshi and pushed away their connection as lovers, Nishina found herself growing comfortable with just being buddies. She got close to Serinuma by being a fellow fujoshi, but she was also ultimately distanced from Serinuma by being a fellow fujoshi. So ultimately, Nishina becomes stuck as purely a virtual lesbian— stuck in pure fantasy.
This of reminds me of another harem arc wherein the only same-sex character is able to get closer than the other harem members because of their connection through those means, but their ultimate downfall is their inability to escape from fantasy. It’s almost like the reason I’m so attached to having Nishina win the harem is as a way of making up for Hato losing the harem in Genshiken! The ultimate difficulty Madarame cites in dating Hato is that Hato is too obsessed with fantasy; so much so that they can’t just accept the possibility of romance at face value and go with it. The closest bonding experiences with Madarame that they had were often the most real— when the two of them talked as just friends, or when Madarame was so impressed by the simple gift Hato gave him of homemade chocolates on Valentine’s Day.
Ultimately, Nishina and Hato have the same downfall— their inability to escape fantasy and enter the real world, and have their romance with their crush as sincere romance. Originally I was hoping Nishina would succeed where Hato failed— after all, Nishina’s got a leg up on Hato by being able to be virtual lesbians with her crush, rather than just otaku buddies. But I was mistaken. The problem from before is the problem now.
This is the fujoshi zone. (2)
Wait a second, it seems like I’m forgetting something here. Hato… Madarame…. Maybe there’s an alternate universe set several years in the future wherein Madarame and Hato actually fuck?
No way. This can’t be happening. Miracles don’t just happen. I have to be dreaming! Kio has to be making it in a dream! But… if it’s real, what could this mean?
If, in Genshiken, Hato was ultimately defeated by their fantasies, Spotted Flower’s !Hato is reunited with !Madarame by their fantasies. They even say themselves that they’re remembering another dream from the college days— one where !Madarame (or is it the Genshiken’s Madarame?) is the sou-uke. Only because of their ruthless perseverance to make !HatoMada reality are they, years in the future, able to steal from
!Sasahara !Saki !Madarame’s anal virginity (after giving their own, mind you). It is like the answer all along was that if you hold on to your fantasies and dreams for long enough, they will become reality. It’s almost like my fantasy for HatoMada to become reality was answered, as was theirs! It’s almost like… I am Hato! (3)
So, what does this all mean for Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda? Can the recent development in Spotted Flower foreshadow a conclusion to the Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda harem? Are all the basic bitches who want Igarashi to win sadly mistaken under the notion that Nishina’s just a boring-ass lesbo fujoshi? If Nishina was to be Serinuma’s answer, then everything would fall into place. Her arc would conclude by being able to show her affection for Serinuma, not only as a fujoshi but as a lover, and we would all have a happy ending.
Ah, shit, I’m kidding myself.
We got !Hato and !Madarame to fuck once, but it’s far from the point of !Madarame divorcing !Saki, giving her the child support, and taking !Hato as his new lover. Hell, we’ve gotta take !Yajima out of the picture too. (4) I’ve just had a year of intense sadness and disappointment over the regrettable conclusion to the Madarame Harem only to find endless joy in seeing Hato and Mada really do it in each others’ butts. Maybe you can’t handle that kind of thing because it’s too gay, so let’s put in your mind this instead— Hato and Madarame fucking in Spotted Flower is good indication that Nishina and Serinuma will fuck, and straight guys looove them some yuri, amirite?
I do think that is something to explore: How is the yuri-potential in Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda affected by being written for girls versus for guys? There is definitely a difference from what you see in general yuri manga. The girls’ ones focus much more heavily on interpersonal connections, friendship, often more clear gender roles, often including the influence of sexism, whereas the guys’ ones are more about there being a couple of cute babes having sex and being cute together.
Knowing though that Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda was drawn by a woman, could it be that Nishina’s actually not a loser, she was just drawn that way? After all, it’s only after her and Serinuma have had their struggles and dissatisfaction with one another (fallout from the “Akane x Lord / Lord x Akane” debate (5)) that they can begin the path to more than just friendship. We’ve got the gender roles— Hell, Serinuma mistook Nishina for a boy when they first met. We’ve got the fast start with a kiss, followed by the period of uncertainty. Has all of this just been a ploy by Nishina to get closer than ever to Serinuma? Nishina has developed her connection with Serinuma to the point they two are unbreakable, so Serinuma’s connection must therefore be just as strong. How are any of the boys supposed to interfere with that? Maybe it isn’t Nishina in the fujoshi zone, but Serinuma, and Nishina is the patient (not predatory guys! Predatory lesbians totally don’t exist in yuri, I’m sure Junko the BL author knows that and will give a very consensual representation of same-sex relationships) lesbian waiting for the right time to make a move. Now that would truly reflect Spotted Flower— !Hato’s insistence was met with flat rejection by !Madarame, but when !Madarame is weak and lonely, now he finds himself reminded of the possibility. Shit, it seems like Nishina has a plan! All we need is for Junko to follow through on it.
Wait, what? I’m getting new information from my sources… it seems that the harem is over, and Serinuma hooked up with Mutsumi?
Heh. Sure, go ahead and believe it, ye most gullible of folk. I think we here all see the writing on the wall. We all know the truth now. Nishina is the only one for her— there can be no other. We may have Serinuma and Mutsumi in the main canon for now, but just you wait for the sequel. Just you wait! Serinuma will be through with that boy before you know it. You all expect me to believe Serinuma’s going to be upset about her newfound boyfriend getting it on with another boy? This is just a thinly veiled expression of her dissatisfaction with their relationship. If !Yajima will let !Hato go for the sake of fulfilling their BL fantasies, then you can’t convince me Serinuma, who easily exceeds the passion for BL of !Yajima, would be against seeing her man get it on with another man. I don’t buy it for one second. Just a few volumes earlier she was shipping him with the shota-bait! I’m all for character development, but I’m not buying that she can possibly be dissatisfied with this turn of events. And then for Mutsumi to ask her which she prefers: her waifu or him. The gall! If she seriously answers with him, I’m going to be done. Junko, you’ve turned the moral of the story into, “Being a fujoshi is bad! Get a boyfriend, get married, bear his children, and forget about your life as a virtual lesbian.” I may not know Junko the person, but I do know she’s written some well-respected BL. She’ll see the only possible outcome here. Serinuma’s going to break it off with this Mutsumi bitch and FULFILL HER DESTINY WITH NISHINA! FOR THE FUTURE! FOR BL!
— asandyrabbit (asandyrabbitblog.wordpress.com), October 25, 2017
1: …And Mutsume. This is one of the arguments I see people saying for why Mutsume is the best option, because he treats her as a friend, blah blah blah. Yea, I’ll give you that point. He’s certainly a believer that lovers can be friends too. But what makes for a better friend, someone who’s just ordinarily kind, or someone who has much of the same generosity but also is much more relatable? I don’t think there’s a right answer to that, but I do think there’s a right answer to Mutsume vs Nishina. Come to think of it, maybe the reason people don’t consider Nishina to have the same attitude of “lovers and friends” that Mutsume has is because she’s a girl? Like, maybe people naturally assume they’d be friends before lovers— all lesbians are, right? Let’s ignore the “lesbians rent a U-Haul on the second date” stereotype. Nishina definitely has a different kind of kindness from Mutsume, I would say though. Mutsume is more focused on simple human compassion and empathy, whereas Nishina is more focused on just spoiling Serinuma to her heart’s content. Perhaps Mutsume’s attitude is better since it’s more of an emotional equality, but in the long run, what we would likely see is Serinuma grow accustomed to Nishina’s luxurious lifestyle, thus making them equals in that regard. Perhaps as well then, Mutsume and Nishina are largely doing the same thing, and the difference in their actions is the result of socioeconomic differences? Shit! This should be its own post.
2: I have a series of six posts on Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda which everything up until this point is a compressed version of. If you decide to check me out you can skip those posts.
4: Well, maybe. Perhaps !Madarame will see the real American dream: getting a threesome, and he’ll be convinced to marry both of them. Harem all over again! Wait, shit. If !Yajima agreed to that, then we really would have a harem. I don’t know where !Sue lies nowadays, but I’m sure !Angela would still be plenty willing to give him a good fucking. Add in !Saki and we really do have another harem. Take that you normie bitch! Who’s lusting after who now, huh? Oh, I guess she already was anyway.
5: …of which I have to heavily disagree with their resolution. Akane x Lord is obviously the right answer, which, knowing Nishina to be the bright young lady she is, makes me assume she agreed to reversibility for Serinuma’s sake. No, this isn’t a reversible pairing, not with such distinctive roles. Akane is clearly the protective top. Hell, he transforms into armor for goodness sake. Can’t get more protective than that. He’s the one to make the first move of transforming into the armor to save the Lord. Plus, sticking with traditional roles, the lord would be the slimmer, more delicate, feminine one from a life of leadership, as opposed to the stronger, more masculine Akane. If you have Akane as a top, there’s such good potential for drama— the jealousy over the Lord’s concubines, as is implicit in his nature as a protector, the dashing saving of the Lord from sticky situations with his transformation (and getting the Lord into other sticky situations, NAWMSAYIN?)… it goes on. I’m a fan of reverse pairings, so naturally I would be interested to see how Lord x Akane would turn out, but you have to admit that the natural order is Akane x Lord.
Akiko Mizoguchi – “Reading and Living Yaoi: Male-Male Fantasy Narrative as Women’s Sexual Subculture in Japan” [https://urresearch.rochester.edu/institutionalPublicationPublicView.action?institutionalItemVersionId=5822]
Patrick Galbraith – “Fujoshi: Fantasy Play and Transgressive Intimacy among “Rotten Girls” in Contemporary Japan!”
Spotted Flower Chapters 22, 23
Rakuen Le Paradis, Vol 24, June 30, 2017
WARNING: Spoilers ensue. Methodical, theory-sodden clinical speculation on cartoon man-sex scenes and grating 4chan excerpts below the cut line.
LATE NIGHT FINAL UPDATE: 9 months after chapters 22 and 23 were published, the English fan-translations surfaced in mid March 2018. In light of this, certain concluions, based on personal machine translations and the story told by the pictures must be modified. The dissappointed 4channers were closer to the story line than I was.
A number of follow-up posts are indicated:
“The author should not pull a Rame when writing about Rame pulling a Rame.”
– Forum comment, ch 125
Warning! Spoiler lamp for chapters 125 & 126 is on.
One chapter left before the curtain comes down on the second generation of the Genshiken. I suspect that at this point, Kio Shimoku is writing with an eye to a smooth adaption for any potential second cours of an anime. Those of us who were used to more robust plotting and longer setups must look at the rushed, even forced concluding chapters with mixed feelings, once we get over the initial shock that our beloved franchise may be, if not terminated, at least on extended sabbatical.
Go on you two… Say something!
Chapter 126, the second-last chapter of Genshiken Nidaime has hit the newsstands in Japan (as well as some of the nefarious grey regions of the intertubes). It sure looks like Saki Kasukabe has laid down the law: Mada and Sue must talk. They have no choice in the matter.
Some wag advanced the theory that the entire arc of the Genshiken, of both generations and umpteen reader years, was based on the fundamental idea of setting Madarame up with a girlfriend.
Oh My! They all look so cute! I am feeling wistful.
Now back to the post I finished 15 hours ago:
there are no ethical feels under late-stage capitalism.
— tumblr simulator @TumblrSimulator
“”Men have had to do fearful things to themselves before the self, the identical, purposive, and virile nature of man was formed and something of that recurs in every childhood. The strain of holding the I together adheres to the I, in all stages; and the temptation to lose it has always been there (along) with the blind determination to maintain it.””
— The Dialectic of Enlightenment, p32, Theodor W. Adorno & Max Horkheimer First English translation: John Cumming (New York: Herder and Herder, 1972) see also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectic_of_Enlightenment (1)
The harem is over, the fujoshi Genshiken is gearing up for the new year. Hato will soon be well and truly a sempai if only the club can attract any new members besides Risa Yoshitake. One gets the strong impression that the only fealty Risa will ever acknowledge is to her dread lord and older sister Rika. Still she is interested in Hato as kun, even if those interests are sketchy. I still harbor a faint hope that Ohno will cajole them into doing Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask cross-play, preferably during club recruiting days and the stuco be damned.
As well, Hato might soon have consider some modest form of out-ery. If not on campus for club recruiting days, then elsewhere; the Hatos have a rather tense wedding in the offing as well. Within the confines of the clubroom, Hato Kenjiro is now fully inscribed as a fudanshi/ rotten boy/ rotten (someone’s) brother. Around the Genshiken he can put aside the worry that he will be dropped back to “intruding male” status. Still a crossdresser, presumed to be interested in 2D male same-sex romance (and schmex) and still presenting as / ‘being a girl’ but having taken a vow of exclusive never-to-be-consummated 3D Mada-sexuality according to the sacred rituals of the cult he has worked so hard to join.
Looked at from an odd angle, Madarame conferred this new improved and approved status upon him as part of the bargain that resolved the harem crisis within the Genshiken. As a consolation prize for rejection, it seems to have taken. The rest of the tribe has not downgraded Hato within the club to creepy- guy- we- can’t- figure- out- and- do- not- know- how- to- fit- into- our- female- isolationist- fan- social. There is even a drinking party to mark the transition, although Rika’s maneuverings and Merei’s acknowledgement of the situation leave no doubt that “he” is considered a possible (nominally) heterosexual love interest for Yajima Merei… Whenever she feels ready to captivate the Hato continuum with her 4-koma-comedy-fu. Note that Hato v2.2 (tipsy variant) does not hesitate to bend their female presentation by offering to don the shorts lest Merei and Rika succumb to further temptation when the soon-to-be sophomore drinking party ends in everyone falling asleep blotto again.
Next time try frilly bloomers he said, with a posed look.
The Hato continuum has not fallen apart from the knowledge that the girls snuck a peek at someone’s packed panchu, even if the knowledge is slightly more embarrassing than the full-monty smooth-smooth reveal of their male self. Hato (tipsy variant) seems to be enjoying the attention.
So, yuppers, it is a good bet that Kio Shimoku got his hands on, or at least is familiar with the previously mentioned Japanese fan-made studies examining fudanshi (2) and has situated Hato within the %20+/- of the male %10 of Japanese BL fans that self-report as nominally heterosexual, asexual and/ or petrified of the idea of 3D male:male physicality… Which is pretty much how Hato was originally drawn – it is just better elaborated now that 3+ (reader-)years of harem suspense has been worked through.
Kid, you’ve earned yourself a promotion. Sign the re-enlistment papers.(3)
Must raise you high among the run of men
It remains a testament to the sneaky and well-honed skills of Kio Shimoku that the great harem train wreck has solved very little, except for moving any potential Genshiken hookups off stage for a (the remaining) few chapters.
‘Real’ or in-verse ‘3D’ minority sexualities and gender expressions are still considered too strange and unfamiliar for comfortable consideration, but it looks like ‘fudanshi’ is a good enough substitute for ‘gay‘ ‘trans‘ ‘bi‘ and/ or ‘queer‘. For some diaspora fans and probably a few Japanese readers, this is heartbreaking. For myself, I find it an evasion that points out the limits of how much realism one can stick into a slice-of-life comedy manga before it breaks unspoken rules of Japanese editorial conservatism. Their big printing presses; they don’t run on paper and ink, they run on money. No bucks, no Buck Rogers. Still, one has to give the mangaka his due: the evasion has been pulled off with a modicum of style and perhaps enough subtlety to squeak by the Japanese fan. But the question persists:
“OTAKU AS QUEER?
If so, I much prefer this female Otaku to male one. Or, putting my preference aside, I cannot help thinking here about one word that suits this homo-sexual aspect of female Otaku: “queer.” In order to develop this association of ideas, it’s useful to quote another small remark by Okada. He says: “The reason why there is no movement of gay culture in Japan is the existence of the Otaku culture.” I must add an immediate note to this remark since there are some gay cultures in Japan too; especially in Tokyo. But, as Okada has suggested, there is no integral gay movement as in New York.
Okada’s observation is right since it’s an observation, but from a critical point of view, we should raise a question: Is Otaku a “substitute” – or even a “sublimation” – of the absence of gay culture? I don’t think so. In my opinion, it’s rather an “oppression.”[emph mine]
If so, I’d like to substitute the long-awaited word “queer” for the word “gay.” The original sense of the word “queer” is “to be strange,” but, as you know, it has transformed its meaning as to include homo-sexual implications and has gotten nowadays even the status of disciplinary term to criticize various cultural standards that oppress the minority’s way of life. From this point of view, a kind of female Otaku can probably be called queer, even if they are not fully but partially homo-sexual.
Or rather, if male Otaku is the only Otaku as Karasawa observes concerning Azuma’s book, we should, instead of allowing it to be simply “not queer,” put on it a seal of “seemingly-queer-but-with-no-queerness-as-its-essence.”
–Otaku Culture and Its Discontents: A Record of Talk Delivered at “The Colloquium in Visual and Cultural Studies” by Takahiro Ueda, （October 17, 2007, University of Rochester）http://www.ritsumei.ac.jp/acd/cg/lt/rb/623/623PDF/ueda.pdf
For contrast, once again, please consider the Tumblr blogger Wildgoosery’s epic HatoMada shipping manifesto and/or 19-post shrine starting at: http://wildgoosery.tumblr.com/post/146945645973/the-hatomada-project-part-1
Wildgoosery has, in the parlance of policy politics litigated their argument brilliantly. Depending on your particular point of view, you may choose to quibble but their argument remains powerful, coherent, and extremely, yet entertainingly well put. And, hooo boy, was I reminded of a lotta things that I missed/ ignored, even as I am reminded of more than a few quibbles I have with the inexorable ending proposed. Wildgoosery’s manifesto plainly and simply calls out for the legitimacy of the feelings, same-sex, guy-guy, gay feelings, between Hato and Madarame, tentative as they may be. (4)
If it were only that easy. From another fan of the BL genre, one who also is ready to take the tropes of the genre to task:
“The majority of the stories produced in this popularized and mainstream “boys’ love” genre contain tropes such as (1) rape as an expression of love; (2) one or both of the protagonists maintaining that they are straight even after they are homosexually involved; (3) the top/bottom roles in sex corresponding to the masculine/feminine appearance of the protagonists; (4) the roles never reversing; and (5) sex always involving anal intercourse, as I have shown in detail elsewhere. These tropes have become staples, I argue, in order to achieve “heterosexual romance” narratives for heterosexual female readers across the bodies of two male (same-sex) protagonists, and in order to present their romance as an “impossible”- and therefore a “precious”- one.”
–A. Mizoguchi 2003
I must be careful not to use unfair juxtapositions. Wildgoosery’s nailed to the mast pairing advocates for ‘Sparkling, Fluffy BL’ (a term cribbed from a scan-group) rather than ‘A Cruel God Rules Over Us‘ sturm und drang yaoish BL. While western slash communities liek their hawt as much as any well-behaved group of pr0n enthusiasts, when putting on the nominal public face of the movement, they try to present concerns for equality, respect, and consent as important in their stories. Large subsections of it have evolved into a curious form of aspirational social activist vernacular literature. For the most part, Japanese rotten tribes have yet to consider such extra features.
Given all that, it should be easy enough to fan-fiction up something that slips around the aforementioned problematic tropes, while at the same time having fun with them. As I have poisoned my mind with stacks of pronish net-doujinshi and fanfiction, including (an admittedly small sampling of) the dreaded m-m stuff, it shouldn’t be that much of a stretch. One should try to make it politically correct and respectful as all heck too. No erasing ‘real’ gay desire; they just are not quite ready to fully assume an out gay identity yet. They are about to invent sex! Wouldn’t they want their new exciting thing to be ‘special’ and unique? Who wouldn’t? (5)
Mada: It’s no good. I am still nervous around women.
Hato: It’s no good for me either. I am still hung up on you.
Mada: You are kind of cute.
Hato: Well, duhhh… I work hard at it…
Whoa! Hold it right there! That was too effing easy. Before you know it an insidious brainwashing effect from exposure to slashy Tumblr shipping manifesto shrines can take hold and the results will not be pretty.
Must… stop… NOW!
Best to leave Genshiken slash to those who love it and are much better at it. Akiko Mizoguchi’s final admonition in the above quote is however, worth further consideration. Of course heterosexual female BL and slash writers ‘project’ their desires, their dark fantasies and their highest aspirations upon the screen of fictional ‘gay’ male bodies. What further distortions would be introduced if heterosexual males were to project theirs as well?
Besides the simple crudities of 4chan banter about ‘traps‘, what would happen if straight boys started writing slash?
Laugh all you want, then gaze again at Kio Shimoku’s fearsome project. He’s nowhere there yet; he’s off by a country mile but you can get a better idea of the minefield that lies ahead. No wonder he didn’t slam Mada and Hato together. Anyone can write “And so Madarame and Hato become lovers“. Then what?
Kio Shimoku CAN do relationship manga; or rather he can do the slow, painful, wistful unravelling of young heterosexual relationships, as he so eloquently demonstrated with Yonensei (四年生) and Gonensei (五年生). I wish some nefarious fan-lators would finally take on his earliest full project Heat Haze/ Kagerou Nikki(陽炎日記) (1995) (disambiguation; there are other manga with the same simple term as title)
He sure looks like he has no problem doing straight, young Japanese university student seriously dramatic relationship-py stuff. But if he decided that he would try a full metal newbie male-male love story, would he ‘merely’ map his previous straight narrative conventions onto two guy characters, all while dancing around the conventions of BL? Where would he get the Japanese two gay guys realistic stuff from? Medieval Japanese tales of monks and acolytes? Damn! (6)
I knew this societal oppression/ prejudice shit would have consequences, he said with a posed look.
We so seldom speak of love
Fortunately for (and by) Shimoku-sensei, love, sexuality and even gender presentation are the least of Hato Kenjiro’s problems. The poor fool is an incurable, raging ROMANTIC. Males do that madness in very clumsy and dangerous ways. (We know! intone the rotten girl chorus; That’s what makes BL so much FUN!)
I am edging around the larger, older (and patriarchal-y inscribed) sense of the term; the urge to heroically/ insanely demand that the self and the world (or at least your patch of it) reshapes itself to one’s wild and crazy ideas that call for ‘something more‘, something fuller, something that matches ‘the shape of one’s heart‘ and the narratives of one’s fancies. Unfortunately this invariably involves other sentient beings and functioning social structures that happen to get in the way.
I take my desires for reality…
I know not if males are biologically/ structurally more prone to the ailment, but male socialization is mostly useless in preparing dudes for even the lightest brushes with it, let alone the onset of full-blown romanticism as a chronic condition. As madness and weakness it is to be avoided, feared and guarded against. So much so that it is never discussed, except in hushed tones around the campfires of men. It is as if as little as whispering of it can call down the madness upon one’s head. When it strikes, male strength and privilege can easily cause the afflicted to act violently unpredictable; a danger to others and themselves. Murders takes place, wars start.
because I believe in the reality of my desires…
The classical Greeks feared ‘romantic’ love and ‘romantic’ misbehaviour. They knew it was nothing but trouble. Crimes of passion. Women are supposed to be better at dealing with it/ better socialized to dealing with it, and historical sexism kept all but a few of them away from situations where a nasty case of romanticism could destroy a noble house, turn neighbor against neighbor, start wars and topple dynasties – all for the sake of ‘mere’ fancy. It is of course this very madness that are played with in the venerable tropes of fujoshi story-spinning. As an extra bonus, no women, even fictional ones, have to suffer as the guys go haywire on each other. That’s Entertainment!
…Then they take you
It was always assumed that a light dose of romance fever in a woman’s teenage years inoculated her against later outbreaks and bolsters the practical, even instrumental outlook that her historic role demanded. BL and rude yaoi is, after all a shoujo romance variant: a damn fine one for the women who made it, support it and keep it strong.
Their Boat (7)
It does so many fun things elegantly and with deft economy. As well, it confuses and annoys most guys sufficiently that we’ll keep our butt-insky “I have opinions! Drop everything and listen while deferring to Meeeeeeee! Then change everything so that it goes my way!” snouts well away from the fun. (yes, I could have used the terminology, but lets drag the mechanics of the effect out into the daylight, just as a reminder. Note as well how Hato went to extremes to avoid this.)
Another nifty thing about BL from the POV of the rotten audience: all the “feels” emotional relationship-py maintenance work/ heavy lifting is stuck onto some storybook guy, rather than an analogue of who gets stuck with it in real life. It must be soothing to see male-ish critters get stuck carrying the bucket, even if in often ridiculous fictive circumstances.
Hato, the previously suspect crossdresser, now the crossdressing fudanshi and eventually, in an alternate, equally fictive future, the gender-non-conforming BL ero-mangaka seeks out these complications because he (she, ze) believes in BL not just as a genre but as a solution to what their heart(s) finds lacking in the world. Whether it is the romantic melodrama or the nekkid cartoon dudes jumping each other while doing romantic melodrama, BL has a lock on Hato’s very soul. It, and the spectre of a future Hato Ero Mangaka Sensei that can create BL is Hato’s first, true and only love.
Mada would change for Saki but Hato would not and could not change for Mada. Hato couldn’t even ease off on the throttle. We are not talking massive life-altering change here either. Dressing better and getting a job was all that Madarame managed in Saki’s honor. Hato couldn’t even find a way to spend some guy-Hato time with Mada hesitantly talking over the confusing situation that they found themselves in. Sure Hato upped the nadeshiko levels on their “presentation”, but was that for Madarame, or to do their part within the harem scenario as gift to the tribe?
Face to face with Madarame about to confess, Hato just had to blurt out that any real-life snuggling must involve BL-ish kink-eries between Mada and them because after all is said and done, the schmexy fantasy is more important than the reality of the intimate presence of the one you love. (Or I miss Kio Shimoku’s brilliant insight that this would be exactly the kind of idiot mistake a guy would make, even one presenting as a girl, when in intimate “negotiation” with their intended? No matter…) Mada, being a nerdy guy was of course unable to give an emotionally savvy response, ( and the parallelism between this unforced error and Mada’s minutes earlier “forbidden” misstep should not be forgot, even if separated by chapters) even if it would have just been a restatement of “fantasy is fantasy and reality is reality” (You better chose which one you have feelings for, fool!) In the end no so such admonition was needed. Hato had long ago decided.
At that moment Hato could not wiggle out of their fujoshi costume/ straitjacket. If the fujoshi costume by some stretch of the imagination IS Hato’s ‘true’ emergent trans* identity, then it is an extremely limited one. The two-note nadeshiko/ full- metal rotten girl persona that is always ON leaves no room for down time, for messy, personal, awww fuck it, lounge around in sleepwear and eat kombini junk food out of styrofoam Sunday afternoons. No room either for raw emotionalism when one’s heart is broken, in fact no room at all for the shape of a human heart.
Hato cannot even mourn the loss of his and her love.
To expect high levels of ethical behaviour in young adult hookups is madness and to impose a higher standard on the hookups of young adults who have minority sexualities and /or gender expressions is plain old-fashioned prejudice: however to expect such from characters in an aspirational slice-of-life light comedy manga written by one who is outside of these concerns is understandable and can even be argued as necessary.
A digression with a parallelism:
Kio Shimoku has shown us otaku and fujoshi living spaces. He has even shown us the messy not-so-passion(ate) pit that Keiko retreats to after a hard night of soothing rumpled salarymen. The glimpses we have seen of Hato’s digs, packing- tape- barred closet aside, are too damn clean and well-ordered.
There is something horribly wrong, wrong, WRONG about this.
Go off to live at University, don’t get laid and keep your room neat and tidy. Poor Hato! Please don’t shatter on us!
The Genshiken is about fans and geeks and Hato’s fanning is as legitimate as anyone elses. Shouldn’t Hato have the right to dial it back if needed?
Is Hato a narcissistic, neurotic, unstable little psycho?
By no means; Hato is (written as) a young, most of the time guy trying to work through some rather challenging desires and identity issues. Exploring the messiness is part of the ride. At least he(and she) is far less of a tedious jerk then Holden Caulfield. (Gehhhhhhh). And he (and she) are fearsomely consistent.
Direct Interface – A Cure for Cancer
Hato Kenjiro, before he found that doujin in the locker room should have been on track for a happy riajuu life. He clearly wasn’t. Follow in your big brother’s footsteps as a Judo champ. Grow up, get married and plod towards the grave performing a happy small town life. Instead; there he is in the high school art club, already well-versed in BL fan-lore trying to insinuate himself into a fujoshi social. That well and truly exploded in his face but from a larger perspective, he was ready for it. Even treachery was preferable to his zombie life. Perhaps the ostracism he faced after spurred him to seek a University degree, if only to get out-of-town. Perhaps he already knew that he had to whatever the case.
“Her surname means ‘axe in a tree'” http://bakemonogatari.wikia.com/wiki/Yotsugi_Ononoki
Consider another dead-then-reborn to the world character: Nisio Isin’s cruel jest in Tsukimonogatari, Yotsugi Ononoki. [http://myanimelist.net/anime/28025/Tsukimonogatari] Familiar of Yozuru Kagenui, Ononoki is a tsukumogami made from of the corpse of a 100-year-old woman. As if she was a farm implement that had magically developed a life/ an afterlife. Not a ghost or zombie; a human life treated as the spirit of a sword or sickle or a teapot, reborn as an enigmatically cute but extremely dangerous young girlish… something. She remains the ‘mere’ tool as she was condemned to be throughout her long life. Read the fan-translations of the light novels and see the fate that she narrowly escapes.
“Yeah, I killed him. I’m a monster. Don’t turn into a monster.”
— Yotsugi Ononoki
Hato does not have the wisdom of a re-animated edo era Japanese woman’s hard and full life to moderate hir desperate fancies. Original Hato was disenchanted, almost dead to the world. Now the Hatos want to be a creator; they aspire to a minor form of divinity if only to honor the kami / sensei who created them. This desire involves sexuality and gender expression but such concerns are secondary to what he, she and ze are built to be, built to desire and built to desire to create.
Dying is easy, comedy is hard.
Yajima Merei should be careful, very careful. She may now know how to get Hato to look at her, but the gaze drips with transactional need for her comedic storytelling mojo rather than any personal, physical or emotional longing. Or worse, the personal, emotional and physical longing is there, but it remains a bubbling incoherent mess trapped beneath the surface of give me how to do that! Poor Hato. If they cannot learn friendship, how can they ever hope to feel love?
Fortunately, the lad is suggestible. And obsessive.
Perhaps not from yaoi smut, but friendship, like love and overblown romance are learned and societally mediated human behaviours, complete with their own rich narratives. Somewhat like playing a guitar; you have to study, watch, listen and practice if you want to carry a tune.
Unfortunately BL/yaoi narratives are short on male friendship, they so fetishize it as to upgrade it to schmex at every chance they get. And women are glaringly absent in the genre. Tales of female friendship won’t help Hato either; I don’t see him getting any useful inspiration from Anne of Green Gables. A more knowledgeable senior blogger holds Sailor Moon in high esteem. It couldn’t hurt (unless Ohno found out). And as for love?
In an earlier post I joked that he should be (written as) marathonning anything by Takemiya Jin [http://okazu.yuricon.com/2013/06/02/interview-with-yuri-manga-artist-takemiya-jin/] Takarazuka theatre? Nope. Time to throw out your books. The Hatos need (to be written as having) more 3D-verse friends and more experience at friendship. I wonder if it is harder to write a character who is ‘bad’ or inexperienced at friendship than one that effortlessly makes and keeps friends?
One year into the fujoshi Genshiken, a small portion of the pressure on Hato the now-official fudanshi has been lifted. The Hatos might be able to relax and see what they can be when they have the chance to be a little less constrained and a little more themselves.
Love will wait a while longer.
(1) While not my fave translation thereof, this may be of interest while the link works.
More of my earlier grindings on this one (I once affixed a blown up copy of it to the door of a classroom in art school – how Germanic!) can be found here:
(2) Yoshimoto, Taimatsu. 2008. Fudanshi ni kiku [Talking with fudanshi]. Self-published.http://www.picnic.to/~taimatsu/common/milk/milk_postal_taimatsu.htm.
The 2009 follow-up study lists Tagame Gengoroh as co-author.
See also: https://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&prev=search&rurl=translate.google.ca&sl=ja&u=http://picnic.to/~taimatsu/index.htm&usg=ALkJrhhoWTTK5M2pzzo0fAcy12Xjt_wJ7Q
For both studies, sample sizes ran to 100-110 respondents.
(3) cf: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Forever_War Go read it if you somehow have not yet had the pleasure. (And yuppers, many of my titles and headings are oblique refs to ancient scifi novels and/or movies. It’s a hobby… )
(4) Oh heck. Mentioning the “quibbles” makes me feel… uncomfortable. Once again; the worst thing that their creator did to these two is that they were never really given the chance to become friends.
(5) They are of course wrong. Redacted
(6) The solution is simple and obvious, but the resulting fan-fiction ends up reading like yuri with bishie guy bodies.
A BIT LATER:
Dr. Maniax mentioned (in tweets) a short bonus section in the Japanese Genshiken Vol 20 tankobon, which was supposedly racy, so like a rabid fanboy I hunted the dark nether recesses of the intertubes until it fell into my clutches. It’s a bath scene with the girls, but if I read it right, they somehow, at the end, forget (or something else happened) that Hato is there too. Ok, some mixed onsen bath hijinks?
More interesting is one page of the ch120 volume extras. It looks like a page of Mada and Hato talking, after they went off the second time at the temple. Holy missing 18 minutes of tape, Mr President!
Something about BL is all I can get. ANYONE CARE TO CLEAR UP THIS MYSTERY?
Wherein mixed metaphor and weeaboo Japanese collide to pick apart the ruins of Madarame’s romantic prospects. SPOILERS ENSUE
I’m cheesed off.
I didn’t think I’d be so cheesed off.
I am also cheesed off for being snookered into being cheesed off
I am cheesed off at Kio Shimoku for putting me in cheesed-off land.
That so-and-so can write.
On the surface, chapter 122 looks simple, almost sloppy. No way: it is a finely crafted little bear trap, well sprung. This one was made to take a leg off. If something is there, it is there for a reason. What I tell you three times is true and will be on the test.
I am furious.
Why so surprised when chess pieces move the only way they can move.
I am a good, right-thinking person. Why point that thing at me?
This needs to be taken apart. Examine all the sharp, shiny little pieces.
Where to start?
First, visit Ogiue Maniax for the latest corrected excerpts from the 4chan/ tumblr script for Chapter 122. Or you are reading this long after and the usual well-crafted English fan-translation is already available. I hope the scanlating crew is not mightily chuffed at all the amateur dodgy attempts that floated around. They have taken umbrage before and considering the work they put in, this is understandable. Yet the urge of the fans to find out, especially for this chapter must be equally understandable and ultimately, forgiveable. Nuance suffered, folks had their ships and their hearts broken. What did we learn from all of this? How did it play out?
Lets put this sucker up on stands and tear it apart.
Thanks for all your support
Think wayyyyy back. When Ogiue was conflicted and Sasahara was interested, the club did not impede. It supported. And it gave them room to work things out. No one piped up that if you don’t chose Ogiue, perhaps you should stop coming by the club, get a job and move away. While there definitely was a bit of “matchmaking” from Saki and Ohno, no one chased them, ogled and spotlighted them.
Although adopted enthusiastically by Hato upon joining the Genshiken, it was originally an Ogiue fantasy, as detailed in the infamous yaoi episode in the second season of the original Genshiken anime. It is, in effect the latest and last manifestation of Ogiue’s original sin and one that Ohno and the original female Genshiken crew are complicit in. ( Ch44, p27)
A crossdressing fudanshi or male fujoshi or a trans* fujoshi?
Hato Kenjiro will not be “male” in the Genshiken. The Hatos have learned from bitter experience how males are “accepted” in female-exclusive fan socials in Japan. Not! As well, Hato finds something in BL that strongly affects him and wishes to process it as close to the original as possible. The distinction would be between the theoretical scopophilic (or scoptophilic, K. Nagaike 2005) and the threat of participatory engagement in fujoshi fantasies.(1)
The male-ness of a fudanshi imposes a different calculation upon the enjoyment of fujoshi stories. His participation within a social that values exchange of these stories imposes a strong presupposition that he will share his experiences, at least in abstracted form. It would be hard for him to avoid becoming a vehicle through which the female members of the social would enjoy how their cherished scripts and tropes play out.
What do you mean by Fu-Danshi
K.Nagaike’s improbable Japanese heterosexual male BL fan aside, what exactly does the term “fudanshi” connotate on the street or in the aisles of Comiket, among Japanese fans. Is it “I’m a guy who reads BL” or is it “I’m a guy who probably is interested in guys and reads BL“? Unfortunately English language academic reports list few examples of fudanshi/ male BL fans. One mentioned in an early McLelland article (2) is nominally heterosexual. The Nagaike article that speculates as to the existence of straight fudanshi as “herbivore males” still eludes my grasp, but the summary smells fishy. Over %90 of the Japanese audience for BL and yaoi is reported to be female. The remaining %10 is a mystery but if one estimates by the two existing amateur studies, the heterosexual and asexual male readership makes up only %1-%2 of total Japanese readers. It could even be less. Noted Bara artist Tagame Gengoroh is listed as the co-author of the follow-up 2009 study and ventures therein that it would be reasonable to assume that some of the respondents who self-identified as neither “gay” or “bi” could be “closeted”, given the stigma still attached to male homosexuality in Japan.
How does this apply to Hato?
Betcha this question sounds stupid. Fer chrissakes, Dude, you are reading the gay pr0ns. You like, right? Hato always previously denied real-world same-sex interest. Fantasy is fantasy. This also added an extra plot excuse for becoming-fujoshi; the “containment field”. Maybe it is “a guy who reads BL but is too scared to really try real guys“. Who knows? The confusion is Kio Shimoku’s fault; he has gone out of his way to make Hato non-conforming to categories, even non-conforming to categories of non-conformity.
Hato’s identity: Hato.
Hato’s sexualty: Hato.
Hato’s gender expression: Hato.
“Real guys don’t do that” aside, there is always the strong suggestion that the fudanshi is adapting fujoshi stories to his same-sex desires. Whether or not to call them gay/bi/non-binary/pansexual/would-consider-romance-or-fun-with-a-male-under-certain-circumstances varies by individual social context, but in the end, yuppers, they are, as Hato is, “gay”(etc.,). At least in the eyes of the Genshiken fujoshi.
Is Hato trans*?
It is a stretch to consider Hato a “full” “conventional” transwoman. Not yet. At best, Hato is an emergent trans-fujoshi, at least; a “fujoshi world field exploration module”, an “avatar”. Hato’s denial of real-world same-sex desire leaves only the problematic “I’m not gay it is only him” canon BL pronouncement to explain his developing feelings for Madarame, as well as the confusion and conflict surrounding these. If Hato was to decide that ze was deemed male at birth with “the heart of a girl” Hato’s desires would be, after surgery and hormones, heteronormative by law if not custom in Japan. Note that the Stands, as subconscious guilt-complexes consider Hato male. If Hato was at core “female-souled” the BL shipping urges would be, as above pointless. It might work if Hato had two souls and the Stands were out to excise the “accursed remainder” but that gets too twisty-psychological to follow in a comic book story.
The older Hato variant in Spotted Flower is gender-queer but eschews a fundamentally female “core”. The idea of breaking and surpassing identity rather than fitting into one remains imperative. The goal of becoming a cross-dressing male BL mangaka is what unifies the project.
Affective and Transactional membership within a fujoshi social.
The position of a member within a fujoshi social will be a mixture of the these two concerns, as in any activity-related social. The closest studies available to mortal outsiders of such Japanese socials would be those of female executive drinking groups. (more here) Note that in one study, a member was excised from the group when her emotional neediness became a burden on the group. Friends will help to a certain degree, after which point the burden becomes too great upon the “wa” of going out and getting hammered on the weekend to de-stress.
In the case of a male fudanshi, the transactional demands would easily overwhelm the bonds of friendship. Even in the case of Hato-as-fujoshi, in full female-presenting mode, the friendships are tenuous. Yoshitake Rika values Hato as a novelty and as a pro-level producer of new and spicy smut drawings. Valuing the Hato output and advancing club interests is seen as one in the same goal. She considers a pairing between Hato and Madarame-is-a-loser as dangerous to the club and dangerous to Hato’s output (and possibly to his mental stability). Curiously, she does not see a pairing between Hato and Yajima as threatening to the club social or to Hato’s output.
Whether she sees Yajima’s layout and pacing skills as complementary to Hato’s drawing skills or whether she can approve a slightly variant heteronormative pairing, or has, even unconsciously framed Hato-chan as a virtual lesbian and slotted Hato in a neko to Yajima’s butch girl/tachi role is beside the point. Hato’s presence in a social that Yoshitake has anything to do with – and remember she is exemplar of a tendency, not it’s sole adherent – depends on a fully female-presenting Hato. Lesbian fujoshi are not a problem; they are still women and the desire discussed in the social is abstracted. “That happens in all-girl schools, no big deal.”
No Boys allowed
I had long groused about the lack of emotion and longing displayed by the supposedly crushing Hato, especially Hato-as-chan. The Niko trip chapters have whacked me upside the head for not realizing how overwhelmingly constrained Hato was when participating in the club. In rotten-girl mode Hato can do demure or can do fujoshi-overload. That’s it. Anything else risks the great project.
At Comiket, when only with Madarame, Hato could doff and don the wig as needed, otherwise Hato’s presentation becomes a straightjacket.
Comiket is “Holy Ground”; a truce operates within its boundaries.
The one time Hato ventured, in girl mode in the clubroom, to list the reasons why “loser Madarame had moe” Yoshitake’s urge to sanction the transgression was set in motion.
Hato-as-chan is so committed to her project and yet so insecure about its fragility that she can literally only discuss attraction for Madarame in the context of acted out BL tropes, of othering her his-self as exchanged fantasy. This is probably the cruelest trick of the internal consistency laid down by the author. There is absolutely no way Hato-chan could ever consider mentioning to the rest of the club that Hato spent any innocent social time with Madarame, even as Hato-as-kun just hanging out with Madarame.
Doing so would break the spell. Hato would no longer be “passing” for a fujoshi. Hato would be an odd cross-dressing gay guy with a boyfriend who needs to fit in with a club full of women.
Only in the light of the enforced girl-mode of the Niko trip does the magnitude of the cruel joke become apparent. Instead of facilitating and encouraging male:male romance, it effectively adds further levels of prohibition against it. If you date a guy -poof- you are back to being a guy and guys don’t sit well with the club as it is. Hato loses all.
I wonder if Yajima Merei now “gets it”. How does she feel about how she kept after Hato to drop the masquerade?
Fantasy as fantasy as a reactionary force.
I have previously quoted critics and essays which have echoed Saki’s chidings: the male-male desire fantasies of fujoshis do not necessarily include comfort and familiarity with real-life male gay people, let alone real-life, politicised LGBTQ+ communities. Kio Shimoku’s renderings of them echo these observations. Realistic concerns may even be seen as intrusions against the structures of these fantasies. This is in marked contrast with ‘western” slash communities that long ago adopted a more inclusive and politicised stance. After all, approximately half of slash fan readers are male, presumed in some degrees “queered”, by all extant studies available. (Pagliassotti. Aoki/Viz)
The Japanese fujoshi social is not anti-gay. It is merely real-life-gay avoiding. Males, gay or not are raw material. Gay males are still seen as males with male privilege and freedom available to them, as long as they pay token obeisance to Japanese rules of hierarchical male social organization.
Gay males who might take umbrage at their portrayal in extreme BL/yaoi narratives are a threat and a nuisance; they heckle the stories or get angry about portrayals even if no real etc., are being depicted. It is just guys asserting their male privilege, again. Password the forum, post a disclaimer and switch to silent running.
Elsewhere in Asia, fujoshi enthusiasms end up as being conflated with homosexual practice whenever a government clampdown rolls around and the fujoshi are an easy target. The distancing effect is powerful, multifaceted and hard to counteract.
As for gender-queer, gender dysphoria, non-conforming or minority gender expression, these are interesting as varieties of raw material to the fujoshi project, but any momentary real-world consensus over status, presentation, rights, etiquette, let alone “political correctness” or solidarity just gets in the way of a good hawt tale. At best, it might make for a few points of verisimilitude in a story. Why bother; it will just draw attention and bring the spotlight back on the easy female target. Progressive social movements are useless and always end in internicine mayhem, circular firing squads and clusterfuckery. Why stick your neck out? This is not relaxing. Best to avoid it all. We’re just here for the skin and the feels. Did the guys ever worry about similar concerns in their pr0n?
Note for the purposes of the Genshiken, these tendencies, remarked upon by academics and commentators are exaggerated and simplified.
Kio Shimoku does his research to create his fujoshi Genshiken but it always hews towards the larger, broad-brush tendencies within the literature.
History stalls without electricians… rusts…
For all I know, contemporary fujoshi socials in Japan liaise with LGBTQ+ groups and turn out for pride marches and the Genshiken is completely lost in the past. Perhaps there is even a gay male blogger in Japan who is rating BL tales on a scale of hateful shit to ridiculous fun to sensitively realistic and supportive, in a parallel to the great project that a certain lesbian blogger has undertaken in the west for yuri. If not perhaps there should be. Godspeed!
Such a real-life, politically engaged fujoshi group would never find itself caught in, let alone setting up a classic unwinnable Kobayashi Maru exercise.
Whereas Kio Shimoku slipped one over on us. How much of it and the extent of his purpose remains to be seen.
A test of character for the command-track candidate and the club itself. How better than to expose the weaknesses in the group?
Madarame has been constructed as being very shy around women; recovering from a 3 year fantasy crush on Saki-as-Ritsuko Kubel Kettenkrad; prone to fugue episodes of pre-emptive over-geeking with women he considers attractive; a mildly pervy fan of loli and now jousou/ otokonoko fantasy pornography and lately severely unmotivated, to the point of loser-dom.
Yet he does have good friends, he tries to do the right thing and his insistence on the individual right of the fan to like and enjoy what fantasies they fantasize over has built him into a figure of admiration among the Genshiken readership, and not just male readers.
It was a shock to hear Madarame described as being “wide open” and “full of openings” or unguarded. Being ungarded and open is generally considered a good thing, except when male privilege is exposed by placing a poor schlep in the sights of a male-male rape (or at best forceful seduction) fantasy.
Those “forceful” pairing conventions are sacred within parts of the fujoshi fandom. How else is a conflicted, emotionally inarticulate hunk of testosterone supposed to express societally forbidden, overwhelming, madness-inducing desire? Just don’t point that at women. Here you go Bowser, go nuts on that pant leg.
Deeds not words.
Kio also raised the ante a bit while throwing in a few blocks and dodges. Hato-as-chan is the only one of the harem-ettes to break the embargo and visit, clean and cook for an injured Madarame. (Kio you sneak: you slipped some sanitized Hurt-Comfort into the tale!) Sue appears only as chaperone. Keiko; you blew it – Keiko would never get domestic for a guy. Angela might, but we never saw any evidence of this. Only Hato “made miso soup” and cleaned up the mess.
Beautiful Fighting Girl
Too bad Hato’s Nadeshiko no Genshiken is not exactly Madarame’s favourite fantasy girl. Sue is closer to the physical form, but Saki, especially as the vengeful Chairman Ritsuko busting an upskirt creep, was closer to the ideal of a heroic female character. Do not mistake Keiko’s dismissive cynicism for an engaged heroic stance. If Hato-as-chan had presented closer to an engaged, active female character; say in a persona closer to the sassy, teasing Suruga Kanbaru of Monogatari fame; as long as Hato became flustered when confronted with the possibility of affection, Madarame would already be shacked up with Hato. Too much demure femininity triggers Madarame’s hesitancy and self-sabotage fugue reflexes.
The end result is that Madarame finds the male Hato persona far easier to talk with, to discuss any feelings that he thinks he has developed or sensed from Hato. To this end, Madarame accepts that his desire might end up being same-sex, if not “gay/queer/bi/etc.”. However the circumstances are so wildly out of normal bounds (not: Holy shit, I suddenly find guys of this type attractive!) as to be beside the point. For shy, unlucky-in-love Madarame, this is like winning an all-expense paid trip to Comiket on Mars. It is not going to happen again, so why worry about social categories.
Hato’s mistake is thinking that Madarame has fallen for Hato-as-chan and that this will be a thorny path because Hato-as-chan must be Hato-as-fujoshi and society will frown doubly on a romance with a gay fujoshi transvestite. A secondary issue also pops up, as it looks like Hato doesn’t have much experience with male friendship.
Madarame’s mistake is not seeing how intensely Hato as superficially an emerging- gay- male- fudanshi- who- crossdresses is invested in a far more complex project of becoming-fujoshi while in female- presenting mode. Mada should have made it clear that he prefers to talk with the male version; that his curiosity and interest considers the male persona dominant, or at least co-equal and that the male version is, for now who he cares to “let’s see what happens” with.
“The girl version always fans out too much. She should drop the sou-uke stuff! She makes me nervous!”
Madarame is diffuse as to his desires. He wants to “try it” and see what happens. Who is this Hato creature? How did he end up like this? What is in that BL stuff that turns his crank, that hides behind and lies beyond the weird butt-sex and dominance drawings? What really does Hato get hawt & bothered about? Will sex work? How and how much? Is it needed? Perhaps all night drinking and game-playing is a good enough consolation prize if the sex stuff proves too terrifying. Is the lad huggable? Will it feel good to be hugged? How much romance and how much bromance? Will stripesu work when they are “packed” panchu? Is there anything in all those BL stories that doesn’t have seme and uke and just has two guys that like each other? How do two guys make out, or even kiss? What happens? Questions, questions, questions.
Who knows? In fairness Kio Shimoku could have done more on these kinds of questions. He already had Madarame’s guy posse holding vigil with him after the wrist-break and discussing the hawt bits of their newest doujin score. An exploration of how and what boundaries would get pushed past with a guy who can also crossdress and “likes you that way” would be novel. Were they too far off in “No Homo, well perhaps Homo a bit, hey, but only you so far“, for Kio to manage?
But Kio can sure as all heck give the general impression that Madarame considers Hato a once in a lifetime chance to find out without taking any major hit-points.
Who says, beyond hard-core fujoshi and male ‘phobes, that a straight guy can’t have gay male friends? Get used to it. You don’t have to jump them and they don’t jump everything in pants, do they?
The easy way to find out would have had Mada and Hato-as-kun hanging out:
“Yo, Hato, why all the sempai? I know “Sempai notice me” but you are really into it. What gives?”
“Eh? long story ‘bro, gimme another beer…”
Too much to ask?
Would such an experiment have broken Madarame or Hato? I doubt it. The problem seems to lie only with the conflict set up by Hato’s project of becoming-fujoshi within the Genshiken social. The Genshiken could have not only made clear that they approve of Madarame and Hato, but demonstrated this by pulling back, making some space for the two of them, discouraging any need to for HatoMadaHato scripts, banishing the seme/uke/sou-uke as it applies to the two and made it damn clear through deeds that Hato-as-chan still has full %100 fujoshi status within the Genshiken, even as Hato-kun is hanging out with Mada on the weekend.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t run a destructive test on the participants or the group social.
For a test, we need Yoshitake Rika, the Genshiken’s own light, polite and stealthed version of Kaminaga. Not exactly Loki the cruel trickster demigod. She even means it well in her own clumsy way. And she does get off her ass and organise things. Still, her views on Hato and Madarame-is-a-loser were plainly set out. She views the pairing as potentially damaging to Hato, and to Hato’s output. And she could really ship Yajima and Hato and hope to see a rebound.
Whether or not she has voiced any more complicated concerns about Hato- as- almost- girl suddenly dropping to a glaring Hato- as- gay- guy- who- has- a- boyfriend- and- who- hangs- around- the club- in- a- wig- and- dress should have been alluded to, but lurks none the less. Such a creature could well be almost as disruptive as another Kuchiki.
When an event is put together to see Kuchiki well and truly out of the Genshiken, why not take the chance to end the harem nonsense? Especially if it resolves Hato and to a lesser extent Sue and gets Madarame and his sorry “I can’t make up my mind” ass out of the way as well.
Will Madarame nerve up to say he likes Hato or Sue? Did Yoshitake ever consciously sit down and factor the chances? Probably not. Angela and Keiko are disposable outcomes. Sue is a wild card, but is suddenly no longer antic and is being shy. It is doubtful that she could stand the spotlight of an organised public “omiai” ritual. Madarame is an indecisive coward who is stuck in “good to be king” stasis. Hato will be in pure fujoshi-girl-mode; easily flustered and/or prone to fanning out. If they really really like each other, they can bloody well prove it under the glare of the spotlights.
This should be a fun group trip. What could go wrong?
So much for a plausible motive for Yoshitake Rika. For the author, all heck is being set up to break lose. This story looks at first like it is all about Hato, but it is also about Madarame and about the Genshiken-as-character/ the “character” of the Genshiken. The chief custodian of the Genshiken is Ogiue as president. She has done wonders in upping the productive output of the club and has not fallen into the trap of the manken, by doing all of the output herself. Most of it, but not all. She can rightfully claim to have mentored and encouraged Hato, Yajima and even Sue as assistant. She has curbed her impulses towards destructive rivalry with Ohno’s formidable cosplay ancien regime; The two tendencies work well together in the current club.
But the harem problem has slipped by her. Hato’s crush is none of her business. As for Madarame, she must know in the back of her mind that she started the sou-uke thing. She has never quashed it or even properly limited it because she is guilty of it and that kind of guilt brings up terrible memories.
Please note how robust and detailed the plotting of all this is. Mere accident of Kio Shimoku’s ad-hoc plotting? I doubt it. Such attention carries with it risks and responsibilities. No one gives a flying monkey about the plot and motivation holes in UQ Holder, as long as the skin and the magic battles keep coming. Genshiken fans expect more: when something happens and happens the way it does, they impute motive. They feel shocked and even betrayed when events play out in an insensitive manner.
The stage is set. Hato and Madarame and Sue will be in the forefront. The harem is really a reluctant love triangle. Sue’s interest is late in the game and tentative. She is almost shut down by the weight of her emotions. The real action will be between Madarame and Hato. Drunken Kuchiki provides the chance for Madarame to speak freely, if hastily with the Hato he can speak freely with. He declares that he felt something from the valentine’s day chocolates and then with with Hato’s sudden disappearance.
What he hears is a surprise. Hato clearly feels something for him but is pushing him away. “I felt something too and was scared. I am not the fantasy girl you think I am. Compared to the real women interested in you, I am barely able to hold my own as female-presenting. Romance would fail. Chose someone else“.
And then he adds one little bit too much: “Oh by the way, I can only draw girls’ boy-boy porn while crossdressed“. Huh? This is all too ridiculous! Next thing you know, Mada is on top and male Hato, glowing with booze and makeup is doing his best to deny any fantasy implications of the mishap. “Sorry, you get no handful of breast. Sorry that I disappoint.” Fantasy is fantasy and reality is flat-chested and very, very composed.
And then Madarame brings up BL fantasies and Hato is lost. And Mada’s hunt mode has been flicked on. One Kuchiki bathroom run save later, Madarame is left to consider how it felt. “Holy crap, I took the initiative. Hato is actually kind of cute. Holy crap does this mean I’m gay? Maybe this is a special case because he can also be a shy, chaste otokonoko? Wait a second; there ain’t such thing as a shy, chaste otokonoko; them critters are sex-demons. Hato is a shy chaste something else that looks female. Whatever, I liked being the forceful one. No sou-uke here. Was all the sou-uke stuff so that girly-boy Hato could be sou-uke to a sou-uke? Does not compute.”
Felt good though.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Hato’s brief foray into boy mode only served to point out how tightly he has been sewed into his girl costume for the rest of the trip. He’s sleeping in a room with two other girls, experiencing girl-talk and his cover story is that he is a full, legendary “boy born with the heart of a girl”. Do not break cover. Maintain fujoshi mode at all costs. No slip ups or wig removings allowed. The great project is on the line. All fujoshi, all rotten, all the time.
Only briefly in male attire did he get a chance to marvel that he “was taken seriously” while walking back to Yajima’s house. That part must remain sealed away the next day.
At the temple in Niko, Hato and Madarame can talk for a few moments. Perhaps it would have gone down somewhat the same way without Keiko goading and stirring the pot. Except that Hato is now reeling from realizing that Yajima has developed a crush on (must be) him-as-him. And that ze has thrown the one thing that Keiko cannot process, Madarame interested in him-as-a-guy in her face.
Face to face with Madarame, Hato manages to get out one subtextual bit of “context” or warning. When presenting as female, Hato must devote complete attention to staying in character and avoiding any mistakes that would break the illusion of female presentation. And that means fujoshi presentation as well.
Then after the “thrill of the forbidden” misstep, and some encouragement by Ogiue, Madarame is back for the mandatory thorny path warning. Then Hato fans out as only Hato the fujoshi can. MadaHato, HatoMada, seme, uke, sou-uke. Perhaps Hato is dead sure that Madarame is crushing on girl-Hato. Perhaps Hato is very scared of real male-male intimacy. Perhap Hato feels comfortable enough around Mada the uber-fan to let loose. Or all of these and none. But Hato is still locked into the absolute need to discuss any future relationship in full-metal fujoshi mode. Hato has accepted the stands into her, but here and now they own her tongue. Hato cannot say “I like you.”
Despite all this, Madarame is surprisingly considerate and reassuring. He does not make any promises of soul-mate-ry for life, but neither does he make fun of what clearly makes him uncomfortable. He does not act blunt and dismiss Hato’s fujoshi-voiced desires.(3)
Thank goodness he didn’t. Turns out they had an audience. Even that does not deter Madarame.
This is great buildup. Madarame is treating his desire seriously, even if it is same-sex desire. He is treating Hato’s conflicted feelings seriously. He is also worried about hurting Sue and letting Keiko and Angela down respectfully. He knows that things are getting weird in the group and its “wa” is under threat.
Then something happens offstage and it all turns into shit.
Madarame is overwhelmed. He refuses to announce his decision. His mind plays out the next day; when he has chosen Hato-as-chan and he is left in a cold sweat. He asks if there are any group thoughts on the situation. Did he really want them to decide for him or was he seeking to gauge if there was any consensus on who would be the most suitable choice? Was it only to take that into consideration as he plotted how to how to finesse his decision? Did he already realise that the situation was out of control and unwinnable unless he jumped on the grenade? Choose one, three will be miffed. Choose Hato or Sue and the spotlights will incinerate them.
Angela was always scary and impractical: the language barrier was too much, even putting aside the long-distance problem. Keiko was always out. Sex at the cost of being made to feel like shit continuously. Banter with The Adversary is fun; the morning after you wake up in hell.
If you decide that you are forced to deny any chance at love, must you spell out the true reasons in excruciating detail or can you just give the unforgiving crowd what they will accept and what they deserve?
Angela; “you are too much of a sex bomb for me, and too far away.” Keiko; “you are so goddess-like that you bring back painful memories of Saki”. Sue; (between you and me, you see how hostile this place is to any love, let alone what I was considering, please do me a favour and go along with this excuse:) “I like it better when you are pestering Ogiue with fakee-lesbian attention. it’s fun and hawt.” Sue takes the hint and runs with it.
Now that we have made same-sex desire an abstract, not-serious issue we can finesse Hato. Isn’t dating a guy too stressful? (on the other club members’ maturity levels? good job, not Ogiue – enjoy your Sue!) Hato should be free to pursue (the project of becoming-fujoshi which I will not burn to these children, I’ll just call it ) being a cross-dressing fudanshi (and fudanshi means likes the idea of same-sex romance, may or may not be up to it in real life) without having to suffer (this nonsense).
“I now take my leave. Your win Yoshitake-san, enjoy.”
(“The more sensitive among you, once you digest it, might get the motive and the subtext of my excuses. Thanks for all the help, oh club of fans who will dream of queer romance but trample any real manifestations of it.“)
“Oh Shit, not Kuchiki!” Gehhhhhhhh! Phhhtt! Phhhhtttt!
“Guess he bought the story.”
Or Madarame just sputtered “Hah-hah I was just joking” gibberish to get out of a jam and then Kio had Kuchiki drive home the point. Released on the Easter weekend by chance. Thank goodness Japanese folks don’t understand Easter and the fuss surrounding the whole passion thing or there would have been roosters crowing.(4)
Fans who cared deeply about the emerging, fierce individualised queer-ness of Hato and the long slow build-up of Madarame accepting that there was something between them recoiled at the crudeness of the Hah hah hah, No Homo vibe that came out of nowhere like a slap in the face.
And it hit me too. I was really surprised how it hit me. It took a while, and the testimony of concerned fans to process the depths of why the fail shook me. Even if you don’t think that Hato was right for Madarame, you don’t shit in people’s corn flakes, repeatedly. …Just because you can and it is an easy gag ending to the harem arc. Even to do so to hammer home a point about how your fictional fujoshi social is unworldly didn’t need three bowls of shit-flakes.
Unless we were supposed to taste the shit in the subtext.
Madarame did win a few maturity points from this bruising exercise. He is little more confident around women he is interested in and he can control his impulse to self-sabotage. If anything, he has seen how tragic such impulses can be. He was not afraid to think of dating a guy, even though he never felt he wanted to before; he did not go into “gay panic“. He took his desires seriously. He could politely pursue, even manage some polite “forceful” behaviour, which is expected of courting Japanese manly males.
He has lost once more on the fields of love but he is not defeated. And he has learned a lot about the need to keep one’s affairs of the heart private. He does not have to be forced into a relationship, he retains the agency to decide and to reject easy, yet problematic opportunities. He may empathise too much, as an excuse to avoid troublesome situations – he will have to learn that sharing one’s heart with another will always be complicated and fraught with the possibility of hurt – but the impulse is better than pure horn-dawg “gimme naow!“.
However he did let himself be bamboozled into losing the chance to explore with afforded respect and privacy what would have happened, not just with Hato, but with Sue and even Angela. His fault for going along with the much-too-public harem omiai set-up.
What of Madarame and Hato?
Even now, while I have difficulty seeing a fluffy vanilla BL romance happen easily and naturally between Hato and Madarame, goddammit they should have had a chance to fuck up properly trying! How does a straight guy navigate friendship and maybe a little bit or a lot more with a gay or non-binary or queer male friend? Maybe that’s a story that Kio Shimoku wanted to tell, but couldn’t. And he couldn’t let them bumble off into the sunset.
Anything could have happened.
Everything was prevented.
Plenty of old-school guy fans are uncomfortable with Madarame “going over to the dark side” and make a big fuss over what never threatened male status and privilege in earlier eras. I wonder who and what has jerked their puppet strings. Probably nothing more than a bunch of other schoolyard losers yelling “fag”. A serious 1950’s “beat” or 60’s guy-o-the-world wouldn’t give that kind of chickenshit a second thought. “Part of the road, enjoy the journey… At least it was real.”
Worse, they don’t have the time or curiosity to see the critique and examination of a female fandom as a logical extension of the critique and examination of the male fandom that the original Genshiken was. They see only Hato, the “annoying trap” flailing around, freak out and miss the nuance; the valid observations of female fan productivity (yo, dudes, aside from trolling 4chan, what the fuck does the reactionary male fandom produce? As in make? Like, uh, stuff?), gained at the price of the range of interests; not much gaming and model making or fan- reviewing in the new club – only cosplay defends the earlier multi-modality of the Genshiken.
They also miss the biting critique of the isolationist tendencies in the fujoshi homosocial as well as the part of that critique that has just played out to bitter disappointment among the western fans closest in approximation and outlook to the fujoshi members.
It is a crying shame that chapter 122 hit the diaspora Hato-supporting fandom so hard; they have struggled to put their early isolationist impulses behind them. The troll brigade hates them not only for their “queer” but for their social engagement. Fuck the troll brigade; the only author they respect is Ayn the Reaver and her petulant, narcissistic cant. Reavers make lousy fans.
The Doctrine of Authenticity was, for brief time being effortlessly honored in the Genshiken. If Madarame could convincingly be portrayed as being interested, then he should have had the in-story freedom to do so. If Hato, for all his confusion dared put at risk his single minded project to become a fujoshi in a fujoshi social because he and she started to feel something they couldn’t understand toward Madarame, would the ‘verse have imploded because of this slight glitch in sexualities and gender roles? It looks like they never were taken seriously enough to have the in-story free will to try. The hammer came down and decreed that that kind of feeling is too complicated or too troublesome or can be papered over as a joke.
And the Genshiken, the club that would not betray its members, as Ogiue’s high school friends betrayed her, as the University manga (manken) club betrayed her, as Hato’s high school art club betrayed him, failed. Failed miserably, tittering and tee-hee-ing over the small chance that two guys might feel something for each other, even if it only turned out to be friendship, in in-verse “real” life.(5)
The Kobayashi Maru exercise is a fictional test of character in the face of certain destruction.
The Genshiken; Ogiue and Ohno as executive officers, Yajima and Yoshitake as bridge crew and the rest of the assembled members performed below expectation. Hato was the sacrificial hostage, the eponymous damaged ship. Madarame’s performance was nuanced; on the surface shockingly below expectations, even if his excuse to Hato can be translated and subtext-read as “I only want you to be able to have a trouble-free love that leaves room for you to pursue your great project.” The Sue bullshit excuse either damned his performance or telegraphed that he considered the rest of the club the enemy within. And Kio’s framing the entire night, with Kuchiki breaking the tension but reinforcing the dismissive mood, walks the same dangerous knife-edge.
Chapter 122 was meant to question whether or not the club was truly as accepting and safe as it should be or claimed to be. What instead went down looked to many as small and ugly.
(1) It is a position beyond that of a male yuri fan. The most I can so “participate” is as fantasy, manga or anime voyeurism, making note of a few tips regarding foreplay and perhaps absorbing some of the ambience surrounding the romantic melodrama of the stories. Unlike the fujoshi experience however, yuri works better for me when written by a tojisha author. The fujoshi artifact has yet to evolve to the point where many gay male authors are successfully melding realism about gay male behaviour with the female “feels’ and interpersonal character dynamics/ drama that fujoshi readers prize.
This distinction is not that important; the fujoshi project has other aims. Contrast to realistic lesbian identity graphic novels in the west to yuri.
“One high-school boy says that “It’s not that I’m gay”…. He goes on to say that he and a group of two or three girls buy these magazines and share them. The girls ask him “Ma-kun [his name], how about turning gay (homo ni nachaeba?)”, to which he replies “they say such irresponsible things but, basically, if it’s beautiful then either is OK,” a statement which is followed by the character warai, signifying laughter (presumably the speaker is suggesting an ironic stance to his last statement).
Males who read such fiction, he observes, do so in a context which brings them into proximity with women (as in the reading circle described above). These men are exposed to very different constructions of masculinity than those they would find in a reading circle comprised of other men. Moreover, the images of masculinity present in shōnen’ai fiction are obviously attractive to many women, so a man who is sexually attracted to women, may, either consciously or unconsciously, seek to cultivate them.”
Male Homosexuality in Modern Japan: Cultural Myths and Social Realities p.246 Notes [https://books.google.ca/books?id=5SssBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA246&lpg=PA246#v=onepage&q&f=false]
More on the idea of the straight Japanese fudanshi would be more readily available if the Nagaike article was not locked down behind academic paywalls. The Google Books excerpt seems to indicate that the actual study of Fudanshi was done by a japanese aca-fan in 2008-2009. Approximately %20 of the respondents identified as “straight” or “asexual”; which would mean they comprise appx. %2 of all BL readers. Nagaike seems to impose a reading of “herbivore men” on the practice and -to my mind, distressingly – follows up on Dr. Saito Tamaki’s excursion into shota, which she does not differentiate the otokonoko/jousou genre from.
Do Heterosexual Men Dream of Homosexual Men?: BL Fudanshi and Discourse on Male Feminization by Kazumi Nagaike pp. 189-209 IN: Boys Love Manga and Beyond History, Culture, and Community in Japan, edited by Mark McLelland, Kazumi Nagaike, Katsuhiko Suganuma, and James Welker (2015) Citation: https://muse.jhu.edu/books/9781626740662
Excerpt at: https://books.google.ca/books?id=QAIbBwAAQBAJ&lpg=PT235&ots=IEOdW_57SF&dq=Do%20Heterosexual%20Men%20Dream%20of%20Homosexual%20Men%3F%3A%20BL%20Fudanshi%20and%20Discourse%20on%20Male%20Feminization%20by%20Kazumi%20Nagaike&pg=PT235#v=onepage&q&f=false
I would not be surprised if Kio Shimoku has his mitts on the Japanese study.
The rest of us will have to wait until someone translates:
Yoshimoto, Taimatsu. 2008. Fudanshi ni kiku [Talking with fudanshi]. Self-published.http://www.picnic.to/~taimatsu/common/milk/milk_postal_taimatsu.htm.
Note that the 2009 follow-up study lists Tagame Gengoroh as co-author.
Note that for both studies, sample sizes ran to 100-110 respondents. Finally, there is one further avenue for situating a Japanese male in somewhat sympathetic relation to the BL genre, without necessarily positing a fudanshi:
As a Cosplayer: if you cosplay bishies, you are going to be up to your neck in subtext.
As well, the urge to provide a bit of fan-service to female supporters must be extremely strong. As in cross-play, it would be clumsy to impute sexuality to the participants without first-person testimony and survey data.
(3) Perhaps Mada should have just came out and said: “Isn’t it a little early for pillow talk? Sorry lambchop, I don’t put out on the first date… ” But camp impulses aside, not going there was a real good idea. Hato was convinced that Mada saw him as some fantasy, and not as “just a guy”. The only other odd thing that does not fit was Yajima encouraging Hato to bring up HatoMada when Hato met Mada later. I can’t believe that Yajima was calculatingly trying to sabotage the meet. More of an “authenticity” issue I guess. I doubt that Hato needed he permission, but the reminder was there.
(4) Btw; never never mention to a famous American crime reporter in Japan the parallels between the Christian Harrowing of Hell subtext in the Easter story and the Buddhist “Ksitigarbha/Jizō Bosatsu” vow of forgoing Buddha-hood “until the hells are empty“. The tale predates the xtian mythos and is an obvious influence. Maybe it has some other local meaning in his situation – he’s known to be in a long fight with a very persistant troll, but he blocked me on Twitter for mentioning it. Come to think of it he blocked another twitter account of mine last year. What the heck did I do wrong? I give up!
(5) LATER: Another thing that really bugs me. The great harem ending works against the “Helmut” option. Honestly, these two losers need to to be friends more than they need to fumble with each other…
“Friendship is far more tragic than love. It lasts longer.”
— Slavoj Zizek
Well, I have lost you; and I lost you fairly;
In my own way, and with my full consent.
Say what you will, kings in a tumbrel rarely
Went to their deaths more proud than this one went.
Some nights of apprehension and hot weeping
I will confess; but that’s permitted me;
Day dried my eyes; I was not one for keeping
Rubbed in a cage a wing that would be free.
If I had loved you less or played you slyly
I might have held you for a summer more,
But at the cost of words I value highly,
And no such summer as the one before.
Should I outlive this anguish — and men do —
I shall have only good to say of you.
Fatal Interview (Sonnets) – Millay
(chapter 122 raws have arrived)
Much in the way of considerations and updates in the comment section:
Madarame: “I’m sorry. I can’t go out with anyone here, I already have someone I like!
Hato: (removing wig, male voice) “Sempai ???“
Madarame: “Glad you could make it. Your answer?”
Last bit of fic before Chapter 122 hits the shelves.
Mada is even too shy to date Hato-chan.
… Something came up. Go on ahead and I’ll catch up with you later…
“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
“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?
“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:
“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.
“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.
“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.
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!