Upon a stage of sand

A status update of sorts.

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

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

Meanwhile… Diversion Time! 

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

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

Fortunately, Sumo is different.

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

This leads to a few considerations:

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

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

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There goes my sleep schedule.

Here’s a pile of web links:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Damn! It’s 5am!

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To denounce the error of truth and love

Some AU Chapter 122 fan-fiction; because Kio Shimoku can be a real demon of mis-direction when he wants to be. The only thing worse than being a stick-in-the mud, old-school cis het fanboy is being one with a plausible scenario that screws up everybody’s ships.

c 122 If you insist web

The Second President.

“Time to choose. This has gone too far”

Madarame turned to face them all.

I choose Yoshitake Rika-san – but only if she dresses like a boy.
That got your attention, didn’t it?”

“Ok; Not!

“I apologise to everyone. My deepest apologies to Kuchiki-san, whose celebration this trip is supposed to be for. Hold tight, I’m going to fix things for you.”

“My thanks to Yoshitake-san for trying to clear up the Harem, You were right, This could tear the club apart. Seeing what is happening tonight, I fear that it has already started. I must stop that even if it means ‘decide or leave‘.”

“I am the second President of the Genshiken, a club that I loved and am still very proud of. The new membership is different from my time, but in many ways just as exciting and even more productive. I will not be the reason that it breaks into pieces. I resign as harem-lead and circle-king.”

“Thank you Keiko Sasahara-san for your interest in me. You are right; like Saki-san, you stand in the riajuu world and can point out the obvious things that we miss. You are strong and beautiful… but I must consider the future. If we went out and it did not work, how could I ever face Sasahara-san or even Ogiue-san, your brother and your soon-to-be sister-in-law? Even while it worked it would be very uncomfortable. It is way too close; too much like a small village drama.”

Miss Susanna Hopkins. I am comfortable around you and I am very happy that you are now comfortable enough around me to look my way. What would happen if we ruined that?

You are a vital member of the club. I hope to watch you as your skills catch fire and you become a force at Comiket. And yet, neither of us know the slightest thing about real-world romance. The chance of it working is slim and the chance of bitter misunderstanding is high. And then I would never again be able to trade obscure otaku jokes with you.

That I could not bear.

Hato Kenjiro-san. How did we end up here? I tripped over you when we were both drunk and tired. You cooked for me and cleaned up after me when I broke my wrist. We both have a head full of fantasies swirling around us and most of the club looks at us as a pairing. I always said I didn’t mind… but I do mind! I don’t like being thought of as a sou-uke. And I don’t know if I can be a forceful seme either. These fantasies leave no room for me to just be me, a guy.

You gave me Valentines day chocolate and I felt something. Earlier I told you that I was not afraid of trying it, even as you tried to persuade me to give up. Thank you for your objections; If anything they re-doubled my interest. I don’t think I have turned gay and I don’t see you only as a guy or only as a girl. I wanted all of you. I have become greedy.

But you made your point. And we missed two bigger issues. Neither of us have the slightest idea of how to do 3D romance, let alone that we are two guys. I don’t think that is so much of a big deal; unless we try to behave like something in your dojins or in my trap games. That will not work, I guarantee that. And then we will grow to hate each other.

Right now, you are drawing, you can become a dojinshi artist, you might even follow Ogiue as semi-pro or pro. And you are an important member of the club. You said it yourself: If something was to go wrong, we would never speak again. And I fear that even if nothing went wrong, how you fit in with the rest of the club would be forever changed. You say that if I can understand that you have thought of both MadaHato and HatoMada that you will stop running. You have made me think of both of these and all the junk in my head from my trap games too.

And I am not afraid.

But I have also thought of how much effort you have put into becoming a fujoshi. I said I understood that you were a fudanshi. And you said you were a fudanshi. I was wrong and you are wrong. You are not a fudanshi, you have never wanted to be a fudanshi. You are a fujoshi. You are as real a fujoshi as the rest of the women in the Genshiken.

As a fujoshi you fit into the club. As a crossdressing fudanshi with a boyfriend, you de-stabilize the club, you break the magic circle, you destroy all the work you have done, you risk your friendships, you threaten the club. You can call me a coward but I have seen you with your first love. I have heard your true heart beat doki-doki.

I will not stand between it and you.

Had the stars been different, something different might have happened. Even now I hope that I can be your friend. But I am not your sou-uke. I am not your seme. I cannot even be your love. I must be your sempai, the second president of the Genshiken, who served this club and passed it on to Sasahara-san who passed it on to Ohno-san, as she passed it on to Ogiue-san. One day, it might be passed to you.

I will protect what was entrusted to me.

Susana-san, do you recognise the line: “No one will be happy. Everyone will be equally unhappy together”? That is the Japanese way. I will get my bags, catch the late train, get home, start looking for a job and think of moving close to it when I get one. I will see you all at Comiket, and maybe at the University culture fair. Do not disappoint me, become great.

Kuchiki, I return to you your harem fantasy. Don’t break it.

(Much angry grumbling from the group)

I am so full of shit right now that I am going to explode.
That cannot be helped. And I leave the story without a good ending.

I will try one last small hope. I will “look with unclouded eyes” at the one who has been right in front of me all this time.

Angela-san. (Ohno please translate – I must get a smart phone to help translate) I thank you for your earlier suggestion, but I would not care to be shared with you… or to share you. (pause) I think I would want you all for myself. (pause)

I hope that does not disappoint you. (pause) I know you have a wicked sense of humor. I thought that you were just playing with me when you went on about my fingers and stuff, but then you keep travelling all this way to come here. Thousands of miles, so many times! (pause) I know it is fun to visit with Ohno and Sue and the club, but I have been a fool not see anything else. I could be wrong. (pause) …But you were ‘first girl‘. First Girl always wins – if you still want to. (pause)

You are beautiful and scary and powerful and funny and I apologise for all the times that I have run away. I never meant to hurt your feelings. Please forgive me. I must learn from my friend Hato-san. (pause)

It is my turn not to run away any more. (pause)

And long distance does not look so far away any more. (pause)

Also; forgive me for being calculating, but if I am a complete loser and you dump me, It won’t hurt the club. I am new at this, please treat me well. Tell me soon how you feel.

I love you all. Speaking from my true heart and as your sempai and as the Second President of the Genshiken, this is my final decision.

And now I need another drink.”

-30-

 

 

C’mon! You have to admit it WORKS. Uses all extant parameters, dissolves the harem in such a way that everyone saves face, appeals to hierarchy and responsibility getting in the way of true whatever, leaves lots of room for happy fantasies, makes our loser hero so damn noble – he can snap to when put in an executive role – and lets him jump on the grenade heroically.. Only Angela can save his sorry ass if she wants to.

The fear of a runaway-harem-train-crash might be enough to overcome the fear of a sexy blonde gaijin bombshell who thinks he is cute. Pretty easy heroic sacrifice. Twist the other arm. Ooooh you forced me!

Booo Hisss Cheat! Yell the pro-Hato faction. Of course. I admit it.
Just sayin’. That’s why the patriarchy is a rat-bastard. It is always too easy. It owns all the default settings. The game is called Monopoly for a reason.

Doesn’t mean that I don’t think the pro-Hato forces of truth and justice aren’t up for the good fight:

Madarame: Hato, you’re the only one I can be forward with.
Madarame: Whatever’s stopping you from accepting that we could be serious with each other, I’ll help ease your worries.
Madarame: Seriously, don’t think the fact that we’re both guys means that we can’t work out together.
Madarame: Dang yeah, I’ve definitely thought about topping you.
Madarame: Sure man, I get that choosing you means I’ll have to consider role-reversal when it comes to sexy times.
Madarame: (literally in front of every one else, including the girls who are openly vying for his attention) Okay let’s continue our date in private, Hato.

Fuckboys: UHM YEAH, MADAHATO? IT’S JUST NOT REALISTIC. WHEN IS HE GETTING TOGETHER WITH SUE.
– muravie’s Tumblr

And:

“I’ve given up on trying to convince those types. Even if Kio dedicated an entire chapter to Hato and Mada getting it on in graphic detail, they’d still find a way to NO HOMO out of it like “Naw man he tripped and accidentally slipped his penis into Hato and because it was dark he couldn’t tell it was a man he was fucking so totes no homo Sue end when lmao”.”

#their tears are delicious though #they sustain me
-andialex’s tumblr

Even without the deep draughts from the tear bucket, they do make a persuasive set of arguments:

“Without a DOUBT Madarame is way more interested in Hato than any of the others he went on dates with, that’s just utterly blatant. And they’re able to discuss all this so candidly! They’re both trying their best to be totally honest with each other and say how they really feel and what they need and what they want, and it’s all looking just really good and really healthy, you know?

I feel like if they got together, they could have really good communication and that goes such a LONG way in a relationship. They could work out for sure, they really could.

This chapter IS beautiful, oh man. ;_; I love them both.””

-Hatomada’s Tumblr

Point taken. Well pitched. The “Fuckboy” contingent has been letting our end of the argument slip a bit. I fix.

I, or anyone else can write fanfic sequels where Angela told Madarame to go fuck himself, she is nobody’s last choice. Mada leaves, moves away and occasionally pops up again at conventions. (Which begs another question; where are the older Genshiken alumni?)

Or Angela and Madarame walk off into the sunset. Or Hato lends Rika boy clothes and they walk off into the sunset. Or Hato grabs Mada after the speech and sweeps him off his feet in a tango smooch. Or zombies attack just as Madarame is about to reveal who he has chosen.

For a manga about fans who take the stuff they love and make their own stuff to add to the love, there is a serious need for more Genshiken fanficton. Not to be a pest, but Hatozine Vol2 please! I’ll read it. I’ll help. Sorry, I have not enough cred to org it.

Now what do I do with this? I put it up here on this blog of course. Feel free to toss noodles at my ears via the comment section.

What next? I don’t think Kio Shimoku or any of his crew troll obscure English language blogs or English Tumbler space looking for ideas, or to frustrate obvious plot-line speculation by fans. Some time around March 25 we’ll get an idea of how Kio Shimoku wants to play this. If I come close I’ll buy myself a chocolate donut. If he does something else, I’ll look to see if he does it better and try to figure out why he did, what he did.

It’s a hobby.

No, wait. Put on your tin-foil hats and adjust them tight. Get your red and blue pills ready. The big secret that you are not yet ready to understand is that Kio Shimoku sends his minions to read this blog. He’s gonna be sooooooo pissed off that I guessed his solution for chapter 122 that he CHANGES IT. Yuppers! So if you get a nice juicy MadaHatoMada canon ship in chapter 122, it is so because of moi, this post and all my friends at the IATPT. You owe us all big-time. Don’t believe me? You aren’t ready for the TRUTH, Sheeple! Or you suspected it all along, forcing me into revealing it in a purposefully clumsy way as a false flag operation to cover the tracks of the great conspiracy. At least you have no idea yet about the Duck.

And there is no duck.  (1)

Yup, Uhuh!

Or I could just be desperately clinging to old stories. please see:

http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/film/2015/12/what-do-when-youre-not-hero-any-more

(You may have to reload a few times or turn off javascript to get around the effing sign-up pop-over.)

Thing is, I’m trying to get around all this. Maybe I just want ALL the alternatives. Mada walks away in disgust with everyone. And Mada walks off into the sunset with Angela or with Keiko or with Sue or with all of the girls or with all the girls plus Hato, as boy, as girl, as boy-girl. And Mada walks off with Hato and then…

No one said the modernist subject has to be a hysterically unified ego-structure. Duh; Joyce, Elliot, blah blah blah. We were fucked the minute they invented the movie camera. Read The Wasteland as screenplay, yadda yadda yadda. How sophomoric of me to mention this.

Does the way the walking off is done have to salve something in the way I want the forms of the symbolic order to play out?

Do the characters have to start acting brutally honest with each other and themselves? Is that just a fallback? Will I put up with some gay-lite if they act honorably and honest? What if Hato is being devious and Madarame is a poor little deluded lamb? What if Madarame is going to turn evil and exploit poor lovestruck Hato? Can they be equally deluded and make funny mistakes over and over and over again? An idiot guys’ guide to fakee gay relationship fun via BL tropes. Try this and fail! Hijinks Ensue. Ok Lets try the idiot guys’ guide to a fakee pervy-queer relationship fun via Josou game tropes. Even funnier fail. Haw haw Haw. Serves you all right.. Should have stuck to cis / het behaviour.

Don’t laugh too hard. In my youth I watched a horribly stupid and somewhat emotionally damaged young couple try to learn how to do “normal” romance by watching 1970’s soap operas. The results were ridiculous but probably better than their earlier attempt to figure out true love using massive amounts of recreational hallucinogens.

Or Mada and Hato walk off into the sunset and slowly figure it all out, with kittens and long walks in the park and finally after many many a chapter, in a special comiket-only 18+ dojin by “some other mangaka“, (special low comiket-only price Y1,000) the happy couple engage in a marathon of yaoi schmex acrobatics to consummate their union then hold each other tightly, talk of their futures together and profess true, unending love, forever, yawn and yawn ever, as Mary Jeanne Johnson once suggested; like happy, married, middle-aged lesbians. Of course she then added: “real gay guys don’t do that”. But what does she know? MJJ blogged before cialis, perhaps even before poppers. Heck, even before Shoujo Sect.

But hey… They could also turn into 70 meter tall kaiju and wreck Tokyo. (Bad fanboy in denial, Bad!)

HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! Chapter 122 will be an extended plug-piece for the new Genshiken Eroge Visual Novel! Yes, you can get all the endings! If you clear all the routes, you get naughty bonus stuff too!

(I just collapsed in a pile of fannish steam out of my ears or something!)

Probably not. Dream on. Some folks will be disappointed.

I could, at this point bring in a few poignant essays from writers, with female and/ or non euro-ethnic and/ or not-straight and/ or not-cis identities about the shit of trying to get through the academic maze and/ or the publishing industry with that old white guy at the gates (gates also staffed by unpaid rich white girl interns) and in their heads, but shit…

The idea that anyone is going to give anyone else a juicy $150K tenured job for life at a university teaching other rich folk’s kids the magic of writing is soon going to vanish down the toilet of the “sharing economy” aka the new serfdom. And fanfiction will displace official fiction as they merge into each other on Amazon. Then Bots will get better at writing and all of us can go home. Gresham’s Law. Freedom of the press means freedom to own one and crank it yourself, and you are reading this hideous mess on yours. Ps: it is also your own personal music and movie studio. Enjoy, please don’t overload the interwebs.

Meanwhile, I get more new content then I can possibly even read at the cost of all my time and a $30/month DSL charge. Let’s so not go into the failing economics of creative production and distribution. It will all soon go belly up and if we want more Genshiken, we will have to make the trip to see Kio Shimoku perform the latest chapter of Genshiken as Rakugo; live with subtitles up on a screen. But we have to all strip and change into yukata first, so we don’t cam the show and bootleg it up onto the web.

Guess I should start running ads on this blog.
Nawwwwwww. Not yet, Feels like work.

Serves Kio Shimoku right for opening the Pandora’s Götterdämmerung of fan-fiction and secondary production in an age when the traditional male gaze diffuses under the pressures of new economic realities, distribution methods and electronically aided production. He will weave tales that take us through the long night ahead. When he falls silent, others will take up the storytelling.

At least none of his characters pirate their manga and anime. No one in Japanese manga or anime ever pirates their fave stuff. They never even go to Book Off for used copies in great shape, for Y100.

Dog most assuredly is not barking.

Let ten thousand flowers bloom.

25 more days.

Ps: the Ogiue Maniax write-up for chapter 121 is up:
http://ogiuemaniax.com/2016/02/26/nayami-heat-genshiken-ii-chapter-121/

 

 

(1)  Later: I just want to make it perfectly clear that the “red-pill” section above is a pure “down-the-rabbit-hole” bat-shit whooohaah attempt at conspiracy humor. You know like that meta-joke Stargate episode… or sumthin’..  What with current US politix, I thought it timely. I haven’t quite lost it… yet. Occasionally over-enthusiastic, guilty as charged. Also, I have nothing against HataMadaHato ships. I think they are cute. I’m not picking on Hato. Just wanted to point out the obvious biases in the structure.  However, I have been reminded that some folks don’t share my sense of the absurd and others find me a bit hard to follow, so I just thought I better… Oh heck, screw it… 

A month later, after the mess that is chapter 122: 
Well this reads like suck in the light of chapter 122. That was not a resolution. That was not a serious response, to anyone and from anyone. I am ashamed of this post but I will leave it up. There is still a lot of Hato, especially in female presenting, full-metal-fujoshier-than-thou mode that is deeply troublesome but during the trip, Hato was locked in her like a straightjacket. She could not break character, lest she lose everything. Besides, the Genshiken is about fans and geek and Hato’s fanning is as legitimate as anyone elses. But that also means Hato should have the right to dial it back if needed.

And Mada… Mada was pursuing, Mada almost went through with it. Only the thought of having to be the lead in a Genshiken no-privacy-ever dojinshi collapsed his resolve. His responses to the others were perfunctory. The response to Hato-as-chan was an invite to pretend it was all a rotten fantasy and damn everything. And so they did. In too many ways, far more insulting than “and then they woke up and it was all a dream”. An honest confession demand an honest response. None was given.

The club did not help, it hindered. Yoshitake was allowed to run her setup. I wonder if she now smiles her work to see. She always assumed that Hato was gay and Madarame would run. I don’t think Madarame suddenly has eyes for guys in general but he felt something real for Hato. He should have been allowed to. Was he “fooled”? Perhaps some of the melodramatics from Hato pushed buttons, but who the fuck was there for Mada when he was stuck at home with a dead wrist? Was that all delusion? Even Hato’s fannish enthusiasms are shat upon. At least I tried in my stupid thing above to value them. How can they even ever face each other again?

We didn’t hear enough from Hato in male mode.We never found out what the two talked about when they continued their “date”. Ogiue was ineffective. Ohno was out of range – no fairy godmother help this time. Sue folded like a house of cards. The entire club was drunked up and then scared shitless of what they had done. This fails the Genshiken, fails the general readers, fails the readers who cheered for a gender-diffuse, non-binary, trying to figure it our Hato (Kio, that is really is low), Fails the stick in the mud middle-aged guy readers who were trying to get their thinking past the angry ghosts of earlier times and even fails the rabid fuckboys who could have lost a bit of the fear that hides behind their snark. It fails as comedy, it fails as tragedy, it fails as slice of life. Fail fail fail.

Damn you Kio, you shat in our cornflakes. Repent!

 

Speak like a child

It’s that time of the year again!

.
Nothing quite sets the mood for the holidays like a a bit of Scrooge and his 3 ghosts. While I have given up on my conceit that Kio Shimoku should just drop everything and do a Hato- is- visited- by- his- 3- stands (or two stands plus “Where should I go?” guy), I still appreciate an innovative retelling of a classic, especially if it can serve as an excuse to forgo the original.

And since I am Canadian, I might as well hold out for an anime-esgue retelling of Forsyth’s The Shepherd, done by studio SHAFT and the Bakemonogatari team:

dawn

“He held station alongside me for a few seconds, down moon of me, half invisible, then banked gently to the left. I followed, keeping formation with him, for he was obviously the shepherd sent up to bring me down, and he had the compass and the radio, not I…”

I need more silly stories to displace the previous silly stories that got stuck in my wetware.

The blame for A Klingon Christmas Story and the whole Klingon language thing that turned STTOS Klingons from cold-war artifacts into flawed yet noble alien-furreign “others” can be laid at the feet of the scriptwriters and fans (and fan scriptwriters) who took the sneaky, duplicitous evil commie Russian/ Chinese enemy late cold-war stand-ins of the 1960’s (the Romulans were “good” German WWII submarine captains) and turned them into Japanese Cat Samurai in the manner of Larry Niven’s Kzinti. The present-day appeal of cosplay Klingon is obvious from the theater clip: you get to be loud, speak in short, harsh, spat out syllables and posture heroically. A Klingon warrior does everything loud and heroically – except when they are heroically trying to control themselves and remain silent, for a few moments, before exploding in a loud and heroic manner.

“It is not a victory unless you say `Jumanji´.” – Slavoj Žižek

There are more reasons to create imagined others and stories for them then there are readers and viewers to consume them, so perhaps it is a fool’s errand to try to hunt down some of the tastier similarities and make wild guesses about them.

“It’s the slightly late brain-eating fungus from beyond the colours of time that gets the Doritos!” – Slavoj Žižek

While trolling around Academia.edu I saw a paper listed by James Welker, I like his writings, so when I found that the actual essay had yet to be uploaded, I emailed him a request for it and found out that it was developed for a conference talk and was not available, but that a related essay on the manga Yuri Danshi (aka Yuri Boys), in Japanese and part of a current special edition on Yuri as a genre by the Japanese pop culture magazine Eureka.would soon pop up.

Those of you who follow such things might remember what Eureka did back in 2006 with fujoshi and their fiction. Short answer: No Eureka yaoi issue, no Genshiken Nidaime as we know it. I wonder if they did an issue on popular misrepresentations of the “trans*” spectrum? They do seem to have the gift of grabbing fringe enthusiasms and dragging them out into the light of pop culture critique and commerce.

I was a bit surprised when James Welker wrote back to fill me in on the above details and to add that the latter work would eventually show up on Erica-sensei’s great yuricon project/ web domain, as part of a translation of the entire issue, along with the section by Erica Friedman herself.

Dec 2014 issue of Eureka, Japan

So Yuri about to try for another breakout in Japan, neh?

This prompted a rabbit hunt for a look-see at Yuri Danshi, the manga. First stop; the Okazu review. Executive summary: odd premise, creepy male gaze. Doesn’t seem to function as intended. Further blog reviews; file under the Ring-tailed Roarer heading: Apparently it parades BL style cartoon bishies around while they act like male flip-side versions of rotten girls and try to ship any and all females who come into their view.. 4Chan /u -style LFB yuri goggles… In a Japanese high school.

Time for a drinking game where all sentences have to have the phrase “In a Japanese High School” appended to them.

yuri-danshi

It seems that the Yuri Danshi manga wanted to both swim and fly, so it grew scales and feathers and thereafter found that it could do neither.

Further digging turned up four volumes of raws and the listing of the series on the “dropped projects” pile of a major scanlation group. Also a bit of title disambiguation: Yuri Danshi is also the name of a photo-book of Japanese otokonoko / otomeyaku cross-dressing guys who dress up as Japanese school girls and pose with longing glances at each other.

The other yuri danshi

.. In a Japanese high school.

You see they look like Japanese pop culture style faux schoolgirls doing the yuri titillation thing, but they are really….

.. In a Japanese high school.

Which is a quick and messy way of summarizing the complaint and the project of people who want to see real (istic) lesbian experiences reflected in their lesbian characters and what they are striving to change. Past Yuri was for the most part always a bunch of guys making up the whole “lesbian” thing for their (our) own prurient (and / or other) reasons. Kinda like the boys in drag from the other Yuri Danshi. Real women who happened to like other real women felt a bit left out, if not righteously cheesed off at some of the distortions that crept into the stories. Undoubtedly it was and remains complicated. I am sure some Japanese people find Belushi’s Samurai Deli skit a hoot.

Unlike the rotten girl tribes of Japan and their Euro-ethnic slash cousins, male heterosexual enthusiasts of hawt rezbian pwp pr0n have yet to adopt apologetic tones along the lines of the “these characters are in no way meant to depict real… and exist only for our own sadly rotten tastes and enthusiasms” warnings that preface so many slash/ BL/ yaoi fan archives. Dominant cultures seldom apologize for their excesses; we just kind of kick the embarrassing old stuff to the curb and make pleasant noises about the new, more sensitive and inclusive (and curiously hawt in its more truthy-ness -ness) stuff.

hideaki-kobayashi-japan-cosplay-old-guy-sailor-school-uniform-3

“To know your Asian girlfriend, you must become your Asian girlfriend.” -Slavoj Žižek, apres Sun-Tzu

And there are always reasons beyond the solitary vice why such exercises continue to hold such appeal. Why on earth is Kio Shimoku investigating “the problems of creativeness” (Google it; it is the title of an acerbic short sci-fi tale) as the “The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Male Crossdressing BL Mangaka” ???

Gimme a bit more time, I’m still working on it…

Why did the author of the light novel series and the SHAFT crew behind the Bakemonogatari franchise feel the need to invent a young athletic monkey-arm-cursed female character who calls herself a lesbian and have her do an exorcism in her own (and IMHO far superior to the gormless male hero’s previous efforts) way? And then drape the story in cheesy Yuri visual motifs and title it apres the signature s-class tale of f/f love and friendship from 1920’s Japan?

.. In a Japanese high school.

One idea presents itself: the Bakemonogatari crew (who I bet are mostly or all male) heard of, or intuited something like Erica -sensei’s rules for commendable female protagonists. She has to have agency, but not be a guy hero in a female skin. Creating an athletic young woman who just happens to desire other women (but has a not-unheard of over-the-top taste for yaoi tales) sets her character apart from the other in-harem female characters and makes her style of direct agency more believable within the context of the tale. Besides, she was too much of a good character to waste after she had given up on beating the crap out of Araragi-kun because she was jealous of his relationship with her longtime crush Senjōgahara.

“Have you ever heard a quote that you were so sure was real? What if the first time you’d heard of that person was from that fake quote? How could you tell the fake quotes from the real quotes?”
– Slavoj Žižek

.. In a Japanese high school.

The simple mechanics of storytelling sometimes conspire with an odd conceit to create inadvertent feast for the theory hungry.

Why did the author of a relentlessly smutty old-school yuri girls’ school ecchi manga go out of his way to drop little bits of characterization, high romantic melodrama, Japanese isolationist feminist literature references and an over-the-top jealous, manipulative, possessive “bad lesbian” character (who ruins the idyllic everything- can- be- resolved- by- screwing- everybody- immediately “wa” and gets whacked with a fire extinguisher for her misbehaviour) into his otherwise simple smut-fest ??

.. In a Japanese high school.

“Do not try to re-write the blog. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.”
“What truth?”
“There is no blog.”
“There is no blog?”
“Then you’ll see that it is not the blog that you re-write, it is only yourself.” – Slavoj Žižek

.. In a Japanese high school.

Aside from a welcome antidote to romantic tales of youthful longing that take virtual angst-filled years and years for the main characters to even hold hands, a certain “sect” had the virtue of getting right to the naughty bits, followed by more naughty bits (did I mention the naughty bits?). But the characters are in no way “lesbians” or even female.. The only way to explain them as a coherent whole is to posit them as a male yuri enthusiast’s recasting of BL /yaoi character tropes into female skins, minus overt seme and uke trope clutter. Ken Kurogane’s signature work is a reworked BL grinder, written for guys.

“Did I mention we’re all going to Hell in big Chinese ovens?”
– Sylvia Plath

.. In a Japanese high school.

And of course there is the elephant in the room; the odd habit of so many women to make up faux-male- homosexual characters that can play out a form of -ahem- romance, along with plenty of incomprehensibly wrong naughty stuff and never-will-issue-forth-from-the-mouths-of-actual-males romantic blather.

Oh shit you read that stuff!

I just love the idea that they exist and have figured out how to ruthlessly pursue what turns their cranks.

Heck, their characters in their most advanced Japanese form of the genre disavow “official” male homosexuality, instead insisting that only mad desire for that one and only other dude has driven their characters to pine for male-ish intimacy. Here is a weird bit of cross-cultural compare and contrast: the Japanese rotten girl will adhere to the “only you” trope, while at least some of the Euroethnic slash-fen tribes will engage in endless speculation as to whether one of both of their pairing is “Bi“.

Huh? So the Archangel Gabriel is a robot cat toaster from the future that poops bus tokens. Whatever…

“I consume human soul-energy for a living, okay? It’s my job. Just shut up and let me do my job.” – Slavoj Žižek

Why do we humans go through all the bother of making up such messy and elaborate campfire stories?

“Tell me, Mr Anderson, what good is a phone call…if you are unable to speak.”
-Slavoj Žižek

I am going to add one more neato layer to the confusion surrounding the whole puppet show of odd gendered presentation in contemporary Japanese visual culture and ask about the nuances of dialogue that we, as outlanders could spend years trying to grasp, by means of this most excellent paper I stumbled across recently:

Insight into Masculinity of the Yakuza from Linguistic Discourse Analysis [https://www.academia.edu/9828558/Insight_into_Masculinity_of_the_Yakuza_from_Linguistic_Discourse_Analysis] by Hidefusa Okabe.

So, as proper leaching outlanders who read scanlated manga and watch fansubbed anime, we all appreciate the little touches like the honorifics, the ores and bokus, chans and kuns, even the margin notes that denote a switch to respect language/ formal language and/or the lapse into a regional accent/ Osaka-ben, etc., But after reading this it becomes painfully obvious how much we are missing.

A bit later: Wow, this area seems to be flavor of the month, if not the year. I caught a reference to a new Japanese publication in Neojaponisme’s year end review [http://neojaponisme.com/2014/12/29/the-year-2014-in-japan/#comment-69204] and hunted down a link for “Role Language – A small Dictionary” [ http://translate.google.ca/translate?hl=en&sl=ja&u=http://yobanashi.seesaa.net/&prev=search ] which is apparently full of current and past pop culture exaggerated uses of the same for effect. Then there is the elusive “Modern Japanese “Role Language” (Yakuwarigo): fictionalised orality in Japanese literature” by Mihoko Teshigawara and Satoshi Kinsui of the aforementioned “small dictionary” ( short bio info here, buy the damn thing (boo hiss!) here) Here is a quick example of the use of, in a paper on Samurai Champloo [http://eaglefeather.honors.unt.edu/2014/article/306#.VKGJ-M4Bg]. 

Since we were looking at visual culture artifacts, we were paying attention to the pretty drawings, neh? Well now the cat’s outta the bag and armed with handy dictionaries and lots of useful research, we shoud probably be paying more attention to “arch” manga and anime dialogue.

I wonder how much of the “drag” that takes place in the construction of yaoi bishies and yuri girls has to do with the modes of speech/ vocabulary and dialogue that are reserved to that mode of gender-ed presentation in Japan and /or how these codes are violated for effect by the characters, for the fun and longing of their authors?

Write BL fanfiction and you get speak of love like a Yakuza tough reciting Sapphic poetry fragments.

... In a Japanese high school.

Looks like fujoshi are not just getting all squee on the parade of cartoon pretty boys and hunks and not just having fun by getting them all tangled up in “the human body can’t do that !!!” throws of passion, but also having the fun of having their puppets speak high romantic melodramatic declarations of mad desire at each other in tough-guy modes of speech that are nominally out of place for their creators..

I begin to understand how medieval Europe got its myths of chivalry, even as I lament my inability to get even the most rudimentary conversational Japanese into my brain-box.

“It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere. I tried bolt-cutters for a while, but I kept straining my arms, so I went back to the hacksaw. And why do they keep chaining themselves up like that, anyway? Is that some weird sexual thing?” – Slavoj Zizek

It all gets really, really crunchy and tasty when we start hunting for excuses or reasons for the existence of narratives that make a fetish out of innovative “imagined others”. All of our “others” (..and our “selves” for that matter) are imagined constructs in any case, so why not eschew realism and create a bestiary of space aliens, villainous furreigners, sexpot objects of desire, powerful (though endearingly flawed) heroes, gods, demons, sidekicks, schoolgirls (and/ or school boys) vampires, otomeyaku, loli-complex afflicted bad priests, miniskirted nuns, mercenary orphans who pilot giant robots to save girls who dream of weapons from the future, flying monkeys, loaves of bread that are superheroes…

Oh crap I give up – please add your own.

Why bother with the May Sue Overdrive? Are we all stuck with a taste to occasionally revisit our long forgotten imaginary friends and transitional objects? Did the wiring get shorted out and enough of us “need’ our phantasy constructs to jump-start our mundane IRL desires? Isn’t this the sign of some terrible out-of-eden “fall” that we supplant fantasy for real intimacy with a real person, or are we just hunting “lurv secrets” so that we can amaze, amuse and annoy our IRL partners (when and if we have any)?

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all killers are punished, unless of course they do it in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. By the way, it is also forbidden to have sex with farm animals.” – Voltaire in conversation with Oscar Wilde (and Slavoj Zizek)

Perhaps because the long history of human fantasy has been until recently exclusively devoted toward far bloodier ends:

When W. B. Yeats wrote:

“We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare;
More substance in our enmities
Than in our love…”

…He was watching as his small patch of Irish soil was doing the local road show of “The Rites of Spring“. Like mass culture’s insane overload of pretty pictures, pleasant music and even pretty colors, the profusion of narrative available to the average citizen of 2014 CE earth dwarfs what was available to even the richest and most powerful of the past. We just have more. It makes us a bit odd. (so sez Dr. Tamaki, Toffler and John Brunner, so it’s gotta be right, neh?) 

Chill out and learn to hack the spew.

“You have a problem with authority, Mr. Anderson. You believe
that you are special, that somehow the rules do not apply to
you. Obviously you are mistaken.” – Slavoj Žižek

.
A quick glance at the news feeds reveals that we are all still enthralled with our conventional, accepted, real-life fantasies and that they still make the best excuses for mayhem, torture, neglect, oppression and murder. How else can we explain Dick Cheney? Isis? The Tea Party? Shintaro Ishihara?

“What does not kill you will hurt a lot.” – Slavoj Žižek

.. In a Japanese high school.

So three cheers for escapist reading material, Mary Sues, robot cats from the future, Hato, Madarame and Ogiue, Shinobu Handa and Shinobu Oshino Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade and Kanbaru Suruga, even cartoon rainbow-colored ponies and all the other odd and oddly gender-ed characters invented and/or admired by Alfred Prufrock and his brothers and sisters whenever the pressure at the office gets to be a real effing drag.

Gambatte Kudesai !!!

“I advise you to go on living, solely to enrage those who are paying your salary. ” – Slavoj Žižek

.. In a Japanese high school.

The best of the holiday season to everyone, and I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Adjust your effervescent lifestyle freshness!

This all may have been said before but there is a serious problem with Cool Japan, and it is threatening my daily fix of neato contemporary Japanese culture.

http://globalitemagazine.com/2012/12/10/cool-japan-why-japan-losing-its-cool-might-be-a-cool-thing/

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2012/1208/Is-Japan-losing-its-cool

Looks like a bad case of DENTSU-itis.
Tessier-Ashpool-bs To put it simply; any Japanese government cultural promotion initiative will be used as an excuse for one group of rich, well-connected old dinosaur pols to give billions of yen to another group of rich, well-connected old dinosaur ex-pols and fixers.

I may be mistaken here…

I am sure that the wizards at DENTSU (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dentsu) know their stuff when it comes to pitching the newest bright and shiny thing at the Japanese consumer. They have been doing it for decades, and they are held in almost god-like reverence for their abilities. So much so that having them as your ad agency of record conveys a mark of respectability and prestige upon whoever and whatever they get involved with. You can’t build a cathedral in medieval Europe without the Church, and you cannot run a succesful product launch in modern Japan without their imprimatur. Just look for them in the credits of your newest fave anime. If it has ambitions, they are there.

It may even have been made by one of their affiliates. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/company.php?id=249

Also: http://www.economist.com/node/21559369

and http://japanvisitor.blogspot.ca/2012/11/dentsu-and-goddesses-of-peace.html

Behold an award winning Densu campaign:

 …And folks won’t see that you are a fanged yankee girl vampire from Osaka

Dentsu doesn’t have to “go all in on Woo-woo“. Woo-woo goes all out for them.

Or to put it a different way:

“”Dentsu’s monopoly is based on access to celebrity, not media. This works because in Japan it is aesthetic novelty, rather than hit-you-on-head ideas, that will always win out when building brands, and celebrity is the easiest way to auction novelty to the highest bidder.”” http://jameshollow.com/blog/japanese-advertising-industry-nutshell/

Except when the product is a bit odd: You cannot wreck your J-pop idol’s rep by having her pitch weird otaku crap. Besides only the hard-corest of western geeks would recognise her in any case.

I am a bad person.

I read manga on grey-zone aggregator sites. Sometimes I go to scanlator sites, but mostly I read from scummy make-cash-off-the-backs-of-scanlating-volunteers sites because they have a lot of content, and I can also shut off cookies, java-script, go to “mobile” mode and get low-res versions of my fave fix that load really really fast on my third-world internet connection. And the annoying gehhhh(!) -taste scam ads magically vanish.

My karma feels a bit dirty. Sometimes I go to Amazon.jp.co and guiltily buy something I cannot understand to ensure that the mangaka gets a few yen. Not often, sometimes.

In a perfect world, I would be reading the stuff on a “Cool Japan” site set up as a non-profit collaboration between Jp publishers that would not lock up my pathetic old pc with 19 layers of flash, and would also be serving me Jp tourism, culture, fashion and otaku crap ads; perhaps even Rakutan/ Amazon.jp sales links – with suppliers who ship to the gaijin out-lands. My hideous furreigner credit cards and Paypal account would work! Content on the site could be set up so as to allow quasi-wiki style translation corrections (niconico comment style?)

And it would make my breath smell minty fresh.

Such a site would not worry about content getting filched, because all content will always get filched anyway – so it wouldn’t take 2 hours to load each page. Instead it would just be happy to have the most, best , newest and richest content. With some savvy ad curation, no one would turn off the ads because the ads would be way kewl.

Oh, and the mangaka would get some coin from this.

Even if the content was back-stock and/or web-toon B-grade fodder, it would still be interesting.

OH SNAP! I have re-invented NAVER: pity that manwha barely clicks for me…

This kind of blue-sky rant is symptomatic of a greater paradox in Japanese (and to a growing extent global) culture: the really interesting stuff gets made in spite of, not with the help of any type of “official” encouragement.

“”Better yet, a debate is needed within Japan to improve Japanese culture on the whole, meaning: more power to women, youth, minorities and artists; less groveling to loan sharks, Keidanren, and mandarins. But any attempt to question the tenets of Japanese culture is likely to draw accusations of racism or Japan bashing. Issues about how to heal the sickness in the heart of the culture — stress, alcoholism, suicide — aren’t likely to come up during the two-week election campaign about the TPP and NPPs.”” Christopher Johnson

The problem is not unique to Japan. The usual naive answer to this kind of complaint is the admonition to give money directly to the artists. That might work, but I suspect it would be impossible in Japan, and the “artists” would never see a yen of it.

So here is my stupid suggestion:

Give tiny tax deductions to the Genshiken(s)…

…and to the organizing committees of local merchant association festivals, ecology enthusiasts, anti-nuke advocates, “recycle” promoters, maker-geeks, Pride parades, Yabusame and re-enactor maniacs, Neet/ freeter/ homeless rights groups, multicultural committees, fringe music festivals, amateur theatre groups, car rallies and the entire oddball circus of cultural detritus that we euroethnic types take for granted on our weekends.

Or to put it in polite politico-socio-economic policy terms: support local and regional grass-roots organizations with limited tax benefits targeted towards projects and bare-bones operating expenses.

Spend your government money as diffuse tax expenditures rather than lump-sum payola.

…Now, the utter inanity of venturing free advice on Japanese tax policy, in English, on a blog about manga, from Canada is obvious. In fact it is standing behind me in the form of a 600kg troll with a severe case of body odor and really bad breath. He is laughing quietly at me, right at this moment…  “Bakka gaijin! Fu! ufu! ufu!”  he whispers in breathy basso tones… I blame Matt Thorn for whistling him into existence and setting him on all of fools who have “ideas” and want to complain and give free advice to Japanese folks and institutions, in English, from blogs on anime and manga, written in…  And I know Matt Thorn is right about this. I could stop now and he would vanish..  Nervertheless…

Becoming a non-profit agency in Japan is not too difficult. Getting charitable status, which allows one to receive tax-deductible donations is well-nigh impossible. http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/yen-for-living/tax-deductions-and-the-myth-of-the-no-donation-culture/

Despite this, local grass-roots Japanese culture flourishes because small voluntary groups, with the support of local businesses and individuals come together year after year and put on events. For the gaijin manga/ game/ anime fan, the most famous of these is the Comic Market, or comike/comiket.

You cannot make a tax-deductible donation to Comiket.

Its organizational structure is a bit byzantine. Even though it is supported/ sustained by a non-profit organization that keeps it from disintegrating between conventions, supporters keep them going without any expectation of a tax write-off. Comiket gets by with oodles of volunteers and a few fundraising side-ventures – finding a home for overstock dojins and printing the massive convention catalogues.

All those fun local matsuri and festivals? Arranged and supported through local business groups, ad-hoc do- gooder  committees, shrines and temples. Zero tax expenditure for the central government. Perhaps some free office space from local governments, but don’t hold your breath.

Contemporary Japanese social realities work against changing this. Those that already do anything of note do so without help; so why should the taxpayer fund loser dogs? Any change would also risk giving tax money to yakuza, cults, right-wing crazies, pyramid scammers, wacky fringe political parties and North Korean sympathizers.

In the end, it is easier to give a train-load of cash to the conservative old-boy network of ad agencies and golden parachute study groups and let them run a telephone poll and a few expensive celebrity commercials. Stability is guaranteed; effectiveness occurs only as a happy accident.

That the Japanese consumer will make polite, outward noises of approval – for at least the first two days – out of a sense of cultural solidarity and good manners is part of the symptom and not evidence of any economic recovery. The captain on the B-Ark doesn’t have to do much.

“Unless of course,” he said softly, “they were eaten by the goat …”

I know this sounds like Euroethnic old-boy making easy blanket prescriptions for things he doesn’t understand, but can it be that hard to try it? Give a few yen to stuff that already works, so that it doesn’t die.

You could probably get a bunch of grad students together and design a new class of micro-charitable organizations in one semester. Something that could issue capped charitable donations for several limited classes of “cultural events”. Restrictions could be placed on office rent, salaries, administrative expenses, contracted services, etc. to make sure the cash goes to the festival and not into some scumbag’s pocket.

The size and number of donations that could be issued per year could be limited. Audits, boards, general elections, transparency, peer review, yadda yadda yadda could keep the system clean. Plenty of fine bureaucrat jobs there too. Someone from head office has to go to the matsuri to make sure it hasn’t turned into a fiasco. Japan has accountants. Time to use them for goodness instead of boringness – or at least use the boringness for goodness.

Ill become an accountant_v026 The trick would be to design the program so that you get a slew of new teeny tiny local events and relatively few scams. It could be messy, at least at first. One could be unfair and require a one or two year unfunded track record prior to approval, affiliation with a “responsible” organization, and all manner of other nudge nudge wink wink to keep the boat from rocking during too much during the shakeout phase.

The aim of the program would be to give a tiny leg up to all the grass-roots enthusiast events that already take place all over Japan, and that are under strain from a lousy economy, ageing population and a mounting general feeling of irrelevance and despair.

If the “Deep State” really wants to co-opt the freak fringe, nothing co-ops better than a 47 page annual charitable status/ grant report requiring audited financial statements and power-point presentations of last year’s activities, along with a three year membership-derived statement of goals and projected future deliverables. Great practice for the real world – even for University manga club members.

All across Japan, hundreds of thousands of young (and young at heart) enthusiasts struggle every year to put on shoestring events with popcorn budgets that do not even allow them to rent a storage locker to stash tables and tents from previous year’s events.

Similar simple problems with basic enabling infrastructure; a place to meet, funds for local licenses and event permits/ insurance, hall rentals and the like make each and every one of their events an epic labor of love. Their burdens could be eased a bit.

 Near Kamakura, a yearly event with movies, Dj’s and skateboards – completely grass roots and local!

This would go a long way to ensure that a future Cool Japan initiatives have something to pitch, besides a few token high fashion reinterpretations of Harajuku street fashion from 4 years ago and Hello Kitty.

It all might break down if your matsuri is full of risqué cosplay, dojins featuring tentacle pron, loli smut, hard yaoi and lewd josou games. Then again, Flash Art grade international high church art can sometimes feature imagery that would make a hentai mangaka vomit. Gummint and big business attention might be the last thing the organizers want. Would the copyright holders step in and shut down %85 of a cosplay event? Would the massive and much feared Oricon cabal usurp all the live music festivals and fill them with processed cheese bands?

And what the heck am I thinking, making sweeping pronouncements about what the Japanese people and their government should do with their tax code? In a manga und oddball theory blog, no less? Who in the name of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is going to read this and care a whit? Silly Rabbit! Do you actually think that anyone from Japan reads this thing? And yet…

You cannot make a tax-deductible donation to Comiket. (!!!)

A lousy tax deduction for Japanese people to support what they love and what already does so much for them: I know they already support it and will continue to do so without such official encouragement; still the absence of even the modest incentive and acknowledgement of the importance of a wider civil society saddens me.

It is not like I am sitting on my isolated little furreigner mountaintop and yelling that the entire Japanese gummint should scrap their tax code and budgeting process in favour of a Jack Halderman experiement. It’s just that…

You cannot make a tax-deductible donation to Comiket. (I stop noaw…)

I doubt that Comiket would directly take Deep State coin, but you still could do a few neat things with such a system. While the main benefits would be an encouragement of local grass-roots Japanese culture for the japanese consumer/ fan, there would eventually be marketable foreign-interest spinoffs.

I am reading my latest fun find on manga.jp.org. I have the language selection toggled to English, but I note that French, Spanish and German scripts are also available. Or I can toggle back to Japanese, which changes the “flag translation” window entry section below the screen. As I am neither practicing my Japanese or my English I generally don’t visit here often, I can flag a real clunky bit of dialogue from the English page.

I have signed up for a basic membership so I can vote some of my monthly membership credits to a mangaka whose product I really really like. One of the publishers or advertisers on the site will then contribute a few yen to a non-profit charity affiliated with Comiket that will make a grant towards the dojin publishing expenses or/or table fee for that mangaka, so that they can show up with their circle and commune with their fans. The supporting Japanese company gets a tax credit, up to certain limits. Or the contribution can go towards a travel fund so that the mangaka can do a book/ convention tour at a regional Japanese convention or even in far-off lands. My leecher-guilt is soothed, even as I worry that perhaps the sponsors are gaming the voting system. At least the mangakas all get a ridiculously low basic residual rate for having their works up on the site.

I can buy more credits through a premium membership or earn them through fannish participation and site grunt work. I wish I could translate, but reviews earn me a few credits as well, as long as they are judged useful and I don’t rile the moderators by trying to snooker the system.

While reading, I am occasionally tempted by ad links for related products on Rakutan, and notice that since I am reading a manga that supposedly takes place near Kamakura, that there is a link to tourism site promoting upcoming Kamakura events: a Rockabilly festival and two traditional matsuri taking place in the area in the next few months. Perhaps I should click-through to see what the January schedule holds? At least I am not reading Shoujo manga. If I did that I would be deluged with sugary fashion ads. If I want ultra girly kawaii hyno-swirl contact lenses (Halloween approacheth) I at least know that the supplier will probably take my Paypal or credit card and ship to me as long as I am not in a “difficult” location.

Wow, there’s a hot-spring tour package that can accommodate my strange alien nekkidness and possibly one or two discrete tats (Tattooed barbarian days are Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the summer). And lookie: the mystery grab-bag of used yukata; fabric re-use grade, two kilos shipped sea-mail (slow, no tracking) for $30! I always get that ad when I am reading Gintama, along with the cheesy wooden sword ads…

A silly fantasy: Japanese retailers find foreign buyers incomprehensible and would never waste time marketing to them. Until they find that they can make a decent profit from the exercise.

Or until the Koreans and or the Chinese show them how it can be done.

Unbiased God: Genshiken ch 93 + 94

“Slash is usually written by straight women, yes, and I think it appeals to straight women in the same way lesbian sequences in commercial pornography appeal to straight men. I always say that if gay men and women didn’t exist, straight men and women would have had to invent us.”
– Samuel R Delany

The tone of the Genshiken has shifted a bit since the Nidiame anime ended. Once again, it has gone into full Hato-focused-mode, with the fallout from his (less occasionally now her) yaoi-inspired man-crush on Madarame dragging the plot along. Those who were getting annoyed at all the “gay stuff” slowly wrecking their beloved Genshiken are going to be even more annoyed. Oh ye of little faith!

If Genshiken was that easy Mada would already be hitched up with Keiko, Yajima would be jumping Hato to try to stop him to stop hanging out in Ni-chōme and Sue would be trying to jump Ogiue every chance she got.

Something else is going on.

but first, a small aside about scripts and scanlations…

Even though the wait for Chapters 93 and 94 had me sweating, I swear I will wait through 4 months of drought should the successor to the bringer of light ever vanish into the ether before I start google-xlating and posting scripts from Bulgarian scanlations. We poor mortals just don’t know. We have no idea if the big K dropped more napalm, or someone got real-life busy, or just bored with the whole thing. I do not regret the scripts – at least I now know that a backup can be cobbled together. I found two other independent attempts, so I know that I wasn’t the only one who got withdrawal symptoms. But the current stuff is damn finely-crafted and well-done; it would take a year or more to ramp up a group effort to replace it.

We love and respect your work, please don’t leave us without our fix, waughhh!

One thing that I came away with from the script exercise: a foreign language reader dropped a comment thanking me for providing a summary in an easy-to-google-xlate text format. I think it should be best practice for all scanlation groups to release text format scripts along with their scans, so as to share the goodness across the gulfs of language, across the entire globe, a federation of leeching fans, going forward, into a brighter future…

Ok, back to some serious mulling-over the last two chapters. Spoiler lamp is ON

At first glimpse, the two chapters are simple and flow in a straightforward manner: only closer examination shows the staging genius of Kio Shimoku. It all comes together so naturally! In chapter 93, Madarame is stuck over the holidays in his messy apartment, alone and bereft of any harem. The absence of any follow-up by any of the four is disheartening. And his broken wrist hurts. When he finally gets a visit, it is from Rika and Yajima, or Rika with Yajima present to ensure that Rika doesn’t go off the rails. He soon learns that a truce agreement is in place and that there will be no visits from any of the interested parties. 3D lurv: Don’t buy the hype! The flashback to the old boys hanging out with him immediately after comiket also had a great feeling of authenticity to it, loaded with sympathetic guy-ish grumbling and rude allusions.

pig disgusting c93 p004Rika makes a few rude allusions too; both the boys and girls of Genshiken expect that their pr0n habit will be messy, but she quickly gets down to delivering her report and her ideas about the situation. In doing so, she assumes the voice of a great number of Genshiken fans (I posit that Japanese fans somewhat mirror diaspora opinions) and advances the suggestion that Keiko is the best choice for Madarame. Keiko is somewhat Saki-ish, riajuu, and available. She also is not Sue (our idol) or Hato-chan (our friend). Madarame can take that however he cares to – he is being gently put in his place, and that place is on the periphery of the current Genshiken.

No mention or thought of how uncomfortable it would be for Madarame to date Sas’s kid sister.

Madarame then wonders why she wasn’t pushing for Hato and gets a flood of goggle-inspired too-much-information before being told that it is really not the gang’s decision to make. Whatever Hato (as chan or kun) decides, they will support. Serves you right Mada for playing the “I’m passive I can’t decide” card.

Meanwhile in the snowy regions of Western Japan, Hato gets to face Kaminaga as his soon to be sister-in-law, in full sister-in-law-to-be mode. She is really getting into her new role. She has dyed her hair back to black, makes polite noises to the household, and gets the sudden urge to be all sisterly-supportive toward Hato even while scouting out his BL stash. Yup, here is an arch-fujoshi asshole completely reformed… Now pull the other one, it has bells on it.

think with what c94 p012Hato does manage to voice a bit of resentment towards her past behaviour, but for the most part is too troubled over what to do with his developing feelings for Madarame to really care about what Kaminaga is up to in her new oddly concerned guise. Kaminaga tries a gambit; get Kono and the other friend, Fuji(?) to meet up with Hato at a local restaurant. The results are uncomfortable. Kono doesn’t know what to do with her old feelings, and gets a bit creeped out when Hato starts going on about skin moisturization. Nor can she make the jump and discuss BL with a guy, which is the god/author setup moment Hato was waiting for: “See! I had to crossdress to be accepted!”

stop itoldyasoing c94 p018He also calls them his friends who he can talk with – which is so odd that I wonder if heavy irony was intended. These are the small-town fujoshi who turned his high school years into a lonely hell. And the meet-up is obviously some kind of poorly lashed together “How far gone is he? Is he still interested in girls?” exploration session. Friends like these, yup…

For all of it though, He does get some salvageable advice. Part of the Genshiken slice of life charm is the sheer amount of well-meaning, but not too useful “help” offered from all and sundry, from their own vested interest positions. Occasionally even a blind pig gets to find a truffle. Kono blurts out that if his hobby is causing him so much distress, then ditch it – it’s just a hobby. Of course her advice is tainted by self-interest, the Hato she still harbours a crush for is riajuu – but it gets him thinking.

Of course he will go back to Tokyo. Small town life is small and there isn’t a lot left for him there, though it felt good to clear the snow from the roof.

If Kono has any sense of occasion she had best run her ass over to the train station before he leaves and at least plead a copy of his next dojin from him. She can even say that the culture festival work was BETTER than Kaminaga’s stuff. C’mon, Kono, lets see some wiles!

As to why what he is returning to in Tokyo, that too deserves a bit more consideration.

A few choice bits:

All you fault c94 p010Oh yes, he does blame Kaminaga for his current dilemma, but is it the original one or the original, plus the stands that have been tormenting him? Or both, plus the Kaminaga he fixated on back in high school? Was it a crush or just severely overblown admiration? When Hato calls someone sempai, what demons lurk within his private meaning of the term? Really she’s not that responsible, unless a younger evil-genius Kaminaga had ran around their junior high school leaving yaoi dojins in the boys locker rooms in the hope of livening up her small town life.

To a certain segment of Genshiken fans, and a larger number of casual readers, Hato was always latent, and now has gone gay. But what an odd and tentative homosexuality it is. Were he a real-life individual, he would be free to explore his desire as he saw fit, and would end up somewhere within the fine gradations of however wherever’s gay culture so gradates. He would have a bit of a hard time at first, but any group eventually socialises newbies. Perhaps real Japanese gay communities have their own internal arguments about what to do with “another kid from the sticks who thinks he wants to do yaoi, as a seme”. There is way too much BL and Yaoi floating around Japan.

Hato however is a character, so what exactly is he being constructed as – what is the odd version of “gay” desire being created, and why?

Hato was never a “simple” male fudanshi leaning towards 3D man-love; he always compartmentalized his yaoi fantasies within the persona of a heterosexual, celibate, female fujoshi. Hato-chan was supposed to be safely “in charge” of that stuff, viacariously shipping Hato-kun as a forceful seme, but that reality never threatened the “real” male Hato, because fujoshis just do fantasies. But now “someone” wants to set 3D fujoshi Hato-chan up with a 3D Madarame as a nice, deferring, lovestruck, passive shoujo heroine, or at least as otomeyaku. Who is processing that fantasy? Which Hato is it coming from?

“Enomoto explains that “male fans cannot experience moe until they have fixed their own position”— an observation that may well have validity beyond otaku and yaoi fans. In general a man fears the undermining of his own subject position, and he must establish that position firmly before he can desire an object. This is probably the fate of all who possess a phallus (as distinct from a penis): if the position and orientation of the phallus is not defined, the male cannot face even the object of his own desire.”

– Otaku Sexuality by Saitō Tamaki (Translated by Christopher Bolton, Introduction by Kotani Mari) In “Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams : Japanese science fiction from origins to anime” – Christopher Bolton, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr., and Takayuki Tatsumi, editors. pps 222-249.

Kio Shimoku’s supportive cast of Genshiken characters bypass any simple questions of persecution (that’s left to small town high schools out in the snowy boonies) but if this was an attempt at a gay male coming of age story, then where are the beta couples, supportive (or predatory) older experienced gay guy(s), and a host of other tropes that I will transpose from non-exploitative “feels” yuri, having no idea how the bara genre handles this stuff when it is not getting down to raw nasty smut. Then there is his crossdressing…

Hato’s emergent pseudo-gayness is a thought experiment as to what might happen if an isolated small-town male used yaoi and BL tropes as a guide to “becoming” gay and/or trans, taken to extremes to be-labor a point and spin a fine tale. I have gone on previously that Shimoku might be pulling fast one on Saito Tamaki’s idea of hysterical trauma, with yaoi instead of the Beautiful Fighting Girl. And of course there is Dr. Mizoguchi… The results are going to odd. This stuff was generated by mostly straight females for their own amusement, and the studies surrounding it and it’s western counterparts are full of warnings from real guys who like guys that the wimmins are off on their own tangent. Plus the chief puppet-master of this tale is a guy, riffing on these contradictions.

As slash-kami MJJ reported a decade ago, her gay male correspondants would tell her: “real guys don’t fuck like that!”

Sorry Chip, you think we didn’t anyway?

“I know where I came from – but where did all you zombies come from? “I felt a headache coming on, but a headache powder is one thing I do not take. I did once–and you all went away. So I crawled into bed and whistled out the light. You aren’t really there at all. There isn’t anybody but me –Jane– here alone in the dark. I miss you dreadfully!”
-Oscar Wilde

“…to posit a gender, a God is necessary: guaranteeing the infinite.”
– Luce Irigaray

Who “owns” the popular construction of the ideas behind romance, love, sexuality and desire in modern societies? How is the territory staked out? What are the effects of the ways in which these are advanced? What happens when consensus is replaced by contested spaces? Is it all too complex for mere mortals to handle? Will society fall apart as a result?

No wonder the gender theory brigade are thick as thieves all over modern Japanese fujoshi cultural practices. I know something of the allure of this kind of raw sociology. I am lucky I have no vested interest in it or I would soon go all mad-boy about the whole thing and start Mwwwahhahhaahaa-ing all over this blog. Sociology taken too far has much of the same mirage-like appeal found in conspiracy theories. Hermetic knowledge! Power! Influence! The possibility of messing around with entire cultures! Wheeeeeee! Instead I watch from the sidelines, bemused…

Back to the Genshiken…

Note how Mada is left in a typically Madarame-esque situation due to his profession of passivity. He doesn’t even get to state any preference. His little harem fantasies are written to indicate that Hato-chan would be an acceptable member of a group attention-lavishing scene – whether he wants to bundle the whole gang off to the yurt is another matter. It is not that he can’t process all the attention, it is just that the processing has stopped at “Good to be King“. Sue as exotic temple dancer is a master-stroke.

Dare he try ANY kind of 3D and risk the destruction of this fantasy? But whose fantasy is it?

Something about butterflies… Who is dreaming and who is the dream?

Historically, Japan was at least two up on the prehistoric Western world’s guy-lock on romance tales thanks to Murasaki and Shonagon, but their works were not exactly in wide circulation until the twentieth century. And the narratives they advanced were hardly society-shaking. In the rest of the world, narratives of romantic love appear to be mostly male creations until late in the game. Sapho exists only in fragments, and they were enough to scare the bejesus out of the guys. I missed any University level courses on 17th to 19th century english lit, and so the exact timeline for earlier efforts but I vaguely recall that some “virtue tales” of female submission to rich suitors (Pamela, etc http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pamela,_or_Virtue_Rewarded) were written by guys in the 1700’s. Even then controversy ensued, with a few satires and perhaps even Sade’s infamous Justine written in response.

England in the 1800’s got Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein (surely, a love story), so at least there was some female input, though Brontë first published under a male-sounding non de-plume. Skip forward into the twentieth century, and we see that popular romances, though penned by women were being converted into movies by large, very patriarchial movie studios. Who was more the author for Gone with the Wind; Margaret Mitchell or David O. Selznick & Co.?

Now everyone gets to toss their ideas into the ring. Straight girls and guys as well as gays and lesbians and the whole LGBTQ spectrum get to write their stories and argue about their individual ideas about the proper ways of finding happiness, true D’awwwwww and snuggles (or whatever else turns individual cranks). And, as always, one can write the odd bits that don’t fit well onto the mysterious, imagined “other”. Nothing new there either, but no more witch burning allowed.

humanityIt is one thing to attempt to imposes one’s whims onto mainstream notions of male: female love, desire and courtship. It is another thing entirely to “colonize” a minority sexuality of a different gender and/or society for your own amusement and pleasure, even if you get side benefits from allegorically addressing certain issues of roles and power within your society. And the rotten girls are not going to stop, no matter how many yaoi ronso episodes pop up. You might as well argue with the hardcore fans of other paraphilias that their fantasies are hurtful, mean and dangerous to real humans. The responses will be the same, and familiar to even Genshiken readers.

And now I feel a bit guilty for all the exploitative v1 yuri smut I have consumed over the years. Just a bit, It’s complicated…

Perhaps Madarame and Hato should hole up in Mada’s apartment and devour a stack of contemporary non-exploitative, woman-authored, lesbian approved “feels” yuri to get some insight into handling confusing feelings. Hato should bring his chan persona just in case. Since the quality of the advice currently offered to them is so ill-suited to their predicament in any case, a little from the other side of the trenches couldn’t do much more damage. Shimoku Sensei could have a field day dragging another empire of delusions into the fray.

Personally I would recommend, as I am currently enjoying, the works of Takemiya Jin.

Stop! It is dangerous to base one’s ideas of romance on popular fictional narratives. No good can come of it!

From my misppent youth, I remember the teenage sister of a friend who fell heavily for the high school freak, who was prone to acting out the worst excesses of “hippie” behaviour a decade and a half too late. She had her own problems; a taste for massive amounts of recreational hallucigens and other self-destructive behaviour. Their search for a model of a “normal” romance led them to lock themselves in the basement TV viewing room at her parents house and snuggle while watching soap operas in order to learn how to construct a conventional romance. I shit yee not! The resulting relationship was odd, full of imagined infidelities and one case of amnesia. 3D far weirder than 2D!

But reality is reality and…

On second thought, Mada and Hato better also grab a stack of Gintama tankubons. Ten years of it! Shout Out Time! Wow!

As for the works of Takemiya Jin, I had run into them before and a few glowing recs from Erica-sensei caused me to seek them out again. I now see that the collected volume she recommends was spread out across a slew of one-shots and various titles (as available to us cheapskate leeches), but take place around the same group of young women. There are hardly any herp derp hawt secks scenes, which used to be the whole point of yuri – but their absence is not missed.

What Takemiya-sensei’s stories do have plenty of is brooding, emotional relationshippy stuff, but measured out in believable doses. I find myself making D’awwwwww noises. And I really, really, really like the character artwork. Takemiya-sensei uses a fine strong line and is one of the few artists who can do the pointy-chin face and get away with it (for moi, your mileage, etc…). Most of the time I find the pointy face shojo heroine a a warning signal for a vapid helpless thing (or the occasional sword weilding heroine – who I have no problems in principle with – its just that they are far too patient with nasty fools to appeal to me [1]). These women are far from either extreme. They are practical romantics and that sets them up for no end of relationship troubles – somewhat like real life. Their expressive manga eyes brood over their predicaments while their mouths are set with a grim determination to figure the whole messy thing out somehow; to keep going, to take their desires seriously, even as these desires threaten to shatter them or turn them into lovestruck idiots.

Perhaps it is because I grew up aquainted with a few women friends who liked other women, lusted after one or another of them and once the adolescent hormone surge receeded, found them good occasional company. What stuck was an admiration for how their heartfelt longing for idealized romantic love was perpetually at odds with their cold, hard, pregmatic outlook on relationships and life. I always suspected that they secretly looked at themselves in the mirror and hoped to see a hero staring back. What the heck, who hasn’t?  There are worse things in the world than making a fool of oneself for love. I got lucky I guess: assholes come in all models but I pretty well missed the wimmen’s versions, so I can foolishly generalise in a sympathetic manner. Takemiya-sensei’s stories remind me of them somehow.

We get more than “story A” in Takemiya Jin’s works. Characters only pair up after a lot of consideration and worry that they will mess up existing friendships, or feel like crap if they are rejected and/or break up. There is also a small degree of powder ritually burnt about whether the intended one will think that yuri v2 romance (aka real gosh honest to goodness lesbian romance, as written by an “out” Japanese lesbian!) is weird. Some of the characters are deeply into the idea of romantic love, while others abjure it as too fraught with emotional danger – even though they secretly wish it could one day be theirs. Confessions don’t always bring instant happiness, though reconsideration pops up as a reoccurring motif. There is even a token gay guy friend of one of the more active lesbian characters; she gets stuck with him shadowing her at school, gets used as a beard by him, gets a lot of unanswerable “what should I do?” questions and then has to counsel his younger sister to stop manisfesting her misplaced jealousy as childish homophobia. The scene when sis is sure that older brother is doing gay as yaoi and needs to be calmed down is a hoot!

Pubic service yuri fragments_of_love_v001_ch004_029My only minor complaint is that Takemiya-sensei has the dark-haired brooding type and the active blonde type, and the blond older woman type and as the characters overlap between stories it is sometimes dfficult to remember who is who (and pining for who, while pined for by who) – especially when a story has two nearly identical dark-haired characters in a love triangle (one wears glasses). It gets a bit confusing.

So two reticent male Genshiken characters, one with a head full of loli crap and josou games, and another with a head full of yaoi dojins, wondering what to make of their feelings could do worse than take a few tips from the cautious life lessons offered by Takemiya Jin. Both Madarame and Hato are tentative about 3D anything, including friendship. Some of the wimmins in Takemiya Jin’s ‘verse do just end up as friends. Perhaps Shimoku sensei has been holding the (v2, non exploitative) yuri in reserve all this time?

If Kio Shimoku decides to push the Hato-crush plot even further he is going to get to have a whole lot of fun with the other big weak spot in yaoi-land; the idiotic, formulaic insistance on the seme/uke typology. And we have been getting some previous plot telegraphing about this: Hato always imagined his “objectivised male self” as a seme. Except that when he is in Hato-chan mode and trancing over Madarame – then he begins to think uke-Hato-chan-otome-yaku-whatever. Pity that Madarame is so damn passive, that he couldn’t even be a sou-uke, let alone any kind of seme. Sou-uke requires something beyond catatonic withdrawal.

Then toss in the “Am I turning gay, or can I get away with the [only for you] excuse?” from yaoi lore. While Hato can put off a few worries with this, Madarame would have to do a whole lot of sweating, even if he occomodates the experiment as a josou game fantasy that has come to life. Madarame is now too far gone to consider any 3D attention, from anyone. Expect vicious “How to cure a lolicon” and “josou sanmyaku” (Crossdressing Mountain Range – game) jokes ‘o plenty as he tries to find an emotionally safe place to curl up into and weather the storm.(2)

Meanwhile to Hato: Even if originally written as nominally straight in 3D matters, he must have found the idea of manly as-warped-by-pervy-women romance strangely appealing. So he somehow got stuck on the idea that yaoish romance was a good model for romance in general. Questions of bodies and genders could even have been put aside for a bit if the first BL-ish magazines he stumbled across featured androgynous bishies – he was, after all not developing secondary sexual characteristics as much or as fast as his junior high classmates. Hence the latest little ret-shade offered up to us by Shimoku-sensei. This offers a convenient plot excuse for leaving the judo club as well. Androgynous lovers who did rough, rapey man(ly) secks in tandem with over -the-top you-and-only-you-forever-even-if-the-earth-takes-my-dead-body romaticism did something for him. The female self he constructed was a way of denying the logical implications of his fantasies, as well as being the vehicle with which he could finally find a social wherin he could fan over them.

gasp c94p027The Genshiken finally empowers him to constuct his own fantasies; to engage in secondary, fannish production, to take charge of the mechanisms of his own desires and draw his story. But of course he can’t. He can only draw clench scenes. His imagination is primarily visual. From his stand(s), we can see that he has been written as having extensive trope genre knowledge, but canot turn it into a full “na-me” storyboard. In this matter having Ogiue help him is only a half-measure, because she is as visually based as he is. Rika is the only text-narrative-biased fujoshi in the Genshiken, and she has no off switch. No help there.

Could it be a suppressed narrator-Hato that is pulling all the strings?

“If I can’t get you to write it, I’ll make you live it! Dance my little puppet! Dance!”

What a fine detective story! Better than a murder mystery in a society of telepaths!

Hato should have imprinted on the v.1 yuri of Ken Kurogane. The polygamous “lets fuck like crazy right now” of gay and straight male pr0n, the over the top romanticism of yaoi but with female bodies and no damn seme /uke stuff to get in the way of a good sweaty tangle. Male mangaka, hmmmmmmm… Is Shojo Sect full of reworked yaoi and bara puppets presented as “girls”? The mirrors of desire in the manga-land funhouse are distorted as all heck! But at least then Hato-chan could have gone looking for a nice spunky girl who could best him (her) in a judo match…

Duh!

How far does Kio Shimoku care to push the Hato-crush motif? It looks like it can get cruel really fast, even if it is well in keeping with his habit of using the Genshiken to skewer otaku (and now fujoshi) foibles.

Personaly I still don’t buy any bit of Hato x Mada x Hato. Perhaps I am in denial, but I cannot believe either of them in any kind of physical relationship with anyone, given their current states. Both are now emotional wrecks. Of course Kio Shimoko can write Hato and Mada into a well-lubed orgy along with the rest of the crew, the brave little toaster, chibi-godzilla and a tentacled monster from the planet transexual in any upcoming chapter he cares to, but that would be the last chapter of the Genshiken. Done, Forever.

Also, while I used to be an enthusiastic Sue x Mada shipper, I now believe that Shimoku-sensei has dropped in too many scenes where it looks like Sue is embarrassed in Mada’s direction, but Hato is always there too in clear line of sight. If we need Sue yuri-ish hijinx in the Genshiken, then there is even a use for Hato-chan in the 3D secton of the Genshiken ‘verse. Sue might be able to salvage the wreck that is Hato, even if it might take months of chaste dating to calm him down,

Also, I am still waiting for the moteki field effect to hit Hato. Madarame had his four “suitors”, By my intuited rule of parallel haplessness, Hato should get some attention soon, from other girls besides Yajima and Kono. Phhhttttt! Kono doesn’t even count if she doesn’t get her game on soon.

Similarly, I can’t see Keiko doing anything but looking at Madarame and deciding that he is just too much work even for a love-struck young hostess. Let the big boobed gaijin girl have some fun next comiket; the moteki field has collapsed and unemployed, relationship-clueless, creepy manga consuming, sulking, passive Mada is once again hopeless. And all that 2D FOREVER stuff tastes like ashes in his mouth. Time for Mada to change his life.

Gambatte! Madarame-san! I know you can become #1 host!

If this keeps up, Ogiue will have to impose a NO DATING IN THE GENSHIKEN, DAMMIT! rule, just to calm things down a bit.

Snap out of it and go make some dojins!

Random Endnotes:

[1] You can’t fool me! I know that a proper lesbian vanquisher of evil looks like Hothead Paisan [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hothead_Paisan]. I rue the day I picked that thing up – a joke gift given to a straight female friend who was being teased +/or supported by her frends after one more disappointing relationship had just ended. Yikes! Cannot un-see, but it made a lot of sense within its context. You think Hothead Paisan would do any stupid rose duelling? She’d shoot the fucking goomba in the face, twice, cut off his junk, lay into anyone, male or female who stood in her way and burn the evil twit rose-dueling school to the ground. Problem solved! Run off into the sunset with the rose-maiden, and shoot a few rednecks on the way! …As long as the coffee didn’t run out. One wouldn’t want to be anywhere in the vicinity, but I understand where her creator was coming from.

I understand rage.

Recall:

“Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist.
Children already know that dragons exist.
Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.”

Closer to current manga practice, consider Gaku of Murasaki-iro no Qualia. She’ll off one of herselves, if herself gets in the way of saving her friend. That’s how to do hero!

[2] I have a suspicion that the josou one-off tale and the game noted by the Girl Cartoons josou genre essay series (pt3)

” Maintaining this line of reasoning—foremost, the assumption that many Josou works can be read as allegorical of the development of the fandom as a whole—we turn to the erotic visual novel 女装山脈 (josou sanmyaku) or “Crossdressing Mountain Range”, by Nounai Kanojo. Josou Sanmyaku draws a number of parallels to “How to Cure a Lolicon”, and while it is less explicitly allegorical, it nonetheless represents a typical conception of the development of Josou fandom, and development of attraction to the “otokonoko”—which, compared to “Lolicon”, is made very explicit here—and makes a few interestingly novel claims about the fandom which might almost be considered moral prescriptions.

To begin with, Josou Sanmyaku is aggressive in its invocation of the “otokonoko”. The three heroines², all crossdressing males, insist on referring to themselves not as 男の子 (with the kanji for “child”), but as 男の娘 (with the kanji for “young girl”). The “otokonoko” is established in the game’s mythos as something of a third gender, revealed eventually to even be able to bear children via supernatural means. Particularly in the first act of the game, which includes one erotic scene featuring each heroine, there is a strong undercurrent in the dialogue of the otokonoko being capable of providing pleasure far beyond that which a normal woman possibly could, and of the heroines’ goal being to “ruin” the protagonist such that he could not be satisfied by normal women again”.  – –  http://8c.dasaku.net/?p=72

were notorious enough, to serve as the model for Kousaka’s company’s crossdressing game in Genshiken.

Genshiken Ch 91: Full Moteki Panic!

Warning, Spoiler lamp is ON! The good news is that sooner or later a far superior English translation of Ch 91 will probably appear, somehow.. You may wish to wait for it.

UPDATE: This is now obsolete. I was much closer than on this one than previous attempts, but I missed one REALLY BIG detail.. see extra notes at the end.

Genshiken 91_13 detailTime to learn how to use cut-lines

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Genshiken Ch 89: or maybe this is just all fan-fiction

Wherein I do some random practice using machine translation and post the results

UPDATE: Well, for obvious reasons, this is now obsolete. Whew, I got the broad strokes, but really missed a lot of important nuances.  Still it was fun. Thanks to all!

Ok I admit it.. I might be wrong about the provenance of the Peruvian scans, and for that matter, the Haitian Creole ones. Still, I was so curious about what went on in chapters 89, 90 (and now 91 – from what I can see of 91, Kio Shimoku has really, really gone overboard with the slapstick) that I was compelled to take matters into my own hands.

Not too great, but better than nuthin’…  SPOILER LAMPS ON!

And if anyone has a better translation. localization/ approximation for any of this, please do not hesitate to contribute…

Genshiken89_10

What a mess! See below the cut..

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Genshiken Ch 90 – The hard way

Wherein the universal translator is giving the crew trouble – Spoiler lamp is ON!

UPDATE: Well, for obvious reasons, this is now obsolete. This was the first time I tried re-translation, and it is the sloppiest. Still it was fun. Thanks to all!

Ok, I couldn’t wait any longer. With the help of much Google Universal Translator and online Peruvian and Bulgarian scans, not to mention the Haitian-creole ones (or so says Google xlate autodetect) I sat down and approximated out the dialogue script for Chapter 90. Or maybe this is just all fan-fiction

Genshiken 90_02

I think I have the hang of these new-fangled cut-line things

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Fairest of the fair

On Makoto Shinkai’s Hoshi No Koe, and Saito Tamaki’s Beautiful Fighting Girl

hoshi no koe - 004

Few anime have sized my imagination and remained as resonant in memory as the short 2002 OVA Hoshi no Koe, known in english as Voices of a Distant Star. A decade after I first got my hands on a lovingly transcoded and fansubbed grey version of it, I remain a gushing a fanboy whenever I remember its charms and search it out on the web to watch it one more time. For those of you who missed it, I will steal liberally from the wiki entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voices_of_a_Distant_Star), editing and re-arranging the page synopsis for emphasis and clarity:

“Voices of a Distant Star (ほしのこえ Hoshi no Koe?, lit. “Voices of a Star”) is a Japanese anime OVA by Makoto Shinkai. It chronicles a long-distance relationship between two close junior high-school friends who communicate by sending emails via their mobile phones across interstellar space. It was originally released to DVD on 2 February 2002

The narrative begins in 2047. A middle-school girl named Mikako Nagamine is apparently alone in a hauntingly empty city, trying to contact people through her cell phone. She finally says, in an empty classroom with stacked chairs, “Noboru? I’m going home, okay?”, a rhetorical question which is answered with a busy line on her cell phone. She then wakes up to discover that she is in her “Tracer”; a heavily armed “mecha” orbiting Agartha, the (fictional) fourth planet of the Sirius System and begins her descent to the planet Agartha.

hoshi no koe voices2

A flashback gives us the beginning of her travels. Mikako was recruited to the UN Space Army in a war against a group of aliens called the Tarsians, named after the Martian region (Tharsis) where they were first encountered.
The narrative hints that the aliens were friendly at first and then suddenly slaughtered the earth colonists on Mars and left the planet. Humans have salvaged their technology and are determined to track them down.
Mikako, selected as an exemplary student has been drafted or has volunteered for the Space Army and must break the news to her childhood friend Noboru Terao, then undergo mecha pilot training on Mars. Mikako pilots a Tracer, a giant , heavily armed robotic “mecha” as part of a fighting squadron attached to the spacecraft carrier Lysithea.

When the Lysithea leaves Earth to search for the Tarsians, Noboru is left behind. The two continue to communicate across interplanetary, and eventually interstellar space via the email facilities on their mobile phones. On the edge of the Solar System, the fleet meets a swarm of Tarsian vessels and Mikako’s Tracer must confront a curious alien pod-ship that attempts to examine her Tracer, capture her and/ or kill her. As Mikako destroys the alien pod, the fleet scrambles to evacuate to the Sirius planetary system via a space-warp. As the Lysithea travels deeper into space, the emails take increasingly longer to reach Noboru on Earth, and the time-lag of their correspondence eventually spans years.

In the middle of the anime proper, she sends an email to Noboru (which shows the date 2047-09-16), with the subject “I am here”, saying “to the 24-year old Noboru, from the 15-year old Mikako” which will reach him 8 years, 224 days and 18 hours later.

Hoshi no koe on Agartha

On a seemingly empty, earth-like Agartha, Mikako must once again confront a lone alien; apparently telepathic, it presents itself to her in a hallucination as a lookalike younger version of herself. While “speaking” the alien “her” morphs into a Tarsian and then into an older version of herself. The same room where she woke up in the beginning of the animation is presented again, with the same ambience, but this time she is squatting in the corner, sobbing and pleading with her doppelgänger to let her see Noboru just one more time to be able to say “I love you” to him. The other being says “It will be all right. You will see him again”. The alien also makes vague promises of humanity’s growth in understanding.

The ship’s alarm interrupts the exchange, warning her in its characteristic overdone female british accent that “Tarsians are existing everywhere on Agartha!”. Mikako cries even more, yelling “I don’t understand!”, but her training kicks in and she avoids a ground blast and has to engage the Tarsian pod-ships in close combat. A climactic space battle ensues.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Noboru receives the message, albeit almost 9 years in the future. A voice-over dialogue commences between the two of them which functions as a synchronous soliloquy on the same subject.

Back in orbit around Agartha, three of the four carriers have been destroyed by suicide attacks by Tarsian motherships. The Lysithea remains intact and Mikako, once roused to battle is a formidable fighter. She leads a breakthrough past the defending Tarsian pod-ships and destroys the last remaining Tarsian mother ship. After winning the battle, Mikako in her damaged Tracer drifts in space.

The manga version has a 16 years old Mikako send a message to 25 years old Noboru, telling him that she loves him. By this time Noboru has joined the UN, who have launched a rescue mission for the Lysithea. When Mikako hears the news from her crew mate that UN is sending help for their rescue, she consults a list of people on the mission, Noboru being one of them. She ends by saying that they will definitely meet again.

Voices of a Distant Star was written, directed, animated and produced entirely by Makoto Shinkai on his Power Mac G4. Makoto and his wife, Miko provided the voice acting for the working dub (A second Japanese dub was later created for the DVD release with professional voice actors). Makoto’s musician friend Tenmon, who had worked with Makoto at his video game company, provided the soundtrack. Shinkai cited Dracula and Laputa as inspirations to make Voices.

A manga serialization based on the series in Afternoon magazine from Kodansha in Japan. It was run monthly from February 2004 to December 2004. The story of the manga begins at the same point as the start of the anime and carries the story a little bit beyond the anime itself. Makoto Shinkai wrote the manga, with illustration work done by Mizu Sahara.””

(per http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voices_of_a_Distant_Star, with edits)

(Damnation! I am back to my bad block-quoting habits again!)

Voices of a distant star is exceedingly fast-paced and dense  narrative for its 26 minutes; a casual viewer might have trouble following the action, let alone making sense of the plot. As a long-time reader of American science-fiction, I immediately “read” it as playing with some of the same themes used by Joe Halderman’s landmark Forever War (1974) series and his later Mindbridge (1976).

Elite youth conscription, interspecies war against incomprehensible aliens, lovers separated by time dilation effects and aliens who are telepathic clones who either cannot understand individualism, or believe that the fears expressed in human subconscious thoughts are actually conscious desires (We thought you wanted to fight for fun!) helped me impose a coherent “understanding” on a fragmented narrative that was frightening in its beauty and over-wrought in its emotionalism.

Just say that I am a sucker for long distance romance stories.

hoshi no koe dont mess with grim girl

A few jarring idiosyncrasies in the story help fix it in my memory, and give it an unmistakable “Japanese Anime” feel. Mikako pilots her Tracer from a ovaloid pod-seat with a 360 degree holographic display, so she seems to float in space or above landscapes, while ticker-tape displays on the edges of her field of vision keep her and the viewers updated. Fortunately for me, the UNEF uses english for display text. Now if they could only buy her a proper uniform. Yes, the fleet’s deadliest Tracer pilot wears a middle-school uniform throughout her battles. She is truly a “schoolgirl in a mobilesuit”.

hoshi no koe detail

Another oddity: the years 2046-2056 are a nostalgic time for the Japanese cell-phone market, as they have re-issued the iconic Sharp J-phone, suitably updated to relay sms messages through UN Fleet channels. Anyone out there who needs to cosplay Mikako (or Noboru) can have mine (no I didn’t fanboy out, I got it in a pile of phones from my sweetie’s relatives) for a suitable bribe plus shipping. As a final insult, the J-phone is obsolete and its 2G wcdma protocol is no longer supported by Japanese cell phone companies. Cosplay use only, sorry.

Other anachronisms are the Japanese urban scenes which update the utility poles to make them wireless, but preserve freight rail transport so as to give the viewer plenty of transition scenes that pay homage to Yasujirō Ozu. This is an oddity compared to contemporary Japan: I have never seen a freight train in Japan, only passenger trains. I know they must exist, but they hide them well. Nothing like a war with aliens to shift rail use back to material transport.

Also in terms of visual tropes and homages paid, I commend the obsessive viewer to compare the scene where Mikako’s Tracer chases a Tarsian pod ship across a lake surface on Agartha with a later similar scene in Howl’s Moving Castle. Such imitation homage is a standard part of the “society” of producers in modern Japanese visual culture. Even barbarian furreigners have caught on; one could run a dangerous drinking game prying apart the giant robot fight scenes in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, but that is for another day, or a more experienced anime blogger. Oh heck… Pay close attention to the “slice the Kaiju in half from head to toe” during the “breach” battle scene. And the Jaeger is missing an arm!

A la recherche du temps perdue

Voices of a Distant Star spurred more than a few love-it-to-death acts of appreciation from anime fans in the rest of the world. Though an official dub would soon appear, the initial grey zone fan-subbed release was one of the first using the .mkv video encoding package and a then-obscure high-resolution video codec. An advance subtitle protocol was also used so that fonts, placement and timings could be better controlled, all while the enthusiast group made strident declarations that it would not release a smaller, more download friendly and low-powered computer watchable version of the video. It was just too beautiful to ruin with fuzzy video encoding and ugly subtitles.

Back in 2003, high-speed internet was less common than it is today and hobby machines were far less powerful. High definition videos could take a week of all-night dial-up downloading, as modern conveniences like bittorrent and file-drop sites were rare or nonexistent. A determined Japanese anime leech would get a “news-reader” program and possibly some text attachment plug-ins and then would see if their internet provider carried the alt.binaries newsgroup hierarchies and did not impose message length limits. In the latter cases they were left to find an open news group server, wait 30 minutes to load the hierarchy and finally the newsgroup “articles” availability and set their “reader” programs to download huge text messages overnight, which could then be reassembled, decoded, repaired with extra error-correction data sent in further huge messages, unpacked and joined up into their prize.

Back then you really worked for your anime fix. Figure from three evenings to a week per short anime. More if the postings evaporated and you were left pleading for a re-post of a section. Finally when your latest catch sat on the desktop of your home pc, you would have to chase codec packs and find a highly efficient media player so that the .mkv could play without stuttering or causing your machine to crash. If you had a mac, you crossed your fingers and hoped that VLC could handle the load. Quicktime would only play what Apple allowed you to play, with some few exceptions provided by dodgy utilities.

Still the payoff was worth the prolonged effort. You got the newest “good stuff” – the better it was, the more the legions of anonymous fans worked in loose cooperation to disseminate it to the faithful. Also the subtitles often came with footnote subtitles, explaining difficult cultural and translation points, and striving for authenticity. Commercial releases had stupid cutesy hillbilly voiced dubbing and “localized”, poorly translated subbing. The fansubs for one release of Ghibli’s Spirited Away had more footnotes than an average undergraduate sociology paper. These ran above the frame, while the dialogue ran below it. The fansubbers and distributors all knew they were possibly committing a civil-law tort, (as opposed to a crime – it wasn’t back then and still isn’t in many jurisdictions) against the rights-holders but always justified their actions in terms of love for the product and revulsion over the lack of properly venerated western releases. They saw themselves as elite missionaries. From 1999 to 2005, this was pretty much the way lots of anime made it into cheapskake gaijin hands. (Aside: this has absolutely nothing to do with the “download by usenet” come-ons you see on certain sites. Avoid unless you want to hand your machine over to netcriminals.)

No one really has the time for this sort of thing any more.

beautiful-fighting-girl-saito-tamaki-paperback-cover-art

Voices of a Distant Star was created and released after the year 2000 publication of Saito Tamaki’s Psychoanalysis of Beautiful Fighting Girl. The book was and remains a landmark, if only because so many responses to it were offered in the wake of the controversy it stirred up. A full treatment of Tamaki’s opus is beyond this post, but a preliminary contrast between Mikako and his ideal fighting heroine is a useful exercise. Tamaki’s beautiful fighting girl is an emotional cypher at her core. In contrast to the American (super) heroine who is often older and carries a traumatic back story that is overcome through heroic activities, the BFG fights because she was born/ created to fight. Fighting is what she does, and she derives that curious sex-deprived joy of French critical theory – jouissance – from her battles. Male characters, especially sports-consumed young male characters are often written with similar thin motivation, but even they eventually get some back story. The BFG gets a revealing outfit an a mofo big weapon, often long, very rigid and dangerous. The symbolism is obvious, forced, and after the publication of Tamaki’s study, self-consciously ironic. (The doc sez it is supposed to be a phallic symbol, so make it BIGGER!)

The pit does not stare back, but sometimes it glances provocatively over its shoulder and winks:

Another aspect of Tamaki’s BFG, which he initially glosses over or misses is how unlike most female characters, the BFG is emotionally stunted and unconcerned/ unskilled in social interaction and empathy. For the male otaku consumer, she is a fantasy character that could not only whomp his ass without breaking a sweat – or the asses of anyone who ever tormented him in real life, but one that he, a ronery basement dwelling neckbeard could give tips to on social interaction (!) Perhaps he could even help her with those mysterious, troubling feelings she is beginning to experience when she is with him…

Bwah Hah Hah! No really…

What nailed this point home to me was an obscure shojo-ai manga, Transistor Teaset that featured a plucky girl electronics geek trying to keep the family electronics parts store in Akihabra alive, and her friends who both had mostly-innocent designs on her affections. At some point they all end up building a “robot maid”, and the gamine- like otaku- ish younger friend then insists that it must speak only one line, in our heroine’s recorded voice:

“What – is – this – thing – called – love ???”.

Here was the emotionally vacant BFG lampooned with vicious and devastating comedic economy. Robomaid subsequently runs amok and ends up haunting the back streets of Akiba town, headless yet still issuing forth her doleful plaint. (off-topic, but of note: the next story arc “Lets meet at Mansaibashi Bridge” is a beautiful retelling of a classic Japanese ghost story and is worth hunting down.) Even a “real” girl in a manga can poke fun at the emotional void in the heart of the BFG.

Back to our heroine Mikako and her problem. An elite “fighter”/ mecha/ Tracer pilot she has learned not only how to wield a complex weapon to defend herself, but to kill. Her weakness is her homesick longing for her male friend, and the regrets she harbours that she was never able to tell Noboru that she loved/ loves him. This lack of traumatic back story is enough to place her solidly within the Tamaki typology, but she is also something else, something missed in Tamaki’s elaborate typology of fighting girl types and something far more dreadful – born out of the wars and disturbances of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century: a child soldier.

Black sails returning:

Among other quips, Jean Baudrillard was known for his cryptic comment that “the messiah always arrives a day too late“. What he meant was that by the time an existing trope or social form goes “hysterical” it is already without consequence; “already out of fashion” (or out of the reality of social force and into fashion) as the case may be. So that by the time Stallone’s Rambo was re-winning on film all the disappointing stalemate battles of 40 years of American foreign adventure, the most lethal, cheap and deployable soldier available to the world’s warlords could be found not in the ranks of elite mercenary corps, or SEAL teams, or even angry Vietnam era veterans, but in the frightened survivors of slaughters in equatorial African villages. Just have your speed-addled terrorized child soldiers kill all the adults in a village, then force half the surviving children slaughter the other half, beat and starve the surviving few, then load them up with amphetamines and you have the twenty-first century’s newest, cheapest and deadliest fighters. You might lose half of them in any battle, but more can be made when needed. Welcome to the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Or you could opt for the high-tech version, popularised early on in American sci-fi by Orson Scott Card in his Ender’s Saga.

Mikako is closer to Card’s Ender. Unlike the Forever War‘s William Mandella and Marygay Potter, Mikako was nowhere near university age when conscripted/ recruited. Halderman wrote Forever War on the tail of the Vietnam conflict; in 1974 the idea that a nation’s best and brightest youth would be sacrificed to a lottery of perpetual war and death – the Minotaur’s Maze updated, was shocking enough: no need to suggest that Unka Sam would go after school children, yet…

Unlike Saito Tamaki’s BFG, both Halderman and Card spent extra time and effort around the question of how to motivate their young pawns to fight ruthlessly. In the first actual battle in Forever War, the recruits find themselves under the spell of hypnotic conditioning that turns them into beserk homicidal fighting fiends upon hearing a trigger phrase. This ensures that they don’t waste time gawking at the stringy “Tauran” enemy in inoffensive looking transparent bubble suits. Friendly fire casualties ensue, and half the surviving earth soldiers go mad from post-traumatic symptoms. Card uses the computer-game metaphor, ruthless drill/ competition and remote telemetry to achieve similar depersonalizing effects. Both sagas started as short stories that allegorised limited hypothetical arguments. Both went on to grow in the telling, but Halderman’s opus remains more humane and appealing to me.

Some day I must dig up a Japanese translation of Halderman’s Forever War and send it to Dr. Tamaki – or perhaps I am years too late.

Strange how the female child warrior gets a completely different treatment in manga and anime than her male counterparts. Jormungand‘s Jonah and Full Metal Panic‘s Sagara Sousuke are afforded far more room for emotional agency, while the restraining of their lethal reflexes becomes a reoccurring sub-plot. The BFG simply fights, rests, waits and fights again.

230px-Nausicaa2cover

Of note is that Tamaki’s highlighting of Princess Nausicaa as a prototypical sub-type of BFG must be taken in the context of Hayao Miyazaki’s longer effort on the Nausicaa manga. Serialized in Tokuma Shoten’s monthly Animage magazine, the first chapter was printed in February 1982 and the final chapter 59, was eventually published in the March 1994 issue of Animage. Many aspects of the manga were unconventional, its layout, pencil-only art work, the pacing of the story and the visual sense of scale, as well as the apocalyptic arc of the entire saga did much to give Tamaki notes for his prototypical “Miko” or “priestess-medium” type. She alone takes on the responsibility of deciding that the ancient technology that waits for the purification of the land must be destroyed. Some synopsis’s suggest that she perishes in the process.

“She is beyond good and evil, Western values mean nothing to her”

Tamaki cautions against simple plot-readings of the BFG trope, instead seeing her archetype as the locus of hysteria in character and reader alike. I may have read this part wrong, because the hysteria section of his work is the one point where his arguments become completely and utterly opaque. Many reviewers have warned that the work, available in English translation since 2011 is full of dense post-lacanian psycho-babble and that it meanders all over the place.  Upon finally securing a paperback version and reading the entire thing I found it logically ordered, well researched and carefully argued and a reasonably good if not too challenging a read. It is far superior to his shorter work on Otaku Sexuality examined earlier in this blog.

Except for the hysteria section.

Best I can make out is a feedback/ overload condition between everyone and everything surrounding the shocking realization that someone could create and present the BFG as a character. The BFG is a trauma on the (male) imagination, a shock-as-wound that male fandom keeps falling into; one so popular that fan-producers and commercial producers are driven to recreate her again and again so that the trauma can be forever experienced and re-experienced and shared with new converts.

stuff works the way it should crop

The trauma of course is the BFG’s real, physical libidinal effect on the (again male) reader. One shouldnt get horny thoughts from looking at a manga heroine. Surely this is the path of madness. (Don’t call me…) Hato’s reading of het male oriented dojins allows him to experience this thrill in a ridiculously funny context. He is surprised, yet reassured that the “normal” stuff still has some effect for him. His original trauma was something quite more surprising and “other” than a mere armored cutie. Was Shimoku-sensei having even more fun with Hato then we originally thought?

The afterword to Tamaki’s 2006 paperback re-issue of Sento bishojo no seishinbunseki (戦闘美少女の精神分析), (Psychoanalysis of Beautiful Fighting Girl) recommends the Genshiken manga series as a valid fictional treatment of a University-age otaku community. Hato was created shortly thereafter. His traumatic wound was fixating on yaoi pr0n at an early age: a type of “trauma” that may serve as the female analogue to the Beautiful Fighting Girl (the Beautiful Bonking Bishonen?), but is comically mis-applied to a young male. Tamaki’s repeated promises to examine fujoshi sexuality have all so far come up short; he lacks access to correspondents and he is too steeped in the sexism that lays deep within the very grammar of post-lacanian psychoanalysis to yet pull off a convincing theoretical framework.

easy to replicate effect final

Others have adapted the post-lacanian methodology: Kazumi Nagaike’s work can be read as a worthy and useful variation on the theme, especially when one considers her update of her 2004 thesis, published as “Fantasies of Cross-Dressing: Japanese Women Write Male-Male Erotica” rather than the original/ (previously reviewed in this blog) first efort. Unfortunately “Fantasies” has a list price of $130, so Google Books excerpts and the original freely downloadable thesis are all mere mortals like us will see of it. “Fantasies” seems to lose a lot of “the veneration of the demon bones of Freud” that plagued her earlier academic effort and delves deeper into the cathexis, the shock of a “scopophillic“/ voyeuristic libidinous charge that female readers of rough yaoi pr0n and earlier variants experience in their first encounter with the hawt stuff.

Some divergence between the male and female experience, especially among communities can be extrapolated. Per Tamaki, the males become ironic connoisseurs of the effect, internalizing the shock of desire for a fiction and turning it into knowledge and mastery of the formal elements of the narrative. Taken too far, this leads to the “database animals” scratching an itch with products from the Otaku automat. The female variant enjoys a similar social urge to share and promote the thrill/ trauma/ wound, but also values narratives that use nested levels of storytelling as a guide to the initial “enjoyment’ of the weirdness depicted in their fave tales. So at least claims Nagaike as she details the plot convolutions of early 20th century Japanese literature that takes up proto-yaoi themes. Nagaike’s “Fantasies” even features long appendices with her translations of the examined proto-yaoi tales. Some of these are not for the squeamish.

Of course later fujoshi social practice also engages in elaborate typologies of plot tropes, that crystallize around the pairing dynamics of the male characters. Given the high percentages of historic participation in Japanese fan-produced parody culture, including their participation at decades of Comikets, it is a wonder that some theorist has not declared male otaku culture as largely derivative of female fan parody culture, if not strongly influenced by it.

I just wish Nagaike had used a better title. The “cross-dressing” here is all conceptual and virtual, by the fujoshi (and proto-fujoshi) who assume a fake-male/ fake-gay-male viewer position to better enjoy the some naughty stuff. Unfortunately the title puts the work into the F-to-M trans theory pile where it languishes and disappoints those interested in the  issue.

Other attempts at playing the post-lacanian hysteria card to explain fujoshi or wider shojo desire are perhaps more ambitious, or more lazy or more poetic. Mechademia Vol.6 has Frenchy Lunning deploying Kristeva’s theory of the abject in her “Under the ruffles: Shojo and the morphology of Power“. What we get is the vertiginous flow of Kristeva-esque hyperbole a la full Powers of Horror (get your copy  here) mode, without the rigorous buildup. We all love Kristeva for her poetics, but she can get away with it because she also brings a feast to the table. Just saying… we critical-theory-moe types can be greedy and ungrateful.

Urrrrp! Needs more meat, less ruffles.

Voices of a Distant Star is chock full of moe, but Mikako the child soldier is more reluctant hero than battle zombie girl, great honking plasma sword notwithstanding. (push the SWORD button and yell “For My Family!”) One thing that Tamaki never really delves into is the difference between a hero girl, or girl hero and the Beautiful Fighting Girl. The BFG is an object of pure, shocking, disconnected libidinous desire. The American female super-heroine is an older “real woman” working off some injustice. But where is our hero of a (next) thousand (female) faces? As I ventured early on in this blog, Dorothy of OZ is not a very solid foundation for building a tradition of a female Bildungsroman upon. (for more on this and the idea of the frauenroman see this site.)

Much remains to be discovered as to the appeal of the Beautiful Fighting Girl, or heroic girl, or the shojo hero (as opposed to the shojo heroine?)

At this point all I can venture is that idealizing and/ or desiring heroic female agency is probably healthier for males and females, than idealizing and desiring female subservience and powerlessness.

Call it a win.

Genshiken ch 90: I find a review and wail in frustration

Oh MY GAWD! Why cannot I learn Japanese! She who up with me puts has tried to help, for the last 10 years even, but I can’t even get the Katakana alphabet into the memory banks.

FAIL!

So I have to rely on Google Translate. Yeah right! How’s that working?

So when I find a short review of Genshiken Ch90 on a Japanese blog, I am no further ahead. Forgive me, oh writer of http://orezui.blog91.fc2.com/ , I do this only to illustrate how far us miserable furreign types will go to get our GENSHIKEN FIX!

For those of you gifted with facility in Japanese, the original is here:
http://orezui.blog91.fc2.com/blog-entry-1024.html

—–  Begin Google Xlate Dump of Genshiken ch90 review ——

(With spoilers) 90 story second generation impressions Genshiken

“God of our earthly desires” 90 story.
130724002The very busy, hands’m supposed not to stick to blog, but I’m stash impression even easily as this.
Is Yokatta and had painted interwoven alternately the figure of each spend a third day while Megurase and discussion of Mote period of matrix waiting for a third day winter Komi, the speculation in various ways, the (small par cans)
Last time, Hato-kun as the exchange conditions to buy a BL pigeons, tried to Angela Kuttsukeyo the Madarame (speculation that give up to a packed Because it could put in a love for Madarame ants on the back).
Thus the absurd … Ya.
I was worried Mr. Madarame is or accidental discharge, but I …… attitude hold up Komifesu end, mood of Yajima and Susie would become rather bad.Sue surprising Madashimo,

Yajima is’s let out the grumpy feelings openly. Yoshitake thinks it’s “Yajima → Hato,” but, in not know it other?However, I wish pigeons will do not buy BL with … hup.

 

BL and Dressing is whether that inseparable.
MUST be included even act on their own to as “draw”, Do not Paddles not able to enjoy the BL state of any man (?)The inscrutable little cousin N there.

“I’m not it saw”

It was said Yajima are having, it is not a romantic feelings for thoughts on Hato I wonder if there’s also willl the “things to say”. As has been accused of 60 story, it has been found that a dove, it admits, is not something persecution, so their’ll I say even a man leave.

And …?

Hey, but I want to enjoy the Hato-kun.

Although idle sore is painful to look at why author existence was bad this time rather air.

The Kosaka, though I felt so at the sides have put one look at the previous frame to …… rose Is it revealed the “Madarame Mote stage theory” to read such a situation.

I think I have a meaning to help as a result pigeons, but how it lead to any result and in what circumstances, Wakarimasen w Since you have not read.

But, it is a powerful drug is a solid-gas Swarovski soot key “reason that period Mote something come to me is not” of Madarame in the state as it is like a title Ranobe.

130724003.
Then, in Mote period talk, reaction of bamboo plaque when one of the “four” has turned out to be Keiko fun w. Rose Mr. Kosaka’s powerful drug basis, but Ogigami’s also demonstrate kindness not to leave. In conjunction with Sasahara,  I Hitohadanui to ease tensions within the circle.
I put on my I mean.With up to cosplay, as president Do not’m “tight body”.
What she called after becoming president, and, Na has shaved himself in for the whole.
There was also that before, you have published “Sasa × Mada” the picture for Hato-kun then you also feel a reverse effect in retrospect you ……… array but I thought (the result to me, “I said to draw” It then has worsened with combination to reverse Hato was is mass-produced “dove × Mada” the picture).

By the way, cosplay girls’ team of the day was ” Moretsu! space pirate from

Ogigami: Quartz Christie A.
130724004

Sue: Guryueru Serenity.
130724005

Ohno: Chiaki-Kuriharaan: Misa Ground Wood.
130724007

Yajima: Luke Yoshitake: Courier
130724006

Yoshitake Chara w you are eating candy when you can also, following the apricot in the summer of Komi. In, dove when I joined leading role it was (Kato Jasmine incense).

Sue scary when I noticed the figure of Hato (Hato-kun deflect the line of sight is pretty). In addition, Sue of screaming when the male team is cute sac.

130724001
W to recognize the value of this issue just this frame

Then, in the cut and lines of Madarame “Sue me …… how funny is wonder in front of me recently ……” of, and w was feast enough as followers of Sue × plaque .

Word of the pillars does Gozara also time to look … that I do not know.
The “deliver happiness to everyone” in the trailer, from Jewel pet Happiness.

— end Google Xlate fail of what looks like a great Genshiken resource—-

If only I could read it!

Well at least I got a tip as to whose costumes come from where, for whenever i can track down ch90, like in 3 years from now when the official version finally hits our heathen shores…

WAUGHHHHH!

I AM IN DESPAIR!

Perhaps I will have better luck with the Bulgarian and/ or Peruvian scans.