Given; my little guy band, male friendship is magic

“melody awakens the mind, the rites perfect through performance, thus music completes experience.” — Lun Yu , Book VIII, Chapter 8

“Death awaits us all, what is one dalliance with perversion?”
— Max von Sydow to Werner Herzog per Twitter

Spoiler warning: Given [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Given_(manga)] anime spoilers to Ep7, manga spoilers to ch 28.

Tabby Praxis

Fetishization as an accusation of bad-faith practice seems to be a new thang in the discourse surrounding mass cultural vernacular narratives. As a practice, (praxis?) the actual mechanisms of fetishisation appear on closer examination to be slippery, diffuse and worse. inexorably bound to the process of simplified storytelling that makes up all that yummy, fast, cheap and ephemeral product that we fans gorge on and geek out over. Marge, You’re soaking in it. Worse, a useful definition and genealogy of the term is difficult to come up with. At least with appropriation of voice you kinda get the idea. Exactly what’s on the label. Fetishization is a whole lot harder to pin down.

Problematic, even…

If it is sexual, why not use the clinical term paraphilia? Or is schmexy-fetishism some kind of paraphilia-light/ not-quite paraphilia? Is it a fetish when you want your beloved to wear a bunny costume but hope to end up in the sack with them, bunny costume more or less removed; whereas with paraphilia, you want to rub the damn costume all over your nekkid body while sweetums is left to do the NYT crossword in the living room?

This is confusing.

A bout of Twitter discourse recently sent me down a bunny-costume-hole chasing current, useful examples. Then when the back and forth grew wearisome, I was tempted to do a stink-eye, declaring “SILLY COMRADES, I MEANT COMMODITY FETISHISATION!” because the internet, and Natalie Wynn’s Tabby


“Cat girls of the world, unite… Violence!” (1)

Be careful of what you poke with a stick. It had been decades since I had to fidget through any introductory Marxism reading lists but I thought a quick refresher at Wikipedia’s “commodity fetishism” page [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodity_fetishism] was worth a detour. Holy frick, the gang’s all here, hanging out back in the kitchen; Jameson, JimBo, Debord, Benjamin, Adorno, Lukács… TABBY!

Best I can puzzle out is that “fetishism”, as practice and shade, is kinda like those sci-fi stories where is magic is blurred with science-y props and rituals; quantifiable, reproduce-able and easily invoked with a sufficient supply of brass mechanical difference engines.

“Marx said that fetishism is “the religion of sensuous appetites”, and that the fantasy of the appetites tricks the fetish worshipper into believing that an inanimate object will yield its natural character to gratify the desires of the worshipper. Therefore, the crude appetite of the fetish worshipper smashes the fetish when it ceases to be of service.”
— Ibid wiki per Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, On religion (orig 1842).

Karl and Fred could have given us a little more on this. They elide the mechanistic operational appeal of the magic. Drop the magic pebble into the bucket and the water turns into chocolate pudding (watch your teeth, there’s still a pebble in the pudding) Bad example — the rock had nothing initially chocolate-y or pudding-ish about it. Laws of similarity and contagion violated. Back to beans and beanstalks.

Worse, when you try to tar vernacular narratives and their derivative crap with the fetishisation brush, you run into a bunch of pre-existing, structural conditions that complicate the exercise (or charge).

A myth of originality

Plots, settings, characters – even chara designs get recycled. Contemporary Japanese Visual Culture is a very efficient recycler, whether because of a handicraft view of creative production, the doujinshi/ ani-paro tradition and/or a vigorous culture of interchange between producers and consumers/ fans. Outsiders decry this as “same-face”; pop-culture pundits whomped up elaborate end-of-history-end-of-grand-narratives visions of a “database”, while still others attempted to impose a quasi-linguistic taxonomy approach, (gotta catch em all!) taking street urchin “cliches” and giving them a good scrub, a clean track suit and lodging them in an ongoing repository of “tropes”. Cataloging is fun but the payoff comes with the permission and availability promoted by well-stocked shelves full of variously exaggerated forms. Amateur enthusiasts and underpaid hacks alike can grab armloads of pret-a-porter and keep cranking out product. So, yeah.. we might all look the same…

As well, there’s the schmexy.

We need the schmexy.

Fetishisation sounds like it must have something to do with naughty knickers but if you toss out any trace of the “yummy bits” you end up with Scooby Doo Mysteries. When Dr. Saito Tamaki (renown Japanese clinical psychologist – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamaki_Sait%C5%8D ) took a break from his work on Japanese (mostly guy) social isolates to throw some post-Lacanian theory at male manga/ anime fans and their libido(s), he opened up a giant can of beautiful/ magical fighting girl fantasies. These he pronounced as all good and healthy. Then he noticed all the porny aniparo doujinshi (fanzines) at Comiket. You would think he would ignore these, bhut noooo. All good too! Most excellent survival strategy(!) for young, alienated, isolated guys in a society that was increasingly globalised, unintelligible and overloaded with never ending shit-floods of visual narratives.

Fan-boy gets that strange feeling looking at the powered-up cartoon cutie, wonders if his wiring is off, finds all manner of variants, becomes a connoisseur of the effect and gets to spread the faith and bond with fellow enthusiasts. Hack the spew with cartoon pr0n!!! Your life is no longer endless grey concrete drudgery and kombini take-out meals — your rich fantasy lives have been re-cathected (cf Mary Shelley per Freud ) Then the FATE franchise was born and everyone lived happily ever after.

Anyway, otaku have no problem whatsoever distinguishing fantasy from reality; their sexualities don’t get warped by all them weird cartoons and the majority of them are functioning heterosexual guys who will go on to marry and reproduce. Don’t freak out.

Feeling better? No urge to go hide in your room for 5 years? Good! Get back to work…

Later critics would argue that women fans had their version of this as well but it worked somewhat differently… (2)

Fuck you Muddy-boi, where is my Given review?

Can it! You want the free grub, you gotta sit for the sermon… Ok, whatever!

GIVEN:

Given is a manga and a current season anime about a bunch of guys who get together to practice and hopefully start a band. The story puts their band interaction, taking place in a rented practice space at the center of their personal lives. Home, school, jobs are all places where the band members do time before they can once again get together and jam. The band-verse is the hub of their manosphere — everything radiates out from it. A male homosocial, to use the fancy-shmancy academic term. While contemporary “queer theory” grabbed that term and ran off yelling Squeeeeeeeeee! into the night (in many ways anticipating a variation on the slash/ fujoshi conceit that all guys, male socials and male power structures are and will be up to the same-old-same-old mischief, all the time) it is worth remembering that the concept was born out of sociology/ anthropology and was initially appropriated for use in literary criticism.

However BL guy homosocials are not like the ones that Sedgwick’s Between Men dissects. Buncha guys in BL is a magic.

This fun tradition of the BL genre has been shorthanded as “the fetishisation of male friendship”. The initial appeal of this notion appears to spring from two IRL conditions: 1) Japan does same-sex socials a lot and 2) the genre fandom, the audience for stories riffing off this conceit are notorious for the occult gender exclusivity of their socials. The girls only-club gets to have fun ascribing exaggerated characteristics to hypothetical boy-only clubs. Win!

If I run with my simple metonymic rule for build-a-bear fetishisations;
“Simplify a complex condition, exaggerate one remaining aspect, then ascribe that aspect machine-like magical powers within the story”

… then the simple act of putting some guys together in a band will have magical consequences within the story because while the guy social is a dumb-simple plot machine, it has one inescapable effect:

Guys within get love-stuck and properly paired (one, true-ly) off.

A somewhat similar effect can be ascribed to isolated forest cabins that offer shelter in the midst of snowstorms, when one of our two heroes is sick or wounded and will die unless his rival-companion lavishes care upon him.

“…reminds me of a German guy I knew in Tokyo to whom I lent some Eroica slash stories. Helmut returned them to me in agitation. ‘Don’t these writers realize men can be friends and not want to have sex?!’ Naturally, I said, but the point of the slash exercise is that the guys do have sex. He didn’t see it.”
— Mary Jeanne Johnson/ Aestheticism forum (ca 2000)

I should dial it down a bit; Given — especially the anime version — remains well-behaved, sympathetic and sets up its main characters in a way that maintains a good balance between leaving things unsaid/yet to be revealed and naturally developing the initial dynamics between the four main characters. At the start of the story, only one of the four is acknowledged gay and he’s had a bad time of it. Satō Mafuyu had a fight with his first ever boyfriend and then walked in on the aftermath of Yuki’s suicide. Now with Yuki’s guitar, given to him by the deceased’s mother he walks around in a grieving daze. Uenoyama Ritsuka finds Sato-kun nodding off in his secret high school napping spot and grudgingly re-strings the expensive Gibson hollow body, growing even more annoyed when he realises that its owner has no idea at all about guitars or how to play.

Sato Mafuyu then goes stray-puppy-to-11 and begins to stalk and pester Uenoyama, begging for guitar lessons. Uenoyama-kun is restless and easily annoyed but fundamentally good-natured. He also has a bad case of dogged determination; when young he had pushed himself not just to learn but to master the electric guitar his father gave him. Recently he has felt that his skill has levelled off and guitar is less fun than it used to be. Later we will find that he has little patience for going along with amateurs and has left at least one other band and/ or a school light music club because they were insufficiently “serious”. This won’t stop Sato-kun. Bit by bit, Sato wears him down until Uenoyama agrees to give him a few pointers.

Then Sato sings a melody line and Uenoyama is taken.

Uenoyama is in a band with two other guys, older university students. Nakayama Haruki is basist, band-leader and veteran of a few other bands. Although nominally straight, we soon find that he has somehow developed an undisclosed crush on Kaji Akihiko; drummer, music major, violinist and semi-pro man-whore. Akihiko-san is currently rooming with/ freeloading off his ex-boyfriend, the musical prodigy Murata Ugetsu who destroyed Akihiko’s musical self-confidence and stole his heart. Unfortunately Aki-san has irresponsible parents who travel abroad and neglect to send a regular allowance, so mr blond hunk music student has also found it expedient to cultivate the sponsorship of rich, older, generous girlfriends. The manga does more reveal on this than the anime has currently offered – including genius roomie’s toxic, sadistic nature. Initially, in both the anime and the manga, the two senior band-mates naturally take the role of sempai(s), with one important reservation; both feel that Uenoyama’s “serious” approach to music might be what they need to get a band to “click” and as such defer to Uenoyama’s musical tastes.

It doesn’t take long before Sato is introduced to the sempai, they get to hear him sing la-la-la syllables and encourage him to join as their singer. Uenoyama then has to stalk Sato to convince him to join the band, as Sato lacks confidence.

Sato puts in the effort to learn to play, begins to heal and starts to socialise at school but Uenoyama grows progressively more out-of-sorts. He wonders if he wants the responsibility of teaching Sato. A girl in his class who quite clearly has strong feelings for him takes him aside and blurts out the gossip following Mafuyu Sato: he openly dated a guy in junior high and then the guy committed suicide. “Don’t get involved with him, he is dangerous!” Huh? Involved? Uenoyama has no previous romantic experience, or for that matter unresolved desires — at least any that were not sublimated into obsessive guitar practice. He gets on great with the rest of the guys in his class but is often half-asleep because of band and part-time job (to pay his part of the studio rent) demands on his time and energies. He is not shy or uncomfortable around girls; at home his older sister expertly bosses him around. Why is everything suddenly getting complicated?

One makes allowances for anime and manga stories. We expect details to get brushed over, or rushed past. Still at 7 episodes and/ or 28 chapters in, we only have the vaguest idea of who has what in the way of parents, let alone where they are about or underfoot. Someone besides Mafuyu must be taking care of the dog… Please! Also; the shade of Yuki is an uncomfortable presence in more ways than one. A young lover’s suicide out of the blue, after a teen romantic spat between guys? Somehow his feels callous on the part of the writers.

Then there is the question of sexualities as fixed within the self; as a “born this way” innate characteristic of personal identity. While neither manga or anime has yet to pull the infamous “I’m not gay it’s only you“, it is still a stretch that %100 of the bishie guys in a band end will up paired off with each other. Sure it is possible that they all were so inclined but the happenstance, presented with little concern, foreshadowing or explanation beyond “lightning strikes” is a bit of a stretch. Also what of informal traditions of band exogamy?

Put it down to an aspirational staging rule — turns out all four were predisposed to the idea of loving another guy and the band social provided a safe space where this could happen. Like magic.

As well, the “reasons” for attraction are portrayed as complex, emotional and empathic. At least, Given does not reduce male same-sex desire to “Wow, whatta hunk, nize ass!

One week before their first show and Uenoyama is screwing up at practice, ostensibly over-worried about Sato’s ability to play and whether Sato will be able to finish the song lyrics on time. Kaji-sempai, talking to him after the rehearsal asks if he is completely out-of-sorts because he has developed a crush on Sato. Uenoyama, in one of the few, minor concessions in the story to notions of fixed sexuality and social conformity goes all “Huh?” Sempai replies “what of it? I’ve gone out with guys too… though it was some time ago.”

Sempai sez no biggie. So much for societal disapproval. Moving right along…

At their first live gig Sato sings a powerful song about his feelings of loss for Yuki and Uenoyama, overcome with the emotion of the moment, hugs and then kisses Sato backstage. Soon after they confess to each other and begin dating.

The BL manosphere/ magic guys club forcefield comes with secondary effects. Women characters vanish into the mist. They become negligible threats to the bonds between the guys or cheerleaders on the sidelines. Jealous girl had already apologised for “he’s dangerous” and although not “out” at high school, Uenoyama and Sato start spending more time together, though Uenoyama reverts to “tough coach” mode when it’s music time. If the two are “exploring” anything it happens off-stage.

The action in the manga then shifts to Nakayama Haruki; flashbacks about his growing attraction to Kaji Akihiko, the latter’s troubling relationships and behavior and finally, from Akihiko’s POV; cutting clean from Ugetsu-san, tracking down the wayward parental units, dunning them for proper support, dropping the host gigs, resuming serious attention to his music degree and otherwise trying to clean up his act, “so as to be worthy” of Haruki-san’s affection.

The left one now, it has bells on it and makes pretty sounds.

So far no 1970’s era bishounen-style, “Even after the flames take my body” vows of eternal and undying monogamous love (OTP! OTP! ) but we still have a few chapters to go. They could tone it down a bit and go for contemporary adult romantic realism “I’m gonna work real hard at this, call me on it if I get out of line — I’ll do the same for you because I’m all in as long as you are” — which would raise the exercise in my eyes and even tone down a lot of my snark. Putting up with anyone, in one’s face all the time, for any promised indefinite period is one of the big questions that drives BL and associated dreaming in queer het-gaze exercises in speculative romantic fiction. We’d like to think –even if only in our fictions — that maybe without all them dysfunctional rules, roles and expectations that someone(s) can come up with a new, workable approach to love.

Relationships are complicated. No shit, Sherlock. Takes work. Also needs agreed upon boundaries. What would be a “code of honor” for an equal, mutually affirming arrangement for two anyones to stay together and not crumple each other?

Audience is restless.

Unfortunately, another magic simplification fetishism trap now lies in wait for us. Part of the appeal of the magic BL guy-group effect is that male friendships appear, to observers to be simple and direct; as simple and direct as guy sexual desire. Indeed, the simple, selfish entitled stupidity of guy sexuality is one of the things that women find troublesome, annoying, threatening, even lethally dangerous about the way guys spark. Male:male desire, as imagined by a significant subset of the BL audience is prone to being simplified to these extremes, even if “only in stories, for fun”. Everyone gets to have their porn and porn needs to move fast and get on with the hot stuff but the simplifications can spread and contaminate even more restrained works. The guys in Given are fastidious, cautious and as empathic as they can manage in getting close and finding out if… but when Akihiko and Ugetsu have a hate-fuck the manga audience gets their satisfying glimpses of the rough “default setting”.

Then the stories overcompensate. If stereotypical guy attraction is short on “see the other person as a person, with unique characteristics, hopes, dreams, likes, dislikes and behavior patterns”, we get the temptation to have the guy-puppets in aspirational romantic same-sex fictions make good the shortage when they turn their attentions on each other. Guys only act “really” romantic with other guys(!) because uh, fetishisation and Tumblr

SO WHAT?

Too easy to toss water bottles at a nice, simple anime/manga romance. Ease off and enjoy. Part of the appeal of vernacular love stories is that they do one thing in a satisfying way. Close enough for rock and roll. Enjoy the band. Clap a lot and they’ll do an encore.

They will inevitably leave the stage.

Whining about fetishisation in pulp fiction is wasted effort. Only as technique is it worthy of consideration and study.

 

ENDNOTES:

(1) “Tabby; a far-left communist anti-fascist Cat Girl […] is well-meaning but struggles to connect with the common person, coming across as overly intellectual and militant; either lecturing people on dialectical philosophy or threatening to bash their skulls in with her trademark baseball bat.”
https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/ContraPoints

(2) Dr Tamaki had a go at expanding his theories to include women fans (2006) but came up short, I suspect because the post-Lacanian framework he uses to take apart individual subjectivities gets confused when the subject in question doesn’t have a wee bit of patriarchy in their shorts. Besides, he was too busy having fun repeating “no… is the sexy bits, they are important” at other guy pop-culture experts who would get all worked up by the idea that guys might wank to comic book babe drawings. Dr. Nagaike burned a massive load of theory powder trying to bring the woman reader into this equation (see her doctoral thesis) but her solution remains prone to reductio-ad-shotacon. For now, everyone has settled on “asymmetry” as the compromise solution. Guys reportedly geek out on individual sexy charas while women are supposed to be more interested in character interaction and interpersonal emotional dynamics. Your mileage may vary.

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Time enough for rotten doujins

It is important to consider perspectives.

“Saito highlights that BL “characters overcome the taboo of homosexuality, thereby proving that their love is truer and purer than that of heterosexual couples and “real” gay men.” (Saito, 2011: 183) She sees the relationships depicted in BL as having severe implications for “real” heterosexual characters and “real” gay men because of the idyllic romance depicted that typically conquer time, space, heterosexuality, homophobia, and wide range of possible trials. Similarly, Mizoguchi argues that “when yaoi protagonists say ‘I’m not gay, I just love you,’ they are also saying that those gay men who love other men for their male bodies are creeps.” (2008: 134) Both Mizoguchi and Saito argue that the disavowal reifies “real-life” gay men/identity by, in effect, suggesting the yaoi pair’s relationship is pure because it lacks the taint of homosexual desire. However, I question to what extent readers will differentiate between “real-life” gay men and BL manga characters as “different.” This is not to say that readers will expect “real-life” gay men to be like BL characters, but that the expression of homosexual romance is the same. McLelland reports similar findings with over half of female respondents under 35 declaring support for homosexuality as another form of love. (2000: 70) While Mizoguchi and Saito’s observation are not necessarily off-base, but the subtleties of their reading is not necessarily one that fans would notice.”

— “What’s So Queer About Boys Bonking?” A Queer Analysis of Gender Normativity and Homophobia in Japanese Boys’ Love Manga” MA Thesis; Gender Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) September 17th, 2012 by John Francis pps 25-26
https://johntfrancis.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/ma-gender-studies-535522.pdf

“Hello, I’m a liberal middle-aged white guy in a movie. Although I’m very supportive of LGBTQ and POC friends, often offering concrete aid, I’ll still constantly slip up and say things that show I can never truly understand… godDAMMIT this is just me in real life, FUCK this game, fuck!”
–Redacted well-meaning liberal middle-aged white guy on Twitter

January 2019. A new year begins. Regular readers may notice that my previous “12 days of Anime” series of posts wound down abruptly. I plead the holidays, “local state”‘s bureaucratic engines suddenly target-locking on my concerns and a really nasty flare-up of one of those middle-age-related health things that, even if they are a Real Effing Drag™, are not (yet) chronically debilitating or fatal. Also, I am getting used to my high-spec bionic eyeballs (BL SofPort Advanced Optics Aspheric IO Lenses). Yup, a cataract snuck up on me last year, scared the crap out of me; the doc told me best to do both eyes and now for the first time since I was 5 years old I don’t need to wear glasses. Except when I need to see anything closer than 4 feet. Grrrrr. I can’t cut my toenails without 3.00+ cheaters!

TLDR: I don’t write well when I hurt, focussing on the screen is annoying and I have paperwork shyte-shyte after me. Most of all that has been dealt with. So do I finish up those 12Days posts?

Oh lookie, a shiny shiny new thing!

Finding this nifty 2012 Masters thesis in a link in a 2016 blog post about Fujoshi [ I noticed a ping-back to my blog, so: https://shiraai.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/the-f-word/ ] prompts me to try to tease apart a few more of the strands that entangle the “queer-ness” as well as the “heteronormativity” of BL and the fujoshi project.

“Boys’ Love manga grew in popularity in the United States at the start of the 21st century. While I cannot recall the exact year I first came in contact with the genre, likely sometime around 2005 or 2006, my first BL manga was Shinobu Kokoro – Hidden Heart – by Matsumoto Temari.I remember purchasing the book, unaware of the content, but attracted to the art style. I always favor the BL manga featuring androgynous ukê characters. My involvement as a passive fan of the genre over the years formulated my interest in queer theory and gender studies, because I always identified and found interesting the absence of sexual identity. I am sure that my continual enjoyment of the genre is seeing a romance that defies the expectations of both heterosexuality and homosexuality, an expression I view as queer and similar to my own position and identity. For me, Boys’ Love manga provide(d) a significant impact on how I have crafted my queer identity. In this regard, I am heavily invested in queering BL manga, which is why I want to problematize the issues that interrupt and problematize the enjoyment of BL and its
queerness.”
–ibid p30 Chapter 4: Concluding for a Queer Appreciation of BL Manga

Theory Moe time! I am assuming that the author identifies as male – though I could be wrong and as “queer” in the sense of attempting to surpass the role limitations that a strict “gay guy”, let alone “straight guy” identity would entail. At a short 39 pages, the work is interesting in that it examines some of the value and attractiveness of the genre to a queer reader of stories made by/for a fandom “marked” as originally majority (%90) women, with those women equally “marked’ as majority “straight” or at least operating within a “heterosexual” framework.

Whew! Disclaimers! More: why is old pale-skin straight-boy me (Later, from jail/ I sent a brace of telegrams/ to the right people/ explaining my position. –Thompson 1965) mooching around this stuff? Huh? The value of this work is not only that one gets to peek into the thicket guided by a queer POV but it’s enquiry into modes of post-yaoi-ronso identity category blurring. How does a “queer” guy look at the women-written bonking bishies?

It has two main faults or at least shortcomings for my tastes and towards the ends I plan to bend my argument towards: First, it really, really situates itself in the mid 2000’s. The genre has evolved since. Examples that refer to Japanese “gei” tropes are even older. Furthermore, in exploring a wider “queer” subjectivity it compresses ‘heteronomativity’ into a screeching white-hot ball of GOP voter patriarchial whatever.

Which blurs SOME of the reasons why all those Japanese nominally straight women (and many more) find it all so yummy.

What the paper DOES well is go through arguments, sometimes using Dr Akiko Mizoguchi as a straw-lesbian-BL-enthusiast-and-academic-authority, to highlight aspects of BL (and those that can be transcribed to other queer-for-nominally-straight genres such as Josou/Otokonoko and even Yuri) that are often minimised, if only because they are a bit harder to stuff into a sound bite.

There is an odd parallelism/ congruence in the view of the paper’s author, as a queer reader searching for stories of relationships by actors less-marked by social roles; a view that he considers as “queer” and the views of the within-a-heterosexual-framework “dreaming in yaoi” rotten girls who want a fun p0rny gooey romance featuring (their choice of) good-looking characters (guys) getting all hot and bothered about each other without having to OBEY a thicky stack of disappointing set social scripts that guys and girls are supposed to follow. Hey lookie, lust hits, they go mad. Society has ZERO to say about how it plays out. After lots of angsty schmex, tadah! They be in love. OTP! (One True Pairing) OTP!

The rotten girls want stories outside of “heteronormality” as much as the author of the paper enjoys stories outside of “homonormalities” (and “heteronormalities”), the latter preference getting shorthanded to “queer”. You could draw one of those intersecting circle graphs with “rotten” as one circle and “queer” as the other. But one more thing sneaks through the net: these stories are, beyond 15page doujins full of porny “the good stuff” fundamentally romance stories. Harlequin Nurse novels for those of us who need a dismissive stereotypical analogue. Bodice busters; the dashing privateer and the haughty heiress, etc etc. Only done as all-guys.

And as I have noted previously, the rest of us straight Borg (guy variant) can now and again fall prey to the siren call of hawt and steamy romance tales too; as long as these center on two soon to be nekkid with each other ladies. That gives us cover… and nekkid ladies.

We all know how to fuck but what do any of us know of how to love?

Otherwise we seek refuge in traditional social roles, because they are reassuring and if we iz guys, we are supposed to get more privilege out of the song and dance. This is less than optimum because “I have a job, so you make dinner, my babies and obey me” isn’t working so well any more. Social norms and law aside, the economy will grind any such bullshit into dust soon enough. So, what next? She is also going to also get a part-time job and offer tribute to you? If you really really cannot survive without a submissive partner, you should take up either an extreme sexual fetish or join a cult. If the latter, best start your own cause Holy Leader gets all, while you get to wind up your incel rage into paroxysms that serve him; not you.

A kinky leather wardrobe might be easier than some of the other net-shyte out there.

Here’s a nifty Twitter exchange that demonstrates the point; complete with the sound of a whole bunch of trolls’ whiney little needinesses shattering.

“A real woman is ready to sacrifice her career for the man she truly loves.
— Redacted Twitter troll #23,976. Dec 24, 2018

“The hets aren’t okay. Also, in what universe would someone even *need* to sacrifice a career to love someone unless that someone is a needy asshole who won’t let you have a life?”
— Twitter [律「HoliDyke」] aka Andrearitsu

“All the school in the world can give you a
PHD
MSc
BSc
HND
OND
But only a man can give you a “Mrs” so be humble… 😌😌 ”
— Redacted Twitter troll #23,977

“Actually a woman who marries a woman can still legally use “mrs” to refer to her married state and I bet she won’t have been asked to “be humble” for it by her partner in doing so.”
— Twitter [律「HoliDyke」] aka Andrearitsu

Yuppers, they did it. Them darn gays “killed marriage”. If by marriage the above trolls really, really believe their crap — in which case they will either end up forever ‘ronery or on a sex-offender list. I have seen too many happy straight marriages fall apart because buddy suddenly got all paranoid and controlling. Don’t do that! Only villains do that. Your mate is a free human being with agency and the law insists on equality (mostly, less in some GOP States). You might be able to minge your mate into getting your way for a while but in the end all you will win is a mouthful of ashes. You knew that from the start, didn’t you? Self-sabotage; the ultimate wank.

This soon veers out of the lane over into the old “its the fault of -class of individuals-“, rather than actually using whatever democratic structures of government are available to push back at the capitalist/ mercantilist power structures that want everyone to work without job security or benefits, for peanuts, as well as pushing for the usual basket of social safety net supports; you know the drill. The urge to individualise changing socio-economic conditions that cause extreme societal role friction is strong. Scapegoating remains a popular response; there are plenty of wrong-headed personal reasons to wink, nod and mouth the bullshit. You might even be ready to cut off your own nose so that “those people” don’t get to have one on their faces but in the end it is futile.

Muda muda muda, you fell for it again! Global corporate capitalism continues unimpeded!

…And that’s why Japan, BL (and their other dream-in-queer genres) are so fascinating.

A whole genre of women’s fiction has been DIY’ing allegorical glimpses of alternatives for almost 40 years now.

Mandatory disclaimer: These shadows of real LGBTQIA lives and/or practices mean something completely different to actual readers who live in that life. Or IRL as the otaku-speak goes. Their approach, enthusiasm and/ or disdain for these representations (often a mix of all of the above) are separate, yet in parts, congruent to the concerns of us boring Borg-like “hets”. Again; that is why this paper is so useful. It recognises but slips past, then returns, then drags off in a different direction these issues from a queer POV. Any group develops strong normalities of how that group ideally acts. There is always plenty of under the surface jostling over what is the right thang for any particular time and location. It too gets suffocating.

To appreciate how, and why this is useful to a majority subjectivity requires putting “Heteronomativity’ up on the hoist and taking the air-wrench to it.

Whirrrrr… whirrrr…. Whackackackack… whirrr.

Part of this “Heteronormativity” is of course that there are so darn many of us all over the place. We end up distorting the socio-economic gravity field. Whether old-style haters, well-mannered contemporary citizens or whether our polite behavior masks a rapacious and instrumental curiosity (or all of the above), any time we gaze upon “the other” that is the “queer” (etc) we do so for our own subjective and undoubtedly selfish reasons.

Similarly, we outlanders looking in and doing kitchen sink etc (now expanded to social anthropology) can pretend to understand the contemporary Japanese experience (build a teeny tiny imperfect model based on our concerns) from say; a whole bunch of weird little comics – including self published naughty doujinshi and whatever stats and trends we can shake out of the English language web pages of The Japan Times leavened with the occasional expose by Jake Adelstein (& co.) in Buzzfeed. Oh; Rocket News. (maybe Kotaku too)

Before I further “fetishsize” and “other-ize” the Japanese experience, I should lead off with the inescapable one big thing that makes Japan’s Culture so tasty to “us”. The Japanese are as fascinated and prone to “fetishsizing” and “other-izing” us as we are of them. Our eyes meet from across the room, then our gazes lock. This is like some kind of romcom.

Oh heck! One… More… Time:

“More than fifty years after the war’s end American scholars are still organizing knowledge as if confronted by an implacable enemy and thus driven by the desire either to destroy it or marry it.”
— Intro, Perversion and Modern Japan: Psychoanalysis, Literature, Culture. Edited by Nina Cornyetz and J. Keith Vincent. London and New York: Routledge, 2010.

Not that this grants an all-day pass for the above fetishsizing” and “other-izing” but we can at least be aware of the slip and back-and-forth exchange between our respective, hungry subjectivities. Stick to BL-ish stuff: 1970’s proto BL bishonen works. Why so often set in some pre-WWI exotic fantasy Europe? Why, in the 1980’s and 90’s was the rich exotic foreigner seme such a big BL thang? How about exotic, dangerous foreign locales and locals instead? instead? Wikipedia is your friend: Banana Fish (orig and contemporary anime vers.) On a het level, note what was swiped and repurposed to serve in Black Lagoon.

Oh Heck, veering all over the place. Eyes on the road!

How do you strip away the society-sez-you-gotta-act-in-these-roles from the steamy romantic (as well as the smutty) stuff? Kind of like how you get rid of the peaceful obedient, law-abiding well-ordered toxic hierarchical and suffocating Japanese corporate social rules so you can help the really strong hawt merc babe reload her guns as the edgy-dangerous South East Asian Dive Bar™ you and her are having a drink in turns into a free-fire zone. Damn! That’s exotic. That’s adventure!

And now I have conflated a BL classic with a Merc adventure series. Facepalm.

As well, it is not that the majority of Japanese women have turned into asexual and/or lesbian BL-marathonning low-level office drudges, any more than that the majority of Japanese men have either gone gay and/or decided to marry a hologram (She is NOT a hologram! Her name is Hatsune Miku and she is a -minor, Japanese- God. Also a Shinkansen pilot!) as they try to hold onto their office jobs or precarious freeter/ temp gigs.

Except for the office drudge/ precarious employment freeter/temp stuff.

As far as I can make out, the only non-toxic ideal heterosexual romantic make-a-life Japanese fantasy story left, short of lottery wins and saving incredibly rich corporate exec ladies for train drunks is marrying into/starting a family restaurant and/or grocery store. Everybody, including the eventual kids take turns stocking/cooking/serving and standing behind the counter. After the day’s work is over, the happy couple cook dinner together, supervise the kids doing their homework and then retire to their someone-tosses-and-turns-at-night-so-twin-beds where a quiet slide-over and some not too noisily enthusiastic measures of happiness can still be regularly indulged in at night.

Such dreams are probably a lot harder to pull off than imagined. Also, no one wants to leave the big city to marry into a farm family any more. No one.

Extra research: do a quick survey of manga/anime depictions of MC’s families from 1980 through to current. Do the survey with mainstream/ het-normed manga/ anime. Note how first Dad then Mom evaporates. Was it a trick to “destroy the family”? A device to focus attention on the potential for (forced) individual agency by the MC? If it picks up some identification points from the readership; bonus!

Among Japanese women, even BL reading fujoshi, the mythic ideal of financially secure good-wife-wise-mother-hood still holds a powerful appeal. Pity it is so out of reach for so many and/or what if the guy turns into useless needy, controlling man-baby? Shit! What if he gets unemployed and/or starts screwing around, drinking too much and blowing the savings on the ponies? What if the fool goes and gets himself dead? More than half of Japanese single mothers live below the poverty line. Child support is an optional civil contract matter – even if Japanese family courts will always put the kid(s) in care of the mother. Even if she manages to keep things stable and hubby brings home the sarraryman pay cheque, everyone is worked to near-death. Where is the mad romance?

Let’s destroy all the social rules and roles and scripts that get in the way and take two bodies with physical and socio-economic strength/ freedom/ agency and bang them together and get some theoretical yet intense romance, with steamy schmex. Bonus twice of what looks good to the readership without some cartoon bimbo with a huge rack in your face and buzz-killing your fujoshi enjoyment. Hey wait! Them is guys! They have no idea how to do romance. Fallback: they have friendship and guy friendship is supposed to be mythically stronger and more intense than m:f or f:f friendship.

Note that they DO NOT ask on 2chan for dating advice, even if they crave the reassurance of herd approval.

Damn! Lookie at those hunks. They even do more than grab tits, crotch and then hump until someone prematurely ejaculates. They do the nasty BETTER than real guys. They have (gasp) multiple orgasms! (Japan needs to get to know a few reputable online pharmacies from India – yes, these exist; also a great way to load up on anthrax-strength antibiotics fast and cheap too.)

Back to the fun light reading. Buried somewhere under the guys working out who is going to act out some of the catalog of available uke roles (and/ or seme roles) there might even be a dab of aspirational romantic fantasy modelling. And this is far less of a useless fancy than say, what Rock offers his sarraryman readers while he guards Revvy’s back.

This is not exactly a new idea, even in the West. Go dig out Heinlein’s thicky 1973 sci-fi epic Time Enough for Love if you want an ancient American male-gaze version. Of course the two med-techs are both happy that one of them ends up a woman and the other a man, but the sci-fi societal conventions were made clear from the beginning of the tale. In such semi-formal workplace hookups, gender is incidental. Also everyone wears Asbestos Suits (cf Leacock, 1911) If you can make it through to the end, our annoying MC even gets to time travel back to bonk his Mom! (She has no idea of his identity but considers the daliance fun and somewhat sweet). Also circumspect when it comes to RAH’s spanky fetish.

Heinlein can re-het-norm even the queerest in-the-future setup. And he did so half a century ago. Also he preached too much. Still, many of the trolls out there might benefit from reading this one. Within their comfort zone. Not like anyone is forcing them to read Dhalgren or anything.

To tie this up with a bow, what our essayist relentlessly marks as “queering” looks damn close to a straight instrumental gaze that wants to eliminate distractions while positing a fantasy level playing field. The readership can relax without getting their noses re-rubbed in annoying IRL scripted roles and conventions and maybe, perhaps even figure out some approaches or desiderata for that most elusive prize: the egalitarian romantic life pair-bond.

I previously mentioned the Yuri genre, taken from the view of the straight male gaze. Other odder fetish-y genres have grown in prominence since the 2000’s, some of which I find ridiculously funny and yet useful in teasing out what is acceptable to an expanded heterosexual male-gaze subjectivity, what is marked as ‘gay’ or ‘gei’ but still might be within the realms of guy-ness and what is irrevocably tainted by the touch of the fujoshi gaze. As I have previously ventured:

“The “deception” that the straight male subjectivity fears is not present upon the body of the otokonoko but within the emotional complexity of any interaction. ”
https://heartsoffuriousfancies.wordpress.com/2017/08/07/fearsome-asymmetry/

But the problem goes far deeper than this, lying in the modeling of fictional, idealised (or less) same-sex/ gender-fluid relationships created for the consumption and entertainment of heteronormative subjectivities. As a straight man, I can read and model, even consider multiple, even conflicting fictions/ models of such desires but in the end, I must acknowledge that what finally gives the real desires that these stories are shadows of, the weight of authenticity is precisely that I will never fully understand them. If I could, I would distrust them as mere fictions. This is how all those het-ish tropes sneak into BL; many more examples abound.

The mirror distorts; the reflections therein bear glimpses but not fascination.

Too Complicated. Wait; figured it out. Blame the millennials!

What little more-contemporary BL-ish stuff that I have stumbled across and not freaked out over (just moi, working on it) has meanwhile gone on to sand off some of the rigid seme-uke rusty bits (even as we outsiders simplify an entire catalog of variations on the seme/uke theme) in the genre. You can flip back through this blog for examples. Consider the lonely angst of the younger chara in Rendou Kurosaki’s ON or the ways in which the Utsotsuki Lily BL spinoff gives the (young woman) reader who might care to consider ways and means for getting a guy’s attention while demonstrating that yup, she not only likes but wants mr. slow on the uptake guy THAT WAY — a safe stand-in to work out how to go about it – or at least dream of doing so. Happy romantic and physical pairing achieved! (and c’mon, that bishie boys set-up is so damn heterosexual transposed “I know what you like” girl takes the lead seduction that, oh well, right… Margaret Magazine. For now the readership is just enjoying the show and taking a few notes.)

With the Genshiken spin-off Spotted Flower, we have a slightly more conflicted rendering. Almost as if, IF those two were going to “give it a try” they should have developed some spine(s) and gone at each other while still single and still in University. Bhuttt Noooooo….. (WTF izzhe goin on about? It’s a series and sequel that took up a lot of posts in this blog until the main series ended 2yrs ago; the kinda-sequel still comes out 4x a year.)

Now if I could only find a guy queer-theorist take on isekei (I was reincarnated as a….) stories. I have exactly ONE example of a woman-centric one: Magic Market. Are there fujoshi isekei? Queer approaches to BL isekei? Again; chercher le dissatisfaction done with a genre of escapist fiction. Scan with all available sensors, consolidate and report findings! Oh Fuck! Most isekei start off as net-novels written by guys(?) whose pen names translate out as “Emperor restoring repulser of foreigners“.

Maybe that genre needs a more subtle approach.

Also, read the thesis paper. Good’un!

Fearsome Asymmetry

“This Story Is Just 2,000 Words Of A Baby Boomer Mansplaining Hentai”
— A Twitter Bot post

“Conclusion: I love cake”
— A not-bot twitter post.

Nise x Koi Boyfriend/ Nise x Koi Boyfriend Lovely
Ataru Yamamoto  (2014)
Serialized In Be x Boy Magazine
https://www.mangaupdates.com/series.html?id=113661 
SPOILERS ENSUE.


Instead of adding to the essay series “The Naming of Parts” I have been diverted; first by the recent plot twists in Spotted Flower and now, by stumbling across an exemplary bit of Shoujo-fied BL. Normally, the latter is not my favorite thing but Nise X Koi does a superb job of showcasing one aspect of BL that is usually hard to wrap one’s head around. You could call it a mode of melodrama or the fetishization of male same-sex romantic confusion; you could call it hot dogs but you would be just as close to understanding the true (insidious) nature of the trick. Theorists dryly describe it as “asymmetry”: an emphasis on the emotional dynamics between characters rather than on a character (a Beautiful Fighting Girl, or a Loli Moe-blob) alone; sometimes to the point where the atmosphere itself is almost a secondary character.

It is worth examining it in action, at least once.

As a bonus, if you were already uncomfortable with stories about male same-sex intimacy, this stylistic trick is going to boost your hate levels into low orbit. Take a deep breath. Not a bug; it’s a feature.[1]

“”Soutarou Inugami is a shy and reserved high schooler interested in anime and manga. Although content with his lot in life, Soutarou also wouldn’t mind having a fateful encounter with a cute girl someday. Lucky for him, he comes home from school one day to find a girl sitting at his doorstep who he’s never seen before, but who happens to have the same red earrings as Meguru Satoi, a cool and good-looking guy at his school.””

Vol. 2 Nise x Koi Boyfriend Lovely: A sequel to Nise x Koi Boyfriend as a continuation of Soutarou’s and Meguru’s relationship.””
Mangaupdates summary

As one can tell from the description, here there be otokonoko (just one). The English fan translation is being done by a group who go out of their way to scanlate gender-bent fluff manga. They seem to favor shoujo-ish stories, hewing close to the root genre of many contemporary works that play with gender and sexuality. You can get away with almost anything in shoujo manga — as long as you shoujo-fy it. Also, I am using the clunkier otokonoko/ josou/ crossdresser terminology because the conventional western-anglo term has been condemned as hateful out in the real world. Real folks suffer harm because of the original reading of the term. A small measure of polite discretion costs nothing.

A socially clumsy otaku guy and a crossdresser who gets a crush on him. Sounds familiar. Is this a version of the same BL cliché that Genshiken Nidaime‘s Madarame and Hato riffed on? Not quite. If anything I have renewed respect for how the Genshiken‘s author avoided convention. Some of it does however look like something that Hato would draw. It gets lewd.

When a Japanese female-gaze story uses an otokonoko they invoke tropes from past works as well as scavenged real world lore from Japanese (and other) gay communities. Very little about these characters is “trans”; they remain essentially male and inclined toward subjective same-sex intimacy, even if not avowedly “gei“. It is worth emphasizing that the rotten tribes consider male-ness as an irreducible characteristic. Straight, gay, crossdressing, gender-fluid, gender-queer, Japanese, outlander, rich, poor, whatever are all just minor variations in specs of guy-ness. All are fresh meat; therefore male-ness in the gender-fluid character must be preserved.

If human societies are rigged to favor male agency and privilege, shouldn’t all guys then be fictionally frogmarched into taking advantage of all manner of opportunities, so that they can really get “interesting” in stories? Too late for “just because you could don’t mean you should” or “real guys don’t do that!

I have a notion that some fujoshi stories are as, or even more disquieting to real-life gay guys than they are for straight guys. Straight guys will just “oh heck, two guys screwing” and tune out. The chance for a gay male reader to get drawn into the story while feelings of “wrong wrong wrong!” creep up their spine could be a serious factor. The “wrong wrong wrong” effect isn’t necessarily all about the bonking either. Anyone who has researched the genre has run into mentions of the 30-year-old “yaoi controversy” (Yaoi Ronso) in Japan. The substance of the complaints against BL-ifying gay guys is reported as “objectification” and in more recent reoccurrences, ‘fetishization” and mis-representation. The only problem is that such complaints dwell on unintended ends. The mechanics of the “wrong, wrong wrong” (beyond airbrushed violent non-consensual sex and “I’m not gay it’s only you“) remain largely opaque.

Extreme and variable emotional dynamics between the characters is generally not mentioned. Or perhaps a finer distinction is needed. “A Night at the Opera” is Ok every so often, when done by pros. When clueless Chads are nudged into doing a cover version for fujoshi because the audience is geeked on the raw charm of the fail…

If you were an ambitious mangaka and you really wanted to turbocharge this (jarring) effect, you could drape its presentation in the visual stylings of adolescent girls’ romance manga. Wispy hair, expressive big eyed longing glances, floral/iconic backgrounds, flare effects. Since we have a crossdressing character, add cute frilly girl clothes as well. Then pile on all of the usual miscommunication, “notice me sempai”, “who is going to make the first move”, “failing self-confidence”, “I need to prepare my heart”, “no, not yet, not like this” mush from the shoujo genre, only with two male leads who can take turns grinding through the clichéd sequences. This is funny in itself. As well, at any moment either or both characters can snap back into shonen-esque selfishness, resentment, indifference, arrogance, weakness and violence. Drama ensues!

Feeling woozy yet?

Boyfriend lovely ???

Nise X Koi “feels” at first as if it escaped form the pages of Margaret or LaLa magazine and ran gibbering off into the night. Later it gets nasty. Isn’t it in “bad faith” right from the title? Nise as in “fake” or “trick”? Again from the sypopsis, with an upgrade:

“Soutarou Inugami is a shy and reserved high schooler interested in otokonoko genre anime and manga”.

Not only is our diminutive doormat lad an otaku, he’s an otokonoko otaku; the bully-ish group of popular guys at school spot his fave manga and shame him for it. By spitting out his angry “cuteness is justice” defense; “so what, as long as they are cute!’ he lights a flame of hope in the heart of an onlooker. One of those handsome, popular guys has a secret and a fierce need to share it with someone who might accept them for all that they can be.

“…he comes home from school that day to find a girl sitting at his doorstep who he’s never seen before, but who happens to have the same red earrings as Meguru Satoi, a cool and good-looking guy at his school.”

She ain’t just sitting there smoking a ciggy. The crouched down, dejected look on the mystery girl speaks volumes to the longing she initially feels. The mangaka is going to dance along the edge of seduction by deception for a full chapter and a half, as the crossdresser is so wrapped up in their own excitement and insecurities that they forget to check if shy nerd guy has clued in to who the mysterious cutie barging into the apartment is. She and later he just assumes it is obvious and that nerd boy recognises them. This takes a bit of work to clear up but along the way nerd boy gets to show how heroically smitten he has become when the crossdresser gets in trouble and then by dismissing minor details and declaring that he’s enraptured with the complete Meguru-chan experience. Hooray, they now have a happy secret romance. Even some physical intimacy. Roll credits on a two chapter one-shot.

When the story resumes nerd boy starts by backtracking on his commitment to fully appreciate his lover and then develops a severe case of fleeting self-confidence. Then a rival appears. Nerd boy wavers. Otokonoko guy (in guy mode) gets wound-up angry and decides that if boyfriend is going to act like a cowardly doormat, then boyfriend should be spitefully treated in a –ahem– more traditionally yaoi-ish manner. The resulting near sexual assault is mean-spirited and pure raw meat thrown to the intended readership. Satoi-san stomps out of their lover’s apartment in a snit after no finally means no, angry that the one who understood him won’t show any backbone or prove his resolve.

A mite over-wrought, perhaps? [2]

At this point, a gender-studies sociologist might cut in and point out that because they are both well-socialised Japanese males, even if one dresses up like a cute girl, neither of the two are particularly inclined to carry the empathy bucket of sorting out the other’s feelings or do the work of negotiating understandings within the relationship. That’s a plausible excuse for later and perhaps one of the “features” that fujoshi enjoy. For now, it is expected, in-genre behaviour. They are both horny-excited and each wants their shiny new adventure to go their way. Also, those feelings: so intense, so conflicted! Why not let them slip? Fireworks time with light guy-sex.

In female-gaze yuri, everyone would run off for a while and eventually have a frank, serious, somewhat tearful discussion and work things out like adults. Someone would not end up paired off but would wish the happy couple well.

In male-gaze yuri, all would end up in the sack.

In bad faith whoever-gaze yuri one or more involved would be suffering from a serious personality disorder, so that the behavior that causes the suffering can be endlessly repeated over and over; with ever-increasing levels of emotionally wounding sex.

In a bad faith nominally heterosexual melodrama, at least one character might have a severe personality disorder, another a masochistic need for an older woman, another a narcissistic fixation on an self-centered useless old guy and there might be a pining lesbian thrown into the mix. Then the characters can variously paw at each other, because they have agency and therefore they can (neener neener neener) but they will not enjoy any of it because the story is dramatic and shall not feature any happy. Momentary physical pleasure during sullen making out only – this telegraphs literary pretension and allows for a few more turns of characters bouncing between each other for bonus spite-groping. Then all will abruptly stop, grow up and decide to get real lives or wake up and remark that it was all a dream.

The framing of any idea of “bad faith” is, in itself a highly subjective exercise. If you view any particular hetero (or homo-) normality as stifling and oppressive, anything that subverts its expectations is just peachy; even if to the riajuu, it looks like getting stuck in a temporal loop on emo night in a small-town bar.

Forever.

Bad faith is avoided in any of these genres by advancing the plot towards some resolution. Otherwise the game is just endless grinding while wandering the labyrinth. Even someone’s head ending up in a school bag is preferable to endless grinding. When a genre has a whole warehouse-load of plot tropes available for ready use, these can be strung out in service of some eventual resolution. Perhaps even a “good ending”. You lose the “serious literature” vibe with a good ending but more people buy manga than serious literature. Vox Populi, vox profitable publishing company.

If one is more inclined toward linear storylines, characterization and action, having a clump of characters run around going bat-shit random over their horny might not be your idea of a fun read, no matter what manner of bodies are involved. You want the Supply Module to meet up with the International Space Station. You expect a bit of excitement over the launch and docking maneuvers but you will have your mission accomplished!. Having everyone on the station, in the module and in mission control self-sabotage because their heads are all jammed up their particular cray-cray thing de moment (subject to abrupt change in the next 10 minutes) so that the docking almost-but-repeatedly fails, or goes horribly wrong and still repeats, will strain your patience.

No matter how many times Riley sings Kathleen.

For another group of readers, bonking pretty boys may be fun and interesting but it is much, much better when both parties are working through their stereotypical male inability to deal with new emotional situations and overcompensating dramatically while they go at each other’s bods. They can then not only switch positions but cycle through new and unexpected emotional states. Amateurs may deploy some manner of fetish-ry, but this is less effective because it is always marked as play-acting (and is a cheat to avoid actual sex and thereby edge around certain regulations enacted by a past Tokyo Governor). Far more satisfying if the two creatures are pity, hate, fear, love and disgust fucking each other all at the same time!

And they cannot stop!

“Therefore, we can conclusively state that BL holds the potential to be far more obscene than either het, yuri, fetish or gay romantic pr0n. (And that I like cake.) Q.E.D. Certain classes of Bara to remain outside of the comparison range because those are allegorical and if you don’t consider them as such, you will lose your lunch.”

Perhaps my thesis is not completely convincing?

Shoujo-fied BL often feels like a pretty-fied train wreck with light man-secks. (Or it’s just me?) What’s with this story? What’s with the characterisation? What’s all this overdone emo crap? No way that they’d do that! Now they are going at it; at least getting past necking to pawing, nibbling and pulling. Now the other one has gone all sullen and pissy. Sheeet! We get it already! BL guys not fast on the uptake. Please, can they sit down and talk it out? Please? Maybe they should watch some gay pr0n? No luck, urusai continues. Wonder what they are going on about now? Somebody must liek this. STFU!

Other views in the theory-verse suggest that while the characters are male, their emotional responses have been “upgraded” to reflect an improved male subjectivity that can do emotionally complex interaction, while enjoying the agency and freedom to act on their desires. That may be the case for stories like the Uso Lily spin-off previously considered, but it is not the only way to rebuild a guy character. What if you freed them from the need to act “supportive” or “understanding” and gave them male agency enough to go after what they wanted? Then make it so they also get wound up over their feelings, because — Hey! they are new at these and they also have the privilege and agency not to be shy about taking them out for a test drive.

That might get messy. What? Messy good you say?

There is one further “technical” aspect to the genre that arises from the canon, from fan practice and from tradition and that has evolved either into a happy accident or a sneaky author’s trick. Recalling one of the roots of the term “yaoi” – no climax, no resolution, no plot – a term of art in Japanese literary criticism long before being adopted by fujoshi, points towards a tradition within the genre for disconnected, stand-alone scenes or tableau. Porn movie directors would call these the “money shot”.

cue the wikipedia entry:

“The term yaoi is an acronym created in the late 1970s[1] by Yasuko Sakata and Akiko Hatsu[8] from the words Yama nashi, ochi nashi, imi nashi (山[場]なし、落ちなし、意味なし) “No peak (climax), no fall (punch line/denouement), no meaning”. This phrase was first used as a “euphemism for the content”[9] and refers to how yaoi, as opposed to the “difficult to understand” shōnen-ai being produced by the Year 24 Group female manga authors,[10] focused on “the yummy parts”.[6] The phrase also parodies a classical style of plot structure.[11] Kubota Mitsuyoshi says that Osamu Tezuka used yama nashi, ochi nashi, imi nashi to dismiss poor quality manga, and this was appropriated by the early yaoi authors.[9] As of 1998, the term yaoi was considered “common knowledge to manga fans”.[12] A joking alternative yaoi acronym among fujoshi (female yaoi fans) is Yamete, oshiri ga itai (やめて お尻が 痛い, “Stop, my ass hurts!”).”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaoi

Once again, Genshiken Nidaime‘s Kio Shimoku left clues about larger rotten practice in his trans-fujoshi character Hato’s inability to draw anything but one-page sex scenes. Fanzines/doujins must accommodate page restrictions and low-output amateur artists. There is a strong bias towards jumping right to the lewd. When creating a parody work that brings together two wildly improbable giant robot piloting guys, the scant dialogue can stick with luvvy dovey fluff or they can expressively work out their conflicted feelings while they go at it. Same printing bill.

The space station metaphor once again becomes instructive. A mangaka might already have a number of schmexy hawt mis-en-scenes in mind, complete with a who-is-wound-up-which-way script for the drama component. Wouldn’t it be cool if this one surprised that one, but is still angry about such and such, while the other has lost confidence? And they still go at it while sniping at each other! “Talk dirty to me” taken to a new level.

What if the next big scene has the two emoting in completely different ways? Do they both have multiple personality disorders? Did some magical girl gimmick their headspaces? Nothing so fancy. They are just completely overwhelmed with a whole new range of feelings and are cycling through all of them. If we can acknowledge that smut with emotional fireworks delivers more than just smut with the dialogue turned off, story mechanics becomes an exercise in logistics.

When a mangaka becomes responsible for a monthly serialised work, instead of 12 pages of doujin smut they have to maneuver the characters from one “yummy parts” scene to the next. Using the “new at this, making a hot mess out of it” excuse, a mangaka gains extra maneuvering thrusters and fuel. She can even make one of them do an end over end tumble before docking.

It is almost impossible to pull anywhere near this level of variable characterization and emotional range with boy-girl romantic shoujo. Even if the boy is Doctor Jekell and the girl is Harley Quinn. Uso Lily tried with a crossdressing boy and a girl and had to concuss the guy for multiple cases of soap opera amnesia. At no time did the heroine take her turn getting banged on the head so they she could become the male lead. Lady Chatterley may switch between haughty and horny while groom Mellors gets to be servile and then forceful but he never gets to be her ladyship. Neither does she have to muck out the stables.

Only the “carnivalesque” excesses of drag and camp offer more potential. Perhaps the entire genre needs to be theoretically re-positioned when subjected to critical analysis. Normalities must be (over-) performed so they can be subverted.

I remain uneasy with the entire genre but at least now I have some idea (beyond gehhh! dudes making out!) why something as simple as Nise x Koi set off my wrong, wrong, wrong alarms. Nothing like a bit of attitudinal gymnastics to negotiate a new understanding with one’s prejudices. [3]

Anyway, I Shouldn’t Take It Personally, It Just Ain’t My Story

Against the tautological structures of excessive emotional drama and characterisation within the genre, complaints by nosy outsiders are easily brushed aside.

Guys don’t act like that! Hmmmmmm, you sure? They might if they were sufficiently smitten and unhinged by their conflicted desires…
Your plotting and characterisation is bat-shit random! Hmmmmmm? Repeat.
Gay guys don’t act like that! Hmmmmmm? Repeat.
Transfolk don’t act like that, and you are being insulting! Hmmmmmm?

Back to weaponised queer shoujo. This type of story seems to be popular and commercially viable. Outsider opprobrium is not going to put the idea back in a box. Can’t un-see once seen. An entire “lore” surrounding the genre makes it easy for rotten newbies to crank out more. It’s not just ‘seme” and “uke“; a range of off-the-shelf roles come with modular, emotional scripted subtypes such as “wimpy seme” and “trickster, inviting uke” (which is the second link of the chain back-tracking the origins of the “emotional range character trope” effect that I will resume grinding on about in future “Naming of Parts” essay instalments.)

Recall the brief summary of Nise x Koi above. Classic BL clichés favor the smaller guy “taking” the taller, initially dominant-appearing partner. In this story, the latter is already inscribed as female-role, even if he has previously initiated, even attacked. A challenge has been issued to wimpy nerd boy. Anyone care to guess how this one ends? [4]

If heteronormative narrative tried this kind of dynamic “making progress in a relationship” story, one would end up with a Taming of the Shrew retread.

Disapproval by phobic old-school guy otaku of BL will continue but as this mirrors the emotional dynamics of the conflicted characters, the hate-on becomes an unexpected bonus for fujoshi onlookers. When reading distressed fan reactions to the alt-Mada x alt-Hato fling in Spotted Flower I began to wonder if one of the thread originators might have even been a stealthed slash-fan trolling for a taste of honey. (“the misery of others is like…” ) Yesteryear’s girly-boy threads on 4chan’s /a board were a lot more inventive and far funnier. They usually started with “If it wears a skirt, it’s a girl” and went sideways fast.

Then a further notion struck: what is all that rage really about? To properly appreciate what is so disquieting (for straight guys) about BL, one needs to untangle the fujoshi “gei” or gender-queer character from the (straight) male subjectivity gay or gender-bent character.

Here’s a fun insight into contemporary fan practice and its intersection with activist gender politics — although I might be grabbing at fog. (requires more research, subjective evaluation, database coding, yadda yadda yadda). More and more anon on /a seem to be sort of, kind of Ok with “the gay”, as long as a gay male (secondary) character gets treated “seriously” within the story and isn’t trotted out as a cardboard joke or creep or abruptly vanished – in other words; afforded male respect and privilege. No depictions of male same-sex intimacy either, please! What sets off rage is when a gay male and/ or their same-sex desire is portrayed and/or deployed in a way that appears to pander to fujoshi tastes. “Real” gay; it’s 2017 – just don’t scare the horses. “Fujoshi-fied” gay; bad thing!

As for the otokonoko as male-gaze fantasy eye-candy creature, far fewer instances of vocal hate rear up in social media venues than one might first imagine. Pro-forma surprise is usually followed with a “that’s coolio too” rejoinder. Edgy quips that “the extra” makes her even better are not uncommon. The slightly sheepish reaction (cute cartoon girl character plus slightly pervy bonus) has become a safe consensus position. Public over-reaction would telegraph any manner of weak unresolved personal issues. All good, no biggie. Similarly, creating her is remarkably easy. Design a cutie, go easy on the boobs and impute a “little bit extra”. You can even make her act with less reserve than a usual female character has to maintain. Drop one as needed into each new franchise.

However, when the rotten tribes get their mitts on an Otokonoko character, Astolfo the hottie will be mangled into something else; something complicated and insidious. Far worse than Kio Shimoku’s Hato Kenjiro. Designed to highlight male wonkiness. Does things not-for the male reader/viewer’s enjoyment. Problematic. This will not end well.

Aside: Astolfo was originally a (male) magic-using sidekick character from 1500’s European-knights-do-heroic-things tales; most notably from the poem-story Orlando Furioso (the Rage of Orlando). The hero’s “wits” get stolen, so he rages. Only Astolfo has enough magic to go to the moon and retrieve said wits in a bottle. Astolfo MkI does not crossdress. In medieval Europe, guys got all the fun clothing anyway. Magic users are expected to be a bit eccentric.

What remains are complaints against the problematics of fantasy cross-dressing characters in light of real-world fall-out; including any deceit implied in that term. Anglosphere fandom needs a new short, snappy and less loaded descriptor. It should be noted that current best practice in manga and anime invariably has the character matter-of-factly announce that they are male or have a body that others would “deem male at birth” to any who have a need to know, well before sparks fly (as well as to any number of obnoxious types who should have minded their own business before they get their comeuppance). Seduction by deception is rarely any issue, though fetishization remains one. If the otokonoko and another (usually male) character hook up it is not because the latter wanted a “girl” but because they wanted “more than a girl”.

Fetishization in general is why a majority of cartoon characters are dropped onto the page and screen; male-subjectivity otokonoko remain “flattened” to their eye-candy outward appearance, as much as any other female-ish fanservice character. Their gender-queerness is their “hook” in the same way the glasses-girl and the athletic tomboy have theirs. When deployed in slice of life comedies, she is often used as a variant and/or extra moe-blob. In adventure scenarios, a variant Beautiful Fighting Girl.

“For duty, a woman. For understanding, an otokonoko. For ecstasy, a melon.”
— Slavoj Zizek

Only when one wanders into the recycled BL thickets of josou narratives, where some emotional complexity is necessary to move the plot along, does the revealing of the “feels” component of the “better than” come into play. Her gender-fluidity and essential male “core” posits her as more sympathetic to a class of male lead. The author must then tread lightly and leave much unsaid. The two are in sync; they understand each other perfectly and therefore dialogue can be kept to a minimum. A few reassuring quips, an exchange of knowing glances because they have (re-)invented sex, a few tender words and finally the frenzied mutual tearing off of clothes that leaves at least one female-marked accessory or piece of clothing still clinging to the otokonoko‘s body, can progress through to mutual exhaustion. Both will be blissfully happy because the genre posits, then leaves to the reader’s imagination a vague intimation of mutual physical and emotional satisfaction that is for the two of them “better than” heterosexual or conventional same-sex intimacy. The novelty and transgression masks a “just so” story. One may speculate that the difficulties of fine-tuning the move from pure transactional exchange towards affective interest is why the genre remains a niche market and why the one magazine devoted to such stories went under. Lewd twincest tales play a similar trick. You need some token emotional charge but not too much, or too fast. The overload/ overwhelmed effect is what remains disquieting.

The “deception” that the straight male subjectivity fears is not present upon the body of the otokonoko but within the emotional complexity of any interaction. [5]

Snowflakes!

Understandable then that male subjectivity fan discourse has kind of, sort of, begun to make peace with matter-of-fact, just-a-guy gay male characters and even simplistic eye-candy otokonoko characters. As long as neither of them bear any marks of “rotten” purpose or complexity. A diffuse, consensus notion of essential male identity is thus preserved. There are far scarier things in the world than a touch of queer in a lad. As for secondary appropriation, the fujoshi will always come out at night to cut up what remains. Look what they did to poor Holmes and Watson!

Good luck to us all.

Have some cake.

 

ENDNOTES:

[1] This entire essay may be complete and utter bunk; the result of my residual homo-panic freak-out when a quick read of a harmless looking shoujo-ish one-shot (that looked interesting because “that scangroup” distrod it), turned into confusing guy-smut. WTF? Run Away, run away! You’ve heard of the ‘unreliable narrator” trick? This is the unreliable critical essayist version.

[2] Someone reading this might actually be here for a “review” rather than a subjective over-reaction, followed by a mess of speculation about plot mechanics and conventions. If one is really into BL-ish things, I’m betting that NiseXKoi is probably a quite good an example of its kind. The art-work is pro level. The emotions are not completely random (if you pay real close attention), the two characters are noobz enough to justify their mildly selfish fuckups, the “rival” is not a jerk; the thing is well constructed and the author has her own active doujin circle. Since I have few comparison points, I can’t say whether she is genius rank but I suspect that experienced readers would find her work solid, and “yummy”. She knows how to tell a story and play within the bounds of a style.

[3] Keep reading. It’s really easy: all you have to do is displace one bias with a different one. It just becomes a matter of fully understanding what one’s original bias was trying to protect. We guys should all thank the fujoshi tribes for “highlighting the contradictions”.

[4] MUCH LATER: In fairness to those wanting some manner of “review” and to the mangaka, I should add that the story ended on a surprisingly happy, vanilla, aspirational, linear and not too crumpled out of shape by semexuke conventions, way. The young crossdresser was snagged by the school drama club as “the princess‘ in a play and used the opportunity to solve the issue of his childhood friend blindly crushing on his girl presentation. Meanwhile doormat boy showed some spine at school and began to socialise, then used his new found confidence to declare his resolve to the crossdresser. Both vowed to have a happy high school romance with lots of sex, with the crossdresser both as a boy and as a girl. (I am almost tempted to D’awww here…)

A few points of note: once the mangaka decided to wrap it up, the characterisation and story lines became more linear, with the motivations easier to follow. Resolve. Follow through. Also of note, both characters try to abstractly empathise with the other’s situation; not at shoujo girl levels but at least they make a token effort. Even the childhood friend, while at first embarrassed, is supporttive. He also now understands why the two were hanging around with each other at school. Duh! moment. The otaku is not an intrusion, he has been vouched for within the male social/ circle of friends.

Finally, the happy ending recalls why all the straight girls are reading smutty romantic guy:guy highschool love stories. The two get to (at least promise to) sex themselves down to exhaustion because they are in a relationship. Because they are horny teenaged guys, even gay, they should really want to do so even more than playing video games. And they can, because no one is going to be labelled a slut or have to deal with a teen pregnancy and/or D&C if something goes awry.

(At some point will future general-interst high school romcoms feature stock zoned-out falling asleep at their desks with stupid grin on their faces male beta couples?)

To this end, the “formalism” of older rotten rigid BL pairing conventions are jettisoned for a more up-to-date “versatility”. It might even pass muster as aspirational ending for a young gay male reader, although the gay crossdresser type is apparently considered one of the least desireable “types” in IRL Japanese gay communities. At least Meguru doesn’t “femme out” while crossdressing, so he’s not completely outre.

[5] Ha! I have made it through this thing and not mentioned a certain game.
Slick, or whot? Oh yeah, almost forgot: Praxis! Now is must be legitimate academic-ish essay! What else? No mention of Dr. Tamaki or Lacan, although if you scratch the cheap paint you can see that old “ontological consistancy” chestnut; it’s harder to paint over than magic marker. And then there’s the “shota” component in nerd boy. Crap: even wearing shorts on the frontspiece! Pure Dr. Nagaike bait, though Tamaki called it first. Mangaka sure covers all the bases. 

THE NAMING OF PARTS 1: Too smart by half

On the origins of peculiar terminologies:

WARNING: Multi-part work in progress. Refresh for typos, corrections, revisions. Let me see if I can string all the pieces together over multiple posts in the next few weeks. Feel free to add your 2 yen via the comment section if you have extra material, ideas, whatever. Not much to mull over so far — wait for it. I plan to go full-bore fandom/comiket apocrypha on this one. Mimeograph machines, doujins, Fido BBS’s, 20yr old occult lists of fan terms and too many cached pages on Archive.org. Wheeeeeeee!  

 

“Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all the neighboring gardens,
And today we have naming of parts.”
— “The Naming of Parts”, Henry Reed

Something feels odd (to me) about the Japanese (and derived) otaku practice of naming character trope types. Something doesn’t fit, or fits too well, gives too much information. I have ideas as to where the larger practice was borrowed from but then I must ask; from where did the previous instance arise? To uncover the roots of the practice will require a highly subjective, speculative romp through the traces of fandoms from 20, 30 even 40 years ago.

I must break this essay up into installments.

If I were to mention that a certain anime or manga (or game, visual novel or doujin) had a noteworthy “Blonde Loli”  character in it, one would not only immediately know what she looks like. Any reasonably experienced fan would have a good idea of how she would act and relate to other characters.

  • Female, young, somewhat pre-pubescent and/or appears as such.
  • Blonde hair, short of stature, flat-chested (petanko)
  • Outlander or hafu background in relation to a Japanese cast.
  • Wealthy, of means. Has hidden skills and/ or powers.
  • Disruptive, arrogant; does not know or care to follow established social conventions.
  • overcompensates for her feelings of social isolation and rootless upbringing.

As well, most of the notable previous examples of the type would color your expectations. Evangeline A K McDowell of Negi and Uq Holder fame; Shinobu Oshino/ Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade from Monogatari; the pale knockoff of the previous two in Vampire Bund; Hayate The Combat Butler‘s Nagi Sanzenin and The Genshiken‘s Sue Hopkins. Recent iterations include Sana (who is a child) in Alice to Zoroku and Erii in Eromanga Sensei. Many more can be found.

Hiroki Azuma’s musings on the database seem to have come true. [1] A database model has advantages. While characters might feel cookie-cutter-ish, a good writer is expected to elaborate sufficiently to add charm to their version. If a notable restatement of the character emerges, these elaborations will fold into larger conventions of the type, as common resource for future story-telling.

Such a practice favors iteration in ephemeral products and production on a large, diffuse scale. She is closer to a piece of metal drywall edging than a craftsman’s creation. You can’t finish office towers and thousands of basement rec-rooms with bespoke techniques. You need cheap, modular, easy-to-use commodified bits and pieces and the simple techniques that employ them.

Our Blonde Loli is not a creature of high literature. She bears very little resemblance to Nabokov’s original, even if part of her type-name originates from his tale. The idea of character types or stereotypes runs in direct opposition to the originality and authenticity of the project of high literature. The character type is a Barbie or a GI Joe doll, or somewhat less, even as they are somewhat more; their range of behavior is more circumscribed even as their use implies a commodified “published” narrative structure.

Their implicit invitation is that of creative seriality; “the differance” of repetition — if you care to wax high-fallutin’s faux-French post-structuralist about it.[2] I digress. The point takes the complaint of early critics of diaspora anime that “all the characters are the same!” and recasts it as a feature, not a bug. Off the shelf means easy to build and easy for everyone to build with. You get far more absolute output that way and you get lots of individual variations/ iterations of the base model. An ecology, complete with evolutionary surges, population explosions, extinctions and mutations nudges aside the privileged solitary, exalted role of the auteur. [3]

Add that this year’s model is a lot less opaque to new readers because of vestigial familiarity. Does what’s on the label. Pick up a six-pack today.

Most of the benefits of this modular approach were mentioned at least in passing by Azuma in his 2002 work. It remains interesting, but its limitations must also be recognised. In many ways, recognition of what he leaves out, glosses over or shades to his purposes makes his work far more valuable than the first reading of the work itself.

The database as strained metaphor. In Japan, before 2002 there was no organised trove of data sitting up on 2chan or some other occult internet-accessible BBS or forum that contained mix-and-match build-a-bear input screens for churning out custom proto-moe-blob femaloid characters. (was it a mere list?) If such existed or exists today, looking like some demented police sketch assistant program, I have yet to see it (Tits or GTFO! Make her breasts bigger, bigger!). Why was he driven to posit one? Fortunately, TV Tropes came along: the entire meta of tropery has caught on and spread like wildfire during the last decade. Early iterations of the site had a strong “I’ve seen it all before” flanneur/ connoisseur weariness to them. The current versions are exuberant.

No sex here. Grazing ungulates, sea creatures drifting in the current. Post- sex to match the end of history and a pile of hooey about the twilight of grand narratives. One word for that: Chlorine. As in water treatment. As in, which is a newer idea; modernist grand narratives or cholera free city drinking water? Maybe it was the latter killed off grand narratives? Are you sure they are dead? Go argue with any number of repressive regime apologists and stop picking on anime babes. Meanie!

No girls allowed/ (aloud). It’s a boy thing, all about pin-ups and scratching boy itches. The company omiai session will eventually, properly mate up sarrarymen and office ladies to produce the next generation of corporate Japan, so sex is barely necessary, almost a distraction. If required for procreation, the newly wed good-wife-wise-mother-to-be will initiate the required mechanics. (parodied in volume extras from Kio Shimoku’s Spotted Flower manga, a somewhat continuation/ decade later reprise of his Genshiken)

Definitely NO NO NO minority sexual and or gender expression. We have rendered all majority expressions obsolete, so variants are superfluous. Cyborg bodies perhaps? Wires? Phone sex? iPhone sex? iSex? Or nothing but that dry theory hump jouissance?

We remember the database. We remember love.

A quick glance back at Database Animals recalls the swirl of pop debate about vernacular culture in Japan in the early noughts, set off by Dr Saito Tamaki’s 2000 publication of Psychology of the Armoured Beautiful Girl, Aka; The Beautiful Fighting Girl.[4] She dripped heroic sex appeal. She inspired onanistic fantasizing. She most definitely had a use. And her use or uses were in the clinical sense of the term, perverse, her range of manifestation on the stage of (mostly) male dreams running from the chaste Miko-type to the scary hermaphroditic creations of the American naive artist Darger. [5]

She caused trauma in a Freudian/ Lacanian sense. That is: “What the heck just happened to my wiring? Did I just pleasure myself by fantasizing about a line drawing!!!! Oh shit! I will never get a girlfriend! I can’t shake this. The path to enlightenment must lie through the doors of excess! Where do I get more of these hawt manga babes? Comiket? Oh Yeah!

Your mileage may vary.

That was it. That was all. That was enough. The great unsaid thing was said. It had been said before, by cruelly mocking critics. Akio Nakamori’s article in the July 1983 issue of Manga Burriko taunted those he had previously labeled as otaku:

“No, otaku do not love like normal people because they are attracted to fictional girl characters”[6]

Only now a doctor-professor with a big impressive book rather than some rando jerkwad doing a guest column in a sketchy loli magazine had spoken, and the good doctor was not being insulting about it either. The good doctor was even speculating that this approach may be a healthy, adaptive behavior mechanism. The good doctor also had a list of sub-types for his Beautiful Fighting Girl(s)

Hooray: Taxonomy!

Two more interlocutors were involved: The Ota-King [7], who lamented the waning of classic shonen-esque sci-fi battle/ quasi-imperialist stories that involved giant piloted robots/ battle suits and/ or carrier-battleship spaceship fleets. And Ōtsuka Eiji, who could smell fascism under every last one of these rocks [8]. These worthies had some really fine arguments/ debates, which worked to bring them all into public prominence. Dr. Tamaki’s interest in Otaku and their libidinous imaginations was in any case, peripheral to his life work on social isolates/ Hikikomori. Azuma’s Rousseau redux is not that good. What happened to the Ota-king? Who knows?

Who did we miss?

An important clue lies in the curious something “extra” in some of these terms. Something not mirrored in the vulgar. angry way young males filled with braggadocio and a wounded sense of entitlement have been known to classify real-life women: Bitches and hoes. Frigid, tease, stuck-up, slut, whore. Insulting, objectifying, simple-minded. Any “relation” or interaction posited is immediate and transactional. She gives/ does not give that which I demand now. Very little narrative complexity is implied by any of these epithets, beyond the threat of sexual violence.

Given such lazy, low practice as the default setting, how did male otaku evolve complex trope/ type terms like tsundere or yandere?

Admittedly these do not reference high modernist literature or even Shakespeare plays but at least they imply changing emotional states in the female character over time — if certain conventions of behavior in the main (assumed male) character are followed. Manga, anime and games — specifically get-the-girl games, either galge or eroge may have normalised the expectations behind such complex constructions but where did male otaku first “take permission” and/or find inspiration for reducing these character-behavior-narrative patterns to type-trope shorthand and then elevating them to archetypes?

They are far too complex.

Next up: Fail-through-over-confidence-hero-guy

ENDNOTES:

1) “Dobutsuka-suru Postmodern (Animalizing Postmodernity)” by Hiroki Azuma  (2001) Translated as “Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals” by Jonathan E. Abel and Shion Kono (2009)
See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroki_Azuma

2) Tenure GET! No? Perhaps a lecture fee and lunch at the faculty cafeteria. If I wanted reliable income, I would be rebuilding truck and construction equipment starters and alternators.

3) …Then the solitary auteur secretly gorges on the cheap stuff, because they fear picking up some other big’un’s recognisable style and inadvertently committing plagiarism if they read highbrow stuff. Ya can’t plagiarise gruel and even if you do, the gruel-pots can’t mount a serious objection. I understand the tactic of pissing on the carcass you find by the side of the road, but doing it while cosplaying Cirrocco Jones decades ago at book signings… Hmmmph.

4) “Sento bishojo no seishinbunseki” (戦闘美少女の精神分析), Psychoanalysis of Beautiful Fighting Girl by Dr.Saitō Tamaki (2000) . Translated as “Beautiful Fighting Girl” by J. Keith Vincent  and Dawn Lawson (2011) With a foreward by Hiroki Azuma. 

See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamaki_Sait%C5%8D

The BFG reviewed: “You Fight like a Girl” by Brian Ruh, Brain Diving column an Anime News Network, (Jul 26th 2011)
http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/brain-diving/2011-07-26

5) Darger was by no means unique. Someone should forward a copy of this to Dr Tamaki: “My Dad, the Pornographer” By Chis Offutt The New York Times Magazine (FEB. 5, 2015). TW: descriptions of fantasy violence, rape, squick.
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/magazine/my-dad-the-pornographer.html

6)“Otaku Research and Anxiety About Failed Men” by Patrick W. Galbraith
www.academia.edu/12327055/_Otaku_Research_and_Anxiety_About_Failed_Men
See also earlier post: “Kio Shimoku, Madarame & Hato vs Akio Nakamori” https://heartsoffuriousfancies.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/kio-shimoku-madarame-hato-vs-akio-nakamori/

7) Toshio Okada, The ota-King: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toshio_Okada

See also: THE CONSCIENCE OF THE OTAKING: THE STUDIO GAINAX SAGA IN FOUR PARTS — Interview of former Gainax president Toshio Okada on Gainax’s history, Wings of Honneamise, Aoki Uru, etc. (anime, NGE)
originally in Animerica Magazine Volume 4, Issue 4 – April 1996: ANIMERICA talks with Toshio Okada Interview by Carl Gustav Horn. Text archived on gwern.net blog
https://www.gwern.net/docs/eva/1996-animerica-conscience-otaking

And for a Cliff Notes on Okada Toshio’ s “Debating Otaku in Contemporary Japan: Historical Perspectives and New Horizons”, see: “Introduction to Otakuology” on the Fantastic Memes blog
https://frogkun.com/2016/04/15/introduction-to-otakuology/

Context: “An Interview with Patrick W. Galbraith on Otaku Culture – Part Two” by Matthew ALT, May 24, 2012, NEOJAPONISM blog post
http://neojaponisme.com/2012/05/24/an-interview-with-patrick-w-galbraith-on-otaku-culture-part-two/

8) Ōtsuka Eiji: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eiji_%C5%8Ctsuka
In the 1980s, Otsuka was editor-in-chief of Manga Burikko, a leading manga magazine where he pioneered research on otaku sub-cultures in modern Japan. He has published a host of books and articles about the manga industry.

“Ōtsuka Eiji and Narrative Consumption: An Introduction to ‘World and Variation,’” in Mechademia 5 (2010)
http://www.academia.edu/2093053/_%C5%8Ctsuka_Eiji_and_Narrative_Consumption_An_Introduction_to_World_and_Variation_in_Mechademia_5_2010_

See for example “An Unholy Alliance of Eisenstein and Disney: The Fascist Origins of Otaku Culture” by Ōtsuka Eiji, translated by Thomas Lamarre in Mechademia, Volume 8, 2013 pp. 251-277 [paywalled/ MUSE]

UPDATE: (Early November 2017)  Oh Crap! I had no idea this one was going to be so difficult! I am stuck on part 2, the destinction between simple and complex character types/tropes as used by guys/ male gaze narratives in harem games and stories. Part 3 with mimeographs is pretty well done, Part 4, an excursion into 1980’s and 1990-2005 Japanese on-line fandom is 3/4 written. Part 5, the payload is full of massive weird speculation and might be hard to pull together, but it FEELS right and will, in the end be only an invitation for folks who can get at primary sources to go digging. Nevertheless, the circumstantial evidence is as good, or better than a whole lot of other speculation that has become ‘lore’ in the field, so i’m gonna run with it.

When I can get my writing mojo back. Thanks for your patience.

on point

An academic conference in Yokohama, this weekend:

Queer Transfigurations — International Symposium on BL media in Asia.
Saturday, July 1 & Sunday, July 2, 2017,
Kanagawa University, Yokohama Campus

“My critical examination of yaoi begins with the premise that yaoi does not represent any person’s reality, but rather is a terrain where straight, lesbian, and other women’s desires and political stakes mingle and clash, and where representations are born.”
— A. Mizoguchi, “Theorizing comics/manga genre as a productive forum: yaoi and beyond”
http://imrc.jp/images/upload/lecture/data/143-168chap10Mizoguchi20101224.pdf

‘Fantasy is fantasy and reality is reality’ opine the characters of the Genshiken, echoing a claim made by Dr Saito Tamaki that despite the libidinised nature of otaku (and fujoshi) consumption — or because of it — the Japanese fan, even (or especially) the most committed of these are able to keep the walls between real life and “play” separate. They are all in effect flaneurs, connoisseurs of their outre fictions and these fictions’ effects (or affects). The riajuu may be bombarded by the relentless flow of images and desires and retreat into numb passivity, even reactionary withdrawal but the L33T fan surfs the shock-waves and hacks the spew.

How’s that workin’ out for you all?

Ok, so what if this sounded a lot like an update of the old floating world brothel-crawler notion of “iki” — which incidentally influenced european ideas of the flaneur – – as well as trying to drag the old-school practice of situating narratives of minority sexualities and gender expressions in lurid pulp exploitation settings into a better neighborhood [see: https://heartsoffuriousfancies.wordpress.com/2015/08/21/your-own-private-game-of-laplace/] via Comiket, shoujo manga and its more interesting offshoots.

Along the way, a lot of folks pretended that they forgot someone(s).

If you are a not-quite-straight kid in Japan (or adult) and you value your privacy, this pretense or at least quiet convention had (and still has) its uses. The last decade’s general agreement about BL and yaoi in Japan was that %90+ of the readership was female and that the overwhelming majority of these were straight women who enjoyed it as a relaxing and amusing diversion. If you were a gei male, there was manly-manly Bara for you and nobody really bothered about what 3D women who liked women cared to read. There were even a few convenient broadsides from honest to goodness flesh-and-blood homosexual male polemicists who criticised the rotten tribes for acting like “dirty old men” (though the major flare-up of this controversy happened decades earlier). If real gay guys groused about the stuff, it must be some kind of odd straight-girl fantasy thing and therefore harmless. Pay no attention to the fujoshi behind the curtains.

Meanwhile in the euroethnic mostly anglosphere west, research spotty as it was, indicated that slash readership was closer to %50-50 male-female and that the desires and identifications of the readership were all over the map, with a strong ‘queer’ gradient.

Something was due for a change.

I wonder how many casual fujoshi will make their way to the conference this weekend? What the devil is a casual fujoshi anyway?

In truth, gay folk, queer folk have always, apparently been part of creating these stories and consuming them. Folks are doing the historical research so that concealment does not end up as erasure. At the same time, there is a vast readership and fandom made up out of straight women and even (per the two extant fan studies plus hints about secret secret publisher data) somewhere around %1 straight male readership (%10-15 of the male readership). And then there are lesbian fujoshi, who while unfathomable in terms of demographic representation, make up some of the most productive and articulate champions of the genre. And there are gay guys who like it too. (those fan studies would put them at %80 of the male readership or %8 of the total readership) Over across the boulevard are the Yuri fans with all those pesky mostly-straight male yuri-danshi (I still prefer the older, western-anglosphere LFB term), even if them’s are for a different conference (which I would also really like to attend). We LFB guys aren’t too good on holding up our end of the fandom, but our Japanese brethren keep buying the magazines, so that’s something.

A lot of the academic interest in fujoshi and otaku fandoms in Japan has been carried out as informed by queer interests and situates comfortably within a larger idea of “queer theory”. If you are going to read any kind of academic writing about your fave manga, anime and/ or games you are going to get hip deep in it fast. After all, BL and yaoi (and yuri and even weird otokonoko/jousou) stories sure look like ‘queer texts’. Lookie: same-sex bonking! How long can the publishers keep up the pretense that they are all just something like sci-fi-ish or fantasy allegory and mostly for straight folks dreaming in queer?

In Japan, probably for a while longer, especially if it has something to do with sales revenues.

Time for some Academic Cool Japan jiu-jitsu:

[http://human.kanagawa-u.ac.jp/BLinAsia/Transfigurations_Program.pdf]

Take a close look at the conference presentations, the presenters and the moderators. All-star line-up! Welker, Mizoguchi, Nagaike, Baudinette, McLelland, Galbraith and a whole bunch of others whose names look vaguely familiar from my amateur theory scrapings. Note as well the titles and subjects of the presentations/ papers. This is about how a certain Japanese cultural product hits the rest of “Asia” and then creates its own context and readings. Ichiban Nihon Bunka!

Note as well, the absence of the dreaded fashionable academic neologism “Gl-ocal“.

Oh frabjous day!

Wonder how many Cool Japan bureaucrats will be in attendance? You wanted “soft power”? Congratulations! Now about the way Japan is sluggish about the rights and protections of minority sexualities and gender expressions and the upcoming 2020 Olympics… Do I hear whistling from the audience?

One academic not on the program (perhaps because the historic role of the wider shoujo genre is mentioned only in passing) is professor Rachel Matt Thorn, who in a recent Twitter thread went into the changing face of the Japanese fandom — at least the university-attending fans in her classes. TLDR: they ain’t the Genshiken. They are hyper-social, engaged, productive and even activist. I hope that she gets around to expanding upon these observations in her blog. [http://www.en.matt-thorn.com/]
(Update: per Twitter, prof Thorn plans to attend.)

I suspect that the student attendees at this conference will be equally unrecognisable to anyone expecting Genshiken style fans/ fujoshi, even as their updated versions will be undoubtedly surprised at the range, influence and effect of their fave genre. A few might even wonder if any of the diaspora product needs to be tracked down and studied, for the sake of a wider cultural perspective. …Won’t even get into speculation over the straight, fujoshi, fudanshi, gei continuum issues. I have a feeling that Dr. Mizoguchi has long since updated her 2010 observations to include male interest, even as the genre remains a powerful primarily female-authored form.

Readers of this blog know my angle on all of this and I would be curious to see how the conference presentations handle the clashes, not only between cultures, but between the readerships who want their fantastic allegorical (and somewhat racy) dream-in-queer diversions and readers who seek aspirational representation and support from the genre. So far the only strategy I can identify that does not involve proscription would stress authenticity as verisimilitude; in effect a value added approach — which is damn crass when real lives are at stake.

Unfortunately, publishing and content creation, like most capitalism is crass, and often brutal.

A final thought: Open Access = mega citations and academic fame.

It would be wonderful if the uni streamed the proceedings, or at least vidded them and put them up on YouTube. (Later: have been informed that presenters were not asked/ warned about the possibility of video recording, so that’s out. As someone who participated in a conference that let me use my blog nym, I should be better clued in on privacy concerns for presenters/ attendees.. Duh!)

(LATER: Howbout an audio transcript for Soundcloud? They embed well. I should stop; my previous gallery gig – we always tried to at least get a sound transcript from a presentation. We’d put a volunteer/ student intern in charge, do a little Audacity trimming and up it went, even if the sound quality was atrocious. Again, prior warning, privacy concerns…  So much to consider…)

Publication of the papers/ presentations in an open source journal or collection so that the conference doesn’t end up on some shelf or stuck behind a paywall would be wonderful.

(LATER: Prof Welker points out that he “shares all published articles & book chapters on request. As do many scholars. Just ask!” Regging up an indepedent researcher account at Academia.edu makes requesting such fast and easy. I was even able to do so using my blogging nym. Such individual ‘sharings’ are legal and  allowed by journal and/or publication contracts; which otherwise lock down academic articles and books behind paywals that even notorious [-cough- sci -cough- hub] russian academic study sites fail to worm their way past.)

Best wishes for a successful conference!

Fanfiction survey secrets revealed !!!

“More than 7,500 fanfiction readers filled out the Fansplaining Fic Preferences Survey. What can we learn from the results?”

that-study-graph

Cheesy title aside, the folks at Fansplaining gathered a lot of interesting data from Western fanfic aficionados.

Their article on the results, on Medium:

Five Tropes Fanfic Readers Love (And One They Hate)
https://medium.com/fansplaining/five-tropes-fanfic-readers-love-and-one-they-hate-73843372408c

Discussion on Tumblr:
http://fansplaining.com/post/152424517233/five-tropes-fanfic-readers-love-and-one-they

The only cavil I had with the survey was that it had some in-fandom terms that I had Noooooooooo idea about. So, that “Gen” thing in the above graph concerns “friendship only” fic. or does it?

Gen is a label for a fanwork that contains no romantic or sexual content, either het (heterosexual) or slash (homosexual). The term comes from “general audiences”, the MPAA term for a child-safe film. — Gen –  https://fanlore.org/wiki/Gen

Ok, I learned sumthin’. Then there is the sex-werewolf thang. Nawww, read above if you really need any of that. 
.
GREAT JOB!
.

Another survey, whottheheck

There’s another academic research survey on fandom out and about.
Why not help add to the lore?

Animelogo

https://sites.google.com/site/animeresearch/

It would be unfair to blather too much about it, survey bias and all that, but it looks like it is aimed at North American anime fans and covers a range of themes from a few different researchers.

So it is a pooled effort.

180px-Genshiken_SZS Ohno_manga

 

There is a comment section at the end, if you think they need a bit of help and/or want to testify.

They also throw in a little “incentive”; an Amazon gift card draw for thems that complete the beast.

“If you are interested in viewing the results of this survey, they will be posted on the International Anime Research Project’s website: https://sites.google.com/site/animeresearch/     “

Be gentle with them.

And remember: FOR SCIENCE!

pengy sue

LATER: More about the team behind the survey, past efforts and links can be found here: https://animemangastudies.wordpress.com/2016/06/02/intl-anime-research-project-2016/

 

Somewhere between cosplay and requiring an exorcism

Wherein fannish practice slips its leash and goes for a romp.

It is hard enough for middle-aged Amish types like me to keep up with all the new-fangled stuff on the intertubes, fend off the chain letters on my favourite usenet groups and figure out how to get Netscape to stop web page banners from blinking. Then along comes this Twitter thing to chew up more of my time and make my trusty Motorola StarTac mobile phone beep every 15 minutes.

Worse, I now understand that many of the posts on the Twitter channel are the work of robots. I have nothing against robots, and with 140 characters (based on the length of a phone text message) it is fun to try to figure out who is meat and who is a folder full of cobol.

Now things have become stranger. I thought it would never amount to much, but now I fear it might be a thing. A while back, I attended an academic conference highlighting fan practices and listened as one fan detailed how she had decided to adopt the twitter identity of a character from one of the Star Trek series. She “became” the character on twitter, in effect cosplaying/ textplaying/ role-playing  her favourite character. Crossplaying, actually as she became a male character. She had a large, loyal following.

Here is some academic powder burnt on the practice:
https://www.academia.edu/19075490/Playing_with_Identity_Fan_Role_Playing_on_Twitter

At the time, I thanked what residual deities I still mumbled to that no one in the Genshiken fandom was doing this and promised myself that I would never waste a moment of my life following the tweets of anyone who had the temerity to “become” Hato or Madarame or Ogiue or whoever. And that went twice for any of the Monogatari or Zetsubo Sensei  characters. As well, I suspected that if the practice caught on, it would soon be sucked into a crass vortex of cross-platform marketing bullshit and would die miserably while trying to sell me sex pills and Pop Tarts.

Meanwhile, something was quietly gathering strength in the darkness, waiting for its time to come round at last.

Aside from an interest in Japanese popular culture, I used to be quite a political junkie, especially when it came to American politics. Astute readers may have spotted a few Thompson references. With the primary season upon us and with all the interesting chaos in the Republican pathology party, it is once again a fine spectator sport.

Imagine my surprise when I started seeing tweets by what I thought was a clever Twitter ‘bot assuming the guise of president Richard M. Nixon.

Nixon tweets

Whoooo Hahhh!

This was more fun than that  Futurama episode.

Richard_Nixon's_Head

For those of you who missed him due to accident of age, the 37th President of the United States of America was an interesting political figure to watch (and watch out for). Among other things, he was known for a ruthless, pragmatic brand of politics and a conservatism that while considered hardline in its day, appears moderate and curiously old-fashioned in light of the current scorched ideological landscapes of the American right. Also something of a football fan.

It only took a little time for me to clue in that Twitter’s Richard M.Nixon was not a ‘bot but rather a convincing case of roleplay/ RPF (real person fanfiction), with his presence and political acumen channelled by a producer/ playwright/ political junkie. Soon enough, President Nixon also began writing columns on the primaries for Mashable.

And here is a chance for some interesting trivia about the difference in allowable parody and appropriation under the laws and practices of the United States, Canada, Common Europe and Japan.  In the United States, parody of public figures is fair use and free speech, though trademark law might trip you up if you are swiping rather than commenting. Canada pretty well follows this, but has weaker fair use customs and potentially more expensive private defamation tort law precedents. Common Europe likes political satire, but protects personal privacy.

Japan is very big on protecting the feelings and the privacy of the politically powerful, enforcing copyright and trademark rights and just plain looking the other way when right-wing patriotic societies wreak mayhem on anyone who offends the well-connected.

Fan culture, especially dojin and cosplay “parody”/ transformative/ secondary production practices are very big on not poking this anthill. Centuries before, Edo had a great pr0n-ish publishing culture until some jerks started making fun of the powerful with rude shunga pictures. Wham! Instant crackdown, publishing bans, a few executions, many bonfires and everyone had to lie low for years until the naughty little pictures gradually came off double-secret ultra probation and went back to providing evening laughs and rudimentary sex education for the upper classes. There have been periodic moral panics and censorship sweeps ever since.

None other than the great Yukio Mishima got his stupid ham hocks caught in one of these during the sixties. The end result was more oppressive case-law; yeah, the big dummy lost his case and was hit with a judgement for “invading the privacy” of a sleazebag politician.

“The novel was inspired by the real-life affair between politician Hachiro Arita and a nightclub hostess — Mishima hated hypocrisy and Arita’s story may have pushed him in a new artistic direction. Arita successfully sued Mishima for invasion of privacy and the famous case has meant writers, filmmakers and TV producers since have shied away from the dramatic potential in the lives of celebrities and politicians. In part, this thin novel is effectively responsible for the dearth of satire in Japan today.”
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2016/02/13/books/book-reviews/after-the-banquet/

There is also the matter of “criminal libel”, though it appears that enforcement favours the powerful, rather than noisy activist types. And collecting judgements from the owner of 2chan (and now 4chan) remains a game of whack-a-mole.

All this means that fandom in Japan holds to 3 powerful rules for secondary production practices: No RPF on the powerful. No hardcore kiddie porn at Comiket. No fucking with Disney properties. (1)

I know of only three cases where folks tried and got away with testing the limits of the first of these rules.

A manga that features an ex Prime Minister as a super Mah-jong player
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mudazumo_Naki_Kaikaku

Independent low-budget film-maker Minoru Kawasaki’s “The Monster X Strikes Back/Attack the G8 Summitwhich you should hunt down, like most of his oddball films, it is a hoot – btw the Nech Koma joke involves a then-popular comedy routine about a young Russian Olympic gymnast’s tight outfit.

and

The manga pamphlet Monkey business (An idiot’s guide to Tokyo’s harmful books regulation) which viciously lampooned the then Tokyo Governor, Ishihara Shintarô’s “Nonexistent Crimes Bill”

“The bill regulates the sale and renting of “harmful publications” to Japanese youth: material that is “sexually stimulating, encourages cruelty, and/or may compel suicide or criminal behavior” in people under the age of 18″

See Even a monkey can understand fan activism: Political speech, artistic expression, and a public for the Japanese dôjin community by Alex Leavitt and Andrea Horbinski
http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/321/311

Whatever…

So, If you ever wondered about all those quaint O  and X  mungings of names and brands in manga and anime, that’s why. What a lost chance for product placement and cross-marketing!

And if you are on the twitter thing, you could do worse to make sense of the state-side political fun by following the shade of the tricky one. Now that he has his elder statesman reputation to uphold, he is restrained, quite astute and often dead nuts on.

Don’t know about Kasich’s chances though

 

(1) Mentioning flat-out that a certain women’s musical theatre ensemble might harbour any connection whatsoever to lesbianism is close to, but not quite as powerful as the Disney effect. It is a matter of legal budgets.

Another fan survey

This blog supports research into fandom, so I will highlight any interesting research that I hear of and even suggest that you, oh gentle reader, may wish to participate in.

Ogiue bliss

This one showed up on Twitter and on the TWC site:

Help a Researcher Study Slash

Are you a reader or writer of slash fanfic? If so, University of North Texas (‘UNT’) student Allison Bradley would like your help. Allison is studying the relationship between media, slash fiction, and LGBTQ+ identity and would like to ask slash creators and consumers to take part in her survey, available online. The survey is completely anonymous and should be completed only by fans over the age of 18. Read the consent form here.

http://beta.transformativeworks.org/help-a-researcher-study-slash/

I did the survey, fanned out a bit, it took less than 20 minutes.
Survey closes March 1. Quite painless.

You probably should be somewhat into slashy fanfic, western variety, to be interested in this survey. I don’t know if fans of CJVC/ dojins and scanlations of BL and yaoi are the audence that the researcher is looking for, but what the heck. Bonus if you have tried writing some fic.

Otherwise, nothing much going on around here.

Watching Mononoke (waugh! keep the weird drugs away from the animation crew! – reminds me of the Takashi Murakami 500 Arhats show I saw in Tokyo) and thoroughly enjoying Showa Rakugo, even as I have to swat away the fluff lobbed at me by the author’s subtext popgun.

mononoke

HOLY DISTURBING IMAGERY BATMAN!
Looks like Murakami (or was it one of his superflat crew/ associates?) had a hand in the chara design for Mononoke !!!!! (1)
http://outsiderjapan.pbworks.com/w/page/9758462/Mononoke
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2206068/fullcredits/

Awaiting an English scanlation of Genshiken chapter 120 (can’t read the Bulgarian one) to see how far overboard I fanned out. Plum blossoms are early in Japan, Early cherry blossoms are already starting to pop (they are wayyyyy too pink) and even here in the frozen North-lands, the sun is finally peeking out on some afternoons.

 

(1) Off Topic: This is a blog mostly about manga and anime, so veering off into high-church post-modernist art is a bit out of place; nevertheless, the way Takashi Murakami puts his shows together is closer to anime production than to traditional “art studio” work. It is also many levels more complex than something like Warhol’s “Factory” 50 years earlier. Add to this that Murakami hires lots of young creative people and involves them in the production process. What results is a giant “Murakami alumni mafia”, much as anime studios foster webs of acquaintance and cooperation. He also goes whole hog on media mix marketing, so you can load up on art-otaku crap at any of his shows.

A question!

Go do a survey…

The Views On Fandom Project
https://aber.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/viewsonfandom/

“A question. Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question.”
SPOCK: Really? 
KIRK: Annoyed, Spock?

If we are interested in this stuff, we should consider helping out when it gets studied. A grad student in the UK is carrying out a study of fandoms. From the questions, the study leans towards Western slashy interests, but whottheheck and for all I know, some of you, dear readers may be into;

  1. BBC’s Sherlock
  2. Avengers related films from the Marvel’s Cinematic Universe
  3. The anime Attack on Titan

too!

Hey! waitasec! This is a great op to post some cross-over fan-art I found while lurking various pits of depravity:

kuchi titan1

 

kuchi titan2

kuchi titan3

 

If you get this, you are already wayyyyyyyyy too far down the rabbit-hole to back out.

The survey is short, easy to complete and has room for you to fan out if so inclined. Quite painless.

Myself, I want to eventually get an online survey hooked up to this mighty engine of gibberish to gather data for my upcoming: “Deluzian excess, Perversion & Death in contemporary Japanese Künstlerlustmordtrauergeratroman: Evangelion“. (working title)

…Which will be either a peer-reviewed paper, a theme party at a local bar or a fail-core noise-rock opera.

So much to do, must get organised.