Don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story

Wherein male accommodation to a fujoshi social is considered:

With so much Hato in the Genshiken of late, and with Nidiame-the-anime going into crossdresser game genre trope overload, the rest of the club seems to have faded into the background. And as background the pack of rotten girls appear commonplace, even normal. It is a bit hard to remember how radical back in 2009, a club full of young female DIY porn enthusiasts was for a comedic slice-of-life manga.

Sure we had 801-chan and Fujoshi Rumi, and even Kuragehime, but these lacked the raw edge that the earlier Genshiken series was known for; a particular way of using self-conscious humour to sugar-coat some really painful aspects of Otaku life. Welcome to the NHK approximated this for the Hikikomori market, but Genshiken always held a lock on Otaku-ology. When Kio Shimoku decided to try his hand at a pervy pit of University age women, he knew he was going out on a limb.

.... Just as I had planned it to be..

Sure he had backed himself into it with Ogiue, but the turning the Genshiken into a near-female-only space was a daring move at the time. Today, the fact that Japanese women might want to amuse themselves with a BL tale now and then is seen as a near mainstream hobby and a profitable market niche, as the blocks of stores on Otome Road testify. The plot trick of dropping a stealth mode male yaoi enthusiast into the mix served to background the club’s main activities as “normal”, at least in comparison to the layers of contradictions that were stuffed into Hato’s character.

Perhaps a review is in order:

My name is Ogiue and I hate Otaku!

President: Chika Ogiue. Jumped out of at least two windows when her fujoshi habits caused her to be wracked with guilt and or embarrassment. Almost kicked out of high school for drawing a lewd dojin starring a boy who was sweet on her. Once accepted into the Genshiken, started drawing dojins that shipped all the male membership, including one guy who was kind of interesting. It took a lot but the two worked it out and now she is a newly published successful BL mangaka, while Sasahara gives editing tips and tries to hold down his manga-editor-for-hire job. Her compulsive yaoi habit causes her to have atavistic expectations about the proper behaviour of a male in a m:f relationship. Actively recruits more fujoshi members to the Genshiken.

Past president: Kanako Ohno. A cosplay enthusiast who likes middle-aged guy themed yaoi, especially if they are bearded and/or bald.

First year member: Rika Yoshitake. Drinks too much. Assumes that an odd bit of plastic left around the club room is Hato’s butt-plug. Has a bad case of yaoi goggles. Likes her m:m pr0n to be set in Japan’s middle ages, with the generals getting chased by each other and various underlings. Has no drawing skills. Outspoken to the point of inadvertently causing hurt feelings.

First year member: Mirei Yajima. Less blatant than Rika, but still enjoys BL and Yaoi. Can draw a bit, so she helps out when Ogiue goes into full dojin production mode. Was viscerally troubled by Hato’s crossdressing, but the main problem seems to be that female attire or not, Hato to her was and still is completely male. And she doesn’t trust males who butt into fujoshi activities. She probably doesn’t trust males in general. Her initial resistance to Hato’s crossdressing is just a setup for her discovering her latent shotacon tastes. She finds Hato’s testosterone deficient “smoothness” strangely alluring and it troubles her, as she had never seriously considered 3D desire.

Transfer student: Susanna Hopkins. Bakka Gaijin De Gozaimus Hai! Enjoys BL and yaoi and has shown great enthusiasm for hard-core dojin products. Cosplays as loli characters. Is fixated on Ogiue and is prone to yell out “Ogiue is my Waifu!” Ogiue ain’t fooled, and has called her on it. She does however have a massive case of hero-worship towards Ogiue and is a bit embarrassed about it. Behind her over-the-top antics, she is alternatively extremely shy and yet a formidable weapons and martial arts enthusiast. (Oh and there’s the cloaked M9E Gernsbeck parked in the empty lot near the University…)

Potential member next year: Risa Yoshitake. Rika’s athletic younger sister who can crossdress convincingly as a bishie guy and enjoys shota… As in pedo bear, as in pre-pubescent and abjectly illegal as all heck in most western countries. Krist! And yet because she’s an 18-year-old girl (that makes her a minor herself in Japan) it just slips by in conversation, La la la…

Potential members if they ever give up being ronin: Yabusaki and Naoko. They ran their own dojin circle from within the Manken, but were expelled for hanging out with Ogiue, who left a lot of bad blood behind her when she defenestrated. They help Ogiue out with her dojin production and Comiket sales but Yabusaki is too proud (and too hurt by getting booted out of the manken) to appear to crawl over to the Genshiken. I think she wants to be actively and publicly begged to join, preferably within earshot of those bastards who drove her out of the Manken. Naoko will do as she pleases, but right now hanging out with Yabusaki amuses her.

Visiting irregular: Angela Burton. Her cosplaying and flirting with Madarame shouldn’t obscure the fact that she is a big fan of both yaoi and yuri dojins. She is probably nowhere near as over-sexed as she makes out to be, or at least reserves it for fan conventions. Of course she treats all of her Japan visit(s) as conventions-in-toto, and glomps, vamps and burlesques otaku tropes in her pursuit of Madarame, who she views as a fun potential “convention romance”. I got a big feeling that someone showed Shimoku sensei a translation of Dramacon and that he is lifting bits to build her character. Understands more conversational Japanese than she lets on.

Longshots who could pop up as new recruits:

Konno from Hato’s high school art club

Yajima’s high school friend Mimasaka

Rika’s high school friends, Sawatari and Fukuda.

Distinguished female alumnus: Saki Kasukabe. First female member of the Genshiken. The boys were doomed the minute she walked in the door.

Fearsome relatives to be:

Keiko; the only non-fujoshi riajuu female anywhere near the current Genshiken.

and of course

Kaminaga: an uber-fujoshi who can be a real asshole in her single-minded determination to live the truth of her enthusiasms. Yeah, I know her determination shows the courage of her convictions, yadda yadda yadda.

genshikenn7-1 the girls

The current Genshiken character line-up is obviously a nearly isolationist women’s space. There are extreme tropes associated with women’s spaces in Japanese manga and anime, but Kio Shimoku appears determined to steer between these. One extreme is the harem route, and Genshiken misses few chances to parody the genre whenever it needs a quick laugh, complete with Mada moteki and Hato smoothness fun. But one would have to be in a complete fantasy daze to consider it as anywhere near a potential harem (Kuchiki as lampshade) or to think that the women’s interests revolve around any 3D males. Collecting and exchanging and occasionally drawing naughty 2D males is its main objective. It is an anti-harem. Intruding males are seen as an annoyance, or as in the case of the student council Romeo, a threat.

The other more dangerous extreme is the quasi-lesbian separatist temporary autonomous zone, of which Japanese fantastic fiction of the feminist variety has no shortage of. The vulgar exploitative shadow of this is of course the all-girl yuri/ shojo ai space; the all girls school, girls club, well ‘o’ loneliness dyke bar, etc. Here Shimoku sensei is really, really careful: we see barely a whiff of yuri gags in a place where there could easily be as many as there are harem route gags. The dog most assuredly is not barking. What few there are center around Sue and her hero-worship of Ogiue.

I think Ohno dropped a yuri reference once in jest. It was pointedly ignored. The most overt of the rest of these are reserved for “volume extra” marginalia and one variation on the long-running Kumeta tribute “Don’t open it” gag. Others are more than they seem: Sue boob-feeling a Japanese woman (Yajima) in a public bath is a cultural stereotype reversal joke. It is the gaijin gal who is supposed to induce extreme boob curiosity from less endowed Japanese women. Aside from a brief allusion by Angela, yuri is never even mentioned as a genre of interest in the Genshiken. If it is present, it is subsumed into a generalized fog of guy-oriented smut along with Lolis, BFGs, and gawd knows what else.

If Shimoku ever lost control he could drown the current Genshiken in yuri tropes. It would work for about 2 chapters and then the series would be shot. Some dojin circle might do it, but he ain’t going there. Leave it to the fannish smut peddlers.

To the reasons above, I would also like to add my fave hobby-horse: Dr. Akiko Mizoguchi

Where Kio Shimoku got the background information on fujoshi culture and practice is crucial. I would argue that he heard a bit about it from friends, read Saito Tamaki’s mentions of it in Psychology of Fighting Girl, and went looking through journals and pop magazine articles for more details. If he did, he would have been hard-pressed to avoid Akiko Mizoguchi’s early writings on yaoi and fujoshi practice (cf Yureka magazine 2005-2006). There were of course other folks writing about fujoshis and BL and yaoi at the time, but finding an intelligent, articulate, lesbian “native guide” to the unknown territories of the rotten girls is somehow easier on the heteronorm-ed male point of view.

At least it was for me.

Aside from championing better behaviour among fujoshis (drop the yaoi rapes and the “I don’t like guys I only like you” tropes – they are insulting and hurtful to real gay folks), she is adamant that fujoshi space is a virtual-lesbian sexualized woman’s space, even if %95+ of the women who hang out in it are nominally heterosexual. The simple reason she gives is: “reading all that stuff has got to have some effect”. Yup! The dreaded Kaminaga’s line is a direct Mizoguchi lift. And why would an “out” Japanese lesbian academic enthuse over yaoi instead of yuri? The bodies in yaoi might be male, but the minds and hands that created them are female, the converse with yuri, and that, and the implicit gaze therein, taints the latter for her.

Extra bonus weirdness: Dr Akiko Mizoguchi is a part-time lecturer at the real-life Tama Art University, Faculty of Art and Design. The Genshiken club is set at a fictional University in Tokyo that bears a striking resemblance to Tama U. See:

Q.E.D. (add. see below)

This also means that the whole Genshiken crew could at any moment run into a manga analogue of the good Doctor if Kio Shimoku wanted to really pull our leg. Yipes! One day she’s gonna Google her name and find all these weird theories about her purported influence on the series and characters. And on that day I will be mightily embarrassed. Especially the whole Kagemusha / Kage-Mizoguchi thing I did last year. I hope she gets that I meant that the Hato character is contrived to be an outsider enthusiast that can slip in and pass even while upsetting the dynamics of a homogeneous social. Even this is pushing it. There are plenty of lesbian slash fen, and probably more than a few Japanese fujoshi who like real-world women. At least many more than Japanese crossdressing fudanshis who present as female only to do fujoshi stuff.

Later: Well I goofed! Genshiken is set in the alternative universe version of the Tama campus of Tokyo’s Chuo University. Tama Art U. is a full hour by monorail- train- bus across the city. Curses! Got Tama- confused; should have google- map’d it earlier!  Foiled again…

On second though, a Mizoguchi doppelgänger has very little chance of popping up in the Genshiken. Kio Shimoku is wary of the whole virtual lesbian space thing – I am guessing because he fears that his woman empowered space could be trivialized by a fall into yuri-dom, and he goes out of his way to banish any but the most ridiculous hints of 3D female:female frisson within in his creation. Comrade-in-arms-ship Da! Productive cooperative effort, yes! Girls night out, sure thing. Anne of Avonlea heartfelt soul-mates? Nein! Verbotten!

The point is that fujoshi-space may be female separatist or isolationist, but it remains overwhelmingly heterosexual, though extremely perverted and subject to suggestions that all manner of “other’ urges and tendencies are being sublimated. Even Dr. Mizoguchi will admit as much and will, despite her urges to reveal the entire enterprise as a virtual lesbian space, pull back due to Japanese society’s habit of throwing all its outcasts into one big undifferentiated sack. Kio Shimoku appears to value the distinction as well.

The only other point worth exploring in all this is the possibility that the nominally heterosexual rotten girl has supplanted the class-S female homosexual romance as the number one act of mildly transgressive, though societally tolerated “free space” available to young Japanese women before dreary reality kicks in. Would not competing though related religious sects be the most wary of encroaching on each others’ turf?

“It begs the question, what does it mean that all of these female-authored stories – which, I’d wager, constitute one of the largest existing bodies of erotica written by women, for women – should hardly feature women’s bodies at all?“
Audrey Lemon – How Slash saved Me

Into this dark nabe pot add one crossdressing fudanshi and stir.

There are plenty of female socials in manga-land that have no need of an intruding male to chivvy the plot along, but Genshiken Nidiame is not K-On! or Joshiraku.

gen-ii-04 the difference

How do males approach a powerful female social? How does a female social deal with intruding males? The Genshiken girls are all nearly adult females and their hobby is smut. The target of their smut fantasies are fantasy males, so a male-intruder-as-fudanshi is an interesting approach; the tension between Hato as shipper and self-shipped is good for a whole bunch of plot fuel. Yet behind this, Hato’s high school trauma serves as a cautionary tale of how hard it would be for a guy to casually waltz into a fujoshi circle, declare interest and ask to hang out. What was he thinking?

To be fair to Kio Shimoku, Hato’s cautionary tale unfolds in such a way as to avoid such a superficial mistake. On the surface, in the art club Hato is all “get serious” and aloof. Only curiosity and his secret desire to see what Kaminaga can draw doom him. Once outed, all his protestations and blabbing of “lore”, knowledge and enthusiasm for the genre do little to save him from being excluded as a pariah. Kaminaga’s girls have strong and simplistic expectations of male behaviour and male sexuality. These reinforce the isolationist tendencies of their social and they like it that way.

We will soon see how Kaminaga negotiates 3D males, including the one that she plans to marry. I have a feeling that it will not be pleasant if only because Kio Shimoku has written her as being so overcommited to her hobby as to be completely unconcerned with real life niceties. These niceties also include the very structures of institutional sexism in Japan, so perhaps she is simply a thought experiment to highlight how obnoxious male otaku (and general male) institutionalised sexism is in Japan, and how it cripples the individual stuck with it as much as it grinds on the objects of their gaze. That being said, she is still an asshole. And she gets away with it because Japanese societal sexism (and a few other societies, including our own) trivialize female social misbehaviour as long as the woman in question fulfills her primary duties to the patriarchal order.

all i can do genshiken-nidaime1

The Genshiken females are nowhere near as asocial as Kaminaga. Ogiue juggles her fannish interests and her responsibilities as club president; she tries hard to ensure that her members enjoy a safe, productive space and that the club has the potential for orderly succession. Ohno is accepting, and likes to play matchmaker, and the first year cadres do show concern for Hato, and even Madarame when misunderstandings lead to hurt feelings (and broken bones). But they still value their female majority space. When Hato de-cloaks and hangs out with Madarame and Kuchiki, territorial grumbling ensues.

Madarame presents another approach to male accommodation with a fujoshi social. Outwardly he respects their practice at a distance, taking their tolerance for his creepy enthusiasms as a given. He won’t utter a dismissive word about their rapey fake-gay dojins and their habit of shipping him as sou-uke. In return, all his upskirt pantsu loli cleavage fantasy crap, even to the point of s+m videos, “the initiation rites of peeping”, the understood solitary uses of fan materials and the distorting effects of all this garbage on one’s ability to deal with real-life members of the opposite sex are assumed to be equally off-limits. This is the basis for a peace treaty and a demilitarized zone. Two solitudes! (Waugh! I threw in an obsolete canuck-ism!). Of course all can find common cause in creating a safe space for their enthusiasms, making the pilgrimage to comiket and even can bond over the creation of fan artifacts – it was a nice touch that the last episode of the Nidiame anime had Madarame being invited to contribute to the next issue of the club publication. Still the fact remains that Madarame has been thrown under the sou-uke bus, and that while Hato did it, the rest of the gang set up the joke.

A bit of grinding on this pivotal moment might be in order. Sure it can be seen as unconscious jealousy on Hato’s part. And it can be seen as Hato being foolishly overprotective of his sempai’s not-so-hidden crush. The fact remains that she blurted it out because the girls and Hato-chan were already shipping all the males who had any association with the club: Hato-chan was overdoing it (and/or indulging in romantic m:m fantasies) by offering her male self up as exchanged fantasy to the female social. With the sudden appearance of josou-Kousaka it was all too much to hold in. In a battle between competing strategies of accommodation, Madarame’s live and let live strategy takes the hit, while the wimmen’s Genshiken lurches close to the errors of both Hato and Ogiue’s high-school circles.

To the “Fantasy is fantasy and reality is reality” must be added: “… and people are all still individuals who have their own individual hopes and dreams and fears and they bruise easily. Play Nice!

What do the other Genshiken males represent as personified approaches to a female isolationist social? Sasahara is a bit of a cypher as the almost ideal boyfriend to Ogiue. While he has learned to appreciate her BL-ish manga as accomplished “writing” and even to accept that this talent walks hand in hand with the urge to draw someone who looks a lot like him into overdone man-sex-melodrama dojins, he stays out of the day-to-day affairs of the present Genshiken and even needs to be brought up to speed on current events by Kousaka. We also get hints of some of the fantasy/ reality fall-out in the bedroom that real-life fujoshi theorists have noted:

“The majority of yaoi women fans are heterosexual. […] But, if their sexual fantasies are filled with male-male homosexual episodes, is it still accurate to call them completely heterosexual?

A friend, a happily married woman in her 30s with two kids, told me, “Not so much these days, but until a few years ago, I could not really recognize sex with my husband as a male-female act. In my mind, I transformed what I was doing to the male-male act in the BL fictions”. Is it adequate to call her completely heterosexual? From the point of view of defining sex as genital activity, the answer is yes. At the same time, however, we know that fantasies are deeply involved in human sexuality. My friend’s male-male fantasy, which happens simultaneously with her heterosexual genital act, is as important as the act itself. In this sense, it is not accurate to consider her 100% heterosexual. In addition, I would argue that a person’s sexual fantasies, accompanied by her genital act with another person, a masturbatory act, or no act at all, are equally significant for the subject of such fantasies to such an extent that calling such fantasies “virtual sex” is appropriate (Mizoguchi 2007: 56-62).

Of course, at the most overt level, my friend was engaging in sex with her husband as “virtual gay men”, just like the male characters in yaoi narratives in her mind, but at the same time she was aware that the characters were women fans’ agents and not really representations of real-life gay men. Thus she was psychologically in the company of her fellow female fans in the yaoi community while physically she was with her husband.”
-Akiko Mizoguchi, “Theorizing comics/manga genre as a productive forum: yaoi and beyond”

Mizoguchi will even go as far as to posit yaoi-space as a completely new form of sexuality, somewhere within a queer continuum of desire. No biggie – Fujoshi Rumi had a bit of this “I can only have a boyfriend if I pretend that I am a BL male character” thing too, but it needs to be highlighted if only to show how Shimoku grabs interesting stuff from the social anthropology of fujoshi culture and works bits of it into his narrative. The other thing to note is that the males in question can acknowledge it or pretend to ignore it, or worry that they sometimes forget that they are supposed to be semes in the bedroom but they still get the benefits of a female partner with a very active sexual fantasy life. The women in question easily accommodate their fantasies to real life in the sense that they see male desire as simple, physical and indiscriminate. The only thing that has a problem speaking its name, is (as in Last Tango in Paris) love.

Kousaka is at first hard to place in a typology of male reaction to a fujoshi social, but upon consideration can be placed thanks to Ohno and the “other” social within the Genshiken. Admittedly the Cosplay Brigade plays second fiddle to fujoshi culture within the club, but it has gained a grudging sense of place. It gives Kuchiki something to do, Hato and Rika don’t really mind it too much, Sue appears to be a big fan of it, though her participation in Ohno’s on-campus sessions occur mostly off-stage. Yajima grumbles, but puts on the costumes, and lately they have been better chosen to respected her frame. Angela’s twice-yearly appearances also lends clout to the tradition, and even Ogiue can get connived into donning a sexy costume every so often in the name of club solidarity.

So what exactly did Kousaka have in mind by arranging with Sasahara and Tanaka to have a full complement of costumes from that otokonoko ero game  on hand for the school festival cosplay booth? How did Shimoku-sensei slip that one by? Don’t tell me that he guessed a month in advance that Mada would need to be cheered up after finally resolving things with Saki. It was written in as a Kousaka – Tanaka surprise for Ohno, because she missed Kousaka’s debut at comiket, Was it originally meant to give Hato a bit of reassurance? Another attempt at conniving Saki into cosplay?

01 Genshiken 2 Episode 3 tanaka hands

The only explanation I can think of that works within the internal logic of the Genshiken narrative is cosplay as echo of Tanaka’s earlier model-building segment: a display of the Genshiken’s strength and resilience because of its tradition of embracing a wide range of otaku-ish interests that can cut across the isolating fixations of its sub-groups. Pluralism posited as an antidote to sectarianism. Now all they have to do is find some excuse to get Madarame (and Tanaka (Hey boy, you thought that you were on the safe end of that camera?) into costumes. We can wait. The Bodacious Space Pirates session at comiket was a beautiful story conceit. It is a wonder that the Genshiken is not written as enjoying a reputation of being a force majeur in the greater community of cosplayers within its “verse”. Will a whole bunch of out-of-town cosplayers show up at the club door one day and issue and invite/ challenge? Or is all the rep accruing to Ohno & Tanaka Cosplay Consultants LLC?

Without the Cosplay Brigade, it is all just boys vs girls locked in their respective pornish fixations. Admit it Ogiue, cosplay as “sacred common ritual” is saving the Genshiken.

Next we have Kuchiki. As butt-monkey and ill-socialized enthusiast, he displays a curious over-suggestibility to the reality distortion field created by the girls. First, he considers the collection of women as a potential harem. Then when he realises that he is not being taken even seriously enough to ship, he surpasses Hato’s over- accommodation by deciding that he is going to become a puppet to the collective will’s idea that Mada must be a sou-uked. Clearly he is the only overt male left, so it is time for him to trance out on jumping Mada. At no time do we see any indication of desire: it is a preview for Hato’s later fugue state, done as burlesque.

genshiken_06_03 run mada

Because it is Kuchiki it cannot be serious, and it must fail. Soon it turns into simple provocation for some Hato-erotic asphyxiation. Skinship is where you find it: Because it is Kuchiki, he enjoys it and overdoes it. In the last episode of the Nidiame anime he decides once again that he must annoy Hato-chan. This gets him some Sue attention. All great fun!

All this masks the fact that Kuchiki’s over-the-top behaviour makes him virtually un-shippable. While he is barely tolerated by the fujoshi social, and has only Madarame as a fellow male otaku – until Hato tries the guy otaku route. He also spends a lot of time (off-stage) with the Cosplay Brigade. Ohno and Tanaka seem to respect his enthusiasm enough to keep coming up with costumes for him, but obey Ogiue’s injunction and draw the line at cross-play (no BSP or otokonoko game cameos!) Recall too, that he can speak and understand enough English to get past Sue’s antic masquerade. Ohno is an English speaker too, so the Cosplay Brigade is also the more cosmopolitan faction in the Genshiken. Besides Madarame, he is the last gaming enthusiast in the club, but we don’t get to see much of this from him. He has some familiarity with the tropes of BL and Yaoi, but has never tried to fudanshi-ize himself to better fit in. Of all the characters, he is the most socially clumsy, and one could argue the most doggedly courageous: he refuses to let his “handicap” stop him from pushing himself into a circle of people who eventually must grudgingly acknowledge him as a friend.

qualia kuchiki

Sue can pull the Bakka Gaijin (De Gozimus Hai!!!) routine all week and get away with it because she is a petite blond foreigner, knowledgeable fan and dyed in the wool fujoshi. Her antics serve as a mask for a deeper character that is only beginning to emerge. Kuchiki has no such hidden reserves, and yet he will not be stopped by his failings, even as he is painfully conscious of them. He persists in a near hysterical mode of trivial over-acting-out because his only alternative would be to vanish away. Because of this, at the deepest level, he is a noble and tragic character, I Pagliacci.

The final male approach to fujoshi-space is that of the riajuu male: the nameless student rep Romeo, and older-brother-Hato. Both are oblivious to rotten girl behaviour and are firm in their belief that they know the proper role for women. The Genshiken rotten girls treat their version as an intruding threat, while Kaminaga considers her variant as a meal ticket.

These are the default positions reserved for guys who confront the Genshiken as women’s space: Ignorant intrusion, male hysteria, respected yet distanced fellow traveler, lapdog, mutually assured acceptance of perversity and Stockholm Syndrome. None of these can make a serious dent in the shields that surround the magic circle. Alumni, including male alumni are accorded sempai status, but as predecessors/ outsiders. As such they are useless as devices to advance the narrative and force contradictions. And they only serve to highlight the isolationist weirdness of a fujoshi social.

It is left to Hato to serve as antagonist in the guise of protaganist vis-a-vis the fujoshi social. Hato’s main trick to slip through the shields is not his crossdressing, but his ridiculous liminality. He is a rolling pile of neither-nors, and the mangaka keeps adding more to his pile. It now looks like the Nidiame anime didn’t have to time to slowly trot out all of these contradictions, so it made do by dropping 16 tons of otokonoko-genre references onto his character. As previously mentioned, I’m betting that the opening credit sequence lifts freely from crossdressing themed anime and otokonoko games. The Kousaka game inspired sequences lay it on thick and the after-Mada-confession consolation round lampshades the whole mess. It might have been too much. The whole edifice is now uncharacteristically unbalanced. The part-resolution that is supposed to pave the way for the anime’s second season now looks clumsy.

The manga is still maintaining the balance, except for the fact that so much has been loaded onto Hato that it looks like he might suffer a breakdown. Folks are getting concerned, and now he is off to the family home and an inevitable confrontation with his sister-in-law-to-be, his brother, his parents, and his Stands. Once again it looks as if it is all Hato all the time, but only as he spends all of his time reacting to women’s spaces and desires.

Whenever his character proves a bit thin to the task, Kio Shimoku adds more contradiction. I cannot recall anything in the long reveal of Hato’s background that does not add to his contradictions. It would be nice if a few pages were spent on him reminiscing about how he liked chocolate when he was in high school. Maybe he had a puppy? Instead, each new layer of Hato is a further painful puzzle piece. The more we hunt the pieces, the less attention we pay to the passle of pervy wimmens behind the curtains, pulling on the levers.

And behind them, more curtains…

the only web-extant picture of Kio Shimoku

the only web-extant picture of Kio Shimoku

Genshiken Ch 90 – The hard way

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

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

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

Genshiken 90_02

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

Continue reading

Either World Domination or something about bananas

Wherein your correspondent tries to write something two weeks after my emergency surgery for something nasty that almost left me blind in one eye. Fortunately all went well and I will not have to wear an eye-patch for the rest of my life. Still a bit cross-eyed though, which makes reading and writing a headache. Hooray for Canadian socialized medicine! Sorry, no massive theory post on fan production and distribution yet…

Instead, a quick ‘n dirty review of

Otaku Sexuality
by Saitō Tamaki

Translated by Christopher Bolton,  Introduction by Kotani Mari 

In “Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams : Japanese science fiction from origins to anime” – Christopher Bolton, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr., and Takayuki Tatsumi, editors. pps 222-249.

The oblique intro:

I need a manga or a visual novel with an odd plot so badly that I am tempted to learn Ren’py and make it myself. I need a set of adopted twins, boy and girl, home-schooled in Japan, and raised by a very rich odd couple; a gay captain of industry who is “papa” and a pre-op trans woman “mom” – this little just-so story plot twist ain’t tooooo far out – except that the only news reports I have heard about in Japan involve couples where both parties were originally women.

Much later: this reads as ill-informed and at the least inelegant: Real world transitioning folks in Japan still face substantial discrimination and hassles. See: “Woman waging lawsuit to eliminate prejudice against gender identity disorder”,   By CHO TSUIN, October 30, 2014 at:

Anyways, the “parents” are only a plot device for the kids: I need to redo Rousseau’s Emile, and put the boy and girl genius twins in first year university psychology class (let’s call them Emile and Emilia, or Mike and Michelle V. Smith), because I am sick to death of reading pop psychology that is %98 coherent, only to run time and time again into Freud’s mumbo-jumbo castration theory of sexual development and the origins of desire.

How Annoying!

It is like finding out that your favorite theorist or singer or actor is also a member of a nut-bar cult.

It needs to be whacked, but good, if only in fiction.

I guess Varley (viz: Steel Beach) and before him Delany (try Triton) have touched on this before, but they never ruined a story by hammering home the point, so a crude low-grade preachy plot device tale may be in order, if only as a great opportunity for some low comedy.

I want the twins to calmly point out in psych class that they must either be gods or demons, because everyone else has such quaint ideas about sex and desire, and this must be because their “mom” “had one”.

It has to be twins because “I can’t believe etc” and we need both male and female variants for the thought experiment. And for extra plot mojo, the only odd thing that mom and dad taught them was how to fight ZOMBIES!

Otherwise they are well-adjusted, open-minded, sociable and not too hung up on secks, though of course they do tend to stick very close to each other…

Hilarity ensues…

On second thought, they would still be patriarchal constructs. The story needs a set of opponents; the other set of “new-family type” twins at the university: studious, hardworking, student government rule sticklers, raised by two hard-working lesbian moms. Of course they resent the heck out the easy-going rich kids, Freudian voodoo theories notwithstanding.

Hey! Shimoku-sensei! Are your editor’s minions getting the translated weekly intel sheets to you? This is a winner. C’mon! this should be easy for someone who came up with “Ramen Angel Pretty Menma!” My gift for all the Genshiken I have read and avoided paying for… OR maybe I can give it to the creator of Franken Fran.

Come to think of it, this is probably the reason for the western conservative right-wing nuts’ abject horror over the idea of gay marriage, So a Del Rey licensing deal is in the bag!

Which is by way of introduction to the work of prof Saitō Tamaki, or at least the most accessible bits of it available to us heathens in the chapter on Otaku Sexuality in “Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams : Japanese science fiction from origins to anime – Christopher Bolton, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr., and Takayuki Tatsumi, editors. Ch 11 pps 222-249.

And an introduction to my main complaint about it.

MUCH LATER: Duh! I ended up hypothesizing a pale imitation of the 1990’s era manga (and later anime) Family Compo [] which featured an impossibly sweet trans* family and their recently almost-adopted teen relative. The daughter however has been gender-fluid all her life. She currently likes being a girl, but buddy boy can’t figure out if she is really a she, or if it matters. For an artifact, it is fairly respectful, though full of anachronisms and idealized crossdressing +/or trans* stereotypes. No moe-blob drawing either.. Wow!

Perhaps you have read my previous posts, where prof Saitō is quoted by other writers as the prime source for the idea that Japanese otaku display extraordinary self-control in  keeping their fantasy lives separate from their real lives. As this is one of the main plot tensions in Genshiken, and because early reports of his work tended to explain this characteristic in a very odd way, I thought I should track a sample of his work down, and this version is prof. Tamaki’s own updated Cliff notes for westerners. The article is well worth the read. As a bonus, we get some updated musings on fujoshi sexuality as well. As a non-bonus, we get something scary.. (NO! not Astro Boy!!!!)

Much to my surprise and relief, there is no trace of Nihon-jinron essentialism anywhere in view. Perhaps the original oft-mentioned “Japanese culture isn’t big on platonic ideals” thing was a misreading, or early conjecture that was dropped. Prof Saitō gets street cred for inventing the term Hikikomori and has spent lots of time dealing with social isolates and obsessives of all stripes. While he is sympathetic to Japanese fans, his opinions carry a great deal of weight in popular Japanese discourse on the extremes of fan behavior.

“Prejudices about otaku based in ignorance have circulated easily for some time, even in my own field of psychiatry. One typical (mis)diagnosis is that otaku have a schizophrenic personality disorder. (My own opinion is that otaku clarify the limits of the very concept of personality disorders, but I leave this argument for another time.)

Perhaps this kind of misunderstanding should be seen as a symptom of psychiatry’s shift from a participatory activity to a system of observation. I would not go so far as to identify myself as an otaku, but my correspondence with the young people described below has led me into a rather profound relationship with this world—certainly beyond what I could call fieldwork. For all of these reasons, I feel that this record of my observations may have some clinical significance at the present time.

In 2000 I published a book titled Sentō bishōjo no seishin bunseki (Armored cuties: A psychoanalysis). The title names an icon that has enjoyed tremendous popularity in Japan, particularly in manga and anime— the sentō bishōjo. Literally this means “beautiful warrior girl,” though the translation I prefer is “armored cutie.” It seems to me the popularity of this strange image is virtually unique to my country. Many Western series, from Alien to Tomb Raider, feature fighting women, but they are almost all Amazonian women. Until recently the West had almost no works that featured girl warriors in the kindergarten or elementary school range. How did these sentō bishōjo come about, and how are they consumed? My book posed a series of questions along these lines, and I believe it was able to point the way toward some answers. And since it was the otaku who were most in love with the icon of the sentō bishōjo, this book also had to describe the otaku in some detail.

In 2003, as a kind of follow-up and expansion on the arguments in Sentō bishōjo no seishin bunseki, I published a book on the linked motifs of adolescence, media, and sexuality titled Hakase no kimyōna shishunki (The doctor’s strange adolescence). The present chapter is adapted from material in that latter book, particularly the second chapter on otaku sexuality. It summarizes many parts of the argument in Sentō bishōjo no seishin bunseki, though it skips some of the introductory description, for example, on the origin of the term otaku and the evolution of its use. And it goes beyond the earlier work in elaborating my arguments about the issue of sexuality and fiction.”

As you can see, he also posited the Beautiful Fighting Girl as trope/ concept, and has a certain understanding of, and sympathy with his subjects’ enthusiasms. So a reader should pay attention; there is going to be good stuff here. take for example his definition of Otaku:

“It may be true that otaku have certain distinguishing features of appearance, but criticisms of these things amount to nothing more than personal impressions. If a critique never moves beyond these kinds of impressions, the critic will never escape the trap of narcissism; in other words, these criticisms simply reveal the means by which the critic sustains his or her own self-love.

This is the first difficulty with theorizing otaku: from the outset all these theories (sympathetic and unsympathetic) have been exposed to these impressions and value judgments. So my own approach here will be to avoid value judgments as far as possible and try to describe the otaku formally. My descriptors for otaku are as follows:

• They have an affinity for fictional contexts (kyokō no kontekusuto).
• They resort to fictionalization in order to possess the object of their love.
• They have multiple orientations when it comes to enjoying fiction.
• For them fiction itself can be a sexual object.”

Two things jump out: the libidinization of Otaku desire (Helllooooooo! Genshiken!) and the deft pre-emptive swipe at any critics which echoes my fave reason why one should be very careful insulting people – it only reveals to the whole world what is in your anxiety closet. Myself, I am afraid of simple, stupid answers, I guess because I am prone to them myself.

As a short digression on Japanese fan desire, his essay misses some of his more interesting ideas about manga style and visual conventions that are presented in his “Beautiful Fighting Girl”  (V1.2?), as updated and translated in 2011. Here from the Mechademia review by Nina Cornyetz (

“I think Saitō’s book is best when describing manga as a specific semiotic system characterized by “atemporality,” “high context,” and “multiple personality space.” Atemporality refers to the subjective rendering of time, or the suppression of chronological time in the anime/manga diegesis. [7] “High context” refers to how sets of semiotic codes specific to cartoons and animation are layered one over another, to construct a visual space that is “excessively overdetermined in meaning and highly redundant.”[8] Saitō surmises that this multiplicity of monologic codes characteristic of manga resembles that of a person with multiple personality disorder, in that individual characters are partial and incomplete.”

Or to put it simpler, Japanese visual culture assumes that you will pay attention, pick up the hints as the story progresses and doesn’t spoon feed you as much as North American pop culture narrative. Cornyetz also has a bit of a problem with the Lacanian jargon – not for its density, but for its suitability to the task of deconstructing the genre. For now, Otaku Sexuality gives us the “lite” version of most of Saito’s favorite themes:

“…But all of the above are also seen to some extent in the mania of other fans. The behavior that sets otaku apart is the act of loving the object by possessing it. For example, the largest of all otaku events is the Komikku Maaketto (“comic market”), abbreviated as Komike in Japanese and held twice a year in August and December. Here, hundreds of thousands of otaku (many dressed as their favorite manga and anime characters) gather to buy and sell independently produced comics called dōjinshi. Just attending Komike is a crash course in the world of the otaku.

Dressing up and producing these dōjinshi comics are among the activities otaku must participate in to maintain their credentials, something that sets them apart from run-of-the-mill fans. Over thirty thousand groups produce and sell their dōjinshi at Komike, and most are second-order texts, that is, takeoffs on well-known manga and anime. I believe dōjinshi are significant because they constitute an otaku “rite of ownership,” whereby the fans take the works they love and make them their own through the act of parody, which is to say by fictionalizing them even further. Dōjinshi are one crystallization of this activity, though more recently Internet mailing lists and discussion boards have also become sites for publishing independently authored stories. In venues like these that are more text-based than the visual dō jinshi, participants contribute “SS”—original short stories or “side stories” with characters and settings borrowed from favorite works.

The most popular among the dōjinshi are the pornographic parodies in the “eighteen and over” genre. It is easy to hold these works up and proclaim disgust with the otaku, but unless one can overcome this visceral dislike, it is impossible to perceive the otaku’s true nature. As my list of otaku descriptors indicates, the issue of the otaku is one of sexuality, and it is this genre that displays their unique qualities in distilled form. It is not easy to locate a sexual object in fiction itself: that represents a taste for something far more direct than we see in the fetishism of ordinary fan manias. Many otaku actually have imagined sexual relationships with their favorite manga and anime protagonists, and masturbate to these fantasies.”

From this we get a natural digression into loli-smut and the first hint of the fantasy is fantasy/ reality is reality division, with the obligatory reference to that infamous otaku child-murderer, and the observation that he has not been followed by hordes of imitators; so perhaps otaku are under-represented as violent deviants in general society. It is the “normal” drunk salaryman who gropes the pretty lady, Train Man saves her.

Comike(t) also gives him a chance to introduce fujoshi activity:

The first thing to point out is that the producers and consumers of yaoi texts are overwhelmingly women. The majority of participants in the Komike comic market are women (contradicting the idea that otaku are mostly male), and the majority of those female participants are yaoi aficionados. Certainly, the number of gay men producing or consuming these texts is virtually nil. If the desires of yaoi authors are directly reflected in these texts, then how should we characterize their sexuality?

Clearly, it represents a set of desires that cannot be described in terms of the psychoanalytic theory that has defined perversion (tō saku) up to now. What is significant here is again the fact that the imaginary sexual lives of the yaoi crowd are totally separate from their everyday sexual lives. Some contend that one should investigate sexuality by considering actual sexual activities, but I have always argued that today the real or the actual is something layered, something increasingly devoid of any firm foundation. In this situation, fantasies may in fact be the most appropriate material for investigating sexuality. More pointedly, real sexual acts are far too much of an admixture to consider when analyzing the structural aspects of sexuality.

Here, the fact that yaoi fans (yaoi aikōka) and otaku are sexual late bloomers actually works in our favor: because they are unacquainted with the realities of sex, they can pursue these sexual fantasies in a purer form.

On the matter of fujoshi desire (and note that he explained in the work, that he avoids the term fujoshi), Saitō relies of the testimony of a noted, eloquent producer yaoi. But wait: keep watch on the text – the great Freudian signifier is about to pop out, like something through a hole in the screen from an Ishihara novel… cue the signifier

“Enomoto Nariko is a figure who sheds considerable light on yaoi fantasies and sexuality. She is the author of the popular manga Senchimento no kisetsu (Sentimental season), serialized in the weekly comic magazine Biggu komikku supirittsu (Big comic spirits). She has also created numerous dōjinshi under the name Nobi Nobita. As recorded in Sōhyō (Criticism) — an anthology of her critical works she issued herself as a dōjinshi—Enomoto started out as a yaoi author. She became known for a piece of criticism titled “Adults Just Don’t Get It,” its title drawn from the Japanese title of François Truffaut’s 400 Blows (1959). That essay used R. D. Laing’s Divided Self to read the celebrated anime serial Neon Genesis Evangelion (the psychology of which has been taken up even at meetings of the Japanese Association of Pathography). Evangelion’s director Anno Hideaki was reportedly so impressed with Enomoto’s interpretation that when he made the films based on the series, he incorporated a number of details that reflected her ideas…”


“Distinguishing the sexuality of male and female otaku means distinguishing male and female moe, and there are some evident differences. For many male otaku, the trigger for moe is either a character’s cute figure or the situation she finds herself in. What then is the object of moe for the female otaku who constitute the yaoi group? In fact moe is a term that yaoi fans do not generally use themselves, but Enomoto puts it perfectly when she says that while a male otaku may be “Asuka moe,” a yaoi fan is “phase moe.” “Phase” here represents one phase of a relationship. Let us suppose, for example, that a certain manga depicts a relationship of mixed friendship and antagonism between two boys. This relationship will be the focus of attention for these women fans: based on subtle gestures, looks, and expressions, or on fragments of dialogue, how and when will it move into its romantic phase of homosexual attraction? That is the universal theme of yaoi texts.

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

The word moe is used by male otaku to locate the agent of that desire. On the other hand, in women that fear for one’s subject position is less acute. When a woman desires something, her own position is not important: she immerses herself completely in the object, and by emptying herself, she is able to take it in. The versatility of this subject position is clear when we consider how she identifies with the object. In the gay sex depicted by yaoi texts, a reader or creator can identify with both the seme (“active”) and uke (“passive”) characters.14 This is why her attraction to a text surpasses that of the male otaku.

This passion manifests itself in a different posture toward the text. For example, male otaku will often debate matters of textual interpretation with one another, but yaoi readers will argue fiercely about the combinations of characters in a parody or the choice to assign a character the seme or uke role in a sexual encounter. The latter sort of debate is unthinkable among male otaku, although both kinds of argument represent the struggle described above to “possess the work.”

Should yaoi texts be regarded as proof of the charge entertained above, the confusion of “fiction” with “reality”? In fact, these fan authors realize that the gay connections between characters in the textual worlds they create could never realistically exist. Regarding the absence of female characters in these parodies, Nobi Nobita explained to me that “when women are depicted, it can’t help becoming weirdly real.” Clearly there is no confusion between reality and fiction here.

Hmmmmmmm I smell echoes of Mishima’s Sea of Fertility again – or at least what I know of it from Rio Otomo‘s criticism. Mishima’s influence is unavoidable in Japanese modernist fiction and his heroic male youth archetype (who reads a lot like a slightly more asocial version of Wagner’s Siegfried) is pure Shonen Jump and always counterpoised against some extreme notion of a protoplasmic dissolving-all-encompassing emotional and physical sensation field of metaphorical gooo in female sexuality.

“I was lost in the valley of pleasure, I was lost in the infinite sea..” –P.Smith


Another correspondent invoked by Saitō:

“The yaoi creator Nakajima Azusa has written an analysis of yaoi titled Children of Thanatos, which is interesting as an act of self-analysis by one of the genre’s key players. The book’s description of yaoi has a number of points in common with theories of otaku I advanced in my first book on otaku, Sentō bishōjo no seishin bunseki. First, Nakajima writes that nearly all yaoi writers are heterosexual women with husbands and children and that she has never met one who was a lesbian. This corresponds with my own observation about the scarcity of homosexual otaku. Like otaku, yaoi fans are living out separate sexualities. They lead heterosexual lives, but their fictionally oriented sexuality turns to male homosexual relationships. These fictional sexual objects are not proxies for the real; instead, the space of fiction has a wholly independent economy of desire, a point yaoi fans share with male otaku.”

So far, Saitō’s conjectures and reportage are interesting and nuanced, Unfortunately the veneration of Freud’s demon bones intrudes:  (honking big quote warning!)

“The Origins of Asymmetry

Actual heterosexual relationships appear symmetrical in the sense that the man desires the woman and the woman the man. But as we know, in any male-female relationship, the fundamental orientation of the male’s desire differs from that of the woman. (In that sense, love is nothing more than an exchange of illusions.) We must refer to psychoanalysis — particularly Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan — to understand these structural differences between male and female desire.

Psychoanalysis teaches that female and male desire have contrasting makeups from the moment they are constituted. What first gives rise to male desire is the process of symbolic castration. When the father intrudes into the happy sufficient union that exists between the mother and the young child, he severs their connection. At this point the male child discovers that his mother lacks a penis. The mother’s  omnipotence (the omnipotence of the ego) is abandoned and replaced (along with the absent penis) by the signifier of the phallus.

When the male child obtains the primal tool of language that is the phallic signifier, the male child becomes a speaker and enters the symbolic world. By experiencing symbolic castration, he becomes a neurotic subject, and from that point the full range of desires becomes possible. Constituted as it is in this way, male desire has castration anxiety at its heart and must always seek the “object a” lost through castration. Desire directed at the object a incarnates desire as an illusion within the symbolic world, but never reaches the actual object.

On the other hand, female desire arises in a more roundabout way. Women also undergo symbolic castration to become a neurotic subject, but afterward, a woman discovers her own anatomical difference. She moves toward the mother’s position because both daughter and mother lack a penis. In males, gaining the phallus does not stave off desire for the mother, but for females, desire directed at the mother must be redirected through castration. For females, the mark of lacking a penis makes it possible to desire the phallus from the mother’s position.

The male follows a chain of metaphors directed toward the desired object a that he cannot attain. In the process, he constructs the illusion called knowledge. What he tries to possess (e.g., the illusion of woman) is actually a stand-in for the singular object a that perpetually eludes his grasp. And what is the situation for women? They locate themselves in the position of that which is desired by the male, the position of the mother. But this location represents a state of lack. Women can locate themselves only as beings lacking from the symbolic world, where women do not exist, and it is from this position of lack that women desire the phallus they do not have. This is the diametric opposite of the male orientation that constructs illusions.

The object of otaku desire, the sentō bishōjo, or armored cutie, is none other than object a, the girl who identifies with the penis. It is in an effort to become the possessor of these figures that male otaku construct the various illusions around them: fiction/criticism, novels, dōjinshi, and so forth. What is at the heart of the issue here is the reality the sentō bishōjo has by virtue of existing completely within fiction — by virtue of her state of lack. In Sentō bishōjo no seishin bunseki, I described this as “the inverted hysteria of visual space.” There is not room here to repeat all the details of that argument, but in summary it consists of the following points:

1. When a male desires a female, she is “hystericized” (hisuteriika).
2. Hystericization is desire that perceives a two-layered structure to the object: a visible outer layer that attracts or entices, and an unseen deeper level, the object’s true nature (like a hidden trauma).
3. The sentō bishōjo has a number of features that correspond to those of actual hysteria.
4. However, the sentō bishōjo can experience battle (“jouissance” enjoyment) without trauma (such as the experience of “rape” that motivates many “real” fighting women). In this sense she presents the mirror image of actual hysteria.

For male otaku desire, what is important is precisely that the desired object is lacking. If the premise of the sentō bishōjo is that she is fictional and lacking, it is only this that makes her eligible as an object of desire. But the illusionary quality of these warrior girls must have a concretely visual aspect. In the experience of moe, these visual elements occupy a central place, because inasmuch as these sentō bishōjo are objects of desire, they must provide some toehold for the author and reader to identify with them ironically. It is only in the visual dimension that the male can project his image narcissistically on the object. This accounts for the male predisposition to be attracted by physical appearances, and it may also explain the tendency among agents of male desire to supplement their own lack with a fetish.

How, then, does the desire of yaoi readers differ from that of otaku? Here we can directly apply what was said earlier about female desire. It may seem impossible for female readers to identify themselves directly with anything in a gay love story, particularly one from which female characters have been banished. But this is part of the fundamental process that enables desire. In the everyday world, it is by virtue of being the object of male desire that women are able to constitute their own position as a lack. If male otaku feel desire for the lack of the object, in yaoi female desire it is important that one be a lacking subject oneself.

So excluding women from yaoi texts is more or less necessary in order for the reader to alienate herself as the agent of desire. This current of desire, meticulously prepared, is then directed toward the phallic relationship of the men in the text. This phallic connection results from the fact that males, having penises, can take either the “active” seme or “passive” uke role in the sex act. Female penis envy is highly abstracted in these texts; the object of envy is rather the phallic positioning inherent in this relationship. Because of this, women can identify with any character in the story. A woman can never assert her own existence in these dramas of phallic desire, but it is precisely because of this inability that she can attempt an identification that is less limited than that of the male. The actual world contains many examples of this freedom women have as sexual subjects.”

Cixious has dealt with this bias at length, so it might be better to press on. There is something that can be rescued from this all, but the price may be a bit steep:

“It is known that men often form homosocial bonds—male unions that lead automatically to homophobia. The resistance heterosexual men generally feel toward homosexual connections is far stronger than the resistance heterosexual women feel toward lesbianism. On the stage of the imagination where desire is played out, men always try to become the agent of that desire, which is why they try to explain desire’s origins, and why in turn I am writing this. Put another way, men can feel only the kind of desire that can be described.

To all appearances, the desire of women is constituted much more passively. Women do not like to assert themselves as agents of desire, which is why their desire is so often hard to describe. Can one rationally explain women’s taste for jewelry? It is not even fetishism. This resistance to description is directly expressed by the phrase that gives us the word yaoi: “No climax, no conclusion, no meaning.”

As I mentioned, in these fanciful homosexual relations the thing regarded as most important is who has the seme and who the uke role. Among yaoi readers there are fierce debates about these assignments. This supports our ideas about yaoi desire: what matters is the relation between characters and the phase of that relationship.

Consider a slightly different formulation: if we identify otaku desire as the desire “to have,” yaoi desire is the desire “to become.” Extending a postulate of psychoanalysis that “a heterosexual is one who loves women,” we can say that women are fundamentally heterosexual beings. This is in part the reason why psychoanalysis does not regard lesbianism as an abnormal sexuality (tōsaku) but as an example of “acting out.” Yaoi readers are not trying to possess the homosexual relationships in yaoi texts; they are trying to identify with the phallic relationship itself. What permits them to experience jouissance is the form of their desire as a wish “to become.” [emp mine]

Nice to know that Freudian psychiatry, Queen Victoria and the book of Leviticus are in agreement!

“The moe of male otaku is mainly a fetishistic desire “to have.” It is a desire not for reality itself but for reality’s shroud or mantle. For that reason the elements of moe tend to multiply. For example, the visual ornamentation of manga and anime characters is increasing. It is easy to speak about the virtual quality of this kind of otaku sexual love, but it is hard to say the same kinds of things about yaoi. It may be because yaoi identification with the object seems to be constituted far more directly than otaku possession, which is, after all, possession of a substitute. In that sense, we might say that yaoi moe is a far more enjoyable experience than otaku moe is.”

“And I Tiresias have foresuffered all;
Enacted on this same divan or bed;;
I who have sat by Thebes below the wall;
And walked among the lowest of the dead”
-The Wasteland,  T.S. Elliot,

Nope, the quote is ironic mode ON: the original Tiresias got to experience a female orgasm and liked it a lot! His only crime, for which the goddess blinded him, was to blab about the experience.

Guys: avoid viagra, cialis and tantric sex – it will turn you into a woman. Multiple or prolonged orgasm in males is the work of SATAN! That’s why the rotten girl’s fuck puppets are so prone to it!

Perhaps the rotten girls are convinced that our natural propensity to singular climax is what makes us crazy in the head and are trying to give us a gift to fix our sad lack, if only in their fiction?

Omne animal post coitum triste

Perhaps you aren’t trying hard enough…

Saitō then goes on to touch on an even more extreme geek perversion, shota – which he claims has equal male and female devotees, but (thankfully!) leaves any in-depth examination for future research.

(I am either hysterically defending my narcissism here or setting boundaries. Of course I prefer the latter explanation, but I could be deluded…)

The essay then gets back onto productive tracks with a discussion of fictionality and layered readings and possession vs fetishism. Basically the facility for and enjoyment of layered readings keep the possession from becoming too fetishistic – the act becomes that particular exsanguinated form of french post-structuralist joy – jouissance, but at least the otaku and the fujoshi are not crazy in the head – they are just cultural producers – in effect writers, mangakas (and artists?) in their own right (though this last word, the dread A-word is never spoken)

Oh well, leave it at creator and call it a win:

“Calling the otaku “creators” will produce objections that most of their work is childish in the extreme: lacking in originality, imagination, expressive skill, and so on. But these criticisms are no more than impressionistic critiques and imagined value judgments. This kind of approach is incompatible with psychoanalysis, but unfortunately even among critics who write from a psychoanalytic perspective we still see a number who are trapped in this kind of narcissistic posture. And from them we hear that tired refrain telling the otaku to “grow up and face reality.”

One can always counter this kind of impressionistic criticism with more of the same. For example, consider Japanese academic knowledge and its insignificance to the world at large (particularly in the humanities). From one perspective the otaku’s knowledge is much more globally relevant than what is taught in our universities. The fact that Japanese anime clubs exist at almost every American university can only bolster this impression.

Japan’s greatest cultural export is anime, a commonplace that still bears repeating. Since Sakamoto Kyu¯ ’s “Sukiyaki Song” topped America’s Billboard music chart in 1963, the only Japanese works to repeat this feat in their own category are the anime films Ghost in the Shell (1995) and Poketto monsutaa: Myu¯ tsu¯ no gyakushu¯ (1995, Pokemon: Mewtwo’s Return).21 The supposed “insularity” of otaku knowledge is a delusion of academics. But even if the texts created by otaku are regarded as childish, it may be a fortunate thing for us. A brilliant work has an aura that tends to stay the hand of anyone who would analyze it, but this is not a problem when we explore the creative process through the otaku. Nakai Hisao famously suggested that a line drawn by a patient and a line drawn by a genius are “philosophically equivalent.”22 In fact, the creative activity of otaku may reveal creation in its most primitive form, because the distance between desire and creation is so short.” [emp. mine]

This is extremely valuable!

You don’t have to be a great artist to be an artist. Joseph Beuys wanted everyone to be an artist, and the western Fluxus movement makes stuff that is so pathetically lame as to blur the boundaries of the definition of “art” in favor of the spontaneity of creation within a social realm. Having no talent or inspiration is no damn excuse. “You have 3 minutes left, I expect a performance piece for the class!

Compared to Fluxus, Japanese visual culture is modular and reproducible in form and content, to an extent that it begs for fan involvement, appropriation, exchange and production. New technology helps grease the tracks (which will be dealt with in the long put off future post), but the urge to productive involvement that makes fan desire so radical is foregrounded in the otaku and fujoshi social, as much as in earlier North American car/ motorcycle sub-cultures and global computer hardware/software sub-cultures.

And to riff on an essay I read 1/2 an eons ago in Analog Magazine (and can’t find the citation for), it was the AK47 that changed war and lead to “the democratization of violence” (a term picked up by Muammar Gaddafi who liked western sci-fi), just as the modular, cheap shoddy IBM pc x86 architecture personal computer (which heh, developed out of the cpm bus board computers as well as the apple II) moved history a hell of a lot more than the $10,000 mac plus did.

Vernacular cultures are more powerful than elite cultures, especially if the tools and rules are cheap, easily mastered and distribution/ exchange channels can be found. I am not a big fan of rap, but I understand its appeal. But that’s for a future post..

Back to Saitō:

Next we get some quick and dirty analysis on Miyazaki:

“Miyazaki saw it [Hakujaden (Panda and the Magic Serpent)] 1958 as a teenager and fell in love with its heroine, then went on to become Japan’s master of the animated image. But from one perspective, his work has a quality of Freudian “repetition compulsion” that is sad. Possessed as a boy by an anime beauty, Miyazaki is fated to produce one charming heroine of his own after another, and through them to support otaku culture. This compulsion that revolves around beautiful young girls (largely absent in Miyazaki’s creative partner Takahata Isao, for example) repeats the initial trauma of Miyazaki’s early experience. This is clearly a chain of transference: a transference from receiver to transmitter mediated by the icon of the beautiful girl. Miyazaki’s inability to escape it is shown by his countertransferent dislike for adult anime fans (otaku), a scorn he makes no effort to disguise.”

Uh that’s a bit cruel, one could come up with a few alternative explanations, but lets let it pass.. Saitō then brings up Takashi Murakami’s superflat  and Azumi’s the database as a prelude to a very interesting take on otaku and by inference fujoshi sexuality:

“Let me then summarize my argument up to this point. There are three driving forces behind otaku evolution: sexuality, the transference from reader to author, and the comic market. Otaku desire (the desire to possess through fictionalization) is supported by all three. We must wait for more concrete research on the comic market and author-directed transference. Here I have focused on the connection between creative activity and sexuality. “

[emp mine again -you should try it yourself prof Saitō, there is a reason people get into making art.. Start here]

The final issue I treat in this chapter is the intersubjectivity of sexuality, or the evolutionary changes in expression that have made that intersubjectivity possible. Naturally, the driving force for sexuality is the “actual reality” of sex. In this sense, otaku are trying to face the reality of their own sex constructively. But this kind of reality differs from the search for a sexual partner in the actual world.

In my book focusing on the sentō bishōjo, I suggested that this behavior was a survival tactic employed by otaku to “resist datafication.” As the illusory notion that “everything can be turned into data” becomes more and more widespread, how can one protect sexuality from the same fate? The answer is to spin out a limitless number of illusions from the single source of sexuality.[emph. mine] The sentō bishōjo, what I have also called the “phallic girl,” is a powerful icon that serves as the medium for these illusions. The most effective strategy against the restricting forces of datafication may be to oppose them with the unrestricted possibilities of illusion, that is, narrative. And I am convinced that an important role served by otaku culture is to preserve illusion’s unbounded character.

Hmmmm… I’ve heard that one before…

“Captain, you’re getting dangerously close to the planet killer”.
“I intend to get a lot closer. I’m going to ram this ship right down that thing’s throat!”

This is the old overload it until it blows up sci-fi trope, and what the heck – it worked well enough in real life to defuse the Frankfurt school’s loathing of mass culture. One stadium filled extravaganza is a Nazi propaganda triumph, but 3 each weekend, every weekend is just the concert, the game or the convention that you are too broke or bored to attend.

The essay ends with a jarring reference once again to shota, or rather a sub-genre; robo-shota (Waughhh! bad things happen to Astro-Boy!) as some kind of point of convergence/ vanishing point/ event horizon of otaku/ fujoshi desire and of course a mandatory “more research is required” , along with a plea to not condemn it out of hand…

(Sorry, must condemn – kill it with fire!)

“This is a desire so thoroughly fictionalized that one hesitates even to call it perverse (tō saku). Before one turns away from its strangeness, it is worth considering the limitlessness of the imaginative power that is fed by otaku sexuality.  Maidroid is the emblem of a sexuality that depends only on these contexts to develop, a sexuality deliberately separated from everyday life. . If narrative is possible even after the “end of history,” that possibility may reside in emblems like these. But in the way they develop, these high context expressions are impoverished in the syntagmatic axis, even as they show such richness along the paradigmatic one. We see this in anime, where the almost excessive variation in setting and character combines with a tendency toward cookie-cutter story lines and ideas. It is for this reason that a high-context superflat space needs some stimulus from outside itself, to destabilize its internal context. Born at the boundary between modern art and otaku culture, the concept “superflat” itself functions as a point at which to introduce that externality. If we have a role to play in these processes, it should not be as critics or as opponents of otaku culture.

We should interact constructively with otaku; we should overcome our resistance enough to offer our own interpretations; and we should work from outside to keep stimulating the otaku imagination.”

Obviously, prof Saitō’s thesis is complicated, nuanced and extremely productive, even as it wears its biases and faults and blind spots (or at least currently unfashionable opinions) proudly pinned to its lapel.

Of the original reason for investigating prof, Saitō; the fantasy is fantasy and reality is reality law of otakudom, we are much further into the depths of how the mechanism supposedly enforces a psychic division of labor. The multifaceted, creative reading and production of endless variations on a favoured theme grounds itself in the realm of the imagination and would cease to function if it was to consciously “bleed” over into the real world. It would be like ordering fast food in haiku and writing fanzines on the park sidewalk. Yet at the same time fictional narratives have a habit of influencing real life, as herr doctor Freud’s work-as-trope proves.

There is a whole lot of useful material and insight here, and to ask Saitō to go a bit easy on the Freud-speak is to ask him to delegitimize himself in the eyes of the rest of his tribe of psychologists. But honestly! There are no lesbians at Comiket ??? Lets all redefine lesbian in a way that is far more violent than my past joke-conceit that the overwhelming majority of women-liking women in Japan were suspicious of the term and wanted some privacy (please!). And guess why they really aren’t lesbian? Cue monsieur Ishihara’s fave trick again.

moe ishihara web

It’s an interesting point of view, but lets not turn it into a permanent cultural festival.

Saitō gets closest to the issue with his emphasis on creative play, but must perforce pretend not to see the huge social element in fan creativity, or at least to view it in an un-social light. After all communication is merely the wielding of the phallus by a neurotic subject, which I guess is why men can’t really have any friends.

The biases in the cult of Freud and those who follow make a detached retina seem like a mild inconvenience. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is still short one eye, He does not necessarily get to be King.

The emphasis on layered reading and intertextuality is productive, and is handled far better than the soulless vertigo of the original database model; it leads to a better explanation/ understanding of the reality is reality vs fantasy is fantasy divide, than any tentative, previous, mis-read or mis-attributed reference to a weak adherence in Japanese culture to ‘western” ideas of a platonic model of ideals. You cannot really do much with the latter, whereas the former is the gooey stuff of high late modern (don’t say postmodern please!) culture, and as such is likely to spread like a virus through all industrial/ “post”-industrial cultures.

Looked at this way, it is the next step up from North American car, motorcycle and home computer building sub-cultures, and on par with social media, electronic music and video mashup subcultures.

And don’t tell me that they weren’t libidinized.

“Says Red Molly to James “That’s a fine motorbike.
A girl could feel special on any such like”
Says James to Red Molly “My hat’s off to you
It’s a Vincent Black Lightning, 1952.
And I’ve seen you at the corners and cafes it seems
Red hair and black leather, my favorite color scheme”
And he pulled her on behind
and down to Box Hill they did ride”
Richard Thompson – 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

Another useful point of view is the asymmetrical approach to boyotaku and girl fujoshi consumption of libidinized fan material. Male sexual fantasy is pretty easy to understand: and Madarame makes a good go of it to Saki with his line drawing speech early on in Genshiken. Yup, just cave paintings of beings we really really want but have trouble catching, let alone understanding and communicating with. Saki’s reaction is truthful as well – them damn stick figures won’t help much, and will probably get in the way of interacting with real women.

But Ohno and Ogiue, and later the rest of the rotten girls are harder to fully fathom. Sure, they could be making up for a certain lack, or they could have found a way to enjoy a virtual woody without having to give up a more efficient and far more pleasurable arrangement. Or they could be trying to get back at Freud-daddy and his thick-headed followers, and all the stupid boneheaded sexism that hides stupid unfair, corrupt and ultimately self-destructive patterns of behavior in a certain society (and ours too). Or they could be trying to, as previously suggested, give us guys the gift of multiple orgasms. Or they could just be wired so that reading about rough (or nice vanilla) sex by fictional males really turns their crank, and then they drape some good behavior tropes over the mess (reads like romance) so they don’t feel too abject when they look at themselves in the mirror later, and because a good raunchy story is fun to share.

The asymmetry effect could merely be a side-effect of more developed patterns of women’s social interaction,

While it is true that every generation believes that it has invented sex, it is also true that the amount of smut, and its availability in absolute terms is far greater today than could be imagined by even the most jaded of our ancestors.

We are up to our ears in smut. We have country-wide junkyards full of rusting smut. The smut recyclers can’t keep up with it, the pile of debris grows ever skyward. We have barges and container ships that illegally dump smut, along with worn t-shirts and broken electronics on the shores of “failed states”. The smut concentrations in the earth’s atmosphere have for the first time in history exceeded 400 ppm!

Houston we have smut!

Why can’t the rotten girls customize theirs too?

The rest of the book that this essay is contained in (“Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams :Japanese science fiction from origins to anime”) goes on at length to describe how Japanese science fiction was used by many writers, including women writers, to highlight social contradictions and play with alternatives. Could a theory of vernacular fiction/ narrative and social change be more productive than an orthodox Freudian psychoanalytical approach?

Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist.
Children already know that dragons exist.
Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed.
..might be a misquote of Chesterton, but it is snappier.

A Freudian approach to fujoshi desire constitutes women’s desire as a lack, an engulfing void that seeks to absorb the absent phallus – symbol of lack and flaw, and as such experience imagined male sexual play from an undifferentiated, multiplicitous point of view, absorbing all into a subject-less vortex of sensation… or something. It also drapes a lot of dissimulation and elaboration over the crude metaphor and metonymy that is at the heart of the the Freud myth: Woman as castrated male, and as hole/vessel, orifice that engulfs the male member, and guardian of the chthonic wound from whence blood issues monthly and new life springs forth from pain and gore.

“Here’s to the hole that never heals!”

Go too far with this, and you can end up like Apollo in the Oresteia’s The Friendly Ones, reduced to gibbering to a jury of Athenian farmers that the female of the species is only some kind of container full of potting soil that adds nothing to the life that develops during pregnancy. While Church philosophers a thousand years later took this as “natural philosophy”, the 600BC Athenian audience (who knew farming) hooted with laughter at the fine corner Athena had backed her stupid, arrogant brother into. Even he realised his fuck-up and shortly after left the “trial” in a huff.

Prof. Saitō: what do you make of mpreg yaoi stories? Are fujoshi texts trying to impose a revenge of pregnancy upon males? Are they “gifting” their imagined male creatures with something they lack in real life, much like the aforementioned multiple orgasm digression? Or are they playing with an even greater horror than their violent pseudo-homosexual coupling? Male pregnancy is something deep in the collective male anxiety closet: viz Cordwainer Smith’s “The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal” – a well-crafted nasty little homophobic nightmare straight out of the pop psychology anxiety closet. (
and )

Intelligent cat creatures created in the wink of an eye, locked in eternal battle with a world full psychotic pregnant faggot-bogeymen bent on exterminating all women from the galaxy. Little surprise that this tale was the product of the writing hobby of the man who helped develop the concept of “psychological warfare” for the allied war WWII war effort.

These are all elaborate narratives built on very shaky chains of metaphor and association; they make for fine tales and myths, but sin against William of Occam’s simple prescriptions for making sense of the world.

Perhaps an alternate reading could be suggested by the dismissive comment of another critic of fujoshi practice; “that the girls are all just playing with dolls“. But one underestimates such play at one’s peril, for is not such play the stuff of high modern literature? Or is the third-person omniscient narrative, with jumps to multiple, sometimes conflicting and unreliable first person points of view not seen as the height of the contemporary craft of the novel?

Fujoshi desire is simultaneously the view of the goddess and the view of the void – a trick that matches and possibly one ups Job’s inscrutable big-papa-in-the- sky.

Then the fujoshi spoke to her sisters out of the whirlwind. . ..

The girls are better at multitasking, just as we are better at fixating on one thing to the point of obsession. Of course your mileage may vary and a sound exercise regime can help in levelling the differences. Guys – multitasking won’t turn you into someone’s bitch, though it may turn you into an employable telephone tech support worker. However your brain will hurt for the first four months.

And as a further aside; someone must be able to make sense of a women’s (or men’s) taste in jewelry, otherwise how could so much money be made on the exercise?

Multiplying entities without necessity is an act of love, not an act of science. (TM)

As for the escapism or coping mechanisms that the libidinization of Japanese visual culture provides, one would be remiss if one failed to note the very real social, economic and generational pressures that bear down upon folks in Japan in this particular moment in time. The old models are not working too well for anyone, unless you are really rich or retired with a good pension. Or does the search for the Lacanian “object a” explain the Japanese invention of the Love Hotel?

Demographics and economics have as much to offer to the understanding of otaku and fujoshi behavior as strategies of layered reading and creative consumption. Even Lacan understood that post WWII France was something different from Freud’s fin-de-siecle Vienna. (hence the shift from incest taboo to the dead- father- as- the- law). One may also add that Freud didn’t have a monopoly on castration myth-spinning; That we don’t have J.G.Frazier-ian psychoanalysts (we might get some Jung) is only an accident of history. We could be all reading that the otaku and /or fujoshi secretly want to slaughter all their psychic competitors to become the symbolic king of the sacred grove at Nemi, even while knowing that their reign will be short, and end in their murder by the next fool… All while they are powerless to escape the ritual of the sacred and the sacred nature of the ritual.

As per a previous post:
Hermeneutic: any narrative scheme works well enough if internally consistent; if we are lucky it might be useful under some conditions.”
Repetition, aka: Invoke often, use a bigger hammer.”

If this stuff was repeated daily for the last 100 years by an ordained clerisy dedicated to helping you make sense of the weird crap that your wetware throws up at you, you would fall in line and structure your angst accordingly. No wonder Scientology is trying to muscle in on the action.

Add to this the powerful attraction that Freudian just-so stories have to any lazy hack writer, scriptwriter, songwriter, playwright, screen-writer, mangaka and poet over the last century and the tropes of the mythos become inescapable; to the point of folding in upon themselves as parody and meta-fiction. Want some Freud “anal phase” narrative? Check out the scatologicaly excessive animated Korean masterpiece Aachii and Ssipak! I have always wondered what would happen when a fully fledged Freudian / Lacanian analyst got his hands on this one.

Otaku Sexuality
As the repair guy opined in “Brazil” – ‘we’re all in it together!”

Closer to psychology’s home turf, I also wonder about the lack of research connecting the otaku personality with ADD and Asperger’s syndrome. A large part of the otaku thing could well be a socially mediated response to biochemical variations in the brains of a certain subset of the population. A hundred years ago they would have all made great craftsmen. Perhaps given the great fear of amphetamines in any form by the Japanese government makes such a diagnosis useless? No ritalin for otakus!

Perhaps I need all this to keep my narcissism going full blast, lest the “insert lyrics from a song from the doors here” jeebies gets me at night. Could be, could be, rabbit… But I would also hope that one could pry a few more useful insights from the exercise. As with all my reviews that so far have flailed away against the violence of the Freudian mythos, I would urge that it is time to kick the ladder away, leave behind the bogies, and preserve the insights that are grounded in hard work, and real life interaction with real folks.

Of the latter, prof Saitō’s work contain insights that shine, and will doubtlessly yield even more in the future.

I’m just a bit annoyed to see the good stuff marred by a mean-spirited and ugly superstition that supports the oppression one half of humanity by means of a half-assed just-so story. It is Eve cursed by original sin, it is a secular pseudo-religious superstition,

It is like listening to an antebellum white southerner justify slavery.

It is unworthy of serious scientific endeavor!

Stop it now!

Time for a yaoi doujin along the lines of “Even a monkey would get annoyed with Sigmund Freud” – Something like 20th Century Boys… The two illustrations in this post are from Monkey Business – the Idiot’ s Guide to Tokyo’s Harmful Books Regulation, a fine example of otaku agitprop. See: Even a monkey can understand fan activism: Political speech, artistic expression, and a public for the Japanese dôjin community by Alex Leavitt

No, No, Not Rogov!

Anyone who tramples around in the theory-verse surrounding modern culture is going to eventually stumble upon Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Be warned, if you have not yet had the pleasure, your brain will hurt. Short version: they have some major bones to pick with psychology and the way we think about things, or have been led to think about things surrounding power in society. Gawd that’s vague. Did I mention the brain hurting part yet?

Suffice it to say, D&G get used a lot in various academic circles, and this can lead to some odd in-jokes:

Behold a D&G ish romp with pokemon:
“Gotta Catch ’em All”: Capitalism, the War Machine, and the Pokémon Trainer
Davin Heckman  (

Say not soft things as other men have said…

“The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance. “
– Cicero (55 BC)

While away in Japan, I was surprised, and then surprisingly saddened to learn of the death of‘s William Sakovich. Although he died on December 21, his blog entries were pre-programmed and lasted up until a final New-Year’s post on Jan 1. This is spooky and classy all at the same time, and I guess it will become more common as more of the world wide interwebs intwines its trickery into our lives.

A spontaneous tribute of sorts, sprung up in the comment section of one of his final posts:

AMPONTAN’s proprietor had more than a few habits and hobby horses that made his opinions jarring to my tastes – merciless China and Korea teasing when their nationalist loonies went after Japanese interests, a tea-party politics view of government spending and a taste for spinning an argument out way way longer than needed. The Cicero quote above, which he placed on his blog’s sidebar, telegraphed how I guess he saw himself; a tribune of the people. Too often he verged more towards Cato the Elder.

And yet I will sorely miss his work!

As merciless as he was towards those he saw as misrepresenting or threatening the Japan he loved and lived in, he was deeply smitten with its people, its culture and the land itself. His blog was a treasure trove of insight into contemporary Japanese politics and culture, and his own personal big stick with which to flail away at any number of popular media misconceptions about Japan. By the simple expedient of doggedly tracking down original sources and translating them, he was often able to expose a wide swath of the English language press’ coverage of Japan as lazy and often incompetent. And he was equally critical of the how he felt the Japanese press accepted its muzzle and failed its readers. I hope his friends preserve his blog and that it will inspire others to follow his example.

So Tribune it is, for Tribune he was.
Rest in Peace, William Sakovich.

Who reads this stuff anyway ????

Time to step back a few steps, before I fall into the playset box. The bigger game of trying to guess what the heck Kio Shimoku is up to must take precedence over the fun of trying to guess which of his puppets will get paired off with the other.

The question can be refined in several ways: Is Kio story telling or preaching? What is his strategy and what are his tactics? Who is his audience (that means in Japan – us freeloading gaijin don’t count – licensing deals notwithstanding) and how much does he listen to/ is influenced by them/ write to them?

In a perfect fantasy world, he is story-telling to serve a personal, larger societal do-gooding purpose and he snoops the jblogs and 2-chan discussions on his creation in order to steer it towards its appointed task. He shows up at conventions with pro-dojins, keeps a blog and a web page and indulges in author marginalia and character 4-th wall breaking to keep in touch with a rabid fan-base.

He even has his minions erm editors detail english reading staff to keep an eye on select furreign sources, including some of the better-known Genshiken themed blogs, and the forums of the grey ones who xlate his work for us skinflint heathen who can’t wait until a proper licensing deal….

Yeah, and I am the Emperor Ming of Mongo.

According to the ONLY bit info we heathen have so far, KS avoids the kind of fan-shmoozing that has become de rigueur for many mangaka. Even a reprint and omnibussification of the Genshiken for crazed english-reading fans fails to include a new KS interview. We have to settle for some of his friends playfully helping out.

From the ONLY extant interview I can find of KS (2008):

“”KS: I’ve no intention of affirming and indulging otakuness. I believe otaku should be a minority, but one that stands up to the pressures of the world, and I try to be like that, too. I try not to look at responses from readers. I’m a very timid person. If someone were to make a comment on my work, I’d think about it too much and let it get in the way of what I really want to say. I try to keep my distance. I do hear some responses, but I always tell myself it’s not a representative opinion.

But one thing that does make me happy is when I hear of people who have set up clubs similar to Genshiken at their colleges. I do want people to have a place to communicate. Not on the Web, but in real life and relationships. I really do envy that. “”

That’s it, that’s ALL we fools have to go on.

There is no Japanese KS website to go to and google xlate, no info about him on ANN, not much of anything – dude is private..

He OCCASIONALLY goes to conventions and meets with fans, according to

From the Jp wiki: (love that Google xlate!)

is a Japan of the cartoonist . Male, married. University of Tsukuba Department of Japanese painting art graduate courses specializing in art school groups. His real name is but a private, professional eye Kio is the pseudonym of Chinese characters real name was rose According to the afterword Diary “heat haze”. Is intact and does not return to the original but rose too. Blood type is B type .

Also in the credits section:

Anime ” Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei “(Episode 5 end card) ( Koji Kumeta original, new bunch Akiyuki director, 2007)

WTF? he did the ending something for ep 5 of the SZS anime first season??? must re-watch..

There are at least 2 short interviews in the JP online press, but they have sunk beneath the 404 waves.

All we can do is take him at his word: Kio has something to say within the confines of his story, and that something has to do with the importance of a 3d (solid) community for 2D enthusiasts. From the plot mechanics of the Genshiken, we can also infer that he privileges productive socials over non-productive ones, even if the “product” is trivial and fan-centered.

From his other works, we know he has an interest in the intersection between the a-social enthusiast individual and society’s responsibilities: Spotted flower is not his only work about child-rearing, Genshiken, not his only work about school days (tho us heathen have to wait for Yonesei and Gonesei (all hail anon* bringer of light!)

But trying an experiment with google xlate, the only 2chan chatter I can get about Genshiken is from 2005, and is about as useful as reading the mangafox comments.. yawn..

Finally I found a curious xlation of the above 2008 interview, posted in JP on 2ch, then xlated back by google for me.

At this point I felt like I was going in circles.

Also, Kio Shimoku leads a bit of a double life as a cartoonist: On one hand there is Genshiken (and Gon and Yon) and Spotted Flower and the brutally realistic Digopuri/ Hell’s Princess (so far 9 chapters of 18yr old twins dealing with a baby: terror and poop and no sleep, no father or parents/ grandparents in sight to help, rinse, repeat).

Then there are his “comedy exploitation” manga, which started as joke cut-outs in Genshiken, but then developed a life of their own. Of these, Ramen Angel is some kind of twisted experiment in pushing weird otaku fan-service tropes to the max. Did he just have the mc go into cramps and extrude some secret ramen stock ingredient from her ahem maidenly bits ???? And it got into the school cafeteria ramen stock ????

What kind of lewd Dojin joke is this?

Who is Kio Shimoku writing for?

Bonus sections:
Survey and reaserch Methods: A Google xlate Genshiken Hunt!

The Google xlate hunt (grab the kana for Genshiken from the wiki site and stuff it into google, along with another keyword from google xlate) has found me the websites of a few college Genshiken-ish clubs., Only one looks really active. They made a dating sim for the culture festival and sold it off cheap. But it locks up at a certain screen, so now they are stuck posting patches on their blog. This is kewl as all heck!

Other real-life gosh honest japanese college(?) Genshiken(s)    who has a (oh goodie!) link section:

Circle club-section of other universities:

Moe Studies Association, Ehime University
Kyoto University KUALS club animation
Technical Committee on subculture Shikokugakuindaigaku
Technical Committee on Shikokugakuindaigaku song animation
HP group in the meeting
HP “Mehan” Han media
University of Hyogo
Our university is a member of Circle.

Hope these are on the up and up and not some wacky pyramid sales cults.

Other stuff, the reply to a query about what comes closet to Genshiken,
from 2005 (links dead unless noted)

“”Things that frankly Circle Study Group “contemporary visual culture” that,
Each exists in universities, Tokyo University of Science, Suwa Chuo University, University of Tsukuba, Reitaku.

Is the alma mater of Dr. Kio of the author “Genshiken” is University of Tsukuba.
Ken currently seen here at the time of enrollment already exists from teacher, became a cartoon of former material soon. ~ gsk / (now

Chung-Ang University, Central University is a model of the current vision of the comic Ken vertebrae are present, Ken currently seen here was created by the popularity of the cartoon of the least. (dead)

University and Tokyo University of Science, Suwa also Reitaku is like a circle that was modeled on the current vision of comic Ken.  (or)   “”

Try it yourself:…0.0…1c.MDbvrfVl-Es&psj=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=fa9c5b2a24003c9c&biw=1066&bih=590

 What FUN!

Survey and Research methods: Who else can I add to the G-Verse? from Brazil,
which google mangles as “The Monotonicity of Contemporary Fandom”, in which the blogger wonders if the current Genshiken is too like-minded (Fujoshi), and therefore in danger of becoming an “echo chamber”

The folks at ii chan

A fan /fen tracks down the real life university buildings that KS used for settings..

An analysis / review of characters and the evolution of drawing styles in Genshiken – in jp (drop into Google for a horrible machine xlation!)

a good typology of real feeling and fake-ish transexual-ness in Manga

And for fujoshi studies/ enthusiasm, and the food-in-manga – the ever authoritative champloo: (Happy 801 day!)
(Two Keys ??? really? ? ? Guess I don’t have the goggles)

Even found some (yikes!) violent G. dojins at someplace with butterflies – google it your self -all but one sound objectionable to me.

Of interest for further obsessive link chasing: A good meta-blog on manga

Next time, more speculation on the mangaka and the audience

A naive and sentimental lover

Well, so much is going on, in manga-land and in the real world, that I have barely any time to write anything here. Part of this stems from an annoying accident a few weeks back that has left me hurting (can’t think when I hurt!), part of it is getting over the departure of she-who-up-with-me-puts; a great visit, even with yours truly getting on the injured list for the last week of her stay. Then there is the heat around these parts, which, if mild compared to a Japanese summer, is still a real drag. Oh, and then there is work…

Over in 2D land, and on the interwebs, an embarrassment of rich material and fun diversions. SZS draws to a close, or rather a leaked ending scrambles frantically to fill in the missing pieces, I am in mild awe of Kumeta, who has pulled stuff like this before, but never to such an effect. Kafuka Fuura, we never knew you!

Something dreadful will happen

For some reason, I have a powerful urge to work kitchen sink Buddhism into an analysis of the ending, while playing with the 100 stories theme from ch 149. Basically: “”As long as all the hells are not emptied I vow not to become a Buddha. Only when all sentient beings are saved Will I attain Bodhi”” writes the whole piece by itself.  I admit it, I am moved.

Other stuff pokes its head into view: this blog is about desire, and I thought I would avoid sports manga entirely, but I found myself sucked into Kurogane –
the newer one by  Haruto Ikezawa  rather than the earlier historical Kurogane.
All that’s needed to to grab me is to graft a rather simple ghost story onto a standard high-school sports grinder.  I admit it, I am moved.

Sensei no petto

Finally, more blogs to absorb:

Tokyo Scum Brigade! How did I miss them before? Especially their Akiba series:

Borugo is a fun read, especially his inside-out Lacan analysis. I want to see him try some theory about cosplay. Maybe he has already, so I keep reading his back posts.

As for Genshiken, yup this is going to take a while. Hato will never be the same now that his backstory is out in full view. (or will be soon – all hail anon*, bringer of light..) Big question: does he have to “resolve”, or can he remain a big happy pile of contradictions? What are the limits of the Genshiken as a safe space?

“”Duh! When I am Hato-kun, I have a horrible crush on HER… So I became HER, and as Hato-chan, I think I am getting a crush on Madarame, or rather Stand-chan thinks I should, but I just want to draw my fantasies, if I can figure out what they are…“”

Much patience will be tried…

Meanwhile, read, work, heal.

Everything on hold for a while…

Too much excitement at work and around home.  This blog is a bit stalled.

Genshiken 75 must wait on Genshiken 76. Browse all the way back to my first posts. Did I call it?  Clean miss, partial hit dead on? Just how much influence did SHE have on Hato, what and how? Hmmmmm! A cliff-hanger! Remember at least that I predicted SHE might pop up 1/2 a year in advance! 1 point for yours truly! Perhaps we won’t even know the full story until Genshiken 77 and 78. Whew!

More reviewing? I might have to switch off to Zizek’s  “A Plague of Fantasies” and drop “… Essays on the Sexual Ambiguity and Cross-Cultural Fandom of the Genrefor a while, as it looks like it might be a crushing bore that endlessly expands on and recaps the wiki entry on yaoi.

On hold: I stumbled across a scathing, very well written review that started out by stomping on A Game of Thrones (cable series version), and then went on to blast away at 50 shades of asshatery and the Twilight from which it spawned, It suggested to me a few parallels with hard yaoi, without the abstracted “distance” that fakee-gay-guys misbehaving offers.

Of course I lost the source and the link. phtttttt! But I was wondering if both genres’ creepy obsessive attackers are some kind of distorted obverse of the default cartoon obliviousness to relationship and interpersonal cues that form the safe behavioral convention for “normal” guys, both Japanese and Western, and leave all the bucket-work to women.  Grey started out as Twilight fan-fic pron. Apparently it reads like it too. SNORT!

Compare and contrast to non-ecchi conventional high school harem manga: Male fantasy stories built up from the well -worn premise of a reluctant, though still manly (mistaken for a delinquent etc.) hero besieged by a pack of boyfriend-seeking babes.

Along with a “monogamous” fixation, is a male ability to have a clue about the other within a relationship only expressed in deviant ways in women’s fantasy?
Or is this just the same old Richard III shit warmed over?

Then again, Japanese women might like yaoi because it goes well with cookies and ice coffee. What do I know?

Also on hold: trying to figure out whether Korean manga teams (not manhwa, but made in Japan manga) have a plan to elbow their way into the harem/ecchi category with busty zaftig characters that (shazaaaam!) look like adult women rather than moe loli bait and coincidentally are far more export-market friendly; in effect riffing on the article on K-pop girl bands vs akb48. and the underlying “when the going gets tough, the weird turn pro” theme of that site’s series on recent trends in Jp. anime and manga (only the freaks have cash left to buy, so the market distorts, causing a death spiral).

This must wait until I can read more “busty babes in the manga publishing industry” manga vs “my crazed aunt wants me to seduce 14 coeds so she can finish her research on gengi” manga. I will not be reading Freezing. There is only so much I can take, even for science.

There was also the idea for a nice quick fun review:
ABJECT, FURY, DEMON –  Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaete mo Omaera ga Warui, Hell Girl and Lucu Lucu (admit it, they do look a bit related if you squint) The sub-theme here would be “moe gone bad”, but c’mon! Emma is a Japanese mythology fury that would be at home in the Oresteia “The Friendly Ones”, with no chance for Athena’s bargain, while Lucu is one of the sharpest and funniest examples of the Japanese love of mangled xtian (and buddhist) mythos around.  And our poor unpopular girl is a monster who is slowly going mad trying to become a “normal girl”. Otome wa tsurai yo again!

Can’t lose that one!

But for now, too much to do in the real world.


Otome wa tsurai yo #1


I have found a couple more fujoshi, before they have been cataloged by
the ever-vigilant Ogiue maniax, and this bunch is a fine group of
Genshiken – related specimens!

I almost forgot about Girl Saurus DX! The manga wrapped up in 2008, but grey sources only completed it recently and somehow I lost track and neglected to enjoy the remaining fun. Boy finally gets girl! Boy stops vomiting blood in her presence. The harem that pursued him (mostly) gives up the chase and a GOOD ENDING is had by all.

I like the stuff that Kei Kusunoki dreams up. She has a way of mixing ecchi fan service with homilies about the essential strength of women that lets her pull off a lot of risque and often downright reactionary humor.

Quote the wiki:

“”The story revolves around 16-year-old Shingo Chiryu who had been beaten and hospitalized for a month by a morbidly obese girl whose naked confession he had rejected. As a result of the encounter, Shingo has developed a fear of all women, called gynophobia. While Shingo tries to hide his fear, the school nurse notices it and advices him to join the boxing club. However, Shingo soon finds out that all of its members are girls, the club’s adviser is the school nurse, and one of the clubs members, the now slim Haruka Nishiharu, is the very girl who had put him in the hospital.””

Haruka pre-diet is more than an “morbidly obese” girl, she was a towering girl bodybuilding bouncer gone to flab; Jabba the Hut has been mentioned by other reviewers, and worse.. our hero’s mom is a toned down version of her.
Plenty of other extremely odd physical types pop up in Saurus, as well as plenty of cute, well endowed babes,  but Kusunoki is so ruthless in portraying ugly girl characters that she must be drawing on some deep well of in-culture stereotyping.


The plot mechanics are brilliantly obvious: Our hero must keep it secret that he is a afraid of women, all while almost every woman he meets – inside the harem/ club or not- suddenly wants him.  The earlier version of the franchise had him divulge his secret to Haruka, which bogged down the plot with too much Haruka-guilt and Shingo hatred (but trotted out a light bondage scene for fan-service as a result) The reboot – Girl Saurus DX – keeps his secret safe from all but the scheming man-killing school nurse. Haruka instead feels that Shingo cannot really forgive her, while Shingo fears that that new Haruka or not, she still has the ability to go berserk at any time and stomp him.

A sex comedy made for teen males can be a very conservative medium. All the girl characters are sexual beings, but their sexuality runs on rigid tracks of prescribed progression towards normal adult female fulfillment – all the better to go off the rails. The girls/women get to carry most of the burden of desire and keep the plot rolling along. The boy reacts.

The school nurse is our first example of what happens when the eroge of life goes bad: a late 20′ sex bomb, she regards Shingo as a minor amusement when she isn’t running schemes to marry a rich geezer or pull off some other form of marital/ inheritance fraud. She represents what happens when a woman somehow fails to find true love and achieve a proper level of domestic bliss – Cowboy Bebop’s Faye Valentine without the urges towards friendship/ loyalty and only her “do unto others before they betray you” attitude. As such she is one-dimensional as heck. She briefly becomes entranced with Shingo when he becomes domineering towards her, mistaking his toothache-induced bad mood for S&M play.

The main harem members are all quite appealing, with modest personality kinks –
the real nastiness is saved for secondary characters. Most pitiful of the bunch is Shiogamaguchi Ichigo, an “ugly girl” burdened with a concentration camp body, hideous glasses and demonic buckteeth – she looks like something dreamed up by American propaganda cartoons during WWII. Her sin turns out to be anorexia, she becomes quite pretty if she can hold down her food. Ugly or not, she wants a physical relationship with a boy, and will stop at nothing, including assaults on random males, to find fulfillment.  Late in the series, she she develops supernatural powers, available only to extremely ugly skinny virgin girls and contents herself with the attentions of ghost boyfriends.

Close to Ichigo in pure abjection are the fujoshi girls of the manga club and here is where the fun begins.


“I just had a hallucination where I saw myself getting nailed by a guy in a manga!”

The yaoi chapter in Girl Saurus DX is a direct send-up of Ogiue’s “original sin” in Genshiken, with far more overt examples of fujoshi fun, balanced by a savage treatment of the fujoshi girls themselves.

Holy crap! Kei Kusunoki lays it on thick when she draws ugly girls! The fujoshi tribe in DX contains a number of hideous specimens, including an even worse “WWII propaganda jap” bucktooth caricature than Ichigo! Another member is a pudding bodied fatty with an angry butterface (Why hasn’t the schools chuby-chaser found her?) The ringleader is a demonic version of Fujoshi Rumi, with wild twin braids and xray-specs pairing goggles. Then there is a fat, bespectacled unibrow. Some of them may reference other manga fujoshi – whatever.

They like their BL hard core! So does their lady teacher-adviser, so there will be no tearful scene with the principal and parents to save Shingo, who gets cast as the school sou-uke.

Shingo is enraged, but at no time does he exhibit any signs of feeling that his sexuality is threatened. He KNOWS he wants normal heterosexual love,
he just needs to stop vomiting blood whenever he tries to kiss Haruka.

Shingo remains a manly guy, even if he has a fear-reflex for women. Instead of switching schools, he confronts the enemy in their den, (surprisingly easy as their ugliness does not trigger his reflex) bides his time,

No escape

and then, with naked torso showing manly scars, ends up on top of the ringleader with a handful of surprisingly ample breast and a mouthful of first fujoshi kiss.

That was easy!

That was easy!

Shazzam! She doth instantly transform into a shy beautiful young maiden! She is cured of her deviant fujoshi behavior! Very funny indeed!

Haruka, who had converted to fujoshidom to get a substitute Shingo fix clouts him and drags him out of the club, where after the fujoshi tribe destroys all Shingo material lest it contaminate them with normal urges.



It goes on. Only a woman mangaka could get away with this stuff.

One of the harem continually announces to Shingo that she is ovulating. Another continuously trips and loses her panties. All are burdened by the pursuit of the idealized boyfriend, because that’s what you have to do to become an adult woman, This is a harem manga, so the girls have to be guy-crazy.

The only males who actively court / pursue the girls are perverts, the aforementioned fatty-chaser and a pedophile who chases Shingo’s too-developed-for-her-age younger sister. One other poor schlep is so bishie-looking that most folks who look at him see his girl aura and think him female – a talent that he does not exploit -so he is an otokonoko-refusenik. He has a hopeless crush on one of the harem, and will do anything for her but is friendzoned into despair until right at the end when she drags him into make-out scene in a harebrained idea of stopping Shingo and Haruka from consummating their love. Duh? Such are Good Endings for foot soldiers.

I am ready for love!

The moral of the tale is simple: Girls are strong and scary, but desirable. They have urges too, perhaps more than you do (yeah, right…).. Boys: overcome your fears and find your special someone, because odds are she is out there hunting for you.
And never turn down naked advances from huge strong girls.


But it still looks like the girls have to do most of the work.

Strange how “bullied by girls” does not yet have its own trope listing in TVTROPES – it seems to be a fave of ecchi manga. Minamoto-kun of Minamoto-kun Monogatari is a bullied-by-girls-in-middle-school guy with no place to live but with his over-hot aunt who has ideas about turning him into Casanova – or rather Genji.
Just as he enters college and makes a promise to himself to overcome the trauma of his past, his father remarries and asks him to move out of the house. Dad’s younger sis is a prof at the university, and is dead serious about her Genji project, to the extent of “forcing” him to fondle her so that he can overcome his fears and inexperience and setting him off on missions to seduce various young women – starting with his shy H-manga loving, possibly fujoshi cousin.

A bit of background is in order here. Genji is notorious in academic circles for the rape/ no rape debate. Proper 13th C. court ladies couldn’t say yes, so the original Genji might have overdone it a bit during his adventures. Then again morals were different back then, nobody’s kinfolk tracked Genji down and nailed his nuts to the tea house wall, so he must have done something right. Then again, Genji is a fiction, a 13th C Japanese bodice ripping romance, the first of its kind, and a sacred cultural masterpiece, so lighten up.

Back to our hero: He is a conventional bundle of raging hormones and self-doubt. When he overcomes his fears, his pickup skills range from grab to fumble.
He forces himself on cousin, then wallows in guilt. Cousin is well endowed and built for pleasure, though less pneumatic than psycho-aunt. Cousin dresses frilly and cute, with plenty of cleavage and pantsu shots, but is afraid of men. She is a lit. student, easily manipulated by auntie and an otaku if not a fujoshi. Pretty boys are to be enjoyed as 2D and not touched, lest they rape you. After he makes a couple of pathetic attacks in her direction she of course begins to fall for him.

Gotta love the nuanced characterization in ecchi manga

Of note in Minamoto-kun Monogatari is how the women characters are drawn ample and busty, more so than in Girl Saurus. No nymphet lolis here – auntie and cousin are far more porno than the Sauruses. Boobs and butts are always overflowing out of too tight lacy clothing, skirts are short, camera angles lurid. There is no point in distinguishing fan service from “normal scenes – the absence of sexed up content is a rare exception. Still there is effort made at plotting and characterization, if only to justify and continuing series that must see our hero prodded by psycho auntie into chasing at least 13 other babes before god knows what. Melting Psycho Aunts cold cold heart? Running away to a fishing village? Duh? I don’t know how long I can follow this one. I only started following it because It looked like it was drawn in a style close to the over-ripe women in certain Korean manwha / manga (more on this in the future).

If nothing else, we now can explain the long tradition of extremely high literacy rates in Japan! They have found a way to get teenage males to read!