Why Hato: build up logically

Wherein I go overboard, summing up the arguments in favour of Hato, and the odd plot contrivances that surround the character. Updated a bit after the anime’s ep 12 retcon. I think it’s finally finished, please enjoy!

Judging from comments on other blogs that cover Genshiken, both as manga series, and the new Nadaime anime, our favourite rotten boy character Hato is becoming a bit of an annoyance to some of the fandom. This is not only regrettable; it misses the point by a country mile. Back when I started this blog, part of the reason I did so was because of the story-telling/ plotting potential of this strange Hato creature set loose amidst the new fujoshi-filled Genshiken.

Didn’t I start here?

Insanely long fan-out continues below the cutline, you have been warned…
Continue reading

Contested spaces

I invoke the Commonwealth!
I know what was in Orthroerir;
Orthroerir was in it,
In it, it was hoarded,
Hoarded, it was stolen,
Stolen, it was spilled,
Spilled, I caught it,
Caught, it was given away,
Given away, it stays my own,
My own is the Commonwealth
I invoke it!
The land may not be hidden from its lover.

Silverlock – J.M.Myers (1949)

John Myers Myers “Commonwealth of Letters” is an imaginary space carved out of the western literary canon by a fan of the classics. Perhaps one of the oddest sub-culture books of the 20th century, it was rescued from obscurity by science fiction fans who adopted it in a fit of mad love. It is still recommended as an odd treat within that community.

As proto-fan-fiction or fiction of enthusiasm, it situates its adventures within a space bounded by the enthusiasms it celebrates, and populated with the characters of the same. Amusingly enough, the climax of Silverlock’s quest is to emerge from a descent to the lowest levels of the underworld to drink at the spring of wisdom – only to be expelled from the space, back into the real world. A less elegant but analogous process would end a fan fiction about a fictional fan-space fanning over fannish things in a feedback howl and system crash.

Multiplying entities without necessity is an act of love.

Kio Shimoku’s Genshiken and Akiko Mizoguchi’s virtual lesbian yaoi-space are closely related “commonwealth of interests” propositions that attempt to impose a narrative onto layered readings of real life conditions. Both center around communities of play and imagination, both are minority reports, and both contest issues within these larger communities and their shared cultural fantasies, as they relate to larger “solid” social realities.

Genshiken to Otaku/Fujoshi to real-life current Japanese society as Mizoguchi’s virtual lesbian space yaoi-verse to bl/yaoi enthusiasts to current Japanese society.

Mizoguchi would probably protest that her theoretical space entails has a different project than Shimoku’s:

“My critical examination of yaoi begins with the premise that yaoi does not represent any person’s reality, but rather is a terrain where straight, lesbian, and other women’s desires and political stakes mingle and clash, and where representations are born.” (Mizoguchi 2010, see below)

Why does she give rats ass? Well, she likes the stuff, but doesn’t like the potential for less-than-nice depictions of gay folk to bleed over into the real world. Such bleed-over could (1) reinforce stereotypes in the larger community and aid and abet the pain such misunderstanding causes real life LGBTQ folks, and (2) This is a wild guess, but since she found support in the commonwealth of bishonen stories when she needed it at a young age, she wants to make sure the life preservers are well maintained.

So she is going to contest and encourage the contestation of depictions of gay folk in BL/yoai works, even though they are pseudo-gay fantasy characters made in overwhelmingly large part by heterosexual women for purposes that run on a continuum from escapist pop fiction to escapist pop friction. This urge is sometimes refered to by its N.American moniker when taken to extremes as “Politically Correctness”.

On the other hand, Mizoguchi is a citizen and member of the downtown business improvement association of the commonwealth of yaoi, and recognises its pleasures and its worth; she doesn’t want to break it. She is sensitive to and feels for the needs and wants of its sister-citizens. I am guessing that potential improvements have all been well thrashed over before in slash-space and queer-space:

Such typically include less negative stereotyping, more complexity and nuanced characters, more public health and safety awareness and the importance of agency and consent: less catching, more inviting, etc. Cultural differences between the slash-verse and the yaoi-verse make the details different, and I can only infer her concerns from her writings and footnotes. Her views remain necessarily complex, even quasi- ecological:

“My research is informed by Teresa de Lauretis who has written in relation to her analysis of the feminist debates on pornography (produced for heterosexual men). “Feminist analysis and politics have always proceeded concurrently with—indeed have been prompted by—the social injury suffered by women, but the strength of feminism, or what social power it may have, does not disprove that injury” (de Lauretis 1994: 146). In other words, de Lauretis suggests that neither the propornography position that pornographic representation occurs in the realm of fantasy, nor the anti-pornography position that pornography equals violence against women is entirely appropriate.
By theorizing the female subject as a complex amalgam of conscious and political subjecthood and private and psychoanalytic subjectivity, she has shown that the seemingly contradictory double movement is inherently necessary in feminist work on representation (de Lauretis 1994: 147) 
As Judith Butler argues, theoretically a female subject is not restricted to identify with the female position in a fantasy scenario, but is also capable of identifying with the male position or the scenario as a whole. However, as the female subject always also functions at the level of social subject, she—who de Lauretis calls “Dworkin”—may not be able to secure enough distance from the pornographic text, since such a text is a public representation that depicts women’s debasement.
This double movement is clearly manifest in the context of the yaoi phenomenon. The fact that women have engaged in reading these male homoerotic representations as representing their fantasies for several decades attests to the efficacy of the theory of the psychoanalytic subject of fantasy; that is, the fact that the subject is not restricted to identifications with one position (usually equivalent to their own position in real life) in the fantasy scenario. At the same time, however, the fact that so many Japanese women continue to need male homoerotic representations that are significantly remote from their own reality (emph. added) also indicates the injury suffered by women. “
“Theorizing comics/manga genre as a productive forum: yaoi and beyond” – Akiko Mizoguchi

In other words; don’t kill the freedom and the diversity that is so critical to the empowering nature of the space – just try to nudge the canon to spruce it up a bit.

Then there is the issue of her proposition that yaoi is an emergent sexuality in its own right:

“The majority of yaoi women fans are heterosexual. Some might argue that calling those fans who are in heterosexual relationships in real life “lesbian” is inaccurate. Of course, they are not generally considered lesbians nor are they lesbian-identified themselves. 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.” (Ibid. Mizoguchi)

Hmmmmm sounds crowded in the bedroom!

Like the protagonist of Moso Shojo Otaku-kei / Fujoshi Rumi (Natsumi Konjoh) when our heroine gets interested in the guy she had previously objectified, she is unable to contemplate relations with him unless she adopts a yaoi-space derived “male” persona. (the boy, Takahiro might be more adaptable than she thinks: “I am shocked and appalled Rumi-san! – oh what the heck, the power of romance has won me over – gimme some sugar!”)

Contrast this to the Genshiken-verse. Kio Shimoku’s Genshiken is a reflection of, and a prescription for Otaku-and-Fujoshi space as much as Mizoguchi’s virtual lesbian separatist space is a reflection of a greater yaoi-space. Both are popular cultural products; though they sell in different markets I would even expect some cross-over customers now that Shimoku is creeping around in fujoshi territory. Both situate within the phenomena of their attentions as well; they “ride” on cultural phenomena that in turn ride” on larger cultural tendencies within the solid/ real world.

In Genshiken, the tropes of the “school club” dictate the story setting: the club has to attract members or it will be de-authorized. The club serves as a haven for outcasts with differing ideas and interests within the “visual culture” universe, within a real world of impending disenchantment and preparation for adult work life. Club members have to deport themselves with minimum standards of restraint in their own enthusiasms and respect for other member’s enthusiasms. Solidarity against outside threats is required; as well, a group-produced product for the larger enthusiast community and/or “outside world” is a stated group goal and measure of the vitality of the entire micro-social fiction. Of course, the odd thing about the Genshiken member’s varied fan interests reside in their one common perversion: they all have to one degree or another libidinized their fan interests.

Hmmmmmm… That sounds familiar.

The action in Genshiken lies in working out the rules of how exactly to deal with the natural urge to contest the space of a commonwealth. Myers’ commonwealth was a violent anarchy; Silverlock needed a savvy friend to get through it in one piece. Genshiken starts off as a male bastion invaded by rai-ju female desire, followed by a cosplay fen (archaic usage: female fan) and finally a horde of fujoshi. These in turn get a boy-girl who wants to share their interests, all while foreign fan-girls stir the pot and the old-guard otaku males get used as material for pairing fantasies. Only the promise of a safe space for their interests keeps them together. They try to work things out. We read about how they try. We gain comfort in the idea that such a space can be imagined. Then some of us blog, start Genshiken inspired groups at Universities, make lewd dojins and scurry around the web getting obsessive and derivative.

The Genshiken-verse is less overt or ambitious in its commitment to guilt-free
weirdness that Mizoguchi’s virtual-lesbian yaoi-verse, but the urges are somewhat parallel. Shimoku’s space is heteronormative, but strives for understanding. Misoguchi’s space is activist queer, and at times separatist, but it looks like it values a certain degree of diversity. (though I am betting that it privileges female diversity, as it is currently is %90+ female in Japan) Both stress the importance and fun of active participation in the production of artifacts for their communities.

In the past, human societies could only get worked up about and “contest” the space of “faith”: help build a cathedral, go on a pilgrimage or burn a heretic. Today, while it has been said that all roads on the internet lead to either pr0n or linux distributions (or cat pictures), the volume of nested commonwealths has expanded in a way that recalls bacterial growth, or the old commie joke: “you put three Trotskyites in a room – how many factions do you get?”

(This overload effect also refutes the worst fears of the Frankfurt School, and calms most of their radical-though-intolerant aesthetics. Nuremberg has been trivialized by rock concerts and home shopping tv – there is no need to ban epic poetry. Rejoice!)

The only side effect of this wave is that all of these commonwealths appear to pick up a sexualized charge the minute they wade into the world-wide webs.

When too much weirdness seeps out of fan-space, real solid-world authorities get concerned and start stomping around with big muddy boots. The big issue in last year’s solid-world Japanese popular visual culture community has been the Tokyo regulations banning “indecent acts depicted by imaginary persons” as championed by a right-wing populist politician who used to write porny stories about dissolute rich youth.

Meanwhile in China and Hong Kong, wholesale yaoi crackdowns raged through the latter half of the last decade, much to the shock of innocent Funu (chinese rotten girls), who just wanted look at the pretty cartoons and relax. As for the west, the potential for moral panic has kept most yaoi-stuff off commercial shelves and in shady back rooms: Definitely not on Amazon or your fave online e-book sales site. Besides, western fans are cheap-ass leeches who are used to pyr8 goodies, free fan-fiction and dodgy web scanlations.

Here’s a new space of contention: Pay for the damn stuff!

There is a whole body net-enabled sociology/ anthropology/ theory that peeks in on communities of enthusiasm: I recommend a glimpse at the infinite variety of the madness of fans at the Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC) site. While the writing is of variable quality, the range of subject matter is far-reaching and interesting. Care to read about a tempest in a teapot at a Dr Who fan-fiction site? TWC has got it covered, although after a while all the accounts of fan-fights begin to merge into one another (meh!). My past-life experiences in the pits of fannishness taint my views. I was a geek youth in pre-internet days; shared its culture terms and rites, and carried with me the sense that whatever the future brought, I had already read about it. I even did cosplay, before it was cosplay – when it was the costume ball at fan conventions (only once, and the sad state of my costume lead to my discovery of  FAIL). I bought and hoarded dittoed fanzines and fanfiction. All of that stuff got put away when I went off to University. See this fun paper for an expanded view of this kind of nostalgia  I miss you [all] dreadfully!

For up to the minute serious contestations, don’t forget the fun folks at Intersections; who when not doing boring gender theory studies are always on the prowl for a weird new thing – especially when it is an example of local (mis-) appropriation of Cool Japan detritus, This one caught my eye:

On the Japanese Doll Complex – by Katrien Jacobs

“”On the Japanese Doll-Complex highlights Chinese people’s appropriation of Japanese dolls or doll-like alter egos. I conducted interviews with several people in Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China. I wanted to analyse the experience of ‘owning a doll’ or ‘identifying with a doll’ by looking at several kinds of doll fantasies and how dolls assist people in recovering innocence and gender-fluidity. Chinese men are massively into Japanese porn stars, into hentai figurines, or life-size dolls that have a convincing and arousing skin texture. They also manifest themselves as cosplayers or cross-dressers who want to embody pretty girls. Women, on the other hand, construct fantasies about gay love and they impersonate the beautiful and effeminate men of yaoi animations (Boy Love).””

Behold the documentary – You couldn’t make this stuff up!
Sex Brain Melody (Episode 2): On The Japanese Doll Complex
(Warning: NSFW!)

http://vimeo.com/3017377
Embedded at http://intersections.anu.edu.au/issue20/jacobs_film.htm

Also see her part 1 video on Hong kong pr0n panic: http://vimeo.com/3016343

On the Japanese original:
http://tokyoscum.blogspot.ca/2012/05/making-sense-of-dollers.html

Contestation of fan-space is a symbolic libidinous exchange in its own right.
Life would be boring without fans running wild.

Otome wa tsurai yo #1

Whoooeee!

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 female 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.

MULTIPLE SPOILER WARNING! (Oh Why bother…)

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 female 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 females 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.

Yikes!

"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 females! 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 female 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 a trap-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.

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

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 female 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 females 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!

We so seldom speak of love. . .

On Moso Shojo Otaku-kei AKA Fujoshi Rumi by Natsumi Konjoh

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fujoshi_Rumi
Natsumi Konjoh http://www.mangaupdates.com/authors.html?id=1892 http://www.punkednoodle.com/champloo/2007/10/14/09-mousou-shoujo-otaku-kei-by-natsumi-konjoh/ http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/review/fujoshi-rumi/gn-1 http://www.sequentialtart.com/article.php?id=1740
and part 2
http://www.sequentialtart.com/article.php?id=1741
See also O’Brien, Amy Ann, “Boys’ Love and Female Friendships: The Subculture of Yaoi as a Social Bond between Women” (2008). Anthropology Theses. Paper 28.(http://digitalarchive.gsu.edu/anthro_theses/28)

Moso was serialised after the Fujoshi / Ogiue arc of the first Genshiken saga, (2006-2008 vs G1’s 2002-2006). Later Genshiken GN episodes drop shout-outs to it, marking it at least as a fellow traveller on the fujoshi pilgrimage path. However in Moso Shojo, the play between Yaoi-obsessed girls and the hapless guys who chase after them is front and center. No losers club with an unspoken social contract between its members can get in the way of the girls vs boys fun.

Not as scary as Ogiue

In Moso, the Yaoi fantasies of the typecast fujoshi main character (Rumi Asai), and the popular girl with a secret taste for Yaoi stuff (Yasuko Matsuura) serve as a bond of friendship and a shield against the annoying and somewhat threatening interests of the two hapless guys who yearn for their attention. Compared to Genshiken’s Sasahara, these two fools are in for all kinds of abuse, and by the iron laws of manga irony (Lol!) the most earnest and unworldly of them – Takahiro Abe, is going to get the worst of it. When will he clue into the fact that the girls want them around ONLY to serve as inspiration for their lewd pairing fantasies?

MULTIPLE SPOILER(s) WARNING! No.. I will not take the time to learn how to code a spoiler tag into this mess.. go find the series in your library, or the usual grey places and have fun..

The more worldly of the two lads – Shunsuke Chiba has a deep dark secret of his own: he has grown up amid the fallout from his big sister’s Yaoi habit; she is an accomplished yaoi (and Yuri, and straight Hentai dojinshi creator and perhaps a stand-in for the mangaka). As such, he is a bit more at ease with the fake-gay fantasies of yaoi fanatic girls, but has not yet internalized the deeper problems suggested by a fujoshi world-view. And he figures that his lady-killer charms will be able to punch through the Yaoi fantasy veil and snag him an “interesting” girlfriend – which might mark him as an even greater fool than Abe!

Abe, the naive male lead does not have the luxury of Chiba’s experience, or even recourse to something like Sasahara’s believable “acceptance” speech, because he lacks Sasahara’s Otaku interests. Worse, he is beginning to attract the attentions of a man-mountain upper-year judo champ who has just developed a powerful love-at-first sight crush on him.

Kumeta’s SZS has made a point of highlighting a difference between the imagined fantasies of its’ fujoshi dojinshi creating girl, and the beefy gaiyu guys that seems to occasionally pop up in the way of the not-so-despairing Sensei, but Moso renders its only true male gay character in starker tones: Hidemi Tsukamoto is no muscle-shirted nose picker – at first he appears as a looming ass-raping threat, barely able to control himself, but he soon sheds this Yaoi-goggled first impression and then acts so damn noble, as to remind me of the gay-male-wish-fulfilment fantasy character in the (dreadful) Denis Arcand movie “Love and Human Remains”(1993). (Bleh! Arcand! From now on I pirate all your movies – Barbarian Invasions made up a bit for this stinker, but you STILL OWE ME!!!!)

Tsukamoto is probably the smartest and big-hearted character in the whole 3 volumes that are available so far to western fans. His “solution” to Abe’s inability to directly confront Rumi with a declaration of love is a brilliant trick that one-ups Cyrano De Bergerac. And he steals a smooch! Even then, Abe is not out of the woods – Rumi decides that she can only “love” him if she adopts a yaoi-imagined “male” persona. Poor Bastard!

Young heterosexual love is poisoned and much too dangerous for a delicate fujoshi girl.

It is also of note that Moso and Genshiken agree on the need for bent male characters to be good at judo.

As mentioned in some of the reviews cited above, Moso Shojo shines in the depth of its references to otaku/ fujoshi culture. And while it has some really fine laugh moments, until us poor gaijin get beyond vol 3, it is going to be hard to position this one as anything more than light fun.

Do future volumes pledge themselves to the conspiracy – the Otaku mating project, or is Moso in league with the “database” and the NHK? (no, not the broadcaster dammit!)

This blog is going to have to soon attempt a typology of Yaoi, if it is to get anywhere, but first (and next up) – Critical Theory and Poetics – gals vs guys on a mythic scale.