Through All Your Houses Wandering

While waiting for Genshiken ch 93, I find a bit of background on Madarame’s latest otaku fixation and consider the proper terminologies.

The small universe of bloggers I check up on have, with one exception been rather silent on the double whammy ret-shading presented in not one but two hot spring/ onsen episodes/ chapters. Basically, Hato is now quite fully man-crushed on Madarame, even if he is not quite sure about larger issues. In ep 13 of the Nidaime anime. Madarame hasn’t been crushed on quite yet, (…forever!) so he is characteristically supportive. Manga Madarame is of course absent with a fractured wrist, but the rest of the crew have no doubts, and Hato is forced to agree that yup, he’s beginning to feel something and needs time to cool his head.

Going home, with the inevitable meet-up with Her (ok, ok, Kaminaga), right around Christmas still leaves me with hope for A Genshiken Carol with three spirits, but I ain’t holding my breath (much); followed by a New Years Eve at the temple mini arc. (Want! The first New Years Eve mini-arc was one of the things that hooked me on Genshiken, Want!)

But meanwhile, found a few neat things:


We all kind of get the whole trap-character Josou ero-game thing that Madarame re-acquainted himself with due to Kousaka’s new job, but here is an extensive write-up on it at the Girl Cartoons blog: “Josou, a discussion – Part 3: Josou Sanmyaku and the otokonoko’s will to power”  ( link dead see below) The whole 5 part series of posts is really quite well done, but some outre links at the ends of the posts (I’m guessing) got post 1 scrubbed. Fortunately a mirror survives:

Update: The entire five part essay series on the Girl Cartoons blog site seems to be scrubbed. Fortunately, it was scraped by The Archive and cached versions survive. In view of the obscurity of the subject and the detail of the five essays on the josou/otokonoko genre, as fantasy displacement and extreme “imagined other/ other sexuality”, I append links to the cached versions:

Josou, a discussion – Part 1: Josou, fetishism and gender identity

Josou, a discussion – Part 2: What is the appeal of pontificating on the appeal of traps?

Josou, a discussion – Part 3: Josou Sanmyaku and the otokonoko’s will to power.

Josou, a discussion – Part 4: Otokonoko as surrogate victim

Josou, a discussion – Part 5: Boku no Pico as progenitor of the otokonoko


So Madarame might be moving from lolicon to josou-con. Per the essays above is the fantasy is fantasy issues that come up for real-life otokonoko genre fans. Reading all that stuff might … Naw… Expect some Genshiken in-joke references to rorikon wo naosu houhou) or”How to Cure a Lolicon”. Interestingly enough, one of the points of the above essays is that (simplification time) the boy readers come for the cheap thrills and stay for the novelty feels/ gender tourism. I have advanced a similar notion as yuri has “grown up” and I see from the essay that the Girl Cartoons blogger finds echoes of this in Galbraith on Shoujo, though it probably goes back as far as Rachel Matt Thorn. The josou/ otokonoko phenom though is still firmly grounded in the ‘ero” sphere, which lead to certain problems:

What started this was a link to a discussion of how Hato’s character comes off to a real life trans person found at:

Which is the second such appraisal of Genshiken’s Hato from a trans person I have found on the net, the other being a much earlier review of how an early model manga Hato was still sympathetic, in contrast to other obnoxious treatments. The reviewer at anime is dead sums up:

“The big issue with Genshiken Nidaime and its take on gender issues is that it tries to attempt a realistic and positive portrayal of a crossdresser, without really having any apparent knowledge of gender issues or why many even crossdress in the first place.

[…  ]

The first explanation is that Hato essentially only crossdresses so that they can read BL, due to a bad experience with a previous club who reacted poorly when finding out that Hato as a male was into BL. That’s a bit off-putting since it implies that people crossdress due to trauma, which certainly isn’t true in most cases. Then later it’s implied that Hato may do it because they’re gay, which is bad since sexuality doesn’t really have anything to do with crossdressing. And then the third and probably most sensible (i.e. least problematic since it’s technically a valid reason,)  Madarame rationalizes Hato’s crossdressing as just another otaku hobby and obsession. The way Nidaime tries to explain Hato’s crossdressing isn’t the most ideal, though to its credit it at least tries to do so in a way that doesn’t outright dismiss Hato’s identity.”

An earlier blogger’s view from a trans perspective:

“In the second installment of the manga, Genshiken Nidaime, we meet Hato-san, a girl who is later discovered to “really be” a boy.  As the series is ongoing, it is still unclear what Hato’s “true” gender identity is (transsexual, transvestite, other, ) but this is a plus, because in truth, Hato hirself isn’t sure what hir true identity is.  Hato is learning and exploring hir gender otherness as we watch, and the struggle is particularly interesting because hir sexual identity is mixed in with hir social identity of “fujoshi/fudanshi” (a “rotten” person, referring to someone engrossed in slash literature,) and hir sexuality (gay, straight, or other?) Hato is so many “others,” it’s distressing.  So far, Hato’s story has been treated with interesting realism and tact, though there are characters, as always, that repeatedly try to “convince him” to just live as his assigned birth sex.”

Well, I should know better than to lurk-post after 10:00pm, but I commented, and probably went on too long – and whatever Hato’s character construction points I advanced, the parts that are irksome or worse for those who have skin in the game involve the presentation and sympathetic treatment of the character. Fair Dinkum mate!

But what gave me even more pause was a link found to another blog considering such matters in further depth. Like the Fandom Matters post above, which got into condemning some of the more obnoxious treatments and depictions of trans characters in Japanese visual culture, the post at A Certain Blogging Tobiichi makes a strong and poignant case on how the casual terminology used as genre shorthand can really hurt and offend. “Dehumanization: The Term ‘Trap” at gives some background on the term, misty origins and how nasty it can be.

Primum non nocere 

No one wants to be bully, even an an accidental one, so I can see that I probably should stop casually throwing the term “trap” around my posts. Even if it refers only to characters in manga and anime, only a few I’ve seen actually try any “trapping”, and most cut to a quick reveal and do the otaku-flavoured otokonoko/ josou thing of claiming to be a completely separate, possibly ideal female-ish creation. (which doesn’t make them less obnoxious, but situates them in a male otaku practice) Hence Kuchiki’s desperation to blurt out the “can’t be a girl” line that gets him swatted. So the term is imprecise to the genre trope as well as being hurtful.

Handling the Obnoxious Stereotypical Trap Character (the OSTF?) is the easiest part of a language retooling effort. We can reserve “trap” with caveats for a nasty portrayal of a crossdressed young male character out to “trap”. But what then does one call Hato?

Crossdresser works,, but leaves too much out to “type” the character.

trans (as a noun) is a bit clunky and perhaps should be reserved for characters where issues of personal, felt gender being different from birth ( cis-) gender are being highlighted. The Girl Cartoons essays go through the permutations quite clinically and with a certain thoroughness.

Otokonoko sounds useful, until one realizes that it is an otaku portmanteau/ pun, like fujoshi and comes with a loaded history:

cue the TV tropes block quote:

“Otokonoko is a Japanese genre of romantic and/or erotic stories for men, focusing on Attractive Bent-Gender male Crossdressers. The name is a pun. The word “otokonoko” normally means “boy” (literally “male child”), but swapping the “ko” meaning “child” for a different “ko” meaning “girl” gives a compound that Japanese sites like to translate as “male maiden”. It is sometimes called ‘”josou” (“women’s clothes”), a more generic term for male crossdressers.
Otokonoko features both girl-on-crossdresser and guy-on-crossdresser stories (it’s one of the few places where you will find m/f stories and m/m stories side-by-side in the same magazine). The target audience is men who crossdress (or are interested), and men who have a fetish for crossdressers, and the art styles and tropes are typically those of male-oriented romance / ecchi / hentai material. There is also a significant Periphery Demographic of female readers. (Although guy-on-guy otokonoko is often mistaken for Boys Love Genre, anything targeted to women is not otokonoko.)
Although cute crossdressers in romantic situations have been an occasional theme in shonen and seinen since the ’80s, otokonoko did not start as an identified genre until about 2004. Most works created before this are not usually considered part of the genre, although some have been grandfathered in.
An otokonoko character must be anatomically male (no Hermaphrodites or Gender Benders) but look convincingly like an attractive girl. Most identify as male, but even when the character identifies as female, few works try to deal with actual Transgender issues in anything like a realistic way. Since otokonoko is mainly an otaku thing, otokonoko are quite likely to wear Sailor Fuku, Meido, Miko, Cat Girl or Naughty Nurse Outfits as well as “ordinary” female clothes. Some non-fiction magazines exist to provide advice and help with crossdressing for men who identify as otokonoko in Real Life and who crossdress to achieve the look (or want to). Most otokonoko is technically seinen, although some is shounen. Works aimed at a female audience are never this, so don’t list shoujo, josei or boys’ love. ”

The Girl Cartoons view is more to the point:

“Otokonoko quote above: The term is a pun on the word 男の子 (otoko no ko), meaning “male child”, with the character representing “child” exchanged for the homophonous character for “daughter/young girl”. It is for the most part connotationally and denotationally parallel to the English fandom term “trap”, minus the immediate implication of deception—of “being trapped”—in the English term. A history of the term’s usage via Google Trends dates its coinage to around the year 2009.

[… later discussing a rather nasty ero work..]

…When the protagonist’s biological sex is revealed, he is verbally abused by the two men, being called a “tranny” (okamayarou) and a pervert for becoming aroused given the situation. When he uses the word “otokonoko”, which is of course an otaku-coined neologism, he is mocked and ignored. The protagonist represents not just broadly the victimization of the non-masculine by a masculine society, but the victimization of the male Josou fan himself by a heteronormative and anti-queer society.”
Josou, a discussion – Part 4: Otokonoko as surrogate victim (link died, see above)

So the term is not only an otaku-ism but carries baggage with it. The game Madarame plays is a otokonoko game full of josou characters, but Hato is not an otokonoko or josou character because of his professed limited reasons for crossdressing.

Similarly, Josou as term for a young m to f crossdresser shares the above baggage.

From Kabuki one can lift the terms onnagata (“female-role”) or oyama. These might be useable, but I assume they also already carry too much historical baggage. Works fine for the lad in Kunisaki Izumo no Jijō, but less well for Tripeace, Usotsuki Lily and Hato, all of which I previously characterized as “trap-lite” or one who crossdresses convincingly for reasons that have little or nothing to do with personal gender or sexuality issues.

Of course this kind of plot fig-leaf is probably -or soon will be-  as annoying to real world trans folk as the fujoshi habit of deploying the “I don’t like guys, I only like you” line is to some members of the gay community, but for now it is a stock character trope. As previously mentioned, it usually comes with some small “super power” or at least some heightened personal awareness.

From Takarazuka Revue we get musumeyaku (娘役, literally “daughter’s role”) as opposed to otokoyaku (男役 , literally “male role”). Apparently the fans have also come up with the term onnayaku (女役): literally, “Woman Role-Player”; an unofficial term used by fans to refer to the musumeyaku, as the word musume means “daughter” while the word onna means “woman”, and therefore implies a greater level of equality with the male -gendered actresses who are called otokoyaku (otoko means “man”) Some fans have begun using the word onnayaku to refer to the older female-gendered actresses who are more experienced and well-known than the younger girls.– liberally lifted from the wiki entry. 

Not quite Hato yet, give him 5 years…

Wait, got it.. otomeyaku. That should parse out as acting (or presenting) in a maiden’s role.  That’s a good Hato-fit; although fujoshi-yaku could be coined just for him, and him alone. A cursory google-search doesn’t get any hits on these as trope terms. A fresh neologism! Yum!

(Later: not so fast buddy boy: already used by western Takarazuka fans, pops up in yuricon forum entries among others.. Yup Erica-sensei’s gang got there first, again! -Awwww-)

Next time: Ch 93! After the Festival – No fantasy for you, Mada and Rika butts in!  Hooray! The raws iz out…

Can't get no...

Can’t get no…

Much Later: While searching for Hato Kenjiro’s Genshiken-verse pen name (Takeya Mikako grrr.. always forget it) I stumbled upon a site; an exhaustive compilation/ bibliography of extant Transgender characters/  motifs in manga, comics, books and , well… everything… Jana’s TG Lists; transgender in media. Since 31 January 2004. Current to December 2015 , at least.
See:  Old/ backup site:

So, there are folks who care deeply about these matters and are there for those who need them. The project looks very powerful.