Hylas and the Nymphs

I Don’t Like You at All, Big Brother! (Oniichan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne—!!) is a typical Japanese brother- sister incest high school harem sex comedy manga, following on the heels of the “siscon” genre’s popular “My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute“.

Waughhh! What did I just write? Typical? Incest? Harem? High school? Sex? Comedy? Manga? Oh My! Oh no; not another one of those Gauguin exercises where mysterious Japan is other-ized as some inhibition-free, pervy paradise of forbidden weird cultural production!

Warning: Spoiler lamp is ON!

This blog is not “Weird Pervy Japan Manga Reviews” or even “Rocket News“. Everyone, even the purveyors of the fantasy know that Japanese cultural quirkyness is vastly, overwhelmingly, exponentially exaggerated. Japan is a highly urbanized, densely populated modern late-industrial/ knowledge-based diversified economy based society full of normal overworked, overstressed, extremely polite, reserved and slightly melancholic citizens. All in all, they make the Swiss look like football hooligans. They also read a lot.

And yup, the streets are very safe.

But the longing to go wild and break all the rules, fall into perdition and perish publicly in a bonfire of vanity and shame must beat in many Japanese hearts, if only as a fantasy, .. If only for an instant…  Long enough to snag them into reading some really well crafted low comedy.

I Don’t Like You at All, Big Brother! first appeared in 2008. It is still going strong after 6 years, sixty-something chapters and 9 collected volumes. Two seasons of anime have been made from it – of which I have not watched.. When first making its appearance via grey channels in the West it got middling reviews as somewhat funny; pretty much a collection of genre tropes with oddball character design and drawing quirks. The complaints over the skinny astro-boy tube- sausage legs continued into reviews of the anime which also was received with ho-hum enthusiasm.

And now I must ruin your day and tell you that there is no incest or sex in the manga -so far- and I am guessing there probably wont be any in the future. Phhhhtttt! Nothing but titillation and rude comedy. This is probably why the reviews were so middling. It takes a good reviewer to praise a work that pwned them.

It is however extremely funny! I admit it, I be hooked…

Thanks to a listing on a senior blogger’s ongoing fujoshi cataloging project, I looked up the series, thinking that the Genshiken’s current emphasis on harem and otokonoko/ josou (as genre and counter to loli excess) tropes needed a bit more background research. (Aside: on the josou front, Brocken Blood, as currently scanlated into English is an inadvertent train wreck of funny! I want to apprentice to their scangroup’s cleaner and typesetter! Arial Bold Italic! Whooo Haha! Please don’t ever change!)

The Oniichan hero of the tale (to be referred to herein as buddy boy) wishes above all to gaze upon and touch a real-life 3D nekkid female. Much like a dog that chases cars, he seems incapable of considering what he will do once he succeeds. In the meantime, he has become a pr0n maniac. He collects pr0n, lots of pr0n! A good quarter metric ton of pr0n! 19 Gigabytes of pr0n on his pc! (which was a lot back in 2008) Pr0n magazines, pr0n games, pr0n site jpgs, pr0n dvds. At school he is known as the Prince of Pr0n – girls fear that they will become soiled just by exchanging a few words with him. He has even banded together with other sheepish guys to trade off his surplus pr0n. At night he sneaks off to bookstores to buy more pr0n. And he uses up multiple boxes of tissues each week in celebration of the solitary vice.

Here beginneth the first lesson: Boys: moderate your enthusiasms!

PLeas take me back oniichan_no_koto_nanka_zenzen_suki_ja_nai_c12.5_nirpan.006web600

He tries to stop, puts out his collection to the trash while bidding it a tearful farewell but within the week he is back buying more pr0n. So he’s a bit of a worm. He does however have three redeeming features: first, he is not an otaku (this seems to be important: in the story-verse there are worse things than being a pr0n maniac). Secondly, his day-to-day interactions with 3D females involve nothing more than cleavage staring and panty peeking. He avoids skirt flipping, groping or hidden cameras because that would be an unseemly cheat – he does follow an internal code of conduct. And finally he feels responsible enough to try to be a good older brother towards his immouto; he is not a siscon.

The problem, as with all harem tales lies with the females: Some girls take his normal but excessive interest in their anatomy as a signal that he is ripe for exploitation or at least entanglement into their delusions.

Here beginneth the second lesson: Their delusions are far stronger.

The first of these is his 16-year-old sister. As a healthy 17-year-old he is torn between the urge to sneak an occasional peek at her panties and trying to act responsibly distant and protective of her. Immotou-chan however considers her brother’s undivided attention as an absolute right and will have it no matter what. After all he may be “a perverted zoo monkey who masturbates 50 times a week” but if he is not thinking about her, then she has failed as a female. When she finds that she is adopted (and buddy boy probably knows this too, but considers the secret a sacred oath that he will never reveal to her) she becomes even more determined to own him. She wakes him every morning by jumping on his chest so he gets a panty shot. She secretly prunes his pr0n collection so that it is full of forbidden incestuous lust tales for little sister (siscon) materials. Short, thin, little sister-types have also been selected for, among the general imagery of the stash. She makes sure that he will have easy, sometimes almost unavoidable access to the laundry hamper full of her undies. She demands shared baths. She gets a massive kick out of the embarrassed attention she gets. Such are the tropes of the genre. They must be well-liked: a later 2011 entry into the genre, Satsuki Complex repeats the same wake-up scene, only with a crossdressing younger brother. Then it ups the ante by having dad crossdress as mom.

Oniichan is a monkey

Of course if anything were ever to happen it would be all his fault. His mother is worried that he may just one day cross the line, but is oblivious to her daughter’s tricks. The father is a good-natured mostly absent salaryman who will confiscate his sons extreme porn books if they show up outside his son’s room, possibly for his own consideration. Mom has mixed feelings about that; like father, like son.

thankz dad kll me noaw

Dad “confiscating” his son’s bondage porn

The adopted younger sister trick is dealt with early in the tale, just in time for the reappearance of the twin-tail hair sporting, moved- away- but- now- back childhood girl “friend”. They were 5 years old when she left – you can’t really call her a girlfriend. Except that she considers it that way. He is hers.. They played doctor together (to the point where she decided that he needed on the spot circumcision – she’s a doctor’s daughter) and she is sure that he promised to marry her when they grow up. She has no idea where immouto-chan came from and considers her as an impediment. The ceasefire frienemy-ship between twin-tails and immouto is icy, calculated and funny as all heck. Twin-tails is also an accomplished stalker, with the financial resources that allow her to keep an eye on buddy boy. Dude, close the drapes in your room!

Stalker girl fun

Two girls do not a harem make, so in short order the closeted fujoshi class president girl bumps into buddy boy and is soon blackmailing him into keeping her BL habit secret, all while forcing him to buy BL for her at the late-night book store, while trying to get him to read BL for insight into whether the stories have any correspondence with real males.

Oh shit you read that stuff!

Can he see what she sees in her pr0n genre, or is she truly cursed and abject? Buddy boy of course will lie valiantly to keep her from narking on his pr0n habit. Soon he dreams up another excuse to comply with her demands: she will infect his sister with fujoshi habits if he doesn’t play along. Also she has enough curves and cleavage to be interesting, and her severe public demeanor along with her BL influenced style of wheedling reads to him like an ever-escalating promise of kinky play (Which of course never happens). He is hooked.

Before long she is in full Fujoshi-Rumi Boku mode. Despite all her odd fangirling, she might well be the most normal and fully rounded female character in the tale. She has very little guile, and is as much in thrall to her awakening libido as buddy boy is. And why not? At least he isn’t a disgusting otaku. At a pool park swim, she suddenly gets fascinated with the idea of “accidentally” touching, pinching and flicking her hair at his nipples. This turnabout is fair pay moment is funny as heck. Boys, be ambitious, find yourself a pervy fujoshi girlfriend!

Why date a fujoshi

If she runs away for a while once she gets conflicted over her feelings, there is always the stern, sexy older tutor to fixate on. Buddy boy’s grades suffer from the distractions of too much female interest and too much pr0n. Soon he is in danger of being held back a grade if he does not ace a make-up test. The University psychology student who is hired as his tutor has her own theories as to why teenage males fail in their studies. Not only is (almost) all his porn located and confiscated, but he is terrorized into swearing that he will not masturbate more than twice in the week before the test (!) As well, she promises him a “special treat” if he passes. His mind is now racing with conflicted feelings of dread, desire and the inability to get five different subjects – including math and English, into his fap-addled skull. In short order Sensei has also figured out what immouto and stalker-chan are up to and is playing them off against one another. Buddy boy is caught in the middle.

Then it gets worse. Sensei can tell when buddy boy breaks his promise as he becomes happy and stupid the day after, forgetting half of what he learned. She tears up pages of his favourite remaining three porn books to spur him on. (Those girls are innocent! please spare them! cries buddy boy!) She leans her cleavage ever forward toward his gaze. As a chimpanzee pr0n addict he goes into serious withdrawal from his vices in the days leading up to his test. The other females won’t let him sleep much either. After he passes his test he is too wound up and shell-shocked to take Sensei up on her offer, even though (surprise!) she might even be game for something lewd. It turns out she is a serious pervert in her own right and has completely captured and trained her own younger brother as gawd knows what. (Never trust a psych major!)

She then gives some advice to stalker girl and immouto, just to stir the pot for fun, even as they both see her revealed as the ultimate successful “brocon”. Older women are even more fearsome than teenage women.

Six years into this, and undoubtedly a few more girls will be thrown into the mix. The anime apparently had at least two more in the story; they have yet to pop up in the manga. Meanwhile buddy boy is scared shitless of twin-tails, even if she is offering him her body (and immediate marriage), scared shitless of his crazed sister, who he still feels the need to be a responsible older brother to (despite peeking lapses), scared somewhat shitless of class president, who will show up to tutor him at midnight dressed in a male school uniform with a bag over her head; she being too embarrassed to deal with him as female to male, and really really scared of women in their twenties who can read him like a (cheap pr0n) book. Oh heck, they can all read him…

CUT UP WHAT REMAINSoniichan_no_koto_nanka_zenzen_suki_ja_nai_c07_nirpan.oniichan_007_017web600

Enjoying your harem yet, dude?

After all, the root of the word comes from the islamic arabic haram proscribed, dangerous, forbidden- for- a- good- reason. Think Danger! Mine field! if you need context. Taboo is too far off as a useful reading. Various cultures have all in the past combined sexism with proscription towards males about the dangers of getting greedy when it comes to desire and the female “other”. There is the myth that one of the Chinese ideograms for trouble/ disaster was originally derived from a pictograph of multiple females under one roof. A yiddish tale tells of two feuding old guys, whose friendship ended in bitter jealousy, and of how one was taught a lesson by an “Angel of the Lord”. Three wishes, but whatever you get, your ex-friend gets ten times as much. Guess the third wish.

But these historical cautionary tales miss the nuance of the Japanese visual culture harem genre as it developed out of dating sims and ero-games. It is a bit like Zizek’s “symptom” ninjitsu. A hint towards the important difference can be found in the last few pages of Genshiken’s Chapter 98 dinner at Madarame’s apartment (or at least as far as my crummy google x-late-fu can determine) when Madarame muses about the “protagonists” in the 3D harem game he finds himself in. As player he is merely the point of view. The “heroes’ of the harem genre are always the girl characters and their motivations that have to be skilfully navigated by the (male-p.o.v.) player lest all manner of bad endings ensue.

I tried to read through the main entry in the genre: My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute, but after four chapters found it thin on comedy and the plot premise strained. So the little sister wants a littler sister to fixate on as some kind of transference of her feelings for ??? Huh? Where are the rude gags? I must be missing something because it has even more adaptations, chapters, volumes, anime and spin-offs than it’s knockoff. shogenai… 

Earlier versions of the comedy- harem genre are full of an excess of quirky female desire. The now-completed Girl Saurus/ Girl Saurus X opus had more than enough nasty gags built on 1.5D female secondary characters after the hapless lad. I also liked the odd Fujimura-kun and his mates (Fujimura-kun Meitsu) and the complimentary/ competing Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai franchise for this kind of stuff, but they all go too easy on the guys.

We are legion

The mangaka behind Fujimura-kun Meitsu has an even odder, new franchise in play with Aizawa-san Zoushoku, the tale of how an average high-school guy becomes the love interest of the school princess Aizawa-san. She seems to have the ability to split into multiple each- is- an- emotional- aspect- of- her versions whenever she feels any emotional pressure. They usually disappear later (I hope the original is not starving to death in the magic hole in the ground she stumbled into!) it all reminds me of a famous, very spooky pre-Raphaelite painting:

Danger! Danger Will Robinson!

Hylas and the aforementioned clone nymphs

Lookie at all the sexy cheesecake… Wait a sec there boy! Something is not quite right here! Danger Will Robinson! Danger! Run away! Run away!

Western Sociology used to favor a conceit borrowed from social anthropology called structural functionalism: It might look weird on the surface, but it must be there for a reason. It seems the harem genre in modern Japanese visual culture is ever so useful in the socialization of young (and not so young) males. It offers them a pervy hook and then clobbers them relentlessly with be- careful- what- you- wish- for slapstick. Romantic monogamy is probably the sanest and safest route for any harem situation and if you need more you better stick to 2D. It’s not about you, anyway. Yeah, you should be embarrassed about overdoing it with the pr0n, but worse; the girls know it happens – you aren’t special… Get over it! Learn to present yourself publicly in a proper manner. Learn discretion! Stop staring at her cleavage! And don’t neglect your studies either! Now get back to work!

Talk about moralizing! If not for the smoke screen of panty shots and titillation it would be fit for Sunday school… Well, almost…

Now that Madarame’s harem is going to be front and center in the Genshiken  for the next little bit, we can expect plenty of meta-musings on the genre and its conventions. Ch98 already looks like it is full of them. (wish my google- xlate- fu was better) One of the conventions is that as long as you politely engage with the game-girls, you can enjoy the pleasant attentions of multiple female characters so long as no decisive moves are made. Don’t disturb the “Wa”. Enjoy the free meals, be careful with the banter. Pretend you misunderstood if the flirty stuff goes too far.

Poor Madarame! He already tried fixating on one and only one special woman. A vicarious harem experience isn’t that bad consolation prize at all (though the broken wrist wasn’t much fun). I wonder how long it will take him to figure out why Sue is there; as a harem protagonist her actions are a bit off. Sure it may look like she is waiting to see if any Mada x Hato sparks fly, but who is she chaperoning and who is she waiting for on the rebound?

Meanwhile some Risa needs to be added to the pot. And where the heck is Keiko?