We so seldom speak of love. . .

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

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
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 doujinshi 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.