A Maiden’s Virginity: Is it as “Necessary” as We Believe?

Recently there’s been some controversy among otaku on both 2ch and 4chan regarding Nagi from Kannagi. A recent manga chapter, or perhaps the minds of the otaku reading it, have posited the idea that Nagi is not a virgin. And this is apparently tainting Nagi in the eyes of some of her fans. However silly you think this to be (in my case very), it brings up the question of how valued “virginity” is for idols, fictional or otherwise.

Idols in Japan are not supposed to have boyfriends to give the illusion that any fan has a “chance.” Is this the same ideal that surrounds wanting an anime character to be pure and virginal? Both the real-life idol and the anime character are for all intents and purposes unattainable by the fans, but notion that a female idol will retain her virginity for her fans is futile at best. Maybe that’s part of the appeal of the anime-character-as-virgin, they can maintain the status forever.

(Actually, in some cases, I don’t think the fans mind. Momoi had a concert where she was already pregnant, and she was still loved by her fans.)

I was in contact with Ogiue fans in Japan back when Ogiue first lost her virginity in the manga. What’s odd, relative to this whole Nagi thing, is that Ogiue entering a clearly sexual relationship did not turn off her fans. It did not push them away, or cause them to call Ogiue a “slut.” It only made them love Ogiue more, not because she had sex but because it was a result of her finding happiness. Perhaps the place where it differs is that Ogiue’s sexual relationship was pretty much the resolution to a story while Nagi’s is background information?

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35 thoughts on “A Maiden’s Virginity: Is it as “Necessary” as We Believe?

  1. Genshiken was targeted towards a completely difference audience versus Kannagi, IMO – the latter’s targeted towards the serious otaku who can’t laugh at himself… and who has certain fetishes that must be fulfilled. So having Nagi as ‘used goods’ means that he can’t be her first, which is the ‘best part’ of lusting after her. Oguie, Ohno, and Saki Kasukabe are more representative of ‘real girls’ than the 2D ones that the otaku following Kannagi lust for, and aren’t the type who interest them – the last obviously has had a sex life, and the one who grew up in America may have had one to judge by her comments to Oguie when teasing her in the middle part of the manga.

    Then again, the fact that Nagi looks like a 14 year old doesn’t help matters, as THAT particular target market likes lolis because they’re pure and ‘unused’ (until said lolicon has his way with them). If she looked like she was 25, this probably wouldn’t have been as big an issue, even though she really is a thousand years old…

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  2. It doesn’t help that Nagi supposedly did it with a guy who’s supposed to be a douche, and not with the main character.

    If it was with Jin there probably wouldn’t be any issue at all.

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  3. Well, can’t blame them for wanting to have Nagi all to themselves!!11ONE!!

    As Haesslich has very well said, it’s got something to do with the “image” that Nagi projects, or the image that the crazy fans have come to have based on what they’ve seen or read… in the end, it just goes to show how their “love” for the character is based on lusty reasons, not really on the totality of her character =/ It’s just silly.

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  4. usagijen: It doesn’t help that she looks like a kid, since (as far as I’m aware), the ‘purity’ (read: vestal vigin/innocent) status of younger women/girls is the ‘turn-on’. The ability of the person who is their ‘first’ to open ‘unexplored territory’ is the big thing, introducing them to the carnal world of sex is what makes it most rewarding. Especially as I’ll bet you the ones who lust after her virginal status the most are often virgin themselves, which means they don’t want a more experienced partner but one who they can use and not ‘share’ with anyone else.

    So the revelation of Nagi’s ex-lover is bad enough – the guy being a jerk doesn’t factor into it as much with most of the ranters, as far as I can tell, so much as the fact that she’s already been ‘opened up’ and thus the supposed advantages and pleasures of ‘fucking a virgin’ are unavailable to them and thus sinks the fantasy.

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  5. Why does virginity matter nowadays anyway? The girl has already seen it al in porn even before she gets sex education in school, it’s not like the guy who she has sex with first is going to show her anything new. Actually, she’ll probably be disappointed!

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  6. I don’t think it’s necessarily a matter of who jumps into her pants first, though it’s definitely there. But just keeping that “ideal” of a pure pure girl – to be untainted so they can belong to everyone – seems to make some sense as well.

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  7. TheBigN: How can she ‘belong’ to everyone if she’s virginal? Especially in a series which seems to focus on her relationship with ONE guy? If they’re looking for innocence, then that suggests they want to be the one who ‘enlightens’ the girl and breaks it, so to speak.

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  8. Damn this blog.

    I have this filed in Google Reader with my “anime” news because, well, that’s the subject – but the rest of my feeds there are short news blurb sites or picture collections and the like. So every few days when I see a new post on here, I’m blissfully flipping through images to while time away, and suddenly I run straight into something… intelligent.

    Great post. I have to say I generally agree – while I got pretty much the same vibe from Ogiue you described, I definitely notice a lot of anime pulling their punches on the “literal” fanservice for the sake of preserving the subconscious service.

    “How can she ‘belong’ to everyone if she’s virginal? Especially in a series which seems to focus on her relationship with ONE guy?”

    Well, she obviously doesn’t belong to everyone from everyone’s point of view – the idea is that the creator is “giving” her to each viewer separately. A virginal character who only has a major relationship with the Generic Magical Girlfriend Protagonist – whose entire existence is dedicated to encouraging the viewer’s empathy – doesn’t belong to anyone. More importantly, doesn’t belong to anyone *else.* And if she doesn’t belong to anyone else, maybe she could belong to the viewer.

    I pick up kind of a womanising vibe from the concept too – the viewer isn’t just attracted to the character, they want to own her. Calling her a “secondhand wife” kind of implies that – they don’t want their merchandise to come pre-used.

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  9. My theory:

    Nagi renews her virginity.

    I mean, Hera did it, so there’s nothing stopping Nagi from doing it :P

    Here be proof (from mythman.com):

    Hera bathed in the spring of Canathus, near Argos, and thus renewed her virginity. Knowing how much Zeusy liked virgins, she returned each year to re-purify herself. Aphrodite enjoyed the idea so much that she annually renewed her own virginity at Paphos.

    (Someone should have opened a resort, and called it the “You Lose It, We Find It Vestal Spa.”)

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  10. Nagi is nothing like Ogiue, yeah. The image of purity is not just confined to the whole loli idea or certain demographic of fans.

    I mean, duh, Ogi is a fujoshi. The term implies uncleanliness. Nagi OTOH is some kind of goddess (think: angel) that descends into a purification icon, whose mission is also related to purification. Purity is her schtik and having casual sex is a little jarring to that idea. Plus, there’s also the surrounding situation with it which makes it less acceptable.

    So naturally it’ll rub some people the wrong way. Oh well. What Haesslich describes is true but it’s probably too off the mark from this case.

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  11. The lusting after virgins is hardly a Japanese, modern, or even male phenomenon.

    If I remember correctly it was big deal to buy virgin prostitutes during the renaissance in Europe. You would pay many times more for a virgin. This of course led to “counterfeit” virgins who would bring vials of blood to the bedroom to discreetly break during intercourse to prove their untouched nature.

    I distinctly remember a conversation between three women I knew about how many virginities they had taken over the course of their college carrier. Being attractive women living on a Computer, Engineering, and Robotic module this was essentially a bragging contest of who could shoot the most fish in a barrel. Still amusing and insightful.

    It is just the sexual version of being the asre who goes out of his way to be the first person to post a response on a thread at Ain’t it Cool News. It’s the concept that once you have had a virgin no one else can have that person in the way that you did. No matter what you will always be their first. At least that has always been my understanding. I’m sure that issues of power and control factor in as well. Many sexual fetishes tend to stem from control issues IHMO.

    Like any kink there is always going to be people who obsess over it and then others who can never wrap their head around it for a million years. Most every one else will shrug it off and say to each their own.

    I agree with omo. Ogiue is never inherently supposed to be a virgin but Nagi is supposed to be pure. It breaks her moe to some if she is experienced.

    Overall I think that the people who care are going to be the people who raise a big stink about it. I also think those people are clearly in the minority. I assume that the majority of fans don’t really care but are just not going to be vocal in their defense of Nagi. The again I don’t read or watch Kannagi so maybe I don’t realize what a big fuss this has caused.

    As someone who has only dated the “experienced” my answer is a big fat get over it loser fanboys. You are sad enough that you will be lucky of anyone takes you virgin or not.

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  12. omo: Given that these are the same people reportedly cancelling their daikamura orders, I think the idea of her as a virginal goddess of purity is secondary to the idea of her being ‘a girl we can own and fuck to be her first time, and we don’t want her to be more experienced or to have gotten “lucky” ahead of us’ issue. In other words, Hisui’s probably right that we’re seeing the furor of a lot of loser fanboys who are sad enough to be ONLY able to get it from their hands or various implements.

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  13. As the last couple episodes of Gurren-Lagann have just run on Sci-Fi, I come to this discussion just having watched Kittan blush and twiddle his fingers at the possibility of the loss of Yoko’s virginity. You know, if she is still a virgin, she would be the most sexually frustrated woman in, quite possibly, the entire universe. There is some irony there!

    Anyway, while we can’t account for the reasons of every nerd in the world, I agree that it’s often about ownership: they call them “gal-get” games for a reason. And the virginity thing is part of that fantasy. Like so many heroine characters are virgins to living, so to speak. They’re oblivious, or clumsy or detached, or in the best-case scenario they’re not human at all. Cause then, the viewer/player-proxy gets to introduce them to EVERYTHING, and then win her heart forever by, like, taking her to Denny’s. Then the boning.

    And hell, when you reload the last save up, they’re virgins all over again.

    The guy is so often saving the girl in this stuff: he’s the most important person in her life, she’d have killed herself or destroyed the universe if not for him, or maybe he held back the Space AIDS for one more precious day.

    Dial it a little back from there and we’ve got the “oh, I want to protect her!” vibe. Little sister, that kinda thing. Worrying obsessively about whether or not a cartoon character’s had sex with any other cartoon characters might just be the logical extreme of that feeling.

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  14. I think it’s less to do with possessiveness – to whom, she “belongs” – and more to do with aberrations to her apparent character.

    In spite of being eons old, Nagi had always projected an air of youthful naivety: her magical girl baton, her exuberance at her own powers, her usually childish mannerisms, etc. She’s adhering to a standard young character type. So learning that she’s had sex, and is therefore by some tangible measure an adult, blows that simple characterization apart.

    As for why fans like the naive, youthful girls in the first place, most people jump to the conclusion of sexually desirability. This is probably true for many fans, but it’s also possible to just like that kind of character in a story for her naive misunderstandings and clumsy gaffs. It’s cute, like kittens. And in way it’s still perfectly possible to appreciate her even minus virginity; she’s still bubbly and childish, it’s just complicated by the fact that she doesn’t fit the archetype anymore. She’s suddenly a more layered character with a sexy, mature side as well as her usual silly childish side.

    Usually layered characters are great, and it may be a good thing for fans to realize that girls can have sex and still be youthful and bubbly. But I suspect most fans aren’t looking to challenge their preconceived character types while watching lighthearted comedies.

    disclaimer: I haven’t read the manga, nor any of the chans.

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  15. Well, I don’t see how canceling dakimakuras matter in this case to support your point. People who want to have fantasy sex with 2D characters on a pillow simply prefer them one way or another. Considering it is a particular fetish and said sex experience pierces that fantasy and dilutes the fetish it makes sense to see that sort of reaction.

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  16. I’m just going to be frank, all this talk about

    “I think the idea of her as a virginal goddess of purity is secondary to the idea of her being ‘a girl we can own and fuck to be her first time, and we don’t want her to be more experienced or to have gotten “lucky” ahead of us’ issue”

    sounds like some kind of projection. There is a much simpler explanation here.

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  17. omo: If it was just about a ‘goddess of purity’ thing, I suspect the complaints about ‘used’ and ‘second-hand’ would not exist… and yet they do. Given that the furor online has mostly been about her having sex, and then rants about betrayal, the posters who are doing this seem to be more concerned with her status as ‘used’ (their words, not mine) than as being impure due to having had sex with a man. But look at those forums where this is being most hotly debated, and they’re ranting about her second-hand nature… as if they were in the position of getting ‘sloppy seconds’. Between her apparent age (under 16) and those comments, I really doubt it’s a furor about her ‘impurity’ in the sense than a goddess on a mission of purification shouldn’t have been engaged in sex rather than the posters doing the ranting feeling betrayed that she blew their fantasies of being the first to have sex with her out of the water.

    That seems pretty simple to me, especially with the choice of language being used to voice their Otaku Rage.

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  18. Pingback: Omonomono » Random Thoughts On A November 11th

  19. Well, there’s the age-old obsession with virgins in most cultures, which has already been mentioned, and that’s probably part of it.

    But what I always come back to when considering these matters is insecurity. A very large part of the moe motif is being unthreatening. The viewer is, on average, quite insecure, and wants women that are not threatening. Thus you get vulnerable, clumsy and inexperienced girl characters, or just plain non-human ones when taken to extremes.

    And sexual insecurity is of course the worst kind of insecurity, and an experienced girl is far scarier than someone who is just as inexperienced as the viewer – she might have opinions and desires and demands of her own.

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  20. WAHa – that’s a part of it too, IMO. If she is experienced, then she has her own ideas about what sex us like, and I doubt ‘being humped until raw and splattered with semen’ is how most girls get off. And guess what the typical first time ero scene is apparently written as?

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  21. I think you guys are taking it a little too far in characterizing the insecure otaku.

    To say that insecure otaku prefer demure, weak girls (assuming they do in the first place) because they do not want to be threatened by a girl with an opinion is, I think, looking at it from the wrong angle.

    Consider that if an otaku is that insecure, he probably feels he has no chance with most women. Either that, or he associates more outgoing women with the world that has rejected him.

    It’s not healthy to be that insecure but it’s not about wanting to dominate a woman, it’s about being afraid to be emotionally vulnerable.

    This is why I say that moe at its core is about empathy, mainly in terms of flaws and weaknesses.

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  22. I would have to say the otaku has rejected the world more than it’s rejected him – especially as he sees HIMSELF as a victim rather than as a target of ridicule. And while moe has elements of empathy… I really don’t see it as being strictly about that, at least not with the way Nagi’s been targeted as ‘second hand’ goods. That attack based on her sexual experience, versus her simply being not as ‘pure’ as the viewer thought she was, sounds more to be based on foiled lust than a betrayal of the ‘moe’ that she’s supposed to embody.

    Especially if ‘moe’ means they HAVE to be virgin, versus ‘pure’ and ‘sweet’.

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  23. I still don’t really buy that there’s no connection between “pure” and “sweet” with “virgin.” It’s a package deal. Again, “used” or “second-hand” can be seen as just the antithesis of “sweet” or “pure.”

    /shrug.

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  24. Again, I’m not the one using language like second-hand – that’s why I think of the hate-on that’s shown up as being targeted on her sexuality being important because that means she’s not ‘fresh’. If it was just purely due to her ‘lack of purity’, there’d be different words used. It seems they’re taking her ‘purity’ thing far too personally for it to be merely ‘she’s not a real goddess on a mission of purification’.

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  25. BigN: neither. She’s a thousand years old and what she did was her own business unless she spent it laying a curse on my bloodline. I don’t focus on moe at all; she’s cute and childlike at times, but the whole blowup elsewhere is amusing due to the sheer idiocy displayed. If one could power homes with Internet flaming or stupidity…

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  26. > It’s not healthy to be that insecure but it’s not about wanting to dominate a woman, it’s about being afraid to be emotionally vulnerable.

    Yes, that is what exactly what I meant, actually. Perhaps it was not entirely clear.

    > This is why I say that moe at its core is about empathy, mainly in terms of flaws and weaknesses.

    It is, but it’s also worth noting that the kind of empathy that exists in moe is always fairly EASY. It’s sort of a cheap cop-out. It’s less about feeling empathy for a fellow human being (once again, this is illustrated especially by the wide array of non-human characters you’ll encounter in moe), and more about finding someone more pathetic than yourself so you can feel better about yourself while feeling sorry for them. Welcome to the NHK really is all about that part.

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  27. She’s still easily embarrassed in situations like that, but it’s clear that she’s had a physical relationship with Sasahara by that point, especially in the scene on the train in the park where Sasahara’s pants tighten at Ogiue’s sudden sensuality.

    Remember that she was the one trying to get HIM to kiss HER.

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  28. so… you have reason… thanks dude for answer…. i would like the anime finish with the manga T_T. ogiue is my favorite character in this serie :D

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