I Have a Choco: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for February 2017

February might be Valentine’s Day Month, but how much I’ll actually discuss romance on the blog remains a mystery even to me!

Whatever the situation, I know that if I were in Japan, I’d be giving giri choco to my Patreon sponsors.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Viga

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Given that this will be the tenth year of Ogiue Maniax, I decided last November to do a Genshiken series 1 re-read. I’ve started with Volume 1, and you should expect to see them come out every other month. (I would have said bi-monthly but that phrase can also mean “twice a month,” so…) I’ve already felt like I’m stepping back into a different world, so I’m looking forward to the next article too.

Speaking of Genshiken, I also wrote a little post comparing Kasukabe Saki to Love Live‘s Nishikino Maki. The latter’s cooldere attitude reminded me of Madarame’s fantasy version of the former.

Perhaps the most important post I’ve written this month is on the subject of butts in anime. In it, I detail increasing presence of large rears in Japanese animation, and put forth my own hypothesis on why this has occurred. The seeds of this post have been germinating in my head for a very long time, even before Ogiue Maniax ever began. If you want to see more content like this, let me know. I just hope it doesn’t take me another 10 years to write one!\

I was also sad to see the end of Soredemo Machi ga Mawatteiru aka And Yet the Town Moves. It’s a very unique series in a lot of ways, and I look forward to seeing what the artist does next.

On the video game side, I’ve written a couple of posts thinking about what how players view competitive games, and what they can potentially do to both bring in a bigger audience and keep them from running away in fear.

As for this month’s Patreon-sponsored post, I looked at the subject of babies in anime and manga. My rating of babies is based on how much they make their parents suffer, I guess. If you have a subject you really, really want me to write about, it’s just a one-time $30 pledge.

If you’re wondering why I have it at that price, it’s just because I don’t necessarily want the blog to consist primarily of requests as opposed to my own ideas. That being said, I am considering maybe offering a poll with three or four topics that can be voted on with Patreon pledges. Is this an idea readers would be on board for?

Overall, I think this was a pretty solid month. I don’t have a wholly solid idea of what’s going to come next, but it might be a bit less review-heavy compared to this one.

 

 

 

 

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When Anime Babies Get Real

Babies in anime and manga serve many differing purposes. They can mark the passage of time, or a transition into a new stage in life. In series for young girls, they’re often a way for children to emulate their parents. Whether they’re a source of comedy, an adorable presence, and evil force in the world, the role of the baby is myriad and generally based on the audience being served. Among these varied works, the baby portrayal that tends to catch my attention the most are the ones that get a little “real.” These depictions aren’t necessarily trying to portray the entire baby-raising experience, but they will bring up the inherent difficulty in bringing up a small child. Even when they’re doing it for laughs, there is a sort of sobering effect that can potentially apply to all ages and demographics.

s2e4hana The first baby that comes to mind is Hana in Ojamajo Doremi. In the second season of the magical girl franchise, titled Ojamajo Doremi ♯ (“Sharp”), elementary school girl Doremi receives a magical witch baby from a tree. From one season to the next, she and the other girls take care of her. In many similar series, such as Doki Doki! Precure, the baby is often just there for cuteness factor, or maybe to sell a few baby-themed toys. Doremi plays it differently.

s2e4haruka

In one episode, Doremi, generally a clumsy girl, is having immense trouble taking care of Hana. She gets so frustrated by it, and the fact that the other girls are scolding her for doing a poor job, that she runs home to her mom looking for comfort and understanding. Instead, her mom slaps her (off-screen), and basically says, “If you get hurt, you just feel bad. If there’s no one to take care of Hana, it’s a matter of life and death.” In that moment, Doremi’s mom makes a crystal-clear point about how literally helpless an infant is, as well as the responsibility and strength absolutely required for their sake. Hana still acts the part of the precious anime baby, but even as a burgeoning witch with immense magical powers, reality sets in.

However, if we’re talking harsh depictions of the mental and physical toll babies can take on their parents, then one need look no further than Jigopuri: The Princess of the Hell. A short, two-volume manga by the author of Genshiken, Kio Shimoku, Jigopuri follows a young widowed mother named Ayumi and her newborn child, Yumeko. In contrast to the older characters, who all have a more typical moe look, Yumeko is drawn strangely hyper-realistically. The manga portrays raising Yumeko as a harrowing experience. Ayumi occasionally wishes ill on her own daughter due to the stress she causes, and feels immensely guilt over it. In one chapter, as Ayumi attends a meeting for new mothers, she finds out that others occasionally look at their children with disdain as well, which gives her immense joy and relief.

Unlike Doremi, which targeted an audience of young girls presumably into the idea of playing pretend-mama, Jigopuri ran in a magazine targeting adult otaku, Monthly Afternoon  which might be why it wasn’t terribly successful. It’s just not the kind of thing otaku are expected to know or care about. I find it kind of funny that a series targeting small children could deliver a serious message about raising children and then go on for two-three more years, while adult men rejected a similar message.

Nevertheless, I think that attempt to confront a reluctant or perhaps ignorant audience of certain truths or circumstances is what I find appealing about the “real” baby, even if seeing an infant girl with invisibility powers as per JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 4 garners more laughs. In fact, I think of Spotted Flower, another Kio Shimoku manga about an otaku and his pregnant wife (who gives birth in the second volume) is kind of a do-over of Jigopuri. Even though it runs in more of a josei magazine, Rakuen: Le Paradis, it’s a compromise of sorts. Perhaps just as Hana is a magical baby with fun powers, having an otaku father can settle it into a more comfortable place.

This post was sponsored by Johnny Trovato. If you’re interested in submitting topics for the blog, or just like my writing and want to support Ogiue Maniax, check out my Patreon.

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Moe Anime Girl Gets Pregnant, Has Baby – Jigopuri Volume 1

Kio Shimoku is a manga author who is best known for his work on the 9-volume Genshiken series, about the members of a college anime/manga club. It’s personally my favorite manga series ever. It may come as a surprise then to know that Kio’s latest manga, Jigopuri: The Princess of the Hell, concerns itself with a topic normally far-removed from that of watching anime: Teen Pregnancy.

Well, not teen pregnancy per se, but it does center around a widowed 18 year old mother and her newborn child. The mother is Okiura Ayumi, her daughter is Okiura Yumeko, and living with them is Ayumi’s twin sister Hino Kaname. The raising and nurturing of young Yumeko, who is less than one week old when we first see her, is the central focus of Jigopuri, and the manga’s approach to a topic which is incredibly common in the real world but incredibly rare in comics is rather unique.

Despite its realistic tone and content, the art style of Jigopuri is closer to that of Kujibiki Unbalance than it is Genshiken, and it might be difficult to reconcile the fact that doe-eyed moe anime girls are discussing topics such as diaper-changing and the unbearable stress that comes part and parcel with raising a newborn. What can be even more jarring is the fact that Yumeko is drawn in a rather realistic style, more closely resembling a photograph than a kawaii anime infant.

No, Yumeko is not an ideal entertainment baby who is ten parts adorable and one part cuddles. She is a wrinkly, crying, pooping baby who needs attendance at all times because she’s a baby. Everything revolves around this fact, from the deliberately slow pacing of story (chapters generally span only a single day) to the way it handles all of its seemingly incongruous artistic elements, and understanding why Yumeko is portrayed in this manner is the key to understanding Jigopuri.

From the start, Jigopuri puts a young, inexperienced mother with no time or desire for romance in the spotlight, and in doing so makes Ayumi, and by extension the whole of Jigopuri, into something partially meant to stand against the tide of common trends seen in moe anime and manga. Although Ayumi at times feels helpless, it is never because she can’t do anything, but rather because she does so much. That doesn’t mean Jigopuri condemns moe, but it does remove much of the glamor and fetishism that accompanies many tropes of modern anime and manga. Nowhere is this more evident than in the comic’s portrayal of breasts.

As one might expect out of Jigopuri, breastfeeding occurs frequently, but the sight of an attractive woman exposing her large, shapely breasts (with nipples shown) begins to lose its erotic appeal once you are made aware of how inevitably their appearance is attached to the shrill cry of Yumeko as she wakes a sleep-deprived Ayumi up in the middle of the night. After a while, you begin to really feel for Ayumi, as you think to yourself, “She has to take out her breasts again?” And further cementing this un-fetishizing is the fact that Ayumi’s breasts are visibly veiny, an effect achieved through smart use of screen tones, and an indicator that these are not the idealized breasts you’d see in other works willing to show them with the same frequency as Jigopuri.

That’s Jigopuri as of Volume 1, and I really do recommend it, though I understand it’s not for everyone. Its cutesy art style combined with its realistic content can throw people off quite a bit, but if you can read Japanese or if it comes out in English, I think you should give it a chance.

A common sight in Jigopuri is a tired and weary Ayumi with deep bags underneath her eyes, a sign that each day wears on her even if she truly loves her daughter.