Deep in the Tiger’s Den is a Het Pairing: Sasuke × Sakura’s Doujinshi Popularity

When I traveled to Japan this past May, one of my activities was to visit various doujin shops such as Toranoana. I like to see what’s popular, to get a general image of trends among hardcore fans. Which titles are popular? Which characters? Which pairings? And unlike doujin events, where many artists release their own works more for passion than profit, Toranoana is about what sells.

In Akihabara, this means going to multiple Toranoana stores, each of which specialize in a certain demographic. One in particular is devoted to girls (though nothing prevents guys from entering and shopping there), and as expected it’s primarily filled with BL.

However, one major exception was actually Naruto. In a relatively small yet dedicated section, surrounded by guy-guy pairings in most every other title, heterosexual romance took to the majority of the Naruto shelf. Of those couples, Sakura × Sasuke was by far the most popular.

I’m not against Sasuke × Sakura by any means, but I have to wonder why does it hold such a special place among hardcore female anime and manga fans. Why is it to the point that other het pairings are outshone, and the normally dominant BL pairings fade into the distance in this one ninja-themed microcosm?

One thing I discovered while searching for reasons is that Sasuke × Sakura is perhaps the most popular straight romantic pairing in English-speaking Naruto fandom, and visibly popular among Japanese fans. Given that context, it might just be the case that its sheer prominence is able to overcome even the fujoshi hegemony of the girls’ doujin scene.

Perhaps one factor is that Sakura is an easy target for female readers to project themselves onto. She’s also closer to the two most important characters in the manga than anyone else. However, given that fujoshi popularity is usually based on the strength of the pairing itself than the individual characters, it makes me skeptical about Sasuke × Sakura being an exception, even if it is a heterosexual ship.

From what I’ve read, a common reason fans support Sakura is her sense of loyalty towards Sasuke. She’s willing to support him through thick and thin, and even oppose him when she feels he needs it. The scene where Sakura tries to stop Sasuke from leaving to join Orochimaru appears to have been a flashpoint for supporters and haters of Sasuke × Sakura, because the former saw Sasuke’s “thank you” and knocking Saa away as him reluctantly pushing away those he cares about, while the latter saw it as an example of Sasuke showing flat, platonic fondness at best. Given the actual outcome of the series—Sakura and Sasuke married and had a child—the fans clearly won out, with Sasuke’s behavior best described as “reliably angsty.” Even as husband and wife, Sasuke’s #1 gesture to show affection is to tap Sakura on the forehead, and then disappear for months or years on end, undergoing secret missions to protect his family Andy his village.

Sasuke × Sakura reigns strong as a premiere het pairing, and I’m not bothered one bit. If any fans would like to help me understand the SasuSaku mind further, feel free to comment!

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Back from the Future: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for June 2018

I’m back after an exciting honeymoon in Tokyo. It was a grand ol’ time full of food and nerdery, and also spending way too much money on otaku goods. For example, I actually bought all of Heartcatch Precure! on DVD—albeit at a huge discount. (I promise I didn’t just do Precure-related things, honest.)

I’m happy to answer (most) questions about staying in Japan to the best of my ability, so send ’em in!

But before that, I’d like to thank my sponsors on Patreon and Ko-fi.

A big thank you too…

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

I still had some posts go up even while I was away, so here are my favorite posts from May:

Darling in the Franxx and Choice in a Sexual Dystopia

Some people think the show is greatness itself, while others think it’s hyper trash. Here are some of my thoughts.

Project Z Revived! “Hakai-oh – Gaogaigar vs. Betterman Part 1” Novel Review

My review of the latest Gaogaigar light novel, which is actually the long-awaited sequel to Gaogaigar Final!

“Flukes”: Competitive Rigor vs. Sustainability in Esports

How important is grabbing an audience vs. absolute competitive integrity in esports?

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 4 continues the kooky sense of almost-camaraderie.

Patreon-Sponsored

Gamblers’ Paradise: “Uma Musume: Pretty Derby”

My feelings on the new horse girl-themed anime and the expected franchise surrounding it.

Closing

As you might expect, I plan to have a ton of blog posts concerning my trip to Japan. It won’t be a full on travelogue, but I plan to have reviews of doujin events, reviews of series I picked up, and more. Who knows? Maybe it’ll even bleed into July!

My Visit to the Genshiken University

chuo-curve

A geek voyage to Japan typically involves trips to the various otaku mecca strewn across the country. From shopping areas such as Akihabara and Den Den Town to sites found in anime such as Lucky Star and Inari Kon Kon Koi Iroha, otaku pilgrimages are a special way to appreciate Japanese pop culture (and support them financially through tourism in the process). For me, there was one place that I needed to pay my respects to on a trip to Japan: the university campus upon which Genshiken is based.

Before proceeding, I have to thank this site for the information on how to get to the university, as well as showing important spots in the first place. The photos they took are also much better than mine, so if you want really good reference material that’s the place to go.

chuo-animeclub

While the actual Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture is based on a club at Tsukuba University in Ibaraki, the actual campus of the fictional Shiiou University is based on Chuo University’s Tama Campus. This is made immediately obvious by the Chuo University sign adorning one of the campus’s buildings.

chuo-outside

The real main event is the club area, where the Genshiken club itself would be located if it were real. The building is constructed in an interesting oval shape with an open court in the center, which gives it a distinct appearance. The windows of the two sides of the club building face each other, which is how the members of Genshiken set up their doujin traps to break down willpower in their new members, and how they first noticed Ogiue jumping out of the Manga Society window.

chuo-hallway

Upon entering the club building, it is immediately noticeable how well-worn it is as an environment for students. Remnants of flyers new and old adorn the walls, and produce a strong sense of history. Given my club experience back in undergraduate, I wish we had a place like this to share in the club experience. Though the building was fairly empty at the time, there were definitely signs of life. The first thing I heard was the wails of a death metal vocalist in training, which I assumed came from a Heavy Metal Research Society or something similar.

chuo-posters chuo-mangasociety

chuo-folkdanceclub

chuo-mangacreationclub

chuo-senkisociety

Looking at the flyers themselves showed just how spread out otaku interests could be. From what I could tell, the many clubs included a Animation Research Society, an Anime and Manga Research Society, a Manga Research Society, a Manga Creation Research Society, a Voice Actor Appreciation Society, an Idol Appreciation Society, and an Idol Games Research Society. Many clubs also utilize cute manga characters such as the Folk Dance Research Society and the War Chronicle Research Society. Signs advertising different circles for different doujin events could also be found throughout the building.

chuo-genshikendoor

I eventually arrived at the door where I believe Genshiken’s club room would be located. Though I anticipated some kind of signage to indicate this fact, there was nothing of the sort. The only things that could be found were scraps of paper taped to the wall, with no clear marker as to what club might currently be using the room.

Though I think this shows that Genshiken is nowhere near as big as, say, Love Live! or Lucky Star, and I do wish that it was known enough that some kind of signage would be present to point fans of the best manga series to its source material, it is perhaps for the best. The club building at Chuo University’s Tama Campus still has the feeling of truly being used and handed down by generations of students, which is now an even more solidified theme of Genshiken with Nidaime currently being published.

On a final note, back in 2005 when I originally visited Japan, I went to the Tama Zoo. located near the Tama Campus. Not long after I left Japan, Sasahara and Ogiue had their first date at a zoo. I strongly believe that the Tama Zoo is where they went, though I of course at the time could not know that it would become a pilgrimage site for Genshiken fans; I couldn’t predict the future, after all! However, I am taking the liberty to consider this a retroactive visit to an important Genshiken locale, partly because it makes me feel better.

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Awesome Manga Artist Autographs: Comic Store Wonderland in Osaka

wonderland-shoujofight

In many big anime/manga stores in Japan, there are signed images from notable manga authors. Often times, you’re not allowed to photograph them, so they can’t really be shared with the rest of the world. One notable exception is Wonderland in Osaka’s Den Den Town (sort of the Kansai equivalent of Akihabara), where employees gave me free rein.

This gallery includes a number of highlights from Wonderland, so see if you can spot your favorites. However, it doesn’t show all of the ones at the store. If you have the chance, go there in person to see the rest!

By the way, the image above is by Nihonbashi Yoko, who I recently discovered through the manga Shoujo Fight. What a coincidence!

If you liked this post, consider becoming a sponsor of Ogiue Maniax through Patreon. You can get rewards for higher pledges, including a chance to request topics for the blog.

Japan: Opportunities to Give and Consider

A number of sites have cropped up in the wake of the 8.9~9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan last Friday and the ensuing tsunami and nuclear scare with the purpose of uniting anime fans to donate to Japan. Certainly a noble cause, but one that I have honestly not felt entirely comfortable with, just because I don’t want it to be “about” being an anime fan.

I have benefited greatly from anime and manga. It has been a great source of entertainment, comfort, self-realization, and even one of the reasons I currently have an unbelievably wonderful job. I studied in Japan because of a love of animation, and I continue to make friends in Japan because of that passion. But before I could donate as an anime fan or an anime blogger, I had to do so as a human being.

However, I realized that it’s not my place to tell people “why” they should donate, or even if they should be donating at all. I have my reasons for acting as I have, and I know that the folks running these donation drives have the best intentions at heart. The more opportunities the better, and I can at least provide people with links to donate, whether you want to do it as an anime fan, an anime blogger, or just a person who wants to help.

Anime Fans Give Back to Japan: They’re doing a 24-hour podcast tomorrow, March 19th, starting at 6pm EST. They have a number of fans, podcasters, and even industry professionals lined up to show their support.

Crunchyroll Japan Earthquake Donation Fund: The biggest streaming site for anime promises to match donations.

Anime and Manga Bloggers for Japan: They’ve got two donations going, one for Shelter Box, and one for Doctors Without Borders, a self-explanatory group that I first came to know due to their distribution of Plumpy Nut to combat malnutrition in Africa. That’s not exactly the problem here, but I think it says a lot about their mission.

Japan Society: 100% of donations go straight to helping Japan.

Red Cross

UNICEF

Lastly, a lot of artists have been creating work in response to the earthquake, and as much as I have neglected that side of myself, I felt my hand moving on its own when put in front of a piece of lined paper and given a writing tool to work with. It’s not exactly a clear-cut “Pray for Japan” image, but it definitely comes from the heart.

Hope They’re Okay

I do not have any relatives in Japan, and I’m grateful for that. No need to worry in that regard.

But I do have friends living in Japan, people I’ve met both in real life and online. I’m not sure if this qualifies as irony, but whereas the folks I know primarily through the internet I can more easily find through those channels (or at least try to), the people I met in real life first are the people I have less chance of contacting. Whether it’s through changing e-mail addresses or just lack of contact over time, I have people whom I would call friends who are probably in Japan right now and I have no idea if they’re okay or not, and I have no way of ever finding out. Part of me regrets my own lack of initiative to try and keep up with them in the first place.

It reminds me of the first time I ever ate udon and onigiri, at a small Japanese restaurant in the World Trade Center, back in about 1999 or so. The udon was amazing as far as I could tell with my limited experience, and the onigiri were $2 per ball and absolutely gigantic. I never really got to know the owners or anything, so when 9/11 hit I found myself wondering whether or not the people working there made it out okay. Of course, I have no way of ever knowing.

I do not have any amazingly close ties to Japan. I’m not going to lose much sleep over it. But I do hope my friends are okay.

Bikes and More Bikes

I was looking at my old photos from my time in Japan in 2005 when I came across this one. Looking back, it’s probably the best photo I took, and so I’ve included it here.

I’m normally a terrible photographer so the fact that this one came out well at all is mere coincidence.