The Fujoshi Files 111: Kaminaga

Name: Kaminaga (神永)
Alias: N/A
Relationship Status: Engaged
Origin: Genshiken: The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture II

Information:
The former de facto leader of her high school art club’s fujoshi contingent, Kaminaga is a skilled artist and consistently “rotten”-minded woman. She shares an unusual relationship with Genshiken member Hato Kenjirou, as she is not only engaged to Hato’s brother Yuuichirou, but Hato now crossdresses in a manner where he becomes nearly the spitting image of Kaminaga. Hailing from Niigata prefecture, her fiancee is extremely “normal” while still being aware of Kaminaga’s fujoshi side. Kaminaga insists that Hato call her “big sister,” and tries to dispense advice albeit from her BL-loving perspective.

Fujoshi Level:
Kaminaga may be the most powerful fujoshi in all of Genshiken. Not only does she pair her fiancee with his own younger brother, but she was able to immediately spot who reacted at “appropriate” levels (Ogiue and Hato) upon hinting at this concept. In addition, she was more than willing to spend an evening drinking with Yuuichirou and his former judo teammates just so she could watch a group of burly men wrestle around.

AdviceFujoshi: Genshiken II, Chapter 94

Hato is back home in order to try and sort out his feelings. Kaminaga and Hato’s brother Yuuichirou are there too, and though Kaminaga (who now insists of being called “sister”) does her best to give advice to Hato about Madarame, her fujoshi brain interferes with her words and intent quite a bit. Eventually, thanks to a meeting with Konno and Fuji, Hato realizes that his feelings for Madarame mean he doesn’t want to leave Genshiken, and resolves to head back to Tokyo.

Chapter 94 is the first time in Genshiken that we’ve actually seen a character’s hometown life elaborated upon to this extent. Sure, there have been flashbacks, like Ogiue in junior high or Madarame discovering doujinshi for the first time, but ask yourself this: how many of the characters’ parents have we seen? The answer is just Hato’s.

Hato’s thought process shows that part of his turmoil is his desire to try and justify his own feelings, to try and compartmentalize everything internal into a consistent emotional map. It doesn’t appear to be a matter of latent homophobia, and if I had to venture a guess it might have more to do with trying to defy his past reputation when gossip spread about him reading yaoi and his classmates constantly made reference to how gay he is. It reminds me of a documentary I watched recently where a girl raised by two gay men talked about how she spent most of her life strongly insisting she was 100% heterosexual as a way of fighting back against the people who assumed that gay men would inevitably raise gay children, but eventually realized she was bisexual. Of course, I don’t know if Hato’s situation is quite the same, but I sense similarities. Kaminaga’s advice to essentially not sweat the small stuff, albeit filtered through her fujoshi self, is perhaps the moral of this chapter.

Kaminaga has grown on me more with this chapter. Her new hairstyle (did she dye it or un-dye it?) gives her a real “classical Japanese beauty” look reinforced by panels like the one above, which then clashes heavily with her ever-“rotten” personality. It’s an interesting contrast, and when I think more about it, the fact that Kaminaga is the way she is but has married (or is about to marry? it’s not entirely clear) a super normal guy in Yuuichirou speaks to something a bit different from the other relationships in Genshiken, even Kohsaka and Kasukabe’s. I think it’s because Yuuichirou and Kasukabe are different kinds of “normal.” One is a straight and narrow type, the other is socially successful, and it speaks to how “normal” is a kind of spectrum in itself.

Being Konno is suffering. Her own feelings for Hato turn this into a kind of love triangle, but Hato doesn’t even realize she likes him, and the fact that her advice of “if it’s causing you so much suffering, why not leave the club?” actually helps Hato realize that, yes, he does like Madarame after all. Not too long ago I wrote that a common form of moe we see is a normal life filled with a series of tiny tragedies, and I think that describes Konno’s situation quite well. I can only imagine how Konno would slide further into despair if she knew the person Hato likes is a guy. After all, when Konno originally learned about Hato’s crossdressing, she assumed that her responsibility as the root of all the gossip that had spread about Hato in high school had actually turned him gay, in turn sabotaging her own chances at romance. Of course, this isn’t resolved yet and Hato x Konno might actually become a thing in the end.

The best moment of the chapter in my opinion comes at the very end. We find Kaminaga drunkenly watching Yuuichirou and his old judo club buddies grapple each other under the influence of alcohol, clearly enjoying the fantasies inspired by reality. It’s unclear to what extent the redness of her face is due to alcohol versus perversion. Juxtaposed on the page next to a reference to a Whisper of the Heart reference (for Hato) and a Samurai Troopers reference (for Kaminaga’s own entertainment), it encapsulates her character pretty much perfectly, the manga panel equivalent of a bumper sticker saying “801 Fujoshi 4 Life.”

For any enterprising business folk, that one’s for free.

Speaking of business, Kio’s comments this month are about how Sue is a DLC skin for Akihabara’s Trip, a game where you search through Akiba and find witches by stripping them. Questionable qualities of the game aside, Sue is somehow incredibly appropriate for this, and would probably make the proper Those Who Hunt Elves and Doki Doki Majo Shinpan! references to boot.

Powerful Genshiken Second Season Episode 10

Mysteries melt away this episode! Covering chapters 76 and 77, it’s one of the more significant parts of the whole series.

In previous episode reflections (a better term than review I now realize), I mentioned how elements from the manga were cut and shifted, sometimes for thematic consistency within an episode, but more often because the Nidaime anime clearly has a particular end goal in mind. With Episode 10, we’re finally able to see whether or not this “cutting of the fat” has paid off, more or less. It already began with the previous episode to an extent, but this is when the revelations truly begin, and it’ll continue into the next episode too.

In this regard, I think that Episode 10 is probably the strongest one of the season so far. Whether it’s because of Mamiko’s excellent performance as Kaminaga, the portrayal of the way Hato’s denial/hiding of his inner self to others weighs heavily on him, Konno’s amazing facial expressions, or some combination of the three, I think that this episode communicates all of the complex emotions which make up Genshiken. The manga chapters were already great and enlightening, and the adaptation does them justice. In some cases, it even makes things clearer. One example is when Hato sees his brother driving with Kaminaga, with the clear implication being romance. In the manga, Yuuichirou’s expression is kind of ambiguous, but in the anime you can clearly see him smiling. It wasn’t necessary, but it helps communicate that information more overtly.

When I say good adaptation, though, I don’t simply mean that it’s accurate or 1:1 in terms of elements. The anime added an additional thing about Kaminaga moving in with Hato and his brother, but in the manga Hato lives on his own in an apartment far from the university so that he can maintain both his BL and crossdressing. They even visited it in one chapter, which was cut from the anime. The original manga also shows that Konno had dyed her hair in between high school and college, while the anime has always been brunette. It doesn’t impact the story much, but it is curious.

Yamamoto Nozomi also probably puts out some of her best Ogiue performance as well this episode. I still give the edge to Mizuhashi, but Yamamoto really displays a sense of Ogiue, particularly her delivery of Ogiue saying that turning your own boyfriend into BL material is “normal.” It really gives off the vibe that this is an area where Ogiue has not only a lot of experience, but a lot of history, while also showing how far Ogiue has come from her previous self.

I really like how the anime took the scene of Sue mimicking Rei from Fist of the North Star from the manga and added the after-images and laser lines from Fist of the North Star‘s anime. Basically, the anime adaptation of Genshiken enhanced its portrayal of a manga scene parodying a famous manga by utilizing the iconic effects from that famous manga’s own adaptation. The Crunchyroll subs do not make the reference obvious: Sue says, “Nanto Kyuukyoku Ougi!” and likely the translator either misheard or didn’t even hear the “Nanto” part.

One of the categories in the Fujoshi Files is “Fujoshi Level,” which is a not-so-serious way of describing just how polluted the mind of a particular character can be. While I actually don’t create specific rankings and try to give just a general impression in them, here you could see an obvious hierarchy: Kaminaga is off the deep end, Ogiue is right behind her along with Hato, and Konno and Fuji are definitely not as powerful. It makes me want to perhaps write up a full Fujoshi/Fudanshi Tier List one of these days.

It’s Been a While: Genshiken Second Season Episode 9

I’ve been away for the last couple of weeks so it’s time to do some catchup! Episode 9 covers Chapters 74 and 75. Also, there’s quite a bit of cosplay in this episode, and luckily for me a Japanese blogger Renko’s already laid out all of the references.

Sue = Meruru (Atelier Meruru)

Ohno = Asama Tomo (Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere)

Yoshitake = Inahime (Samurai Warriors)

Sawatari = Kunoichi (Samurai Warriors)

Fukuda = Okuni (Samurai Warriors)

Mimasaka = Leia Rolando (Tales of Xillia)

Yajima = Hirano Kouta (Highschool of the Dead)

Kuchiki = Matsudaira Katakuriko (Gintama)

The sheer amount of Ogiue content in this episode makes me happy, just as it did with the manga. You can really see her take center stage at least in the first half of the episode, and the sheer range of facial expressions that are not coming from deep anger and frustration is quite satisfying. There’s also something hilarious about Sasahara essentially roleplaying as a fictional version of himself.

Speaking of Sasahara, the new voices at this point are old news, but I have to remark that Sasahara’s voice really throws me off. It’s like his old voice was just the perfect shade of average that anything else sounds odd. Moreover, Sasahara doesn’t appear often enough for me to get used to him.

When it comes to adapting from manga to anime, I thought the decision to turn Yoshitake’s exposition into a Star Wars-esque text scroll was clever and properly captured the incessantly convoluted nature of her plot. The manga conveys this through the sheer amount of text in Yoshitake’s word bubble, but obviously that doesn’t fly in the animated format. Interestingly, when Yajima hits Yoshitake with the manga, you can see that it’s a Monthly Afternoon (the magazine Genshiken runs in), with its most famous and longest-running title Aa! Megami-sama on the spine.

(Seriously, Oh My Goddess! is still running).

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is the whole gendered pronouns thing (whether to refer to Hato as a “he” or a “she”), and while Japanese doesn’t typically use gendered pronouns the way English does, perhaps a comparison could be done between which characters refer to Hato as “Hato-kun” and which use “Hato-chan.” Those aren’t strictly gender-divided (guys can be referred to with -chan and girls with -kun), but it may speak to how they personally see Hato.

In the end, of all the things to happen in this episode, I especially hope people are enjoying the new characters’ old friends. Mimasaka comes across as the most shy and awkward of possibly any character in Genshiken (with her voice actor doing quite a good job showing this). You can also actually hear Yajima slipping into an accent when talking with Mimasaka, which is again a nice touch for the anime. I also have to wonder if Konno’s massive saucer eyes in the opening had people wondering just who she is. She doesn’t appear much, but she pretty much became my favorite of the new Nidaime characters just from her expressions. Given that Ogiue also had fantastic facial expressions, that might just be more indicative of my tastes than anything else.

As for Kaminaga’s debut, I find Noto Mamiko’s performance to be pretty spot-on with what I imagined.

The Incredible Kaminaga: Genshiken II, Chapter 77

In Chapter 77 of Genshiken II, we learn that while many fujoshi are strong, but Kaminaga may be Strongest of All.

The cat’s out of the bag as Kaminaga learns that Hato occasionally dresses up as her doppelganger, but as much as Ogiue downplays it as coincidence, and as much as Hato’s old classmate Konno mentions that it’s because of Hato’s crush, Kaminaga has other ideas entirely. Presented with an older brother and a younger brother who dresses up like the elder’s girlfriend (and now fiancee), Kaminaga creates the pairing of Yuu x Ken, or Hato’s older brother and himself. This is made all the more outrageous by the fact that she herself is the girlfriend.

Kaminaga throws out the tough questions pertaining to Hato’s sexuality. She brings up the possibility that he might be bisexual, and also the fact that his stance of “I’m not gay but I like yaoi” is similar to the BL trope of “I’m not gay, I just love you in particular.” As Kaminaga presses the question and asks if there’s a guy Hato knows who fits that situation, Madarame shows up, though Hato’s feelings about him are still left ambiguous. Instead, Hato mentions that everything’s fine, because he has plenty of friends, male and female, who know and accept him.

I’ve previously written about how the new Genshiken members in a way resemble Kohsaka in terms of the way they’re able to combine style with their very otaku mindsets, but I feel that, more than any other, including the attractive Angela and Ohno, that Kaminaga comes closest to the idea of a “female Kohsaka.” The ways in which she so unashamedly displays her delusions, especially to a guy she just met (Hato’s brother in the previous chapter’s flashback) and eventually turned him into a lover stands in stark contrast to the complexes that the other girls have about mixing fujoshi lifestyles with significant others. Ohno has Tanaka, but Kaminaga was able to get a decidedly non-otaku boyfriend for the long-term. When you think about Kaminaga that way, her sheer confidence and simultaneous ability to not compromise her compromised mindset is a kind of inspiration.

As we learn more and more about Hato’s past and set up his potential future, I feel that part of his purpose in the story is to “challenge.” Somewhat like how Ogiue flipped the story of Genshiken upside down, Hato really pushes the envelope in terms of assumptions about the club and how otaku behave and the like. The amount of Hato x Mada material in this chapter brings up certain questions about the nature of Genshiken II, and it reminds me of the fact that the new series is more than different enough from the original to seem somewhat alien to those who may have enjoyed the previous iteration.

I’m not referring just to Madarame’s rather confused feelings, but also the way the series has given him what in another work would have been some kind of “awesome harem” but in this case is an exercise in confusion and mixed emotions. While pining for Saki (still), he’s been growing a friendship with a very convincing crossdresser, gets kissed on the cheek by one American girl, and almost gets a full on boob grab on the other American girl.

Speaking of Sue’s “attack,” it’s a reference to Rei from Fist of the North Star.

Have I ever mentioned before how nicely Kio draws the blondes’ eyelashes in the new Genshiken? He out of his way to show only their outline instead of simply using black like he did previously, and it gives them a kind of mysterious quality. Aesthetically it’s quite pleasing, though perhaps it emphasizes their foreignness a little too much? I’m not exactly sure how I feel about it other than that I like the way it ends up looking.

Actually, when you think about Kuchiki and his accidental swipe at Risa’s chest in a previous chapter, which he did while totally unconscious from being choked out by Hato and thus unable to remember, or even the way the older Yoshitake was denied the privilege of seeing Hato come out of the shower, it seems like the series likes to mess with which characters get to have things happen on-panel. The rest of the actual sexual interaction, as we know, happens, it’s just that it’s never really shown. It’s that kind of manga.

As for Ogiue, this isn’t one of her chapters, but the mere fact that she refers to using one’s own boyfriend for yaoi source material as “normal” is rather amusing, and in its own way another sign of significant change within her. Could you have imagined the old Ogi half-admitting that she’s doing the very same thing on a regular basis, and on top of that is calling it normal?

Anyway, next time is Saki time. Watch out.

Amazing Fantasy: Genshiken II, Chapter 76

If last chapter was crazy, this one is downright mental.Genshiken II, Chapter 76 is the origin of one Hato Kenjirou, and what an origin it turns out to be.

After the truth of Hato’s identity is revealed by his former senpai and doppelganger Kaminaga, Hato tells everyone the story of his high school trauma. As has been previously revealed, Hato was in his high school’s art club, which was populated by fujoshi. Though a fan of BL himself at that point he denied any interest, until one day he found himself alone in the art club with Kaminaga’s doujinshi lying there.

Taking it to the bathroom so as to avoid anyone walking in on him reading, his classmate Konno found out about it and completely misinterprets the “reading it in the bathroom” aspect in a way that probably most people would. Konno told her fellow club members, who spread the rumor through the school and Hato became “that homo.” To rub more salt in, upon graduation Kaminaga, who Hato seem to have had a crush on, ends up dating Hato’s older brother, Yuuichirou.

And it looks like there’s going to be more next chapter! Not quite a flashback perhaps, but something.

Honestly, I am completely surprised they revealed Hato’s background so soon into the run of the new Genshiken. While it probably makes sense given that it’s been something like 19 chapters at this point, I always thought they would save something like that for a much later period. Thankfully the origin of Hato is a solid one. It’s the degree of trauma that would most certainly make life miserable for Hato, but not so miserable that he would end up like Ogiue, who had to deal with suicide and deep self-loathing.

Hato’s backstory is also fortunately supported by some really interesting characters. Truth be told, I was just a tiny bit concerned as to how Hato’s old classmates might turn out story-wise, but I’ve turned out pretty impressed. Kaminaga for one seems like a character with many layers to her. If there’s one word I would use to describe her, it’s perceptive.

Throughout this chapter, whether it’s pulling off Hato’s wig as he tries to throw off the girls by pretending to be someone else, or when she brings up the fact that Kuchiki mistook her for Hato “for some reason,” or even in the extended flashback, Kaminaga shows herself to be really smart and observant in a way that might even exceed Kasukabe. Probably the character most similar to her in Genshiken would be Yabusaki’s friend Katou. On top of the fact that she could talk so candidly with Hato’s brother about yaoi (in spite of the fact that Yuuichirou had zero knowledge about it) and then start dating him on top of that shows a new kind of fearlessness.

As great as Kaminaga turns out to be, however, I think Konno might actually be my favorite character of the new cast, and not just for her saucer eyes, though I find them to be hilarious. It’s quite clear that Konno had a crush on Hato all through high school and did not truly mean to make Hato’s life more difficult by spreading rumors. I think that Konno just had to confide in someone in order to deal with this problem, and I can imagine that Konno felt inferior to Kaminaga in both looks and talent, and to have the boy she likes have only eyes for her must have felt bittersweet. Moreover, the scene at the very end of the chapter where Konno now believes that she’s responsible for turning Hato into a full-on crossdressing homosexual makes you want to tell her everything will be okay.

Poor girl.

The biggest mystery that still remains is just why Hato dresses like Kaminaga most of the time, and while a less savory answer would have something to do with how she started going out out with his brother, I’m more inclined to believe that it’s because Hato, in transforming himself into the perfect fujoshi, saw Kaminaga as the ideal basis. With all of the positive attributes mentioned above, which includes physical appearance as well, it makes sense. The fact that Hato probably had feelings for her really puts an additional twist on the whole matter, but I’m inclined to believe that it still all relates to Kaminaga as the ideal girl (of sorts).

Another thing to consider is the fact that this chapter reveals that Hato can draw well, like when he copies from a still life. Perhaps Hato, who believes he can only imitate Kaminaga’s drawing style, might have more of an issue with trusting his own imagination?

So, not a ton of analysis compared to what I normally do this time around, but I am definitely looking forward to seeing what happens.

By the way, Genshiken Volume 12 goes on sale in Japan on June 22nd. There don’t seem to be any special editions, so I’m grateful I won’t be spending as much on it as I have the last two volumes.