The Fujoshi Files 69: Hiiragi Kagami

Name: Hiiragi, Kagami (柊かがみ)
Alias: Kagamin (かがみん), Hiiragii (ひーらぎー)
Relationship Status: Single
Origin: Lucky Star

Hiiragi Kagami is a high school student and the older sibling to her twin sister, Tsukasa. Along with their friends Izumi Konata and Takahara Miyuki, the four spend their days playing games and engaging in idle discussion. Generally confident and assertive, especially compared to Tsukasa, Konata refers to Kagami as a “tsundere,” though Kagami does not exhibit fully tsundere traits as such. Kagami is introduced to BL, as well as the world of doujinshi as a whole, when she assists Konata in a Comic Market run.

While Kagami is not really an otaku, she is an avid reader of light novels and enjoys playing video games, especially those in the fighting game genre, though she can be over-competitive. To Kagami’s chagrin, she is often not in the same class as her sister or their friends, though she does have some good friends in her class, namely Minegishi Ayano and the eccentric Kusakabe Misao.

Fujoshi Level:
Kagami is an absolute beginner to the world of the fujoshi. Teetering on the edge, her first experience involved her barely being able to resist buying a yaoi doujinshi.

The Fujoshi Files 17: Patricia Martin

Name: Martin, Patricia (パトリシア・マーティン)
Alias: Patty (パティー)
Relationship Status: Single
Origin: Lucky Star

Patricia Martin is an American high school student currently living in Japan. Referred to as Patty by friends, Patricia works part-time at a cosplay cafe in Akihabara, where she takes on the role of time traveler Asahina Mikuru from The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, opposite legendary female otaku Izumi Konata’s impersonation of the god-like Haruhi. The two get along quite well, even releasing a CD together.

While Patricia is friends with a fair number of her classmates, she is most often seen with fellow fujoshi Tamura Hiyori. An avid fan of Japanese anime and manga, Patricia’s view of Japan is largely shaped by her experiences as an otaku, a conception that Konata and to a lesser extent Hiyori are all too eager to reinforce. Of particular note is her relative ignorance in regards to historically significant Japanese landmarks when compared to her intimate knowledge of common otaku gathering sites, as well as the fact that her Japanese vocabulary has also been significantly influenced by anime and manga.

Fujoshi Level:
In addition to being a high-level otaku in general, Patricia Martin is enough of a fujoshi that she can easily sense when other fujoshi around her are utilizing their imaginations. Moreover, she bears little to no shame in being a fujoshi, which allows her to incorporate that side of her more readily into her everyday interactions with non-otaku.

Machinations of the Lyrical Fujoshi

A while ago when I was at Duet 35 Karaoke with cool dudes OGT and Hisui, I was perusing the catalog of anime songs, when the Lucky Star section caught my eye. Aside from the songs in Lucky Star that are not from Lucky Star, i.e. those initial ending themes, I noticed that there were only about three or four songs. And out of those handful of songs, one of them was “Mo, Mousou Machine,” one of the character songs of Lucky Star’s resident fujoshi, Tamura Hiyori.

Now I know that this is just one karaoke place, and so is not necessarily indicative of any greater trends, but isn’t it odd that of all the songs to be available, one of them would be a song that’s from 1) a minor character (which means her song is available over an image song from a main character) and 2) a fujoshi?

The first thing to understand about Duet Karaoke is that people can make requests to get songs into the system. It could be that Hiyori’s voice actor, Shimizu Kaori, is popular enough among whoever frequents Duet 35, but rarely do I see that happen, and when it does it’s usually because their voice actor is also known as a singer, which Shimizu is not. Then there’s the idea that this is anime karaoke and obscure songs get in all the time, but that’s not necessarily true either. A lot of obscure openings and endings are available, but not so much character or image songs, and in the case of “Mo, Mousou Machine,” the lack of other characters’ songs is suspicious. And in order for people to request such a song, they’d have to know about it, and the only way they’d know about it is if they’re aware of the Lucky Star Character Albums. In other words, they would have to be hardcore otaku. Another possibility is that it’s just a holdover from Japan and when the system was updated that was one of the songs included, but then I ask again, what about the other Lucky Star songs?

While I can’t say that this is some sort of fujoshi conspiracy (as a real fujoshi conspiracy would probably involve a greater increase in the number of songs from yaoi anime), I posit that whether it’s in NYC or in Japan, Hiyori enjoys a degree of popularity over most of the minor characters, and that it has to do with Hiyori’s status as a fujoshi. This is especially evident when the theme of her song “Mo, Mousou Machine” is taken into account, as the title of the song and the lyrics all point to the idea of a female anime fan who can’t help fantasizing. Of course that would require fans to know what the song is saying, but lyric translations are freely available on the internet anyway. The real culprit might even be male fans of Hiyori.

So if you’re a Hiyori fan, speak up! I want to know just how popular she is among the Lucky Star and greater anime fanbase.

While I can’t say that this is some sort of fujoshi conspiracy (as a real fujoshi conspiracy would probably involve a greater increase in the number of songs from yaoi anime),

Haruhi vs Lucky Star vs K-On!

No I am not pitting each cast of girls against each other to see who would win in a fight, but rather I want to talk about the ways in which these three shows differ beyond a superficial level. You’ll sometimes hear people say that Kyoto Animation’s about is all the same, and I will agree with them as far as saying that they know their audience, i.e. otaku, but when you actually watch these shows you will most likely get a different vibe from each one.

I won’t be discussing the Key adaptations because that’s another beast entirely.

With Haruhi, you’ll notice an air of mystery that permeates the show due to the supernatural aspects of it. Sometimes it’s more obvious, but other times simple actions can imply greater things, and it gives a certain sense of intrigue to the series. It’s still all about a bunch of high school kids hanging out and doing dumb things, but even the dumb things are given a sort of significance as a result of the setting. You can always feel that Haruhi is moving somewhere (right to what the light novels have already spoken about!).

Lucky Star is not just otaku pandering, it is active otaku pandering, and that’s also what makes the show enjoyable. More than either of the other two shows, Lucky Star asks if you’re an otaku, then asks one more time just to make sure, and then high fives you because you watch a lot of anime. In fact, Lucky Star probably does this more than any other show, but don’t think that all the humor is in-jokes with no setup; all I’m saying is that the show rewards otaku.

K-On! meanwhile does away with the pretenses of the other two and is simply about what it advertises: cute girls playing instruments and not being too obsessive about it. There are no undercurrents, no subtle themes at work here. At the same time, I wouldn’t call K-On a shallow anime, as the humor derives from the characters’ personalities very heavily, possibly more than Haruhi or Lucky Star.

All three shows feature groups of girls having fun, but the effects they have on the viewers will vary tremendously due to the inherent differences in each show. If you hate one show you might not necessarily hate the others, and if you do like all theree, there’s a good chance you’ll be liking them for different reasons.

Studying the Realism in the Fujoshi Character Design

Ever since the mid-2000s the fujoshi character has seen an increase in overall presence in anime and manga, as evidenced by my Fujoshi Files, an ongoing project where I catalogue fujoshi characters. While comparing various fujoshi characters, especially in seinen manga, I began to realize something interesting about their portrayal, and that is the fact that they are often the characters closest to how a Japanese girl would actually look: dark, straight hair, possibly wearing glasses.

There are series such as Genshiken and Zetsubou-sensei where the fujoshi characters having dark hair is not unusual given the rest of the cast also sporting dark hair. My discussion focuses on those shows where characters’ hair styles and colors tend to be the anime rainbow stereotype.

When you look at Lucky Star as a whole, you’ll see that bespectacled fujoshi Hiyori is the only female character to sport straight, dark hair. Contrast this with Konata, who is the biggest otaku in Lucky Star and her unrealistic blue hair. Patty, while a fujoshi, is an “American” character first, so she’s blonde. Again, I want to mention that Hiyori is the only example of a character with a realistic hair color and style mainly because of how much the rest of the cast isn’t. In a world where bright pastels rule hair colors, the fujoshi is the exception.

Similarly in Kannagi, Takako is also a dark-haired glasses-wearing fujoshi, though her hairstyle is arguably more unrealistic than most of the other characters. However, it cannot be argued that most of the rest of the cast, especially female characters, have hair colors that do not occur at all or much less commonly in reality among Japanese girls.

Meanwhile in Mousou Shoujo Otakukei (Fujoshi Rumi), the main character of Rumi also stands out as being much plainer than the other girl characters out there and even a lot of the guy characters. Part of this has to do with the fact that she is the main character and that this visual plainness is a part of the story being told, but it speaks to this desire to make her a more realistically accessible character even if it’s only at a shallow level at first.

“There’s plenty of characters who look like that who aren’t fujoshi!” you might be saying, and you’d be totally right. The dark-haired, straight-haired glasses girl predates the fujoshi character boom, and arguably falls into the same category as the “iinchou” class representative character. Adachi Hana from Yankee-kun to Megane-chan is a character who is actively trying to achieve that iinchou look, even going as far as to wear fake glasses. She also bears some resemblance to Asai Rumi from Mousou Shoujo. So in a sense, the author of Mousou Shoujo, Konjoh Natsumi, and the fictional character, Adachi Hana, are attempting to reach the same goal: design a character with the look of a realistic Japanese girl. The main difference of course is that the iinchou is characterized by an ultra-clean look and  responsibility, while the fujoshi is characterized by being somewhat disheveled and a tad irresponsible.

You might then be saying, “Ah, but that’s really how fujoshi look.” But then I have to ask, why is it that in these shows where all other characters are not beholden to reality that the fujoshi ends up being how fujoshi “actually look?” And why is this occurring in comics targeted towards guys?

Most other character types in moe or moe-ish anime tend to be fantastic versions of possible real-life people: childhood friends, reticent girls (tsundere), little sisters, etc. Everyone knows that little sisters in anime are rarely like actual little sisters, and even if you compared the imouto character in an h-game to an actual incestuous younger sister the two images would not line up. In this sense, a fujoshi character can be as unrealistic as the others but it is often the case that a certain sense of realism is desired in fujoshi characters in a manner different from other character types.

Looking back at tamagomago’s essay for which I provided a translation, one line in particular jumps out at me: “No matter how realistic it gets, it’s still a fantasy,” or in other words, no matter how realistic a female otaku character may be, they are still just a character in fiction. What this sentence implies is that there is to some degree a push to make female otaku characters have a sense of relatable realism, perhaps more than other character types, and fujoshi fall into this category by extension.

Perhaps the answer to the question of “why are there these realistic aspects in the fujoshi design” is that having a member of the opposite sex also be an otaku makes them more accessible, gives the male otaku a glimmer of hope brighter than previous. Also, by making them a fujoshi instead of just an otaku, a useful distinction is created. And of course, if applied to actual reality with real girls, it is not in itself a realistic goal as long as the male otaku does not confuse his image of 2d and 3d girls.

It’s Okay to Propagate the Idea that “Otaku Girls” are Moe, But…: The Aggression and Difficulty Inherent in Moe

Translator’s Introduction: This is a translation of a post by Tamagomago aka Makaroni-san for his blog, Tamagomagogohan. It’s a post talking about his feelings in regards to the moe-fication of female otaku by their male counterparts. Because it’s written in a somewhat casual style, I’ve altered the language in small parts to be a little less stiff. The paragraph formatting is different from the original, as I’ve tried to make it more friendly for English readers. Also, Tamagomago has a tendency to put key phrases into quotes, a property I’ve kept, though admittedly something gets lost in the translation.

There’s also the occasional meme or internet humor used by Tamagomago, and whenever that happens I’ve tried to find an English equivalent. Translation notes are at the bottom of this post.

In any case, please enjoy Tamagomago’s essay.


It’s Okay to Propagate the Idea that “Otaku Girls” are Moe, But…: The Aggression and Difficulty Inherent in Moe

I previously participated in the magazine Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenkyuu 3 (The Study of Modern Visual Culture Volume 3) with an interesting project titled “This is the Kind of Otaku Girlfriend I Want!”

Let me introduce it briefly.

In short, it’s a feature which in order to promote the concept of “Otaku Girl Moe” says things like, “Girls who are otaku are cute, aren’t they?” For instance, something like this.

“A girlfriend who will make a manga out of my embarrassing fantasies.”

…Does not exist! That’s what I think, but I’ve got to admit that when a situation like that is turned into a drawing, the result is dangerously cute. While there are a variety of complications inherent, there is definitely a strong emotion involved when a guy thinks, “Wow, she’s willing to go this far just for me?!”

But there’s no such thing. At all.

A girlfriend delivering a fervent speech about Sega.

Now this is possible. In fact, I’d like to have conversations this nice.
This is what I would call a good girlfriend. There’s no such thing as a bad person who likes Sega.

These sorts of anything-goes fantasies are the kinds of feelings I’m utilizing when drawing the “Portrait of an Otaku Girlfriend.” It’s not an artistic design, but rather one completely steeped in the kind of subculture that surrounds Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenkyuu, and I do feel it’s the right decision to make.

I consider it to be the right decision because its topic is difficult to really take “seriously” as it were. It would probably receive snickering comments along the lines of, “Whoa, I get it! It’s definitely a fantasy… but that’s okay, isn’t it?” That sort of thing.

That said, in truth I do like the “Otaku Girl” character.

I’m an otaku myself, and so I have no trouble speaking about this stuff, but that’s not what’s most important here. Instead, having someone who’s capable of completely immersing themselves in something, that is the real appeal of Otaku Girl characters.

Lucky Star‘s Konata, Kagami, and Hiyori. Doroko (Thundering High)’s Rin and Chouko. Rakkyou no Kawa (Shallot’s Skin)‘s Maki, Tsukiko, and Ms. Shiogama. Every character in Comic Party. And others still.

Seeing that Otaku Girl characters do actually exist, it then might be possible to have Otaku Girl characters that are “moe,” and can thus be looked upon with adoration. But with this “Otaku Girl Moe” concept you have a mountain of problems piled high up, acting as an obstacle. The “Otaku Girl Moe” genre is one where you just can’t quite get a proper foothold.

The reason is that there’s actually a kind of violent aspect connected with moe.

Hold on, I’m about to do some serious thinking.

From the Very Beginning, Some Went Down the Wrong Path

How female otaku became a topic of conversation is itself a conversation from long ago with no clear origin. However, one particularly important point at which the discourse changed was with the arrival of Genshiken.

With the introduction of Ohno and Ogiue, the topic of conversation became “Girls Who Like ‘BL.'”

The blunt and honest Ogiue is very cute.

The reason why we have someone like Ogiue, who has such a disagreeable and problematic personality, is of course to create in the story a character with whom the reader can easily relate and empathize. The core of Ogiue is that she’s a girl who with honesty and seriousness approaches life with everything she has.

Then there’s Ohno, who claims, “There’s no such thing as a girl who hates homos!”

Oh, of course it’s useless to actually accept them as real. THAT’S THE JOKE.

In one sense, I feel that the idea that “Female otaku go through life giving all they’ve got despite their suffering” has really picked up, and it’s something that’s being drawn quite often now as a result. Genshiken is a splendid work. But we must never forget that, in the end, we’re talking about “manga” here.

No matter how realistic it gets, it’s still a fantasy.

I don’t really think there’s many people who will tell me, “Hey that goes without saying,” but I want to point out that it does not, in fact. As proof, three years ago there was a misunderstanding by the media, and from then onwards a strange and unusual searchlight was placed on the “fujoshi.”

A character who really likes BL is fine when that character is in a 4-panel gag strip. However, when that becomes a sought-after quality in real life, well there’s a big problem. To start with, when actual girls are called fujoshi, I believe they are being done quite a disservice. When you get down to it, doesn’t it sound like a masochistic joke? Even if there were people who called themselves “disgusting otaku,” to be called a disgusting otaku by people I don’t know would elicit the same negative reaction from me.

Certainly, within the context of a manga, Girl Otaku are lovely. But to have written articles for the purpose of riding this wave, with statements such as “Right now, fujoshi are in!” and “How to get fujoshi to fall for you!” and then to have those statements be given in all seriousness, to actually see these things written for people, why it made me dizzy.

C’mon now, it’s just their hobby, you know? Just treat it as a hobby, and then leave it alone.

And then there’s the problem where female otaku in general are now being bunched in with those whom we would call “fujoshi,” and men’s magazines are marginalizing female otaku as a whole. That’s the worst part of it to me.

Then again, men’s magazines already give tips on how to hit on women. Considering the condescending nature of these magazines towards women, you really can’t expect much else.

For the sake of completely removing themselves from the path of sensibility, some have come to accept a great and terrible and very 2D idea: “Otaku girls sure are cute!” Well that’s obvious. But when it comes to actual girls, those same guys will just be all, “Hey, leave me alone, okay?”

It is never a good idea to confuse the two-dimensional world with reality. Ever.

If this strange fad had never caught on, if these guys and girls could simply realize the charm of being people who live for their hobbies and interests and then use it to attract others, that would have been just fine. However, it seems we’ve gone and removed ourselves from that path.

The Foundation of “Moe” is Violent

To see someone actually say, “This is so moe,” and actually mean it is quite mystifying. That’s because declaring something to be “moe” is an extremely violent act in the first place.

In cases where someone is moe for a two-dimensional tsundere character, it’s really just a matter of holding a commanding view of the character, or, perhaps, it’s a matter of cherry-picking what’s convenient. There are no alternatives. If that girl character suddenly strays from the supposedly correct path and gets closer to another guy, it’s often the case that some people will just abandon her. It’s not impossible at all. Because when it comes to “moe,” all you’re looking at is just one aspect of a girl. It’s not impossible, that is, because it isn’t “love.”

However, when it comes to two-dimensional characters, I think this is fine. Those who are capable of loving a character to the very end are wonderful and all, but there are those characters who can only be loved so much. That too is nature’s providence.

They are containers to hold and store the desires of aggressive humans.

But what happens when you take that idea and apply it to reality?

“This person is different from what I expected!”

“This person’s changed compared to what I thought they were!”

The only outcome then, is denial of the other.

These are individuals we’re dealing with here. You’re free to say, “I fell for you,” or, “I love you,” but don’t ever say to someone, “I’m moe for you.” It’s a violent act in which you try to deny them their individuality.*¹

The reason tsundere and maids have been so successful is that they are two-dimensional characters clearly separate from the real world. And sure, there are actually things like tsundere cafes based on these memes, but no one in reality would actually want or desire a tsundere. Even if you unexpectedly fall in love with someone who gives off a tsundere vibe, given enough time that fictional character-type image you created of her will go away.

But of course “female otaku” are not uncommon. Nevertheless, unlike “Shrine Maiden Moe,” “Nurse Moe,” and other similar types of moe, female otaku are to some degree in possession of a “guilty conscience,” a conscience which causes these girls to exclaim, “Leave us alone!” Particularly, those who like BL live their lives burdened with hardships, as they’re confronted with tons of people saying either, “Moe!” or “Give me a break!” in response to them.

“Female Otaku Moe” is a Fantasy

Based on what I’ve read and considered, the true identities of these two-dimensional “Otaku Girls who get the guys feeling moe,” so to speak, are “girls who act like guys.” Of course, I think the easiest example to understand is Lucky Star’s Konata. While she has some feminine qualities, her nature and her desire to collect are extremely similar to that of male otaku.

She immerses herself in her hobbies, and while she’s a little rough around the edges she gives it her all. Occasionally her eccentricities show. Rather, she doesn’t really bother to try and be more “feminine.”

Even if this girl was a boy, she wouldn’t feel uncomfortable at all.

‘s why she’s cute.

If we were to turn this around, it’s like otaku are saying, “A girl whose tastes are like mine, a girl who I can speak to honestly without pretense, isn’t that just a dream?” and so the manner in which they’ve developed their taste in girls is exceedingly, and I mean EXCEEDINGLY shaky.

If I were to rephrase the above paragraph, I would say that I think of it as a matter of wanting someone who understands you and enjoys being with you.

Whenever someone says, “Girl otaku characters are cute,” I want you to understand that by no means are they saying that they harbor an excessive amount of sexual desire for real actual female otaku, or that they want to sleep with those female otaku.

For the guys, this is considered “fantasy” and is viewed as a line that will not be crossed. Thought of in that manner, girls then are just a source for “memes.”

If that’s the case, this seems like a good time to talk just a little more about the moe that I myself haven’t been able to exclaim, the “Girls who are otaku are cute!” moe.

It would be strange of me to say, “Don’t moe them!” so I think it would be nice if we could find some kind of balance or harmony.

On one final note, people who with all earnestness engage in otaku activities are in a sense guys and girls filled with enthusiasm, which gives them a certain charm, no doubt. …Right?



There have been a lot of otaku marriages recently. How nice…

But these aren’t people saying, “I married someone because they’re an otaku,” so much as, “I married an otaku I fell in love with,” and nothing beyond that. These are normal marriages, no more and no less.

Hmm. In comparing “Female Otaku Moe” to other types of moe, there’s too great a sense of reality with the former, and because of that it’s also become a rather harsh subject to approach. Nevertheless, if we accept the logic that “a girl who’s engrossed in something is cute,” it’s inevitable then that we would see girls who are “into” the “otaku culture” so close to us as being cute, and that the level of demand stemming from this preference would rise greatly. However, there’s pretty much no such thing as “Otaku Boy Moe.” At all.

Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenkyuukai 3 (Sansai Mook Vol. 3)
(The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture 3)

Sansai Books

Rakkyou no Kawa—Moero! Morinomiya Koukou Manga Kenkyuubu (6) (Gum Comics)

(Shallot’s Skin!—Get Moe! Morinomiya High School Manga Club Volume 6)
By Abekawa Kineko
Wani Books

Kyoumeiseyo! Shiritsu Todoroki Koukou Toshoiinkai 3 (ID Comics and Zero-Sum Comics)
(Resound! The Thundering Private High School’s Book Committee! Volume 3)
By D. Kissan

Mousou Shoujo Otakukei (5) (Action Comics)

(Fujoshi Rumi Volume 5)
By Konjou Natsumi

If there’s any title that has a relative balance of the realistic and the cute, it would be Mousou Shoujo Otakukei. It doesn’t bother to hide its sharp edge and instead thrusts at you using bitter words like “disgusting.” It’s not just a series which remains closed to outsiders while shouting, “LONG LIVE OTAKU!” But as we all know, lively girls are adorable.


*¹ Idols, maid cafe maids, and others involved in constructed roleplays excepted.


Translator’s Notes:

Moe: This is a very difficult word to translate, not because the word can have multiple meanings but because the meaning can change drastically depending on who you’re talking to. It means something along the lines of “passion” or “infatuation,” particularly for fictional characters, and often for characters who are somehow weak or deeply flawed.

Otaku Girl, Girl Otaku, Female Otaku, etc.: Tamagomago uses a variety of phrases to say the same basic concept of an otaku who is a girl, and so I’ve tried to vary it accordingly, but it’s still not 1:1 because I didn’t want to use crazy phrases like “Otaku Lass.”

BL: Stands for Boys’ Love, refers to the genre of guy-on-guy action targeted primarily at female readers. I know most of you know this, but I’m being safe.

Fujoshi: A slang phrase used to refer to girls who are obsessed with Boys’ Love. A pun on the Japanese word for a lady, the kanji used with this Fujoshi (腐女子) literally means “rotten girl.” A frequent topic on this blog.

Disgusting Otaku: In Japanese, “キモオタ” and pronounced kimo ota, an abbreviation of kimoi otaku.

THAT’S THE JOKE: The actual phrase used here in the Japanese is “ネタをネタだと(略” which is an incomplete way of referring to someone who doesn’t realize a joke is a joke or that a meme is a meme. I used the popular quote from Simpsons character Rainier Wolfcastle’s movie, McBain: Let’s Get Silly.

Genshiken: A manga by Kio Shimoku about the lives of otaku in college. Published by Kodansha in Japan and Del Rey in the US and made into an anime by Palm Studio and Studio ARMS. If you aren’t familiar with Genshiken, I suggest you read it, seeing as this entire blog is devoted to one of its characters.

Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenkyuu: Despite being similar to what “Genshiken” stands for, this is not the above-mentioned manga but rather an otaku-oriented magazine, or more specifically, a mook.

Mook: Magazine + Book. Used to refer to publications which focus on a single topic, thick but bound together like a magazine. The Gundam series tends to get a lot of mooks.

Lucky Star: A 4-panel manga by Yoshimizu Kagami about an unabashed otaku named Konata and her three friends in high school. Published by Kadokawa Shoten, it was turned into a very popular anime by Kyoto Animation.

Doroko: Short for Kyoumeiseyo! Shiritsu Todoroki Koukou Tosho Iinkai, a 4-koma high school comedy which occasionally switches to a more normal panel format, kind of like Azumanga Daioh.

Rakkyou no Kawa: Short for Rakkyou no Kawa-Moero! Morinomiya Koukou Manga Kenkyuubu. A manga about a “former” otaku in high school.

Comic Party: Originally an erotic game by Leaf/Aqua Plus about doujinshi artists, it has been converted into a variety of media.

Mousou Shoujo Otakukei: Released in America as Fujoshi Rumi. The manga is about a high school girl who loves BL and yaoi. Published by Futabasha in Japan and by Media Blasters in the US.

Kagami Claims Saimoe Supremacy

Hiiragi Kagami, alias HIIRAGIIIII, has emerged as the winner of 2008’s Anime Saimoe tournament. All the more impressive was that her victory was over her own sister Tsukasa, in what is sure to remembered as a fierce battle where blood was not thicker than moe.

Kagami’s status as the Moest means a few things. Remember that neither Kagami nor anyone else from Lucky Star took the title last year. Generally after the first year if your show is truly just a flash in the pan you don’t get much further, but here we see the Lucky Star cast drive down harder than ever. So Lucky Star may not be the most enduring show ever, but it’s not as ethereal as some might hope.

Also of note are the high placements of Kawazoe Tamaki (Bamboo Blade), who made Top 8, and Hinamori Amu (Shugo Chara!) who was a force so powerful she had to be stopped by the tournament winner Kagami.

I know a lot of people who might have liked to vote couldn’t due to some of the intentional barriers put in place, but I hear there’s an (arguably!) more important vote coming up in the near future…

THIS IS COMMON JAPANESE KNOWLEDGE: Lucky Star Original Visuals and Animation

Lucky Star, last year’s anime phenomenon which transformed a small, quiet town into an otaku tourist attraction, returns with a ~40 minute OVA titled Lucky Star Original Visuals and Animation. Fans of Lucky Star, I probably don’t have to tell you to watch this, and non-fans of Lucky Star I’m not sure if I could convince you to watch it, but this OVA is different from the rest.

Lucky Star’s often incorrectly characterized as being otaku in-jokes and little else, and while this OVA is filled with references to anything and everything anime-related it isn’t limited by them. It’s Lucky Star to be certain, but I’d almost describe it as Shinbo-esque. There’s multiple stories contained within this single long episode. They vary in levels of absurdity, some bordering on the surreal, others more down-to-earth, and others pushing the viewer/creator boundary further as one expects Lucky Star would, but with a consistently high level of quality and creativity throughout.

See the world of Lucky Star through the eyes of a lazy dog!

See Kagami in her debut role as Tsunderella!

See Tsukasa…eat meat!

Unlike Zetsubou Sensei, where characters gradually became singularities of their own character designs, pushing the limits of being defined by one’s own basic traits, Lucky Star’s characters remain full of heart and just on the other side of parody, Shiraishi Minoru exception aside. As for Konata, she is by far the main attraction of the Lucky Star OVA with her positive attitude showing what an otaku can be if only he or she had the confidence to be an otaku in public, but the vast majority of the characters make a return. It’s also great hearing Kujira talk to herself constantly throughout the entire episode.

The success of Lucky Star is very evident in this OVA, as it’s clear that a lot of money and effort was put into it, even though you might not expect Lucky Star to need it. It’s really a step above, even by Kyoto Animation standards.

In closing, I hope Misao’s voice actor gets more roles in the future, and that’s not simply because Mizuhara Kaoru sounds incredibly similar to Mizuhashi Kaori.

Misunderstood Shows

Well-known shows tend to gain reputations, good or bad, that dictate how people view those shows. Often times, these reputations are deserved, but there are some instances where the general impression of that show is primarily because of a lack of understanding. Two easily misunderstood series that come to mind are “Hokuto no Ken” and “Lucky Star.”

These examples, Hokuto no Ken and Lucky Star, don’t have to do with whether or not I think a show is good or bad. I like Maria-sama Ga Miteru but I can generally understand why some people don’t like it and their reasoning tends to be justified. Dragon Ball Z is another one where the reasons behind its popularity/anti-popularity tend to be very transparent. I don’t think the same thing applies 100% to either of the two titles.

Hokuto no Ken is one of the most popular shounen series of all time and the archetype of the shounen manga that we know today in the form DBZ, Saint Seiya, Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and so on. Its most famous feature is most definitely the various methods through which Kenshiro causes severe cerebral (and bodily) hemorrhaging in his opponents. While this image is certainly not undeserved, it’s also the leading cause of why people are mystified as to its popularity. Some people even mistake it as “silly” or “comedic,” not understanding that the real appeal behind HnK is the way in which passion is imbued into every single situation. The 90s release of the Fist of the North Star movie in the US by Streamline Pictures is partly to blame for all of this, as the movie pales in comparison to the original manga or the tv adaptation. Kenshiro is not just a skilled assassin, he is a compassionate human being who fights for the downtrodden and wishes to save the world, and it’s this conviction which carries the entire story. Exploding heads are merely there to display Kenshiro’s amazing power, which certanly impresses the boys reading it, but also is contrasted with his kindness and humanity.

Lucky Star is sometimes called the “Anime Version of Family Guy.” The problem here is that people do not see beyond the use of references and into the differences in the way humor is delivered. Lucky Star almost never uses non-sequiturs in its jokes, and most of the time the jokes are either observational or involve some sort of set up. The references used, no matter how obscure, relate strongly to the situation at the time, rather than employing the cut-aways that make Family Guy famous and derided by Eric Cartman. As to why Lucky Star is popular, references alone would not be enough as plenty of shows for otaku employ references. The real reason why Lucky Star is popular is that it’s an incredibly self-aware show. It knows otaku are watching and it does more than wink and nod, it outright asks fans to interact with the show itself.

I think it is up to us fans to try and accurately convey what a show is like to new viewers. I know it isn’t easy, and I personally find it difficult to explain most anime to people because the way stories are set up tends to be very different from how stories can be summarized in the American culture of which I am a part. Professional attempts tend not to fare much better either after all (the Chobits manga ad, for example). I just hope that people are able to like or dislike a show for actual reasons rather than simply misunderstandings.

New York Comic Con: An Incomplete Con Report Because I Will Probably Forget Most Things

I went to my first New York Comic Con this past weekend. I normally prefer less city and commute-based conventions, but it was still a pleasant experience over all.

I’ll avoid the hanging out with friends talk, but I’ll just say I hung out with various friends and it was good times for all.

I saw the Lucky Star dub. Some voices were weaker than others, and Wendy Lee still sounds like Wendy Lee, but they tried very hard with this dub. I think the dialogue sounded a lot more natural than I was expecting, which was a big plus. Kogami Akira felt pretty spot on, Shiraishi Minoru not so much, and the pronunciation of Shiraishi was a little painful. Overall though, not a bad dub at all.

I got to meet the fine folks over at Ninja Consultant Podcast and got to be interviewed, which was a great experience. We talked about various topics, including but not limited to Ogiue. Keep up with their podcast, and you might just get to hear how incomprehensible I am when I speak. By the way, I’m a 35 year old balding man and my name is Gerald Rathkolb.

I saw Freedom. In unrelated news, I sure do want some Nissin Cup Noodles. I also attended Grant Morrison panels, and though I’m not really a huge fan of his work (just because I don’t read much of his work), his scottish talkings about made both panels very entertaining. Oh yeah, Seven Soldiers was awesome so I guess I am a Grant Morrison fan after all. I also attended a Tokyopop panel, and there as I watched the slides come on screen, I realized just how much Tokyopop gears towards shoujo and bl now. I feel like it snuck up on me without me realizing it, and now it’s too late.

I attended the Giant Robot Rumble panel, where I got to explain what an Absolute Terror Field actually is, as well as correcting the people who thought one robot was Aphrodai A when it was actually Dianan X. Thanks to this, I was considered a nerd even among nerds. Yes, I am that pathetic. PS Steve Yun please make me a judge next time. Sadly I had to leave early, so if someone can tell me who won, that’d be great.

By the way, Optimus Prime does not lose to Roy Focker/Fokker, at least not for the reasons given. Saying that Roy’s in a plane and Optimus’s mobility is limited is not an argument when Optimus REGULARLY FIGHTS ROBOTS WHO TRANSFORM INTO FIGHTER JETS.

I actually did not buy all that much, which is okay by me. I bought an autographed copy of David Lloyd (artist of V for Vendetta)’s new book, Kickback. The artwork is really up my alley. I took one look at it, and I was sold. The other thing I bought was a 20 minute backrub. It was actually worth it because it helped me take on the 90 minute TM Revolution concert.

And oh boy what a concert it was. TM Revolution has incredible stage presence, and his singing is solid. The most prominent feature of that concert though was the screaming. The loud, fangirl (and boy) screaming, which I partook in on a number of occasions. He covered all of the SEED songs and Heart of Sword, and a few others. By the way, my ears are still feeling the effects of that concert.

I was sitting behind TM Revolution’s Japanese fan club. Before the concert started, and as fans waved signs and hooped and hollered and asked TMR to marry them, I asked the Japanese fan club girls what they thought of America.

Needless to say, they were impressed.