Time and Genshiken

When I originally read Tamagomago’s post on the Genshiken generation gap, I realized something: time has moved differently for the characters of Genshiken compared to the real world.

The gap between Genshiken and Genshiken II has changed how I relate to Genshiken. Genshiken II starts off only a few months after the end of the first series, but in the real world, nearly five years had passed. One result of this is that the references used in the new series are a little anachronistic (a Zan Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei reference when the show shouldn’t have been out at that point, for example), but the one I find to be more personally important is that I went from being around Sasahara’s age to actually being closer to Madarame’s. I am no longer the college senior who could read about Sasahara’s graduation around the same time as my own. Had the manga progressed steadily from Volume 9, had there not been the long wait to herald in Genshiken II, I wonder if I would’ve also been reading the manga a little differently?

One criticism of the new Genshiken that I see from not just English-speaking fans but also Japanese ones is that it’s been difficult to relate to the new, primarily female cast. The feeling I often get from that response is that the readers who are of the opinion that Genshiken has changed for the worse feel that this world of college-aged otaku is not the one they had originally left. I even talked about it when the new series was beginning, remarking that Genshiken has always been about change, and that it should be possible to relate to these new characters, even if they do come from a different generation otaku. I realize now though that it’s not so much a matter of these readers not being able to relate to characters unlike themselves, but more that they feel the philosophy of Genshiken has changed, that the core essence is something different and perhaps frightening.

Obviously, the experience of shifting age groups as the result of the gap between Genshiken series is not something everyone can experience, especially if they’re not reading the comic as it comes out. Even if that weren’t the case, given time I would’ve reached Madarame’s age anyway. And even if others are around the same age as me, it’s not like people experience the passage of time in the exact same or even similar ways. More importantly, it’s not like my own personal experiences over the past five years are particularly better than others’. Even so, when I think about it a little more, it seems like one of the themes that comes out of Genshiken for the readers as well as the characters is the influence of personal history and how self-perception of time changes accordingly.

Ogiue originally defined herself by the trauma of her time in junior high. It dominated her life before she was eventually able to move on with the help of her friends. Madarame clings to the recent past by leaving his situation with Kasukabe comfortably ambiguous. Kugayama put his half-hearted ambitions aside and decided to just be normal. The first chairman, well, I’m not sure if he existed within time.

For the fans who feel alienated by Genshiken II, their personal definition of what it means to be otaku, and by extension, what it means to be part of a group otaku, has not changed in the five year Genshiken gap. I emphasize once again that there’s nothing wrong with this, and in fact it’s also pretty much where Yajima is at in terms of her own otaku-existential conflict. As for me, I know fully well how much I’ve related to Genshiken and continue to do so, but I also know that a lot has happened in my life since I finished the original series. I’ve defined myself many times on this blog according to how Genshiken has changed my life, but in the face of this new iteration, I find that it doesn’t change me so much as change alongside me.

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The Appearing and Disappearing Wave of Generational Change in the Meaning of “Fun” in Genshiken II Volume 1/Genshiken Volume 10

Translator’s Introduction: This is a translation of a post by a well-known Japanese anime and manga blogger known as Tamagomago concerning his feelings towards the recent Genshiken revival. As there are certain terms that are very Japanese, as well as information that might not be that well-known to English speakers, I’ve included translation notes at the bottom of this post.

The images used are necessary for the post, but because the originals were in Japanese, I’ve taken the liberty of replacing them with existing English translations. The images are also larger than the ones used in the original post, as the English text would be impossible to read if the images were the same size as the original’s (not as much of a problem with Japanese and its use of kanji).

This is actually also the second otaku and fujoshi-related post from Tamagomago that I’ve translated. The first can be found here, with my response to it available here.

———————-

Genshiken II [Nidaime] Volume 1, aka Genshiken Volume 10 is out.


How I should I put it…

Genshiken Volume 1 came out in 2002.

Has it really been almost 10 years…?


Back when Genshiken was coming out, it was often compared to Kyuukyoku Choujin R.[1]

As individual works they’re completely different, and there’s no use comparing them directly (for starters, R has the Light-Image [Photography] Club, high schoolers, and no particular otaku interests among its members, while Genshiken has the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, college students, and is based around a group of otaku). But when you look at the  different age groups among the members and how there’s something of a generation gap in terms of how they enjoy their hobbies, the above comparison is easier to understand than one might expect. It’s about seeing how they spend their free time having fun.

This was actually discussed so often that I lost count. It’s a part of the history of the 00s.

However, to the younger otaku readers, the world of R was like a heavy burden on them, and the reason is that the senpai [upperclassmen] have an overwhelming presence.

I love Tosaka-senpai and the rest of them, but if you were to say to me, “They’re bothersome senpai,” I certainly wouldn’t be able to deny it.

Not only that, but by comparison, Genshiken‘s Madarame-senpai casts a light shadow, following a philosophy of living peacefully at any cost. When you look at that, it’s really quite cute, but you can also really feel that the senpai-kouhai [upperclassman-lowerclassman] relationship is rather thin.

That’s the first generation gap.


And now this is the second.

The number of people who have admired Genshiken and turned into otaku because of it has increased.

I bet there are people who just read that sentence and thought, “Wait, what?”

They’d say, “‘Become’ an ‘otaku?’ That’s not something you just decide on and then it happens, wouldn’t you say?”

That’s right, but during the 00s, the meaning of the word “otaku” suddenly became unclear. It no longer meant that you were some kind of “outlaw,” and it no longer had a negative connotation in people’s minds. That said, it obviously also depends on who you’re talking to.

The decisive blow came in the doujinshi that Shinofusa Rokurou drew for the special edition of Genshiken Volume 9 (the final volume).[2]

This is pretty much it. I think there’s a lot of people recently who haven’t read or seen Genshiken (since it’s out of print), but you won’t regret reading it. Same with Mozuya-san Gyakujousuru.[3]

Yasuhiko Yoshikazu[4] once said, “To a guy like me who hates otaku, Genshiken is a manga full of love for otaku that’s designed to exterminate otaku.” Those are some really mixed feelings, wouldn’t you say? But I pretty much understand him.

There are now more and more people who aren’t “beautiful despite being otaku” but instead people who are “beautiful while being otaku.” It has nothing to do with physical appearance, nor is it just the end result of ressentiment; rather, what’s changed is that being otaku now means you’re enjoying a “fun hobby.” Genshiken is a work that’s drawn while relatively consciously of this.

It’s not my intention to formulate a theory about why the generations are different after all of this. No matter what I say, what’s most important is to ask oneself, “What do I personally think?” However, I feel that, at the very least, the number of people who can stand in the light and declare, “I’m an otaku!” have risen.

For someone like me who lived in the era of the closet otaku and thought, “I can’t say that I’m an otaku,” this is quite a strange feeling.

Though I’d say what we have now is the healthier scenario.

This divide can be seen in how Genshiken has been drawn. Madarame’s year consists of otaku who are relatively private and who try to conceal their hobbies, unwilling to come out to others about it.

Ohno meanwhile concealed her hobbies as well, but was the type of person who wanted to be able to share them with like-minded individuals.

Kohsaka and Sue just freely and openly show how much of an otaku they are and how much they enjoy it, while Sasahara is the type of person who saw the truth after entering college.

I used to think that Kohsaka’s existence was something of a fantasy, but I realized that people like him actually exist.


Volume 9 came out in 2006. It’s been almost five years.

Now we have Volume 10.

And in it, the characters feel significantly different from how the characters used to be.

If times have changed, then the characters in Genshiken have changed as well, in terms of where they come from and what their points of view may be.

From here on in, I’m going to write a bit about the respective perspectives of the new character Yajima as well as Madarame.


The Impression of a Gap in the New Generation of Genshiken

I think this panel in Nidaime probably makes the contrast easiest to understand.

…Whoa… They’re like… so young!

The three new club members are gathered alongside the old members in Ogiue’s room (i.e. the place where Ogiue produces her manga). Madarame and Sasahara are obviously among the “old boys.”

If you look at the ratio of men to women, you’ll notice that the girls outnumber the guys (though there is a certain exception), and that none of them are particularly concerned with avoiding the others. If you didn’t tell me that this is an otaku circle, I never would have guessed.

Obviously you can say that it’s because this is manga, but still, everyone there looks like they’re having fun.

Among them is one character in particular, sitting on the sofa with a sour look on her face: Yajima.

Among the freshmen, there’s a male crossdresser… or should I say, a “boy-girl.”[5]


What Yajima has to say about all of this is unbelievably cute.

“I’m… quite opposed [very resistant] to it.”


Yajima’s feelings on the matter are, in a certain sense, the bridge between the various conceptions of what it means to “enjoy oneself” within Genshiken. She’s caught in the middle, and it depresses her.

If you look at the previous generation, there was the episode where Madarame was opposed to “stylish fashion” and thought it made no sense. Though he ended up having a change of heart, the way Madarame and Yajima distance themselves is similar.

The term “ota” itself is actually rarely used in Genshiken.

In this volume, the only person other than Yajima to use the term is Ogiue, and it’s the negative meaning of “ota.” Yajima’s line in the above image, “Since we’re all otaku, it doesn’t matter,” pretty much says it all.

On the other hand, you have another new character, Yoshitake (the bespectacled girl in the middle of the sofa), who in contrast to Yajima exclaims, “Female otaku and fujoshi are different!” while using the term positively.

Yoshitake has determined her own status. She considers herself a “fujoshi” and doesn’t hide it. Although Ohno herself had a first step where she realized that it’s better to come out about it, with Yoshitake there wasn’t even a first step to be taken at all.


So as one might expect, neither Yajima nor Ogiue are particularly concerned with fashion. They’re fine with just wearing jeans. Then again, if I compare Ogiue now to how she was in the beginning when she was wearing hoodies, her fashion sense has become more refined. That necktie looks really cute on her! Those jeans though, I don’t really get them.

The “boy-girl” Hato is incredibly stylish. Yoshitake, who also has a relatively varied wardrobe, comes across as a girl with diverse artistic and literary interests. Even Yabusaki from the Manga Society wears a bit of makeup.

Yajima senses this gap and is extremely bothered by it.


Yajima herself originally joins the club because she thought, “I’d sure like to do something fun,” and went with it. She has an inferiority complex, but that also has to do with her otaku hobbies. She’s never been crushed by a traumatic event, nor does she carry any heavy burden.

Unlike Ogiue and Ohno, she never undergoes an intense initiation process.

Even so, she acts strongly on her feeling that there’s a drastic and irreconcilable conflict between what she feels to be an “otaku” and what she sees.

She wonders about how far one should go for the sake of having “fun,” and her heart is perplexed.

In particular, she wonders about the very existence of Hato as a boy-girl.


The Boy-Girl.

Hato as a boy-girl is quite a unique character… or rather, he would be, but recently there have been a surprising increase in people like him. He’s not a “complete fantasy,” which I find interesting.

That said, he’s certainly still unusual.

There is a definite difference between a “boy-girl” and a “male crossdresser.”

To begin with, “male crossdressers” are those who wear women’s clothing even if it doesn’t fit them, or perhaps people who still retain some of their masculinity when donning women’s clothing. However, “boy-girls” are those who, to the best of their ability, completely transform themselves into “girls,” or something close to it. They’ll shave their body hair, and even take great efforts to adapt their voices to be feminine. Recently, you even have terms like “the dual-voiced”[6] to refer to them.

And, this is the most important thing, they consider themselves to be men inside.

At first they seem like they want to become girls, but it’s not like they have any particular romantic interest in men or anything. Instead, they are passionate in their desire to become beautiful.

Their fashion is the result of serious effort.

This is the first reason that Yajima just can’t accept it. “Why are you like that?” she says.

That line feels like it has a lot behind it.

Hato is a man through and through.

As a man, his desire of “I want to become the absolute cutest” gave birth to the female Hato.

Yajima, who is bothered by the thought of “I’m an ota, so I’m awful,” is contrasted with the “this is our hobby and that’s that” attitude of Hato, a boy-girl, and Yoshitake, a berserker girl, both of whom possess not a single regret or doubt about it.

No wait, Hato had an incident that became the trigger for him. However, it’s quite different from Ogiue and the scars she received upon her awakening to BL. While Ogiue had to struggle with her own traumas, Hato easily sublimated himself into his current state.

I suggest actually reading the chapter with this episode in it, but I also think that there is a large gap between what Yajima and Yoshitake thought about it. Yoshitake really understands why Hato wears women’s clothing, whereas Yajima doesn’t get it at all (she thought it was the result of some trauma).

“If it’s fun, it’s fun; that makes it okay, doesn’t it?” That’s the attitude they take, and it allows them to face front and charge ahead.

This is the new world of the kids of the second Genshiken, and it’s become a world that they don’t hide from.

If I could elaborate, Yoshitake and Hato are about thinking “Does it matter if you’re an otaku or not? Whichever is fine.” I might even go so far as to say that they feel otaku-ness to be “just another personal attribute,” about the same as wearing glasses.

It’s because she’s Yoshitake: stylish, wears glasses, and incredibly cheerful. Geez.

Better yet, Yoshitake is like a bullet shell of positivity, a fine mood maker. She seems like she could even say something like “I oink”[7] without a problem.

…I wrote above that I wouldn’t be making any theories concerning generation, but in spite of that “Nidaime” [Second Generation] is still in the title. This is a work which shows how one pursues or enjoys their “otaku hobbies” has changed on an individual level, and it must be intentional on the part of the author.

At this current point in time, I think that there is a line—Madarame-Ogiue-Yajima-Hato—where each of them produces  a feeling of disparity relative to one another. Both the men and the women have disparate levels of recognition which don’t really link up that well with each other, and this work shows the “interesting” results of when they gather in the same place.


No Escape, Ever

So, let’s talk about Madarame.

This time around, I’d been reading the story completely from Yajima’s point of view, but I must say, the cutest person there was Madarame.

It can’t be helped; Madarame’s “boyish” mannerisms are just so cute. I can’t be the only one who thinks this way!

For some reason I want to hug Madarame, even though he’d hate me for it!

The reason that he’s so dear to me is that deep inside, Madarame overwhelmingly feels that it’s “impossible” to act as a “man.”

Now, the girls’ camp has increased in number such that the club atmosphere feels completely different. By comparison, it’s no longer a world where a girl like Saki acts as a counter to the club itself by virtue of “being a girl.”

That’s where Madarame came from, and where he is now.

What is this? It makes me feel unbearably lonesome.

…For Madarame, this is a place that he loves because he loves being able to spend time with his fellow otaku.

And then, he fell in love with a girl named Kasukabe Saki, but he kept it to himself the whole time.


……

Aw man!

Madarame, you’re way too cute! Seriously, you’re like a little boy!

By comparison, someone else has grown along another direction entirely. Certainly, he treasures the connections that were born from here, and he has always valued them, but that was something else, and now he walks an entirely different path.

Personally, I think that Kugapii is incredibly “real.” Despite being reasonably skilled at drawing, he pursued it halfheartedly at best. He then maintained that halfhearted approach all the way to graduation without producing anything outstanding, and now he has a normal, steady job. This character is also dear to me. He’s a really good guy. He works hard and with earnest. Despite his setbacks, he acts exactly as an adult ought to. He prioritizes his work and doesn’t slack off.

In a way, he’s quite the realist.


Madarame, on the other hand, is really a romantic.

This is the scene where Sasahara’s sister told him about how, even though no one’s ever actually mentioned it out loud, Saki definitely had known that Madarame has feelings for her.

(If you look at Volume 9, there’s a part where Sasahara’s sister, Ohno, and Ogiue are all aware of how obvious this is.)

Whether Saki really knew about all of this was not made clear, but even at the end of Volume 9, her behavior was received as that of “someone who evidently knew what was going on but wouldn’t actually say anything about it.”

This is to a large extent how a boy would “perceive” a woman (“I just don’t understand girls!”), but that’s Madarame through and through.

Madarame is lost in a way that might be referred to as stagnation. He’s also becoming a full-on working adult.

But what Sasahara’s sister says is absolutely correct.

For example:

For argument’s sake, let’s say that Madarame gets a girlfriend. He gives the impression that he still wouldn’t throw away those photos of Saki in his possession. This is just my imagination, but Madarame seems like he’d take those photos to the grave.

He would keep those memories safely tucked away. Actually, he’s already doing that.

Madarame: a man who really seems like he would drag a situation out as much as possible.

Along with everything going on with Yajima, I think that, from here, how Madarame will turn out is to be a point of heavy focus in the comic.

If I dare say, I want to believe in this quote from Ohno.

“Not only that, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had!”


In conclusion:

Madarame is cute.

Was Nidaime made so that we could feel moe over how Madarame behaves like such a little boy…?

Well, he also probably feels a vague twinge of loneliness because of the new blood.

This is unrelated, but I guess Madarame is part of the Azunyan faction (from p.183).

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Translation Notes:

[1] Kyuukyoku Choujin R is a manga by Yuuki Masami, which ran in Shounen Sunday from 1985-1987. Its main character is a teenage robot named R. Tanaka Ichirou.

[2] Like Volume 6, there was a special edition Genshiken Volume 9 which came with a bonus doujinshi, though unlike Volume 6 it was not part of the Del Rey release.

[3] Mozuya-san Gyakujousuru is a manga by Shinofusa Rokurou. Running in Monthly Afternoon (the same magazine as Genshiken) since 2008, it is about a girl afflicted by a bipolar disorder named after its discoverer, Dr. Josef Tsundere.

[4] Character designer for Mobile Suit Gundam and many other anime. Currently draws Gundam: The Origin.

[5] The term that “boy-girl” is a translation of the Japanese term “otoko no ko,” (男の娘) which is a play off of the word for boy, “otoko no ko,” (男の子) but which substitutes the Japanese character for “child” for the one for “girl.” Normally in such an instance I would leave the word untranslated, but ecause the wordplay is in the kanji, it would be impossible to distinguish “otoko no ko” from “otoko no ko.” Another possible translation for it is “trap,” though the inherent implications of “trapping” others is why I avoided using that term.

[6] “The dual-voiced” is a translation of “ryouseirui” (両声類), referring to people who can speak in both a lower, masculine voice and a higher, feminine voice.

[7] “Buhireru” (ブヒれる) literally a verb to describe oinking like a pig, implying that one is a disgusting anime fan7

My Response to Tamagomago’s “Otaku Girl Moe”

Yesterday I posted my translation of Japanese blogger Tamagomago‘s post about the moefication of the “Otaku Girl.” This is my own follow-up to it, and how I feel about the various themes and ideas put forth by Tamagomago.

While I think the threat of otaku confusing reality with fantasy is not that likely for the most part, I do see how “Otaku Girl Moe” is different from most other types of moe, with the possible exception of “Imouto Moe, ” though that mistake can be quickly dispeled by interacting with real little sisters. Otaku Girls actually exist in the real world and are in a sense closely related to Otaku Guys, so the line between fantasy and reality can blur quite a bit. It’s sort of like how most people probably wouldn’t realize that a model’s photo was airbrushed, or that the situations that occur in porn have very little chance of actually happening, but because we associate those things with “reality,” e.g. photos are realistic, we as people can be susceptible to their illusion.

Basically, while I don’t think there’s an immediate danger involving confusing the Otaku Girls in Anime with Otaku Girls in real life, there is a sort of precedent.

I of course also agree with the notion that as strong a character and as realistic as Ogiue is, she’s still just a character in a story. Though I can still hope…!

Another interesting point Tamagomago talks about is what I translated as the “exceedingly shaky” foundation upon which otaku build their preferences for women. I mentioned an earlier example of confusing fantasy with reality, but this one is particularly interesting as it’s almost an inverted example from the one above.

What we have is a situation where an otaku will take a realistic goal, i.e. finding a girl that can relate to them, and using their doubts and fears to transform it into an impossible dream. In other words, they’ve taken what is real and confused it for fantasy, something not talked about quite as often in these conversations about moe we have on this internet.

Of course, the part that generated the most conversation was where Tamagomago said that the act of calling someone moe is “violent” because it strips them of their individuality. Perhaps it was my translation not being completely clear, but the point that Tamagomago was trying to get across was that real people are not anime characters. It’s kind of an obvious thing to say, but within the context of moe you’re using a term associated with fiction and fictional characters and attaching it to real human beings with real depth and personalities. Let’s forget the word moe for a second, and instead imagine that I was talking about one of my female friends and I said, “Her character development is excellent!” It’s still a compliment, but it’s kind of bizarre to use that kind of language with an actual girl.

One more note, I don’t really think calling girls fujoshi is that bad, especially as it’s taken on this specific meaning of “yaoi fangirl.” Words in languages are malleable things as much as some would like to disgree, and the word “otaku” is a perfect example of this as its negative properties have fluctuated over the years. It’s like, I know that the word decimate originally meant “reduce by 10%.” Do I care? Not at all.

So in conclusion, I can’t wait for Hirano Kouta to knock down Tamagomago’s door for daring to say that there’s no such thing as Otaku Guy Moe.

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.

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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?

———————————————————–

Addendum.

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
Ichijinsha


Mousou Shoujo Otakukei (5) (Action Comics)

(Fujoshi Rumi Volume 5)
By Konjou Natsumi
Futabasha

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.

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

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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.