(Sorta…) Fujoshi Friday: Doujinshi Dive

Apologies…this week I am moving and a little crunched for time…so following is a list of eclectic doujinshi containing nuggets of quality (not guaranteed). Hope you enjoy it! (Next week yowlingyoai will attempted to return to academia…sorry for the recent decline in whatever quality there had been…)

Durarara 

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(Izaya X Shizuo both uke)

Cassis: Yurippuru

Eyeshield 21 

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Misashi x Hiruma

Punkish DragoneerKono Aoi Sora no ShitaSilent

Fullmetal Alchemist 

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Roy x Ed

Takada Bambi: Hermaphrodite 

Hetalia 

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HotamaWisdom of a Sage

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

Jotaro x Kakyoin

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 CLAMPCLAMP in Wonderland 1994 Summer

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オム煮: The Beast Inside Me

Samurai Flamenco 

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Masayoshi x Goto

Lead Sheep Film: Sekai ga Owaru Toki, Hero wa…

Tiger and Bunny 

Barnaby x Kotetsu

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AoyagiKitty Archive, Kitty OverrunKitty Shortstop

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Suekane KumikoAoyagi: Sink

Fujoshi Friday: Faces of Fatherhood in BL Part I

Before delving into a meaty discussion, these next couple of weeks will be the appetizers and salad. (I guess last week was really just the first round of drinks if we were going to push the metaphor beyond palpability…)

So, onto an Part I of an overview of BL featuring fatherhood as a major plot point that will be discussed in future posts:

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Hideyoshico-The Komukai Household’s Circumstances (2013)

Written from the viewpoint of the son, Hideyoshico’s oneshot endeavors to create a realism capturing the tension between a “nonconventional” is a heavily conventional society.  While short, Hideyoshico applies her uniquely frank portrayal of human emotions to a small family drama, magnifying what on the surface may seem insignificant but is fact fraught with wider social (and potentially political) implications.

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Kotobuki Tarako-Sex Pistols (2004)

Narratively a mess and as classy as its name suggests, Kotobuki’s Sex Pistols dwells on the reproduction through all means possible. Sex Pistols is less about fatherhood than it is about the procurement of children. While this is not a manga one should take seriously, it nonetheless is a “classic” with its treatment of male pregnancy.

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Matsuo Maata-Usotsuki wa Shinshi no Hajimari (2010)

Unlike many BL that presents childrearing between the male lovers as an integral aspect of their relationship, Matsuo’s manga creates a point of tension in the manga by the presence of a child. Using the child as an manifestations of a characters “heterosexuality,” Matsuo illuminates the struggles one encounters when one’s individual  desire does not match with societies prescribed desires.

Next Week: Continuation of the overview and a BL vs. Yaoi vs. Shounen Ai

(Almost) Fujoshi Friday: Mabataki no Aida and Fatherhood in BL

(Sorry for the late and short post. This week was busy…)

i188518Early this year, Japanese popular mobage company DeNA released the smartphone app Manga Box. Not only is it a free app featuring manga published by Kodansha, it also released most of the series simultaneously in Japanese and English. With Spoof on Titan as one of the headlining series, the app appeared to host manga appealing to a more populist, and at times bland, taste by increments of eight pages. Nestled between the puzzling The Great Phrases Women Fall For and humorous The Host-Man is a unexpected shounen ai series, Sugu Neruko’s Mabataki no Aida. Translated in English as In a Heartbeat, Neruko’s Boy’s Love story following childhood friends Haru and Hide is an exercise in restraint, perhaps a necessary exercise in a genre oozing with indulgences. Narratively tight and efficiently paneled, In a Heartbeat hones in on a realism centered on sexual identity and its social realities that has increasingly become common in the Boy’s Love genre over the years. Albeit, In a Heartbeat is not entirely resistant to the motifs of genre, such as the ever problematic “I don’t love men, I love you,” nor is it particularly trailblazing in terms of plot. Yet, its placement as a mainstream manga in the DeNa app is perhaps telling of an acceptance or at least destigmatization of shounen ai. Rather than exorcizing homosexual relationships, Manga Box hosts it side by side to traditional (and non-traditional) hetersexual love stories. While In a Heartbeat still probably appeals primarily to a female audience, perhaps this manga is a sign of Boy’s Love manga transitioning from its distinction as a “Boy’s Love” story to a “love story.”

All this aside, I primarily bring up In a Heartbeat due to its treatment of fatherhood and non-traditional families. Over these next couple of weeks, I wish to explore the potential meanings of fatherhood in Boy’s Love using In a Heartbeat among other series as primarily examples. Through the exploration of fatherhood as particular facet of masculinity, we can perhaps piece together the culture of fatherhood as consumed and created by a segment of the Japanese female population (i.e. fujoshi).

Tune in next week for a dabbling of fatherhood studies and Boy’s Love

Fujoshi Fridays: Overview of Hiroki Azuma’s Theory of Database Consumption

Looking back on the past two posts about K: Missing Kings and Hiroki Azuma’s Otaku, I realize now how confusing Azuma’s “Theory of Database Consumption” is. This post will attempt to straighten out his theory and how it is a starting point to understand fandom studies and perhaps fujoshi consumption.

When Azuma introduces his database consumption theory, he first mentions Ostuka Eiji’s Theory of Narrative Consumption, an 1989 book among the first to discuss otaku in an academic arena.

Here is a break down of this theory of narrative consumption:

-Media, be it be it books, anime, etc, draws from a “grand narrative”

-A “grand narrative” comprises of larger ideologies, settings, and world-views that shapes how the consumer interprets the world

-The media acts as packets of a “smaller narrative,” though at times, they posit themselves as a “grand narrative” in and of itself

-To gain a grasp of the larger “grand narrative,” otaku consumer these smaller narratives that act as gateways to the larger narrative

-Derivative works, for example doujinshi, operates within the same scope of original work’s worldview in order to be counted in a gray space between “real” and “fake.”

-The rise of derivative works, i.e. simulacra (see this link for an explanation) blue the line between “real” and “fake” so long as the work operates with the same worldview

For an example…take Pokemon. With each Pokemon version, we are buying a “narrative,” a game mediates how we view the world (or at least the video game world.) However, there are multiple versions of Pokemon games, and each game is really a small part of the bigger Pokemon world.

With narrative consumption, meaning is predetermined by the grand narrative. However, Azuma worked in an era during the 1990s when ideas of the “grand narrative” began to deteriorate with the popularization of postmodernism (see here for an explanation of postmodernism). Azuma instead operates with the idea that meaning is determined by the consumer “reading up” the database. Here is a breakdown of Azuma’s theory of database consumption.

-Database consumption arises with postmodernism

-Database consumption or the database model has a double layer, the first layer consisting of a “database” of information, or more concretely, traits or motifs

-The second layer are the former “small narratives,” or media that uses various parts of the database

-The consumer, who both gives meaning to the bits of information in the database and consumes these bits, reads these “small narratives” and gives meaning to it

-Agency lies in the consumer, and so derivative works do not need to align themselves with the “worldview” of its origin and instead gain its own meaning from the consumer

-The consumers desires can be mediated by the database, or in other words, tastes can be categorized and articulated by components of the database.

Working from this view, let’s look at Tiger and Bunny doujinshi. More often than not, these works have very little to do with the original Tiger and Bunny anime series. However, these works are still recognized by consumers as a viable and purchasable work because it is deemed worthy by the consumer and fits their desires mediated by the database. Such as the fujoshi who prefers Barnaby x Kotetsu. She turns to doujinshi that fit her tastes and determines the work’s meaning and importance through consumption and “reading up” the database components that would be in this case a specific coupling or how the characters are drawn.

Hopefully this clears up Azuma’s theory…for more on this, check out his book Otaku: Japan’s Databse Animal. It is a bit dated and neglects female fujoshi, but a surprising palpable academic work.

 

Manga of the Month: Shinjuku Lucky Hole

rROHYUm8aA6qmUirxkWJ4eY5RFJEc-lzoUxdEAxswa0HEC_b9eyWCf9o2m8I5lBXAL7WvjCfhrJdNNE(Note: Since the first of the month coincides with Friday, Fujoshi Friday will continue next week with an examination of Azuma’s theory of database consumption.)

Much like the Kumi, a central character whose name is spelled with kanji “bitterness,” Kumota Haruko steeps Shinjuku Lucky Hole in the bittersweet shades of human emotions, a surprising twist for what would seem to be a light hearted, smutty manga about the gay adult video industry. Yes, there is plenty of smut, and paired with Kumota’s supple art style that endows even middle age men with a youthful attractiveness, Shinjuku Lucky Hole satiates even the most discerning of BL connoisseurs. With light bondage, bukakke, virgin experiences, reversible couples, yazuka love, high schoolers, and megane, this manga is a party platter of typical BL motifs. However, Haruko softens these erotic elements, subtly flavoring them with unrequited love, disappointment, and complicated intimate relationships, the dominate one being between the above-mentioned Kumi and his would-be-pimp, Sakuma.

Though the core of the manga’s plot, Kumi and Sakuma’s “love” story does not appear until the end, instead obscured by tales of dead end trysts among side characters and Kumi and Sakuma. Indeed, the manga does not follow a traditional sense of story pacing, forgoing linearity for more episodic sketches on the going-ons in the Lucky Hole AV company. Yet, this unconventionality mirrors the bond between Kumi and Sakuma, a business relationship seemingly forged by money but possessing a significance emotional and physical weight for both characters. Ultimately, the true fruit of their relationship remains elusive to the reader, awarding  Kumi and Sakuma a contradictory veil of privacy in a genre that privileges the reader to the characters. While BL is arguably an exploitive genre, Kumota plays with this idea throughout Shinjuku Lucky Hole, swaying between “exploiting” her characters and regarding them with a degree of respect as exemplified in her thorough development of Kumi and Sakuma and deceptively simple paneling. While maintaining a touch of light humor, Shinjuku Lucky Hole delves into the darker gaps of society and human psyche to create sly BL manga that nourishes both the heart and the mind.  

Fujoshi Friday: King of the Animals Part II

(Note: This is a continuation of the previous post applying Hiroki Azuma’s theory of database consumption to the anime K.)

With regards to the database characteristics used in K, let us first look at the series’s character design.

In K, we have our gothic lolicon character, Anna Kushina,

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a character pairing of Shion and Nezumi from 2011 anime No. 6,

Shion and Nezumi (No. 6)

Shion and Nezumi (No. 6)

Shiro and Kuro (K)

Shiro and Kuro (K)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the MEGANE power duo, Fushimi Saruhiko and Munakata Reisi,

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oppai wielder, Seri Awashima,

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and the oft naked, pink-haired, cat-girl, Neko.

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Relationship between the characters aside, the characters’s dominant features evoke meaning that has developed over a multitude of anime and manga series.  In other words, the “database” of anime design features can only mold the audience’s desires and expectations of these characters even before watching the series. We see this time and time again, leading to the questions concerning the relationship between the consumer and producers of anime.

In Otaku, Azuma characterizes database consumption as leading to “animalistic tendencies,” reducing desires into easily fulfillable tastes in specific “types.” In his consumption model, Azuma defines human as having desires that are essentially unfulfilled, and it is that state that makes us humans. However, with the rise of otaku in beginning in the 1970s and blossoming in the 1980s, the “database” has filtered human desire into satiable, compact impulses for particular “types” and characteristics. That state of fulfillable desires in turn transforms the human into an “animal” without concern for larger themes or truths behind the facade of design. For example, the fujoshi that likes megane characters, or even more specifically, seme megane characters. The itch for the seme megane can then be satiated through the search and subsequent discovery of media possessing those database derived tastes. Capitalism then uses this model to mine from these database desires, as can be seen in such name as K.

is not particularly unique in attracting fans by adhering to prefab motifs commonplace in contemporary anime. Yet, under this model, the consumer appears to be slave to the media machine because of their “animalistic” desires. While Azuma’s model attempts to clarify otaku culture, the consumer is perhaps merely a victim of media fueled capitalism…

Tune in next week for further discussion on Azuma’s theory of database consumption

 

Fujoshi Friday: King of the Animals Part I

From July 5th to 18th K: Missing Kings, the filmic emissary of the (aka: K Project, K (anime), [K], and Gay among other monikers) franchise, premiered in Los Angeles and Paris and hit Japanese theaters before infiltrating cities across the United States in specially arranged screenings. Though weighed down by its character leadened plot and slightly caffeinated muzak, the K anime series nonetheless maintains a hearty international fan base propelling this film’s vigorous virgin voyage that will perhaps drive the franchise’s further media venture.

K is moderately popular. So what?  This is all fine and well for K fans, but what has this to do with my beloved [insert popular series]. While not particularly acclaimed or easily understandable anime series or film, the way in which appeal operates between the series and fans provides an entry point understanding how anime and manga today, particularly those geared toward fujoshi, operates.

Enter Hiroki Azuma’s Otaku: Japan’s Database Animal.

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A slim book originally published for the general Japanese populace in 2001, it reached American shores in 2009 with under a more academic guise. Due to that eight year translation gap combined with the normal passaged of time, the book tends to feel a bit dated especially with its discussion of technology and female otaku, or rather for the latter, its lack of discussion on female otaku and fujoshi. However, Otaku provides a useful model to begin dissecting female fandoms. In Otaku, Azama explains beginning in the 1970s, Japanese media consumption shifted from the consumption of large “grand narratives” addressing vast themes on human existence to “database consumption,” or rather the consumption of specific traits and archetypes, typically associated with character types, that stem from a larger “database” of character types. Rather than searching for vast themes and narratives, the consumer are instead seeking characteristics provided by media that satisfy desires. Thus, the Otaku becomes the consummate database consumer as he (since Azuma only discusses male otaku) forages anime, manga, and games for the right scratch to his itch.

Let us return back to K. Perhaps among the most outstanding flaws of the series is the lack of coherent narrative. This is particularly apparent in K: Missing Kings (or rather K: Missing Plot). However, the film succeeds in drawing from this “database” of desirable traits embodied by the lightly developed and well designed characters.

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Without even examining the content of the movie, the key art of K: Missing Kings overwhelms the viewer with a variety of character fitting a particular “type” based on design and body posture, a process relying on audiences, even those not familiar with the series, reading these traits and associating it with past characters and anime with similar designs, or in other words, the database. Herein we can see how narrative is backpedaled in the K franchise, instead relying on the the invisible but pervasive database used as a seductive means to draw fans.

Tune in next week for Part II for a further discussion of K and Azuma’s Otaku.