久しぶり！(Long time no see!) Apologies to anyone that reads this blog (if there is anyone…) Due to a variety of life circumstances, I had to sacrifice writing for Yowlingyaoi. But, now I’m back and ready for action!
Currently, I am living in the International Capital of Boy’s Love, Tokyo, home to Akihabara, Ikebukuro, and Comiket. I will be sure to post about Tokyo (especially Ikebukuro) in the coming months. In the meantime, here is October’s Manga of the Month!
Previously, I posted sporadically about Kio Shimoku’s Genshiken Nidaime, a revamp of his otaku original with a fujoshi twist. In the past, Genshiken Nidaime flirted with the idea of real “Boy’s Love,” or rather the realities fujoshi often contort to fit their fantasies. However, it never crossed the strict barriers between the humdrum of everyday and the “exotic” and “forbidden” yaoi love affairs trapped on the page. That is, until the most recent arc.
Enter once again Hato-kun!
When we last saw Hato-kun (on this blog), he indulged in an cross dressing to allow him greater access into the fujoshi community. A self-proclaimed fudanshi (a male afficionado of Boy’s Love), he nonetheless maintained a delicate balance between his pleasures and his sexuality, raving over real life ships of his friends (particularly Genshiken ever suffering sempai, Madarame) while at the same time affirming his straightness. Yet, as Hato-kun becomes closer to Madarame and as Madarame gains a slew of potential love routes, Hato-kun confronts the truth of his dreams.
Evading any important plot points for those who have not read the manga or are still in the process of reading it, it should be known that Kio Shimoku appears to be questioning how we understand gender, sexuality, and the boundaries transecting all of the above. Kio Shimoku explored in the original Genshiken the process of consumption, the formation of identities, social foundations, and how one finds a place in society with these social connections. He then takes this further in Genshiken Nidaime by focusing on an even more marginalized population, the fujoshi and fudanshi, and questions the societal pressures those loving BL confront through Hato-kun’s character development.
In turn, Kio Shimoku also outlays one of the central issues beating in the heart of BL: the meaning of the “gay” identity. An oft repeated phrase in BL goes along to the effects of “I’m not gay. But I love you.” With the recent turn of events between Hato-kun and Madarame’s relationship, Kio Shimoku brings this phrases to life into his 2D world like an epic social experiment. While his world remains as fictional as the one his characters obsess over, the metafictive approach to the narrative (ranging from his pretenses of reality, the usage and misusage of anime and manga tropes, such as the harem) elevates Genshiken Nidaime to a humorous social commentary asking a difficult questions: can a man love a man without being labeled or accepting the label “gay” or “homosexual,” how is love defined by gender, what is the worth of our hobbies in the light of social acceptance.
Kio Shimoku, as he demonstrates in his earlier works Yonensei and Gonensei, approaches the most intimate aspects of self-discovery and the excruciating journey of growing up with humor and sensitivity. Not afraid of “Slice of Life,” Shimoku slices, dices, and grills the lives of his characters into an savory meal beckoning to consume.
Genshiken Nidaime just finished up as an anime and is currently being published in the United States by Viz Media. Happy reading~