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It’s come to my attention that within the next couple of months or so, three of the manga I love and have kept up with for many years are concluding. These titles would be Mysterious Girlfriend X, Fujoshissu!, and 81 Diver, and each of these titles has a special place in my heart.

Mysterious Girlfriend X

Each work appeals to me in different ways, though they all have the recurring theme of “bizarre romance.” However, of the three, this concept applies to Mysterious Girlfriend X the most, and it might very well be Mysterious Girlfriend X which first introduced me to the genre. Mysterious Grilfriend X is a work that I find to be often misunderstood as some drool fetish extravaganza, and once it ends I’ll definitely be writing a review of the whole thing. In the meantime, you can read it online at Crunchyroll.

Fujoshissu!

Of all of the manga starring fujoshi main character, Fujoshissu! is my favorite outside of Genshiken. I’ve mentioned it on Ogiue Maniax in the past, but I regret not talking about it more actively. What I like is that it’s a fun shoujo manga about three friends at various stages of their respective romances and how they (mostly) comfortably incorporate their personal lives into their otaku selves. Like Mysterious Girlfriend X, I’d also like to write a more extensive review when all is said and done. Though not available in English (by any means), you can read the first (and last!) chapter on Comic Walker in Japanese.

81 Diver

81 Diver is possibly the most hilarious manga I’ve ever read, at least Kinnikuman-level. Fortunately, I’ve already written a review of it which I still stand by, but might still do a final wrap-up (though I’m many volumes behind so it’ll take a while). It’s a shougi-themed manga that is great because, and not in spite, of its ugliness.

In a way, it’s like he end of not just one era but rather multiple ones. I feel as if I came to each of these manga at different points in my life, and they’ve rewarded me by being unique, unusual manga that make me feel good to be a fan.

 

 

Name: Mihara, Touko (三原塔子)
Alias:
Mihara Touko (三原とうこ)
Relationship Status:
N/A
Origin:
Fujoshissu!

Information:
Mihara Touko is a doujinshi artist turned published manga author hailing from Yamagata prefecture in the Tohoku area of Japan. A long-time fujoshi, she regularly attends doujin events, and as a result has met a variety of like-minded individuals, including the fujoshi of Ryouhoku High, Megumi, Yuki, and Eri. In addition, she is high school friends with Ishioka Yuri, to whom she introduced BL. As a native of Yamagata, Touko speaks in a thick Tohoku dialect.

Wise to the point of slyness, Touko was able to offer advice to Satou Megumi when she was in doubt over how seriously she should take her own hobby. Notably, she pointed out the major difference between making comics for oneself and revising one’s own work for the sake of fostering serialization. Her own work, Hana to Kaminari (“Flowers and Thunder”), debuted in the magazine Sylph, known for titles such as Fujoshissu!

Fujoshi Level:
The specifics of Touko’s fujocity are unclear other than the fact that she has devoted much of her time and energy to fujoshi-minded work both amateur and professional. A better indicator however may be the way she has tried to foster a fujoshi mindset in not only her friend Yuri but other girls as well. In this sense, Touko’s abilities as a fujoshi may be greatest in her ability to sense potential.

Name: Sawada, Yumi (沢田ゆみ)
Alias:
N/A
Relationship Status:
Single
Origin:
Fujoshissu!

Information:
Sawada Yumi joined the Ryouhoku High School manga club when her friend Komura Mai brought her along. Unlike Mai, Yumi is shy and more quiet. She also likes to dress up in gothic-lolita fashion even on hot days, but ducks into buildings frequently to keep cool. She will sometimes even go so far as to wear a goth-loli outfit to Comic Market.

Fujoshi Level:
Though not terribly vocal about her fujoshi thoughts (let alone anything else), she still exhibits a mind for BL, easily gelling with the existing fujoshi of the manga club, particularly when it comes to pairing the two new male members, Yonekawa Akito and Nakamura Shingo.

Name: Komura, Mai (小村舞)
Alias:
N/A
Relationship Status:
Single
Origin:
Fujoshissu!

Information:
Komura Mai is a member of Ryouhoku High School’s manga club, which she decided to join after attending the school festival while still in junior high. As the main catalyst behind her decision to join the club was the manga artwork of member/president Satou Megumi, Mai holds her in high regard. Cheerful yet restrained, Mai is also friends with Sawada Yumi, whom she brought to the manga club as well.

Fujoshi Level:
Mai’s immediate fondness of Megumi’s work indicates that she is fairly deep. In addition, she is able to act on the same wavelength as the existing members of the manga club, like with the pairing of male members Yonekawa Akito and Nakamura Shingo and their friendship built on contrasting personalities.

Name: Isihioka, Yuri (石岡ゆり)
Alias:
N/A
Relationship Status:
Dating
Origin:
Fujoshissu!

Information:
Ishioka Yuri is a college-aged woman who moved to the prefecture of Yamagata in the Tohoku region of Japan when she was little. While growing up, she spent years exchanging letters with her friend and long-time crush Roppongi Takefumi. A shy and clumsy girl since childhood, Yuri was able to begin a relationship with Takefumi upon moving back to her old hometown.

In Yamagata, Yuri was able to make a few friends, notably her neighbor Kana and eventually in high school her classmate Mihara Touko. As a fujoshi, Touko began introducing Yuri to various classic BL stories, which Yuri enjoyed without quite knowing what they were. Yuri is also a skilled pianist, having performed in recitals as a child.

Fujoshi Level:
It is unclear as to whether or not Yuri is fully a fujoshi, but the fact that she displays a Dear Girl ~Stories~ Hibiki cell phone strap is possible evidence as such. In addition, her friend Touko seemed intent to slowly mold Yuri into a fujoshi during their high school years, and the fact that Yuri was so moved by those BL stories indicates that the potential is definitely there.

Name: Yoshizawa, Eri (吉沢えり)
Alias:
Eri (えり)
Relationship Status:
Dating
Origin:
Fujoshissu!

Information:
Yoshizawa Eri is a member/current vice-president of the manga club at Ryouhoku High School, where she writes original doujin prose fiction and spends time with her best friends, Aoi Yuki and Satou Megumi. Ridiculed all her life for her overactive and eccentric imagination, her unusual but passionate stories were the catalyst for her friendship with Megumi in junior high. Extremely fashion-conscious with a large appetite, Eri views Megumi’s statuesque appearance with some envy, failing to realize that Megumi herself sees Eri’s round features and petite figure as much cuter than her own. Eri is a fan of many series, including Sengoku Basara and its hero, Date Masamune.

Eri is the last of her friends to enter a relationship, dating her younger brother Kenta’s friend and classmate, Mizoguchi Shigeyuki, though her initial reluctance to reveal her fujoshi side complicated matters. Though older than her boyfriend, Eri is also significantly shorter, creating a strong contrast between the two. She also has a very close, if at times typically raucous, relationship with her younger brother.

Fujoshi Level:
Eri gets easily lost in thought and fantasy while at “work,” the words flowing out of her fingertips with little effort. Though she is able to restrain her mindset in more general settings, she is most comfortable letting her imagination run wild along with her friends’.

Name: Aoi, Yuki (青井由起)
Alias: Yuki-kun (ユキ君)
Relationship Status: Dating
Origin: Fujoshissu!

Information:
Aoi Yuki is a student at Ryouhoku High School, where she participates in the manga club. An avid cosplayer, With her boyish looks and tall frame. Yuki has a preference for dressing up as male characters, including Ryuuji from Toradora! and Tezuka Kunimitsu from The Prince of Tennis. Having spent junior high hiding her true nature, she met her best friends and fellow fujoshi Satou Megumi and Yoshizawa Eri in the beginning of high school while looking for people she could truly open up to. A self-professed shotacon, in terms of her passions, her love of cosplay seems to edge out her devotion to BL, though both are quite strong.

Yuki began dating her boyfriend and childhood friend Sawaguchi Masaki (whom she affectionately refers to as “Maa-bou”) before the start of her second year of high school, and is the first among her friends to be in a relationship. Masaki tries his best to understand and be supportive of her hobbies, but the fujoshi lifestyle is too foreign for him to truly understand. In spite of this, it is clear that Yuki cares for him; when given a choice between Masaki and a fellow cosplayer and friend, Yuki chose Masaki.

Fujoshi Level:
Yuki may be a cosplayer first and a fujoshi second, but still owns about 300 doujinshi, and is keen to “BL” moments in her everyday life. Her doujinshi preferences and her cosplay preferences overlap considerably.

Name: Satou, Megumi (佐藤めぐみ)
Aliases: Satou Gumi (さとうグミ), Megumi (めぐみ)
Relationship Status: Dating
Origin: Fujoshissu!

Information:
A student at Ryouhoku High, Satou Megumi is a member and eventual president of the school’s manga club. An amateur doujin artist and avid fan of yaoi, she attends conventions under the name “Satou Gumi.” Talented in her craft and possessing a sharp, practical mindset, Megumi has a tendency to overwork herself by juggling too many elements of both her fandom and real life obligations. Her best friends are Aoi Yuki and Yoshizawa Eri, whom she first met in junior high. Though their friendship can get rocky, they all firmly know that they have each others’ best interests in mind. In terms of yaoi preferences, she may have a thing for glasses.

Popular with boys yet initially giving no thought to relationships, Megumi wound up dating her now-boyfriend Yamada Kazuaki when he confessed his long-standing interest in her. Though at first unsure of her exact feelings towards Kazuaki (“Kazu-kun”), Megumi was eventually taken in by his cheerful personality and honest enthusiasm. As Kazuaki has little to no familiarity with anime and manga, let alone the world of fujoshi, Megumi tries to keep him separate from her BL activities, though not without a fair amount of trouble.

Fujoshi Level:
Though the thought of BL do not seem to overwhelm her mentally as much as it does other fujoshi, as an artist Megumi is always keenly aware of situations ripe for “adaptation” both in real life and in anime/manga. As such, she not only drew a (clean) BL doujinshi of her club’s president and vice-president but also gave it to them as a graduation gift.

Back in 2007 when I first posted about  Mousou Shoujo Otakukei (aka Fujoshi Rumi), I complained about how the price difference between buying the Japanese language version from a Japanese bookstore was nearly at the point where it wasn’t actually worth it. At that point, it was about $8 or $9, very close to the typical $10 price of an English-translated manga.

Now it’s 2010 and six volumes in the problem is bigger than ever. Stopping by Kinokuniya the other day, the price for the current volume is about $10.50, compared to the English releases’ $12 per volume. What makes this sting extra hard is that the death of Asahiya last year means Kinokuniya basically has no competition and can sell its Japanese-language manga whatever price it wishes. Granted there’s Bookoff for low-price manga, but that consists entirely of used books, and I have this strange feeling I’m the only person in New York City buying Mousou Shoujo.

At this point you may be wondering why I’ve stuck with the series even after I said “meh” to its Volume 1, aside from keeping up with the Fujoshi Files. Well, after having read further, I realized that it’s not until Volume 2 that the series and its characters really begin to find their voices. It’s a fun series with nice developments, and I’m eager to see what happens next. Though out of all the fujoshi-themed manga I’ve read so far, I think I like Fujoshissu! best.

Though this post is being made one week after the event, it’s better late than never as they say, and I’d like to commemorate the life and times of the New York City branch of Asahiya Bookstores, which saw its last day on October 31st, 2009.

I did not become aware of Asahiya until many years after it opened, and even then I didn’t visit it very often, but for me it was a very special store. After I came back from Japan, the story in Genshiken was at its absolute climax with Ogiue at the forefront, and it was through Asahiya that I would buy issues of Monthly Afternoon so I could continue to keep up with the story, and it was also through them that I bought the remaining collected volumes that were not out when I was in Japan, namely volumes 7, 8, and 9. Since then, while I would also buy from Kinokuniya occasionally and Book Off especially, Asahiya was my go-to place for Genshiken-related goods, which included the first volume of Jigopuri that I reviewed. From a rational point of view, I know that Kinokuniya would have served the same function had I ordered from them, but that was not the choice I made, and call me silly or sentimental, but I had grown attached to Asahiya for that reason. It also didn’t hurt that they tended to have better prices on items compared to Kinokuniya.

So despite the paucity of hamburger and hamburger-related materials on Halloween, I made one last stop at Asahiya, where most of the manga had already been bought out, and everything remaining was either $1 or $2. I picked up a ton of manga, including another title about fujoshi.

It’s always a funny feeling when you’re at a Going Out of Business sale at a store you frequented (earlier in the year geeks in NYC saw the demise of gaming store Neutral Ground). You’re enjoying the really good deals you’re getting, but you’re doing so at the cost of having the store fold in the first place. I got a similar feeling from scooping up sweet DVD deals from the ashes of Geneon USA, and while the savings are nice I can’t help but feel we lose much more as a result.

The end of Asahiya NYC. The end of Geocities. It really does feel like the end of an era.

Official sources for Genshiken Second Season

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