As part of the ongoing project that is the Fujoshi Files, I’ve been reading Fudanshism and its sequel Fudanshifull! By Morishige (of Hanaukyo Maid Tai fame/infamy), the story is about a boy named Amata who can only get close to the fujoshi he loves by crossdressing.
Though at first I didn’t particularly enjoy this series, at some point I found myself growing attached to certain characters in particular, to the point that I looked forward to reading about them more. A natural progression, perhaps, but it’s important to note that this change of heart didn’t happen until about volume 4 (out of 7) of the first series. If you’re wondering why I kept reading despite being pretty unimpressed, when it comes to the Fujoshi Files, I try to read as much as is available. But because I “forced” myself to read through, I have to ask myself, how much of it is me genuinely starting to enjoy the series, and how much of it is the effects of otaku Stockholm Syndrome, where you’ve been with a work for so long despite signs that you should have abandoned ship long ago, and even the below-mediocre starts to be impressive?
One of my favorite characters is Toumine Michika, a ditzy (and ritzy) non-otaku girl who talks about moe like Homer Simpson talks about the internet, as if she’d say, “Oh, moe is in anime now, huh?”
When paired with another character, an always-exasperated male otaku named Matsumoto Senri, it makes for enjoyable comedy. It doesn’t hurt either that Toumine isn’t malicious or selfish; she simply likes to have fun, and she acts as a foil for Matsumoto. Though actually, Matsumoto seems to exist for the purpose of having foils, or maybe it’s better to say that he’s the perpetual tsukkomi character. I mention this because my other favorite character in the series is Matsumoto’s younger twin sister, Setsuna.
Unlike Toumine, Setsuna is very much a fujoshi, which alone wouldn’t make her stand out in a series where there are more fujoshi than male characters, but I really dig the fact that Setsuna always has this strangely diabolical look on her face. Her brother knows she’s a fujoshi, and knows the true nature of the gears constantly turning in her head, and it results in this interesting back-and-forth where he calls her “kimouto” (kimoi (disgusting) + imouto (little sister), and she mockingly refers to him as “onii-chama.”
Then there’s Rittoku Kanae, resident gothic lolita/crossplayer with some particularly complex and interesting body issues when it comes to her large chest. When she first meets “Amane” (the main character in drag), she’s immediately able to tell that he’s really a guy because she knows from personal experience what hiding a developed female figure should look like. However, because Amane epitomizes her ideal image of how a woman should look, Kanae takes a liking to him. An additional twist is that she also has a crush on Amata but doesn’t realize the two are one in the same.
In any case, I find them a lot more interesting than the main characters, who are kind of bland overall. I get the feeling Morishige eventually thought this too, because there’s much more emphasis on them in Fudanshiful!
Thinking it over, I feel like I have very legitimate reasons for enjoying those characters, and that they make the series itself more enjoyable to read to the extent that, while I wouldn’t call myself a fan, I can say that I liked it overall. The odd part is that I wouldn’t really expect anyone to stick with the series as long as I had to get to the point where I changed my mind about it. At the same time, I can’t deny that it did get better, and not just for the characters but also artistically, as Morishige’s ability to convey information visually improves as the manga goes on. My dilemma isn’t so much if I would recommend the series, but more, what does the very act of sticking through with a series do to one as a consumer of entertainment?