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Name: Mero (メロ)
Alias: N/A
Relationship Status: Single
Origin: f ningyo

Information:
Mero is a mermaid who is discovered by a marine biologist named Tsubaki Reiji. Having spent much of her young life under the water reading BL, her fellow mermaids failed to understand her fascination with the human world. Upon reaching the surface, she finds herself caught up in a series of misunderstandings with Reiji and those close to him, partly because of her own mistaken assumptions about humankind, and partly because everyone else is equally dim in their own rights.

Fujoshi Level:
Mero actually believes that BL is a 100% accurate reflection of human life, and so assumes that all men are in love with each other.

This post was sponsored by Johnny Trovato. If you’re interested in submitting topics for the blog, or just like my writing and want to sponsor Ogiue Maniax, check out my Patreon.

The 1964 Tokyo Olympics are considered to be one of the most significant moments in Japanese history in terms of symbolism. Having lost World War II a couple of decades prior, and having experienced military occupation by the US as a result, the Olympics were an opportunity to show the world that Japan had gotten back on its feet and climbed out of poverty. One of symbols of this transformation is the famous bullet train, which came into service in time for the Tokyo Olympics.

It’s no surprise then that the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics are kind of a big deal. While Japan no longer has issues with proving itself to be a first-world country even in a decades-long economic recession, the government still wants to further its integration in international economy, culture, and politics. The subject of 3.11 will also still be relevant, and if Japan has not “proven” to the world that they have managed to overcome that disaster by 2020, they will certainly assert it by then. However, one particularly large and visible target for cleanup is Japan’s otaku culture, and they’ve already begun their move.

As I’ve learned from a series of public lectures at Temple University’s Japan Campus (thanks to Veef for the link), one of their targets is anime and manga, given their focus on using Japanese pop culture as a form of “soft power” over the past decade. As the Tokyo Olympics get closer, just the fact that the image of Japan as a haven for illegal pornography still persists to some degree means that the Japanese government, or perhaps groups trying to influence the government, will be pushing for lasting change on what can and cannot be depicted in anime and manga. This has a very likely chance of affecting otaku culture in Japan, though the degree to which these changes will last depends on how much creators and supporters of anime and manga can push back.

Any government will naturally want to present itself and what it represents in the best light possible, though keep in mind this does not automatically mean censorship; it is possible for such behavior to only affect media that comes from the government itself. However, because Cool Japan is government-backed, this can create a contradictions. Namely, what has attracted people to anime and manga culture in the first place has been its willingness to be subversive, degenerative, and controversial, both in the context of other cultures and in Japan. Concerns over anime being not just pornography but child pornography in the US and Canada are nothing new at this point, and more recently in Japan has passed the Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance Regarding the Healthy Development of Youths.

I think one possible scenario is that the worlds of doujinshi and industry works will separate a bit more, maybe regress back to how it was a few decades ago. These days Comic Market is a big deal for both amateurs and professionals, with fan parodies being sold right next to videos displaying promos for the latest upcoming anime. A lot of names working professionally, including Satou Shouji (Highschool of the Dead, Triage X) and Naruco Hanaharu (Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, Kamichu!) are artists who not only work in the (relatively) mainstream industry but also still produce both professional erotic manga and erotic doujinshi. While I don’t think many creators will go away, they might very well have to pick what side of the die they fall on.

Censorship levels tend to ebb and flow, and are even a bit hard to control even as laws exist in the books. While artist Suwa Yuuji got in serious trouble in the early 2000s for publishing Misshitsu, an erotic manga that was deemed insufficiently censored, Frederik Schodt, in his classic book Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics, explains how Japanese artists in the 1970s and 80s got around the censorship of genitalia through the use of creative visual metaphors through very “trains going through tunnels”-type affairs. Even the use of mosaics in Japanese pornography has changed over the years to be less prominent. Artists find ways. As somewhat of an aside I do think it’s interesting that the series Denkigai no Honya-san features a government censor as a character who is also a fujoshi.

However, although I believe that manga creators are imaginative enough to find loopholes, I think what we’ll see is a serious effort to keep things from reaching this level on the part of the industry itself and otaku as well. In many ways, this situation goes well beyond the subjects of anime, manga, games, and otaku because Japan has a very real history with censorship.

Leading up to and during World War II, dissenters could get arrested or even killed for publishing material that was seen as unfavorable to the Japanese government. This has of course changed, but just as the memory of the war continues to be an influence on the 2020 Olympics due to the connection to the 1964 Olympics and the role it had in showing how Japan had “moved on,” so too does has the danger of censorship remained in the culture of Japan.

While this might seem to contradict the fact that Japanese pornography is indeed censored, that sort of thing is often just lip-service that some take more seriously than others. After all, unlike other countries where pornography is banned, this is an adjustment to the work itself and assumes that making things less visible also draws less attention to them. There’s a strange relationship between forbidding ideas and forbidding images, because at some point one transforms into the other, and with anime and manga we’re seeing one arena in which this ambiguity comes to the forefront. This is why people from manga creators Takemiya Keiko (Toward the Terra) and Akamatsu Ken (UQ Holder) to the maids at the maid cafe Schatzkiste have discussed the subject of censorship and what it can mean.

In the end I can’t predict what will become of otaku culture, but I think that we’ll see that it’s not as passive as is often assumed. People will fight for their right to consume and create the anime and manga that they want, and it will certainly not be a sad joke.

Name: Ebina, Hina (海老名姫菜)
Alias: N/A
Relationship Status: Single
Origin: My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU

Information:
Ebina Hina is student at Sobu High School, and is often seen with her classmates, the soccer ace Hayama Hayato and fashionable gal Miura Yumiko. She is extremely open about being a fujoshi, and constantly wonders aloud both what pairings here classmates can be in and what they might do to each other.

Hina also has a creative talent, working as a director and script writer for her class’s play for a school festival, though she unsurprisingly loads it with BL innuendo.

Fujoshi Level:
Though very much a fujoshi, she intentionally uses her image to keep guys from asking her out.

This past month I lost one Patreon sponsor while gaining another. While in business this might be called stagnation, I’m actually very grateful that so many of my patrons have decided to continue to stick with me. Of course I can’t hit it out of the park for everyone all the time, so I’m thankful for even one-time contributors.

Speaking of thanks, shoutouts to the following fine folks for being especially awesome patrons.

Ko Ransom

Alex

Johnny Trovato

There are also a few others, but they’ve chosen to remain anonymous, and I can appreciate that.

Last month’s most popular post was Smash Bros. vs Traditional Fighters and What Lies at the Core of Fighting Games, where I wrote about different philosophies concerning simplicity vs. complexity between different fighting game communities. Part of the reason it got so many hits is that I posted it to Reddit myself, but I do think it’s some of my better work. I know I’m more of an anime and manga blogger, but I do have interest in video games and other things as well, and I hope, even if you’re not quite into everything I enjoy, that I can at least make you think.

A few questions for my readers to end off:

1) What kinds of rewards do you think would be interesting for Patreon sponsors of Ogiue Maniax?

2) What do you think of review posts that cover more of the middle point of an anime as it’s airing, as opposed to ones that wait until the very end? They kind of serve two different functions, with the former being more “in-the-moment,” and the latter being more retrospective. I’m aware that some anime fans like to keep up with the new season as much as possible, while others prefer to wait and build up a back catalog, and I’m curious as to which type reads Ogiue Maniax more.

Name: Wakaba, Chikage (若葉千影)
Alias: N/A
Relationship Status: Single
Origin: Susume! Otome Road

Information:
18 year old Wakaba Chikage is an apprentice manga artist who, unlike her sister Chiharu, is open with her identity as a fujoshi. Chikage is also Chiharu’s opposite in many other ways, rejecting fashion and makeup while favoring yaoi with big burly men. For this reason, she is also fond of Chiharu’s hairy teacher Mr. Kumada.

Fujoshi Level:
Chikage is able to approach being a fujoshi at full force, uninhibited by social pressures.

The vacation has turned into a house party. As Keiko and Angela try to butter up Madarame with alcohol and sex appeal, Yoshitake and Ohno give Kuchiki somewhat similar “VIP” treatment. Kuchiki asks Ohno if he can touch her breasts, who unsurprisingly refuses, especially when Kuchiki references Ohno’s tendency to avoid getting a job. Hato gets tired of Angela and Keiko and tries to make Madarame jealous by appealing to Kuchiki, but accidentally makes him pass out from too much alcohol. After some arguing where Keiko and Angela try to use this as an opportunity to be alone with Madarame, Hato and Madarame are tasked with bringing Kuchiki back to the hotel.

This chapter has made me realize that breast-touching, or the prospect of it, has been a recurring theme of sorts in Genshiken Nidaime. I know that might sound kind of absurd, but hear me out.

Between Kuchiki futilely requesting Ohno, Madarame’s risque evening with Keiko, and even the fact that Kuchiki has already indeed crossed this threshold (albeit unconsciously), the “value of boobs” has been present for many chapters. At first glance, this might very well appear to be the descent of Genshiken into something cliche and unrecognizable, but I think that there’s a certain critical or observant eye towards the division between guys and girls that still exists to a certain degree in Genshiken, otaku culture, and perhaps even culture at large.

The reason I believe this to be the case, though for the most part it’s probably just an opportunity for jokes, is that one of the notable differences about the second series compared to the first is the mostly female main cast. It’s a point I and others have brought up again and again, to the extent that it’s arguably not even necessary to repeat, but Genshiken currently consists of this very candid, almost unglamorous look into the lives of these female otaku. Even in this very chapter, you have Kuchiki talking about how every guy in Genshiken secretly wanted to feel up Ohno juxtaposed with three girls in the bath, casually nude, talking casually, while none of them are the “targets” of this desire. On the one hand, breasts are almost a holy grail of manhood, a reflection of the mentality of the Genshiken old guard. On the other hand, girls are letting it all hang out and breasts aren’t a big deal, an indicator of how things are now.

All of this is further contrasted by Angela and Keiko. There’s a certain chasteness among the other characters and even the idea that the boob grab is this life-changing event, and then there are these two characters who are so far beyond the borders of whether or not a guy has touched a breast before, so distant from even the question of virginity, that I can imagine the other people on this vacation seem almost quaint to them. In fact, they’re utilizing their breasts for the exact reason of appealing to Madarame’s innocent awkward otaku mindset, and even the Madarame Harem itself consists of two characters who are highly experienced when it comes to sex and relationships, and two who are absolute beginners. In a way, it reminds me of the image and existence of otaku culture itself, which is in a way childish (this is not a bad thing) but also filled with adult concerns (also not a bad thing), and I don’t even mean that in an “otaku suffer from arrested development” sort of way.

What I think this all leads to is an emphasis that there are many different perspectives at work, to the extent that the idea of the otaku is not as simple and monolithic as it once was. This is perhaps what Tamagomago was trying to get at when he said that the concept of “otaku” as we knew it no longer exists.

While I don’t want to put too much into author intent, it’s a fact that Kio Shimoku is married and has a kid now. He knows and has had the experience of touching a breast. In fact, I bet a lot of manga creators have had this experience, even the ones who draw the most fanservicey, harem-y series around. I have to wonder how much Kio has maintained this theme for the purpose of remembering that being an awkward, unsocial guy who can’t even talk to girls can make it seem as if breasts are attainable only in fantasy, only he’s tempered it by taking into account the point of view of girls as well, not as objects of desire, but as people. In the case of Angela and Keiko, and perhaps even Hato, they’re people actively working to present themselves as objects of desire. Hato himself might be the center of this storm, a male otaku who is also a fudanshi, who has to come to realize his own sexual orientation, and who actively works with symbols of the feminine both inside and outside of notions of romance. Even this chapter features male Hato in makeup for the first time, as if to say that the borders within himself are becoming nebulous. That’s not to say that guys can’t wear makeup, but for Hato makeup has a very specific function.

This chapter review has turned more into a small essay, it seems. I think I’ll cut it short here so I can mention a few other things. Yajima’s mom continues to show that she’s more Yoshitake than Yajima. Mimasaka continues to confirm that her attachment to Yajima is probably something bigger. In the extras of Genshiken Volume 17, Angela tried to send Madarame some dirty footage of herself for Valentine’s Day(whether it’s photos or video they never show or say) , but they got intercepted and destroyed by Ohno before reaching their destination. I have to wonder if Angela is operating under the assumption that he was able to see it.

As always, I prefer to end each review talking about or showing something Ogiue-related, and sadly I could not fit “on the title page Ogiue is wearing that boob window sweater that’s become a popular meme in Japan” into what I was talking about above. It’s the obvious joke, that Ogiue doesn’t have the size to properly fill out that sweater, an idea that fan artists have already leaped on with other similarly-proportioned characters. While I know that Genshiken is full of references to popular culture (Sue makes references to both Dragon Quest and Sakigake!! Otokojuku this month), it’s much rarer for a meme of this kind to reach the pages of Genshiken. At the same time, no one really draws Genshiken fanart, so I guess it’s up to the creator himself to undergo the task.

What’s funny is that, if not for the boob window, this is very much the kind of outfit that Ogiue would wear.

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Name: Wakaba, Chiharu (若葉千晴)
Alias: N/A
Relationship Status: Single
Origin: Susume! Otome Road

Information:
Wakaba Chiharu is a 16 closeted fujoshi. Unbeknownst to her classmates, she enjoys drawing doujinshi of bishounen, and fantasizes over her classmates, Okamoto Kei and Tajima Ryouichi. Her favorite anime is Cat-eared Akira, a series for which she owns a good deal of merchandise, including a life-sized doll of Akira. Her older sister Chikage is also a fujoshi.

Fujoshi Level:
Chiharu is able and willing to indulge in her fantasies to the fullest extent right in the middle class.

Have you been watching The Rolling Girls? So far, it’s one of my top 3 shows of the Winter 2015 anime season. I’m planning a larger write-up for the series, but for now I wanted to point out a small reference in Episode 4 of the show.

Episodes 3 and 4 take place in an area named “Always Comima,” a land that is a perpetual Comic Market doujinshi festival. At one point, the girls end up at a house in Always Comima, whose owner once met one of the girls, Kosaka Yukina, who gave her gratitude by drawing a portrait of their family. You might have noticed that the portrait looks somewhat…peculiar.

The style used in the portrait is actually a reference to a manga artist named Jigoku no Misawa, or Misawa of Hell. Having gained popularity among 2ch users, Misawa is mainly known for his bizarre one-panel comics depicting silly-looking characters trying to act cool.

While his claim to fame is like some Bizarro version of Family Circus, Misawa’s actuall had a few manga long-form published in Jump SQ by Shueisha, the same company that puts out Shounen Jump. I’ve only read Kakko Kawaii Sengen! (“Cool-Cute Proclamation”), which features a girl who is known for being clumsy and popular with the boys, while still looking like this:

Kakko Kawaii Sengen has actually received an animated adaptation, and some merchandise to go along with it.

If you’re interested in checking out Misawa of Hell’s stuff and you have a smart device, then you’re in luck. His series, The Great Phrases Women Fall for, is currently available translated into English on the Manga Box app.

iOS

Android

If you liked this post, consider becoming a sponsor of Ogiue Maniax through Patreon. You can get rewards for higher pledges, including a chance to request topics for the blog.

harupolishi-yandereface

There’s a popular joke when it comes to manga that is rooted in the harsh realities of failure in the industry. Known as “Our Battle Continues!”, it is the signal of a title that has been abruptly canceled, and usually shows the entire cast of characters appears in the last panel charging towards the “unknown.” The Attack on Titan anime even references this, as the final end card for the first series is an image by the original author, Isayama Hajime, parodying the idea. Sadly, there are countless manga that have had to resort to this, including those which showed great potential but were nevertheless unsuccessful.

In the case of the 5-volume Haru Polish from 2011, it’s clear that there was neither a lack of talent nor a lack of interesting ideas or characters that led to its “Our Battle Continues!” ending. Rather, it was simply unable to attract a large enough audience to keep going.

harupolish-youngharu

The main character of Haru Polish is Okamoto Haru, a high school girl who is so obsessed with swords that she borders on Fighter from 8-Bit Theater-like behavior. As a small child, she came across a mysterious blade at her grandparents’ place, and ever since that day she’s been looking to reunite with it. Being denied the opportunity to reunite with her beloved blade even as she reaches high school, she decides instead to join her school’s Iaido Club to get her fix. Though Haru is completely untrained, the president (and only member) of the club sees great, perhaps even disturbing levels of potential in her. The title refers to the fact that the Japanese word for polish, migaku, can refer to both polishing a blade and refining oneself as a person.

It would normally be simple enough to determine how a manga like this would go. You have the club expand, you have its members fight in practice or in tournaments, and you leave plenty of room for depicting cute girls swinging swords. It’s arguably even expected, given its creators’ histories: Totsuka Masahiro is probably best known for Bamboo Blade and Minamoto You [pronounced “Yuu”] is responsible for Asu no Yoichi. However, while much of this does indeed happen, there were clearly some problems along the way. This is best exemplified by the fact that the character actually only have one team match, and it’s in the final volume of the series, when the writing was likely already on the wall for Haru Polish.

Rather than being a continuous story, there is clear evidence of the series stopping and starting over and over again as it re-calibrates to find its audience, going from the everyday hi-jinks of a club, to something about occult curses within swords, to its last hurrah that includes both the aforementioned team match and then a time skip. It’s such a shame that it was unable to find success, because I think the series is legitimately entertaining. It has endearing characters, detailed and vibrant artwork, and manages to stay fun and fresh even as it is recomposed over and over again. If only one of them had hit home with its readership, then I think it could’ve been something great.

harupolish-team

There are two comments by the creators of Haru Polish that speak towards its inability to grab a readership. The first comes from the artist Minamoto, who states at the end of Volume 1 that he was originally feeling glad that he could now do a series that was lighter on fanservice and didn’t really have panty shots, only for the editor to come in and tell him that Haru Polish needs more panty shots (and indeed this is where the manga goes). The second comes from the writer Totsuka, who, in the final volume states that he introduced a male character named Shun (written with the same kanji as Haru) in order to act as a second protagonist because readers just didn’t understand or connect to Haru. I was actually surprised by this because Haru was by far my favorite character while reading due to her cute appearance, her infectious love of swords, and, as seen in the first image above, her tendency towards yandere faces that don’t require her to want to stab a boyfriend (a welcome change to that character type in my opinion). It makes sense though, given the magazine that Haru Polish ran in.

The original home for Haru Polish was Shounen Champion, published by Akita Shoten. While Jump, Magazine, and Sunday are the big names of shounen manga, Shounen Champion essentially is the greatest bastion left of old-fashioned, rough ‘n tumble dudes fighting, series that are meant to appeal to boys above all else. While there are an increasing number of exceptions to the Champion style, such as Squid Girl, even its current most popular title, Yowamushi Pedal, clearly reflects its Champion origins even as it simultaneously embraces its large fujoshi audience. Both Shun and the use of panty shots were attempts to grab the Champion audience, but in the end Haru was possibly too strange a heroine for them. It’s to the credit of its creators that, even as the series began to wind down, it put is best foot forward, with amazing images such as this:

harupolish-killingintent

I want to end by talking about one of the most interesting stylistic flourishes of Haru Polish, which is its use of ink splotches to depict imaginary blood. The intent behind this is to represent an Iaido practitioner swinging a sword with real killing intent. Within the context of the manga, because the characters do not use real weapons (being a high school club and all), this becomes a way for the manga to show that, if they were really fighting, their opponents would probably be dead. In this first and only team match, depicted above, the manga reaches the absolute height of its visual style, as if the creators were saying, “This is what could have been.”

Indeed, I wish there were more.

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Name: Chitose, Sakurako (千歳桜子 )
Alias: Cherry (チェリー)
Relationship Status: Single
Origin: Princess Ringo’s Adventures in “Wota” Land

Information:
Chitose Sakurako is a fujoshi who first meets Himenogi Rin and Yamada Moe at an event for her favorite series, Prince Salaryman. Afterwards, she lands a job at their office, but when a manager named Hayami Yorimichi manipulates Sakurako into having sex with him and then posts the pictures on the internet, the three of them hatch a plan to get back at him.

Fujoshi Level:
At the doujin event where Sakurako first met Rin, she got so into her cosplay as the Prince Salaryman character Red and her yaoi fantasies that she ended up french kissing Rin (also cosplaying the same character).

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