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youkai

The Yo-Kai Watch video game series has been a smash hit in Japan, even managing to outsell Pokemon. Recently there has been news to start bringing the franchise and its accompanying merchandise to English-speaking audiences, and the main character of Yo-Kai Watch, Amano Keita (pictured above, right), has become Nathan Adams. This leads me to speculate on the specific choice made here, and to think about how it compares to the meaning inherent to the original name.

Video games are no stranger to changing characters’ names to make them more culturally accessible, but a question arises as to whether there is any meaning lost (or even gained) in localization of names. For example, a lot of Pokemon characters names gain become much more explicit in terms of wordplay though in a way that has less to do with the inherent meanings of names and more to do with how they sound or have built up associations through culture and history (Lance the Dragon Master, Brock the Rock Gym Leader).

In the case of Amano Keita (which sounds like a fairly typical Japanese name) in Japanese his name references very specific things, and because the name has official kanji it becomes easier to see what it could mean. Amano Keita is 天野景太, where 天 means “sky/heaven,” and 景 means “scenery/view.” The Ama in Amano is on a basic level associated with the Japanese goddess Amaterasu (EDIT: It also might very well refer to Amanojaku, a demon-like creature in Japanese folklore. Thanks to Zack Davisson for informing me!). Thus, Amano Keita’s name basically means “a view of the heavens,” which I think associates him with spirituality and mythology and thus the titular youkai in Yo-Kai Watch.

What about Nathan Adams? Initially, what can’t be ignored is the fact that “Amano” and “Adams” sound somewhat similar. I have little doubt about that.

In terms of basic meaning, a Google search reveals that both Nathan and Adam are Hebrew in origin (Adam being a little more obvious in that regard), so there might very well be a continued connection to heaven and spirituality through the name as well. At the same time it probably won’t earn the ire of those who don’t wish to associate Judeo-Christian beliefs with the Japanese occult, because even though Nathan means “gift from God,” Nathan Adams is also fairly generic-sounding and few truly associate names like “Christopher” with Christ anymore.

However, I’m not sure if this is the actual reasoning, because as explained above, I don’t know the degree to which a localization would actually pursue the deeper origins of names, especially because they don’t have the benefit of kanji to make things explicit. That said, sometimes names are selected because of how they sound, with different kanji used to transform it into a “real” name, similar to English. For example, the female character in Hurricane Polymar is Nanba Teru, or “Number Telephone.”

There is another way in which the English name can be associated with the spiritual and the occult, which is The Addams Family. This, I think is actually more of a likely origin, and while Yo-Kai Watch isn’t focused on the macabre the way The Addams Family is, there’s still that connection with the afterlife, ghosts, and monsters. As for Keita vs. Nathan, I wonder if Nathan was picked because it sounds close to “nature.”

While it’s difficult to draw firm conclusion, I believe that both names spirits and the occult/celestial, though due to cultural differences their exact meanings don’t exactly draw from quite the same concepts. I get the feeling little of this will actually matter in terms of how the character of “Nathan Adams” is perceived, but it was at least fun to explore the potential connotations of his name.

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ryuugaminemikado

Ryuugamine Mikado is the protagonist of the light novel turned anime, Durarara!! His story is that he decided to from a “gang” online on a whim called the Dollars, and due to its lax rules for membership (if there were truly ever any at all), it becomes a social phenomenon both on and off the internet. Mikado himself is not a very strong-willed individual, he rarely ever actually has to act upon his role as the anonymous founder of the Dollars, and even then he is not a leader in the traditional sense.

Ryuugamine (竜ヶ峰) is literally “dragon’s peak.” Mikado is more complicated.

The term “mikado,” generally written either as 御門 or 帝, refers to the Emperor of Japan or his estate, but is an extremely archaic and obsolete term. However, while Japan had long since dropped that particular term, probably since at least the 13th century, Western texts still continued to use it well into the 20th century. In other words, in current context, “mikado” has connotations of misunderstanding and mislabeling. Mikado the character’s name is written as 帝人, which literally means “emperor man” but is more a way to make “Mikado” look like an actual Japanese name.

In other words, “Ryuugamine Mikado” is very fitting when you think of the Dollars, with its enormous reach and influence, as the “dragon” and Mikado himself as its misunderstood and illusory “emperor.”

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comicit-issue1-cover

Last month, the publisher Kadokawa Ascii Media Works announced a new manga magazine. Comic it advertises itself as a publication for “adult otaku girls” who “want more than just romance in their stories.” As if to emphasize its defiance of the common trope that manga for women revolve around love stories, its first issue came out on Valentine’s Day.

I find a few things fascinating about the premise behind Comic it. I’ve often seen readers, male and female, criticize shoujo and josei manga for being so focused on romance, that it seems to come at the exclusion of other possible and interesting narratives. However, it is quite intriguing that the demographic that is assumed to be most dissatisfied with the state of manga for female readers would be otaku, hardcore fans of manga. This also assumes that for many non-otaku readers, the state of manga, and romance in manga, is fine. Of course, the idea that there should be “more than just romance” also implies that the manga in this magazine will still feature love and relationships.

There’s another aspect of their advertising, however, that is less apparent. The term “adult otaku girls,” or onna otaku joshi, essentially indicates grown women who are otaku, but are still girls at heart. Though they continue to age, they’ve never let go of the thrill of being otaku. In a way, this seemingly feeds into the celebration of you that is common to Japanese culture and its portrayal in anime and manga, but I wonder if it’s also a jab at it, that youth is a product of the mind, rather than the body.

Below I’ve translated a chart included with the article on Natalie Comic linked above, which is designed to help readers figure out which stories in Comic it they’d enjoy. Note that all of the possible results emphasize the word “girl” instead of “woman” in the same manner as described above, and that there are some… interesting… yes/no questions on this chart.

comicit-chart-translation

According to the article, these categories indicate the following.

Kizuna Girl: You’re into families and brothers, and are moved by connections and bonds.

Mama Girl: You’re into helpless guys and the dramatic joy of seeing them change, as if you were a mother or older sister.

Fujoshi: You’re into buddy stories and past connections, and special relationships between guys

Subculture Girl: Though you appear to be just like everyone else, you’re actually a little peculiar, and you’re interested in philosophies of love that are a bit different.

I’ve yet to read Comic it, but I’m highly interested in doing so. I’ve already ordered a volume, and  plan to review it for Ogiue Maniax in the future.

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I’m someone who’s interested in anime and manga about “nerds,” be they otaku, fujoshi, geeks, or any number of labels. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at this stuff, and I’ve noticed that often when a character speaks using internet lingo in real life, the translation to English, whether it is official or fan-derived, often utilize some fairly offensive terms. A riajuu (someone who is content with their real life situation) becomes a “normalfag.” An otoko no ko (a boy who dresses rather convincingly as a girl) becomes a “trap.” On the one hand, it would be simply a matter of just not using those terms. On the other hand, I could see the argument that if a character is, say, someone who spends most of their time on internet messageboards, that the Japanese equivalent terms should be met with equally ubiquitous terms among English speakers. If term A comes from 2channel, why not look to 4chan for the English equivalent? However, the very fact that the vocabulary has this negative quality makes me feel that there is something buried deep within how internet anime fandom has structured itself that tends towards insults.

Obviously not all anime fans use these terms, but they pop up in a number of places that are not directly connected to the fandom that populates 4chan and similar sites. In this respect, one thing I’ve noticed is that when it comes to how these phrases are used, it’s not simply a matter of trying to offend or upset others. For example, just as often as someone will call another person a “normalfag” or something similar, internet posters will use these terms to refer to themselves. At the same time that such phrases are clearly derived from words being used as insults, they’re also embraced on some level, becoming what I see as self-deprecating badges of honor, somewhat like willingly calling oneself an otaku or a geek. That said, the –fag suffix is clearly meant to maintain its offensive qualities, and as much as attempts are made consciously or unconsciously to separate the purely insulting quality of the phrase from its origins deriding homosexuals, it is nevertheless still present.

In contrast, “trap” is  a term where the connections to homophobia cannot be denied. This is not to say that everyone who uses the word is trying to be insulting, and even I’ve thrown the term out in the past before later reconsidering my own vocabulary, but the origins of the term and the implicit meaning behind it is obvious. The basic etymology is that an extremely feminine male character excites a presumably straight guy, and when he finds out it’s really a boy it makes him feel “tricked.” The important thing to consider here is that this is not merely some imaignary scenario but that people have genuinely felt this way, and the term is on some level a way of maintaining a sense of heteronormativity. Just the same, however, is the fact that some of those guys who have been “fooled” into arousal eventually realize that they are especially sexually attracted to the concept of the crossdressing boy. Whether or not that makes them actually gay or not (Is attraction towards men somehow solely about the “penis” or is it something more holistic? For that matter, what about the Kinsey scale?), often I see the term “trap” then used willingly, from people asking for more. Again, as with “-fag,” there’s this sense of mild self-hatred with use of the term trap, because just as people announce their love for them there’s also the implicit idea that they are not normal because of their interest and do not consider themselves normal. In some cases, they might not even be realizing what they’re saying.

What I find is that these terms are turned against others, as if to maintain divisions (we’re this way, you’re that way), or they might turned inwards to be used as a defense mechanism to keep outsiders away. Can a person survive the barrage of insults they receive and still be there? Are they “one of us?” To share a common vocabulary, after all, is one of the easier ways to become “accepted” in a community. At the same time, the fact that these phrases are often used in a self-deprecating manner communicates the idea that they don’t necessarily feel as if they belong to the majority, be that the majority of society or the majority of an immediate online community. The easy thing to say would be that this all derives from “hate,” but the fact that it appears to be “hate” not only for others but also for oneself leads me to believe that the use of these terms is an attempt to carve out an identity while feeling somehow “abnormal.”

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sehagirls-radionights-small

A couple of cool podcasts, Anime World Order and GME Anime Fun Time, recently released their reviews of Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girls, a bizarre, low-budget 3DCG anime about personified Sega game consoles from the creators of the incredible gdgd Fairies and Straight Title Robot Anime. As a huge fan of Sega growing up, the show hit all the right spots.

At one point, the AWO crew and guest Heidi Kemps talk about the SeHa Girls ending theme, which they explain is actually the company song for Sega in the 90s, but is sadly left untranslated in the official Crunchyroll release. I decided to take it upon myself to translate the song, only to realize that there is not only a full version of the original song, but that there’s also a full version of the variation used in SeHa Girls as well.

Thus, I present to you a translation of “Wakai Chikara -SEGA HARD GIRLS MIX-.”

A couple of notes: Wakai Chikara, or “Youthful Power,” was the Japanese Sega slogan in the 90s. Similarly, a lot of the quotes spoken in reference to Sega hardware are also advertising slogans.

Title: Wakai Chikara -SEGA HARD GIRLS MIX-
Composed by Wakakusa Kei
(Japanese lyrics taken from here)

Verse 1

知的創造 あふれる 英知
Chiteki souzou afureru eichi
Intelligent creations, overflowing wisdom

共に築こう 豊かな文化
Tomo ni kizukou  yutaka na bunka
Together let’s build a flourishing culture

夢と希望は 宇宙(あおぞら)高く
Yume to kibou wa aozora takaku
Dreams and hopes are as high as space (the blue sky)

社会に貢献 我らが使命
Shakai ni kouken warera ga shimei
It’s our mission to contribute to society

明日の創造 生命(いのち)にかえる
Ashita no souzou inochi ni kaeru
Creating tomorrow, changing lives

セガ(SEGA!) セガ(SEGA!) セガ(Fu-!!)若い力
SEGA! (SEGA!) SEGA (SEGA!) SEGA (Fu-!!) Wakai chikara
Sega (Sega!) Sega (Sega!) Sega (Foo!!): Youthful Power

Verse 2

先進技術 絶ゆまぬ 努力
Senshin gijutsu tayumanu doryoku
Leading technology, trustworthy effort

共に目指そう 新たな流れ
Tomo ni mezasou arata na nagare
Together, let us aim for a new current

夢と希望は 海原広く
Yume to kibou wa umibara hiroku
Dreams and hopes are as wide as the ocean

時代の先取り 我らが挑戦
Jidai no sakidori warera ga chousen
Anticipating the times is our challenge

未来の創造 生命(いのち)にかえる
Mirai no souzou inochi ni kaeru
Creating futures, changing lives

セガ(SEGA!) セガ(SEGA!) セガ(Fu-!!)若い力
SEGA! (SEGA!) SEGA (SEGA!) SEGA (Fu-!!) Wakai chikara
Sega (Sega!) Sega (Sega!) Sega (Foo!!): Youthful Power

Spoken Section

「すべての始まり」 SC-3000
“Subete no hajimari” SC-3000
“The beginning of everything” SC-3000

「楽しさいっぱい」 SG-1000
“Tanoshii ippai” SG-1000
“So much fun” SG-1000

「ソフトの数だけ 興奮してね」 SG-1000Ⅱ
“Sofuto no suu dake koufun shite ne” SG-1000II
“Just the amount of software alone is exciting! SG-1000II

「野球もテニスも」 ロボピッチャ
“Yakyuu mo tenisu mo” Robopiccha
“Baseball, and tennis too” Robo Pitcher

「1メガビットの大容量」 マークⅢ
“1 megabitto no daiyouryou” Maaku III
“1 megabit capacity” Mark III

「スーパーゲームメカ」 マスターシステム
“Suupaa geemu meka” Masutaa Shisutemu
“Super game machine” Master System

「時代が求めた16BIT」 メガドライブ
“Jidai ga motometa 16BIT” Megadoraibu
“16BIT: what the times were looking for” Mega Drive

「ワールドワイドでナンバーワン!」 ジェネシス
“Waarudowaido de nanbaa wan!” Jeneshisu
“Number one worldwide!” Genesis

「色いっぱいだよ」 ゲームギア
“Iro ippai da yo” Geemu Gia
“So many colors” Game Gear

「2つの頭脳がドッキング」 テラドライブ
“Futatsu no zunou ga dokkingu” Teradoraibu
“The docking of two brains” Tera Drive

「ゲーム革命!」 メガCD
“Geemu kakumei!” Mega CD
“A gaming revolution!” Mega CD

「高性能ボディコン・ペア」 メガドラ2 メガCD2
Kouseinou bodikon pea” Megadora 2 Mega CD 2
“High-performance body-conforming pair” Mega Drive 2 Mega CD 2

「メガドライブ新次元」 スーパー32X
“Megadoraibu shinjingen”  Suupaa 32X
“A new dimension for the Mega Drive” Super 32X

「脳天直撃!」 セガ・サターン
“Nouten chokugeki!” Sega Sataan
“Right in the head!” Sega Saturn

「セーブはお任せ」 ビジュアルメモリ
“Seebu wa omakase” Bijuaru memori
“Leave the saving to me” Visual Memory

「夢を繋いで!」 ドリームキャスト
“Yume o tsunaide!” Doriimukyasuto
“Connect our dreams!” Dreamcast

Verse 3

人社一体 みなぎる闘志
Jinsha ittai minagiru toushi
The people and the company are as one, with overflowing fighting spirit

共に進もう 絆も固く
Tomo ni susumou kizuna mo kataku
Let’s move forward together and solidify our bonds

夢と希望は 永遠(とわ)に尽きない
Yume to kibou wa towa ni tsukinai
Hopes and dreams are never-ending

目標追求 我らが誓い
Mokuhyou tsuukyuu warera ga chikai
Pursuing our goals, that’s our vow

世界の創造 生命(いのち)にかえる
Sekai no souzou inochi ni kaeru
Creating worlds, changing lives

セガ(SEGA!) セガ(SEGA!) セガ(Fu-!!)若い力
SEGA! (SEGA!) SEGA (SEGA!) SEGA (Fu-!!) Wakai chikara
Sega (Sega!) Sega (Sega!) Sega (Foo!!): Youthful Power

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NOTE: This is a translation of a post by noted Japanese blogger Tamagomago, concerning the subject of “otaku” in current society and its portrayal in Genshiken. You can follow him on Twitter @tamagomago and check out his, Tamagomago Gohan.

I’ve also translated some of his older posts on Genshiken before. You can find them here, here, and here.

All of the image links use Tamagomago’s original Amazon referrals.

As a final note, Tamagomago has a particular writing style that involves separating sentences by line, and separating general ideas by larger spaces. In the past I’ve consolidated these things into paragraphs both for readability and because WordPress used to have a hard time with multiple line breaks. This time around, I’ve tried to leave his general style intact.

61Swif41tPL

Genshiken is a manga that I love.

I love it, and that’s precisely why it’s…

 

Painful.

 

The current Madarame Harem arc is really quite interesting.

Personally speaking, I read Volume 17 and I’m on the side that thinks, “It has to be Sasahara’s sister, right?”

That’s the sort of fun I’m having with it.

 

However…

It isn’t about “otaku” anymore.

It’s interesting as a “romantic story about a pathetic guy.”

 

This isn’t a problem with the storytelling in Genshiken.

It’s because times have changed.

The existence we call “otaku” has ceased to be.

That’s all there is to it.

———————————————————————-

51V4C4lGPvL

Genshiken Volume 1 came out in 2002.

That’s the same year as King Gainer, Ojamajo Doremi Dokkaan!, Sister Princess RePure, Haibane Renmei, She, the Ultimate Weapon, Mahoromatic, Tokyo Mew Mew, Asagiri no Miko, Abenobashi Shopping Arcade, Azumanga Daioh, and RahXephon.

I think that it’s easy to understand the atmosphere at this time.

 

It was the dawning of a new Internet era. It was a time when 2chan had barely come into prominence.

There was no Nico Nico Douga.

 

We were just beginning to find freedom from the Eva Shock. We were already free from Miyazaki Tsutomu.

We felt guilty using the word otaku, and it was kind of embarrassing to like anime.

Anime such as Haruhi were yet to debut, and while we could make friends with people who also like anime and manga, we weren’t that open about it.

Those were the times.

 

Sasahara found in the Society for Modern Visual Culture a place where he could lay bare his otaku self. That was the first step.

Ogiue’s story was about fighting the trauma towards manga she harbored within her heart. That was the second step.

 

In both cases, the on-looker, the non-otaku, was symbolized by Saki.

———————————————————————-

Now, things have changed completely.

In fact, Genshiken Nidaime has been different from the very beginning.

In the first part of Nidaime, the series depicts the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture as a space for a group of BL-loving girls to work together.

Also, it’s the story of Hato, a crossdressing boy troubled by his worries.

Characters like Ogiue and Hato already have their pasts resolved by this part of the story.

 

In this first part of Nidaime, the state of “otaku” reaches a turning point just as the first chapter in Madarame’s story concludes.

51ATNfxJ64L

In this volume, we see the demise of the image of the ’00s “otaku.”

 

“Otaku” as a status, “otaku” as a community we depend on, the fun of trying to co-exist as both a member of society and as an “otaku.”

This is where it all ends.

 

When I say it’s over, I don’t mean, “there are no longer any otaku.”

Rather, the very word “otaku” has become hybridized.

 

That’s why Madarame, as an old-type otaku, has lost his place.

———————————————————————-

Madarame is actually a ’90s-type otaku.

Sasahara is a ’00s-type.

What’s different, you ask? It’s that the period between ’95 and ’96 is the dividing line before more and more people could be considered anime viewers and not otaku.

Sasahara gives the impression that “Otaku are out there, huh…”

Madarame is among the group of otaku who had to seek out others like themselves.

In an era without online networks, fans used analog means to get together and have fun.

It wasn’t a match over a network, but rather two people getting together to play.

———————————————————————-

For Madarame, he no longer needs to identify himself as “otaku.”

He certainly doesn’t look quite so sour anymore.

 

To put it boldly, everyone has become Kousaka.

Kousaka, unlike the other members of Genshiken, does not look like an otaku at first glance.

This is not something to be depressed or troubled over. Quite the opposite, it’s become totally okay to express your otaku hobbies.

———————————————————————-

I think this is a good thing.

There’s no longer that feeling of suffering and turmoil, like what Ogiue experienced.

There’s no longer that feeling that you can only ever belong to this specific group of people, like Kuga-pii.

Actually, Kugapii is in a nice place, working as a company employee.

 

There also isn’t anyone in Saki’s position.

In fact, I think that, even if Saki were perhaps in the club now, she wouldn’t have to pull everyone along like she used to.

After all, there’s no one left like Madarame, who would hem and haw. Everyone would just say, “Okay, okay,” in response to Saki and that would be the end of it.

You can think of that final kick Saki-chan gives Madarame as the demise of the “’90s otaku.”

 

Let’s talk about Sasahara’s little sister, who has dived straight into the thick of things.

The cabaret club story was interesting, wasn’t it?

That’s the feeling I’m talking about.

51JocGkSxsLTheory on the Adaptive Hybridization of Otaku subculture and Yankii Fast Food/Scenery

This book also came out recently. It’s really interesting so you should check it out.

I think the combination of otaku and subculture is easy to understand.

But they’ve also put yankii in there.

These yankii treat being a yankii nonchalantly, and even if they come into contact with otaku or subculture, it doesn’t bother them.

Here, I think you have the basis for the back and forth between the younger Sasahara and Madarame.

———————————————————————-

At this point, it’s unnecessary to identity oneself as “otaku,” nor is there a need to move and hide in secrecy. The fence between men and women has come loose.

 

Is it still necessary to depict “otaku?”

 

Works about otaku have been increasing.

However, everyone essentially looks cheerful, don’t they? They certainly don’t appear to be all that gloomy.

I think that Kirino in Oreimo has times when she looks gloomy, downright sour even (“Erotic games aren’t just popular shlock anymore, they’re deep!!)

Comparing her appearance and actions, however, she possesses the spirit of a retro otaku.

How is the “maid café” genre doing in manga? They don’t really touch Akihabara culture anymore, so there’s no way to tell.

Characters who go to Comic Market have become a part of normal manga.

61l2t4xc-FL

I totally love this manga.

There’s a lack of refinement in all directions. That said, there’s a cute underclassman (I won’t allow this! Take a good look!!).

There’s a lack of refinement, but take a look at their fashion. They’re plenty cheerful.

 

51KaNULe6VL

This comes across more as fantasy, but Denki-Gai no Honya-san also has pure, proper otaku.

However, rather than being about otaku, I think that this work is actually more a story of “positive self-affirmation.”

It’s okay to read erotic manga! It’s okay to enjoy BL!

Along those lines, it even says, “It’s okay for you to fall in love!”

———————————————————————-

Genshiken is also similar to these manga. It’s a 2010s otaku… wait, the word otaku no longer exists. It’s changed direction to become a communication manga about a group of people who share a hobby.

The girls who appear in the story are, to put it differently, “reality.”

In terms of their fantastic elements, they would probably be ranked as:

 

Hato > Sue > Angela > Sasahara’s sister

 

The more to the right you go, the closer you get to reality.

In a way, Hato is a boy who acts out the role of the “ideal girl” (it’s not a gender identity disorder), so naturally I’m comfortable including him in this.

Angela is a little more likely to exist in Japan, even though she can be described as the girl who wants to date “OTAKU.” [Translator’s note: “OTAKU” here was originally written in English]

———————————————————————-

This Genshiken is a romance manga that’s cheerful and filled with happiness.

It’s fun.

 

It’s fun, but reading it is painful.

 

My own sense is that of Madarame’s generation, the ‘90s otaku.

 

It’s come to the point that I’ve said my farewells to that era, and I’m giving my regards to the younger generations.

 

I no longer build myself up into a kind of character.

———————————————————————-

51+y63MvznL

I have more empathy for this work.

It’s because he’s an adult otaku. More than that, I have a lot of friends who are just like this.

I understand this type, someone who’s no longer doing the otaku thing at full force, but still trudges along that path.

———————————————————————-

Perhaps Genshiken has at least made me into an “old boy,” who goes about saying, “Ah, youth!”

But that’s not quite right, is it?

There’s no gloom. There’s no anguish.

If it had become a completely different, unrelated world, I could say, “Wow! Look how this manga shines! How wonderful!” but that would only be a halfhearted, depressed reaction.

To grow up along with Genshiken wouldn’t in itself make me feel so awful.

“All of you, please move on.”

“You don’t belong here anymore.”

If you look at it that way, it’s painful.

———————————————————————-

However… it’s interesting so I keep reading.

It doesn’t matter that this is Genshiken. Manga is manga.

Yajima, Sue, Hato, all of them are cute. In particular, Yajima has gotten increasingly cute.

Ah, youngins!

 

Actually, on a personal level I find this girl to be the most amazing one of all.

“This alone makes Genshiken Volume 17 worth it.”

-Gogo Tamagomago of the Dead

 

Yoshitake is the character I like best in all of Nidaime.

It’s just, here’s a character that really positive, acting as the axis that influences both the suffering Hato and Yajima, all while Yoshitake herself doesn’t move one bit.

This face is the first time we get to see what’s underneath.

Ah.

She’s always cheerful, but doesn’t it seem like there’s something underneath the surface?

No matter what, I can’t take my eyes off of Yoshitake.

 

Speaking of which, someone (a woman) once said, “Yoshitake’s fashion is really female otaku-esque.”

Somehow, I can understand that at least a little.

Though, it’s more like, Yoshitake is the very image of the female otaku during the time when Nidaime first began.

———————————————————————-

I took a long time to write this.

 

Right now, I’m not an “otaku” nor am I part of a “subculture.”

I realize I’m now an adult who doesn’t “belong” to anything like that.

I think it’s a joyful thing. I can like what I like and then write about it.

 

And yet, why is it so painful?

Why do I feel such sadness when I read Genshiken?

 

It’s probably because the first part of Genshiken is a story of youth coming from the idea of “deviation,” but between Hato’s change of heart and Madarame’s situation being reset, there’s no need to be deviant.

It’s a sentiment I don’t understand, and it’s just not something I have in common with them.

Please give me the courage to continue along in this deviant subculture – Tamagomago Gohan

Even as I become an adult, I don’t feel like one – Tamagomago Gohan

Even re-reading the above articles, I really don’t understand after all.

Even though I understand that I’ve become an adult and moved on.

 

The depression that comes from Genshiken continues to grow.

It’s simply that I’ve reached a bothersome age.

 

Is it just that I’m still trying to find myself?

———————————————————————-

51uvEtLeceL

Actually, I feel like this title can give me a hint.

It’s a manga I absolutely cannot ignore.

That’s because, when I read it I feel relieved.

I feel like there’s a hint here.

———————————————————————-

Ah, could it be? Is it because they don’t really talk about their favorite things in Genshiken Volume 17?

They do for a little bit, but their words feel somehow unnatural.

However, I understand that these are “otaku.” They’re otaku who don’t depend on being anything.

———————————————————————-

And yet, I love Genshiken.

 

The End.

———————————————————————-

Notes:

I had a realization that this is like what happened to rock music.

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Whether it’s in the US or in the Netherlands, I’ve noticed that Phineas and Ferb is amazingly popular, so it should be no surprise that the show has aired in Japan as well. The only curious thing is that P&F takes place over the “104 days of summer vacation” as mentioned in the intro, but in Japan summer vacation is significantly shorter and they get homework during their break because their school year starts in April.

So what is a Japanese Phinea and Ferb opening to do?

Simple: Don’t mention summer vacation at all.

I swear they got the perfect voice for their sister Candace. Seriously, I feel like it’s spot-on with what I imagine a Japanese Candace to be, even the way she says “opening theme.”

Though it seems to be old news at this point, I thought I’d express my own disappointment at the fact that the re-release ofGenshiken(in massive omnibus) format.

Given the number of big re-releases of manga in English as of late, from Sailor Moon to Cardcaptor Sakura, I had originally bought Kodansha Comics’ Genshiken release with the expectation that, like those other revised editions, that it would come with a newer, more accurate translation. Instead, what we’re left with is a direct reprinting of the old translation which, while serviceable, not only made mistakes which are somewhat less significant to the story (like messing up the names of Mobile Suits from Gundam), but also changed characters’ dialogues to mean entirely different things (Ogiue’s introduction goes from her asking why girl otaku like yaoi so much to accusing the guys of being “queers”).

I don’t need to buy Genshiken over again. I have it a million times over, in anime form, in manga form, in Japanese and in English to differing degrees. I even own all of the special edition Japanese releases of the manga and their accompanying paraphernalia. The reason I bought the first omnibus was simply because I wanted to be able to share Genshiken with my friends who can’t read Japanese while treating them to a more accurate translation, but if that’s not the case then I have a problem.

If anything can be done to revise the later omnibus volumes I would like to know, as I think having a truly solid edition of Genshiken would only be for the best.

Mousou Shoujo Otakukei, the story of powerful fujoshi Asai Rumi and the man who loves her. I’ve been following it since 2007 and recently finished the series (expect a review, perhaps?), and in that time it’s become one of the more well-known fujoshi-themed manga, getting even a live action drama adaptation as well as an English-language release by Media Blasters.

In its original US release, Mousou Shoujo Otakukei was changed to Fujoshi Rumi. Let’s leave aside the question of whether or not they should have changed the title in the first place, other than to point out how interesting it is that Fujoshi Kanojo decided to go the other route and become My Girlfriend is a Geek.

Mousou Shoujo Otakukei then got a French release. There, its title is actually Otaku Girls.

But now, for the J-Manga release, they’ve decided to go back and change the title to a direct translation of the Japanese. Hence Otaku-Type Delusion Girl.

So that’s four different titles for the exact same manga, all of which are to some degree official (the only possible exception oddly being the actual romanization of the Japanese title).

I don’t think I need to explain why this is confusing.

Translator’s Introduction: This is another post by Japanese blogger Tamagomago about the new Genshiken series that is currently running in Japan. This time, the focus is on the new character Yoshitake Rika.

The original post was actually written back in June, which means that the contents of the post do not take into account any events that have occurred past Chapter 65. Just the same however, the most recent chapter, 68, focuses heavily on Yoshitake, so before you read the latest chapter I hope you take the time to read Tamagomago’s article first.

Like the last translation, I have used translated images in place of the originals because the text contained in them is mostly relevant to the points being made, and the images are larger because of the difficulty in reading shrunken-down English text.

———

The Dynamo of Nidaime, Yoshitake is Really a Charming Girl

My article “The Appearing and Disappearing Wave of Generational Change in the Meaning of ‘Fun’ in Genshiken II Volume 1/Genshiken Volume 10” has been translated into English.

Thank you! I am very fortunate to have this.

Now then, my initial feelings while reading Genshiken Volume 10 (Genshiken Nidaime Volume 1) were about the sense of distance Madarame and Yajimacchi have towards “how otaku have fun,” as can be seen in the article above.

Is it all right for me to like this stuff? How much is it okay for me to open up? As I get older, will the nature of my passion change? And so on. If the first part of Genshiken starts with “coming into contact with otaku culture,” then the current Genshiken is about the extremely wide age gap between the employed otaku, like Madarame, and the freshmen, Yajima, Yoshitake, and Hato.

Don’t make light of that, five years makes for quite a difference these days.

With that said, this time I’m interested in Yoshitake.

This is from Volume 10.

The three newcomers are characters who are extraordinarily bold and rich, but Yoshitake is something else. By the time she’s reached Genshiken, she openly refers to herself as fujoshi, will say “oink”[1] without batting an eye, and wholeheartedly pursues the things she enjoys. She’s a hyper, out-of-control, super express girl.

As you can see, her way of not hiding anything and showing her true otaku disposition to others is really a lot of fun to watch.

So, I talked to a friend of mine who really loves Yoshitake and we had a discussion regarding the topic of, “Just what kind of role is she going to play?” Then I jotted down the resulting notes.

The Glue that Holds Everyone Together, Yoshitake

Last month’s cover is magnificent.

Look at this!

This image makes it clear that the one who connects the individualistic wills of Hato and Yajima is actually Yoshitake. This confirms it.

No matter how you look at it, with the all-too-conspicuous foreigner otaku Sue and the girl-boy Hato, Genshiken right now has an unusually thick, bold flavor. Yoshitake is also worthy of being considered a bold character, but is something like the average between the others.

While Yajima is more plain, her complexes and irritations are expressed to such a painstaking degree that she instead stands out as a character with whom it’s easy to empathize. That she doesn’t put any effort into fashion also makes her stand out.

Yoshitake is fashionable.

You can’t really say she’s “extremely fashionable,” but I think you can at least say she’s “fairly fashionable.” Even dressing casually, she wears clothing that matches her own figure and style to a certain extent, and she has a new outfit on every time she appears.

Red and bottom-rimmed, even her glasses are fashionable. There’s a big difference between hers and Yajima/Madarame’s; the two of them would just say “All that matters is that they work.”

But while she is fashionable, she isn’t really on what you’d call the cutting edge of fashion, and her attire reflects this quite splendidly. Her subtle, child-like clothing choices are also rather charming. You could say that she’s like a Mori Girl[2], but that doesn’t quite feel right. How can I put it? It’s like she’s still comes off as otaku… but she’s also fashionable… Argh! Whatever, I’ll leave this to someone who actually knows about fashion.

(PS: After consulting a friend, we determined that her style is probably Daily Casual. You can see it at Konshuu no Osusume|tiptop blog.)

Most of all, while I don’t know how to distinguish her style of dress (let’s name it “Yoshitake-style!”), she seems to recognize herself as a so-called “loli-faced character.”

When it comes to the extreme difference between those in Genshiken who care a lot about their attire (e.g. Ohno and Hato, people for whom their clothing is a part of their personalities) and those who couldn’t care less (like Ogiue, who doesn’t care about a lot of things), the middle point between them holds some value.

So then, is Yoshitake’s personality also average among Japanese people? Actually, it’s more like she stands out, but only just a bit.

First of all, her seeming inability to “read the mood” is beyond top class.

But then, I suppose she’s a character who actually just fakes her inability to read the mood, and that she’s instead using her top-notch social sense to liven things up.

It’s complicated, isn’t it? She’s especially similar to characters like Mugi-chan from K-On! and Erika from Heartcatch Precure.

Using all of her power to maintain “fun” and to connect everyone together, I think that’s what Yoshitake is all about.

Yoshitake’s Recent Appearances Have Been All Fun and Games

This month’s cover image connects with last month’s cover. It’s quite nice, wouldn’t you say?

This month’s Afternoon features a Doujinshi Event, and the comic drawn is essentially “All of the Genshiken members cosplaying.”

Homu Homu Ohno, Mami-san Angela (not-Genshiken), Sayaka Yajimacchi, and then Kyouko Yoshitake and Kyubey Sue.

Hato was probably supposed to be Madoka. Ogiue got sick last month and had to bow out. Kucchii is a salesboy.

For everyone in the club to cosplay together like this is in itself rare, but if Ohno doesn’t exercise her influence at an event, then it can’t possibly happen in the first place.

So then, what I want you to see is this.

From beginning to end, Yoshitake makes only a brief appearance (because the main focus is on Ohno and Angela), but you can see that she’s smiling the entire time that she’s cosplaying.

The sweat is probably because it’s hot.

Indeed, this girl really enjoys herself.

Yajima has a body image complex and so must have not wanted to cosplay.

And yet, there she is. It’s a bit surprising.

I mean, if she really were against it she would have rejected it, right?  But then she says, “I only agreed to this embarrassment because I thought we were all in this together.” Actually, this “Madoka Cosplay” became a topic of conversation on the internet. Not only that, Yajima winds up cosplaying the most scantily-clad character, Sayaka.

…This is one of the things that makes Yajima cute.

Let’s put that aside.

The reason Ogiue and Saki-chan have already cosplayed is that Ohno pushed and pushed and got turned down, and finally got them to dress up, but with Yajima, she does so surprisingly without making any fuss.

Huh?

The first thing I felt was that perhaps the bar is lower for this generation when it comes to “cosplay.”

It’s not anything special, but by comparison is instead recognized as just one way among many to play around.

But even so, Yajima should dislike cosplaying.

That’s where Yoshitake comes in.

“But then where would that leave my character? Nom Nom.”

Yoshitake is always, always with Yajima. Here, her good qualities come to the surface.

It’s likely that not just Ohno but Yoshitake also encouraged Yajima to cosplay.

I don’t have a particular reason for using thinking in the following way, but if you can say that the two of them are good friends, and that they’re always together, then it’s quite simple.

Moreover, they must be aware of the pairing of Kyou-Saya.

Let’s take another look.

Hato, worrying (?) about Madarame, splits off this time to be a salesboy. Yajima of course feels something along the lines of, “Why that jerk, running away from this,” which brings about her complex, but Yoshitake pacifies Yajima when she’s in that state.

First, she says that as a pairing cosplay, she would be in trouble without Sayaka.

Next, she suggests that Yajima should find this good for Hato-chan, when one considers how Hato is acting.

That’s right. Let’s look things over.

  • Yoshitake, from the bottom of her heart, has fun cosplaying with everyone else. That she also prepared Pocky for it is really nice. Could it be that the title image for Chapter 59 was foreshadowing?!
  • Yoshitake understands Yajima’s objections, and knowing them is thus able to follow and respond. She doesn’t just ignore it.
  • Yoshitake really understands Hato’s complicated feelings, and cheers him on. She of course does the same for Madarame.

Yoshitake is amazing.

That girl, she’s capable of going along with everyone, and she has a lot of fun while doing so.

Whereas the others up until now have dressed poorly, possessed complexes, experienced trauma, and tried to escape from the world, she’s a little different.

I can feel strongly her desire to have as much fun as she can while considering everyone’s feelings.

At this point, the notions I want to entertain in regards to Yoshitake are, “Just what are her shortcomings,” and “Does she have any problems at all?”

However, to think that her cheerful behavior comes from some kind of inner suffering is perhaps an outdated way of thinking about it? At least, that’s how I’m feeling.

When I asked a friend who likes Yoshitake, “What do you like about her?” he said, “I like Yoshitake because she enjoys the things she likes.”

Ah, I get it. I really do. It has almost nothing to do with her “being an otaku.”

If Yoshitake’s hobby was film, then she’d be a film maniac. If she liked soccer, then she’d be playing soccer.

It just so happens that she likes anime, manga, and BL. That’s why she has fun as an otaku.

Whichever she chooses, she’ll definitely be showing a smile on her face.

She’s not just having fun without any care in the world.

…No wait, that might be an incorrect way to phrase it. She’s definitely carefree, but it’s not like she doesn’t think about anything while she’s having fun.

After thinking about how she should have fun, whether it’s all right to be enjoying herself, and whether she’s being a bother to other people, she consciously tries to have the most fun that she possibly can.

This is the scene in Volume 10 where she enters the club. Right from the beginning, she accurately confirms whether or not liking BL is OK there.

It’s very interesting that she states so plainly, “If it’s NG [no good] then I’ll stop [coming].” In other words, in confirming whether or not the things she likes are okay in there, it shows that she came there looking for a place where she could pursue enjoyment.

She wasn’t relying on escaping or anything, she was being active.

Another friend was saying to me that what she really meant was “If it’s NG then I’ll stop [talking about BL].” If that’s the case, then that’s also amazing.[3]

I might even say that if “BL being NG” means that she would find another way, then that would be the ultimate form of being able to pursue fun.

Therefore.

She’s able to make close friends, and my friend thinks that she has like the greatest smile. That’s why he loves her.

“Yoshitake, has fun doing the things she likes.” Indeed, that’s also why I like her so much.

To have fun doing the things she likes with such firmness, and to even be able to say that she likes it, is truly what makes her so charming.

Yoshitake and Yajima

In the work itself, things are often drawn from Yajima’s point of view, while Yoshitake’s feelings aren’t drawn all that much.

That’s why Yajima can be seen as incredibly cute, but still I’d like to see Yoshitake a bit more.

Yajima’s spirit is filled to the brim with mud.

However, it’s completely different from what’s inside Madarame, Kugapii, Ohno-san, and especially Ogiue, who is an extreme case. She doesn’t have an inferiority complex over being an otaku. She professes her interest in BL, too.

She’s unable to outright talk about her figure. It’s an incredibly vague complex to have, as a human, as a woman, and perhaps more.

That said, it’s clear that it hasn’t turned into hatred.

Currently, she’s enjoying Genshiken. No, it’s more like, she’s able to enjoy herself there.

Here is where I think Yoshitake has an enormous presence.

It’s possible that even if Yoshitake weren’t around, Yajima would have still gone into Genshiken. She possibly would have helped out with Ogiue’s manga as well. She would have probably had fun doing so.

However, that Yajima is able to be in the prime of her youth (it IS the prime of her youth, right?!) is partially because she’s being guided by the raging engine of Yoshitake.

Well, Yoshitake is more like a runaway train going off the tracks, but they’re still really good friends.

They come together through their hobbies, and it really seems like they have fun doing so.

Looking at this makes me happy.

With that in mind, there’s another scene of them with a hint of sorts. This panel is where I picked up on the closeness of their friendship.

Yoshitake is a girl who engages in physical intimacy in the truest sense of the term. She doesn’t go quite as far as Sue, but she clings to Yajima especially.

Yoshitake really cares for Yajima as a friend. This is another instance of “the fun of Yoshitake.”

Yajima also likes Yoshitake. She pretty much reflects on the idea that “Oh well, it seems like I made some fujoshi friends.” Here, “friend” undoubtedly means Yoshitake. It also includes Hato to some extent, but in the end she’s still consciously aware of his status as a “boy.”

“Fun” with respect to Yoshitake appears under a large variety of conditions, but in this case I think one big point is that it’s obtained through being with Yajima.

Hato-kun is of course a friend, but it’s Yajima who receives Yoshitake’s physical intimacy the most. The upperclassmen are another group entirely.

I think the balance she achieves between her “ability to read the mood” and her “desire to pursue fun” shows how wonderful she is.

She never feels like she’s thinking, “I have to look out for Yajima’s sake!” Rather, she truly thinks Yajima is fun.

She also doesn’t act conceitedly, as if to say “I make this place better.” However, if she thinks “this place makes me happier because I have more fun here,” then she will indeed make that place better.

Ahh.

Once again, I’m fully aware of how amazing it is that Yoshitake “has fun doing the things she likes.”

She’s never gloomy. Though, there’s a chance she will be at some point, but currently it has never happened.

A friend of mine said, “Isn’t she a symbolic example of a ‘positive otaku?'” To that I said, “Ah, you’re right.”

It’s not that “something happened so I became an otaku” or that “something happened so I became her friend.”

It’s that “being an otaku is fun so I have fun being an otaku” and “I just like my friends, simple as that.”

So, it’s really fun seeing Yoshitake be that way.

In my eyes, Yoshitake’s excitement is also one of her good points. Isn’t it super cute?

But I think what it might really be is that I’d like to become Yoshitake.

If I were as positive, as capable of finding fun in the things I enjoy, and as able to express my fondness for the things I like, how happy would I be?

Presently, Yoshitake is in a total supporting role. She hasn’t had a chapter featuring her, and her inner thoughts haven’t been revealed.

I think that could be because she says everything she thinks anyway.

I think she’s probably a girl who’s pure in the best sense of the word.

The only problem is probably “What’s to come.”

Yoshitake, perfectly fine with drinking alcohol despite being underage.

I won’t deny the possibility that something problematic could occur given her too-pure immaturity.

I won’t deny it, but… currently no one’s been hurt, and on the contrary Yoshitake’s the catalyst for cheering others up.

I think it could be nice to have her remain in a supporting role, to have her be something like the one who raises the spirits of the other club members.

At any rate, this month Madarame is in the heroine position. That’s dangerous.

Just how cute can he possibly be…!

Madarame-tan, you’re not a loser underdog, you’re a winner overdog![4]

———

Translator’s Notes:

[1] Like the last article, “oink” refers to “buhireru” (ブヒれる), an onomatopoeic verb to describe oinking like a pig, implying that one is a disgusting anime fan

[2] A Mori Girl, or “Forest Girl” is a style of Japanese fashion where the goal is to look like a girl who lives in the forest, generally tending towards light, natural colors and simple-looking clothing. More information can be found here.

[3] The confusion over the whether Yoshitake meant that she’d stop coming to Genshiken (i.e. quit) or stop talking about BL (i.e. stop) comes from the fact that the words for “quit” and “stop” in Japanese are the same, yameru (やめる). Normally the easiest way to differentiate them is through their kanji (辞める=quit; 止める=stop), but the original Japanese text leaves it ambiguous. As it is my translation of that image that you see above, I interpreted it as the latter.

[4] The phrase here is “make inu” (負け犬), a phrase which literally means “loser dog” but is generally translated as just “loser.” Tamagomago contrasts it with “kachi inu” (勝ち犬), or “winner dog,” which is to say that he’s not a loser, but he’s not just a winner either. As translating kachi inu to just “winner” would have removed this subtlety, I went with the interpretation of “winner overdog” if only because overdog vs. underdog is about as ridiculous as kachi inu vs. make inu.

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