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This month I’m happy to say that the Ogiue Maniax Patreon is currently at almost $100, thanks to my generous patrons both new and old. Even getting close to the three-digit mark is kind of like a dream, and I hope to continue to provide interesting content for my readers.
This past month, I’ve gotten around to making a number of posts I’ve been planning for a while, most notably my review of the fujoshi friendship manga Fujoshissu!, my first look at DLC character Mewtwo in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U, and my review of the anime about anime, SHIROBAKO. In the case Fujoshissu! I’d been anticipating writing the review of years.
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anonymous (not Capital A “Anonymous”)
One of my contributors wanted to remain anonymous, but because they fulfilled the “Decide My Fate” tier, I wanted to mention them as I am writing a special post this month. As always, if you’d like to request a topic for me to write, you can pledge $30 or more to my Patreon. If you don’t want to or can’t contribute that much every month, you can always change the amount to something lower, or force a maximum limit on how much you give.
For this month, I’d like to ask what people want to see out of my rewards and goals. I understand that my goals and sponsor rewards aren’t exactly world-shattering, and while I’m certainly not willing to sell myself out, I’m curious as to what people would like to see. Perhaps Skype conversations once a week on any topic? Post requests with unique twists? Drawing requests? I’m not sure if I’d be able to do everything, but I’d like to at least offer more.
In terms of milestones, I’m open to suggestions. How would people feel about a tongue-in-cheek negative review of Genshiken and/or the character review of Ogiue?
If you were to ask me about my favorite fujoshi-themed manga, I would predictably answer that it’s Genshiken Nidaime. However, if you were to ask me this question before 2010 (when Genshiken re-started), I would have said Fujoshissu!: Maniac High School Girls Comedy by Okachimachi Hato. I’ve mentioned it a few times over the years on Ogiue Maniax, and have even devoted multiple Fujoshi Files to its characters, but I’ve never really spoken about it to any major extent. Now that the manga has concluded after seven years of publication, I find that it’s all the more important that I share what has been one of my favorite manga in recent memory.
Fujoshissu! (meaning “We’re fujoshi!”) is the story of three fujoshi friends who have to navigate high school while in different stages of their romantic relationships. Satou Megumi is the artist of the group and meets a classmate working at a convenience store and developing a mutual attraction. Aoi Yuki is the resident cosplayed, who begins the series already dating her childhood friend. Yoshizawa Eri is the writer, and who finds herself attracted to her younger brother’s best friend.
Though this seems to follow more or less the formula of so many other manga and especially fujoshi-themed manga, what appealed to me about Fujoshissu! from the very beginning was its approach to portraying its characters, as well as their connections to both each other and their respective boyfriends. In many manga about female otaku, be they fujoshi or otherwise, characters are portrayed as having their fandoms factor extremely heavily into how they find significant others. Boys will fall in love with fujoshi because they love their honest enthusiasm, or girls will work actively to hide their BL fandom. Though generally meaning well, these series often reduce their characters to bare-bones elements, with little characterization beyond the extent of their fandom.
Though this has changed since 2008 when the manga first began, I do think it’s important to note how much Fujoshissu! treats the fact of their fujoshi identities very naturally, especially in the development of their respective romances. Being fujoshi is shown to be very much a part of their identities, yet it is not their sole defining trait or the only impetus for their interactions with others. Their relationships do not hinge on whether or not they can accept their fujoshi selves or whether or not the boys are either attracted to or learn to love their energy, but are more multifaceted concerns having to do with topics such as concern for the future, worrying about personality compatibility, body image, among other things.
In regards to body image in particular, the character Eri is focused on extensively, and her story really explores the idea in ways that are frequently ignored in manga in general. Eri is depicted as short and chubby, and not just “chubby because the manga says she is” as one often finds in series (Yomi in Azumanga Daioh being a notable example). Though not lacking in fashion sense, she reveals over the course of the manga that, due to having internalized a great deal of bullying she experienced when she was younger, she doesn’t believe herself to be beautiful. To Eri, her fashion choices compensate against her own self-perceived ugliness, and she doesn’t even believe her own boyfriend when he says he finds her to be attractive. The combination of not just having this subject talked about but having a character who at first glance reasonably shows through her design why she would come to this conclusion is remarkably poignant, as is the ultimate resolution of this particular narrative.
Even with subjects this emotionally heavy, however, the manga always feels delightfully romantic and fun because of how close and invigorating the friendship between the three main girls is depicted to be. The depths of their personalities come across in times of joy just as much if not more than in times of pain, and their shared hobby of anime, manga, and BL becomes the lens through which we see this deep friendship. It also embraces a manga aesthetic that for the most part can be called shoujo, but the roughness of the artwork is not quite the same as what you’d normally see, more of a BL style that’s been re-translated back into shoujo such that it embraces the expressive qualities of its own lines much more thoroughly.
Interestingly, Fujoshissu! runs in Sylph a magazine largely devoted to BL stories. While the subject matter of fujoshi isn’t that far off, it also shows that a manga title need not be entirely beholden to its own magazine’s themes, and that readers of BL can have just as much interest reading manga about other topics. This isn’t exactly a revelation, especially with magazines such as the recent Comic it, which advertises itself as being manga for female otaku that aren’t so obsessed with love, but the fact that Fujoshissu! successfully ran for seven years shows that this quality is appreciated.
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Name: Tanaka, Haruna (田中春奈 )
Relationship Status: N/A
Tanaka Haruna is a professional manga author and an alumnus of Ryouhoku High School, where she was a member of the manga club 10 years ago. Because her manga had been doing poorly as of late, she visits her alma mater in an effort to find her early amateur work and to rekindle her passion. Haruna’s specialty is shoujo manga.
Haruna is boyish in appearance to the extent that she is easily mistaken for an approximately 14 year old male. Haruna’s old classmates are a little envious of her youthful looks, while the current Ryouhoku manga club members, especially the girls, find her incredibly moe.
Little is known about Tanaka’s fujoshi side, though she is shown in the past discussing various pairings with her fellow club members.
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.
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 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
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!
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)
Relationship Status: Single
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.
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)
Relationship Status: Single
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.
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)
Relationship Status: Dating
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.