Watashi Ga Motete: Serinuma Was A Lesbian All Along!?

Ha! I hadn’t seen the newest episode of WataMote 2.0 when I made that last post. But this brings with it a whole new round of interest in the show!

So there’s this woman, Akiko Mizoguchi, who wrote a 400+ page dissertation on essentially yaoi and fujoshi and culture and cool stuff. I highly recommend reading it. If you google “Male-Male Fantasy Narrative as Women’s Sexual Subculture in Japan” you should be able to find it. Anyway, the ultimate point that Mizoguchi makes is that fujoshi, through the sharing of their sexual desires they live vicariously in the characters they ship, become “virtual lesbians” with others. The collective sharing of a sexual fantasy narrative, to the extent that real fujoshi will roleplay the parts of the characters they’re shipping, while not legitimately sexual, creates a simulation of sex under which they become these virtual lesbians.

You see where I’m going with this. When Nishina asked Serinuma over to her house so they could discuss their favorite anime together, there is the implication that Nishina would try to turn their discussion into something personally sexual between the two. They would go from “virtual lesbians” to real lesbians. The transition between virtual lesbian and real lesbian is far less than the transition from straight to lesbian. Therefore, had Nishina not asked over Serinuma over for non-fujoshi reasons, her ability to have charmed Serinuma (had the boys not intervened) would have been greatly weakened. In fact, the only reason Serinuma become available to Nishina in the first place was because she was cosplaying Sebastian.

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This metaphorically parallels how fujoshi, by participating in virtual lesbian interactions, become encouraged to legitimate lesbianism. In fact, by Paul Galbraith’s article, Fujoshi: Fantasy Play and Transgressive Intimacy among “Rotten Girls” in Contemporary Japan, many fujoshi are self-identified lesbians precisely because of Mizoguchi’s virtual lesbianism. incidentally, or perhaps because of, the pleasure experienced through coupling two male characters together, many fujoshi are deterred from pursuing men as legitimate romantic interests. Serinuma clearly demonstrates this with her inertia to accepting any of her harem members as potential partners. The farthest extent of this is when the fujoshi then claims herself a lesbian, regardless of her legitimate sexual attraction to women, because the fujoshi culture has ingrained within it a sharing of effectively sexual pleasure, so it is as if she is a lesbian regardless.

Nishina embodies this by being a “real” lesbian (if it’s fair to make that distinction), and is instantly able to bypass Serinuma’s inertia against a relationship— even if Serinuma isn’t attracted to women, she can consider a relationship with Nishina because it doesn’t pull a shippable male from the pool.

P.S. I’m also going to amend my previous statement about finding the show still deeply flawed. The awesomeness of these bits is so great that I can go from ignoring those flaws to no longer considering them flaws at all. i.e., Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda is really great.

Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda: Serinuma Is The Most Authentic Fujoshi?

When defining ‘Fujoshi’ not as a general female otaku but specific female fan of yaoi, BL, and/or shounen-ai, there really aren’t that many anime or manga with fujoshi characters in prominent roles. Genshiken and Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu are the only anime that immediately come to mind, though I’m aware there are fujoshi side-characters in Barakamon,  Nichijou, OreImo, Durarara, and more. There’s definitely more variety in the manga world: Fudanshism, Fujoshi Kanojo, Mousou Shoujo Otaku-kei, Tonari no 801-chan, Ruriro no Yume… you get the point.

However, what I notice when considering these series is that they are overwhelmingly male-oriented. I love Genshiken to death, but I’m also keenly aware that many of the fujoshi-focused scenes in Nidaime have a strong appeal to men as well. And most of these manga that I’ve mentioned —Fudanshism, Tonari no 801-chan, the sort— are male-oriented. In fact, I feel like there’s a disappointing absence in strictly female-oriented anime and manga featuring fujoshi character as someone relatable rather than an “other” to the protagonist of a male-oriented series.

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Until Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda, that is!

Here we have a clearly female-oriented genre— reverse harem. And our star which we are intended to relate to (and believe me, I do) is a legitimate fujoshi. Not only is a fujoshi, but her being a fujoshi-ness isn’t just a one-off gag or side-point. It affects the plot. She has her harem of males, but she doesn’t want them for herself. True to her otome nature, Serinuma prefers seeing her attractive males in love with each other rather than with her. She feels flustered and embarrassed whenever they make advances on her, and that embarrassment is intensified because she struggles with wanting to see them with one another and wanting to actually be a “regular girl.”Image result for watashi ga motete

Denying a romantic life in favor of one’s fantasies is hardly atypical of fujoshi character in other shows, but contextualizing it in a reverse-harem show actually makes for a pretty cool story. My problem when watching Amnesia, Kamigami no Asobi, or Diabolik Lovers is that the girl characters are just as flat as possible. They literally exist purely as a blank slate for the audience stand-in. I want someone relatable rather than just bland. And then the bigger problem is that they’re so indecisive. I know there are lots of hot guys around you, but stop being so coy! They’re hot! Get some action with them. Serinuma, conversely, has good reason to not want to get some action with the boys. It’s so she can see them getting action with each other.
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I would definitely posit that Watashi Ga Motete… WataMote 2.0… is far from perfect in most ways, but to see a legitimate reason why the reverse harem might continue to exist is novel if nothing else. Having a fujoshi-made (actually I don’t know if Junko is a guy or girl; it could be fudanshi-made), female-oriented series with a fujoshi protagonist is refreshing. Self-aware content such as Genshiken or Otaku no Video with their portrayals of male otaku is fun to watch. However, I think there’s a clear distinction between fujoshi and otaku, so while having fujoshi appear in these narratives is interesting, it doesn’t feel as authentic as Watashi ga Motete Dousunda does.

Series

So right now we are studying series in Calculus and I’ve been listening to the podcast Serial, and it’s got me thinking about series. Several of my recent posts have been about Revolutionary Girl Utena duel songs, and I’ve found them to be in a certain sense easier to write about because I know the subject already. I’m curious if others have this experience. Looking at Geoff Thew of Mother’s Basement with his “What’s in an OP” series. Is it easier to make that than an analysis about whatever like how Digibro does? I feel like it is, since rather than doing an actual thing, you’re simply taking a concept and molding it through the formula you’re looking for. I’m not saying this is any worse artistically or lazy, mind you. I’m simply curious about the difficulty of making a series versus single pieces.

Ping Pong -> Old Man and the Sea

The narrative of The Old Man and the Sea is, in essence, the tale of a last stand of the hero figure from that hero figure’s perspective. The boy, Manolin, admires the old man, Santiago, as a hero figure who was once great but who due to physical inability or whatever else has lost that admiration-worthy quality. It begins with some banter between Manolin and Santiago, and the audience is left to wonder, “Why does the boy like Santiago so much? He’s just a useless old guy.”

Ping Pong the Animation is the tale of a hero’s last stand, in narrative, as well. After the events of the show, Peco goes on to be a pro athlete. But for the purpose of the main story’s last arc, it’s Peco with his bad knee fighting to be the hero for one last time before his knee gives out on him. Smile sees Peco as, “the hero.” And his depression largely stems from the hero having left him.

For Manolin and Smile, both, these narratives are about waiting. They are waiting for their hero to return. Manolin believes, deep inside, that Santiago can catch the biggest fish ever. And Smile believes, deep inside, that Peco is the best ping pong player ever. By circumstance, Smile comes to consciously deny his admiration of Peco. Manolin’s father would likely attempt to deny his admiration of Santiago similarly, but it seems Manolin is feistier. But either way, all they can do is wait passively for their hero to reemerge in these people they respect so much.

Peco is young, brash, and lost his esteem after being defeated by Kong and Demon. Then, he works really hard to try to improve, but eventually finds himself outmatched by the ultimate opponent: a Dragon. And just when he’s up against a Dragon, his knee is really feeling it. Santiago is old and jaded, and while he humors Manolin to his face, ultimately he’s not entirely confident in his abilities. He tries, and tries, but it has been over eighty days without a fish. But he eventually finds himself outmatched by the ultimate opponent: a really, really, really big fish. And just when he’s up against this really, really, really big fish, his hand cramps up and he’s old and ain’t got all the strength in the world.

Then, both of them get, as I love to call it, D E T E R M I N A T I O N. And they both become able to move mountains! And the old man catches the fish!! And Peco flies, flies far above the Dragon. They are both victorious! But then, their victory is cut short: Santiago must fight back some nasty, nasty sharks that start eating is fish, and Peco must defeat Smile.

In the end, the old man can’t beat back the sharks, but Peco does beat Smile. But are these two part of the same story? Peco is the Old Man at eighteen, and the Old Man is Peco at seventy. They both struggle the same, but their only ultimate difference is that the Old Man’s last stand is truly his last, and his inevitable destiny is failure, but Peco’s destiny is success.

P.S. How’s the fact that the characters aren’t referenced by name much either? Aside from the coach and his “Mister Tsukimoto,” everyone call them Smile and Peco. And Hemingway always tells of The Old Man and The Boy, rather than Manolin and Santiago.