Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda Ep 12: The Fujoshi Zone

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 01.10.51.pngSoulmates, that is what Serinuma calls Nishina. They’re soulmates. Not lovers, not friends, but soulmates. It seems this grey zone between a friendly relationship and a romantic one if where Nishina stands in Serinuma’s eyes. Even when they are going on the date in Episode 12, Serinuma expresses that Nishina is “fun to be around.”

Actually, let’s take a look at her date.

For Nishina, this is her chance to express her love for Serinuma, and she does the whole set up right. She reserves a whole boat, plane flight, dress, all of it for a truly “proper” date. She is dressed to impress.

Her first line of dialogue is introducing the place. She’s rehearsed that. Serinuma needs to know where she is, after all, right? She even makes it halfway through her next line— “When I see such beautiful scenery…”

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And then comes yaoi pairings. She was so close to pulling a romantic line, but then it comes out as yaoi. I can reiterate the lesbian undertones of fujoshi culture a million times, but it won’t change that concretely, roleplaying and imagining male / male sexual contact is not the same thing as legitimately engaging in sexual contact.

Nishina had the lesbian fujoshi crutch— she was immediately the closest to Serinuma and attempted to use this fujoshi connection to grab Serinuma romantically. Yet ever since the kiss, Serinuma has persistently emphasized their friendship as fellow fujoshi over romantic interest, and before long Nishina found herself satisfied with being Serinuma’s soulmate.

By satisfied, I’m not implying Nishina only wants friendship, but she has convinced herself that she can’t have anything more. Do you know what this is called?

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Now, to be clear, one could argue the whole cast of Watashi Ga Motete struggles with “the friend zone,” but Nishina is the only one who actively perpetuates her friend zone.

Igarashi is the most vocally against the state of things. He repeatedly seizes opportunities to bond with Nishina and had a clear-cut goal of becoming her boyfriend.

Nana and Shinomiya are similarly romantically-minded— most of the things they do, while not as suave as Igarashi, have the same goal of impressing Nishina into falling in love with them. Nana achieves this impression through his charisma and situational decision-making, and Shinomiya succeeds through his adorkable failure to properly ‘man up’ to the situation.

Mutsumi, ever since discovering his love for Serinuma, is calm but clear. He has no difficulty expressing his love or his thoughts toward Serinuma, but is also fine with casually being with her. He would come closest to being a “romantic companion” as opposed to a “boyfriend,” if that makes sense.

He views his innocent companionship as an entirely separate issue and tackles his attraction to Serinuma by simply expositing her it.

And what is Nishina doing? Talking about BL? What happened, girl? You were her first kiss! You had such a great shot! And now you’re struggling to come up with topics?

Simply put, Nishina has done more than just put herself squarely in the friend zone. She has put herself in the fujoshi zone. Here, she cannot escape, for the only way she knows anymore how to express her interest in Serinuma is through pairings, thus perpetuating her friendship.

It isn’t a miscommunication, it’s a vicious cycle that Nishina has put herself in since she and Serinuma made up with their reversible pairing argument. Since Nishina’s strong point from the start was BL, she returns to it in an attempt to preserve Serinuma’s interest in her. Yet at this point, Serinuma has accustomed herself to this as a gesture of friendship, and Nishina finds her hopes of romance falling away.

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Think about it— the date wasn’t her only opportunity. She had the whole time at the hot springs! Heck, given how much she and Serinuma talk about conventions, surely they go to some BL places or at least traverse Otome Road without the others, right?

Of course this is all speculation, but these are par for the course for any good fujoshi friends. Yet in none of these situations has Nishina pulled anything on Serinuma. It’s because they are all BL-centered.

After she herself made it clear that she was serious and would take advantage of any opportunity to attract Serinuma, Nishina set the world of BL off-limits for her. After all, it was the foundation of the deep trust she had accumulated with Serinuma. At the start she had no issue putting it on the line— their fujoshi friendship was just a crutch. But as that friendship deepened, Nishina realized she had to separate BL and romance.

In fact, going back to Episode 6, there is the moment where Nishina’s mind changes. Her original intent with their competition was to assert her superiority and cut ties with the BL side of Serinuma and leave with only romance. Instead, she realized that these two— the BL and romance, were connected.

If she were to throw dirt in the face of BL-loving Serinuma, she would too be throwing dirt in the face of potential girlfriend Serinuma. This was not an option. Therefore, Nishina made it clear to herself that from then on she would not interfere with their fujoshi friendship.screen-shot-2016-12-25-at-02-29-42

This was all fine and well, but in doing so, suddenly their fujoshi friendship became a source of comfort. Sure, she could risk their net relationship by making a romantic move, or she could simply maintain their current state by continuing to be a fujoshi buddy.

Furthermore, in a place like Otome Road or at a convention, Nishina would have strictly been in fujoshi-mode. Therefore, her prime opportunity to change up her pace was ruined by her own conviction that fujoshi friendship and romance remain different issues.

What first excited me about Nishina in Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda was how she was the embodiment of Mizoguchi’s Reading and Living Yaoi theory. In her fujoshi rapport, she was able to establish an immediate (lesbian) sexual connection, and then leverage this by bringing that virtual lesbianism into material lesbianism.

Yet, by the canon of the anime, this has simultaneously been her downfall. Because Nishina established herself upon virtual lesbianism and not material lesbianism, in her efforts to stay with Serinuma she has reverted to a state of pure virtual lesbianism. Pure fantasy.

The difficulty Hato had with their relationship with Madarame was chiefly that they were uncertain of the boundaries between fantasy and reality. Their best times with Madarame were the times they were most real, most concrete. It is when Hato had a real conversation with Madarame, shooting the shit about whatever, or when Madarame really blushed at receiving Hato’s chocolates.

And, accordingly, it is when Hato was most in the world of fantasy that they were unsuccessful in wooing Madarame. The whole worry about “Hato x Mada” as opposed to “Mada x Hato?” Purely in the realm of theory.

It appears history has repeated itself— Nishina was most succesful when she concretely gave Serinuma a kiss, and she was least successful when she reverted to the fujoshi mindset to stay comfortable with Serinuma.

This is the fujoshi zone.

Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda Ep 11: Why So Surprised, Everyone?

So in Episode 11 of Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda, as predicted from earlier, Mutsumi-Senpai has now confessed to Serinuma! Oh wow! Shocker!

Wait a moment, why are they surprised though? Nishina already confessed!

Now the obvious answer is because aside from rearranging the order a bit, the anime is just adapting the manga page-for-page, but let’s take this seriously and consider the only thing that could be implied from this in the canon of the show: nobody is taking Nishina seriously.

Screen Shot 2016-12-19 at 17.26.42.pngWhat happened, huh?

Actually, seriously, what happened, both in the manga and in the anime? Nishina makes it clear from the word “go” that she’s in it for hawt lesbo secks, but ever since here her relationship with Serinuma has seemed strangely platonic. The only place where the audience is even reminded she has romantic feelings for Serinuma is when Igarashi refuses to let her spend the night in the same room as Serinuma. That was several episodes ago, now.

Let me go out on a limb, having read the manga, and predict how they’re going to end the show. At the start of Chapter 22 it’s revealed that everyone confesses to Serinuma, so that was my bet from the start as to how they’d end things. That’s precisely why it was such a big deal that Nishina confessed first— in the manga canon, nobody wants anybody else to be the first and so they all confess their love together, but in the anime Nishina beat even Mutsumi to the punch by about five episodes.

But now, here, nobody should be so taken aback by Mustumi’s confession. He wasn’t the first, even. Maybe it was more offhanded earlier, but to dismiss Nishina’s “I love you” as just a friendly manner means that she might as well remove herself from the harem as a whole. I don’t know about anybody else here, but if I’m romantically attracted to someone, when I say “I love you” to them I don’t mean it in a friendship or familial way. Yet for Nishina, one must relegate her “I love you” in the anime to a mere indication of friendship and nothing more, which immediately eliminates her from the big question of “Who does Serinuma choose?”Screen Shot 2016-12-19 at 17.23.04.png

(This isn’t to say friendship can’t develop into romance or that friendship love and romantic love are mutually exclusive, but typically romantic love is the route of “I love you”s over friendship love.)

Of course, there is one alternative. One that might make Nishina the most realistic character in the harem! Join me next time on Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda Episode 12 to find out what.

Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda Ep 6 Changes Everything!

So in the manga for WataMote 2.0, it is chapter 22 when all of the main cast confess their love to Serinuma. In fact, they do it altogether so Senpai’s confession isn’t special. However, in the anime, this part has been skipped over or at least place differently chronologically. The anime’s first five episodes adapted chapters 1-12 of the manga, and in episode six it skips to chapters 23-24.

At the end of chapter 24, and thereby episode 6, Nishina says, “I love you, Senpai” to Serinuma. In the manga this is fine— she just said that two chapters ago anyway. This one is a little more special since it’s from just her, but it really isn’t that big of a deal.

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But in the anime, chapter 22 has been skipped, meaning the rest of the cast has not yet confessed to Serinuma. Now, it’s only Nishina who has. This is relevant since the harem members made such a big deal already out of not letting the others beat them to their confession in the manga, but by the anime’s canon Nishina has already beaten them. Now, she doesn’t just have the advantage of first kiss. She has the advantage of first confession!

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In the depressing deluge that was the resolution to the Madarame harem in Genshiken, Madarame points out how important it is that even though all these people are around him and seem to like him, Sue was the first and only one to confess. And guess what? She (sadly) won.

Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda is the second chance for Madarame’s harem for me, as I excitedly outlined previously. But for this one, Hato (Nishina) stands a fighting chance.

MadaHatoMadaHato NishiNumaNishiNuma MadaHato MadaHato NishiNumaNishinuma!!!

Watashi Ga Motete: Madarame’s Harem

Click. I got it. I figured it out.

By the way, I wrote a general review (largely repeating what I’ve said here) on WataMote 2.0: https://myanimelist.net/reviews.php?id=233309

I understand why I’m so invested in Nishina winning the harem lottery. I got it half way, but not the other half. I got that she was basically Hato, but I didn’t get the harem. Serinuma and Madarame are the same too. Not just Hato and Nishina. Swap the genders and look at things:

Madarame, male, has four in love with him, three girls and one crossdressing guy. In the end, it’s between one girl and the crossdresser. The girl won, which made me sad because it wasn’t an LGBT ending and also wasn’t a BL ending, -2 points.

Serinuma, female, has five in love with her, four guys and one girl who has crossdressed on multiple occasions. In the end, it’s probably going to be between Nishina and Igarashi, and Igarashi’s gonna win. That’ll make me sad because it won’t be LGBT and it will remove the possibility for Igarashi as a BL character, -2 points.

But there is a hope, a tiny speck of hope… And that hope is that Junko’s yaoi mangaka background has convinced her to end it with Nishina! I’m putting all my hopes on her! If she can make up for the loss of Hato by taking Serinuma for herself, then all will be right in the world once more.

And if not… we’ll see what happens when I lose as much weight as Serinuma, but without gaining any weight first.

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.