Sunday, April 10, 2016

Open Response to Muda-kun's Comment

Muda-kun of Hearts of Furious Fancies responded to my last post (read what he says in the Comments section).  Well, my reply to Muda-kun was just too darn verbose for Blogger to post it as a single comment and instead of breaking it up into several sub-comments, I've pretty much just posted it up here for all too see.

Thanks for responding, Muda-kun.  Here we go.

Mr. Cesarano, thank you for this serious analysis on chapter 122 and the honor you do me referring to my posts, as well as - where you saw necessary- the warnings.

Flattery will get you nowhere.

Actually, joking aside, I seriously hope I'm not overdoing it.  Your method of analysis is important and I only want us to have a positive influence on each another--challenging one-another to step up our analytical game.

I believe that this kind of dialogue is some of, if not THE most important "secondary production" that can emerge from any fandom or larger field of study. Oh, and IT ROCKS!

Yes, sir, it does!  Hey, I enjoy our disagreements and our agreements because I think it helps us refine our own position and encourage an enhanced understanding of the material.

I now have a lot more to mull over, especially Said - I really only have passing acquaintance with his works...

Well, I am really critical of Said.  I think Orientalism is far too hyperbolic in its approach.  Nevertheless, I think there is merit to his methodology.  I do lay a lot of the blame for the current "cultural appropriation" fanaticism on Orientalism to some extent.  And I, by no means, want my use of the term "appropriation" to be anywhere near as pregnant with implications of racism, imperialism, and suppression/oppression as the term is widely used to be.

... and prefer Adrian Piper's approach, which is somewhere off along the Z axis to his admonitions.

Piper is, probably, someone into whom I should look.  I've only heard a little bit of him.

Further to this, I think I had better take more care in my analysis, if only to keep the fannish parts when I get caught up in the story, (yummy... narcissism! mmmmm!) from the (and you will excuse me if I use imprecise terms here) game of trying to intuit the larger wagers that Kio Shimoku makes in his tale, and whether of not he can meet them and raise them.

Bah humbug.  Fannishism... fanism... fanaticism... whatever, it's the entire point we want to write about this stuff.  Don't take more care to avoid it at all.  Play your cards, man, and let us disagree. Vive la différence!

You are my preferred sort of interlocutor.  I've a few friends with whom I disagree about stuff and we get into it but often it ends up being that sort of dialectic where, eventually, a synthesis of ideas evolves (sometimes... sometimes thesis or antithesis wins but hey, that's how it happens occasionally).

It might be unfair but I expect a lot from Kio Shimoku's Genshiken. I am sure lots of other readers do so as well; the trouble of course lies in all the different things we expect... Putting aside all of us outlanders, entering "Genshiken" into Twitter's search box brings up at least five Japanese University clubs inspired by his work. He has made a wager. You are right to point out that some of us in the West may judge that he has failed to make his bid, when by his rights and those of his core readership, he has. I am going to work on the presumption that he is ambitious, if only by the ambitions of the characters he has created.

Well, by my own standards, he's definitely made good on his bid.  Good stories do not, cannot, and should not be hidebound by politics and societal taste.  Hato is far too complex a character, as is Madarame, for me to have been satisfied with many of the alternative events many have daydreamed about.

I will go into the whole "why" I think Shimoku's bid was definitely a winning bid from a literary standpoint sooner on my blog rather than later.

To put it another way, I read UQHolder, but I would never expect from it what I expect from the Genshiken.


Chapter 122 is definitely far more complex than it appears.

Absolutely.  And I would say it catapults the entirety of the harem arc into a much higher literary examination of Japanese group-social dynamics.

Definitely a "highlight the contradictions" crisis. For example, I never twigged to how hysterically "sewn into his(hir) girl suit" (to use a crude metaphor) Hato's chan character was before the Niko trip.

Man, that is so compelling, though.  My brother once commented on Hato's art in "male form" that it is amazingly interesting and compelling, revealing of an internal turmoil that could be tapped to do amazing things, but finally coming to rest by stating, "Hato hates himself."

Holy crap!  My God, man, that's amazing!  I mean, if Hato were a real person, we shouldn't be discussing him in such a detached manner but since he's a fictional character, we're capable of going to town and psychoanalyzing him in ways that would otherwise be unethical.  Why?  What do we get out of all of this?

Basically, an enhanced understanding of the human condition.  This is what has floored me and brought so much full-circle--the discomfort Hato feels in his female form on the trip is so reflective of that earlier discomfort demonstrated by his art.  Wham!  There is so much to discuss!

(one can limit this to internal plotting and character consistency considerations without getting into gender expression politics - yeah, I tippy toe, some folks have a lot more skin in the game and it is rubbed raw, so I try to consider that as I traipse around...)

And that, good sir, is to what I am objecting.  People have too much skin in the game.  They're taking a fictional character and identifying with them way, way too much, which is why I say that the upset among certain fans is narcissistic.

Let me throw this one on you--I've tossed about the idea of drawing a comic for a long time about the trials and tribulations of a mixed-ethnicity/race/culture couple consisting of an American male nerd and a Japanese female fujoshi + otaku (I distinguish between the two, by-the-way).  One of the strip ideas involves the nerd coming home from work to their shared apartment to find she's off shopping or not yet returned from her own job.

Somehow, he stumbles across a doujin she's drawn.  He knows about her hobbies and even enjoys seeing the happiness she gets from it.  However, this doujin she's drawn goes over the line for him. 
It's Kirk x Spock or Frodo x Samwise.  Something he's grown up loving.  Something he's introduced to her and she's discovered her own enjoyment of it.  And now... this!  No, no not this! 
She returns home and finds him a mess, tears staining the doujin and him on his hands and knees.  He leaps up and grasps on the hat rack, dangling from it like Luke Skywalker from the gantry in Empire. 
"No... It's not true.... That's impossible!" 
She responds, "心を読んでみろ、本当だと分かるはずだ." 
"Noooooo, noooooo!"  Then he releases the hat rack and falls to the floor.
It's ridiculous.  Of course it is ridiculous.  They're fictional characters, why would he be so devastated to see Frodo and Sam or Spock and Kirk in a BL situation?  People sometimes have too much skin in a game that was never theirs to have skin in.

(For the record, I can't draw worth a damn so all of my scripts will probably never see illustration.  Also, I wanted it to deliberately be a bilingual comic, which has a whole host of other issues.)

I remain indebted for your much earlier consideration of Yoshitake.

Dude, looking back, I was so wrong about her.

I modified it a bit. Not evil or even Loki, but I sure see her as "stealth Kaminaga" or to narrow that down, a "conservative" defender of a female-exclusive fujoshi social.

Yeah, that is a far better analysis of her character.

Given that fujoshi are easy targets, she would have her reasons for doing so if she considered them, but of course she acts mostly on impulse, following her instincts. She is in many ways "built" to do this; I must assume, to make a point and not just push the storyline along.

Yeah.  She is not simply a character to drive the plot along.  (In tabletop RPGs we always referred to them as "Plot-Device NPCs" and kind of found Game Masters who relied to heavily upon them to be of novice-skill-level.)  She's not a "Plot-Device NPC" whatsoever.  She's a fully-fleshed-out character.

I do hope she runs into a guy who spins her head.  I'm a romantic at heart.  As a historian, I've developed a soft spot for Yoshitake, despite all of her conniving.

As for the main character, the club's "Wa" was preserved, for now, barely and in a strange way the resolution went beyond Kio Shimoku's colleague's "Everyone will be unhappy, equally, together" to ensuring as well that all parties were actively complicit in their state. (an observation on technique that I lifted from a very astute observer of Japanese politics)

I remember you mentioning that before.  Care to provide a link?  Is it an article?

Whether he closed a wound or opened one has yet to be seen. I'm waiting to see what he does next. I look forward to more dialogue with you on this great puzzle, your time permitting.

I also hope we can consider a couple of other comparisons--especially with the situation of Genshiken to Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabu Kome wa Machigatteiru, which, despite my hatred of most light-novel adaptations, I have found to really, really enjoy.  (It's on CrunchyRoll as My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU.)  I'd also like to consider a comparison between the titular character of Ranma 1/2 in comparison to Hato.  If you want to throw down on your blog with these two ideas, man, do so.  These are ideas that this latest series of events has made me want to write about so I won't be upset if you beat me to the punch--in fact, I welcome it.


Unknown said...

Come on, man. I'm telling you anime theme cover band. You can still profess during the week...

MikeH said...

Sorry, Dave, what's your contact information?

Dave Cesarano said...

I'm sorry, Mike, I'm not comfortable giving that stuff out in public. Perhaps if you would post yours, I could swoop in, email you, and delete it so others won't necessarily see it.

MikeH said...

No worries.

I'm just wondering if you plan on reviewing Bakker's The Great Ordeal soon :)?

Dave Cesarano said...

If it comes out. I haven't checked to see if it is out yet. Right now, I've got a lot on my plate, anyway. I hope to get back into reading more books and blogging again in about a years' time.