Ugh, some words are just not meant to be verbified. I was searching bk1 for the Bakemonogatari novels, and was surprised when DVDs and Blu-rays popped up. Now, I know this is old news, but I'm still a little shocked when I see R2 DVD prices: ￥5250 for frickin' two episodes, not to mention 6300 for the special edition, and 7350 for the Blu-ray. There's a little less rage involved for the Mayoi Maimai discs, where you get three — count 'em, three — episodes for a price bump of only 1050 yen!
Anyway, episode three of Bakemonogatari was brilliant, and got me interested in the original novels. As you may expect, there just isn't much discussion in English to be found on the internet about Nishio Ishin... I take that back, since the first Zaregoto novel has come out in English, there's a lot of stuff about that. Aside from that small slice of Zaregoto, though, the only impression I've got is that "Large chunks of Bakemonogatari consisted of dirty jokes run through a nerd filter" and "Katanagatari, shit till the bitter end" (thanks, Andrew Cunningham).
I'm heading off to make a pilgrimage to Kinokuniya today, and wondering whether I should buy the first Zaregoto book. I could buy it in English, or in Japanese, or both, assuming that Kinokuniya's online stock check is giving me accurate information. (As an aside, I don't really understand how Kinokuniya chooses to stock certain series in certain stores, and why they seem to be hopelessly behind when it comes to featuring products associated with currently-airing anime. Also, when I pick up a book and its price tag is dated something like 5/2006, I feel like I'm the only person who buys things at Kinokuniya. But that's a separate matter.) Some of the reviews have given me pause, but I'm still interested to read the author's breakout work, resplendent in its youthful exuberance.
I don't recall how I got there, but some time ago I ended up reading an article titled "Japanese Women's Diaspora: An Interview". It's about the phenomenon of Japanese women leaving Japan (for a period of time, like for study abroad) and seeking romance or marriage with Western men. The author identifies the cause of this longing (憧れ akogare) as the romanticization of the West and "internationalism" coupled to dissatisfaction with female roles in Japanese society. As academics are wont to do, the author labels the former as the "pull" factor, and the latter as the "push". She also makes the interesting point that while women with akogare are seeking to escape patriarchal societal norms in Japan, they are still willing to accept them elsewhere to a lesser extent; they are looking for a kinder, gentler patriarchy.
What really got my attention, though, were the interviewee's closing words:
There is romance in Japan; it's not that Japanese men can't be romantic. But it's plain (jimi). Right now Japanese men are so frightened. Women are much more progressive. Men are lagging behind.
There's that word, jimi, which should be familiar to anyone who's watched Kannagi. In the context of the OP, it's kind of cutesy and coquettish, but more importantly, it's accomodating. To the target demographic, it's a reassurance: yes, I, goddess, will accept plain, boring romance. But to the outside female observer, it just reinforces otaku stereotypes and may well be a death knell for romantic possibility: it's going to be so plain.
I should note that the article dates to 2000, and the interview within it is with a 30-year-old woman in 1993, so things have probably changed a great deal. It's peculiar that a country so saturated with romantic film and literature can be so stuffy when it comes to real-life relationships. There's got to be a generational shift somewhere.
This is a mortal sin, but it must be said: this episode was boring. The use of montages was troubling, especially the smooth-jazz backed cicada one, where I was trying hard not to strangle myself. And whoever told Aya Hirano to sing with vibrato needs a swift kick in the pants. Er, manpris.
The area around my piano is now reclaimed. It's seriously like a battle. The forces of cleanliness have advanced, but the ranks of disarray are waiting for me to lower my guard, so they can claw back that space.
I have a ridiculous amount of manga, I've realized. At least most of it was cheap. Thanks again, Book Off!