On Monday, I had the supreme pleasure of helping my internet friend Bangin, the master teacher of otaku vocabulary for the English-speaking world, cosplay Kyon from The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi.
Bangin’s idea was to have Kyon, the narrator, provide a tour of Otome Road, the fujoshi (female geek) world capital in Ikebukero. My role was to take hundreds of photos. It was great fun since I’ve long admired Bangin’s blog, and I’d watched seven English subbed episodes online between the time he asked me and when we did the cosplay.
A brief summary of the manga and anime story: Kyon, the narrator, is a high school freshman who is trying to grow up. He falls under the spell of a dominant female classmate who organizes the SOS Brigade to make contact with extraterrestrials, time travelers, and ESP experts. Basically, she’s looking for magic in the mundane world, a lovely concept. The story has plenty of otaku moe (school girls in uniform, including one who is used as sexual bait to gain a computer, new members and attention), and a slash fan story of Kyon’s romance with the “mysterious (male) transfer student Koizumi.”
My National Science Foundation and Fulbright-sponsored university research with Rio de Janeiro drag queens in the early 1990s only partly prepared me for the role of cosplay photographer. Make-up, costume, fantasy, role-playing, utter seriousness, a depth of knowledge and passion– all to be expected.
What surprised me was the concern to not be “too loud” or too noticed while performing. I had thought it would be fun to interact with the butler cafe doorman, or the many fujoshi pulling their wheelie bags full of manga and doujinshi (fan slash manga). This was not Bangin’s idea at all. And, oddly, no fujoshi approached us to ask about Kyon.
Here you can read Bangin’s post about Otome Road. It’s even funnier than I anticipated because Bangin writes the whole travelogue in Kyon’s voice– being “forced” by Haruhi, and warned by Koizumi about the catastrophe of closed spaces. His introduction ends with, “Today is going to be my worst day in all of my life. Will you follow me? I will show around.” There are many photos, observations and explanations!
The finale of the tour is very amusing. Across from the dozens of shops catering to fujoshi is a small, somewhat uncared-for-park, where the young customers open up their purchases (and homeless people make their home, which reminded me of San Francisco).
The photo at the top of the post shows Kyon’s shock and horror that he is the subject of a Koizumi x Kyon doujinshi. Bangin provided the quote, “How come I am uke?!”
What an interesting experience! Was he in full character the whole time or did you guys chat normally between posing? Did you end up going to the cafe? I’ve been wanting to check one out but don’t know which has the cutest boys!
Bangin was very friendly throughout. In fact, even during the posing, I had no idea he would create such a detailed and in-character blog post. You must check out his version! He’s brilliant.
Which cafe has the cutest boys? I wonder. A friend and I were super-disappointed at Edelstein’s boarding school in Harajuko (unattractive boys, bad decor, terrible food, paltry fantasy). My brief experience with the Swallowtail butler doorman was promising (reservations are required). And I am curious about the women-dressed-as-men at Lily Rose, also in Ikebukuro. I bet they are true ikemen!
Should we go to one together, GEG?
Do you do this for a living? If so, you’re officially my hero. I’m wondering if this blog is still going. The info says it’s about a short trip. If it is done, I hope you have another one.
In response to the question “How come I am uke?” the first thing I thought of was “Look at the face. Come on.” Haha.
It’s funny because I just bought a Melancholy shounen ai doujin. >.> It was way expensive but she was the only vendor selling shounen ai doujins. Unfortunately, she couldn’t sell the good stuff (yaoi) because she wasn’t licensed to. And I’m underage.
Anyways, great post. I’ve been looking for a blog like this for a long time.
Dear Marius Mink, I am super-pleased you found my blog, and we clearly share many fujoshi interests. Sorry to hear that you couldn’t get the manga you wanted because you’re a minor. It’s great that so much is available online. Good luck with your stay in Taipei, and please come back again to my blog!