Friday, September 26, 2014


Mind you, we still haven't seen the complete picture of otaku within manga.  There are plenty of female otaku, and in particular there are the fujoshi, the BL fangirls whose fondness for ho-yay is matched only by their purchasing power and enthusiasm for the subject.  The final selection for this month deals with this topic.  Does it give it some to those down with boys' love, or is it as cruel as your stereotypical seme?

MY GIRLFRIEND'S A GEEK (Fujoshi Kanojo), based on the light novel  series by Pentabu & drawn by Rize Shinba.  First published in 2007, and first published in North America in 2010.

Taiga Mutou is a college kid seeking two things in his life: a good part-time job and a hot older woman to be his girlfriend.  He manages to score the former when he gets a warehouse job with a local clothing store.  There he meets his supervisor Yuiko Ameya, and with her Taiga hopes to gain the latter.  He starts making some headway with her, and even manages to arrange for a date.  Once together, Yuiko makes a confession: she's an otaku.  More specifically, she's a fujoshi, a BL fangirl.  Taiga doesn't understand the term at first and says that he'll love her no matter what.  That statement is put to the test as Yuiko reveals to him just how deep her BL fantasies go, all while Taiga does his best to keep her happy.

I don't know if it's entirely accurate to call Yuiko a "geek," but I guess Yen Press figured that it was a simpler and more marketable term than "fujoshi."  I can't entirely blame them on that front, as not only does it not have a simple English translation, but it's a term that comes with some negative baggage.  As such, I wondered how this series was going to handle the concept.  Would it go for easy jokes about fujoshi fandom, or would it be willing to give its titular character some heart to go with her shipping preferences?  Thankfully for the reader, this series chooses the latter approach.

Like train_man, this series was originally inspired by the online chronicles of a real life romance.  It started out as one man's blog about his relationship with his slash-happy sweetheart, which in turn was popular enough to turn into a light novel series, which in turn became this very manga.  Because of those real life roots, there's a very real, down-to-earth sweetness about the relationship between Taiga and Yuiko.  The first half of the volume is just about getting these two together as a couple, and it's as adorable as any romantic comedy.  Taiga is insecure about himself and his lack of experience with girls, but the story never exaggerates these for the sake of a laugh.  Even after he learns about Yuiko's fandom, he really does try to be understanding of her fandom, even if he doesn't get the terminology she uses and doesn't quite get the appeal of BL as a genre.  He's not completely willing to play along with her every whim and fantasy, but he does find his own ways to indulge her and her fandom.  Anybody who has ever dated a geek can very likely find some parallel to this in their own past or present relationships.  It was genuinely sweet to watch Taiga try to understand and find some common ground with Yuiko, even if her tastes are not to his own, not to mention a very mature and reasonable stance to take in a relationship.

The series takes that same sweet, reasonable take towards Yuiko herself.  She doesn't look like the fujoshi stereotype - overweight, lonely, pimple-faced, and socially awkward.  Instead, Yuiko is a perfectly pretty young woman with a steady job who makes friends easily.  Unlike so many other series, she is a glowing example of someone who can balance her fandom and her social life.  Yes, sometimes she gets carried away in her enthusiasm for the subject, to the point where she confuses Taiga is a litany of BL butler terminology or starts viewing his friendship with a classmate as some sort of rose-colored bit of ho-yay.  She only gets carried away with it because like a lot of geeky people, she doesn't have a lot of real life outlets for her interest, and the fact that Taiga is willing to humor that same interest makes her genuinely happy.

My Girlfriend's a Geek ultimately works because it treats its protagonists like real people.  Their actions and faults come from real and relatable places, regardless if you're a geek or not.  It lets the reader related to the leads, which in turn lets the reader relate to their romance, which makes the whole thing a pleasant and entertaining read.

In a rather appropriate move, this series is drawn by an artist mostly known for drawing BL manga.  Knowing this makes some details make a bit more sense.  For example, Shinba devotes a lot of attention to the characters' hands, and while their fingers do tend to be ridiculously long, they are well detailed.  Beyond that, the character designs are a bit generic and flappy-mouthed, but they are expressive and cute.  Aside from Yuiko's flowery fantasies, the visuals are fairly mundane.  The backgrounds, the paneling, the layout, all of these things and more are effective and competently drawn, but lacking in any sort of flair.  While this does suit the pulled-from-real-life part of the story, it doesn't leave much to talk about in regards to the art.

This is a sweet if slightly unremarkable romance distinguished mostly by the love interest's shipping preferences.  While the story and art might not be anything special, it does treat its leads with care and respect instead of going for easy jokes, which goes a long way towards making this series palatable.

This series was released by Yen Press.  This series is complete in Japan with 5 volumes.  All 5 volumes have been released, and are currently out of print.

You can purchase this volume and many more like it through!

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