Build a Harem, MangaKast-Style

I’m normally sort of an outsider to a lot of the ‘cool kids’ memes and whatnot, so I’m always very touched and honored when someone tags my blog for one of these things.

Thus, it is with great pleasure to announce that I Drink and Watch Anime tagged me on…

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I was on a two-week family vacation, so I’m also a little behind this wave. But, like I said, I so rarely get picked to participate in these sorts of things that I really, really wanted to give it a try, tardy to the party or not.

Here are the rules:

  1. Link back to the original post on Anime QandA so they can check out everyone’s picks!
  2. Use the ‘Build A Harem’ logo somewhere in the post.
  3. Make sure to mention the person who nominated you too!
  4. Pick 5 Anime Characters (any show & any gender) that would be in your ideal harem if you were the main character of a harem anime, explain a little bit as to why they are your picks (if you want). In my case, I went with manga, obviously. Though many of my picks are also anime heroes/heroines.
  5. Make sure each character you pick falls into some of the following harem character types: Childhood friend, tom boy/girl, genki girl/boy, loli/shota, trap, tsundere, yandere, kuudere, dandere, etc. (If there’s a character you’ve picked that doesn’t specifically fall into one of these types or falls into multiple types that’s fine too!)
  6. Nominate 5 people to participate in this tag!

Number 6 might be where I fall down on this because I’m kind of a terrible fan in that I’m not super-plugged into this community, despite my desire and best efforts. So, I’m going to circumvent that rule right now and say that if you’re a reader of mine and this meme/challenge/fun thought-experiment enchants you, consider yourself one of my nominees.

Okay, here goes…

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My perfect harem “Childhood Friend” is not going to surprise anyone who has been following MangaKast or any of my other fannish persona (junko on AO3 or junko222 on Tumblr) for any reasonable length of time:

  1. ABARAI RENJI from Bleach.
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Renji, don’t be like that. You knew I was going to pick you.

There are so many reasons why I love Renji, but he is surprisingly defined by his role as Rukia’s childhood friend (as much as I have come to loathe that fact, since I firmly believe it’s the reason he ended up canonically shipped with her.) Most interestingly to me, he’s not actually a very GOOD childhood friend. He puts his duty as a soldier over his association with Rukia when he and Byakuya were sent by Central 46 to arrest her.

But, I could spend hours extolling is virtues. Suffice to say that I like him and I think he and his tattoos and crazy hair are super-duper hot and I would be sad if he were not part of my harem.  Plus, maybe he’s tsundere, as well? I don’t know.

Okay, having done some researching into the ‘dere’-types, I think my next pick actually falls into the Kuudere type, as in someone who remains aloof and cold to everyone, with the exception of a few characters, to whom they show their more tender side.

2. NICOLAS BROWN (Gangsta.)

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I mean, look at this broken boy.  He’s pretty amazingly cold and murderous, but I would postulate that he has a softer side which he particularly shows to Theo’s young helper, Nina… and, of course, to Alex (and IN MY QUEER AS F*CK HEAD also Worick, but the jury is technically still out on that, given the last things I read, at any rate…)

Also? Totally hot.

If I’m going under the assumption that this is my personal list of guys I want following me around in high school thinking I’m the bomb and wanting desperately to get into my pants (and having wacky hijicks with each other while trying to win my affection for themselves….)… then suddenly the humor of this whole scenario really hits me. Because, honest-to-gods, the guys who attract me in manga are kind of a “type” and that type = bad boy.

To be fair, right now, trying to imagine a harem AU that includes Renji and Nicolas Brown is kind of making me happy.  Like, I feel like Renji would make an effort to, you know, do the high school thing, but I do not see Nic giving many f*cks. In fact, I think he’d be vaguely terrifying to the whole high school crowd.

Hmmm, maybe to get some diversity here, I might need to pick characters that I admire and not just want to hop into bed with.

Like, okay, this kid is WAY TOO YOUNG for me in every single way, but I actually went against type while reading Haikyuu!  Normally, as I have just said, I like the delinquents and there are a couple of those in there, but, for once, I found myself extremely charmed by the ACTUAL MAIN CHARACTER.

As a bonus, he’s totally, 100% the Genki type. Or as he would say, “Yatta!”

So, in an utterly bizarre turn of events, I add:

3. HINATA SHŌYŌ, Haikyuu!

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This dork is adorable.

Besides, if I’m changing this to be more of the structure of an actual reverse harem manga, there’s always got to be the one guy where the readers look at him and say, “What is that goofball doing there?” That’s my Hinata.

Plus, being serious here for a moment, while I would never date Hinata IRL, the truth is that I would find Nicolas Brown and Abarai Renji plenty problematic, too, not the least of which for the fact that they have penises and I am a lesbian.

I really, really like Hinata. I feel like our friendship would be based on me seeing a lot more volleyball than I ever wanted, but also us jumping around excitedly and yelling “So cool! Zoom! Bash! Waaaaaa!”

Hinata Shōyō is who I’d be, if I were him.

And, if we’re going for all of who I really am in real life thing, I’m a lot more like the heroine from the manga Watashi ga Motete Dousu n da / Kiss Him Not Me  in that I’d be a lot happier if the guys in my harem were all totally gay for each other.

Okay, on that note, moving on.

If we’re going full-on imaginary, but keeping in the tradition of an actual reverse harem manga, I feel I need a Tom Boy type. I haven’t read a ton of reverse manga, but I’m always kind of surprised to the extent to which the whole ‘prince of the school’ who is actually a lady thing is a Thing.

If I was going to go with “OH HELL YA I’D DATE HER” my pick would have to be another Bleach character, Shihōin Yoruichi.  But, I don’t really want to have too many characters from the same manga on my list. I could probably do an entire harem from Bleach and what fun would that be for you, my gentle readers?

Plus, while I think she’s hot, Yoruichi would likely annoy me after awhile…

So, I think I will actually go for someone who more traditionally fits this role:

4. KASHIMA YŪ from Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun/ Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

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Normally, I don’t ship you straight people and your het pairings, but this one was cute.

I probably actually like Kashima because of her relationship with Hori Masayuki (pictured above.) To be fair, one of the things I loved about the anime (and the 4-chome manga) of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun/ Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is how non-traditional many of the people and their romances are.  I mean, in their own straight way, they’re kind of queer, if you know what I mean.

Like Hinata, Kashima surprised me when I realized I liked her. Nothing, literally nothing about her is my “type,” but I found her deeply charming and rooted for her and Hori so, so MUCH.

I will admit that I was actually torn between Kashima and Nishina Shima from Watashi ga Motete Dousunda / Kiss Him Not Me, who I feel like I might actually already KNOW in real life ™, because I hang with a lot of fujoshi and cosplayers. Plus, she kind of stole my heart when she fist appeared in the manga at a convention cosplaying Sebastian from Black Butler/Kuroshitsuji (who would also be on my list, except I think he’s really quite GAY.)

So maybe number 4 could be a revolving ‘prince’ door?

Right!  To round out my harem, I think I should return to my physical type. I mean, setting aside the fact that this would be the weirdest group of people to ever exist in the same manga, I feel I need to have the “clueless type”, Kanchigai-Gata. According to the definition I found, this type of character in a romance would be the one to think: “He gave me an eraser… this must mean he loves me!”

The guy who I feel is my physical type, but who would also totally be Kanchigai-Gata?

5. IMMORTAL TATSU from Gokushufudō: The Way of the House Husband

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I feel like Tatsu would end up an accidental member of my harem. I mean, it’s totally in keeping with his character that I might say something totally random and he would think: “Ah, this is my new oyabun,” and follow me around forever.

At least that is my fondest hope.

I mean, this guy. I kind of hope I land him, after all. He’s pretty handy to have around the house and he makes a kick-a$$ bento.

Please someone else do this? I have to say thinking about this group of people all wandering around together kind of makes me a little giddy.

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Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-kun (Vols. 5-7) by Tsubaki Izumi

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A few weeks ago, a reader accused me of having crappy taste because I don’t like anything popular. Well, here’s an exception for you.  At least according to Wikipedia, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun consistently places in the top 20 of Oricon’s weekly manga list (which appears to be analogous to our Billboard 100.)

My taste might still be crappy, but I share it with a lot of Japanese folks, because I think Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-kun is incredibly cute and charming.

SPOILERS

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Volume 7, which is available in English (despite what it looks like in the image above,) brings the reader to chapter 71 (out of 85, at least on MangaReader).  Volume 8 will be officially available from Yen press on July 18, 2017.

As I said above, I’m still enjoying the heck out of this manga.  Normally, humor doesn’t work for me in text, but something about Nozaki-kun breaks through and I’m able to enjoy it. There are still puns that sail over my head, but I like the characters and the tone of this manga enough that not getting it doesn’t bother me as much as it usually does.  It’s very possible that I’m still able to enjoy the written humor because I was so very, very fond of the anime —which I can NOT recommend enough, keeping in mind my fondness for slice-of-life. If you prefer high-octane action, this is not for you.  But, say, if you liked Free!, I would think Nozaki-kun would be a good bet for you.

One of the things I’m charmed by in the manga is how, over time, you see the rest of the high school accept Nozaki-kun and Sakura as a couple, even as the two of them continue to be blissfully… well, not exactly unaware of the sexual tension, since Sakura is still in full-pursuit mode, but more like… blissfully unaware of how comfortable they’ve become with each other in the way of Real Life ™ lovers.

Maybe this is why Nozaki-kun is getting the designation of ‘shounen’ despite being a romantic comedy.  The relationship is, despite the humor and classic rom-com antics, really very realistically portrayed (even while all the shoujo tropes are being parodied by Tsubaki-sensei).

The other thing I love about it (and the anime) is its gentleness.  For all of the shoujo send-ups, there’s hardly a mean bone in any character’s body and you can easily root for all of them.

Of course, being me, I also appreciate all the insights into the editorial and production processes in manga publication.  There’s a scene in volume 5 or 6, where the two editor characters Ken Miyamae and Mitsuya Maeno are in a planning meeting for a themed issue of the magazine “Let’s Fall in Love” (Nozaki’s manga) is serialized in.  I found that, and their “all-nighter” in which they wait for a mangaka’s overdue pages to come in (not Nozaki, he would never do that), totally fascinating.

This is the kind of slice-of-life stuff I live for.

I would suspect much of it is fairly accurate since Tsubaki-sensei not only has a lot of experience as a mangaka herself (her other long running series is Oresama Teacher), but, apparently, she has a sister who is also a mangaka (though Wikipedia did not say who that was, exactly.)  She also started publishing while in high school, just like Nozaki-kun. So, that’s kind of a fun detail.

 

Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-Kun (vol. 1-4) by Izumi Tsubaki

I loved the anime for this on-going manga Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-Kun/Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun. When I saw that the Saint Paul Public Library had several volumes of it, I decided to check it out.

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SPOILERS

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Apparently, the last time I reviewed this, it was on a podcast.  Rather than making you listen to Mason and I yammering on about Bleach and everything else, I will re-summarize everything for you here.

The story behind Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-kun is a cute one.  Our heroine, Chiyo Sakura is super-attracted to Umetarou Nozaki and works up the courage to make her love confession.  She blurts out, “I’m your number one fan!”  Much to her confusion, he takes this utterly in stride and said, “Oh, okay, here’s my autograph.”  She’s very, “???”  Then, he asks what’s she’s doing because the “others” have cancelled (“eep!” she thinks, “he has a harem!?”) so does she want to come back his place right now?  Poor Sakura is completely confused and a little horrified by all this forwardness, until she gets back to his place…

….and is asked to ink a manga sheet.

Turns out Nozaki is actually “Sakiko Yumeno,” a super-popular shoujo mangaka known for “her” sensitive storylines and gorgeous art style.  When I explain this concept to people less familiar with manga, I say, “It’s like finding out the hot high school football player writes Harlequin romances.”

As you know, gentle reader, humor is often a hard sell for me.  But, since I already fell for this particular story in its anime format, I found a lot to enjoy in this manga.  The one thing that’s very different about this manga than most others that I’ve read is that the story is cut up into short, self-contained single-page, four panel stories. It reads more like a comic strip than a comic book.  But, after a while, you get used to it, and like “Judge Parker” or other soap opera comic strips like that, the stories occasionally follow one after the other.

Like in the anime, a lot is made of gender stereotypes and Tsubaki-sensei loves to flip gender roles.  For instance, Nozaki has modeled his heroine after his best buddy, Mikoshiba (aka “Mikorin”). As I suggested in my earlier rant, the ‘oh, it’s so gay!’ is played up often and always for laughs.

I still love this one.

I almost never laugh out loud reading humor manga, but these first three volumes had a couple of moments where I did.  I especially loved the scene when Sakura tries to use Masayuki Hori (the background artist/theatre manager), whois pulling an all-nighter with Nozaki to finish up the chapter for deadline, to find out what kind of pajamas Nozaki wears.  Hori, of course, gets Sakura’s text and just ask.  Nozaki basically sleeps in sweatpants and a tee-shirt, but once apparently an adoring fan of his female pseudonym sent him a frilly pink camisole.  So, Hori texts back: frilly pink.  Sakura is suitably confused/horrified.

What? It tickled me. What can I say?

The one thing that’s very different from the anime, outside of the fact that its still on-going and the anime only had one season, is that Nozaki has a younger brother, Mayu, who shows up from time to time, who is deeply in love with the mangaka who lives in the same apartment building as Nozaki, Yukari Miyako.  He also doesn’t like to talk…. or do anything strenuous.

Here’s Mayu talking to Mikorin….

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The joke here is that Mayu is so profoundly lazy that he will do whatever is easiest, even if it means doing something he hates.

Ha ha?

But, you can also see how these four panel one-shots work.  They all have sidebar titles, too, which help prepare you for the punchline.

I think the thing I like about Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-kun is how utterly clueless and dorky Nozaki is.  Also, as I’m sure I’ve confessed before, I love stories that give glimpses into the life of mangaka (and of course I love slice-of-life as a genre a LOT).  I liked this about Bakuman, too, despite all it’s faults.  At least with Gekken Shoujo Nozaki-kun, the women characters are as weird and wonderful as the male ones, and there is a whole cast of side characters if you don’t end up bonding with the main ones.

The anime is equally charming and is only one season, so it’s a quick watch.  You can catch it on Crunchyroll, if you like.