Here we go through the repetitive motions of the Junjou Romantica Tango. Two steps forward, one step back, a dash of jealousy and emotional constipation, then a few sweet moments followed up by sexual assault and unhealthy possessive behavior played for laughs. What a great ride! At this point, if you can’t tell, I’m really unimpressed with this season of Junjou Romantica. Us Fujoshi get so few yaoi anime every year and even fewer that don’t contained grossly offensive sexual assault tropes that I just need to say something when what we’re getting isn’t as good as it could be. And man, this show is not nearly as good as it could be.
Content Warning: Discussion of molestation and consent issues.
The story has been placed back at Murakawa Publishing which means… more Kirishima! It’s probably the brightest shining star in this whole cluster-fudge of a show. It reminds me of Yokozawa Takafumi no Bai and all the wonderfully sweet romantic plots that aren’t flooded with consent issues. Ah, what happy times! Unfortunately being back at Murakawa also means more Ijuin-sensei drama and I am so done with this side plot that I can hardly hear the words “Za Kan” without wanting to flip a million tables. It seems that my earlier confusion about Ijuin-sensei’s intentions may be cleared up now. He’s definitely into Misaki (or at the very least, he’s pretending to be for reasons that haven’t been revealed yet) and he’s absolutely interested in men. Murakawa Publishing should just be called “The Super Gay Publishing House” and be done with it. There’s not a single straight employee in the whole building. This isn’t necessarily a complaint. I dig queering the universe to an extreme degree and making everyone fall along the LGBTQ+ spectrum in fiction. It’s a hobby of mine. But it is a tad unrealistic to have every named editor and author at this company be gay or bisexual. But, oh well, this is yaoi after all. Let’s just suspend our disbelief and try to enjoy the ride.
Unfortunately, it’s really hard to enjoy this ride because of rampant consent issues that get played for laughs. Why does Junjou Romantica do this? Why is it framed as ‘romantic’ to attack someone and force a sexual encounter on them when they say “no?” I really don’t understand why this is so damn common.
The thing that really bothered me this episode in that regard was the use of the word “molest” during the scene between Usagi and Misaki on the kitchen floor. At first I thought this may be a translation error. I don’t know Japanese so before getting upset at the show for this phrase, I turned to my friend, Tom Dougherty, who is a PhD student in Linguistics at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. After apologizing profusely for making him watch yaoi (sorry, but thanks dude!), he got back to me with the following analysis of the phrase in question.
The sentence in question in Japanese is:
Ore wa Usagi o osowarenakereba naranai
My idiomatic translation would be something like:
‘I should be the one to ravish you.’
The context of the scene is important here: Usagi gets jealous and starts to very roughly go after Misaki, who is somewhat reluctant at first. This is Misaki reversing the situation, especially considering the next bit of what he says.
[The usage] of the verb 襲う osou really doesn’t appear in dictionaries yet. Now, dictionaries are not the ultimate arbiters of language. Rather, they record usages. Further, they’re not omniscient; dictionary-makers nowadays generally build dictionaries from looking at large samples of a language, called a corpus. Corpora are selected based on the kind of dictionary you intend to make, and in general use dictionaries, they try to get as balanced a representation as they can get. If they weren’t looking at pornography (and they almost never do), they just won’t encounter this usage.
The most common meaning the verb 襲う osou has in Japanese is ‘to attack’ or ‘to assault’. Digging through some examples of titles various kinds of hentai, it does seem to be used for situations where one person is unwillingly subject to some sexual assault by another person. Some examples from various scans on the E-Hentai site:
- 女の子が触手に襲われて… Onnanoko ga Shokushu ni Osowarete ‘Girls Assaulted by Tentacles..’ [non-consensual]
- 玉つきふたなりエルフさんが触手に襲われて… Tamatsuki Futanari Erufu-san ga Shokushu ni Osowarete… ‘Futanari with Balls Elf Assaulted by Tentacles…’ [non-consensual]
- まちこ33歳 夫の出張中・・・義息子に襲われちゃった・・・♪ Michiko 33-sai Otto no Shucchou-chuu… Gimusuko Osowarechatta…♪ ‘33 year-old Michiko’s Husband is on a Business Trip… She is Ravished by Her Son in Law…♪’ [consensual]
- エレンがミカサに襲われる Eren ga Mikasa ni Osowareru ‘Eren Is Ravished by Mikasa’ [non-consensual](Futanari, in case you didn’t know, are characters who are female-looking and female-identifying, but have a penis [and usually not testicles, but here she specifically does].)
So it usually involves an element of non-consensuality, and the meaning of English assault comes really close to meaning the same thing, but there are cases where English ravish might be better. That brings up another point: words don’t line up one-for-one across languages. Sure, we might find that English speakers and Japanese speakers agree on what their respective words for ‘car’ mean, but when we start getting away from objects in the physical world, it can get really messy. We call this anisomorphism. Translation is tough because of this. Nuances in one language are lost in another.
But here, I don’t really think that’s the case. I think the fansubber translated it wrong, but they were close, and it was more because of the fact that they weren’t either a bilingual speaker of Japanese and English (who would intuitively understand what’s going on), or a trained translator (who knows what to look for), rather than what the verb actually means.
I bolded two parts or emphasis here. It seems that it’s possible that ‘ravish,’ a word doesn’t necessarily mean ‘assault’ in a direct sense, could be used. But, given some context of other uses of the word, it could very well mean something non-consensual as well. To put it simply, it’s not a black and white issue here and I’m still upset that consent gets tossed aside so easily in Junjou Romantica, but it’s hard to be certain that this is or isn’t a case of making light of non-consent or not. Either way, it’s a problematic scene and I wish Usagi wasn’t so aggressive with Misaki and I wish Misaki didn’t think that the best way to show Usagi that he loves him is to turn that aggression around.
We’re nearing the end of this season of Junjou Romantica and I’ve been really disappointed with how this season has shaken out. I’m a starved fujoshi dying for some quality BL and all I’m getting is recycled plots, overuse of tropes, and rampant non-con and dub-con. What a disappointing season of a show that belongs to such an awesome extended universe of manga, light novels, and anime. We deserve better. We deserve Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi or Yokozawa Takafumi no Bai. Not… this.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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