When Togainu no Chi Reigned Supreme

My bit On Veteran Fan Posturing & Its Effects was originally published with the following meditations. You can totes read it if you want to understand my full train of thought at the time, but it's not exactly necessary.

Meme that I made showing Shiki in his broke ass apartment bedroom with the 'Bitch you live like this?' Goofy image.
I don't have a picture to put here since I used the original featured image for this post on the content hub page, so take this meme I made. I debuted it in the FujoCon 2020 Discord server, so it's not new, but I hope you like it anyway.

By 2010, five years after TnC came out, it was still fucking everywhere. Akira and Shiki cosplayers? Instant icons. Fanart and fanfics? Too many to count. AarinFantasy English patch? Troubleshooting fans desperate for it to work on their computers. Fujoshi I knew? TnC stans. I mean, what the hell was it about TnC? Seems like one hell of a drug! 😉

I will acknowledge in advance that TnC was constantly being revamped for different platforms well into the 2010s, so that’s totally a factor in it remaining a hot topic in the BL scene for so long. It came out for PC in 2005, PS2 in 2008, and PSP in 2010, as well as having a manga adaptation picked up by TokyoPop and an anime adaptation aired on Anime News Network. However, the fact that it was deemed financially sound to produce all these derivatives speaks to TnC’s huge popularity and influence. Clearly, there was demand and audience ready to gobble the shit up.

If any older fans encounter this post, I wouldn’t be surprised if I get some (hopefully ironic) “how dare you” comments from those that were age appropriate around the time TnC came out, which was when I was a damn fourth or fifth grader. But please don’t leave! Be my friend and teach me how to be that fucking cool! In other words, there are veteran fans out there who were playing TnC with desktops lookin’ like this:

Screenshot of a Windows XP desktop with a wallpaper of of Shiki and Akira from Togainu no Chi.
Courtesy of DarkSlytherin on DeviantArt.

Even though your girl was definitely on the computer (and online, don’t tell my mom) when we were all running XP, the computer on which my sister and I tried to download, patch, and play TnC was running Vista... unfortunately. So, I am by no means an authority on the origins and early days of TnC in the way that I might be for DRAMAtical Murder, the game that eventually dethroned TnC in the fujoshi psyche when it came out in 2012.

But if I’m claiming TnC was only dethroned after DMMD, what about Lamento: Beyond the Void and sweet pool...? And that’s an interesting question! I can only guess because I’ve always been a mangahead and my primary experience with BL games for years was through commentary and derivative media. Plus I’m only making this statement based on what my bb fujoshi brain perceived to be TnC’s ubiquity and popularity in fan circles, which was in turn reflected in merch available for purchase, and other implicit signs.

I hung this bad boy from my burgundy Samsung Gravity 2. If you scroll, you can enjoy a blurry ass picture of that phone featuring my best friend’s blue Samsung Gravity 2, which is a photo I took and kept for some reason.

I wouldn’t say that Lamento (2006 release) and sweet pool (2008 release) were forgotten middle children in the Nitro+Chiral catalog--people were definitely into them and I was aware of them in much the same way as TnC, but I don’t recall them having the same presence in fan communities. Lamento is, to me, the biggest loser in this department. Although sweet pool didn’t have TnC’s BDE either, it obtained almost insta cult status because it’s so fucking “out there,” which is why I was simultaneously surprised and not surprised that it was the first of the Nitro+Chiral catalog to be published by JAST USA.

In my mind, TnC would obviously be coming next from JAST [it did] based on its aforementioned BDE, but I think a lot of DMMD fans were taken aback by that decision. I remember talking to my sister about how surprised I was to see constant DMMD stans in the tweet replies to TnC announcements asking when DMMD was coming. (But I also saw you old school TnC fans in the replies, too!)

She had to remind me that the number of people on the Nitroplus train skyrocketed after DMMD, so a lot of them probably worked backwards through their catalog and have a deeper investment in DMMD. Even if it has a more diminutive position today, this convo with my sister got me thinking a lot on potential reasons why TnC dominated the scene for so long. (I can’t answer what DMMD had besides gorgeous fucking art to dethrone queen TnC because I haven’t played it yet.) I was hoping my playthrough of TnC would clue me into the whys of its power, and I think it has...

I have a working theory that I want to develop in my review related to the appeal of TnC as a super “masculine” story--street-fighting, warfare, Thrasymachan arguments about power and justice, and largely uncritical representations of non-consent as “sexy” as opposed to poignant--that gives women fans the space to openly explore narratives and sexual desires that we’re not “supposed to” enjoy unabashedly without men leading the way. I should look into how many men were involved in the writing for this game, but either way it’s a game intended for mostly women to play alone in the middle of the night for sexual kicks.

Lamento and sweet pool are definitely not traditional romance stories in application, but their narrative centers--kitty boys and school life--are a little bit more trad in the long run. Even other rugged, realism-filtered BL stories about men’s men rarely go as hard as TnC... they really went for it. As an aside, I’m interested in reactions to Lamento on account of its use of contagion and infection as a plot device since it’s inevitably going to be released in a post COVID-19 world. [Yeah, about that release... it doesn't look like it's happenin'. 😥 ]

The main thing that sucks about TnC is that you have to wait so long to really get into its themes of taboo and what I would say is the Burkian sublime (I'll elaborate later). These concepts don’t emerge with much depth and meaning until you unlock Shiki’s routes, which I finally managed to do on Monday [May 4, 2020] when I survived Rin’s route. On another note, I’m thinking of making image badges to commemorate finishing the Executioners, Arbitro, Keisuke, Motomi, and Rin routes because I need a purple heart for getting through all of those. Did not enjoy.

I was fully prepared for the non-consent in all the routes, and especially so for Shiki’s, so I was able to be fully fucking blown away by Shitiki. (Was that Gunji’s nickname for him? I didn’t quite catch it.) It was super interesting to benefit from something being fully spoiled beforehand, since I had already worked past the cringing and yikes-ing about non-con (I'm not super into it) wayyy in advance. And honestly, thank God because I’ve been heart eyes-ing this character’s design since like 2009/2010 because I’m a big tiddy goth girl.

Playing one (1) Shiki route on Wednesday had me like:

Photo of Wendy Williams in which she looks disheveled and as though she is adjusting to waking up.

And finishing all three (3) routes on Thursday had me like:

Screenshot of the Wendy Williams Show often used as a 'shook,' 'overwhelmed,' or 'disoriented' reaction picture.

I’ve rewatched all the Shiki sex scenes, like, at least four times from my recollection library. As a more dominant female, I kinda have no choice but to stan. Are there things I still hate about these scenes? Sure! But overall I stan. I was able to seamlessly project myself onto Shiki or Akira depending on what was happening in a given moment (i.e. do I want this to happen to me or do I want to do this BUT WITH CONSENTING PARTIES?) and oh wow!!! 😳 Yeah, that’s all I have to say.

These are my thoughts for now. I still have Nano’s route remaining, which I didn’t originally intend to play because I didn’t think it worth my while; it was no secret that I was playing just for Shiki. But it turns out Nano and Shiki have a convo that piques my interest so much I need to see where this goes before I feel comfortable settling on any one reading.

Animated divider transitioning from red to orange in color. Used to denote a section break.

I’m definitely considering this one a shitpost because even I don’t really know where I was going with it. I guess it’s just a warning that my future TnC review will likely have a separate analysis section in addition to plot summary and review/opinion sections. Plus it’s another opportunity to get my shoddy recollections of the BL fandom out there for other fans to verify or deny as collective memory.

I’m really interested in this collective fandom memory stuff for some reason, especially because I can hardly remember my own fan timeline. Getting back into BL games has actually led me to believe that I’ve been in the BL scene longer than I originally thought; my math really isn’t adding up if I think about it for longer than two seconds. We’re still going to say I started in 2008/2009 though because it makes me feel a little less perverse.

Anyway, I’ve got to redraft an academic article by the end of May and write a report on another project by the end of June for my day job, so I don’t know how soon the actual TnC review will be out. I may put off playing Nano’s route until at least the end of June just so some part of the game is still fresh when I have time to write without distraction and stress. And all this is ignoring that I’ve still got that Love Is An Illusion omegaverse review in my sights, too. Hot damn!

xoxo Shio