Soulmates, that is what Serinuma calls Nishina. They’re soulmates. Not lovers, not friends, but soulmates. It seems this grey zone between a friendly relationship and a romantic one if where Nishina stands in Serinuma’s eyes. Even when they are going on the date in Episode 12, Serinuma expresses that Nishina is “fun to be around.”
Actually, let’s take a look at her date.
For Nishina, this is her chance to express her love for Serinuma, and she does the whole set up right. She reserves a whole boat, plane flight, dress, all of it for a truly “proper” date. She is dressed to impress.
Her first line of dialogue is introducing the place. She’s rehearsed that. Serinuma needs to know where she is, after all, right? She even makes it halfway through her next line— “When I see such beautiful scenery…”
And then comes yaoi pairings. She was so close to pulling a romantic line, but then it comes out as yaoi. I can reiterate the lesbian undertones of fujoshi culture a million times, but it won’t change that concretely, roleplaying and imagining male / male sexual contact is not the same thing as legitimately engaging in sexual contact.
Nishina had the lesbian fujoshi crutch— she was immediately the closest to Serinuma and attempted to use this fujoshi connection to grab Serinuma romantically. Yet ever since the kiss, Serinuma has persistently emphasized their friendship as fellow fujoshi over romantic interest, and before long Nishina found herself satisfied with being Serinuma’s soulmate.
By satisfied, I’m not implying Nishina only wants friendship, but she has convinced herself that she can’t have anything more. Do you know what this is called?
Now, to be clear, one could argue the whole cast of Watashi Ga Motete struggles with “the friend zone,” but Nishina is the only one who actively perpetuates her friend zone.
Igarashi is the most vocally against the state of things. He repeatedly seizes opportunities to bond with Nishina and had a clear-cut goal of becoming her boyfriend.
Nana and Shinomiya are similarly romantically-minded— most of the things they do, while not as suave as Igarashi, have the same goal of impressing Nishina into falling in love with them. Nana achieves this impression through his charisma and situational decision-making, and Shinomiya succeeds through his adorkable failure to properly ‘man up’ to the situation.
Mutsumi, ever since discovering his love for Serinuma, is calm but clear. He has no difficulty expressing his love or his thoughts toward Serinuma, but is also fine with casually being with her. He would come closest to being a “romantic companion” as opposed to a “boyfriend,” if that makes sense.
He views his innocent companionship as an entirely separate issue and tackles his attraction to Serinuma by simply expositing her it.
And what is Nishina doing? Talking about BL? What happened, girl? You were her first kiss! You had such a great shot! And now you’re struggling to come up with topics?
Simply put, Nishina has done more than just put herself squarely in the friend zone. She has put herself in the fujoshi zone. Here, she cannot escape, for the only way she knows anymore how to express her interest in Serinuma is through pairings, thus perpetuating her friendship.
It isn’t a miscommunication, it’s a vicious cycle that Nishina has put herself in since she and Serinuma made up with their reversible pairing argument. Since Nishina’s strong point from the start was BL, she returns to it in an attempt to preserve Serinuma’s interest in her. Yet at this point, Serinuma has accustomed herself to this as a gesture of friendship, and Nishina finds her hopes of romance falling away.
Think about it— the date wasn’t her only opportunity. She had the whole time at the hot springs! Heck, given how much she and Serinuma talk about conventions, surely they go to some BL places or at least traverse Otome Road without the others, right?
Of course this is all speculation, but these are par for the course for any good fujoshi friends. Yet in none of these situations has Nishina pulled anything on Serinuma. It’s because they are all BL-centered.
After she herself made it clear that she was serious and would take advantage of any opportunity to attract Serinuma, Nishina set the world of BL off-limits for her. After all, it was the foundation of the deep trust she had accumulated with Serinuma. At the start she had no issue putting it on the line— their fujoshi friendship was just a crutch. But as that friendship deepened, Nishina realized she had to separate BL and romance.
In fact, going back to Episode 6, there is the moment where Nishina’s mind changes. Her original intent with their competition was to assert her superiority and cut ties with the BL side of Serinuma and leave with only romance. Instead, she realized that these two— the BL and romance, were connected.
If she were to throw dirt in the face of BL-loving Serinuma, she would too be throwing dirt in the face of potential girlfriend Serinuma. This was not an option. Therefore, Nishina made it clear to herself that from then on she would not interfere with their fujoshi friendship.
This was all fine and well, but in doing so, suddenly their fujoshi friendship became a source of comfort. Sure, she could risk their net relationship by making a romantic move, or she could simply maintain their current state by continuing to be a fujoshi buddy.
Furthermore, in a place like Otome Road or at a convention, Nishina would have strictly been in fujoshi-mode. Therefore, her prime opportunity to change up her pace was ruined by her own conviction that fujoshi friendship and romance remain different issues.
What first excited me about Nishina in Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda was how she was the embodiment of Mizoguchi’s Reading and Living Yaoi theory. In her fujoshi rapport, she was able to establish an immediate (lesbian) sexual connection, and then leverage this by bringing that virtual lesbianism into material lesbianism.
Yet, by the canon of the anime, this has simultaneously been her downfall. Because Nishina established herself upon virtual lesbianism and not material lesbianism, in her efforts to stay with Serinuma she has reverted to a state of pure virtual lesbianism. Pure fantasy.
The difficulty Hato had with their relationship with Madarame was chiefly that they were uncertain of the boundaries between fantasy and reality. Their best times with Madarame were the times they were most real, most concrete. It is when Hato had a real conversation with Madarame, shooting the shit about whatever, or when Madarame really blushed at receiving Hato’s chocolates.
And, accordingly, it is when Hato was most in the world of fantasy that they were unsuccessful in wooing Madarame. The whole worry about “Hato x Mada” as opposed to “Mada x Hato?” Purely in the realm of theory.
It appears history has repeated itself— Nishina was most succesful when she concretely gave Serinuma a kiss, and she was least successful when she reverted to the fujoshi mindset to stay comfortable with Serinuma.
This is the fujoshi zone.