I like Genshiken, and I like when other people talk about Genshiken, especially when they’re able to see just how strong and fleshed out the characters are. Best of all, it gets me to think more about the title, and reminds me that as much as I have looked at the series, there’s always more to consider. So when I read Pontifus’s look at the second half of Genshiken, it not only reminded me of a post from years back, but it also made me aware that the series presents many more comparisons between 2-D and 3-D than I originally thought.
In his post, Pontifus wonders about why Madarame never felt anything for Ogiue, first pointing out that:
“Ogiue is precisely the kind of manga character he likes (literally!). When she’s finally talked into cosplay, she even dresses as Madarame’s favorite Kujibiki Unbalance character, who, in terms of broad traits, isn’t all that unlike her.”
He then goes on to describe how based on his own personal experience, the things that get you going in a fictional character don’t exactly apply to actual women, and that this seems to be the case with Madarame as well. Madarame does show a moment of piqued interest towards Ogiue’s brief debut as Kamishakujii Renge, but it seems to be more about the character than the person behind it.
However, Madarame isn’t the only one in the story whose attraction to a real woman runs opposite to his manga character fetishes; Sasahara also falls into this category. While Sasahara’s taste in pornography isn’t dwelled on as much in the latter half of the series, we are told fairly early on that his favorite female character is Ritsuko Kubel Kettengrad, the chairman in Kujibiki Unbalance, whom Kasukabe famously cosplays to save the club from doom.
So we have Kasukabe, whom Madarame likes, as the character that turns Sasahara on, with Ogiue, whom Sasahara likes, in the guise of a character that turns Madarame on. Again, given the guys’ doujinshi-buying habits and overall anime character fetishism, you might think that their taste in women has been flopped, but the series makes it clear that they have good reason for liking the girls they do, and it all has to do with how they are as people.
In addition to reminding the reader of the distinction between 2-D and 3-D, the parallels between Sasahara and Madarame (or perhaps Ogiue and Kasukabe?) affirm the overall theme of growth and maturity in Genshiken. Otaku can enter the real world and still be otaku, it just might take some help to adjust. But putting aside notions of “2-D complexes” and such aside, people’s tastes in women (and men!) change over time. You can have in your mind your concept of your “ideal partner,” or a mental checklist of all the things you like in an anime character, but you never know if something is totally going to surprise you. It’s not necessarily that they’re fickle, but more that there could always be more qualities that you love, either in a person or a character, which even you don’t realize.