It’s a big day for the newest members of the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, as the three rookies spend their very first chapter almost entirely independent of Ogiue and the others. Can Yajima, Yoshitake, and Hato carry the story without backup from the Genshiken veterans? Do they have what it takes to garner their own fans? And is Sue a fan of Hellsing? All these questions and more (or not) will be answered in Genshiken II, Chapter 58.
Ogiue, Genshiken chairman that she is, decides to foster camaraderie among the club members and revive an old tradition by having everyone write/draw their own profiles for Genshiken’s defunct club magazine, “Mebaetame.” If you’re not sure what that is, try to remember the little blurbs they had in between chapters of Genshiken where they talked about their favorite Kujibiki Unbalance characters and what-not; that’s “Mebaetame.” If you’ll recall, Ogiue never actually participated in the magazine, and perhaps we’ll finally learn just how to pronounce her pen name, Ogino/Okino Meisetsu/Nayuki/Nariyuki.
Yoshitake thinks this is a good opportunity for some healthy bonding, and invites herself and Hato over to Yajima’s place to work on their profiles together while having some beers. Yajima (kind of) agrees, but is uneasy about alcohol. Hato doesn’t seem to mind either way. Here is where we see our first bit of additional insight on the new members: Yoshitake, cheerful and bubbly, has no qualms about knocking a few back (which creates anticipation for the inevitable drinking session/contest with Ohno) and breaking some rules, whereas surly and practical Yajima, citing age restriction as the primary reason to not purchase alcohol, turns out to be more naive than expected. In fact Yajima’s naivete and confidence (or lack thereof) seem to be a major topic for this chapter.
Lacking faith in her own artistic skills (“I said that I draw, not that I can draw!), Yajima, whose first name we find out is “Mirei,” is arguably the most “typical” of all of the girls in Genshiken at this point, especially in terms of looks. When she compares herself to members past and present, including a curvaceous cosplayer, a fashionable “normal” girl, and an impossibly attractive male cross-dresser, you can see how it impacts her self-image. Even Ogiue is likely included among the “beautiful,” as Yajima has only ever seen her as Ogiue Chika, Well-Dressed Professional Manga Artist with Boyfriend, and wasn’t around for the Ogiue who wore clothes two sizes too big, or her gradual and awkward transition to her current state. You can see Yajima thinking, “Wait, otaku aren’t supposed to be this way! If even my fellow nerds are this attractive, where does that leave me?” It’s all the more troubling for her when she remembers that Hato indeed has a Y-chromosome, and that a guy is passed out in her apartment from drinking too much. Being the innocent straight-arrow of an otaku that she is, when she accidentally/intentionally confirms Hato’s gender via skirt lift, it’s clear that it’s far outside of Yajima’s comfort zone.
Seeing as it’s a chapter taking place in Yajima’s apartment, it’s no surprise that she’s getting the most development of the three, though we still learn a few details about the other two. In addition to Yoshitake’s excited, yet nonchalant attitude towards life and its vices, we learn that she has an appetite on the level of Kobayashi Takeru and equates “profile” with “personal essay.” And with Hato, we now know that he 1) is an Economics Major 2) has quite good taste in anime, and 3) is pretty damn hardcore with the BL. Among his favorite titles are Hetalila, Doarara!!!, Winter Wars, Fuyume’s Book of Friends, and Sweets Basket. He also likes a series called Femto, which I’d like to believe is some Berserk spinoff all about Griffith but might actually be a reference to Boku no Pico.
So overall, I think that Yajima, Yoshitake, and Hato held their own, though next chapter seems to be focusing on Madarame, which is also welcome. Until then, I’m going to try and popularize the phrase “Dai Ogiue.”