Chapter 63 of Genshiken II is day 1 of Comic Festival, and some of the very best Genshiken chapters have been in that venue. This time around is no exception, and in fact it’s one of the most densely packed chapters ever in the manga. There’s a lot to go through, so let’s do a quick run-down first.
After finishing the second half of her debut professional work, Ogiue pulls an all-nighter to crank out an additional cheaper-quality doujinshi to complement her collaborative effort with Yabusaki. Unable to make it to Comic Festival before the afternoon, she sends Sue in her place, who naturally torments Yabusaki and gets along well with Asada the cat-faced girl, whose first name we discover is “Naoko” (We also get verification on pronunciation of at least the first half of Ogiue’s pen name: Ogino). As Comic Festival begins, a line begins to form at their table due to the popularity of Ogiue’s published manga, which leaves Yabusaki flustered.
I’m not sure if this is Yabusaki’s ComiFest debut or not, but it is Hato’s first time attending. This being Day 1 (the girl-oriented day), he crossplays as Yamada from Kujibiki Unbalance in order to make it less awkward for him to purchase his desired yaoi doujinshi, and in doing so continues the club tradition of Kujian cosplay. Managing to fool men and women alike, Hato ends up facing a dilemma when he’s confronted with having to hold up a large sign for the men’s bathroom, a situation he tries to avoid but is naturally inevitable. While Sue attacks from a fortified position through her signature obscure references (Kyuukyoku Choujin R), Angela brings the gaijin assault head on; when she’s not teaming up for a startlingly apt Panty & Stocking cosplay with Ohno, she’s grabbing Hato’s chest to verify his gender.
Ogiue meanwhile finally leaves her apartment, but at the same time over at Tokyo Big Sight, Nakajima, Ogiue’s old “friend” from her traumatic junior high days, visits Yabusaki’s table expecting Ogiue to be there, wherein the chapter ends on this cliffhanger.
Phew! And again, there’s still two more days of ComiFest left.
The last time Nakajima visited, it conjured up bad memories for Ogiue, who was already dealing with the inner turmoil of shame over her attraction to Sasahara and her fear of hurting him as she did her old boyfriend Makita back in junior high. Since then, Ogiue has learned to accept herself, start dating again, and has even turned her passion for drawing into a career, but when you think about it, she has still never directly confronted Nakajima. Prior to Genshiken II, we could only speculate as to whether or not this would ever happen. Now, short of meeting Makita again, this might very well be the true bookend to Ogiue’s growth over the course of the series, a way to decide her destiny, if you will. All of this has me giddy with anticipation, because while Genshiken II has been delivering so far, all of the fun and games make it easy to forget that this series also handles the dramatic incredibly well.
That’s not to say that the comedy of Genshiken needs to take a hike, as the chapter was hilarious and informative all-around. Hato’s plight is not one I can say I’ve experienced, but I can really feel for the poor guy. It’s interesting to remember that Hato drew a distinction in his mind between cosplay and crossdressing, and also to kind of compare it with Ohno’s own views on cosplaying, particularly that it’s wholly different from dressing sexily. There’s quite a bit of commonality between the two in this respect. And speaking of cosplay, I can’t help but to compare Ohno’s taste in older men to Stocking’s overall poor taste in men, as some would argue that the former is a case of the latter. I’ve also always seen Angela as being more sexually active than the other characters in Genshiken, though obviously not to the extent that Panty does. And if that weren’t enough, Ohno once remarked that her chest is bigger than Angela’s, a situation mirrored somewhat with the Anarchy sisters they’re cosplaying.
The chapter also reveals quite a bit about Sue’s development, specifically in regards to her growing language skills. When Sue first appears, she speaks purely in anime and manga quotes. When she makes her second visit to Japan, she shows that her listening comprehension has grown dramatically. By the time she began studying abroad at Shiiou University, her vocabulary had expanded to the point that she could communicate without the use of otaku references. Now, Sue takes the next step.
It’s not evident in English versions of the Genshiken manga (or at all in any of the anime), but one of the features of Sue’s Japanese is that it’s written primarily in katakana to represent her foreign accent. In this chapter though, some of that katakana has begun turning into hiragana, the script used primarily for non-loan words, indicating that her Japanese is reaching an even greater point of fluency. Personally speaking, I made my greatest strides in my Japanese language skills while studying in Japan, and to see the same happening with Sue brings a smile to my face.
And you wouldn’t believe how glad I am that Kio’s finally told us how to pronounce at least some of Ogiue’s pen name. I’ve even made the appropriate correction to her Fujoshi File.
In any case, I’m probably more stoked for the next chapter of Genshiken II than I’ve ever been. Comic Festival, it always delivers.