I’ve been waiting for a month to use that title.
The final day of Comic Festival is nearing its end, and Madarame is in deep trouble, at least from Hato’s perspective. First, Madarame and Hato encounter Kohsaka, whose picture-perfect crossplay (to promote his company’s new 18+ game) blows away both of them. Hato remarking with amazement that Kohsaka, unlike himself, doesn’t even need makeup to complete the gender illusion, wonders why things aren’t more uncomfortable between Madarame, who likes Saki, and Kohsaka, her boyfriend. Hato comes to the conclusion that Madarame’s just isn’t able to compete for Saki’s affections. Madarame and Hato comfort each other over their respective areas of inferiority relative to Kohsaka, though Hato points out that he’s much better at undergoing the cross-gender transformation by using his feminine voice.
Angela strikes, laying on the flirt as thick as humanly possible, with Madarame naturally not being sure what to do. Hato jumps in for the rescue, pointing out that Angela is flying back the next day, so obviously there’s no way anything could happen between them, but Angela doesn’t quite agree.
Knowing that the actual reason Madarame can’t even begin to think of Angela is because Saki is still in his heart but not wanting Madarame to know that he is aware of Madarame’s unrequited love, Hato changes his thought midstream to try and find a safer reason. In doing so, he blurts out that Madarame is such an uke that there’s no way he should be with a girl, though unbeknownst to Hato, Angela is a big fan of Madarame as “sou-uke,” and instantly bonds with him. Wanting to point out however that real life and fiction are different, physically different, Angela tries to give Madarame his Very First Boob Grab, but is deflected by Sue, who then admonishes Angela’s rash action with a roundhouse kick.
At the end of the day, Angela still has her eyes set out on the 72-year-old Pit Viper, Madarame and Hato grow in their friendship, and Madarame comes to the shocking realization that he is in fact perceived as the catcher in yaoi imaginings.
Angela’s forwardness and acknowledgement of previous experience with one night stands sets her far apart from the nerds of Genshiken and at first it might come across as too far out there from how Genshiken has been in the past, but given what has happened in the manga before, it doesn’t seem so inappropriate. If you think about it, the awkward expression of sexuality has been a big part of Genshiken from day 1, whether it’s Saki having to come to terms with Kohsaka’s 2-D complex, the Sasahara x Madarame doujinshi that underscores Sasahara and Ogiue’s relationship, or even the fact that every ComiFest ever has been about buying comics not to “read” but to “use,” and the understanding that everyone else you know is doing the same. In this regard, the most awkward moment of all might just be seeing Angela’s “sex on the first date is okay” viewpoint collide with Madarame’s otaku chivalry, the same noble attitude that at first kept Madarame from taking a seat on the train in place of Saki back in Chapter 32.
That said, it is still a bit of a shock to just see Angela just blast down that implied wall of silence that surrounds the topic of sex, a wall that normally is talked around or through tiny holes, but is rarely trampled over so easily. It’s a kind of bluntness similar to Sue, and I have to wonder if this is a shared American trait for the purpose of the story. On the other hand, Angela and Sue’s aggressive attitudes aren’t quite the same, and while we see Sue expressing her fondness for yaoi or making references all the time, I can’t really ever see her coming on to a guy as nonchalantly as Angela does. It makes me want to see their friendship in action outside of the context of a visit to Japan.
While that might be considered an inter-otaku cultural gap between Japan and America (and even only somewhat so), the inter-otaku generation gap is also clearly present in this chapter with Madarame and Hato. At first when Hato sees Madarame talking to Kohsaka. “Why isn’t Madarame seeing him as a rival?” Hato wonders, but just the fact that Hato is asking that question shows a different mindset from the older members of Genshiken. Going after a girl who’s already in a relationship when, on top of that, you’re friends with the both of them? That stuff is for fiction, man. How differently might this manga have turned out had Madarame gone for it from the start, or if Ogiue and Ohno already had boyfriends prior to meeting Sasahara and Tanaka? Would those two have even bothered? But that’s just not how Genshiken is, because that’s not how the characters are. After all, I’m sure that people besides Tanaka entertained the thought of having a relationship with Ohno after she joined, but once it was established that she had a thing with Tanaka, that ship sailed. It’s not a matter of monogamy or anything like that, but simply that someone like Hato (or Yoshitake) carry an extroverted attitude and awareness of interpersonal relationships romantic, sexual, or otherwise, that only the non-otaku Saki and Keiko could see as clearly.
It’s also nice to see the friendship that has formed between Madarame and Hato. Could it be something more? I doubt it, given that both have said outright that they are not into same-sex relationships, at least outside of the world of BL, but I could see the idea continuing to make things a little awkward for them, especially given the number of (too much) high-power fujoshi populating the club.
There was only one small Ogiue cameo this chapter, so let’s close out with it.