Translator’s Introduction: This is another post by Japanese blogger Tamagomago about the new Genshiken series that is currently running in Japan. This time, the focus is on the new character Yoshitake Rika.

The original post was actually written back in June, which means that the contents of the post do not take into account any events that have occurred past Chapter 65. Just the same however, the most recent chapter, 68, focuses heavily on Yoshitake, so before you read the latest chapter I hope you take the time to read Tamagomago’s article first.

Like the last translation, I have used translated images in place of the originals because the text contained in them is mostly relevant to the points being made, and the images are larger because of the difficulty in reading shrunken-down English text.

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The Dynamo of Nidaime, Yoshitake is Really a Charming Girl

My article “The Appearing and Disappearing Wave of Generational Change in the Meaning of ‘Fun’ in Genshiken II Volume 1/Genshiken Volume 10” has been translated into English.

Thank you! I am very fortunate to have this.

Now then, my initial feelings while reading Genshiken Volume 10 (Genshiken Nidaime Volume 1) were about the sense of distance Madarame and Yajimacchi have towards “how otaku have fun,” as can be seen in the article above.

Is it all right for me to like this stuff? How much is it okay for me to open up? As I get older, will the nature of my passion change? And so on. If the first part of Genshiken starts with “coming into contact with otaku culture,” then the current Genshiken is about the extremely wide age gap between the employed otaku, like Madarame, and the freshmen, Yajima, Yoshitake, and Hato.

Don’t make light of that, five years makes for quite a difference these days.

With that said, this time I’m interested in Yoshitake.

This is from Volume 10.

The three newcomers are characters who are extraordinarily bold and rich, but Yoshitake is something else. By the time she’s reached Genshiken, she openly refers to herself as fujoshi, will say “oink”[1] without batting an eye, and wholeheartedly pursues the things she enjoys. She’s a hyper, out-of-control, super express girl.

As you can see, her way of not hiding anything and showing her true otaku disposition to others is really a lot of fun to watch.

So, I talked to a friend of mine who really loves Yoshitake and we had a discussion regarding the topic of, “Just what kind of role is she going to play?” Then I jotted down the resulting notes.

The Glue that Holds Everyone Together, Yoshitake

Last month’s cover is magnificent.

Look at this!

This image makes it clear that the one who connects the individualistic wills of Hato and Yajima is actually Yoshitake. This confirms it.

No matter how you look at it, with the all-too-conspicuous foreigner otaku Sue and the girl-boy Hato, Genshiken right now has an unusually thick, bold flavor. Yoshitake is also worthy of being considered a bold character, but is something like the average between the others.

While Yajima is more plain, her complexes and irritations are expressed to such a painstaking degree that she instead stands out as a character with whom it’s easy to empathize. That she doesn’t put any effort into fashion also makes her stand out.

Yoshitake is fashionable.

You can’t really say she’s “extremely fashionable,” but I think you can at least say she’s “fairly fashionable.” Even dressing casually, she wears clothing that matches her own figure and style to a certain extent, and she has a new outfit on every time she appears.

Red and bottom-rimmed, even her glasses are fashionable. There’s a big difference between hers and Yajima/Madarame’s; the two of them would just say “All that matters is that they work.”

But while she is fashionable, she isn’t really on what you’d call the cutting edge of fashion, and her attire reflects this quite splendidly. Her subtle, child-like clothing choices are also rather charming. You could say that she’s like a Mori Girl[2], but that doesn’t quite feel right. How can I put it? It’s like she’s still comes off as otaku… but she’s also fashionable… Argh! Whatever, I’ll leave this to someone who actually knows about fashion.

(PS: After consulting a friend, we determined that her style is probably Daily Casual. You can see it at Konshuu no Osusume|tiptop blog.)

Most of all, while I don’t know how to distinguish her style of dress (let’s name it “Yoshitake-style!”), she seems to recognize herself as a so-called “loli-faced character.”

When it comes to the extreme difference between those in Genshiken who care a lot about their attire (e.g. Ohno and Hato, people for whom their clothing is a part of their personalities) and those who couldn’t care less (like Ogiue, who doesn’t care about a lot of things), the middle point between them holds some value.

So then, is Yoshitake’s personality also average among Japanese people? Actually, it’s more like she stands out, but only just a bit.

First of all, her seeming inability to “read the mood” is beyond top class.

But then, I suppose she’s a character who actually just fakes her inability to read the mood, and that she’s instead using her top-notch social sense to liven things up.

It’s complicated, isn’t it? She’s especially similar to characters like Mugi-chan from K-On! and Erika from Heartcatch Precure.

Using all of her power to maintain “fun” and to connect everyone together, I think that’s what Yoshitake is all about.

Yoshitake’s Recent Appearances Have Been All Fun and Games

This month’s cover image connects with last month’s cover. It’s quite nice, wouldn’t you say?

This month’s Afternoon features a Doujinshi Event, and the comic drawn is essentially “All of the Genshiken members cosplaying.”

Homu Homu Ohno, Mami-san Angela (not-Genshiken), Sayaka Yajimacchi, and then Kyouko Yoshitake and Kyubey Sue.

Hato was probably supposed to be Madoka. Ogiue got sick last month and had to bow out. Kucchii is a salesboy.

For everyone in the club to cosplay together like this is in itself rare, but if Ohno doesn’t exercise her influence at an event, then it can’t possibly happen in the first place.

So then, what I want you to see is this.

From beginning to end, Yoshitake makes only a brief appearance (because the main focus is on Ohno and Angela), but you can see that she’s smiling the entire time that she’s cosplaying.

The sweat is probably because it’s hot.

Indeed, this girl really enjoys herself.

Yajima has a body image complex and so must have not wanted to cosplay.

And yet, there she is. It’s a bit surprising.

I mean, if she really were against it she would have rejected it, right?  But then she says, “I only agreed to this embarrassment because I thought we were all in this together.” Actually, this “Madoka Cosplay” became a topic of conversation on the internet. Not only that, Yajima winds up cosplaying the most scantily-clad character, Sayaka.

…This is one of the things that makes Yajima cute.

Let’s put that aside.

The reason Ogiue and Saki-chan have already cosplayed is that Ohno pushed and pushed and got turned down, and finally got them to dress up, but with Yajima, she does so surprisingly without making any fuss.

Huh?

The first thing I felt was that perhaps the bar is lower for this generation when it comes to “cosplay.”

It’s not anything special, but by comparison is instead recognized as just one way among many to play around.

But even so, Yajima should dislike cosplaying.

That’s where Yoshitake comes in.

“But then where would that leave my character? Nom Nom.”

Yoshitake is always, always with Yajima. Here, her good qualities come to the surface.

It’s likely that not just Ohno but Yoshitake also encouraged Yajima to cosplay.

I don’t have a particular reason for using thinking in the following way, but if you can say that the two of them are good friends, and that they’re always together, then it’s quite simple.

Moreover, they must be aware of the pairing of Kyou-Saya.

Let’s take another look.

Hato, worrying (?) about Madarame, splits off this time to be a salesboy. Yajima of course feels something along the lines of, “Why that jerk, running away from this,” which brings about her complex, but Yoshitake pacifies Yajima when she’s in that state.

First, she says that as a pairing cosplay, she would be in trouble without Sayaka.

Next, she suggests that Yajima should find this good for Hato-chan, when one considers how Hato is acting.

That’s right. Let’s look things over.

  • Yoshitake, from the bottom of her heart, has fun cosplaying with everyone else. That she also prepared Pocky for it is really nice. Could it be that the title image for Chapter 59 was foreshadowing?!
  • Yoshitake understands Yajima’s objections, and knowing them is thus able to follow and respond. She doesn’t just ignore it.
  • Yoshitake really understands Hato’s complicated feelings, and cheers him on. She of course does the same for Madarame.

Yoshitake is amazing.

That girl, she’s capable of going along with everyone, and she has a lot of fun while doing so.

Whereas the others up until now have dressed poorly, possessed complexes, experienced trauma, and tried to escape from the world, she’s a little different.

I can feel strongly her desire to have as much fun as she can while considering everyone’s feelings.

At this point, the notions I want to entertain in regards to Yoshitake are, “Just what are her shortcomings,” and “Does she have any problems at all?”

However, to think that her cheerful behavior comes from some kind of inner suffering is perhaps an outdated way of thinking about it? At least, that’s how I’m feeling.

When I asked a friend who likes Yoshitake, “What do you like about her?” he said, “I like Yoshitake because she enjoys the things she likes.”

Ah, I get it. I really do. It has almost nothing to do with her “being an otaku.”

If Yoshitake’s hobby was film, then she’d be a film maniac. If she liked soccer, then she’d be playing soccer.

It just so happens that she likes anime, manga, and BL. That’s why she has fun as an otaku.

Whichever she chooses, she’ll definitely be showing a smile on her face.

She’s not just having fun without any care in the world.

…No wait, that might be an incorrect way to phrase it. She’s definitely carefree, but it’s not like she doesn’t think about anything while she’s having fun.

After thinking about how she should have fun, whether it’s all right to be enjoying herself, and whether she’s being a bother to other people, she consciously tries to have the most fun that she possibly can.

This is the scene in Volume 10 where she enters the club. Right from the beginning, she accurately confirms whether or not liking BL is OK there.

It’s very interesting that she states so plainly, “If it’s NG [no good] then I’ll stop [coming].” In other words, in confirming whether or not the things she likes are okay in there, it shows that she came there looking for a place where she could pursue enjoyment.

She wasn’t relying on escaping or anything, she was being active.

Another friend was saying to me that what she really meant was “If it’s NG then I’ll stop [talking about BL].” If that’s the case, then that’s also amazing.[3]

I might even say that if “BL being NG” means that she would find another way, then that would be the ultimate form of being able to pursue fun.

Therefore.

She’s able to make close friends, and my friend thinks that she has like the greatest smile. That’s why he loves her.

“Yoshitake, has fun doing the things she likes.” Indeed, that’s also why I like her so much.

To have fun doing the things she likes with such firmness, and to even be able to say that she likes it, is truly what makes her so charming.

Yoshitake and Yajima

In the work itself, things are often drawn from Yajima’s point of view, while Yoshitake’s feelings aren’t drawn all that much.

That’s why Yajima can be seen as incredibly cute, but still I’d like to see Yoshitake a bit more.

Yajima’s spirit is filled to the brim with mud.

However, it’s completely different from what’s inside Madarame, Kugapii, Ohno-san, and especially Ogiue, who is an extreme case. She doesn’t have an inferiority complex over being an otaku. She professes her interest in BL, too.

She’s unable to outright talk about her figure. It’s an incredibly vague complex to have, as a human, as a woman, and perhaps more.

That said, it’s clear that it hasn’t turned into hatred.

Currently, she’s enjoying Genshiken. No, it’s more like, she’s able to enjoy herself there.

Here is where I think Yoshitake has an enormous presence.

It’s possible that even if Yoshitake weren’t around, Yajima would have still gone into Genshiken. She possibly would have helped out with Ogiue’s manga as well. She would have probably had fun doing so.

However, that Yajima is able to be in the prime of her youth (it IS the prime of her youth, right?!) is partially because she’s being guided by the raging engine of Yoshitake.

Well, Yoshitake is more like a runaway train going off the tracks, but they’re still really good friends.

They come together through their hobbies, and it really seems like they have fun doing so.

Looking at this makes me happy.

With that in mind, there’s another scene of them with a hint of sorts. This panel is where I picked up on the closeness of their friendship.

Yoshitake is a girl who engages in physical intimacy in the truest sense of the term. She doesn’t go quite as far as Sue, but she clings to Yajima especially.

Yoshitake really cares for Yajima as a friend. This is another instance of “the fun of Yoshitake.”

Yajima also likes Yoshitake. She pretty much reflects on the idea that “Oh well, it seems like I made some fujoshi friends.” Here, “friend” undoubtedly means Yoshitake. It also includes Hato to some extent, but in the end she’s still consciously aware of his status as a “boy.”

“Fun” with respect to Yoshitake appears under a large variety of conditions, but in this case I think one big point is that it’s obtained through being with Yajima.

Hato-kun is of course a friend, but it’s Yajima who receives Yoshitake’s physical intimacy the most. The upperclassmen are another group entirely.

I think the balance she achieves between her “ability to read the mood” and her “desire to pursue fun” shows how wonderful she is.

She never feels like she’s thinking, “I have to look out for Yajima’s sake!” Rather, she truly thinks Yajima is fun.

She also doesn’t act conceitedly, as if to say “I make this place better.” However, if she thinks “this place makes me happier because I have more fun here,” then she will indeed make that place better.

Ahh.

Once again, I’m fully aware of how amazing it is that Yoshitake “has fun doing the things she likes.”

She’s never gloomy. Though, there’s a chance she will be at some point, but currently it has never happened.

A friend of mine said, “Isn’t she a symbolic example of a ‘positive otaku?'” To that I said, “Ah, you’re right.”

It’s not that “something happened so I became an otaku” or that “something happened so I became her friend.”

It’s that “being an otaku is fun so I have fun being an otaku” and “I just like my friends, simple as that.”

So, it’s really fun seeing Yoshitake be that way.

In my eyes, Yoshitake’s excitement is also one of her good points. Isn’t it super cute?

But I think what it might really be is that I’d like to become Yoshitake.

If I were as positive, as capable of finding fun in the things I enjoy, and as able to express my fondness for the things I like, how happy would I be?

Presently, Yoshitake is in a total supporting role. She hasn’t had a chapter featuring her, and her inner thoughts haven’t been revealed.

I think that could be because she says everything she thinks anyway.

I think she’s probably a girl who’s pure in the best sense of the word.

The only problem is probably “What’s to come.”

Yoshitake, perfectly fine with drinking alcohol despite being underage.

I won’t deny the possibility that something problematic could occur given her too-pure immaturity.

I won’t deny it, but… currently no one’s been hurt, and on the contrary Yoshitake’s the catalyst for cheering others up.

I think it could be nice to have her remain in a supporting role, to have her be something like the one who raises the spirits of the other club members.

At any rate, this month Madarame is in the heroine position. That’s dangerous.

Just how cute can he possibly be…!

Madarame-tan, you’re not a loser underdog, you’re a winner overdog![4]

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Translator’s Notes:

[1] Like the last article, “oink” refers to “buhireru” (ブヒれる), an onomatopoeic verb to describe oinking like a pig, implying that one is a disgusting anime fan

[2] A Mori Girl, or “Forest Girl” is a style of Japanese fashion where the goal is to look like a girl who lives in the forest, generally tending towards light, natural colors and simple-looking clothing. More information can be found here.

[3] The confusion over the whether Yoshitake meant that she’d stop coming to Genshiken (i.e. quit) or stop talking about BL (i.e. stop) comes from the fact that the words for “quit” and “stop” in Japanese are the same, yameru (やめる). Normally the easiest way to differentiate them is through their kanji (辞める=quit; 止める=stop), but the original Japanese text leaves it ambiguous. As it is my translation of that image that you see above, I interpreted it as the latter.

[4] The phrase here is “make inu” (負け犬), a phrase which literally means “loser dog” but is generally translated as just “loser.” Tamagomago contrasts it with “kachi inu” (勝ち犬), or “winner dog,” which is to say that he’s not a loser, but he’s not just a winner either. As translating kachi inu to just “winner” would have removed this subtlety, I went with the interpretation of “winner overdog” if only because overdog vs. underdog is about as ridiculous as kachi inu vs. make inu.

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