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Whether it’s in the US or in the Netherlands, I’ve noticed that Phineas and Ferb is amazingly popular, so it should be no surprise that the show has aired in Japan as well. The only curious thing is that P&F takes place over the “104 days of summer vacation” as mentioned in the intro, but in Japan summer vacation is significantly shorter and they get homework during their break because their school year starts in April.

So what is a Japanese Phinea and Ferb opening to do?

Simple: Don’t mention summer vacation at all.

I swear they got the perfect voice for their sister Candace. Seriously, I feel like it’s spot-on with what I imagine a Japanese Candace to be, even the way she says “opening theme.”

Though it seems to be old news at this point, I thought I’d express my own disappointment at the fact that the re-release ofGenshiken(in massive omnibus) format.

Given the number of big re-releases of manga in English as of late, from Sailor Moon to Cardcaptor Sakura, I had originally bought Kodansha Comics’ Genshiken release with the expectation that, like those other revised editions, that it would come with a newer, more accurate translation. Instead, what we’re left with is a direct reprinting of the old translation which, while serviceable, not only made mistakes which are somewhat less significant to the story (like messing up the names of Mobile Suits from Gundam), but also changed characters’ dialogues to mean entirely different things (Ogiue’s introduction goes from her asking why girl otaku like yaoi so much to accusing the guys of being “queers”).

I don’t need to buy Genshiken over again. I have it a million times over, in anime form, in manga form, in Japanese and in English to differing degrees. I even own all of the special edition Japanese releases of the manga and their accompanying paraphernalia. The reason I bought the first omnibus was simply because I wanted to be able to share Genshiken with my friends who can’t read Japanese while treating them to a more accurate translation, but if that’s not the case then I have a problem.

If anything can be done to revise the later omnibus volumes I would like to know, as I think having a truly solid edition of Genshiken would only be for the best.

Mousou Shoujo Otakukei, the story of powerful fujoshi Asai Rumi and the man who loves her. I’ve been following it since 2007 and recently finished the series (expect a review, perhaps?), and in that time it’s become one of the more well-known fujoshi-themed manga, getting even a live action drama adaptation as well as an English-language release by Media Blasters.

In its original US release, Mousou Shoujo Otakukei was changed to Fujoshi Rumi. Let’s leave aside the question of whether or not they should have changed the title in the first place, other than to point out how interesting it is that Fujoshi Kanojo decided to go the other route and become My Girlfriend is a Geek.

Mousou Shoujo Otakukei then got a French release. There, its title is actually Otaku Girls.

But now, for the J-Manga release, they’ve decided to go back and change the title to a direct translation of the Japanese. Hence Otaku-Type Delusion Girl.

So that’s four different titles for the exact same manga, all of which are to some degree official (the only possible exception oddly being the actual romanization of the Japanese title).

I don’t think I need to explain why this is confusing.

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.

———

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]

———

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.

Translator’s Introduction: This is a translation of a post by a well-known Japanese anime and manga blogger known as Tamagomago concerning his feelings towards the recent Genshiken revival. As there are certain terms that are very Japanese, as well as information that might not be that well-known to English speakers, I’ve included translation notes at the bottom of this post.

The images used are necessary for the post, but because the originals were in Japanese, I’ve taken the liberty of replacing them with existing English translations. The images are also larger than the ones used in the original post, as the English text would be impossible to read if the images were the same size as the original’s (not as much of a problem with Japanese and its use of kanji).

This is actually also the second otaku and fujoshi-related post from Tamagomago that I’ve translated. The first can be found here, with my response to it available here.

———————-

Genshiken II [Nidaime] Volume 1, aka Genshiken Volume 10 is out.


How I should I put it…

Genshiken Volume 1 came out in 2002.

Has it really been almost 10 years…?


Back when Genshiken was coming out, it was often compared to Kyuukyoku Choujin R.[1]

As individual works they’re completely different, and there’s no use comparing them directly (for starters, R has the Light-Image [Photography] Club, high schoolers, and no particular otaku interests among its members, while Genshiken has the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, college students, and is based around a group of otaku). But when you look at the  different age groups among the members and how there’s something of a generation gap in terms of how they enjoy their hobbies, the above comparison is easier to understand than one might expect. It’s about seeing how they spend their free time having fun.

This was actually discussed so often that I lost count. It’s a part of the history of the 00s.

However, to the younger otaku readers, the world of R was like a heavy burden on them, and the reason is that the senpai [upperclassmen] have an overwhelming presence.

I love Tosaka-senpai and the rest of them, but if you were to say to me, “They’re bothersome senpai,” I certainly wouldn’t be able to deny it.

Not only that, but by comparison, Genshiken‘s Madarame-senpai casts a light shadow, following a philosophy of living peacefully at any cost. When you look at that, it’s really quite cute, but you can also really feel that the senpai-kouhai [upperclassman-lowerclassman] relationship is rather thin.

That’s the first generation gap.


And now this is the second.

The number of people who have admired Genshiken and turned into otaku because of it has increased.

I bet there are people who just read that sentence and thought, “Wait, what?”

They’d say, “‘Become’ an ‘otaku?’ That’s not something you just decide on and then it happens, wouldn’t you say?”

That’s right, but during the 00s, the meaning of the word “otaku” suddenly became unclear. It no longer meant that you were some kind of “outlaw,” and it no longer had a negative connotation in people’s minds. That said, it obviously also depends on who you’re talking to.

The decisive blow came in the doujinshi that Shinofusa Rokurou drew for the special edition of Genshiken Volume 9 (the final volume).[2]

This is pretty much it. I think there’s a lot of people recently who haven’t read or seen Genshiken (since it’s out of print), but you won’t regret reading it. Same with Mozuya-san Gyakujousuru.[3]

Yasuhiko Yoshikazu[4] once said, “To a guy like me who hates otaku, Genshiken is a manga full of love for otaku that’s designed to exterminate otaku.” Those are some really mixed feelings, wouldn’t you say? But I pretty much understand him.

There are now more and more people who aren’t “beautiful despite being otaku” but instead people who are “beautiful while being otaku.” It has nothing to do with physical appearance, nor is it just the end result of ressentiment; rather, what’s changed is that being otaku now means you’re enjoying a “fun hobby.” Genshiken is a work that’s drawn while relatively consciously of this.

It’s not my intention to formulate a theory about why the generations are different after all of this. No matter what I say, what’s most important is to ask oneself, “What do I personally think?” However, I feel that, at the very least, the number of people who can stand in the light and declare, “I’m an otaku!” have risen.

For someone like me who lived in the era of the closet otaku and thought, “I can’t say that I’m an otaku,” this is quite a strange feeling.

Though I’d say what we have now is the healthier scenario.

This divide can be seen in how Genshiken has been drawn. Madarame’s year consists of otaku who are relatively private and who try to conceal their hobbies, unwilling to come out to others about it.

Ohno meanwhile concealed her hobbies as well, but was the type of person who wanted to be able to share them with like-minded individuals.

Kohsaka and Sue just freely and openly show how much of an otaku they are and how much they enjoy it, while Sasahara is the type of person who saw the truth after entering college.

I used to think that Kohsaka’s existence was something of a fantasy, but I realized that people like him actually exist.


Volume 9 came out in 2006. It’s been almost five years.

Now we have Volume 10.

And in it, the characters feel significantly different from how the characters used to be.

If times have changed, then the characters in Genshiken have changed as well, in terms of where they come from and what their points of view may be.

From here on in, I’m going to write a bit about the respective perspectives of the new character Yajima as well as Madarame.


The Impression of a Gap in the New Generation of Genshiken

I think this panel in Nidaime probably makes the contrast easiest to understand.

…Whoa… They’re like… so young!

The three new club members are gathered alongside the old members in Ogiue’s room (i.e. the place where Ogiue produces her manga). Madarame and Sasahara are obviously among the “old boys.”

If you look at the ratio of men to women, you’ll notice that the girls outnumber the guys (though there is a certain exception), and that none of them are particularly concerned with avoiding the others. If you didn’t tell me that this is an otaku circle, I never would have guessed.

Obviously you can say that it’s because this is manga, but still, everyone there looks like they’re having fun.

Among them is one character in particular, sitting on the sofa with a sour look on her face: Yajima.

Among the freshmen, there’s a male crossdresser… or should I say, a “boy-girl.”[5]


What Yajima has to say about all of this is unbelievably cute.

“I’m… quite opposed [very resistant] to it.”


Yajima’s feelings on the matter are, in a certain sense, the bridge between the various conceptions of what it means to “enjoy oneself” within Genshiken. She’s caught in the middle, and it depresses her.

If you look at the previous generation, there was the episode where Madarame was opposed to “stylish fashion” and thought it made no sense. Though he ended up having a change of heart, the way Madarame and Yajima distance themselves is similar.

The term “ota” itself is actually rarely used in Genshiken.

In this volume, the only person other than Yajima to use the term is Ogiue, and it’s the negative meaning of “ota.” Yajima’s line in the above image, “Since we’re all otaku, it doesn’t matter,” pretty much says it all.

On the other hand, you have another new character, Yoshitake (the bespectacled girl in the middle of the sofa), who in contrast to Yajima exclaims, “Female otaku and fujoshi are different!” while using the term positively.

Yoshitake has determined her own status. She considers herself a “fujoshi” and doesn’t hide it. Although Ohno herself had a first step where she realized that it’s better to come out about it, with Yoshitake there wasn’t even a first step to be taken at all.


So as one might expect, neither Yajima nor Ogiue are particularly concerned with fashion. They’re fine with just wearing jeans. Then again, if I compare Ogiue now to how she was in the beginning when she was wearing hoodies, her fashion sense has become more refined. That necktie looks really cute on her! Those jeans though, I don’t really get them.

The “boy-girl” Hato is incredibly stylish. Yoshitake, who also has a relatively varied wardrobe, comes across as a girl with diverse artistic and literary interests. Even Yabusaki from the Manga Society wears a bit of makeup.

Yajima senses this gap and is extremely bothered by it.


Yajima herself originally joins the club because she thought, “I’d sure like to do something fun,” and went with it. She has an inferiority complex, but that also has to do with her otaku hobbies. She’s never been crushed by a traumatic event, nor does she carry any heavy burden.

Unlike Ogiue and Ohno, she never undergoes an intense initiation process.

Even so, she acts strongly on her feeling that there’s a drastic and irreconcilable conflict between what she feels to be an “otaku” and what she sees.

She wonders about how far one should go for the sake of having “fun,” and her heart is perplexed.

In particular, she wonders about the very existence of Hato as a boy-girl.


The Boy-Girl.

Hato as a boy-girl is quite a unique character… or rather, he would be, but recently there have been a surprising increase in people like him. He’s not a “complete fantasy,” which I find interesting.

That said, he’s certainly still unusual.

There is a definite difference between a “boy-girl” and a “male crossdresser.”

To begin with, “male crossdressers” are those who wear women’s clothing even if it doesn’t fit them, or perhaps people who still retain some of their masculinity when donning women’s clothing. However, “boy-girls” are those who, to the best of their ability, completely transform themselves into “girls,” or something close to it. They’ll shave their body hair, and even take great efforts to adapt their voices to be feminine. Recently, you even have terms like “the dual-voiced”[6] to refer to them.

And, this is the most important thing, they consider themselves to be men inside.

At first they seem like they want to become girls, but it’s not like they have any particular romantic interest in men or anything. Instead, they are passionate in their desire to become beautiful.

Their fashion is the result of serious effort.

This is the first reason that Yajima just can’t accept it. “Why are you like that?” she says.

That line feels like it has a lot behind it.

Hato is a man through and through.

As a man, his desire of “I want to become the absolute cutest” gave birth to the female Hato.

Yajima, who is bothered by the thought of “I’m an ota, so I’m awful,” is contrasted with the “this is our hobby and that’s that” attitude of Hato, a boy-girl, and Yoshitake, a berserker girl, both of whom possess not a single regret or doubt about it.

No wait, Hato had an incident that became the trigger for him. However, it’s quite different from Ogiue and the scars she received upon her awakening to BL. While Ogiue had to struggle with her own traumas, Hato easily sublimated himself into his current state.

I suggest actually reading the chapter with this episode in it, but I also think that there is a large gap between what Yajima and Yoshitake thought about it. Yoshitake really understands why Hato wears women’s clothing, whereas Yajima doesn’t get it at all (she thought it was the result of some trauma).

“If it’s fun, it’s fun; that makes it okay, doesn’t it?” That’s the attitude they take, and it allows them to face front and charge ahead.

This is the new world of the kids of the second Genshiken, and it’s become a world that they don’t hide from.

If I could elaborate, Yoshitake and Hato are about thinking “Does it matter if you’re an otaku or not? Whichever is fine.” I might even go so far as to say that they feel otaku-ness to be “just another personal attribute,” about the same as wearing glasses.

It’s because she’s Yoshitake: stylish, wears glasses, and incredibly cheerful. Geez.

Better yet, Yoshitake is like a bullet shell of positivity, a fine mood maker. She seems like she could even say something like “I oink”[7] without a problem.

…I wrote above that I wouldn’t be making any theories concerning generation, but in spite of that “Nidaime” [Second Generation] is still in the title. This is a work which shows how one pursues or enjoys their “otaku hobbies” has changed on an individual level, and it must be intentional on the part of the author.

At this current point in time, I think that there is a line—Madarame-Ogiue-Yajima-Hato—where each of them produces  a feeling of disparity relative to one another. Both the men and the women have disparate levels of recognition which don’t really link up that well with each other, and this work shows the “interesting” results of when they gather in the same place.


No Escape, Ever

So, let’s talk about Madarame.

This time around, I’d been reading the story completely from Yajima’s point of view, but I must say, the cutest person there was Madarame.

It can’t be helped; Madarame’s “boyish” mannerisms are just so cute. I can’t be the only one who thinks this way!

For some reason I want to hug Madarame, even though he’d hate me for it!

The reason that he’s so dear to me is that deep inside, Madarame overwhelmingly feels that it’s “impossible” to act as a “man.”

Now, the girls’ camp has increased in number such that the club atmosphere feels completely different. By comparison, it’s no longer a world where a girl like Saki acts as a counter to the club itself by virtue of “being a girl.”

That’s where Madarame came from, and where he is now.

What is this? It makes me feel unbearably lonesome.

…For Madarame, this is a place that he loves because he loves being able to spend time with his fellow otaku.

And then, he fell in love with a girl named Kasukabe Saki, but he kept it to himself the whole time.


……

Aw man!

Madarame, you’re way too cute! Seriously, you’re like a little boy!

By comparison, someone else has grown along another direction entirely. Certainly, he treasures the connections that were born from here, and he has always valued them, but that was something else, and now he walks an entirely different path.

Personally, I think that Kugapii is incredibly “real.” Despite being reasonably skilled at drawing, he pursued it halfheartedly at best. He then maintained that halfhearted approach all the way to graduation without producing anything outstanding, and now he has a normal, steady job. This character is also dear to me. He’s a really good guy. He works hard and with earnest. Despite his setbacks, he acts exactly as an adult ought to. He prioritizes his work and doesn’t slack off.

In a way, he’s quite the realist.


Madarame, on the other hand, is really a romantic.

This is the scene where Sasahara’s sister told him about how, even though no one’s ever actually mentioned it out loud, Saki definitely had known that Madarame has feelings for her.

(If you look at Volume 9, there’s a part where Sasahara’s sister, Ohno, and Ogiue are all aware of how obvious this is.)

Whether Saki really knew about all of this was not made clear, but even at the end of Volume 9, her behavior was received as that of “someone who evidently knew what was going on but wouldn’t actually say anything about it.”

This is to a large extent how a boy would “perceive” a woman (“I just don’t understand girls!”), but that’s Madarame through and through.

Madarame is lost in a way that might be referred to as stagnation. He’s also becoming a full-on working adult.

But what Sasahara’s sister says is absolutely correct.

For example:

For argument’s sake, let’s say that Madarame gets a girlfriend. He gives the impression that he still wouldn’t throw away those photos of Saki in his possession. This is just my imagination, but Madarame seems like he’d take those photos to the grave.

He would keep those memories safely tucked away. Actually, he’s already doing that.

Madarame: a man who really seems like he would drag a situation out as much as possible.

Along with everything going on with Yajima, I think that, from here, how Madarame will turn out is to be a point of heavy focus in the comic.

If I dare say, I want to believe in this quote from Ohno.

“Not only that, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had!”


In conclusion:

Madarame is cute.

Was Nidaime made so that we could feel moe over how Madarame behaves like such a little boy…?

Well, he also probably feels a vague twinge of loneliness because of the new blood.

This is unrelated, but I guess Madarame is part of the Azunyan faction (from p.183).

———————-

Translation Notes:

[1] Kyuukyoku Choujin R is a manga by Yuuki Masami, which ran in Shounen Sunday from 1985-1987. Its main character is a teenage robot named R. Tanaka Ichirou.

[2] Like Volume 6, there was a special edition Genshiken Volume 9 which came with a bonus doujinshi, though unlike Volume 6 it was not part of the Del Rey release.

[3] Mozuya-san Gyakujousuru is a manga by Shinofusa Rokurou. Running in Monthly Afternoon (the same magazine as Genshiken) since 2008, it is about a girl afflicted by a bipolar disorder named after its discoverer, Dr. Josef Tsundere.

[4] Character designer for Mobile Suit Gundam and many other anime. Currently draws Gundam: The Origin.

[5] The term that “boy-girl” is a translation of the Japanese term “otoko no ko,” (男の娘) which is a play off of the word for boy, “otoko no ko,” (男の子) but which substitutes the Japanese character for “child” for the one for “girl.” Normally in such an instance I would leave the word untranslated, but ecause the wordplay is in the kanji, it would be impossible to distinguish “otoko no ko” from “otoko no ko.” Another possible translation for it is “trap,” though the inherent implications of “trapping” others is why I avoided using that term.

[6] “The dual-voiced” is a translation of “ryouseirui” (両声類), referring to people who can speak in both a lower, masculine voice and a higher, feminine voice.

[7] “Buhireru” (ブヒれる) literally a verb to describe oinking like a pig, implying that one is a disgusting anime fan7

The other day I was looking through the Japanese Marvel vs Capcom 3 website when I noticed that a lot of the profiles were actually quite different from the ones on the official English page. I’ve translated them below so that you can compare. Though not an absolute rule, the Japanese profiles tend to talk more about personality and origin, while the English ones focus on powers and abilities.

Do note that the DLC characters do not have any Japanese profiles yet, so I’ve left placeholders for them until they do.

Amaterasu

English: The wolf incarnation of the Sun Goddess. She uses her power to restore peace and beauty to the lands.

Japanese: 100 years ago, she triumphed in the battle against Orochi, but was injured and lost her physical form. Afterwards, using spiritual energy she resurrected herself as a guardian deity, but lost all of her miraculous power. Amaterasu now travels out into the world, slowly regaining her power, in order to restore her life.

Arthur

English: Sir Arthur is a brave and valiant knight who goes into hell to save his love Princess Guinevere.

Japanese: He is the legendary knight who traveled to the demon world alone in order to rescue his princess from the Demon King. He has a courageous personality, pushing forward in spite of fiendish monsters and dangerous traps, but he also has a cute side, as shown by his favoritism towards strawberry-print underwear.

Captain America

English: A scrawny fine arts student who grew up during the Great Depression, Steve Rogers was injected with the Super Solider Serum, giving him superhuman strength and agility.

Japanese: The one and only super soldier born out of the “Super Soldier Project, his strong feelings of patriotism for his country and unmatched sense of justice earn him the highest respect even among other heroes. He works as leader of “The Avengers,” a team formed in order to protect the world.

Chris Redfield

English: Part of the S.T.A.R.S Alpha team, Chris was one of the first to see the horrors of the Umbrella Corporation. He is also one of the founders of the B.S.S.A, designed to deal with Umbrella-like threats.

Japanese: Ever since the incident in Raccoon City and the destruction of Umbrella, he has taken on biological weapons all over the world. However, as he continues to fight, more and more questions come up. He is searching for his former partner, Jill, who disappeared without a trace.

Chun-Li

English: An undercover Interpol detective with lightning fast kicks, Chun-Li seeks to avenge her father’s death.

Japanese: Clad in a China dress, she spends her days searching all over for the criminal organization Shadaloo in order to eliminate it. Though notable for her strong conviction to her professional responsibilities, she also has a contrasting feminine side; in her heart is the wish to “live like a normal girl.”

Dante

English: Dante is a mercenary dedicated to vanquishing demons, which were responsible for killing his mother and corrupting his brother. He is also half demon himself.

Japanese: Born from the union of the demon Sparda, a legendary dark swordsman, and Eva, a human woman, he is half-human and half-demon. As a child, his mother was killed by a demon attack, so in order to search for his enemies he opens up a demon-hunting service. Indicative of his skill as a Devil Hunter, his shop is named “Devil May Cry.”

Deadpool

English: The Merc with a Mouth…while he is incredibly silly, Deadpool is one of the most effective mercenaries out there

Japanese: In order to cure his terminal lung cancer, Wade participated in an experiment to grant him artificial mutant powers. As side effects, his skin gained the appearance of being covered in burns and his mind was warped. Though he enjoys running his mouth, he is absolutely and profoundly mad, making him often difficult to comprehend.

Doctor Doom

English: Victor von Doom is a genius and ruler of Latveria. Often thwarted by the Fantastic Four, he uses his incredible mind and vast resources in repeated attempts at world domination.

Japanese: He is the masked genius scientist plotting world domination. Although his physical abilities are ordinary, he uses his brilliant mind to invent a vast number of super-science weapons. Utilizing them in his elaborate operations, he has tormented many superheroes.

Dormammu

English: Dormammu rules the Dark Dimension, using his mystical powers to try and conquer other dimensions.

Japanese: Originally an energy-based lifeform from another dimension known as the Chaos Dimension, he obtained a physical form made out of metal, aspiring to enter our reality and conquer it. Currently, he is king of a mysterious dimension known as the Dark Dimension.

Felicia

English: A cat woman raised by nuns, Felicia left the convent and is on a quest to become a star.

Japanese: A cat woman found and raised by kindly nuns, she has a cheerful and gentle personality. Relentlessly pursuing her dream, she works splendidly towards granting her own wish of becoming a musical star. In order to take care of children who have experienced the same difficult circumstances as her, she also works as a nun at an orphanage.

Hulk

English: When Bruce Banner was exposed to radiation from a gamma bomb, the power of the Hulk was unlocked. Now, whenever Banner gets angry, he becomes the massively strong and powerful Hulk.

Japanese: Once a brilliant physicist, while testing a bomb he was bombarded by high doses of gamma radiation. Now, when his anger and frustration rise, he transforms into a green-skinned being possessing a power well beyond human. Hulk’s overwhelming power is the point of reference by which all other strength is compared.

Iron Man

English: Billionaire Tony Stark fights the forces of villainy in the high-tech Iron Man armor. He is one of the cornerstones of the Super Hero community and a founding member of the Avengers.

Japanese: He has the brains and the technical ability to be able to develop and modify his very own battle suit. As Iron Man, he is equipped with a variety of weapons and has mastered the ability of flight.

Jill

English: Jill was one of the members of the S.T.A.R.S Alpha team. She was also one of the few people to escape Raccoon City before it was destroyed.

Japanese: N/A

Magneto

English: With almost complete control of magnetism, Magneto is one of the most powerful mutants alive. He uses his massive powers to fight for his own mutant agenda at any cost.

Japanese: A survivor of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp and genocide in the Second World War, he strives for the salvation of mutants while embracing the idea that “mutants, being superior to humans, should lead mankind.” Ruthless, he will go to any length for his agenda.

M.O.D.O.K.

English: M.O.D.O.K., the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing who leads Advanced Idea Mechanics, is gifted with super intelligence and psionic power, using these powers to vex the world’s Super Heroes.

Japanese: Though once a normal human, his body was experimented on and he became “M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing).” Possessing the abilities of superhuman intelligence and psionic power, Modok refers to himself as a “supreme scientist” and has buried all of the researchers involved in his experiment.

Morrigan

English: A fun-loving succubus, Morrigan is very powerful and prefers to neglect her duties and spend time in the human world.

Japanese: Known as a “succubus,” or a demon who seduces men with her charm, her notable characteristics are her outstanding proportions and her bewitching outfit. She is the head of the House of Aensland, one of the three great families in the demon world, but hates the everyday tedium that comes with the position.

Ryu

English: Ryu lives only for the fight and seeks opponents stronger than himself. He fights using the art of Ansatsuken as taught to him by his master, Gouken.

Japanese: Having fought the Emperor of Muay Thai and won, his name became widely known by the warriors of the world. However, fame is of no concern to him; he travels the world, trading fists with others in order to become a “true warrior.”

She-Hulk

English: When Jennifer Walters received a blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce Banner, she gained the power to become She-Hulk.

Japanese: Cousin of Robert Bruce Banner (The Hulk), in the past she suffered a serious injury and received a blood transfusion from Dr. Banner and gained the ability to transform into She-Hulk. The transformation applies not just to her body but to her personality as well; she stops being hesitant and becomes more self-condident.

Shuma-Gorath

English: Shuma-Gorath is an ancient and terrible being who wants to enslave humanity with his supernatural powers and ability to shapeshift.

Japanese: N/A

Spencer

English: Spencer is a bionic operative for a special branch of government. However, the government betrayed him, forcing him to go rogue.

Japanese: Once a great hero from his active service in the war against the Imperial Army, he was charged with treason, imprisoned, and given the death sentence, anticipating the government’s extermination of all Bionic technology. But when the Organization for the Revival of Bionics appears, he is dispatched to resolve the issue, choosing the path of warfare once more.

Spider-Man

English: When a radioactive spider bit Peter Parker, he gained the proportionate strength and agility of the arachnid, which he now uses to fight evil.

Japanese: When a young Peter attended a science exhibition and was bitten by a radioactive spider, he gained super powers and became Spider-Man. After experiencing the murder of his beloved uncle by a burglar who he had once let escape, he took to heart the words, “With great power there must also come great responsibility.”

Super-Skrull

English: The Super-Skrull (also known as Kl’rt) was given all of the powers of the Fantastic Four. He uses these powers as a champion of the Skrull Empire.

Japanese: After the Skrull invasion of the Earth was thwarted by the “Fantastic Four,” he was created as a super warrior, genetically modified to oppose them. His choice of words and his enormous pride indicate a disdain for other lifeforms; however, this stems not from any belief in personal superiority, but a cultural characteristic common to all Skrulls.

Thor

English: The God of Thunder wields the mighty hammer Mjolnir to fight the forces of evil. He is also a founding member of the Avengers.

Japanese: Son of Odin, the king of Asgard (the land of the gods), he is referred to as “Asgard’s Greatest Warrior.” Though once arrogant, he matured greatly after being reincarnated as a human as a form of discipline. Currently, he acts as a member of Earth’s Mightiest Hero Team, “The Avengers.”

Trish

English: A woman created by a demon to seduce and destroy Dante. However, she ends up aiding Dante on his quest to vanquish demons.

Japanese: Though once a demon created to seduce Dante, she was charmed by Dante while with him and betrayed the demons. Currently, she works at Dante’s shop as his partner.

Tron

English: A pirate and mechanical genius, Tron Bonne uses her servbots to do her bidding.

Japanese: The only daughter of the Bonne family of air pirates, she is prideful and absolutely hates to lose. However, she shows adorability in her inability to be honest with those she loves, as well as a gentleness when it comes to her family. Though she goes around the world in the hopes of obtaining wealth in one shot, she always fails and only ends up increasing her debt.

Viewtiful Joe

English: Sucked into Movieland, Viewtiful Joe fights for truth and justice using the time altering powers of his V-watch, which is activated by the magical phrase “Henshin

Japanese: Before transforming into Viewtiful Joe, he’s a 17 year old guy who loves heroes and movies. He has a strong childish side to him, which make his girlfriend Sylvia get mad at him quite often.

Wesker

English: Albert Wesker was part of the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha team. However, he was secretly working for the Umbrella Corporation. He has since betrayed Umbrella and is now working for Tricell.

Japanese: Extraordinarily cool-headed, he is a dangerous human being who will not hesitate to use others if it benefits him or his goals. He plots to complete the Uroboros virus and release it into the world, creating a new world where only he and a chosen similar few exist.

Wolverine

English: This Canadian member of the X-Men is the best there is at what he does, with his healing factor and adamantium claws. But what he does isn’t very nice.

Japanese: Often mistaken for a berserker devoid of civility, he has an extremely chivalrous personality and cares greatly for his friends and loved ones. However, he also has a dry side. He gives no mercy to his enemies and will not hesitate to lift a hand, regardless of time and place.

X-23

English: A female clone of Wolverine, X-23 has all of his powers in female form.

Japanese: She is a clone created from Wolverine’s genes. Having never been named since birth, she possesses a storied past, driven to a life as a highly-trained killer. Spending every day training for battle, she was named “Laura” by the scientist she considered her mother, she is prepared to cut open a path to taking back her life.

Zero

English: Despite being created by the evil Dr. Wily, Zero fights for good and righteous causes throughout his robotic existence.

Japanese: A male reploid discovered within some ruins by Sigma, since then he has worked as an Irregular Hunter. While ordinarily cool, he has an unusually strong hatred of evil; in combat with Irregulars, his fierce and decisive blade can annihilate his opponents in an instant. He is good friends and allies with X in the 17th Elite Unit.

A couple of days ago I made a post discussing the way in which the purchase of anime-related goods often transcends the purchase of anime itself. I didn’t concentrate much on the act of buying anime, and was planning a follow-up post, but Omo over at Omonomono beat me to the punch. He brings up some good points that I want to touch upon while also elaborating on this whole idea of what it means to “buy anime.”

First, a story.

I once told someone that I pretty much only buy DVDs of things with which I’m already familiar, to which he simply responded, “Why would you buy something you’ve already seen?”

Whereas I saw my ownership of DVDs as a testament of sorts to the shows I felt were good and enjoyable enough for me to have them in my collection, the other person saw DVDs simply as a way to try new things out. In the end, we agreed to disagree.

While this person was not what you’d call a hardcore fan of any kind of media, I think his philosophy applies to a lot of how anime fandom sees anime: Why spend money to see something that isn’t new to you?

Omo hit upon a simple, yet profound idea: the act of purchasing DVDs is “meta.” Anime fans generally love anime because it presents a world to them with a story and characters to whom they can relate or from which they can derive some kind of enjoyment or escapism. They become fans of the anime, but not necessarily fans of the anime as a creative work. If most anime fans find some way of watching their favorite anime for free, and they subscribe to the idea of not paying for shows already viewed, then it is difficult to see why they would purchase a DVD of it, as that would require them seeing their favorite show not necessarily as a window into another world, but as an endeavor born out of the thoughts and efforts of its creators. In other words, on some level, they would have to appreciate their favorite anime as a work of art, which I have to ask, how often does that happen with entertainment in general, let alone anime?

Are anime fans actually less likely to appreciate their favorite shows as works of art? I believe so, and I use anime conventions as an example. When it comes to anime convention guests, the people who get by far the biggest crowds are the voice actors. On the one hand this tells us that a lot of fans can at least see past the character the actor portrays to the individual performer, but on the other hand the voice of a character is directly a part of the show itself. The influence a producer or a director or even a writer has upon a work is less readily noticeable by someone viewing a show, and as such these guests tend to get fewer sheer numbers. Is this any more or less than the audiences who see actors over directors for live-action movies? I don’t think so, but I wanted to show that as far as anime is concerned, this is the kind of thing that happens.

My words bring up another potential conflict: is there something bad about being one of those fans who sees anime purely as a window into another world? My answer is that I do not find anything necessarily wrong with not engaging one’s favorite shows on that “meta” level. Nor is seeing the strings necessarily a good thing; it’s pretty much all subjective in the end. Actually, if you want to see a good example of a fandom which balances the meta with the immersive, then look no further than professional wrestling.

In pro wrestling, there traditionally have been two terms used to describe people who enjoy it: marks and smarts. Marks are people who believe wrestling is 100% real, that the Hulk Hogan in the ring is actually who he’s supposed to be. They see pro wrestling as a venue for good to defeat evil, or at least for bad-good to defeat namby-pamby-evil. Smarts on the other hand are fans who know that wrestling is all staged. They know that there are writers and scripts and politics behind the facade of Nothern Light Suplexes and Shining Wizards, and having a keen understanding of the backstage actions is where they derive their enjoyment.

But those are the two extremes, and in this age where the cat is completely out of the bag about wrestling being “sports entertainment,” there arises a new category of fan: the “smart mark,” otherwise known as the “smark.” Like smarts, they seek the truth of what goes on with the wrestlers as actors, but are also eager to suspend their disbelief just long enough for them to cheer for the good guys and boo the bad guys.

So who is the “better” fan? Is it the mark for his genuine immersion, or is it the smart who appreciates the performance?  Or is it the smark who tries to combine both worlds, arguably at the expense of either side?

And how do you get all of them to buy your stuff to keep you afloat?

I’ve been studying Japanese for a number of years now, and often times I worry about my Japanese ability slipping. When it comes to language, it”s true what they say about using it or losing it, and as I do not have many opportunities to regularly converse in Japanese for extended periods, I think about the possibility that my Japanese is getting less potent.

But even as it risks fading into a less than satisfactory state, I am reminded that I have spent a lot of time and effort into learning Japanese. In fact, I have recently been using it to great effect in my jobs, and even if my capacity isn’t perfect, that I’m able to accomplish a task on account of my Japanese fluency is almost a reward in itself.

I also know that my usage of keigo is severely lacking, but I think they forgive me because I’m clearly not a native speaker. That’s one barrier I intend to pass someday.

Though my first experience with Genshiken came as a result of watching the first series fansubbed, my first impression of Ogiue comes from the Japanese version of the manga. And in the original Japanese language version, Ogiue speaks in a way that I can only describe as “polite bluntness.” In a normal situation where she is not flustered to the point of switching back to her native dialect, Ogiue uses a standard polite form of Japanese, but does so in a very terse manner, like she’s telling people to back off, or that she wants to say as little as possible and end the conversation quickly. The content of her words also speaks towards this, as exemplified in her legendary introduction, translated officially as “My name is Ogiue and I hate otaku.”

When you look at the original Japanese however, the structure of the sentence is different. To clarify what I mean, I’m providing not only the original image along with the original Japanese, but also the romanization of the Japanese, as well as a more literal translation.

「オタクが嫌いな荻上です。」

“Otaku ga kirai na Ogiue desu.”

“I am the otaku-hating Ogiue.”

You can sort of see how much is changed here. Now, keep in mind that the official translation, the “My name is Ogiue and I hate otaku,” is very much how I prefer to translate that very line. The overly literal translation doesn’t sound like good English, and the grammatical differences between English and Japanese, let alone the cultural ones, mean that you cannot achieve the same effect through a strict translation. But at the same time, I began to wonder just how much Ogiue’s manner of speaking was able to translate from the original releases in Monthly Afternoon to the Del Rey Manga English versions. I’ve read a good deal of the English version, and often times I felt like the many of the subtleties of the dialogue were being lost in translation. There was a problem, however.  The Del Rey version was not designed for people who knew Japanese, and I was in a sense “tainted” by my exposure to the original Japanese.

This potential problem with dialogue didn’t apply to just Ogiue, and in fact I noticed it possibly moreso with the rest of the cast, but I decided to use Ogiue as a metric. So a week ago, I asked people via this blog, what do you think of Ogiue’s dialogue? I asked it without explaining my experiment, as I was worried that I would influence the people responding with my own doubts, though looking back, I think by asking them specifically about the “English” version, I already planted that seed. In spite of that, however, I managed to get some good responses which had me re-evaluate my own thoughts on the accuracy of the “spirit” of the translation.

Chaostangent felt that Ogiue’s dialogue “never seems too polite or too brash,” which in a way is how Ogiue talks, or is at least a compromise. Paul said that Ogiue “always sounded angry when she talked,” which is also quite accurate. And digital boy even claims that in reading the English version, he could “hear” the Japanese voices in his head. So, at least according to people who weren’t looking at it from the perspective of having read it in its original language, Ogiue’s character comes across in her dialogue. Though it might not be to the extent that it captures 100% of everything there, it still works and works well, enough to turn people into fans of Ogiue.

And I also think I focused too much on the dialogue itself. Ogiue as well as all the other characters don’t show their personality just through their usage of Japanese, but through their facial expressions, their mannerisms, and not just how they speak but when they choose to speak and why.

So, I know I’m going to regret explaining the background on this, but I am once again going to ask people how they feel about not just Ogiue’s, but the dialogue in Genshiken in general. Let’s not even limit it to the manga translation, but the anime as well. For those of you who’ve seen the dub, how does the translation fare? I found it unusually stilted, but again, maybe I’m just biased.

When it comes to the international phenomenon that is Pokemon, producer Ishihara Tsunekazu had the following to say:

石原: 北米ではけっこうクラシカルに伝説系のポケモンの人気があるんですけど、リザードンのような見た目か ら強そうなタイプのポケモンが好まれています。それとミュウツーでしょうか。

Ishihara: In North America, classical-style Legendary Pokemon are popular, but Pokemon who look strong like Charizard are also preferred. Mewtwo as well.


Charizard and Mewtwo

While Ishihara then goes on to say that  universally speaking, Pokemon like Pikachu are popular everywhere, I want to to focus mainly on this unique bit of difference North America has.

While I can’t speak for Canada, Mexico, or Central America, I think it’s very well-known that America likes powerful characters. More broadly, America likes the hero who rises above all, the larger-than-life figure. He may have a humble background, but the end result is still strong. It speaks to our culture of individualism, and it is reflected in the popularity of action movies as well as in the existence of iconic heroic figures in cartoons and comics such as Superman, Captain America, He-Man and Flash Gordon. When the US encounters the creative output of another nation such as Japan, it very profoundly reflects this ideal.

This is also partly why I think many of the anime that have been popular in the US are or were popular. Compared to the less popular One Piece, Naruto and Bleach exude seriousness and power in their aesthetics, doubly so for something like Dragon Ball Z. The hyper violence of MD Geist and its contemporaries in the 80s and 90s felt new and fresh to some extent, but that level of violence is I think something comfortably American, animated cousins of action movies.

I think it’s very easy to take one’s own cultural upbringing for granted, to think that the ideals of your own culture are the ideals of everyone else’s. It’s not small-minded or biggoted so much as it is a fairly natural progression if there is nothing to jar you out of it. In an article from 1987, Frederik Schodt, author of Manga! Manga!, points out that American superhero comics do not do well in Japan. Back then, they were considered too plain and too wordy, and today I can tell you that superheroes are better known through their movies than anything else. When I was studying in Japan, I had a conversation with a Japanese classmate, where I tried to explain the Flash to him. I told him he was “red and very fast,” to which he responded, “Daredevil?”

That said, there are a number of manga artists influenced by Americann superhero comics, such as Nightow Yasuhiro (Trigun) and Takahashi Kazuki (Yu-Gi-Oh!). In anime, it goes at least as far back as Gatchaman. Still, you will find that just as we have taken anime and said, “This is what we like in our anime,” they have said, “This is what we like in superheroes” and transformed it into something more in-line with their culture.

Cultural exchange, as they call it.

One last thing to dwell on is the way Europe has approached anime and manga. Taniguchi Jiro, who is influenced by the French comic artist Moebius, is much more popular in Moebius’s home country than he is in the US. His style is very European, incorporating complex and detailed backgrounds and placing a great visual emphasis on environment (not to be confused with “the environment”). But as I said before, I’m no expert on European comics, so I’ll leave someone else to fill in that blank until I catch up.

Official sources for Genshiken Second Season

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