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The new Genshiken has its first trailer, a 30-second clip. It’s just a voiceover with Yoshitake, Yajima, and Hato, as well as a small bit of Ogiue, but there are some things I observed in the trailer.
The main thing I noticed is that the new Ogiue voice, Yamamoto Nozomi, sounds similar to the previous actor Mizuhashi Kaori, though not Mizuhashi’s performance of Ogiue. Mizuhashi is quite varied (Ogiue doesn’t resemble Miyako in Hidamari Sketch), and Yamamoto’s performance sounds a bit closer to some of Mizuhashi’s other roles, such as Rosetta in Kaleidostar or Mami in Madoka Magica. So it’s sort of a match, but sort of not.
The other notable thing, I think, is that they didn’t give Yajima a “fat” voice. A lot of times, heavyset characters in anime have a deeper, rounder voice to emphasize their weight, but Yajima’s voice sounds more normal. It doesn’t quite have the coarseness I was expecting, but it’s still good to see it not fall into that old stereotype.
Genshiken Nidaime starts July 6th. I still haven’t decided if I’ll episode-blog it or not, especially because that eats up a whole bunch of my post slots (even if it would make for easy content). The other issue of course is that I’ve already done chapter reviews of the source material, and I worry that it’d be quite redundant. That said, maybe I can use it as a way to revisit those previous chapters.
What do you think? Are the chapter reviews already more than enough?
The official Genshiken II anime site has updated with a bunch of information, including a full voice actor list, and character lineart images for all of the core Nidaime cast.
At this point it’s no longer a suprise, but the entire cast list has changed from previous versions. My thoughts can be found below the cast list.
Ogiue Chika: Yamamoto Nozomi (Bouhatei Tetora, Joshiraku), formerly Mizuhashi Kaori (Miyako, Hidamari Sketch)
Yoshitake Rika: Uesaka Sumire (Nonna, Girls und Panzer)
Yajima Mirei: Uchiyama Yumi (Sagimori Arata, Saki: Episode of Side A)
Hato Kenjirou: Kakuma Ai (Mariya Hikari, Campione!) and Yamamoto Kazutomi (Kio Asuno, Gundam AGE)
Ohno Kanako: Yukana (Tsukishiro Honoka/Cure White (Futari wa Pretty Cure), formerly Kawasumi Ayako (Saber, Fate/Stay Night)
Kuchiki Manabu: Fukuyama Jun (Lelouch Lamperouge, Code Geass), formerly Ishida Akira (Athrun Zala, Gundam SEED)
Susanna Hopkins: Oozora Naomi, formerly Gotou Yuuko (Asahina Mikuru, Suzumiya Haruhi)
Madarame Harunobu: Okitsu Kazuyuki (Jonathan Joestar, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (2o12)), formerly Hiyama Nobuyuki (Guy Shishioh, King of Braves Gaogaigar)
Sasahara Kanji: Kobashi Tatsuya (Jack Roland, Strait Jacket), formerly Ohyama Takanori
Kohsaka Makoto: Oohara Momoko (Young Heiwajima Shizuo, Durarara!!), formerly Saiga Mitsuki (Rossiu, Toppa Gurren Lagann)
Kasukabe Saki: Satou Rina (Misaka “Railgun” Mikoto, A Certain Scientific Railgun), formerly Yukino Satsuki (Chidori Kaname, Full Metal Panic!)
Tanaka Souichirou: Takayuki Kondou (Saruwatari Gou, Godannar), formerly Seki Tomokazu (Domon Kasshu, G Gundam)
Kugayama Mitsunori: Yasumoto Hiroki (Chad, Bleach), formerly Nomura Kenji (Santana, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (2o12))
Angela Burton: Kobayashi Misa, formerly Kaida Yuki (Fuji Shuusuke, The Prince of Tennis)
Sasahara Keiko: Hayama Ikumi (Nunotaba Shinobu, A Certain Scientific Railgun S), formerly Shimizu Kaori (Nijou Noriko, Maria-sama ga Miteru!)
Yabusaki Kumiko: Yonezawa Madoka (Hirasawa Ui, K-ON!), Takagi Reiko (Kaolla Su, Love Hina)
Asada Naoko: Tada Konomi (Sakaguchi Karina, Girls und Panzer), formerly Saitou Momoko (Touyoko “Stealth Momo” Momoko, Saki)
Kaminaga: Noto Mamiko (Toudou Shimako, Maria-sama ga Miteru!)
They’ve also update the staff list, but most of the main people working on the show are already Genshiken veterans, such as the director Mizushima Tsutomu, and series composer Yokote Michiko, who even worked on the Drama CDs. The fact that it’s being done by Production I.G. is hopefully a good sign, though I have to wonder why in the world this series is going to have 3DCGI. Maybe for the ComiFes episodes?
As someone else pointed out to me, just by having Kaminaga in the cast you can tell roughly how much of the manga the anime will cover. The fact that it goes that far is pretty exciting (for those who haven’t read the manga, she’s a pretty big deal).
Notably missing from the voice cast though is Yoshitake Rihito. You’d need someone with a pretty masculine voice. Paku Romi perhaps?
What I think is especially interesting about the voice cast is that for a lot of the old characters they seem to have found people who are less experienced but have played somewhat similar roles in the past. For Tanaka and Madarame, you go from two veterans of screaming-and-shouting to two who are still capable. For Kuchiki, you go from one smooth and hammy (in a good way) voice in Athrun Zala to another one in Lelouch. About the strangest one might be Ui from K-ON! as the loud-mouthed Osakan, Yabusaki.
In fact, I think the voice I might miss the most is Kugayama’s, as his favorite actor sounded so much like an awkward overweight dork that it really set the tone for the rest of the anime. Not that he appears much in Nidaime though.
I also found out that Yamamoto Nozomi, the new Ogiue, is from the Tohoku region of Japan, so she should be able to do Ogiue’s inner voice no problem. Ogiue’s new character design is looking quite good. It’s really close to her current design in the manga, and while she doesn’t have that seething anger and frustration she used to have, she still shows all of the passion which has always defined her. I do want to point out that she has the glimmer in her eyes from after she started dating Sasahara. By the way, I hope they at least address that significant piece of character for Ogiue that is the Karuizawa trip somehow.
(No, seriously, it’s such a big part of her character that to skip it would be like to skip Darth Vader betraying Palpatine at the end).
Speaking of the character designs, Yoshitake in particular is fantastic, and I get the feeling that seeing her in motion is going to garner her a lot more fans.
The last thing I want to talk about is Angela Burton, who is an utter challenge for any anime to cast because of the fact that she doesn’t know Japanese and has to be shown using Ohno as an interpreter, i.e. English skills are required. Kaida Yuki (whose performance in the third Drama CD was stronger than in the anime), studied abroad in the U.S. While she hasn’t done much by way of anime, I did find out that Kobayashi Misa lists English conversation as one of her skills on her official profile, You can hear a bit of her English on her profile as well, if you click the last “3″ in that small voice sample section, under “その他.” She’s decent. It also turns out she’s also a professional mahjong player, and in fact the only video of her on Youtube I could find is on the channel of a prominent mahjong player, where she’s giving her opinion on a tournament.
So basically what I’m saying is if she came to a convention, I’d probably get her to sign my mahjong set in addition to Genshiken Nidaime DVDs/Blu-Rays.
Genshiken II, Chapter 88 is Winter ComiFes! As always, the Comic Festival chapters are among the best or most interesting in Genshiken.
It’s Day 1 of ComiFes and Angela Burton the Athletic Bostonian has come back to Japan. Though she’s decided to tone it down she still ends up stirring the pot, especially by noticing that something funny’s going on with Madarame and Sue. During the event, as the others move about, Ogiue and Yabusaki sell the doujinshi they’ve been working on. They even manage to completely exhaust their 1000-book supply, which is a first for them. Hato, who is abstaining from BL, tries to act like a normal otaku and even perv out like a normal otaku, but it just doesn’t work for him, and he ends up not enjoying what is normally a highlight of his life. The chapter ends at the start of Day 2. Yajima plans to buy a yaoi doujinshi for Hato, which may be hinting at some more romantic feelings.
This chapter of Genshiken had the same energy as the old ComiFes chapters, and especially compared to the last one doesn’t have quite so much overt drama. Not that it doesn’t have any drama, of course, but it’s a little more low-key, and you can really feel the hustle and bustle of a event as huge and as crazy as not-Comiket (because it’s a fictional world, remember). At least, that’s how it is for Day 1. Who knows what Days 2 and 3 will bring?
I couldn’t recognize either cosplay this time around, but thankfully there’s at least one blogger who knows his stuff: The first cosplay (pictured above) is from a new series called Shuushokunan Zombie Tori Girl (“Employment Scarcity Zombie-Catching Girl”), and the other is from Hi Score Girl, which if I recall, won some kind of award recently? In any case, I want to check out both manga now. The image of a blue collar worker using a combination fishing pole and net is quite striking.
Just in general, I thought the fashion in this chapter was really nice. Clothing-wise, the two characters who stand out to me the most this chapter are Yoshitake and Angela, for different reasons. For Yoshitake, it’s because of the way she’s able to at times look like the coolest girl around and at other times like the biggest dork in history (or “history dork in history”), when probably both are true. For Angela, I feel like Kio expresses her character through her clothing especially well. Even when trying to hold herself back (another “be yourself, or not” moment?), she still exudes a confidence in herself, her body, and her actions that’s hard to find in even someone like Saki. I’d like to point out that she’s wearing shorts in the middle of winter, when Comic Market is known for sometimes for being blisteringly cold.
I actually like Angela more and more every time she shows up, possibly because of the way that she shakes up the current situation of the club no matter what it might be. Her attitude towards just about everything is a far cry from everyone else, best exemplified when she suspects there being a thing between Madarame and Sue. Angela has some romantic and physical interest in Madarame, and to see her react not with jealousy or anger but with the same excitement she displays when talking about her favorite character types really cuts through the more conventional sense of relationships you see elsewhere.
Ogiue gets a good amount of focus this time around because of the fact that she’s selling her collaborative doujinshi with Yabusaki. If you’re not sure why the two of them are freaking out from the get-go, it’s because they’ve been put in a spot that’s usually reserved for the most popular and highest-selling doujinshi circles. Their table is against the wall, and at a doujin event, the groups whose products will create the most traffic are put against the wall in order to reduce traffic congestion. Ogiue says it’s mainly because the title they chose to parody this time is extremely popular, and that it wasn’t all under their own power, but I think selling out of 1000 copies is amazing no matter the circumstances.
While I of coursed loved seeing Ogiue back when she was struggling with herself, it also brings me joy to see Ogiue this happy. Though she’s hardly what you’d call totally uninhibited now, it’s clear how much more relaxed and comfortable she is now, especially when her nervousness this time around has more to do with feeling like a little fish in a big pond, and not anger at herself. The pinnacle of this can be seen in the very last panel of the chapter, where she’s in the classic doujinshi-buying frenzy. The panel even references the line that something is opening up at the top of her head, the thing that happened to Sasahara at his first ComiFes. The last time we saw Ogiue do this, she was disguised and frustrated about having to disguise herself, but now Ogiue isn’t holding herself back, or trying to disguise herself, or anything. It’s Ogiue, who has allowed herself to be herself. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ogiue with such a look of confidence and authority before.
Even her interactions with Yabusaki show this, and it’s possible to see how far their friendship has come from what was once a decidedly antagonistic relationship. Speaking of Yabusaki, or rather Asada, it’s interesting to see how a once-extremely minor character has been developed to the point that you can really get a sense of her friendship with Yabusaki, and how the two get along with each other. What once appeared to be Yabusaki as boisterous leader and Asada as quiet tag-along is actually more complex.
By the way, I think it’s telling that Nakajima did not show up, despite Ogiue being so much easier to find this time around.
“Being yourself,” as cliche as it sounds, seems to be the theme of this chapter, especially when taking into account Hato’s own situation. On this first day of ComiFes, the day with generally the most female-oriented and yaoi content, Hato decides that he will not buy any BL. The line towards the end of the chapter says it all, though. On Day 2, Hato has a revelation: “Everyone seems to be enjoying ComiFes, but I haven’t been enjoying it at all.”
In forcing himself to do the “right thing,” Hato suffers. ComiFes is supposed to be the space where otaku can let their otakudom loose, but he’s restrainined himself. Hato’s attempt to be a “normal” otaku brings up an important question: if you’re not having fun as an otaku, why are you trying to be one in the first place? Whether we’re using the older definition of otaku as a pathetic person lost in the delusion of his hobbies, or the more charitable one that emerged later on to just refer to someone passionate about his fandom, “otaku” is not something that’s supposed to cause you anguish because you can’t fulfill the proper behavior in being one. If anything, it’s traditionally the opposite such as with Ogiue.
Anyway, with everything happening, I am certainly looking forward to next month. Last time, I asked about the possibility of Sue x Hato. What about Hato x Yajima? I’m not one to pair couples typically, but there’s something about having the guy better looking than the girl which can create interesting stories and dynamics, particularly in terms of the issue of confidence.
UPDATE: Small point made below.
Ever since the announcement of the new Genshiken anime, I’ve speculated about the voice cast. Courtesy of one Anonymous Spore and the official anime website, the new cast for the Genshiken Nidaime (or Genshiken II as I prefer to call it) has been revealed, and the big, big shocker is that Mizuhashi Kaori will no longer be playing Ogiue, that most grand of angry, once-traumatized hair-brushed fujoshi.
My initial reaction has been genuine surprise and confusion, as I thought she fit the role tremendously well, and seemed to be well-established as Ogiue. Her Ogiue felt genuinely conflicted about everything, and it’s my favorite role of hers (biased perhaps). She even participated in the Genchoken radio shows with Madarame’s voice actor Hiyama Nobuyuki, and drew a comic about how she landed the role as Ogiue. Even putting aside my own Ogiue fandom I’ve thought for a long time that Mizuhashi ranks among the best voice actors out there.
That said, I think it would be a bit unfair to judge Yamamoto Nozomi before I even get to hear her voice the part of my favorite character. She’s pretty new, but she’s also already played roles such as Yukimura in Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, and Tetora in Joshiraku. When I think about Tetora’s voice in particular, it may actually be a bit closer to how I imagined Ogiue’s voice in my mind when I first read the manga. Actually, Gankyou’s voice would have been even closer, but that’s maybe getting too off-topic.
As for the rest of the cast, you have Uesaka Sumire (Dekomori in Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!) as Yoshitake Rika in addition to performing the opening theme, Uchiyama Yumi as Yajima Mirei (Davi in Dokidoki! Precure, Arata in Saki: Episode of Side A), and a combination of Kakuma Ai and Yamamoto Kazutomi handling the female and male voices of Hato Kenjirou, respectively. If you look at their list of works, all of them are pretty new voice actors, so perhaps there was something on the production side that required the use of newer voices. I read that they may be changing the old characters as well? Or maybe there was just a good old-fashioned scheduling conflict, which even happened with the Genshiken 2 anime and Keiko’s voice actor. In the end, it’s all just speculation, unless someone more familiar with the seiyuu scene could inform me otherwise.
Based on the previous roles of the actors for Yoshitake and Yajima, I can imagine them fitting their roles well, especially if they go for more naturalistic and awkward voices. I think Yajima especially will be a challenge.
In addition, voices aside, the art and character designs look probably the nicest they’ve ever been for Genshiken anime. I guess it all remains to be seen (and heard).
UPDATE: I decided to look at Mizuhashi Kaori’s official site, which isn’t really updated anymore, and what’s really curious is the fact that where once the front page image was of Ogiue in an empty cardboard box, now Ogiue has been replaced by a different character. I’m unsure if it’s meant to be Mizuhashi specifically or if it’s meant to be another one of the characters she played, but just the fact that she used to use an Ogiue image on her front page as early as September 2012 may indicate that she was rather close to the character of Ogiue.
First thing first, Genshiken anime info dump! it’s been confirmed that the Genshiken II (or Nidaime) anime will be starting this summer, with a different studio but with a lot of old staff. I do find it kind of funny that Genshiken can’t seem to get a consistent animation studio or anime character designer, and given the sheer variation of work that the character designer Taniguchi Junichirou has worked on, it’s hard to predict how they’ll look exactly. Also, Uesaka Sumire will be singing the opening. Next month is the voice cast reveal, so let the speculation begin!
In Chapter 87, Hato continues to try to be one of the boys, but the fact that he is unable to draw properly for the sake of Ogiue’s ComiFes doujinshi when not in drag causes him to go back to it, at least in private. At the same time, Ogiue has decided to charge into the 21st century by buying a pen tablet monitor in order to save time and manpower, but the transition isn’t as simple as she hoped for. As ComiFes is drawing near, familiar faces appear as Angela makes her return to Japan and Keiko is looking to take another stab at the event.
I literally laughed out loud when I saw the pen tablet monitor. It was clearly introduced by Kio Shimoku as a metaphor for not only Hato’s current situation, but also the Genshiken club itself and even the manga as a whole. In this regard, I think it does an excellent job of representing the dimensions of a generational divide.
By showing Ogiue struggling with her tablet despite purchasing it to alleviate her work schedule, Genshiken touches upon the idea that transition can be a difficult thing because of how much we must acknowledge and rework our assumptions. The strengths and limitations of the zoom function, referenced during Ogiue’s little rant, is the perfect example. On the one hand, it lets you get up close and put detail into even the smallest part of a drawing, but on the other hand it can be stifling if one is obsessed with detail. Ogiue’s plight somewhat mirrors the difficulty by which the manga itself has transitioned into its new cast and their very different values, not only in terms of the content of the manga, but also for a good portion of the manga’s readerbase which seems to see the new Genshiken as “not Genshiken.”
However, I think it would be a mistake to say that the ideas implied by the tablet transition are narrowly limited to Genshiken as a topic, as I really think it goes beyond this one manga. What really adds to the tablet metaphor is the conversation between Hato, Yajima, and Yoshitake where they mention the simple fact that, for some artists, digital drawing is all they’ve ever known.
Drafting, cleaning, paneling, for them, everything is done on the monitor, and it highlights this idea that, rather than this newer generation of artists being untrained in the old ways, that their “environment” is simply different and they have adapted to it in kind. Instead of the tablet being a facsimile of “real” drawing by mimicking pen on paper, for them the tablet is real drawing. That difference in mindset is so central to the changes between generations, whether it be music and art, dance, technology, or any other topic, and it shows how neither the old or new generation are “bad,” but that people are the product of their experiences.
I get the sense that, as the manga continues, Ogiue will continue to use the tablet, but that it will require her to adjust her current work habits to better fit it, or to make it more of a supplementary tool. In either case, if she does incorporate it, it means that her work may never be the same again. The impossibility of returning to the “old way” is also shown in the beginning of this chapter, when we see Madarame, Hato, and Kuchiki discussing anime much in the same way the club used to, with mentions of sakuga, seasons (cour), and the economic side. While definitely similar to the old Genshiken, something’s not quite right, especially in terms of how Yoshitake and Yajima appear a bit alienated by it because it’s not the atmosphere they’ve participated in and even helped to create. It feels a bit artifical and out of step with time, which also has implications in regards to Hato, who is trying to act like a “proper” male otaku.
If we look at the notion of the “proper” otaku (and perhaps even the whole debate over fake geeks), it’s kind of funny that people prescribe a certain set of behavior as “proper” for a group that has been traditionally stereotyped as behaving improperly by virtue of being otaku. I think Hato’s vain attempt to quit crossdressing and yaoi may be a sign of how ridiculous this can be, as if the manga is saying that it’s not as simple as getting rid of the girly stuff to bring back the “true” Genshiken, and that there has been a change in environment that the manga has been trying to address.
I may have gone a little too crazy with that analysis, but I honestly think that I haven’t completely or properly explained the intricacies of the tablet metaphor, though I’ll leave it as is for now. It’s been a while since we’ve had this much Ogiue in a chapter, so I’m pleased in that regard, and I’d been wondering when Angela would show up again a she’s a significant factor in the whole Madarame-Hato story. The fact that Keiko is planning to go to ComiFes out of her own free will may actually say everything about how much the world in and around Genshiken has changed.
(A bit of Ogiue Tohoku-ben inner dialogue teaching us that Ogiue is still not used to Kanto winters.)
Genshiken II, Chapter 86 looks to possibly be a turning point. We’ve had quite a few of those already though. Also, next month there might be more news about the upcoming anime! It’ll be a long 30 days or so.
Sue visits Hato’s place, using Janglish to ask if he likes Madarame. Hato denies, but is clearly hiding something. After a tussle pitting Hato’s judo training against Sue’s freestyle which ends in a win by submission for the American, Sue discovers Hato’s secret Mada x Hato (in drag) drawings. Hato, who is increasingly confused about his feelings for Madarame (he feels that at this rate he might actually start liking Madarame), decides to just stop crossdressing and go back to being “a normal otaku.” This clearly makes Yajima uncomfortable despite her previous objections to Hato’s crossdressing.
With this chapter, I think I finally understand one of the big overarcing themes of Genshiken II. Yes, there’s the generation gap and the otaku/fujoshi distinction, but even more fundamental to the manga is a concept I’d describe as “the complexities of personal perceptions.”
The foremost example is Hato. He is getting to the point where he likely feels something for Madarame. I want to point out, however, the fact that Hato had no problems showing his “Hato x Mada” art to Sue, declaring that it was just the realm of fiction, but for some reason he also felt it necessary to keep his “Mada x Hato” hidden. I think the distinction between the two pairings is extremely important because it indicates a denial of clear-cut narratives about sexuality in describing otaku.
“What’s fiction is fiction, and what’s real is real” is a clear and concise argument. So is “what you’re attracted to in fiction can influence your real life preferences (and vice versa).” The former argument is used by Hato, while the latter was suggested by Kaminaga. With Hato and his feeling towards Madarame, however, it might actually be the case that his yaoi delusions are separate from his real feelings, but he began developing feelings for Madarame anyway due to their growing friendship, and that this manifests as Hato x Mada vs. Mada x Hato. I wonder if this is the case just because Mada x Hato for some reason apparently has to involve Hato crossdressing, as if to say the idea does not “make sense” to him otherwise.
In anime and manga about (or including) fujoshi, often there is significant time spent explaining how important the orders of pairings are important. “It’s like saying ‘curry on rice.’ No one says ‘rice on curry!’ says a character from the 4-koma series Doroko. This is generally played for laughs while trying to introduce to the reader the “mysterious” mind of the fujoshi, to allow the reader to say, “Oh fujoshi, you’re so lovably wacky.” I think that with Genshiken, Kio is trying to discuss that mindset a little more seriously.
I predict Ogiue is going to start playing a bigger role in this, just because Hato looks like he’s trying to run away from his current situation at all costs. Ogiue is more than familiar with this situation, is aware of how much trying to deny oneself can generate a festering wound of self-loathing, and just how complicated the real/fiction distinction can get. I think, or perhaps I simply hope, that Ogiue will manage to be Hato’s mentor, like how Ohno was there for her. Also, Hato says he’s “going back” to being a normal otaku, but was he ever a normal otaku? He discovered yaoi in junior high, so it’s been with him for a long time, which makes me think that Hato is trying to simply act like how a “normal otaku” is supposed to without truly direct experience, somewhat like how Ogiue sometimes tried to approximate a “non-otaku.”
If the Hato example is a little too crazy, I think Yajima in this chapter also provides an interesting case of personal perception. Clearly the reason why Yajima blushes at the end is because she still associates male Hato with the time she accidentally saw him naked, in addition to just the fact that he’s a guy. She doesn’t react this way so much to Hato in her female guise, which means that the wig and dress is enough to “trick” Yajima psychologically so that the first thing she thinks about is Hato’s clean-shaven personal area. What Yajima thinks of Hato is of course its own puzzle having at its origin her own self-image and her lack of experience interacting with men.
I don’t know if Sue counts towards this as well, but I do find it interesting that Sue’s embarrassment over kissing Madarame has nothing to do with him and everything to do with the fact that Kasukabe saw her doing it. On some level, I feel like I can really understand that distinction. Somewhat like that famous scene in His and Her Circumstances when Miyazawa accidentally runs into Arima while out of her “perfect student” guise,” there are people you feel like you can be a fool around and people you don’t. I also continue to think that it’s kind of brave of Kio to give Sue a larger role, as semi-fluent foreigner is not the easiest thing to pull off without reverting to very basic stereotypes. Sue is many things, but “basic” isn’t one of them.
By the way, there’s something I find really impressive about Sue and Hato’s fight scene, particularly the panel where Hato drags her and sweeps the leg. It captures that one moment so incredibly well, while allowing it to transition into the next set of panels. It actually makes me want to see Kio draw an action series.
To end, I want to ask a simple question: Sue x Hato, what are your thoughts? If this were a more popular series, I’m sure that neck-licking thing would have people talking.
It’s back to basics in Genshiken II, Chapter 85 as Sue, Yoshitake, and Yajima revive the old Genshiken tradition of spying on club members who think they’re alone. When it looks like Hato is getting unusually close to Madarame. Right when things seem to be getting to the point of no return, in comes Keiko, who quickly deduces that Madarame’s decision to quit his job comes from a desire to regress back to his old self now that he’s been rejected by Saki. When Keiko suggests that Madarame come to her Cabaret Club to “get dirty,” Sue interferes and inadvertently makes it known that they were being watched. An embarrassed Hato runs home, only to be met by Sue as the chapter ends.
The more I write these reviews, the more I worry that my constant references to the old chapters may be unfair to the new series. Perhaps if I engage the current Genshiken on its own terms, I’ll be able to do it justice. At the same time, I do actually feel that many of the ideas being explored in Genshiken II have their roots in the original manga, and that the new characters allow for a more complex elaboration.
Back when Ogiue’s own main storyline resolved, the message was one of acceptance. So what if others find your tastes weird? You’re who you are. While such a conclusion fit perfectly for Ogiue’ character, the question of whether the border between fantasy and reality is airtight or porous wasn’t answered to any great length. Not that it needed to be, but if we accept acceptance and remove moral and value judgments from the equation, how complex can that interaction be? This, I believe, is what is happening with Hato and his interactions with Madarame. Hato can go where Ogiue never could.
Hato is clearly emotionally confused in the current story, where everything he thought he knew about himself is being thrown into question. I don’t get a sense of a fear of homophobia from his situation, but that he is having trouble establishing the distinct barrier between his male self and female guise and that it means he doesn’t understand himself anymore. The breakdown hints at the power of imagination, of how we see and define ourselves, and invokes the idea that, while sexuality isn’t a learned behavior, that learning provides additional information for reflection.
Once again, if we go back to Ogiue, she once stated that the Sasahara of her yaoi fantasy is clearly different from his real self, but she also clearly enjoys and is even turned on by Sasahara when he role plays his imaginary “Strong Seme” self. For Hato, who not only includes a form of Madarame in his yaoi fantasies but is also becoming increasingly good friends with him, he almost provides a powerful thought experiment whose solution can’t be as simple as “he’s gay,” even if he turns out to be.
Something I find particularly interesting about Madarame’s portrayal in this chapter is the focus on his neck. The current Madarame looks different from when he was in college, and this is shown most overtly in his change in hairstyle, but when viewed up-close from behind, he still looks the same as he always had. Given that in this chapter he basically admits to wanting to regress, and the fact that Sue, Yoshitake, and Yajima did the old spying trick, I can’t see this callback as unintentional.
Keiko continues her role as a kind of substitute Saki in her own unique way. By that, I mean that where Saki has a natural pragmatism about her that Keiko lacks, Keiko seems to make up for it with sheer (mistake-filled) experience. I almost get the impression that her experience working at a cabaret club is actually increasing her perception skills far beyond what they already were, which even back when she was still attending college were still quite sharp (she’s the one who immediately noticed the sexual tension between Sasahara and Ogiue). I really can’t tell if Keiko is actually into Madarame or not, though the reveal that she’s been purposely mispronouncing his name as “Watanabe” the whole time says something. Even if Keiko is curious about Madarame, though, I can only see her interest being short term, even more than Angela’s.
As for the general idea of the “Madarame harem,” I think that it’s only a name. Take Sue, who both this chapter and last chapter was caught blushing in front of Madarame. The most obvious interpretation is a crush, but why did Sue stand back and watch when it looked like Hato was putting the moves on Madarame, but interfere when it looked like Keiko was about to do the same? For that matter, why did Sue interfere with Angela back when she was trying to get into Madarame’s pants? Given her appearance at Hato’s door at the end of the chapter, we’re probably going to find out more, but wish fulfillment fantasy with Madarame at the head this is not.
I am curious as to where Sue (who was super cute this chapter) is going. Is she going to get some real character development? She did start off as a kind of larger-than-life super fujoshi from another country, and to humanize her may either be an amazing decision or a terrible mistake. I have faith, though.
The last thing I want to point out is the significance of the Children’s Literature Society member we see in this chapter. In the past, that club was clearly on good terms with Genshiken given the whole spying thing, but I got the impression they were not exactly into anime and manga. The fact that this particular fujoshi chose to be part of the Children’s Literature Society in spite of the presence of not only Genshiken but also the Anime Society and the Manga Society (which has a large fujoshi contingent) has a connection with the recurring theme of the generation gap between otaku that primarily manifests in the mainstreaming of the otaku and the rise of the fujoshi. The otaku are not limited to the clubs that are meant for them, which I think says a lot.
As for Ogiue ending the spying thing, it only makes sense given that she was already the victim of it in more ways than one.
Before we jump into the chapter, I have to make sure you’ve heard the news.
You’d think after the Madarame/Saki climax from a few chapters ago that Genshiken would let up for a while, but Chapter 84 is an intense one. In the previous chapter, Madarame revealed that he was going to quit his job near the school (implying he would be unable to visit the college as often as he used to), despite Saki’s advice not to do so. As Madarame appears to feel increasingly alienated from the current club’s atmosphere (and Yoshitake tries to convert him to the church of BL), Hato is having trouble of his own as his emotions become a mystery to even himself. As Ogiue asks him to contribute to a “Tiger & Bonny” doujinshi, Hato begins to wonder about his relationship with Madarame, and the seeds of doubt Kaminaga placed in him about his heterosexuality begin to sprout.
Meanwhile, Sue of all people seems to have feelings for Madarame as well, though her character might mean it’s stranger (or simpler) than that.
I do not think that the change in demographic in Genshiken is the root cause per se for Madarame’s decision. Rather, my suspicion, based on my own experience, is that Madarame’s connection to the actual Genshiken as an on-campus club is starting to weaken. I had a similar group of nerd friends back in high school, and for the first three years after I graduated I would visit the school often to maintain that experience. Eventually, however, everyone who I even had a loose connection to graduated, and I lost any compelling reasons to continue. I’m still friends with a lot of the people I knew from that time, but our friendship has in a certain sense transcended the physical location, and I could see Madarame feeling like the clubroom itself is no longer that important.
That said, I’ve noticed, based on some of the response to the new Genshiken anime, that there are fair amount of readers both Japanese and non-Japanese who feel a bit alienated or even betrayed by Genshiken II, and I think Madarame is meant to embody that feeling to some extent, being the character who most embodies that classic otaku personality. Perhaps the deal with Madarame’s character is that he’s caught in a state of limbo, where he’s not yet fully integrated into adult living but at the same time his old haven away from reality, Genshiken, is starting to fade away.
The more that Genshiken focuses on Hato, the more I realize that he is probably the most psychologically complicated character in the entire manga (though I get the feeling that there’s something up with Nakajima that might be even more complex). Ogiue is one thing, as her story cuts to the bone, but Hato’s situation is such that you can’t even explain it as simply “he’s realizing he’s gay.” There’s a good chance that’s what’s happening, but based on the specifics of the chapter and of his history, doubting his own sexual orientation doesn’t seem to be the only thing going on.
In the chapter, Hato tries to shoo away the suggestions of his imaginary counterpart, only to have the female Hato replaced by Kaminaga, who echoes the real Kaminaga’s statement that the crossdressing likely facilitates the potential homosexuality of Hato. In that scene are a lot of things to take into consideration, starting with the fact that the Stand (i.e. Hato’s inner thoughts?) transforms specifically into Kaminaga. Based on previous chapters, it’s still not clear what his feelings towards her are. Does he want her? Does he want to be her? Does he perhaps desire both? Even the fact that the transition from Stand Hato to Kaminaga is a little hard to spot at first if you just skim through the chapter is indicative of the fact that Stand Hato continues to resemble Kaminaga, despite the fact that Hato has undergone an image change by semi-permanently switching to the shorter wig, as if to show that she specifically continues to influence him. It’s a weighty past and a convoluted present for Hato.
As for Sue, the easiest connection to make in regards to her blushing is the kiss she placed on Madarame’s cheek at the school festival as a sort of prank. Putting aside the notion of “Madarame: mack daddy of American fujoshi,” I’m starting to realize that Sue pretty much functions in Genshiken the same way the penguins do in Mawaru Penguindrum, bringing into the very foreground some of the “hidden” elements of the characters’ relationships at the time. I also think it’s quite appropriate for her to quote Dio Brando, and to have it be not one from the more popular Part 3 Stardust Crusaders story but from the original Phantom Blood.
There’s not much Ogiue this chapter, but there’s probably going to be another chapter at least partly focused around her soon, given the impending Comic Festival, though I imagine it won’t be until at least another three or four chapters.
The newest issue of Monthly Afternoon has revealed that a new Genshiken anime is in the works. This calls for a celebration:
I’ll be honest: even with the serialization of Genshiken II (aka Nidaime aka Second Season), I never expected it to get another anime adaptation. I wished for it, of course, given that the anime never even resolved Ogiue’s arc, but I thought its time had passed, and the reception to the manga sequel has been mixed, with a number of fans both inside and outside of Japan feeling alienated by the new setting.
Of course, this development begs quite a few questions. First and foremost, will the new anime actually cover the remaining parts of the original Genshiken, or is it actually just an adaptation of the second series? Would it be half and half? Would they speed through the remaining parts of the first series in order to get to the new characters? How many episode will it be? For that matter, will it even be a TV series?
Second, who is going to animate this new version? The first Genshiken anime was by the now-defunct studio Palm, while the OVAs and Genshiken 2 were done by Studio ARMS. Responsible for Queen’s Blade and currently Maoyu: Maou Yuusha, ARMS brought a bit of a perverted slant to Genshiken, and given the presence of not only Hato but also a very aggressive Angela I could imagine them going hog wild, for better or worse. I don’t exactly have a dream studio I’d like to see work on it, but the resulting product could definitely be a tad unexpected depending on who gets it.
Third, what about voice actors? We have all of these new characters, with Hato especially presenting a challenge. Do you go the route of having one of the “masculine” female voice actors vary her voice, or do you find one of rare male voice actors who can successfully do a female voice? I would actually suggest Ishida Akira as Hato, if he weren’t already playing Kuchiki. As for the other characters, maybe they’ll go for a curveball, like Kugimiya Rie as Yajima. In any case, it’ll be good to hear Mizuhashi Kaori’s Ogiue again. Over the course of the anime, Mizuhashi’s conveyance of Ogiue’s blunt and awkward personality improved tremendously, and I’m wondering how it might have changed in the 4-5 years since she last played this blog’s favorite fujoshi.
There’s plenty to think about and anticipate, and I’m sure I’ll do even more when the next bit of info is out, so I’ll just conclude with the following words.
“Just once in my life I’d like to grow a penis!”
Yes, it’s that kind of Genshiken chapter.
Yajima’s birthday has just passed, and noticing that Yajima has never engaged in a truly candid discussion with fellow girls, Yoshitake tries to get the straight-laced Yajima to open up moe. When the two discover a strange object in the club room, Yoshitake immediately assumes it to be an enema plug, and as the two let their imaginations run wild, the two narrow down the most likely owner of the plug to be Hato. As Hato and Yoshitake give their belated presents to Yajima, it becomes increasingly difficult to ask him about the enema. However, it turns out that Hato knows nothing about it, that it’s actually Ohno’s, and that it’s simply a small accessory from one of her cosplay outfits.
That Yoshitake and Yajima believed the owner of the “enema” had to be a guy is very telling of the ways in which yaoi has influenced their imaginations. Rather than simply limiting it to fujoshi psychology, though, I feel like the characters this chapter are showing more delusions run rampant, as if BL was more a key to a forbidden kingdom of the mind. It’s interesting how this contrasts with the predominantly male Genshiken of old in that awkward expression of sexuality has been a part of Genshiken since the very first chapter, and was something of a constant throughout the series, but it usually took the form of professing doujinshi or character preferences. It was certainly never to the level that the guys would wonder aloud about genitalia, and in hindsight it lent a good deal of realism to the series, both in the fact that they all had their own quirks and kinks, and that they were embarrassed about it and kept things understated.
When I think about it, the female characters have always been the ones to discuss sex and relationships more directly. Whether that’s Kasukabe describing her “friend’s” doggy-style with her boyfriend, Kasukabe asking Ohno if she and Tanaka had done it in cosplay, or even Ohno and Ogiue’s tough heart-to-heart discussions, the girls have done a lot less tiptoeing around the subject of sex. It’s even clear from this chapter that Yajima is pretty open with Mimasaka as well, relatively speaking, even telling her all about seeing Hato naked.
Yoshitake, however, takes that prospect to an all-new extreme, and I don’t know if that’s because she’s a social fujoshi of a younger generation, or if it’s just because she’s weird. Either way, the manga portrays Yoshitake as a character who at least wants to be unafraid of taboos, and the fact that she almost manages to ask Hato directly about the “enema plug” shows her as a person who can overwhelm whatever fear of awkwardness might still linger within her. Also, as this chapter and previous ones have shown, get a little alcohol in her and all bets are off. The quote at the beginning of this review is followed by Yoshitake declaring that anyone interested in BL has to wonder about having a penis, a line which certainly blows Ohno’s famous “There’s no such thing as a girl who hates homos!” straight out of the water.
One thing I like about Genshiken is the way in which details are not forgotten and can come up again in later parts of the story. One example is Yoshitake’s hair, which had more of a wavy look in the earlier chapters and then became much straighter down the line, which was explained previously as Yoshitake perming her hair to look good at the start of the school year but being unable to keep up with it. In this chapter, the detail which caught my eye was Hato’s present to Yajima, a basket of skincare products. Back when the first years originally all hung out in Yajima’s apartment, the manga showed how Yajima had a complex about her poor skin condition when compared to Hato’s meticulously kept complexion. It’s unclear whether Hato’s realization of this came from some implied off-panel moment or if she picked up on it way back, but the gesture is clear that she wants to help Yajima look better and feel better. Speaking of, in the image above of Mimasaka you can really see how she is perhaps held back by her own lack of fashion sense, similar to Ogiue in the old days.
The previous chapters with their heavy focus on Madarame and Kasukabe casted a fairly large shadow on the newer characters, but I think this chapter shows how well the new characters can hold up on their own side of things. They’re different from the old crew in many ways but there’s still a sense of relatability to them, and they’re interesting characters in their own right. Next chapter though looks to be focused on Ohno, who actually has never gotten a whole ton of coverage in the manga. I wonder if it’ll have anything to do with her tendency to put off getting a job and entering the “real world.”