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Kio Shimoku, the author of Genshiken, is an elusive individual. Portraying himself as a kind of ape, he so rarely makes public appearances that he is sometimes mistakenly believed to be a woman. In fact, when he appeared for an event to celebrate the Genshiken Nidaime (Second Season) anime, it was kind of a big deal. Thanks to Brazilian Genshiken enthusiast Diogo Prado, however, I’ve learned that photos of Kio do exist.

Apparently Kio had attended an event in Taiwan in 2010, where he promoted the release of his manga Jigopuri (also known as Digo Puri). His desire for privacy is respected here, as none of the photos actually show his face, yet it’s still pretty cool to see the man himself. Obviously I don’t know how he is as a person, but the fact that he looks like a nerd who knows how to clean himself up and dress nicely is a trait also demonstrated by the characters in Genshiken over time, namely Ogiue and Madarame. In fact, he looks pretty similar to Madarame from behind, while in the old Publisher’s Weekly interview with Kio he said that Ogiue is somewhat reflective of his own experiences.

By the way, I wonder how Jigopuri ended up doing in Taiwan.

Genshiken II‘s been running for a while now, and every so often I go back and look at the earlier chapters of the new series (would you expect me to do otherwise?). Upon a recent revisit, it hit me just how much the artwork had changed between the inaugural Chapter 56 and its immediate followup in Chapter 57.

For comparison, here is Ogiue in Chapter 56 on the left, and 57 on the right.

There’s a clear difference between the two versions of Ogiue (or any other character) that can’t be chalked up simply to the gradual evolution of art style that happened throughout the original Genshiken. This change, given just how drastic it is, was more abrupt, though one has to keep in mind that the real life gap between 56 and 57 was almost a year (Chapter 56 was originally a one-shot that got turned into the start of a new series).

Because of how much softer and more cutesy Chapter 56 Ogiue is portrayed, my suspicion is that Kio’s style was affected by his time working on Jigopuri. Indeed, Chapter 56 of Genshiken actually came out in the middle of his run on Jigopuri.

In fact, if you look at one of the characters in Jigopuri, the little sister Kaname (pictured left), she looks pretty close to the Ogiue of Chapter 56. What’s also kind of funny is the fact that Volume 1 of Jigopuri features an Ogiue cameo on the inside cover, and it’s clear that the Jigopuri style hadn’t fully taken over Kio’s artwork yet at the time he drew it.

I think it’s interesting how an artist can get so influenced by how they’ve been drawing that it makes it difficult to shift gears back to a different kind of story. It’s different depending on the artist of course, but I have to wonder how much effort Kio put into switching into a less moe-type art style. Something tells me it wasn’t easy.

It’s a big day for the newest members of the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, as the three rookies spend their very first chapter almost entirely independent of Ogiue and the others. Can Yajima, Yoshitake, and Hato carry the story without backup from the Genshiken veterans? Do they have what it takes to garner their own fans? And is Sue a fan of Hellsing? All these questions and more (or not) will be answered in Genshiken II, Chapter 58.

Ogiue, Genshiken chairman that she is, decides to foster camaraderie among the club members and revive an old tradition by having everyone write/draw their own profiles for Genshiken’s defunct club magazine, “Mebaetame.” If you’re not sure what that is, try to remember the little blurbs they had in between chapters of Genshiken where they talked about their favorite Kujibiki Unbalance characters and what-not; that’s “Mebaetame.” If you’ll recall, Ogiue never actually participated in the magazine, and perhaps we’ll finally learn just how to pronounce her pen name, Ogino/Okino Meisetsu/Nayuki/Nariyuki.


Yes.

Yoshitake thinks this is a good opportunity for some healthy bonding, and invites herself and Hato over to Yajima’s place to work on their profiles together while having some beers. Yajima (kind of) agrees, but is uneasy about alcohol. Hato doesn’t seem to mind either way. Here is where we see our first bit of additional insight on the new members: Yoshitake, cheerful and bubbly, has no qualms about knocking a few back (which creates anticipation for the inevitable drinking session/contest with Ohno) and breaking some rules, whereas surly and practical Yajima, citing age restriction as the primary reason to not purchase alcohol, turns out to be more naive than expected. In fact Yajima’s naivete and confidence (or lack thereof) seem to be a major topic for this chapter.

Lacking faith in her own artistic skills (“I said that I draw, not that I can draw!), Yajima, whose first name we find out is “Mirei,” is arguably the most “typical” of all of the girls in Genshiken at this point, especially in terms of looks. When she compares herself to members past and present, including a curvaceous cosplayer, a fashionable “normal” girl, and an impossibly attractive male cross-dresser, you can see how it impacts her self-image. Even Ogiue is likely included among the “beautiful,” as Yajima has only ever seen her as Ogiue Chika, Well-Dressed Professional Manga Artist with Boyfriend, and wasn’t around for the Ogiue who wore clothes two sizes too big, or her gradual and awkward transition to her current state. You can see Yajima thinking, “Wait, otaku aren’t supposed to be this way! If even my fellow nerds are this attractive, where does that leave me?” It’s all the more troubling for her when she remembers that Hato indeed has a Y-chromosome, and that a guy is passed out in her apartment from drinking too much. Being the innocent straight-arrow of an otaku that she is, when she accidentally/intentionally confirms Hato’s gender via skirt lift, it’s clear that it’s far outside of Yajima’s comfort zone.

Seeing as it’s a chapter taking place in Yajima’s apartment, it’s no surprise that she’s getting the most development of the three, though we still learn a few details about the other two. In addition to Yoshitake’s excited, yet nonchalant attitude towards life and its vices, we learn that she has an appetite on the level of Kobayashi Takeru and equates “profile” with “personal essay.”  And with Hato, we now know that he 1) is an Economics Major 2) has quite good taste in anime, and 3) is pretty damn hardcore with the BL. Among his favorite titles are Hetalila, Doarara!!!, Winter Wars, Fuyume’s Book of Friends, and Sweets Basket. He also likes a series called Femto, which I’d like to believe is some Berserk spinoff all about Griffith but might actually be a reference to Boku no Pico.

So overall, I think that Yajima, Yoshitake, and Hato held their own, though next chapter seems to be focusing on Madarame, which is also welcome. Until then, I’m going to try and popularize the phrase “Dai Ogiue.”

From the moment I began this blog, I’ve established the fact that I am a huge fan of Genshiken. After reading the inaugural chapter of the all-new Genshiken II however, I realized that this is the first time that I’m actually reading fresh material alongside all my fellow Genshiken enthusiasts. Sure, there was the second TV series, but that was mostly existing material, so in a sense this new “limited series” acts as a kind of return to basics for Ogiue Maniax, a starting point for me to share my thoughts so to speak.

So to celebrate this small revival and to welcome back this blog’s namesake to the world of serialization, I am going to give my thoughts and impressions on this first chapter. As more chapters come out there’s a possibility that you’ll be seeing Ogiue Maniax’s first ever instance of episodic chapter blogging, but I’m not making any guarantees.

New Genshiken feels different. I won’t pretend that it doesn’t. The cast is mostly different and is now populated primarily by women, replacing the “awkward men’s club” vibe that kicked off the original series. At first this seemed a little jarring, but Ohno’s off-handed mention of the soul patch guy, aka the Genshiken member that never was, reminded me that prior to the arrival of Yajima, Yoshitake, and Hato the membership barely ever increased. Ogiue and Kuchiki arrived together, while the following year Sasahara’s sister Keiko entered, and in the case of Kuchiki and Keiko both of them were already introduced previously. Sue is Sue. If anything, with such a large cast change I’d be surprised if the series didn’t feel a little different.

The focal point of Chapter 57 is the cross-dressing Hato Kenjirou (who might be a reference to Hayate the Combat Butler author Hata Kenjirou), or rather, everyone’s opinions of Hato. I think Hato’s inclusion set off alarms in a lot of readers’ heads more than anything else, creating a bit of fear that the series would lose its heart and pander too much to otaku at the expense of what made Genshiken good in the first place. As the chapter went on, I could feel that fear growing in myself, but I think it was actually all just set-up for a really pointed reminder that Kio Shimoku did not forget what made Genshiken tick in the first place.

While I clearly favor Ogiue, I think the real star of the chapter was Yajima. Throughout most of the chapter the club feels almost uncontrollable when it comes to the topic of Hato and cross-dressing in general despite Ogiue’s best efforts, sort of like the impression you might get at an anime con seeing a bunch of young attendees with no supervision. Then Yajima comes out and says that she’s kind of uncomfortable with Hato’s cross-dressing. By presenting this point of contention, Yajima manages to bring the club (and the manga itself) back down to Earth and keeps the club environment from getting completely out of hand.

This sort of conflict is actually a pretty persistent theme in Genshiken, whether it’s in the earlier days with Kasukabe’s mean-spirited attacks on the club, or later on with Ogiue and her own inner demons. In a way, Yajima’s somewhat direct personality and her unfamiliarity with the beast that is the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture makes her the “Saki” of the new bunch, even if she can’t match Kasukabe in looks. Whereas Saki was a normal person experiencing the world of otaku for the first time, Yajima, who is already an otaku, has to deal with an anime club unlike any she’s ever experienced. That’s not to say that the other characters are unrealistic, though. Hato is developing well, and even the way in which Ohno, Sue, Yoshitake, and Kuchiki get carried away is not that unusual. It’s simply that Yajima, as well as Ogiue, act to rein them in a little, creating a new and different character dynamic.

On the topic of Ogiue, I found it quite interesting that, aside from a small bit of pictorial exposition by Sue, Ogiue goes through the entire chapter without her signature paintbrush style. Even the one-shot had Ogiue tie her hair up, something that was established in previous material as a habit of hers when drawing. Though I’m sure it’ll return in at least one future chapter, it still feels like a break of sorts with the previous series. In terms of her character, it’s interesting seeing Ogiue as Genshiken chairman. After all, back when the original series ended it was one of my greatest wishes to see the continued appearance of Ogiue as head, and in this situation I find myself to be quite fortunate.

Ogiue isn’t a natural leader. In fact, none of the previous chairmen were, with the possible exception of the mysterious First Chairman. However, all of them were able to develop their own natural strengths into leader-like qualities, whether it was Madarame’s strong self-image as an otaku, Sasahara’s subtle confidence and understanding, or Ohno’s gentle guidance, and Ogiue looks to be doing the same. Though not always consistent, Ogiue can have quite a forceful personality, especially when she puts her foot down about something, and I think that this aspect of her personality, combined with the fact that those new members are all freshmen, will result in her being more and more comfortable with her position of authority as time passes.

So that’s the start Genshiken II, and I look forward to more. Of course.

I mentioned it a while ago, but I just wanted to remind everyone that Genshiken 2‘s compilation box set is being released tomorrow, December 22nd, 2009 in Japan. This box set will differ from the previous DVD release in that it will have special exclusive box art by Genshiken author Kio Shimoku featuring Ogiue, Sue, and Angela.

More importantly however, MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY in fact, is the news that Kio Shimoku has actually penned an ENTIRELY NEW CHAPTER OF GENSHIKEN. Much, much thanks to this anonymous commenter for making me aware of it. You can find a link to the chapter itself in there, and if you want an actual copy I believe it will be a part of the February 2010 issue of the magazine Monthly Afternoon, whose official release date is Christmas Eve (though apparently it’s been leaked!) Most likely it will be included as a special with volume 2 of Jigopuri, Kio Shimoku’s current series about a young mother.

The chapter focuses on Ogiue as chairman of Genshiken, and makes references to Kinnikuman. So in other words, pretty much everything I wanted.

BANZAI

OGIUE BANZAI

荻上よ、永遠に輝け!!

Kio Shimoku is a manga author who is best known for his work on the 9-volume Genshiken series, about the members of a college anime/manga club. It’s personally my favorite manga series ever. It may come as a surprise then to know that Kio’s latest manga, Jigopuri: The Princess of the Hell, concerns itself with a topic normally far-removed from that of watching anime: Teen Pregnancy.

Well, not teen pregnancy per se, but it does center around a widowed 18 year old mother and her newborn child. The mother is Okiura Ayumi, her daughter is Okiura Yumeko, and living with them is Ayumi’s twin sister Hino Kaname. The raising and nurturing of young Yumeko, who is less than one week old when we first see her, is the central focus of Jigopuri, and the manga’s approach to a topic which is incredibly common in the real world but incredibly rare in comics is rather unique.

Despite its realistic tone and content, the art style of Jigopuri is closer to that of Kujibiki Unbalance than it is Genshiken, and it might be difficult to reconcile the fact that doe-eyed moe anime girls are discussing topics such as diaper-changing and the unbearable stress that comes part and parcel with raising a newborn. What can be even more jarring is the fact that Yumeko is drawn in a rather realistic style, more closely resembling a photograph than a kawaii anime infant.

No, Yumeko is not an ideal entertainment baby who is ten parts adorable and one part cuddles. She is a wrinkly, crying, pooping baby who needs attendance at all times because she’s a baby. Everything revolves around this fact, from the deliberately slow pacing of story (chapters generally span only a single day) to the way it handles all of its seemingly incongruous artistic elements, and understanding why Yumeko is portrayed in this manner is the key to understanding Jigopuri.

From the start, Jigopuri puts a young, inexperienced mother with no time or desire for romance in the spotlight, and in doing so makes Ayumi, and by extension the whole of Jigopuri, into something partially meant to stand against the tide of common trends seen in moe anime. Although Ayumi at times feels helpless, it is never because she can’t do anything, but rather because  she does so much. That doesn’t mean Jigopuri condemns moe, but it does remove much of the glamor and fetishism that accompanies many tropes of modern anime and manga. Nowhere is this more evident than in the comic’s portrayal of breasts.

As one might expect out of Jigopuri, breastfeeding occurs frequently, but the sight of an attractive woman exposing her large, shapely breasts (with nipples shown) begins to lose its erotic appeal once you are made aware of how inevitably their appearance is attached to the shrill cry of Yumeko as she wakes a sleep-deprived Ayumi up in the middle of the night. After a while, you begin to really feel for Ayumi, as you think to yourself, “Damn it, she has to whip out her tits again?” And further cementing this un-fetishizing is the fact that Ayumi’s breasts are visibly veiny, an effect achieved through smart use of screen tones, and an indicator that these are not the idealized breasts you’d see in other works willing to show them at the frequency which Jigopuri does.

That’s Jigopuri as of Volume 1, and I really do recommend it, though I understand it’s not for everyone. Its cutesy art style combined with its realistic content can throw people off quite a bit, but if you can read Japanese or if it comes out in English, I think you should give it a chance.

A common sight in Jigopuri is a tired and weary Ayumi with deep bags underneath her eyes, a sign that each day wears on her even if she truly loves her daughter.

I recently purchased Volume 1 of Genshiken: The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture creator Kio Shimoku’s newest manga, Jigopuri: The Princess of the Hell, about an 18 year old mom trying to raise her newborn child. A review will be posted in due time, but there is something more important I must address.

Manga published in Japan generally has a dust jacket where the manga’s front cover is printed, as opposed to manga published in the US where the image appears directly on the book. As such, manga often have images underneath the dust jackets. Curious about Jigopuri, I looked underneath only to uncover this on the back cover.

YEEEEEEEESSSSSSS

Ogiue is saying, “Whatever the circumstances may be, there’s no way they could get this big.” (Thanks to prinny for correcting my mistake)

Even when the content isn’t even related to Genshiken, Kio Shimoku still finds a way to fit Ogiue in, and for that I give him eternal respect and devotion.

Incidentally, this is on the front cover.

Madarame: Why did he use these designs?
Sasahara: Who knows?

Recently I found out that Kuroda Iou, creator of Sexy Voice and Robo as well as one of my favorite manga artists, has a new series entitled Atarashii Asa (New Morning) in one of my favorite magazines, Monthly Afternoon. Afternoon was home to Genshiken, and is where Kio Shimoku’s current series about a teenage mom Jigopuri, as well as Mysterious Girlfriend X, are running. Suffice it to say, at this point I am almost, almost tempted to consistently buy Monthly Afternoon even though I understand how much the costs tend to add up after a while.

This got me thinking about why I like Kuroda’s artwork, as it’s a wild style unlike most other artists in the anime and manga industries. If you look at my previous Sexy Voice and Robo review, you can get a good idea of what his drawings entail. He’s detailed but not meticulously so, and his brush usage leans away from the “cleaner” style that is so popular with so many people. Often times his drawings and panels aren’t completely coherent, but I feel like these “mistakes” are part of what make his style so unique. I call them mistakes only in the sense that in the end he did not decide to redraw something so that the thickness of the lines made a little more sense or the proportions of a character’s fingers were more realistic, but ultimately it was a decision, and it’s these decisions of which I am fond.

I’ve mentioned before that his style is pretty much what I wish I had, and it really has to do with conveying a sense of energy that goes beyond “accuracy.” Accuracy has its place in that world, but it is not at the forefront, much to the dismay of people who scrutinize single frames from Naruto episodes. While I don’t think my own style will ever be JUST LIKE his, it’s good to know that he’s still in Japan producing works that hopefully will get brought over to America at some point.

Oh and I found out Jigopuri’s first volume should be out, but that’s it’s not listed on Kinokuniya’s website. Maybe it takes a while for new series to get over there.

You can read it here as well as buy it on newstands.

Reading this brings me joy because Kio Shimoku rarely speaks, and on top of that, it confirms many longstanding theories I’ve had regarding both Genshiken and Ogiue, such as Genshiken being about portraying otaku as human beings who think and feel and cry and love.

To feel that I accurately understood the important themes and particularly the themes surrounding Ogiue fills me with great joy.

Thanks to Anime News Network for this information, and kransom for bringing it to my attention.

Official sources for Genshiken Second Season

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