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When last we left the chaotic otaku gathering that is Comic Festival, Ogiue’s past and present were set to collide as Yabusaki and Sue came face to face with Nakajima, Ogiue’s old junior high classmate and the one in some sense responsible for Ogiue’s difficult life since then. While we don’t get the Ogiue-Nakajima confrontation that I expected, Chapter 64 still has a lot to chew on, and it does a lot for all of the characters involved, including Nakajima.

Nakajima (first name Yuuko) introduces herself to Yabusaki and Sue as an old friend of Ogiue’s, made all the more obvious by her Tohoku dialect. Not knowing what to make of each other, they decide to feel each other out, with Nakajima words subtly disparaging Ogiue or expressing mock-wonder at how Ogiue currently is, and Yabusaki not trying to overstep her bounds and say any crass remarks back (Sue is cryptic as always). During the conversation, Nakajima confirms that Ogiue is currently dating someone (Sasahara), and feigns concern in order to tell Yabusaki and Sue about Ogiue’s attempted suicide and how it stemmed from her interest in the boy Makita.

Before Sue can bite Nakajima’s head off, Yabusaki explains to Nakajima that this new information isn’t going to change her opinion of Ogiue at all, and that it’s not surprising that a girl who had a perpetual chip on her shoulder towards her fellow fujoshi and would try to win arguments by leaping out of windows would have some serious problems in the past. She still likes Ogiue as she is. Sue backs her up, giving probably her first heartfelt speech in Genshiken history, though she Sues it up by mentioning the Sasahara x Madarame material that Ogiue had drawn, and that Sasahara had accepted it. Even then, this actually has the effect of making it clear that Ogiue is no longer tied down by her past. At this point, Nakajima chooses to leave, and she barely misses the arrival of Ogiue, or rather, chooses to ignore it. Apparently Nakajima wanted to tell Ogiue about something concerning Makita that would put her at ease, but seems a little bitter that Ogiue managed to carve such a good life out for herself.

Ogiue meanwhile has a 39 degree C (102 F) fever, and is so out of it that she can’t even consciously hide her Tohoku accent. Being in no condition to be outside, Yabusaki dispatches Sue to take her home, where they watch after her until Sasahara can take over. When Yabusaki and Sue (with Nyaako) leave, Ogiue bursts into tears, overwhelmed by the fact that her friends have been so good to her. Sasahara provides gentle support, but also informs her that she can’t attend the rest of ComiFest because of her current condition.

While Chapter 63 was just filled with all sorts of goings-on, this chapter which concentrated mainly on Yabusaki and Sue vs. Nakajima was no less dense, with information both overt and somewhat subtle and examples of really fascinating character psychology from all sides. I think that Ogiue to some extent is still afraid of her past catching up to her, and it warms my heart to see her friends defend her so vigorously and from the heart. It’s actually unclear just how much if anything Ogiue overheard, or if she was even aware in her fever-induced haze that Nakajima was standing there, but either way Ogiue’s tears showed just how much she (correctly) values her friends. It’s not quite the close on Ogiue’s chapter that I had predicted would happen, but it’s still a resolution of sorts, and I’m happy with that.

Sue makes an Excel Saga reference this chapter (“Hail Ilpalazzo!”) While she’s sometimes hard to believe as an American anime fan, this is probably the closest she’s gotten to feeling like the real deal outside of her initial “Anta Baka?” She also seems to be a very good judge of character, as she immediately notices some bad vibes coming off of Nakajima, kind of like Shizuo from Durarara!.

This chapter is also the first time we got to see Ogiue’s original debut scene in the manga from the perspective of Yabusaki and the other girls in the Manga Society. If it wasn’t obvious that the glimmer in Ogiue’s eyes was the result of her coming to terms with her inner demons and beginning her relationship with Sasahara (and not, for example, a stylistic change), this makes it crystal clear by showing Ogiue from Volume 4 with her eyes colored the flat black that used to characterize her.

Things start to get interesting when we read the lack of glimmer as signs of some kind of long-standing inner turmoil, as Nakajima’s eyes resemble Ogiue’s in that manner at certain key moments, particularly when mentioning anything troubling from Ogiue’s past, after which they revert back to normal. We actually don’t know much of anything about Nakajima, and this makes me wonder about her life since her years in junior high with Ogiue. Being a fujoshi (you don’t attend the first day of ComiFest just to torment an old friend), Nakajima may have had to hide that aspect of her life as well, and has been jealous of Ogiue all along, whether it was Ogiue’s ability to get a boyfriend back in junior high, or now with her life as a professional manga artist, where she has a strong group of friends and a supportive boyfriend. Suffice it to say, I think there may be some kind of trauma in Nakajima’s own life that she has yet to resolve for herself. She doesn’t seem like an entirely bad person, as shown by her interaction with her friend Shigeta (first name Mina), who was with her last year when she spotted Ogiue at ComiFest. Shigeta seems more level-headed, but there’s not much to go on, so I’ll reserve any judgment on her.

Trauma is just one possibility. Nakajima’s eyes during those moments could also be a reference to that creepy stare she and her posse laid on Ogiue back then.

What did Nakajima want to tell Ogiue about concerning Makita? It can’t be anything bad, as the reason Nakajima decides not to tell her is that she doesn’t want to make Ogiue’s life any better than it already is. If I had to fathom a guess, I would say that Makita actually did not transfer away because he found himself reading a comic where he was getting it from behind by his best friend, but for some unrelated reason. Does this mean that Makita actually will make an appearance again at some point in the comic? I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I am open to the possibility.

The chapter ends on Madarame, who is feeling not as excited about ComiFest as he thinks he should be. Is it a possible sign that he’s growing old, the beginning of the end for Madarame as otaku? That might be the case in a certain sense, as Angela seems to have him in her sights.

How do you feel about Americans, Madarame, particularly one who like both girls and boys?

Chapter 63 of Genshiken II is day 1 of Comic Festival, and some of the very best Genshiken chapters have been in that venue. This time around is no exception, and in fact it’s one of the most densely packed chapters ever in the manga. There’s a lot to go through, so let’s do a quick run-down first.

After finishing the second half of her debut professional work, Ogiue pulls an all-nighter to crank out an additional cheaper-quality doujinshi to complement her collaborative effort with Yabusaki. Unable to make it to Comic Festival before the afternoon, she sends Sue in her place, who naturally torments Yabusaki and gets along well with Asada the cat-faced girl, whose first name we discover is “Naoko” (We also get verification on pronunciation of at least the first half of Ogiue’s pen name: Ogino). As Comic Festival begins, a line begins to form at their table due to the popularity of Ogiue’s published manga, which leaves Yabusaki flustered.

I’m not sure if this is Yabusaki’s ComiFest debut or not, but it is Hato’s first time attending. This being Day 1 (the girl-oriented day), he crossplays as Yamada from Kujibiki Unbalance in order to make it less awkward for him to purchase his desired yaoi doujinshi, and in doing so continues the club tradition of Kujian cosplay. Managing to fool men and women alike, Hato ends up facing a dilemma when he’s confronted with having to hold up a large sign for the men’s bathroom, a situation he tries to avoid but is naturally inevitable. While Sue attacks from a fortified position through her signature obscure references (Kyuukyoku Choujin R), Angela brings the gaijin assault head on; when she’s not teaming up for a startlingly apt Panty & Stocking cosplay with Ohno, she’s grabbing Hato’s chest to verify his gender.

Ogiue meanwhile finally leaves her apartment, but at the same time over at Tokyo Big Sight, Nakajima, Ogiue’s old “friend” from her traumatic junior high days, visits Yabusaki’s table expecting Ogiue to be there, wherein the chapter ends on this cliffhanger.

Phew! And again, there’s still two more days of ComiFest left.

The last time Nakajima visited, it conjured up bad memories for Ogiue, who was already dealing with the inner turmoil of shame over her attraction to Sasahara and her fear of hurting him as she did her old boyfriend Makita back in junior high. Since then, Ogiue has learned to accept herself, start dating again, and has even turned her passion for drawing into a career, but when you think about it, she has still never directly confronted Nakajima. Prior to Genshiken II, we could only speculate as to whether or not this would ever happen. Now, short of meeting Makita again, this might very well be the true bookend to Ogiue’s growth over the course of the series, a way to decide her destiny, if you will. All of this has me giddy with anticipation, because while Genshiken II has been delivering so far, all of the fun and games make it easy to forget that this series also handles the dramatic incredibly well.

That’s not to say that the comedy of Genshiken needs to take a hike, as the chapter was hilarious and informative all-around. Hato’s plight is not one I can say I’ve experienced, but I can really feel for the poor guy. It’s interesting to remember that Hato drew a distinction in his mind between cosplay and crossdressing, and also to kind of compare it with Ohno’s own views on cosplaying, particularly that it’s wholly different from dressing sexily. There’s quite a bit of commonality between the two in this respect. And speaking of cosplay, I can’t help but to compare Ohno’s taste in older men to Stocking’s overall poor taste in men, as some would argue that the former is a case of the latter. I’ve also always seen Angela as being more sexually active than the other characters in Genshiken, though obviously not to the extent that Panty does. And if that weren’t enough, Ohno once remarked that her chest is bigger than Angela’s, a situation mirrored somewhat with the Anarchy sisters they’re cosplaying.

The chapter also reveals quite a bit about Sue’s development, specifically in regards to her growing language skills. When Sue first appears, she speaks purely in anime and manga quotes. When she makes her second visit to Japan, she shows that her listening comprehension has grown dramatically. By the time she began studying abroad at Shiiou University, her vocabulary had expanded to the point that she could communicate without the use of otaku references. Now, Sue takes the next step.

It’s not evident in English versions of the Genshiken manga (or at all in any of the anime), but one of the features of Sue’s Japanese is that it’s written primarily in katakana to represent her foreign accent. In this chapter though, some of that katakana has begun turning into hiragana, the script used primarily for non-loan words, indicating that her Japanese is reaching an even greater point of fluency. Personally speaking, I made my greatest strides in my Japanese language skills while studying in Japan, and to see the same happening with Sue brings a smile to my face.

And you wouldn’t believe how glad I am that Kio’s finally told us how to pronounce at least some of Ogiue’s pen name. I’ve even made the appropriate correction to her Fujoshi File.

In any case, I’m probably more stoked for the next chapter of Genshiken II than I’ve ever been. Comic Festival, it always delivers.

Name: Yabusaki Kumiko (薮崎久美子)
Alias: Yabu-Hebi (やぶへび), Yabuu (ヤブー)
Relationship Status: Single
Origin: Genshiken: The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture

Information:
Yabusaki is a college student at Shiiou University, where she participates in the school’s Manga Society, or “Manken.” Hailing from the Kansai region of Japan, she is quite proud of her background and purposely does not hide her Kansai dialect when speaking to others. However, she can also be somewhat easily embarrassed, namely when dealing with situations outside of her comfort zone such as the eccentric American fujoshi, Sue. She has some close friends, namely fellow club members Asada and Katou. She also often butts heads with former Manga Society member Ogiue Chika, namely due to the latter’s disparaging remarks about female otaku. Despite their initial animosity, they have become friends of a sort.

Yabusaki draws doujinshi, and while not much is known about Yabusaki’s taste in anime and manga, she appears to at least share some common interests with Ogiue. In time, much like Ogiue and her role in Genshiken, Yabusaki seems to have also assumed some position of authority within Manken. Her circle name, “Yabu-Hebi,” refers to someone who does too much to the point of inviting disaster.

Fujoshi Level:
While an artist who focuses her talents towards fujoshi interests, her fujoshi level is perhaps best exemplified by her staunch defense of the fujoshi lifestyle. Her frequent conflicts with Ogiue in the Manga Society show that she takes her identity as both an otaku and a fujoshi very seriously.

Genshiken 2 10 came and went, and then came back around, and holy crap is it a crazy episode.

I’ve made it a point not to do episode reviews in the normal sense, but I think I need to discuss this one a little more. Genshiken 2 Episode 10 spoilers, obviously.

First thing’s first: Ogiue was incredibly, incredibly cute. And hot. As always. But moreso. Her blushing in this episode is a sight to behold.

Now then.

Angela’s English still sounds a bit awkward, but not in the way you’d normally expect a Japanese person’s English to be awkward. Kaida (her voice actor) does a really good job, but I suspect they didn’t have much of an English voice director to help them through it. Another odd thing is that I always considered Angela to be the one Genshiken character where the doujinshi based on her could most conceivably happen to her character, and it looks like Studio ARMS agrees with me, because wow is she flirtatious.

Sue is incredible too but in a completely different way. I think she’s going to garner a lot of fans after this.

And if those two weren’t enough, we actually get a THIRD character introduction! Hailing from Shiiou University’s Manken, it’s the one with no name, who Naruco Hanaharu calls “Cat-Mouth Girl.” And she finally has a name!

Say hello to ASADA, otherwise known as “Nyaako.” Her name is mentioned in the ending credits, if you’re wondering where I got it from.

I know some people who will be quite pleased with this episode.

And next episode has Ogiue in a public bath.

Mmm.

Official sources for Genshiken Second Season

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