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.