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With Episode 8 comes the second half of the previously discussed chapters of 70, 71, 72, and 73. You can now safely read them for my thoughts on the narrative developments of Second Season up to this point. Did you notice that Yoshitake’s drinking beer now that she was revealed to be 20? Oh, you wacky censorship.

As I mentioned last time, Episodes 7 and 8 mixed things up from the original manga, transforming this episode into a hyper-focused Hato exploration. I think it really does make the show feel even more focused on Hato than the comic. It’s strange to think about, because basically the same things happen overall. The fact that they added a new fantasy scene while extending another one also contributes to this. Funny that right as I said for episode 7 that the current anime cuts things out  while the previous one adds new scenes, Nidaime ends up putting in some original material, and racey material at that.

Specifically, the new scene involves Hato imagining Madarame walking in on him and then Hato seducing Madarame. While it’s not entirely out of character for him to imagine such a scenario, it feels like the anime is trying to push that angle harder than it was in the comic. Maybe this was done independent of Kio, or maybe Kio oversaw the addition, but author’s original intent or no, I think little things like that quicken the pace of that particular plot thread.

I don’t want these episode looks to merely be about nitpicking though, and I think the events in this episode can be discussed even further from what I originally spoke about in the chapter reviews. For one thing, I find Hato’s mental comment that male pregnancy may be a new thing for male-targeted works, it’s been  a long-standing trope in BL. It’s a funny thing to contemplate, that within the categorical segregation within manga and anime, that ideas arrive at different rates, but that ideas may also cross-pollenate as a result of reaching one before the other. It actually reminds me once again of something Fred Schodt wrote in Manga! Manga!, which is that during the early 80s when the book first came out, the character designs between girl-oriented and guy-oriented stuff began to converge a little, rather than being at their previous extremes. You can say that the current manga and anime industry reflects this as well.

To end off, let’s talk fanservice. There’s a lot of it in this episode, of course more concentrated in the BL-ish areas. Do you want to know what’s fanservice for me?

No, not Makoto and Madarame, more to the left.

Ogiue in a suit. Also this:

Truth be told, I’m still not entirely used to Ogiue’s eyes having so much more detail drawn into them.

Episode 7 of Genshiken Second Season covers Chapter 70 as well as parts of Chapter 7172, and even 73 of the original manga. You can read my manga analyses there, though keep in mind that the missing parts of 71 through 73 are likely going to appear in Episode 8, so you might want to avoid them for spoilers.

First thing’s first, I must fulfill the promise I made last time and explain each of the cosplays at the beginning of the episode. I’m sure everyone at least recognizes one or two, but just to play it safe I’ll lay them all out.

Sue is dressed as the ever-enigmatic Princess of the Crystal, from Mawaru Penguindrum (a show I would highly recommend).

Kuchiki is Mr. 2, the master of “Okama Kenpou” from One Piece.

Ohno is the titular character from the popular PS3 game Bayonetta.

Other references include Sue’s “Nu-nu-nu Piccon!” which comes from Ramen Saiyuuki (thanks Anonspore) and Ohno’s mention of “HTT,” or “Houkago Tea Time,” the main characters’ band in K-On! who have a tendency to sit around and snack on sweets.

As I continue to watch the anime, one of the things I find interesting about the Genshiken Second Season anime compared to the Genshiken 2 anime is that where the latter would create additional scenes which didn’t exist in the manga, the current series cuts and rearranges things, and that in both cases it was so each series could reach a specific stopping point. With the previous anime, you even had entire episodes devoted to topics which were only barely touched upon, like how Tanaka and Ohno started going out, or an extended 20-something minute look at Ogiue’s BL fantasies.

I’m beginning to wonder if this relatively sped-up Nidaime is having an effect on how the narrative plays out. In the process of hastening things to get to “key points,” I sometimes feel like the meat of Genshiken gets kind of lost, that the little comments and rambling conversations played out in full have a lot of details and bits of characterization which flesh out the psychology and complexes contained within the characters. In looking again at Episode 6 versus Chapter 69, the manga version puts a strong emphasis on Risa feeling like she’s at a crossroads. Even though she enjoys basketball that if she keeps down this path she’ll never have the opportunity to do other things, a problem I don’t think any other Genshiken character has ever had to deal with. In comparison, Risa in the anime seems a bit…abrupt?

Also, the way the show shifts things around so that each episode contains a specific focus as opposed to the relatively constant shifting of the manga makes for somewhat of a different experience. I do wonder if it makes the show feel even more Hato-focused than the manga. In any case, I may just be over-thinking things here, or valuing the manga in my head too much. If I had approached the anime without the prior knowledge, I obviously wouldn’t be able to make comparisons in this manner, though I don’t know if I’d still feel like something’s just a bit off anyway.

Some other things:

Seeing the show zoom in on Male Hato’s drawing made me really want to see an entire comic drawn in that peculiar style. Even if it isn’t “beautiful,” it could be something great.

In this episode the series once again references Ogiue’s past with the assumption that you’d already read the first series, though at least this time the anime’s provided some information in a previous episode about those traumatic events. I feel like there’s a small issue with the Crunchyroll translation in that scene: when Ogiue remembers her past collaborations with Nakajima it’s not that they “usually don’t work out” but that it largely didn’t work out for Ogiue in particular, referencing the fact that her last collaboration with Nakajima was the foundation of Ogiue’s eventual suicide attempt and years of psychological turmoil. It’s sort of nitpicking, but I think that the context is pretty important, and that the translation should reflect that more thoroughly.

As always, I also like to keep track of the voice actors for new characters, which in this case is just Yajima’s old friend from high school you see in the flash back. The mousey friend is voiced by Akutsu Kana, who hasn’t done a lot of work, but was Henrietta in Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatriano.

As for the lack of romantic experience with Yoshitake and Yajima, I think it sort of shows 1) why the club was initially intimidating for Yajima and 2) Yoshitake is extroverted and excitable but not a master of all things. As I did in the manga, I also liked Yoshitake’s statement that part of fashion is communication between girls, albeit in this case aggressive communication. It’s a small way of saying that girls don’t necessarily dress up to be attractive to the opposite sex, as is often assumed when looking at girls who do dress boldly.

NIS America announced last month that they have the rights to the Genshiken Second Season anime, and knowing their history of putting out deluxe box sets that are a little pricier but come with all sorts of doodads (an art book being the main one), anyone who’s a Genshiken fan would be satisfied with their Bluray release (though we don’t know what’s there yet).

The question is, would you be satisfied enough?

bd1_animate bd1_gamers bd1_toranoana

For the Japanese release of Genshiken Second Season, there is a special deal: If you preorder all 4 Bluray volumes before September 1st from one of three specific stores, you will get a 12-page illustration booklet AND a color print by Kio Shimoku. Order from Animate for Double Hato, Gamers for Yoshitake and Yajima, and finally Toranoana for Ogiue and Sue.

(To be a Hato you’ve gotta be strong, humble never braggin’.)

This is in addition to existing extras, which at least for Volume 1 include a 16-page illustration booklet and an animated extra entitled “The First Meeting to Discuss How a Girl This Cute Can’t Possibly Be a Girl,” as well as a “Post-Clubroom Rambling Discussion.” Whether that’s another animated feature or voice-only, I don’t know.

The only thing is, if you opt into one of these deals, you’re looking at roughly 30,000 yen for 13 episodes. Also keep in mind that a lot of these stores don’t ship internationally so you’ll have to find a way around that, which can cost you even more. You can get them cheaper through Amazon JP but then of course you wouldn’t get the extra extras.

I’ve pre-ordered the Blurays because I am an idiot. As you may have guessed, I went for the Toranoana version. I did not decide to get all three sets of Blurays because even I’m not that insane.

Honestly, unless you’re me, you’re probably better off sticking with the NIS America release as I’m pretty confident it’ll look good. The Japanese Blurays are a realm beyond, for those looking to collect every bit of Ogiue merchandise they can (there’s not a lot, you know).

Actually I’m going to buy the NIS America release as well.

In this month’s Genshiken the guys and girls are separated on the line to Comic Festival, but in both cases the topic is the same: Madarame, and the women (and man) who might love him. There’s also some cosplay, as the girls dress up as the cast from Bodacious Space Pirates.

Yajima as Luca, Yoshitake as Coorie

The real-life Comic Market upon which Genshiken‘s Comic Festival is based is traditionally seen as a space existing in a dimension separate from the realm of romance and general extroverted interaction. It’s a distinction acknowledged even by Genshiken itself (Madarame’s famous exclamation that having a tan at ComiFes is “embarrassing), but it’s also a series where relations are fostered (Sasahara and Ogiue). Even though the series does have a tendency to place those conventionally incongruous elements together, the juxtaposition between people discussing potential love interests while waiting hours to buy doujinshi is nevertheless still quite strong.

The boys’ discussion revolves around the four whom Kasukabe believes have something for Madarame, namely Angela, Sue, Keiko, and Hato. Although Kasukabe is the definitely the most socially perceptive character in the series she’s also not perfect (she thought Madarame fell in love with her well before he actually did), so it isn’t necessarily presented as the gospel truth aside from the extremely obvious Angela. Given her strong observational skills, however, it’d still be fun to discuss each of them in detail, not to pick the “best” one but to do some semi-intense character analysis.

Before we get into it, though, I do want to say that it isn’t that unusual for Madarame to be  a target of affection, and I don’t mean that in a “deep down he’s a good guy” sort of way. Not only is Madarame kind and intelligent, but he’s made major strides of the years to improve his sociability. That, and some girls are into the scrawny nerd type.

Angela,dressed as Misa Grandwood, Ohno in the background as Chiaki Kurihara

If you’ll recall, Angela’s interest in Madarame is actually a retcon from the second TV series (Genshiken 2, not be confused with Genshiken Second Season even though it’s totally easy to do so). The aggressive Angela enjoys Madarame’s passive demeanor, and what’s especially important about her perspective is that she isn’t thinking of this in a very romantic sort of way. While she wouldn’t mind seeing him long-term, she’s also definitely okay with a down and dirty one night stand. One thing I find interesting about Angela is that in her you have the portrayal of a woman who’s using every asset at her disposal to (literally) charm the pants off a guy. Even putting aside the aggression, if you look again at Chapter 66, you’ll notice that at the end of the day Angela switches from the outfit she was wearing in the morning to one with a short skirt and exposed cleavage.

Angela’s original appearance in the manga involves her, a non-Japanese speaking foreigner with a perfect body being very social, a form of kryptonite to the poor otaku Madarame. Personally speaking, there’s something hilarious about a rigid guy being with a sexually charged bombshell in that it’s fun to watch the layers of restraint and fear either melt away or intensify. For Madarame it’s more the latter, a response I find to be realistic for a nerd, though the fact that the unrequited love for Kasukabe is now a done deal changes the game. Her attitude frequently makes me wonder about what life is like for her most of the year, especially because she’s such a fearsome individual, able to notice Madarame’s pining for Kasukabe after just one or two brief ComiFes visits.

Sue as Gruier Serenity

While I’ve seen some Angelas in the American anime fandom, I’ve seen many more Sues, and I still find her to be surprisingly close to the kind of fans I tend to encounter at US anime conventions (although Yoshitake is actually pretty close too). Sue appears shortly after Angela in the original series delivering Asuka’s signature insult (“Anta baka?”), and it’s been interesting seeing her develop, from a non-sequitur gag machine with a penchant for making things awkward for those around her, to a fully fleshed-out character fluent in Japanese though still capable of intentionally generating the same awkwardness.

Sue’s feelings for Madarame aren’t as clear-cut as Angela’s, but Sue also frequently interacts with Madarame while appearing to enjoy it immensely. If she does like Madarame to that extent, it explains a lot of her actions with respect to him, like her remark that Madarame should “find a new love.” I also have to wonder how an actual relationship between the two would look. Sue is perhaps the only girl that can go toe-to-toe with Madarame when it comes to sheer obsession with anime and manga to the point of building up a seemingly endless wealth of quotes. There’s also something about their combined awkwardness that makes me imagine some of the interactions from Nichijou.

The thing I find funniest about Keiko is that years ago, when the original manga was still running in Japan, before there were these specific moments in Nidaime between the two to fuel the fire, there were already fans of the Madarame x Keiko pairing. If I had to reason why the combination has its supporters, it could be that in a way this would be the most “realistic” (read: cynical) couple, that image of the otaku whose average-looking girlfriend doesn’t quite understand his hobby and is a little too frivolous with cash. Perhaps the best reason is that Madarame was rejected by Kasukabe while Keiko’s affections for Kohsaka never went anywhere, comfort in mutual sorrow. Still, the reaction from Madarame and Sasahara is understandable (and also hilarious), as Sasahara basically pleads with Kohsaka and Hato to strike the very idea from the world. Watching the two guys basically not even consider her a factor is one of the best parts of the chapter.

The extras in Volumes 13 and 14 of Genshiken paint an interesting picture of Keiko. In Volume 14, Hato notices that Keiko has actually changed her makeup style to a more natural-looking one. One of Keiko’s visual characteristics since her debut in the manga has been her heavy makeup, and to forego it in favor of a lighter look implies that she’s aiming for a guy who might find that heavily dolled up look intimidating. On the other hand, a Volume 13 extra also shows that she has some interest in Hato, asking him if he’d be willing to have sex with a girl while still in drag. That 4-panel comic actually changed my perception of Keiko, and I wonder if her position in all of this is more complex than first expected.

Then there’s Hato, whose interactions with Madarame I’ve analyzed many times over and which you’ll find in numerous previous chapter reviews. Two things are clear: Hato is really complicated, and he pays a lot of attention to both Madarame and the people around Madarame. After all, he’s the one who noticed that Keiko changed her makeup. He’s also clearly very confused about what he does and doesn’t want, and you can see it in the way he went from needing to crossdress no matter what, to absolutely refusing to do so and trying to play the part of Average Joe Otaku. It sort of reminds me of when nerds who know nothing about sports (which includes myself to an extent!) try to discuss basketball or something: awkward, unfamiliar, clearly an act.

His past with Kaminaga makes it even more difficult to discern his intentions, as it isn’t clear whether he wanted her or wanted to be with her (or perhaps even both). However, if we assume that Hato does have feelings for Madarame, he then presents an interesting position in that he would see himself as a man who likes to crossdress and look at yaoi, but not someone who identifies as a woman and would therefore see a relationship with a man as heterosexual. If Genshiken then actually had him get together with Madarame, it would bring the entire manga to a whole other place.

The chapter ends with Yajima getting ready to say something to Hato, and amidst this strange situation their relationship is also something which has changed over time. Where once Yajima had been uncomfortable with Hato in drag, now she’s the opposite, mirroring Hato’s own feelings. I’m actually quite looking forward to how this develops next month. The “next chapter” reference, by the way, is Jewelpet Happiness.

One last vitally important thing to discuss: Ogiue’s cosplay is amazing. Somehow the series keeps finding great characters for her to dress up as, and even if the look doesn’t match entirely her intense expression makes it entertaining nonetheless. Ogiue cosplay is something special.

Ogiue as Quartz Christie

Once again this is a review that isn’t. Relevant manga discussions are Chapter 59 and Chapter 61.

Before I get into it though, I want to point out an interesting comment I got recently on my previous episode “review” in response to the cut alcohol scenes. Natsuno, a Japanese person, replied that Japanese TV does in fact regulate depictions of alcohol consumption. Interesting thing to find out, I think.

In Episode 3 we’re introduced to the “other” Hato, the imaginary female version of Hato who makes fangirl comments in his head. No matter what you call it, a Stand, an 801-chan (not used in the anime though), or whatever, it’s meant to be an example of how Hato is able to have a distanced fujoshi view while still maintaining his own thoughts.

The anime’s portrayal of the other Hato came across to me as a bit different from the manga version, despite the scenes being pretty much the same. What I realized afterwards was that this has a lot to do with medium, that conversion from paper to television, and the different conceptions of time that come with it.

In the early chapters of Naruto, one of the gimmicks of the character Haruno Sakura is that she often has thoughts she isn’t willing to express openly, and this usually takes the form of an “Inner Sakura,” a more comically angry-looking version of her silently shouting her true feelings. In the manga, I thought this gag was pretty funny, but in the anime it didn’t work for me at all. This is because in the manga the presence of Inner Sakura appears to take place at the same time as the regular Sakura, a simultaneous existence, whereas to emphasize it for the anime they had to first show Sakura talking, and then Inner Sakura’s response, one and then the other. Although to a lesser extent, I find this to be pretty much the difference between the Nidaime manga and anime.

I think what it comes down to is that when you have that inner and outer self interaction as with Sakura or Hato and you depict it on the page, you can concentrate on one piece at a time while still seeing that they’re on the same page, or more specifically in the same panel. That one panel becomes a cohesive piece of information which can be approached and broken down, and doesn’t need to rely on the linear time of an animated sequence, nor the loss of attention that would occur if the anime did actually play both scenes simultaneously.

I might be calling this an episodic review in the tags, but that’s kind of a misnomer. Instead, I’d like to talk about Genshiken Second Season episode 2, or rather, what’s missing from it.

The manga equivalents of this episode would be Chapters 58, 59, and 60, but if you look at Chapter 59 you’ll notice a rather important Madarame story being cut from it. Now, this might be them cutting it out entirely, or it might be a pacing issue or something where they’d prefer to explore the new characters before putting the spotlight on the old guard again. That’s why, for now, we’ll leave it aside and assume it might actually appear in the anime at a later date, and focus on another curious cut. For those who are sticking to the anime, be warned that Chapter 59 is potentially pretty spoilery for you.

In Episode 2, Yajima, Yoshitake, and Hato all go over to Yajima’s place to create their profiles for the club magazine, Mebaetame. Prior to this, they go to buy some drinks, during which Yoshitake talks about her fantastic metabolism. What the anime did not include, however, is the fact that Yoshitake was trying to buy alcohol to liven up the party. The scene was originally a way to show how Yoshitake is as free-spirited as Yajima is straight-laced (her objection is mainly that they’re below drinking age), especially when Yoshitake ends up getting the beers anyway. Curiously, whereas in the manga they pass out due to drunkenness, in the anime, they simply got tired.

Here’s what I’m wondering: Was this cut due to time constraints, or was it cut in order to avoid showing underage drinking?

I don’t know enough about Japanese television censorship or censorship laws to determine if this is the true cause, but I do know I’ve seen plenty of manga to anime adaptations play it safe in roughly similar ways. The Bokurano anime, for example, turned a rape and exploitation storyline from the manga into something much less extreme. Genshiken does not even begin to approach that territory, but maybe for this show it’s still something they’d like to avoid.

Another thing, though not exactly a cut, is a loss of context. The moment when Ogiue slams the door on Ohno is a visual reference to the time Ogiue invited Sasahara over alone. That part of Genshiken isn’t animated, so the connection is lost.

The opening is kind of interesting. It has quite a bit of information about what’s going to happen (including the appearance of a certain saucer-eyed character and her friend), but what I find most interesting about it is that it makes it very clear that Hato is the focus of the new series, something which wasn’t always immediately obvious in the manga. Also, Sue as Koujiro Frau from Robotics;Notes is about as perfect as it gets. That’s something that wasn’t in the manga but fits Sue’s character so amazingly well that I wish it had been. There is precedent for anime stuff to make it into the original manga, though, so hope is not lost.

As Yoshitake pressures Yajima into potentially revealing that she has feelings for Hato, Kuchiki sees a distraught Hato committing the worst crime of ComiFes: not enjoying himself. In a rare moment of clarity and benevolence (albeit still horribly awkward), Kuchiki teaches Hato that worrying what other people think about you goes against the otaku way. Hato, who suspects that his interest in Madarame may be a matter of him being interested in Madarame in particular and not guys in general, suggests that he hook up with Angela (who is of course likely eager to do so).

This month’s Genshiken II, titled “Festival Evol,” is a reference to the anime Aquarion Evol, which is appropriate in a number of ways. First, Aquarion Evol is the next generation of characters after the original Genesis of Aquarion, which is similar to Nidaime. Second, in the final episode of Aquarion Evol (SPOILERS), the titular robot turns into “Aquarion LOVE,” which is of course one of the themes of Chapter 89. You could maybe read something into the separation between boys and girls in that series too, but that might be going too far. The next chapter preview quote is also from another robot anime, Chousoku Henkei Gyrozetter, so it’s a good month for mecha references.

I find this chapter to somehow be incredibly straightforward but also quite complicated in terms of its developments, so I’m not entirely sure how to approach it. I guess the first thing I’ll say is that, I do know from personal experience that sometimes you think you like someone more than you actually do. I’ve had cases where I was interested in girls, and when they got significant others, my feelings were not jealousy or regret or forlorn heartbreak, but simply satisfaction and relief. In those cases, “what could have been” doesn’t really enter the equation, a personal realization that my own feelings weren’t that strong after all. Is this the case with Hato and his feelings towards Madarame? Something tells me “no,” if only because it only seems to be deflecting or delaying the problems surrounding him. I’m not sure if the BL genre’s classic “I don’t like men, I just like you!” line really works in “reality,” nor the reality Genshiken wishes to depict.

More generally, not understanding one’s own feelings is a recurring element of the otaku subculture, especially when it comes to human interaction. Not to fall into the stereotype of otaku and fujoshi having no social skills or sex, but it’s clear from previous chapters that their experiences with romance have been limited or marred with awkwardness. It only makes sense that not only Hato but Yajima seems to be either consciously or unconsciously denying something, even if it doesn’t necessarily go as far as sexual attraction. I find it both interesting and relevant to this chapter that both Hato and Yajima are the types to restrain themselves to a certain degree even when among their comrades.

The highlight of this chapter may be the fact that this is the first time we’ve seen Kuchiki successfully do something admirable. He’s tried in the past before, like when trying to stop the cosplay thief at the club recruitment fair, but that led to such disaster that it’s one of the first things mentioned in Genshiken II. While Kuchiki is obnoxious and doesn’t understand social problems, he does bring up the relevant point that Hato’s interests in and of themselves do not cause trouble for anyone, nor should they. It makes me think about the other classic annoying character of Genshiken who hasn’t appeared in forever, Haraguchi, and how different the two are. Unlike Haraguchi, Kuchiki is selfish and rude but too honest to be manipulative.

As for the possibility of Angela being Madarame’s first time, I actually really want it to happen now. I don’t particularly care if Madarame and Angela become a “thing,” and of course there’s the long-distance component in all that, but there’s something about Angela just getting the job done that I find potentially hilarious. Genshiken has never been big on valuing female virginity, going all the way back to Saki discussing her sex life with the club members, or the fact that Ogiue is at this point very much not one, but somehow Madarame the virgin is the bigger deal. Losing it in a brief fling where both parties are aware of the lack of classic romance as well as the time limitations would be appropriate and a subtle defiance of the “nerd guy gets the hot girl!” trope, without necessarily being sad, even if Madarame is portrayed as somewhat of a romantic at heart.

This month’s Genshiken also came with an extra comic by another artist, about one of the Genshiken Nidaime anime voice dubbing sessions. As previously discussed, the new anime has an entirely new voice cast, and it’s a lot about the director (who has worked on the previous Genshiken anime) instructing them on the nuances of the characters. Naturally, they don’t reference the previous actors, as that would compromise the legitimacy of the current cast. Probably the most interesting tidbit is at the end, when it turns out that a lot of the female voice actors are themselves fans of Genshiken, and were all asking Kio Shimoku for his autograph. Kio is reportedly a very private individual, which actually just makes me think of him as Madarame, secretly attractive.

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.

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Ogiue Chika: Yamamoto Nozomi (Bouhatei Tetora, Joshiraku), formerly Mizuhashi Kaori (Miyako, Hidamari Sketch)

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Yoshitake Rika: Uesaka Sumire (Nonna, Girls und Panzer)

chara3

Yajima Mirei: Uchiyama Yumi (Sagimori Arata, Saki: Episode of Side A)

chara4

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.

Interested in Supporting Ogiue Maniax?

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