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This month’s Genshiken provides what may be the best use of a pool/bath/hot springs chapter that I’ve ever seen.

As a bunch of the guys take Madarame away to get his hand treated, the rest of Genshiken (and company) go to a public bath to relax and air things out. Angela and Keiko make their intentions regarding Madarame clear to each other, beginning a strange rivalry of sorts between the two. Meanwhile, Hato finally admits out loud that he has feelings for Madarame, while Sue continues to contradict herself every step of the way.

I get the feeling that this chapter plays a lot with standard anime and manga tropes, especially in the fact that it manages to fit in both an extended bath scene and a festival-like environment, but does so in a way which actually leaves the guy at the center of all this drama literally at home. Obviously with a chapter that takes place almost entirely in a bath there’s bound to be an element of fanservice, but I found it also to be quite enlightening. This isn’t just referring to Hato finally coming to terms with himself, but just the way everyone involved communicates so openly. It’s as if the abundance of nudity this month is a metaphor for simply baring it all: no boundaries, no restrictions, just the truth from the heart (at least in most cases).

There’s actually a lot of information and development this time around, and it’s presented in a way that I think has become characteristic Kio Shimoku, more refined than ever as he continues to improve his storytelling ability in manga. This page above caught my eye in particular, because of how well it conveys not only the fact that Ogiue and Keiko’s have gotten a bit closer (by virtue of Ogiue being Sasahara’s girlfriend) just through the page composition and their positions within it, but also how the panel with Angela gives the impression that you’re seeing her from Ogiue and Keiko’s point of view. The height and the angle of the “camera,” as well as the panel following it give this impression. The way you can see Keiko’s confidence falter as soon as she sees Angela is also a nice touch. This is only the second time that Genshiken has done one of these bath scenes, and the last time around the relationship between Ogiue and Keiko was quite a bit more antagonistic, so it’s interesting to see them getting along in a similar setting.

Similarly, Yajima, though she doesn’t do a lot this chapter, actually says a lot. With the way the manga focuses on her at key moments, it really does give the impression that she feels something for Hato, even if it might not be strictly romantic. When I think about it, the fact that Yajima isn’t being particularly body-conscious despite being around Ohno and Angela must mean that she’s so distracted by Hato’s situation that she’s ignoring her own normal worries. I also have to point out that Kio actually drew her naked, and not in a way which is directed at appealing to a chubby lady fetish.

It’s been quite a journey with Hato, and when I look back at my own musings about him from chapter to chapter, it’s interesting to see how my own views have gone. At first, I took his self-assessment in regards to things like his self-image and his sexuality at his word, but over these few years it’s become clear that even Hato himself didn’t quite understand, though it wasn’t as simple as “Hato’s BL obsession was a sign of a closet homosexual/bisexual all along.” I think there’s enough evidence so far to say that his gender, sexuality, and fantasies don’t all perfectly correlate with each other. Last chapter, I wrote about how the “Stand” versions of the female Hato and Kaminaga are meant to be two separate aspects of his psychology, and here it’s made plainly obvious by the fact that both appear simultaneously. The way I see it, the female Hato represents Hato’s fudanshi side, or rather the image of a fujoshi in his mind who can communicate with other like-minded individuals, while the Kaminaga relies on Hato’s view of the real Kaminaga as someone who is always true to herself. This is why it’s the Kaminaga who has made it impossible for him to deny his own feelings about Madarame, whereas Hato has been easily able to brush aside the female Hato’s fantasies. Though having them float above Hato just has me thinking that the two are having a “conversation” in the men’s bath the whole time. It may also be of interest that none of Genshiken takes issue with Hato on this whole matter.

I honestly don’t think there’s going to be a Hato x Mada (or Mada x Hato) ending, and Madarame’s going to be in a position where he’s not just been rejected by someone but had to reject someone himself. Overall, if this is the case it’ll be a serious change for the otaku among otaku.

At this point in Genshiken we’re already familiar with the fact that characters like Angela and Keiko don’t prescribe to the true love romance mantra that appeals to otaku so much, but it’s still kind of refreshing nevertheless. Angela is provocative in more than one sense of the word, and the more I see of her the more I get that she’s actually quite intelligent. Angela’s insistence that Madarame needs “help” after buying “all that doujinshi” and that Keiko “wouldn’t be able to satisfy him,” ends up coming across as measured and calculated. Obviously Angela knows that Madarame is not some studly he-man with an unquenchable thirst for womanly conquest, and so the idea that Keiko wouldn’t be enough for him is clearly facetious. She’s just trying to get a rise out of Keiko, though what I find funny about all of this is that I can see a definite friendship forming between the two. They both want to win out, but at the same time their smiles and even the way they decide that Sue should be the one to go visit Madarame means that neither of them are especially bothered by the idea of losing. There are more fish in the nerd sea, and a bitter competition this is not.

Speaking of Sue, for all of the attention Hato and Madarame get, I feel like in the end it’s Sue who really steals the show this chapter. Her expressions are amazing, even more than Ogiue’s (which I enjoyed immensely).

Though her own emotional turmoil is played for comedic purposes in contrast to Hato’s, I do wonder what’s in store for her. Her development throughout the new series has come in fits and starts, but it’s undeniably there.It’s interesting how Sue is normally immune to embarrassment but here it overwhelms her to the point of violence and frustration, and I feel like I want to say more about her, but I don’t know where to start.

So, I think I’ll save it for the future.

Mysteries melt away this episode! Covering chapters 76 and 77, it’s one of the more significant parts of the whole series.

In previous episode reflections (a better term than review I now realize), I mentioned how elements from the manga were cut and shifted, sometimes for thematic consistency within an episode, but more often because the Nidaime anime clearly has a particular end goal in mind. With Episode 10, we’re finally able to see whether or not this “cutting of the fat” has paid off, more or less. It already began with the previous episode to an extent, but this is when the revelations truly begin, and it’ll continue into the next episode too.

In this regard, I think that Episode 10 is probably the strongest one of the season so far. Whether it’s because of Mamiko’s excellent performance as Kaminaga, the portrayal of the way Hato’s denial/hiding of his inner self to others weighs heavily on him, Konno’s amazing facial expressions, or some combination of the three, I think that this episode communicates all of the complex emotions which make up Genshiken. The manga chapters were already great and enlightening, and the adaptation does them justice. In some cases, it even makes things clearer. One example is when Hato sees his brother driving with Kaminaga, with the clear implication being romance. In the manga, Yuuichirou’s expression is kind of ambiguous, but in the anime you can clearly see him smiling. It wasn’t necessary, but it helps communicate that information more overtly.

When I say good adaptation, though, I don’t simply mean that it’s accurate or 1:1 in terms of elements. The anime added an additional thing about Kaminaga moving in with Hato and his brother, but in the manga Hato lives on his own in an apartment far from the university so that he can maintain both his BL and crossdressing. They even visited it in one chapter, which was cut from the anime. The original manga also shows that Konno had dyed her hair in between high school and college, while the anime has always been brunette. It doesn’t impact the story much, but it is curious.

Yamamoto Nozomi also probably puts out some of her best Ogiue performance as well this episode. I still give the edge to Mizuhashi, but Yamamoto really displays a sense of Ogiue, particularly her delivery of Ogiue saying that turning your own boyfriend into BL material is “normal.” It really gives off the vibe that this is an area where Ogiue has not only a lot of experience, but a lot of history, while also showing how far Ogiue has come from her previous self.

I really like how the anime took the scene of Sue mimicking Rei from Fist of the North Star from the manga and added the after-images and laser lines from Fist of the North Star‘s anime. Basically, the anime adaptation of Genshiken enhanced its portrayal of a manga scene parodying a famous manga by utilizing the iconic effects from that famous manga’s own adaptation. The Crunchyroll subs do not make the reference obvious: Sue says, “Nanto Kyuukyoku Ougi!” and likely the translator either misheard or didn’t even hear the “Nanto” part.

One of the categories in the Fujoshi Files is “Fujoshi Level,” which is a not-so-serious way of describing just how polluted the mind of a particular character can be. While I actually don’t create specific rankings and try to give just a general impression in them, here you could see an obvious hierarchy: Kaminaga is off the deep end, Ogiue is right behind her along with Hato, and Konno and Fuji are definitely not as powerful. It makes me want to perhaps write up a full Fujoshi/Fudanshi Tier List one of these days.

I’ve been away for the last couple of weeks so it’s time to do some catchup! Episode 9 covers Chapters 74 and 75. Also, there’s quite a bit of cosplay in this episode, and luckily for me a Japanese blogger Renko’s already laid out all of the references.

Sue = Meruru (Atelier Meruru)

Ohno = Asama Tomo (Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere)

Yoshitake = Inahime (Samurai Warriors)

Sawatari = Kunoichi (Samurai Warriors)

Fukuda = Okuni (Samurai Warriors)

Mimasaka = Leia Rolando (Tales of Xillia)

Yajima = Hirano Kouta (Highschool of the Dead)

Kuchiki = Matsudaira Katakuriko (Gintama)

The sheer amount of Ogiue content in this episode makes me happy, just as it did with the manga. You can really see her take center stage at least in the first half of the episode, and the sheer range of facial expressions that are not coming from deep anger and frustration is quite satisfying. There’s also something hilarious about Sasahara essentially roleplaying as a fictional version of himself.

Speaking of Sasahara, the new voices at this point are old news, but I have to remark that Sasahara’s voice really throws me off. It’s like his old voice was just the perfect shade of average that anything else sounds odd. Moreover, Sasahara doesn’t appear often enough for me to get used to him.

When it comes to adapting from manga to anime, I thought the decision to turn Yoshitake’s exposition into a Star Wars-esque text scroll was clever and properly captured the incessantly convoluted nature of her plot. The manga conveys this through the sheer amount of text in Yoshitake’s word bubble, but obviously that doesn’t fly in the animated format. Interestingly, when Yajima hits Yoshitake with the manga, you can see that it’s a Monthly Afternoon (the magazine Genshiken runs in), with its most famous and longest-running title Aa! Megami-sama on the spine.

(Seriously, Oh My Goddess! is still running).

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is the whole gendered pronouns thing (whether to refer to Hato as a “he” or a “she”), and while Japanese doesn’t typically use gendered pronouns the way English does, perhaps a comparison could be done between which characters refer to Hato as “Hato-kun” and which use “Hato-chan.” Those aren’t strictly gender-divided (guys can be referred to with -chan and girls with -kun), but it may speak to how they personally see Hato.

In the end, of all the things to happen in this episode, I especially hope people are enjoying the new characters’ old friends. Mimasaka comes across as the most shy and awkward of possibly any character in Genshiken (with her voice actor doing quite a good job showing this). You can also actually hear Yajima slipping into an accent when talking with Mimasaka, which is again a nice touch for the anime. I also have to wonder if Konno’s massive saucer eyes in the opening had people wondering just who she is. She doesn’t appear much, but she pretty much became my favorite of the new Nidaime characters just from her expressions. Given that Ogiue also had fantastic facial expressions, that might just be more indicative of my tastes than anything else.

As for Kaminaga’s debut, I find Noto Mamiko’s performance to be pretty spot-on with what I imagined.

Have you been enjoying the new Genshiken anime? I call the manga of NidaimeGenshiken II” because that’s how I started, while I call the anime “Genshiken Second Season” because that’s how it’s widely advertised in English. While it makes things easier in terms of separating my anime and manga posts, I do feel a bit contradictory or incongruous in doing so. Anyway, here’s Chapter 91, which is a turning point, the latest of many.

After Yajima talks to Hato in an effort to tell him that he can’t simply dump Madarame onto Angela so he can get back to reading BL, Ohno calls to ask Hato to complete the Bodacious Space Pirates cosplay as the main character. Eager to rid himself of the fujoshi that is his mental alter ego, Hato agrees, but by doing so actually appears to reaffirm his feelings on Madarame. Hato apologizes to Angela, but Angela has other ideas, simultaneously confessing the mutual feelings of her, Hato, and Sue. Madarame, like a deer caught in headlights, tries to run but accidentally slips and fractures his wrist (again) when he sees Keiko.

I quite like how Kio Shimoku writes and draws Angela, as for all of her simplistic character traits she still comes across as a fully developed person. Angela makes various comments about basically having a foursome, but I don’t think we’re supposed to interpret that as her wanting that sort of relationship. Instead, I think the fact that her words intentionally sound like they’re coming straight of an eroge is what’s important. Previous chapters have established that Angela is extremely savvy and strategic when it comes to putting the moves on Madarame, such as Angela hoping that if she’s aggressive enough the timid and virginal Madarame will use her as masturbation material, and I have no doubt in my mind that she’s trying to appeal to that basic otaku side of Madarame, to give him the temptation to fuse fantasy and reality in his mind. There’s also the fact that Ohno stops interpreting out of embarrassment, so Angela has to be as braindead obvious with her words as possible.

Of course, the other component of all this is that Angela is blasting through the ambiguity in a way which normally Sue would, but this is not Sue’s area of comfort at all. It’s funny how the more social and perceptive characters in Genshiken have generally been the ones to point out budding feelings and similar developments where the dorks of the group have been oblivious, like when Keiko nonchalantly asked if Sasahara and Ogiue are dating before they started doing so. Even though Keiko makes only a brief appearance at the end, I think she provides a good amount of interesting material to analyze as well.

When I think about it, Keiko and Angela appear to be approaching Madarame in the same way, by trying to actively appeal to his otaku sensibilities. The way I see it, the key difference is that Angela is an otaku herself while Keiko is not. Angela is using her knowledge of anime, manga, and video games, her experience interacting with fellow otaku, and even how her own mind works, to feed into Madarame’s fantastic desires. Keiko, on the other hand, is giving herself a more natural appearance, maybe even one closer to Kasukabe’s, in an effort to appear less a part of the Shibuya world which most otaku reject. The fact that Angela has a dynamite body may or may not play a factor in this battle.

Hato’s feelings meanwhile are practically overwhelming him at this point, and the clarity that this chapter brings also serves to complicate things further. As silly as this may sound, I find significance in the fact that the “other Hato” has a different breast size compared to the “other Kaminaga” who has been appearing in Hato’s consciousness lately, as it basically means they’re two aspects of his mind. Both are representative of something inside him, but the other Hato, with her larger chest, speaks towards Hato’s ideal of the generic woman he’s aiming to visually emulate. As mentioned before in a 4koma, when Hato crossdresses he tries to have as many “female” signifiers in his appearance, and breasts are one of them. The other Kaminaga, on the other hand, has small breasts like the actual person, which I interpret as Hato tying that persona closer to the real Kaminaga, or more specifically her words, and her ability to cut to the heart of the matter. The fact that Kaminaga is literally the person he was originally trying to emulate has to mean something as well.

Aside from a panel or two, there wasn’t really an Ogiue content this chapter, but I do find an off-hand remark by Kuchiki to be interesting. Kohsaka and Sasahara mention to Hato that there’s nothing quite like the wrath of not so much a scorned woman but a humiliated one, which causes Kuchiki to refer to them as the “非DT,” or “not virgins,” to which Madarame and Kugayama react nervously. While Kohsaka is generally seen as the attractive guy, there’s something hilarious about having Sasahara considered even remotely close to being a stud.

This time, to finish, I’d actually like to talk a bit about the art, which I typically don’t get into much during these reviews. The same page where Kuchiki calls the two of them “not virgins” is rather nice, I think, because of the way the panel of Kohsaka up top anchors that small moment in time, as well as Kohsaka’s words (“I don’t think you can take thing back at this point”). This isn’t just because it’s a large panel, but the lack of a background contrasts with the busier panels before and after, which in turn makes that panel act as both a breather as well as a moment of impact. On top of that, it rests well at the top of the page and makes for a balanced composition. I think in general Kio is good at using these large empty panels, and if you look through previou chapters I’m sure you’ll find more examples.

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.

Interested in Supporting Ogiue Maniax?



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