Ogiuevolution: Thoughts on Genshiken II

As the premiere Ogiue-themed blogger, I’ve had quite a few people asking me about my feelings on the all-new manga sequel to Genshiken, or as I like to call it, the “best surprise ever.” I have a lot of thoughts to lay down, so put on your hats and let’s go for a ride.

I recently picked up the second and final volume of Genshiken author Kio Shimoku’s child-raising manga Jigopuri (the first volume of which I reviewed), where I kind of expected to see the one-chapter continuation of Genshiken that fans generally refer to as “Chapter 56.” After all, the Kujibiki Unbalance manga featured additional Genshiken chapters, so I figured this was no different. As it turns out however, there was no Chapter 56 at the end of Jigopuri Volume 2, which left me kind of curious as to where the continued adventures of Chairman Ogiue would end up. Upon hearing the news of Genshiken II (alternately “Genshiken Nidaime” or “Genshiken the Second” to differentiate it from the second anime TV series, Genshiken 2), I realized that Chapter 56 would probably simply end up as the first chapter of the new series; all Kio has to do is change the chapter number from 56 to 1. It’s not the first time the chapter numbers have been modified in Genshiken, either. Volume 8 of Genshiken featured chapters which weren’t published for the initial run in Afternoon, and so the numbers were changed accordingly.

Whether or not Genshiken II is a response to Jigopuri‘s lack of success (as far as seinen manga goes, infants are a particularly unorthodox subject, and the way Kio handled it even less so) or an attempt to regain popularity, I think it’s clear that Kio doesn’t simply want to rehash the original formula even if it is a sequel. Just at the outset, there are two major differences between the new Genshiken club and the old. First, whereas the club back in Volume 1 of Genshiken was populated primarily by guys, five years of time have transformed it into one filled with mostly women, which is something probably no one expected from the club for years and years since its original founding. Second, Ogiue is at the helm, but her importance in this role isn’t simply that she’s their new fearless leader. She’s carrying the increased momentum set by Sasahara when he first became chairman and decided that the club should participate at the doujinshi event Comic Festival, and is taking it further by leading the charge with her own artistic skills and experience. These two aspects alone will provide plenty of differentiation from the previous series, and even if it is a bit of a cash grab, I think Kio will likely try to make it more than just that.

But then I hear people asking, “What if it’s too different?” In the original 2channel thread which revealed the news to the internet, a number of commenters voiced such concerns, talking about the different gender balance of characters, how the series appears to have become populated with moe harem character types, and simply that they could no longer relate to the series with its relative lack of “typical” otaku.  While I don’t agree with everything said, I can definitely see where they’re coming from. When you compare Chapter 1 with Chapter 56, it can feel like night and day even when you ignore the drastic art difference. It almost makes you feel like saying, “What happened to Genshiken?”

The answer is, chapters 2 through 55 “happened.”

While the themes of growth and change are much more prominent in the second half of the series, Genshiken has always featured them to some extent, right when Sasahara decides to check out the clubroom. Along the way, each new club member influenced the old ones and vice versa, with the final result being characters who are different from when they started, more confident about themselves and a little less worried about distinctions betwen otaku and non-otaku. So yes, the Modern Culture Society is no longer filled with anime fans who can’t talk with girls to save their lives, but it didn’t happen out of the blue, it isn’t unrealistic, and Genshiken isn’t a series with static characterization.

The more negative responses about Genshiken II seem to imply that success is less realitic than failure, that pain more of a truth than pleasure. While I simply cannot agree with that, it kind of puts things into perspective. Perhaps some of the fans feel that as the characters and the story of Genshiken progressed, they ended up outgrowing the fans themselves to the point that the series no longer felt like it spoke to them. But even then, I think that fans can still relate to the new cast of characters, regardless of gender differences, and it can feel just as close to home, if not closer. After all, I relate to Ogiue, and this is where it’s taken me.

Additional thoughts:

Of course, I recognize that at least three of these characters are entirely new, so they don’t have the same emotional attachment as the previous club members, but I say give them a chance. At the very least, I received a good impression from Yajima, Hato, and Yoshitake in Chapter 56, and remember that the old characters were once unfamiliar too.

If I were responsible for Kio Shimoku creating a new Genshiken spinoff, it would have to be Angela Burton’s American Anime Club.

As for the “harem” complaint, I think that’s just an exaggerated complaint about the mostly female cast.

Advertisements

25 thoughts on “Ogiuevolution: Thoughts on Genshiken II

  1. Genshiken is a very good reflection of the evolution of Japanese Otaku. Primarily, Otaku were almost all men. Nowadays, the amount of Fujoshi has grown and the visual fan culture is no longer dominated by men, but also shared by many woman. I am willing to wager that Genshiken II will address these changes in audience and culture.

    Like

  2. “it isn’t unrealistic”

    I for one have never empirically observed it in all my life, and I don’t imagine I ever shall.

    Once upon a time, I believed in Genshiken. But by the time the supposedly “not unrealistic” series became about the girl with massive breasts who LOVED the fat porno dating sim enthusiast guy so much she propositioned him dating-sim style or whatever the Hell it was that happened in that comicbook I read years ago, I knew it was dead to me forever.

    Kio Shimoku at this point is just preying on the vulnerable, selling the dreams otaku wish to believe in right back to them. Densha Otoko at least had the decency to bill itself as “a fairy tale,” which is precisely what it is. But Genshiken’s rep is that it’s “the realistic take” on otaku, which is absolute hogwash.

    Like

    • Well what you mentioned happened only in the anime, the second season done by the porn-friendly Studio ARMS, so I think that has something to do with it. As far as the manga is concerned, Ohno and Tanaka bonded over cosplay and started going out off-panel.

      But even taking the anime in regard, it speaks towards some common truths. First, as is only implied by the manga but more explicitly stated in the anime, they bonded over cosplay and spent a lot of time together, which resulted in them getting closer. Second, a lot of nerds and otaku are pretty passive, especially when it comes to girls, and are afraid to make the first move. They’ll put the girl on a pedestal and envision them as unobtainable, which is exactly what Tanaka did. This also makes them oblivious to signals, and one way to overcome that as a girl interested in a dork is to make the hints less subtle.

      Whether or not that means forcing the man to play a porn game in front of you is something else, but there is definitely a grain of truth to the whole scene.

      Like

    • I think it also depends on how you’re looking at the story. What I do like is how things like members actually having girlfriends happen, and how they don’t portray it as “life is suddenly wonderful now that they have a girlfriend”. I feel like you’d like the last couple of episodes of the second season, as the nucleus of the group tries to figure out what to do with themselves now that their time in college is over (finding a job, pursuing relationships, that stuff). It goes more than just the club, but it’s always been like that.

      Like

    • Just to break away from what the other two are saying, I think you’re giving Ohno too much credit. She’s not *that* hot, and if she can be mistaken for such, ti’s only because she’s a manga character. I think it’s evident that her large breasts come from being a bit on the chubby side, and she’s kind of a dumpy nerd chick all-around. I promise if you saw someone with her body in real life, you’d realize she isn’t very attractive. While the manga may take a better approach, I liked Kugiyan’s speach to Tanaka in the anime that “Ohno’s not exactly *that* hot. Definitely not on Kasukabe’s level or anything.”

      Like

      • I have to agree with you there. I think it’s evident in the series when Saki comments that if she cut her hair or wore better clothes she could look better. I think Ono is an attractive girl (not HOT) under a frumpy female Otaku outer shell.

        I think the common bonds that Ono and Tanaka shared made it very feasible that they would get together no matter what they each looked like.

        Like

  3. It’s kind of funny to note that people would think that it’s bad to have a more diversified cast for Genshiken II. I mean, as much as we want to have static characterization for us to be able to love our Genshiken characters more, it goes against the core objective of Genshiken’s story: to evolve the characters into much more open and amiable versions of themselves, regardless of preference, age and gender. Ogiue’s change should be enough for a testament on this, and the current crew for Genshiken II should prove a more worthy challenge into making otaku understand that times do change.

    Of course, that only means, so do we.

    Like

  4. I’m delighted that there’s new Genshiken coming. I want to know what’s going on with the former characters and I trust Kio Shimoku’s judgement in creating new ones.

    Frankly, anyone who read or watched Genshiken only because it was supposed to show an accurate view of otaku misses the point, those foolish to say it turned into a “soap opera” especially so. It was clear from the start that the focus was on the characters, not only their geeky passions but their vulnerabilities and needs. If Kio didn’t develop them it would not have been so satisfying, and I wouldn’t be looking forward to more.

    Like

  5. Personally, I kind of like how they’ve dragged in Hato… although whether that’s because he represents a bit of a trend in Japanese otaku culture now, or because traps are ‘trendy’ to read about’s something else. And they didn’t exactly play it like the joke that Kousaka or Kuchiki’s crossplay attempts were/are. That, and Kuchi’s acceptance of the ‘boy-girl character’ is… I’m not sure how to interpret that.

    Plus, Chapter 55 DID indicate the Genshiken continued on with the departure of the first series’ cast… so this wasn’t something that’d have come out of left field. Life does go on, although keeping Ohno, Sue, and Oguie around is a bit of a cop-out. I can’t wait to see all the posts complaining about how the series isn’t the same now that everyone from the first cast has just about graduated… a complaint that Sasahara levelled against KujiUn after the President and others graduated. ;)

    Like

  6. There’s definitely a much trickier tightrope to walk for this follow-up. As the other commentors note, the “state of the fandom” has changed a lot since Genshiken’s publication back in 2002, and a lot of new shows, trends, and rehashes have come into play since the original run of the manga. What was great about the original was it’s relative accessibility – you didn’t have to be too in the loop to relate – hopefully that can be maintained into the followup.

    Like

  7. My only thought, besides imagining you being really excited…

    Is that a genuinely fat girl, or did Madarame pack on a few pounds since we last saw him? Either way, it’s pretty revolutionary!

    Like

  8. My real concern here is, as the article mentions, that this sequal is more in responce to the failure of Digopuri than any real desire to continue the story.
    Looking at his earlier work [like yonen and gonen] it shows him willing to branch out and experiment with different genres. yet it seems that, thanks to genshiken, he’s become the victim of his own sucess, forever known as just “that guy who does genshiken”.

    Ironically saying that though i’ll probubly be buying the first volume as it comes out, hopefull that the same attention to detail, incitefull commentary of anime culture and comedy he showed in the original series, will still shine through in the sequal.

    Like

    • I myself am pretty sad that I was not able to support Jigopuri properly, being only able to wait for the tankoubon to come out (and by then the series’ end was already announced).

      As you said, Kio is very ambitious and that’s what I like about him, and I am kind of worried too that he may feel burned by all of this, but I also have faith that he’ll try to still push things in interesting directions.

      Like

  9. kuchiki kun 4 life!! taht outburst aside, i whole fartedly agree about “best surprise ever” and of course all of your observations are astute. Apt is a word that also comes to mind. Big fan of Genshiken, and bigger fan of your blog! Wait I think I got that backwards, but never mind that. Chapter “56” was a bit on the harem side but like you said, it was a gradual process and one that didn’t come out of nowhere. It does represent girls being more openly involved in nerd cultures around the world so I guess its not that shocking. Just so long as there is an over expressive male maniac like kuchiki i will be represented in full! biLL out!

    t(^_^ t)~~

    Like

  10. Pingback: What Caused Genshiken II to Happen: Character Development in Genshiken « Rainbowsphere

  11. I personally don’t get why people are saying things like “he’s just falling back on genshiken to make money”

    I suspected that it was going to continue ever since chapter 56 came out. seemed like a pretty big hint to me.

    The whole complaint about there being no males is slightly off, if the main character is going to be oguie like chapter 56 suggests, and sasahara is her boyfriend it stands to reason that he’ll still be around allot. and technically there are still two boys in the genshiken, even if one is more feminine than most of the other girls.

    there is also the possibility that more boys will join next year, since having allot of cute female members is sure to attract male attention.

    my personal hope is that kio deals with the trap in a more realistic way than most manga, ever since traps in manga became more popular and started getting central roles I have wanted to see it dealt with in a realistic way. the only two manga I know of that has done this so far is “hourou musuko” and “yubisaki milk tea.” I am interested to see where he will take our new trap character.

    so anybody wanna bet who madarame will get together with, now that the genshiken has more available selection of females/femalish people? my votes on the trap. ; ]

    Like

  12. Pingback: Instant Therapy—Just Add Love? (Genshiken versus Bungaku Shoujo) « 2-D Teleidoscope

  13. I have to say I’m incredibly happy about more Genshiken coming our way and I can’t imagine any fan of the manga finding any reason to complain. After all the choices were more or none, what’s not to like.

    I’m also sure the series won’t completely ignore the old cast and we will be seeing them from time to time.

    I also think we shouldn’t rule out the chance that the new members of Genshiken are going to be great. I felt worried when I first saw that strange, rude, and loud girl called Ogiue show up. I didn’t like her for the first few pages of the manga but she’s my favorite character now!

    Like

  14. If this is Kio’s way of selling out–I’m totally buying into it. Ogiue and her one-liners alone can and will keep things interesting for for another 56 chapters easily. :D

    Like

  15. More Genshiken is always welcomed!

    I think Genshiken’s cast is pretty realistic; if you’re a female otaku or fujoshi you’re bound to know more of your own kind, so having more girls interested when Ogiue is the president is not that crazy. It started with mostly boys that’s true, but accusing it of unrealistic just because it starts to introduce more women to the cast is almost like denying the fact there are just as many female otaku out there. You gotta face it guys, we’re out there and it’s a matter of time until you meet -at least- one.
    Besides, Genshiken as a club wasn’t as proactive at the beginning, while promoting themselves a lot more at the end, so it was bound to get a more diverse group of people interested than just “stereotyped-male” otaku.

    Like

  16. Pingback: The Difference in Variety in the New Genshiken « OGIUE MANIAX

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s