The Not-So-Gentle Path: Genshiken II, Chapter 57

From the moment I began this blog, I’ve established the fact that I am a huge fan of Genshiken. After reading the inaugural chapter of the all-new Genshiken II however, I realized that this is the first time that I’m actually reading fresh material alongside all my fellow Genshiken enthusiasts. Sure, there was the second TV series, but that was mostly existing material, so in a sense this new “limited series” acts as a kind of return to basics for Ogiue Maniax, a starting point for me to share my thoughts so to speak.

So to celebrate this small revival and to welcome back this blog’s namesake to the world of serialization, I am going to give my thoughts and impressions on this first chapter. As more chapters come out there’s a possibility that you’ll be seeing Ogiue Maniax’s first ever instance of episodic chapter blogging, but I’m not making any guarantees.

New Genshiken feels different. I won’t pretend that it doesn’t. The cast is mostly different and is now populated primarily by women, replacing the “awkward men’s club” vibe that kicked off the original series. At first this seemed a little jarring, but Ohno’s off-handed mention of the soul patch guy, aka the Genshiken member that never was, reminded me that prior to the arrival of Yajima, Yoshitake, and Hato the membership barely ever increased. Ogiue and Kuchiki arrived together, while the following year Sasahara’s sister Keiko entered, and in the case of Kuchiki and Keiko both of them were already introduced previously. Sue is Sue. If anything, with such a large cast change I’d be surprised if the series didn’t feel a little different.

The focal point of Chapter 57 is the cross-dressing Hato Kenjirou (who might be a reference to Hayate the Combat Butler author Hata Kenjirou), or rather, everyone’s opinions of Hato. I think Hato’s inclusion set off alarms in a lot of readers’ heads more than anything else, creating a bit of fear that the series would lose its heart and pander too much to otaku at the expense of what made Genshiken good in the first place. As the chapter went on, I could feel that fear growing in myself, but I think it was actually all just set-up for a really pointed reminder that Kio Shimoku did not forget what made Genshiken tick in the first place.

While I clearly favor Ogiue, I think the real star of the chapter was Yajima. Throughout most of the chapter the club feels almost uncontrollable when it comes to the topic of Hato and cross-dressing in general despite Ogiue’s best efforts, sort of like the impression you might get at an anime con seeing a bunch of young attendees with no supervision. Then Yajima comes out and says that she’s kind of uncomfortable with Hato’s cross-dressing. By presenting this point of contention, Yajima manages to bring the club (and the manga itself) back down to Earth and keeps the club environment from getting completely out of hand.

This sort of conflict is actually a pretty persistent theme in Genshiken, whether it’s in the earlier days with Kasukabe’s mean-spirited attacks on the club, or later on with Ogiue and her own inner demons. In a way, Yajima’s somewhat direct personality and her unfamiliarity with the beast that is the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture makes her the “Saki” of the new bunch, even if she can’t match Kasukabe in looks. Whereas Saki was a normal person experiencing the world of otaku for the first time, Yajima, who is already an otaku, has to deal with an anime club unlike any she’s ever experienced. That’s not to say that the other characters are unrealistic, though. Hato is developing well, and even the way in which Ohno, Sue, Yoshitake, and Kuchiki get carried away is not that unusual. It’s simply that Yajima, as well as Ogiue, act to rein them in a little, creating a new and different character dynamic.

On the topic of Ogiue, I found it quite interesting that, aside from a small bit of pictorial exposition by Sue, Ogiue goes through the entire chapter without her signature paintbrush style. Even the one-shot had Ogiue tie her hair up, something that was established in previous material as a habit of hers when drawing. Though I’m sure it’ll return in at least one future chapter, it still feels like a break of sorts with the previous series. In terms of her character, it’s interesting seeing Ogiue as Genshiken chairman. After all, back when the original series ended it was one of my greatest wishes to see the continued appearance of Ogiue as head, and in this situation I find myself to be quite fortunate.

Ogiue isn’t a natural leader. In fact, none of the previous chairmen were, with the possible exception of the mysterious First Chairman. However, all of them were able to develop their own natural strengths into leader-like qualities, whether it was Madarame’s strong self-image as an otaku, Sasahara’s subtle confidence and understanding, or Ohno’s gentle guidance, and Ogiue looks to be doing the same. Though not always consistent, Ogiue can have quite a forceful personality, especially when she puts her foot down about something, and I think that this aspect of her personality, combined with the fact that those new members are all freshmen, will result in her being more and more comfortable with her position of authority as time passes.

So that’s the start Genshiken II, and I look forward to more. Of course.

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23 thoughts on “The Not-So-Gentle Path: Genshiken II, Chapter 57

  1. Awesome post; great analysis. I’d love to see you comment on more images in the future, if embedding more isn’t against your style, especially if you do go the “chapter review” route. Looking forward to more!

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  2. I was so happy that there’s a new chapter of Genshiken that I barely slept last night and was feeling tired this whole day.

    And it was totally worth it.

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  3. Just how much Japanese does Sue know and understand? I found it funny that the solution to the problem of this chapter was finally solved by her, but the solution itself is funny.

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  4. One of the pleasures of Genshiken for me to see the characters occasionally imitate one another. In this chapter Sue goes all Madarame, literally taking his place at the end, but also calling the meeting topics and flashing a serpent fang.

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  5. I also like how the club members haven’t yet agreed on whether to say Hato-kun or Hato-chan, though I think maybe Hato-chan prevails at the end. The panel at the bottom of page 19 works nicely, with Hato dashing past a male and a female figure.

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  6. I read the chapter and loved it.

    Also, I’ll be publishing a post on The False Songstress in a few hours, the first Macross title that’s “current” since I started We Remember Love.

    /highfive

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  7. I think it’s safe to say that I was really, really happy when Madarame popped up right into the first chapter. Even though we can pretty much dismiss him as an alumni of the club, it’s quite comforting to see the most otaku member of the club to be still in action.

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  8. I for one would really enjoy hearing your oppinion on each new chapter that comes out. your blog almost feels like a part of the genshiken experience to me.

    I can’t wait for the next chapter to come out.

    one thing I’m really worried about is the manga revolution thats been going on recently, one of my other all time favourite manga (battle angel alita) already got cancelled because of this whole crap with publishing companies fiercely restricting their mangaka, and just plainly taking advantage of them. I really hope genshiken doesn’t get caught up in this whole fiasco.

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  9. Chapter blogging with Genshiken is entirely possible given that Genshiken has a great amount of content per chapter, not surprising given its monthly nature. I do think on one hand that one of the strengths of Genshiken is its gradual and subtle slash not-so-subtle character growth over the volumes. But I have two hands.

    One thing considerably different is that rather than old-school references to shows way past, Genshiken II opts for more modern references (Bakemonogatari, Occult Academy, or hell, even Genshiken). Although it’s still a bit early to tell for sure and it’s not like this chapter was reference heavy.

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  10. wow, the fact that there is new genshiken just completely went by me! I’m so happy that there is more to the story. I just discovered on line the extra chapter that was published with the DVD set.

    It will be interesting to be able to blog on the new series in a chapter format. I skimmed through your write up but will come back to it once i’ve had the chance to really read Genshiken II. I’m sure that we’ll see how much more mature Ogiue and Sashahara’s relationship is along the way as well.

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  13. I just finished this chapter. As I mentioned in my review of chapter 56, coming back to Genshiken after all this time is like coming home again after being away for so long. Sure, there are things you remember and recognize but there are changes as well such as the new store on the corner or your old home being painted a different color. At the end of the day, the place was still home but just a bit different.

    So yeah, I agree with your statement that Genshiken feels different because it is different and yet at the same time, it is still the Genshiken we loved at its heart. ^_^

    BTW, I like the idea that Hato might be based on Hata, at least in name. After all, Hayate the Combat Butler has Hayate cross-dressing from time to time. ^_^

    I may be missing something but does Sue’s hat mean anything?

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