Mysterious Madarame X: Genshiken II, Chapter 59

This month’s Genshiken II focuses on club alumnus Madarame. If you’re the kind of person who likes to pair anime characters up, then this chapter has a lot for you to chew on. Romance! Sort of.

Madarame has always been a fan-favorite, due in part to the fact that he seems the “Truest Nerd 4 Life” and thus the one closest to us. This is especially evident in his unrequited love for Kasukabe; sinking back into the recesses for fear of not ruining your friendship is the hallmark of the nerd with heartache, that “noble nerd” mindset with which many deceive themselves. I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely felt that before, even if it wasn’t directed at any girl in particular.  So when Sasahara’s sister Keiko confronts Madarame about his feelings towards Saki in the tactless way that only Keiko can (as opposed to the tactless way only Sue can), Madarame gets taken for a psychological ride and we’re taken along with them.

Keiko, who has herself shown affections for the other half of the Kohsaka-Kasukabe Combination, makes it very clear that not only is she well aware of Madarame’s crush on Kasukabe, but that just about everyone else is too, possibly even including Saki herself. Of course, this comes as a complete shock to Madarame, who failed to realize that in his concerted efforts to minimize his longing gazes at Saki actually made his feelings completely obvious. Though this has very much to do with the fact that Madarame is such a huge dork, believing you’re subtle when you’re really not is a problem many guys have, and I can really empathize with him. Madarame has a track record of doing this, too. I mean, let’s not forget the “nose hair” incident.

By the way, I’m unsure of how popular it is among English-speaking fandom, but I know there’s a decent amount of Japanese Genshiken fans who are way into Madarame x Keiko (or Keiko x Madarame). I wonder if Kio Shimoku is aware of that?

Madarame and Keiko’s conversation never quite resolves. Sue walks in at an (in-) opportune moment, suggesting that not only do Sasahara and Keiko have more in common than expected, but that perhaps Sue is actually a cosmic being who takes strength from the meta-fabric of Genshiken itself, particularly in channeling Ogiue references. I hope that Sue gets her own dedicated chapter at some point in this run. Shifting character focus from chapter to chapter seems to be the direction of Genshiken II, so I think there’s a fair chance of it happening. Maybe Angela will make a brief return.

In any case, despite Sue’s interruption, Keiko leaves Madarame with a profound message: the only reason he can continue to spin in place is because he’s never had his heart broken. And again, if we look at Genshiken history, right there on-panel in the beach chapter was Keiko confronting an old boyfriend. Whether that bad outcome was the result of “heartbreak” or not is unclear, as is whether Keiko has truly given up on Kohsaka, but the comparison between then and now shows the kind of maturity that Keiko’s developed since we first saw her trying to wrangle money from her brother, incomplete as that maturity may be.

So while the chapter was Madarame-centric, Keiko also got a lot of development, or at least we see that she’s developed some since her last appearance.

Book-ending the chapter is Madarame’s interactions with Hato, who has been using Madarame’s apartment to change in and out of his feminine clothing. The impossibly attractive Hato is messing up Madarame’s wiring a bit, and even he can’t tell whether his friendliness with Hato is more of the male companionship he clearly misses from his club days or if it’s something else entirely (or possibly both). Again, for you shippers out there, I’m sure this chapter pleases Caesar. Interestingly, Hato himself seems to be getting the most consistent amounts of page time. I wonder if it just has to do with the fact that he is the biggest mystery of Genshiken.

Ogiue meanwhile is poised to make her published manga debut, and I am continually fascinated by her relationship with Sasahara, notably in the way they butt heads due to their respective professions of artist and editor, and how it ultimately results in better work. Ogiue’s experience with Sashara-as-editor, which we’ve seen ever since the last volume of Genshiken, is itself likely influenced by Kio Shimoku’s own time at Kodansha’s Monthly Afternoon, and seems to confirm Peepo Choo artist Felipe Smith’s own account of creating manga for sister Kodansha publication Morning Two. I’m also curious as to whether or not Sue stays over at Ogiue’s place often and interferes with Sasahara and Ogiue’s alone time, as the chapter seems to imply.

But the real story is that Ogiue’s manga schedule is conflicting with her Comic Festival schedule, and that seems to be the focus for the next chapter.  As you might expect, I’m looking forward to it quite a bit.

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32 thoughts on “Mysterious Madarame X: Genshiken II, Chapter 59

  1. I took the moment Sue parallels more as a moment for some SuexKeiko shipping. Or KeikoxSue. Maybe some cute prospection? I certainly hope so!

    Quite an observation you made on how Keiko’s experience ties in with this moment. I feel my power level pales in comparison.

    At first I didn’t really think Genshiken warranted a sequel but if it keeps on going like this then I have nothing to say.

    On another note: your words invoke the uncanny desire to revisit Genshiken. Is that your passion burning through? I think I’ll pull Genshiken from my bookshelves tonight.

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  2. Probably because of Madarame’s thoughts about rooms, or because of the Hitchcockian camera angles in some of the panels, I was especially conscious of the club room as a presence in this chapter. The room seems to become more numinous the longer Genshiken goes on.

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  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this chapter and your take on it.

    perhaps Sue is actually a cosmic being who takes strength from the meta-fabric of Genshiken itself, particularly in channeling Ogiue references.

    I did get the reference immediately, but other references via Sue as device escape me now. Can you remind me?

    I think just as powerful a scene was Madarame making a pass at hato.

    He used alcohol as a come-on, something that would work (and something he would definitely think would work) on a non-otaku like Keiko and especially Saki.

    He then got turned down by reasoning all too familiar and true for him:

    hentai doujin >>>>> alcohol (and 3D romance)

    He wonders at what he just did, right then… and ever so light-heartedly but definitely ringing truly, the manga paints this portrait of loneliness. It’s quite sad to consider but how it almost escapes me when I read it is how I feel this manga is and has always been so strong.

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    • Back in Chapter 56 she gives the “My name is Ogiue and I hate otaku” speech, despite the fact that she was never around for it. Then in Chapter 57 you can see her explaining to the new members that Ogiue once jumped out of a window. Sure, she could have heard this from Ohno, but the level of accuracy in her references to Ogiue is a little uncanny.

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  4. I enjoyed both the “troubles” that Madarame faced in this chapter, as well as Ogiue’s plans. The smile you posted at the end is a rare moment indeed, and it’s always good to note how far Ogiue has come to be able to smile like that, as well as in her desire to get her work out to the masses.

    I would be perfectly find if it ends up being Madarame x Hato, but it would be hard not to have a tinge of “poor Madarame” if that tends to be true when you consider everything that’s currently led him up to this point.

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  5. Geez, this chapter is certain to launch a thousand ships over Madarame. I can definitely see the Hato hints, but if Madarame is to end up with someone who isn’t Saki, I’d actually to see SueXMada, which is given some hintage here as well. (Also there is a precedent given Madarame’s preference for loli characters in VNs.) Honestly, my least favorite ship would KeikoXMada, but then again it would be extremely Meta.

    This run is certainly building up to quite a lot of fun.

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  6. The human immune system is what’s known as an adaptive immune system: one that is keyed toward the recognition of specific germs such that it becomes stronger the more the same type of infectious agent is encountered. However, since pathogens are assholes like that, they continually evolve for the purposes of being able to continue infecting hosts. So it is that the cycle of “germs infect, body develops immunity” perpetuates. But though being sick is no fun at all, in the process a person’s overall immunological response improves. As Friedrich Nietzsche said before he blew up those people in the hospital ward using his brain: “n-n-now that which don’t kill me, can only make me stronger.” He learned the hard way that this does not, however, extend to syphilis.

    In other words, Keiko’s advice to Madarame is the rock opposite the hard place. “Heartbreak” is a condition much like chicken pox: you’re far better off contracting it from a not-fully developed source while still in your physiological developmental stages. To witness the destructive power of this armed and FULLY OPERATIONAL station of life for the first time after all the literal growing up stuff is over and done with could very likely kill you outright. The thing about “heartbreak” is that you can only be afflicted by it after first being infected by “love,” but the tricky bit is that not contracting “love” will ALSO kill you. Just not outright. (That’s “the hard place.”)

    Thus, Madarame is in fact almost forced to “spin in place.” His options are 1. permit himself to love someone, leaving him completely vulnerable to swift and nearly-certain death as a result of virtually-inevitable heartbreak due to having built up no immunity over the years, or 2. a more prolonged death by lovelessness. Substituting moe for love is something akin to a Hokuto master striking the vital point known as Shinreidai, but how old is Madarame again? About 28 or 29, by my estimate. 1, 2: you hear the clock tickin’? Tick tock: you about to stop livin’…

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    • I think what you’re referring to is a fear that pretty much every nerd has experience with, whether they’re able to overcome it or not. The thing with Madarame is that because his affections are for a girl who’s already dating someone and quite happy about it, it compounds all of the issues that you speak of. Madarame can’t even take a “nice guy” approach and assume Kohsaka to be a jerk or that Saki likes jerks; he knows Kohsaka too well, after all. But I think that even if Madarame confesses and Saki outright rejects him, Saki will know how to do it without crushing him completely. She’d probably be blunt, yes, but also give some good advice.

      I’ve heard guys talk about how the best way to build up immunity is to ask out girls who you know wouldn’t give you the time of day.

      That reminds me, I’ve actually never gotten the chicken pox. I should watch out.

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  7. I was wondering when you’d get to this one, especially Madarame both getting yelled at by Keiko AND for apparently making a move on Hato-chan. Although Keiko seemed angrier than she had to be with regards to Madarame’s obtuseness… a point which Kio Shimoku seems to be using to fan the flames of the shippers.

    Also glad to see you saw the parallel with the two Sasahara siblings and Madarame’s tie. ;) I’m just surprised you didn’t comment on how everyone’s prediction about Keiko became true (her job as cabaret girl suggesting she abandoned Ooka Business School) as well as Keiko’s comment about being the ‘sister in law’ of the previous Genshiken president.

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    • It didn’t quite occur to me that she dropped out of school. Perhaps in my optimism I figured she was doing both. Then again, it is Keiko.

      As for the “sister-in-law” thing, I don’t think Sasahara and Ogiue are actually married. That’s just the way Keiko likes to talk, referring to Ogiue as “Onee-chan.”

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      • Well, given that she had ‘such a good sleep’ the other day and had time to come in early (in the afternoon) without mentioning classes, I took the ‘she is so going to drop out’ thought that the others had back when she announced she’d gone into Ooka that she’d be dropping out after a while. I took the sister-in-law comment to suggest either Sasahara and Ogiue were either seriously considering marriage, were engaged, or had already tied the knot. At least he’s a constant fixture at her place, to judge by how we only see the two of them together now, and how he just showed up at Ogi’s place during the party in 56 without (apparently) having been invited (or warned) of the whole affair.

        Poor Hato-chan; first he nearly gets assaulted by Kuchi, now Madarame’s giving him a serious expression and something that could be interpreted as a pass. :D

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        • While I’m all for the continuation of Sasahara and Ogiue, they haven’t really been dating for all that long. By my estimation it hasn’t even been a year, and while people can and do get engaged and/or married in less time, something tells me that this isn’t the case here.

          I think they’re just close enough as boyfriend and girlfriend that they can visit each other’s places without having it require a secret handshake. After all, both of them live alone.

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          • I suspect that they’ve been together long enough that people see them as a semi-permanent couple, the way Saki and Kousaka have been since Madarame unintentionally made them a couple by telling Kousaka to kiss her already. And I thought it was more like two years at this point, given that Ohno’s already stated she would be there again to get extra credits… and that they’ve now had another generation of Genshiken recruits.

            Still fast, but not that short a timeframe.

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    • Honestly, I think that Keiko was perfectly justified in being as annoyed as she was. Madarame’s crush has been an open and very obvious secret for quite some time (at least among the girls of Genshiken, if not the guys) and Keiko did mention wanting to bring it all out into the open in the last page of chapter 55.

      When she finally did bring it up, though, Madarame pretty much acted like a kid (from Keiko’s point of view) because he was trying to hang onto his pride and save face even when it became obvious that Keiko knew. From her point of view, there was nothing to be embarrassed about, since Saki (or even Kousaka, for that matter) wasn’t even there to witness their talk, but to Madarame, the whole thing was very much something to be ashamed of–not just in terms of “I’m an otaku, I can’t admit I love a 3D woman” but more in terms of “I don’t want to admit that I’m such an otaku that I have no idea how to deal with this sort of thing.”

      I think that to Madarame, admitting that sort of weakness would be extremely undesirable, to the point that he’d rather deny it flat out unless he had no other choice. In a sense, I feel, he’s embarrassed of being an otaku. He really does feel that otaku (specifically, he himself) are different from “normal” people, and the very notion of him being in love with a normal girl is laughable, deserving of ridicule.

      Keiko doesn’t see things that way, and so to her Madarame’s inability to admit that he was head over heels in love with someone was incomprehensible. I think her frustration in that case was completely understandable.

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  8. Also, I see you focused on the cute Ogi moment. I approve, especially since Ohno’s very correct in stating we VERY rarely see her smile like that. No wonder Kanji got hooked.

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  9. When Sue said, “There’s a way to move ahead without getting a broken heart. Just fall in love with someone different” and then pulled out the yaoi doujinshi I nearly died of laughter. That is until he came home and tried to have a drink with Hato-chan.

    Hmm, maybe Sue knows Madarame better then he knows himself.

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  10. I was hoping to see Sue and Madarame together (I always disliked Keiko), but life and feelings aren’t logic. Now with Hato, Sue and Keiko near Madarame it’s almost an harem story.

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    • I think there is a fabulous idea here: a harem series where the girls are less than ideal by a huge margin, rather than each one being someone’s individual fantasy. Of course, Hato might fall into that category of individual fantasy too.

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      • To be fair, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that Sue would belong to Madarame. After all, Madarame is very clearly a bottom…

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    • Actually, you know what would be really great? A Genshiken VN with Madarame as the main character. There is really nothing that would be as suitable or as meta.

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  11. An harem with realistic characters would be really original, but I doubt it would made success.
    Sue belongs to the ideal she has of Ogiue, not to the real Ogiue.

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  12. On the topic of Keiko’s similarities to Kanji: If you look closely at Keiko, actually, you can see that behind the makeup and hairstyle she resembles her brother a lot–which I think is pretty damn awesome, considering that most manga sibs look either nothing alike or completely identical, with very little in-between.

    I think that Keiko gave up on Kousaka a long time ago, around the time of the beach bit if not sooner. If Saki had been a fujoshi or something Keiko might’ve thought she had a chance, but she’s not. Saki’s been described in-universe as having “model-like” looks, she’s fashionable, she’s outgoing, confident, and very happy in her relationship. Keiko’s also one of those “normal” people, so unlike an otaku, she would’ve realized early on that Saki wasn’t going to be easy to oust, and Kousaka wasn’t likely to break up with her, either. Mentally, at least in terms of romance, I think Keiko is far more mature than Madarame is and has been for some time.

    Then she went on to lose her temper and blow her top at Madarame because he’s such a huge dork, but that’s another matter entirely. She’s developed a lot from when she first appeared, calling her brother a monkey (she calls him Aniki now!), but I think that bit of immaturity still about her even now makes her a lot more realistic and appealing.

    I don’t think Sue’s appearance at the end was really a mood breaker in the negative sense, if for no other reason than because I don’t think she’s that ignorant/inconsiderate. Despite her antics there’s a line of annoyance that she doesn’t cross–the line that would separate Yoshitake from Kucchi, I guess. A bit hard for me to define in words, but I think it’s there. I admit that my justifications for this are mostly baseless, but I think that based on that scene from the initial run with Sue and Ogiue in the bath, she’s more perceptive than she seems. I’m inclined to think that it was meant to be just a humorous counterpart to Hato and Madarame’s scene.

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    • I’ve noticed that Keiko resembles Kanji too, and like you I always thought it was a really nice detail in the series. I also liked how Keiko’s initial use of “aniki” was essentially insincere, but that it just became normal after a while. Keiko’s failed attempt to get into Shiiou was also particularly nice.

      As for Sue, now this makes me imagine that Sue was actually waiting outside the door and listening in for a good 5-10 minutes before walking in. I wouldn’t be surprised.

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    • You have to remember that resemblance behind the makeup was pretty well stated by Saki when she was first introduced… and during the time when Keiko was crashing at Kanji’s to take the entrance examination for the college the rest of the Genshiken was at – she went without makeup for the last bit, so it’s not anything new. Well, except for her makeup being less ganguro-girl style now that she’s a working woman.

      Sue’s not an idiot – she just doesn’t always say what she thinks, and has cultivated a character of being the ‘weird foreign otaku’ by constantly using anime and manga references in her speech when around people who might understand her (versus just being uncommunicative). This is the same girl who noticed Ogi’s affections for Sasahara, found the hidden drawings, then played dumb about not knowing Japanese when she stayed over at Ogi-chin’s for the night. She’s probably as tired as everyone else of seeing the unemployed, or under-employed Madarame moping around the Genshiken, which is why she suggested what she did.

      And personally I loved the parallels between the scene which first got Ogi thinking about Sasahara at all (albeit in a uke/seme pairing) and Keiko strangling Madarame for different reasons.

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