Wig Party: Genshiken II, Chapter 60

In my last chapter review, I predicted an Ogiue-centric chapter while also pointing out how Hato hasn’t gotten a chapter focused on himself yet but rather seemed to get a bit of focus and characterization every chapter.  Contrary to my expectations however, this latest chapter, despite taking place mainly in Ogiue’s apartment, is actually centered around Hato. Specifically, it reveals the truth as to why he cross-dresses, peeling away some of the enigma that is Hato Kenjirou.

Ogiue has a professional manga debut coming up and in order to meet her deadline she’s recruited Yajima, Yoshitake, and Hato. Yajima, who we know likes to draw, finds herself paling in comparison to Hato not just in looks but also in artistic talent. It also turns out that Hato has been gaining a reputation outside of the club as a mysterious brown-haired knockout who only seems to show up in the afternoon, and given the potential trouble that would-be suitors of Hato could bring, Yajima has to ask Hato once more: why the dresses?

Hato explains that he had kept his fondness for yaoi a secret all through high school, because if and when he revealed his status as a fudanshi, the “rotten boy” opposite the “fujoshi,” he surely would’ve been was persecuted by his peers. So upon entering college, he began cross-dressing mainly so that he could enter a club much like Genshiken and finally be able to talk with people who share his interests.

“Persecution.” The word lingers in Yajima’s head, and it makes her feel absolutely terrible for confronting Hato. While she can’t relate to Hato in terms of choice of attire, as an otaku it’s very likely that she knows the pain of being ridiculed or tormented by one’s peers all too well. Yajima decides to not press the issue at first, but then realizes that Hato’s response was only half an answer. Everyone there now knows why Hato started to cross-dress, but given that everyone in Genshiken knows his secret and his okay with the fact that he’s a fudanshi, it’s no longer necessary. So why does Hato continue to cross-dress?

He enjoys it.

He knows he looks good in it, and it helps to fuel his own fantasies, not necessarily in the sense that the cross-dressing itself is the kink, but that donning women’s clothing can give him the right frame of mind. Through it, Hato can see the possibilities, including pairing himself with Madarame, which also puts the last scene of the previous chapter in a whole new light: were Hato’s signals real or imagined by Madarame?

One significant reveal for me in this chapter is the fact that Hato self-identifies as a man. In planning future entries for the Fujoshi Files, Hato presented a bit of a problem, namely, how much of gender is biological and how much of it is social? Gender studies is not my specialty, and even among the Genshiken characters, you could see that different characters take different approaches: Yajima talks of Hato as if he were a man, while Ohno mainly refers to Hato in the feminine. As you can see as well, I’ve mainly gone with male pronouns when referring to Hato, but I ultimately decided that it would be based on his own personal preference.

So Hato’s crossdressing isn’t entirely the product of a tormented gender identity conflict, but it’s important to avoid thinking that Hato’s crossdressing is somehow less legitimate or even wrong just because it’s a little self-indulgent. Hato has a perfectly good reason to crossdress, and the way in which Genshiken presents his situation, with both serious and more lighthearted aspects, does not and should not lessen either side. Nor should Hato and Genshiken in turn make gender portrayals that are focused more in one direction (such as Wandering Son) necessarily less poignant or entertaining.

We also learn a little bit more about another character whose life rarely gets explored, as we discover that Kuchiki is that guy in more ways than one. He’s not only the guy so lacking in social skills that they became actively antagonistic, but that he’s also able to coast by in life because of nepotism. I wonder what his parents think of him?

I think that Genshiken II has been getting better and better at establishing the New Class as characters in their own right, and I don’t really mind seeing the club veterans step aside so that they can take center stage. It takes a theme already present in the original manga, that of people entering the club and leaving when they graduate to make room for new blood, and realizes it in a much bigger way. It makes me wonder how they would fare if this was the first Genshiken series ever, and we only knew the previous characters somewhat in passing.

Next chapter looks to be again about Hato, but I’ve been deceived in the past, so I’ll hold off making any big predictions until then. Sue didn’t talk too much in this chapter, so I wonder if Kio’s saving her up for something big. The last thing I want to talk about though is Ogiue (of course), and the way that Kio Shimoku has been inserting some some nostalgic references to Ogiue past. Ogiue’s inner thoughts entertain the proposal of Hato x Mada in Ogiue’s native Tohoku dialect, and when Ohno tries to start a cosplay party at Ogiue’s place we’re greeted with a familiar sight. Perhaps we could call this “Ogiue Abridged?”

19 thoughts on “Wig Party: Genshiken II, Chapter 60

  1. Actually, Hato did admit his tendencies in high school to the fujoshi in his art club, and was teased for it. That’s why Yajima’s so flustered; she kinda tread on a faux pas there.

    Personally, I never stopped thinking of Hato as a guy, even though everything from his body language to his mannerisms scream female. That’s just the thing that’s at the center of his entire character, isn’t it? Even if it’s not quite the entirely serious thing I worried it might be, his crossdressing and general fudanshism does define him.

    As for the succession matter–that is, the new blood taking the spotlight over the original members–I welcome it with open arms. Much as I love Sasahara and the others, a lot of their stories have more or less “ended,” so to speak, though notably Madarame and to a lesser extent Ogiue still have trailing loose ends. Despite the grumbling of some fans, I do think that Nidaime would have been a lot worse if Hato and co had been shunted to the sidelines in favor of the older members.

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    • Admittedly my Japanese isn’t perfect, but I feel like if it turned out that he did reveal his Fudanshi side in high school then the panel following it makes less sense, unless he only revealed that fact towards the very end of his stay with the club.

      It’s like what you say definitely makes more sense, but then also doesn’t quite jive. In any case I’ll defer to your authority here (and it also seems to be the case based on Japanese blogger responses).

      So in conclusion, Japanese is hard!

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      • Actually I realize the better translation would have been to say that he was persecuted once he revealed himself, and then to say that he had hid it from the other members for a very long time, rather than “the whole time.”

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      • Well, about that panel. Hato says:

        “私の高校は漫研とか無くて実質 美術部がそうだったので私もそこにはいってまして/ まあBL好きなのはずーっと隠してたんですけど、 / やっぱり同じ趣味の人と話したいなーって思って部の腐女子の方々に・・・”

        “My high school didn’t have a manga club; the art club actually filled that role, and I entered that instead. / Well, I had been hiding the fact that I love BL all the while, but / I wanted so much to talk with people who shared my interests that I [struck up a conversation] with the club’s fujoshi…”

        Hato did trail off before saying outright that he TALKED to the fujoshi and so the verb is missing, but considering that immediately before that, he says that he thought to himself 「同じ趣味の人と話したいなー」 I think it’s pretty clear what happened, and that’s what led to him being teased.

        Hope that helps clear things up a bit.

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  2. Nothing much to add, but I enjoyed the chapter immensely and I agree with you that the new cast is coming along. The cameos by the original cast are done very well IMO; just the right kind and amount of fanservice — while Ohno and Madarame do the transitional heavy lifting.

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  3. This chapter was revealing both in how Hato self-identifies as a guy… as well as that he himself can imagine himself on Madarame. That, and he’s effectively the perfect Genshiken member – he’s pretty, smart, can draw (look at his sketch in Chapter 58)… and he’s a BL fan who crossed the gender line to be able to fit better among other BL fans, who are almost all fujioshi in the circles he’s moved in.

    Plus, it gives him a way to disassociate himself from his actions – when he slips into the persona of Hato the girl, he can stop thinking of himself as a guy who ends up in Madarame’s room to change… but as the mysterious student who could conceivably be the kohai who is the seme in the relationship. Part of the confusion on the part of the reader is due to the way he mentally steps back from the reality of Hato as a guy who’s interested in BL by slipping completely into the role of Hato the cute girl who waxes her legs once a week and then fits in perfectly with the Genshiken’s circle. And the cute girl who shows up in Madarame’s apartment.

    On the one hand, he self-identifies as a guy who crossdresses… but on the other hand, he sees himself as a distinctly different person once he changes to Hato-the-girl. This makes his conflict with Yajima more interesting, since she sees it as almost a way to mock her existence as a fujioshi and a girl.. since he one-ups her without even trying. Yoshitake sees it, along with Ohno, as a sign that he’s into cosplay or something kinky… rather than as a way to make a new identity for himself as something other than the fudanashi who had to hide his existence.

    Now poor Ohno – overshadowed by even Kuchi…

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  4. Also, page 20, bottom panel… so damned cute. I don’t think even Saki-chan got this much love from Kio Shimoku, even if his skills have improved as an artist. While Hato tries to make it sound like a non-issue (the persecution)… you can tell it did affect him, which explains why he’s gone to such an extreme to be a girl now, at least for his hobby.

    Also look at Chapter 57, when he runs into Yoshitake and Yajima, and can’t even bear to look up at them – he’s ASHAMED to be a fudanashi, and to be associated with fujioshi, at least as himself. That’s why he has to become Hato-the-girl; that separate identity is what lets him express his love for BL, without feeing that he has to hide anything, except for his gender.

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  5. The mangareader.net and mangastream.com translations really diverge in a couple of places. They disagree on who Ogiue is texting. And later Yajima either says, “Well, that Susie is always with sempai, they’re never apart. There’s something fishy about that,” or, “Well, Sue will never leaves senpai’s side, so nothing weird will happen.” Two entirely different implications, which makes me wish I knew the Japanese language better.

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    • Neither translation is perfect, but then neither was my reading as you can see from Spore’s comment. Generally speaking the Mangastream one is a little more accurate in areas of tricky Japanese but suffers from a seeming lack of familiarity with the series itself, (Calling both Ogiue and Yabusaki “he.”)

      Still, they give you a general sense of what’s going on, so I think that’s okay.

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  6. What Haesslich said on his second comment. I have to wonder if we’ll get a first hand look at how Hato held his secret as long as he did in the way that they divulge Ogiue’s problematic past. I mean, the fact that he has to dress up in order to feel comfortable in his own skin as a fudanshi is interesting.

    And his “outsider” viewpoint on his relations with Madarame instantly reminded me of Fujoshi Rumi. So hey. :P

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    • Given the above translation, this suggests he was rejected not by other guys for being unmanly…. but by the other GIRLS, for being a fudanashi. And I suspect, given his hesitation, they saw him as a poseur or a deliberately calculated attempt to mock their likes by having a guy ‘pretend’ to be like them, but have a penis.

      And women can be VERY vicious with their social assassination techniques. Look at how Ogi-chin tried to commit suicide due to girls from HER manga club backstabbing her with Makoto. That’s probably why Hato wants to be seen as a girl by the other girls in the Genshiken; he wasn’t persecuted for being gay or a male BL fan (although that wouldn’t have helped), but rather for being a ‘fake’ BL fan by the girl or girls who he talked to about their shared interests… and they saw him much as Yajima sees him here. But worse. And, unlike Yajima, they apparently hit back.

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      • I’m reminded of a time when I was eating at a restaurant and two businesswomen were having dinner together. Their conversation seemed friendly enough on the surface, but in reality they were constantly taking shots at each other in a rather vicious way.

        Speaking of Ogiue and her own traumas, I wonder how the old Ogiue would have handled the presence of Hato. I doubt it would have been pretty.

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        • I’m thinking the way Yajima reacted here… but more vicious. Think a cross between her introduction (“I especially hate FEMALE otaku”) and when she was trying to chase Sasahara off while they were alone together. But with more physical violence.

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