Chapter 67 of Genshiken II hits short and sweet, but that’s also what makes it fun.
Things are mighty awkward in Genshiken ever since Hato loudly proclaimed his BL fantasies at Comic Festival. Madarame and even Kuchiki are avoiding him. Discussing what to do, Sue points out that the loss of Madarame is the loss of Hato’s only male friend, and that there is only one solution: have Ogiue show Hato (and the other freshmen) her old Sasahara x Madarame doujinshi, so that Hato can know that his opinion, at least in the club itself, is not so unusual.
As the three freshmen are shocked by the combination of outright eroticism in Ogiue’s doujinshi and how she has depicted her own boyfriend manhandling Madarame, Hato takes “acceptance” one step further, now inspired by Ogiue’s drawings to make his own Madarame doujinshi. Just as Hato makes clear his intentions though, Madarame walks into the clubroom.
To break the awkwardness once and for all, Yajima steps up and tells Madarame that every first-year member of Genshiken saw him as an uke from their very first meeting, and that he should just treat it as the unreasonable delusions of a bunch of “rotten-minded” individuals. Kuchiki, always one to restore awkwardness to new heights however, barges in and tries to pull an anime convention move. Trying to force a kiss onto Madarame in order to please Hato, Kuchiki is neutralized by a swift palm strike from Sue and a legitimate sleeper hold from Hato’s judo skills (where according to Wikipedia it’s called a “Naked Strangle”). For the near future, Madarame is not visiting the club.
This chapter of Genshiken II initially feels a little light on content, but the more I think about it, the more I find that there is plenty of “meat” to go around, particularly in the character interactions and the bridging of gaps that occurs within them. Yajima, who has had the hardest time with Hato out of everyone, goes out of her way to make Hato feel more comfortable within the club. Though Yajima still can’t get too close to him because of the fact that Hato is indeed a man, it does feel like they have something you can call a friendship now. Then there’s Ogiue showing her doujinshi to the freshmen, which is not only the first instance of Ogiue willingly displaying it to others since Sasahara (though Sue found it on her own), but something that makes you realize the history gap between the old Genshiken and the new. To Yajima, Yoshitake, and Hato, all of this information is entirely new and exciting, in every sense of the word.
Ogiue displaying her Sasa x Mada work in front of everyone says a lot about how Genshiken, and perhaps anime fan culture has changed, at least in terms of how otaku “should” behave. We’re reminded early in the chapter that Ogiue suffered immensely for being a fujoshi, that her shame and guilt brought her to the point of an attempted suicide which Ogiue herself refers to as a “Perfect Bad End.” Even with Sasahara, she went through a lot to bring herself to show it to him. With the new members though, their reaction is only one of mild surprise, more astounded by the quality of the work itself than the fact that it actually exists. Yoshitake even wonders if Ogiue would be willing to make copies. After all, one of the first things the three first-years did as a group was think up pairings for all of Genshiken guys at a club party. Times have changed, and what was once the ultimate dark secret has become just another “thing.” As if to emphasize this contrast, Ogiue wears a flannel shirt straight out of 1980s otaku subculture during the whole presentation that makes even Yajima look more fashionable.
What’s also similarly interesting is how “Madarame as uke” became the prevailing opinion among everyone. After all, one of the first things Ohno said back when she was introduced to Ogiue’s private doujinshi was that the pairing should probably have Madarame as the aggressor and Sasahara on the receiving end. Given how they presented themselves to the world up to that point–Madarame exuded a forceful persona of “proud otaku” and Sasahara was a quiet guy who went along with the flow–it seemed to be the more “sensible” pairing, but apparently Ogiue was able to see it on a deeper level, though it might just be that Ogiue came in around the time that Madarame and Sasahara began to change, Madarame from unrequited love and Sasahara from growing a spine. Just as Ogiue’s initial impression of everyone in the club was different from that of Sasahara’s, so too have Yajima, Yoshitake, and Hato formed opinions through their own limited experience. Granted, the freshmen are also kind of a different breed of otaku, so there’s no telling what would have happened had they met Madarame a few years ago instead.
Meanwhile through all of this, Yoshitake shows what it’s like to be an anime nerd seemingly free of worry in regards to the opinions of others, all while actually being socially aware, unlike Kuchiki. If ever there was a character to show how the right kind of confidence and passion can counter any inherent awkwardness from a given topic, that would be Ed Chavez, but in his absence Yoshitake Rika is the next best thing. Reading this chapter, I found myself asking, so when does Yoshitake get her time in the spotlight, and as if to answer me directly, the preview blurb mentions that she is getting center stage next chapter.
I’m excited, how about you?