The latest Genshiken is big, but in a rather narrow way that requires some clarification. Nothing climactic really happens, and what it sets up for the following chapter(s) is quite significant, but more than that, Chapter 74 is the most Ogiue-heavy chapter we’ve had since the manga’s revival.
This month sees Ogiue personally working to help Hato overcome his wardrobe-based artistic barrier. After a suggestion from Sue (who interrupts some rather personal fun between Ogiue and Sasahara), Ogiue decides that the best thing to do is to literally sit next to Hato and watch him draw to see what exactly goes awry in the process. Though Yoshitake wishes to watch as well, Ogiue decides that this has to be a one-on-one affair, especially because Yoshitake wears her corrupted intentions on her sleeves.
After much deliberation, which includes narrowly avoiding bringing up Hato’s shocking (?) high school love story and Ogiue admitting how impressed/jealous she is of Hato’s skills, Ogiue determines that as a man, Hato confines himself mentally so that when he does draw as a woman, his desires all come out at once and lead to yaoi. Acting as both wise upperclassman and as club leader, Ogiue instills confidence in Hato’s drawing abilities—which he believed to be fake as a result of what seems to be copying the style of a fujoshi he once knew (again, “high school love story”)—by basically saying, if you can draw like this, then you can draw manga as well.
Hato passes the test, drawing a character in a panel without having it descend into outright homoeroticism, but when his old “friend” from the student government comes barging in with another council member, the (imagined) fiery passion between the two compels Hato to draw some BL of them on the spot, essentially undoing much of the progress he and Ogiue had just made.
The chapter closes out by revealing the fact that pretty much everyone from the old guard will be around to attend the school festival this year, and that this includes both Madarame and Kasukabe (with Kohsaka). It’s a recipe for danger, or just a whole lot of mumbling and awkward glances as a result of unrequited love.
Normally I try to come up with a post title which references both the chapter itself and something nerdy, which is also how the actual Genshiken chapter titles work, but even though I don’t expect to win, this time around I can acknowledge a complete loss. Chapter 74 is “Itten Toppa Ogin-Lagann.” I can’t top that. But let’s put that aside.
Even though I said that this chapter is chock full of Ogiue content, my summary can make it seem like it was really a Hato chapter. It wasn’t. Sure, he had his own development, but here, we really get to see Ogiue as a central focus in a manner similar to the second half of the original series. In addition to the Ogiue we’re familiar with, it even ends up showing a couple of sides to her that hadn’t been revealed previously, or to put it more accurately, have developed since.
The chapter actually begins with Sasahara and Ogiue in her room, where Sasahara is shown actually praising Ogiue’s manga draft for the school festival, something we almost never have the privilege of seeing because these “editor review sessions” seem to typically lead to a lot of tension. The room and especially the couch, however, hold significant meanings for the two, and we get to see Ogiue actually tease Sasahara in that restrained “you’ll have to meet me half-way because it’s kind of embarrassing and it’s kind of fun” fashion. Specifically, Ogiue asks Sasahara if it’s okay that she might be in a room alone with another guy (Hato), to which Sasahara replies that it’s fine. Ogiue, on the other hand, was trying to bring out the “strong seme” side of Sasahara which she has a thing for, and which Sasahara picks up on almost immediately after. It’s similar to when Sasahara and Ogiue were alone in the clubroom in the last chapter of the original Genshiken and Ogiue hinted that it would be a good time for a kiss, but here their increasingly red faces combined with their comparatively comfortable (though not entirely awkward) body language show that they both know what’s really going on, and that is a very comfortable familiarity. They want each other, and even though Sue ends up interrupting before anything actually goes down, it’s still a sweet and beautiful sight to behold.
On top of Spotted Flower, this whole sequence tells me that Kio Shimoku has gotten better at portraying romantic relationships. Keep in mind that I already thought he was quite talented at it, perhaps as a result of being so good at character interaction in the first place, but there’s the keen sense of how intimate moments in a relationship really happen, in those quiet lulls where both parties can sense mutual desire.
The meat of the chapter though is the drawing session with Hato, and Ogiue’s thoughts and character fill that scene as well. When Hato shows the inadvertent BL that he made out of Ogiue’s characters, she has an epiphany: “Is this what it would be like if my manga had doujinshi made from it?” Though I may be reading into it too much, I feel like, in that moment, Ogiue has just begun to cross that threshold between the amateur creator and the professional, that realization that perhaps somewhere out there is a fan who’s creating work inspired by her own. Of course, as an artistic fujoshi herself, Hato’s “fanart” creates some complex feelings as well, where she’s turned on by yaoi of characters she created herself, even if they weren’t made expressly for that purpose.
That look of satisfaction on Ogiue when her advice ends up working out has a lot behind it as well. It’s really powerful, not just because it’s coming from Ogiue the older, more experienced otaku and yaoi fan which we’ve seen already in previous chapters, but the way the advice clearly comes from Ogiue’s own experiences in overcoming her own psychological blocks pertaining to drawing and being a fujoshi. Ogiue had to wrestle extensively with her personal demons in order to begin moving past them, and the words of encouragement she offers Hato are ones from the heart, and from knowing that it’s not only important to accept oneself, but that it’s more than possible to do so. I think this is one of the reasons the chapter starts off with Sasahara in the first place. It acts as a reminder of what happened with Ogiue and how far she has come with his help, and how even though the trauma doesn’t seem as dire, that process continues.
With that, I’ll end by mentioning that we even get to learn the name of Ogiue’s manga: Getsu Gankyou. It means something like “Lunar Glasses” or alternately “Lunar Insight.” Chuuni-byou indeed.
Eh, let’s throw in one more Ogiue image for good measure.