Dreams, Resolution: Genshiken II, Chapter 80

Chapter 80 of Genshiken II is a big deal, so much so that I have to ask if you want to read further.


Very well then.

In this chapter, Madarame finally confesses to Saki, and is rejected. Life moves on.

There are some other details, like how Kohsaka sets Ohno and Ogiue’s fujoshi hearts aflame with a simple comment, but I think that’s a pretty accurate way of summarizing it. Like so many before it though, the meat is in the details, the hows and whys of that confession, its aftermath, and everything that has led up to it. Chapter 80 is probably the most reflective Genshiken chapter to date, going through the history of how Madarame fell in love with Kasukabe, and as someone whose reviews are very much about reflecting on past events in Genshiken, it gives me a lot to consider, particularly in how this, the longest plot thread in Genshiken, has finally come to a close.

I’ll be honest, the whole Mada x Saki thing has never been a terribly big deal for me. I’m certainly no shipper of the pair, and my concerns in the first story ended up being primarily elsewhere (see title of this blog), so the impact of this confession and its outcome is less of a catharsis (or painful conclusion) for me than I suspect many of the people invested in the pairing. That said, I’m still moved by this chapter because it has a lot of what has made Genshiken great all along, the natural dialogue, the tremendous but charming awkwardness, the ability to address concerns near and dear to nerds everywhere, but it has also improved through the changes the characters have undergone themselves and a more deft and gentler approach to the whole thing. Much like the difference between Madarame trying to point out the nosehair and Madarame making moves towards a confession (of sorts), the story has matured as well.

Seeing the brief history of Madarame’s love, from the nose-hair incident through the Ritsuko cosplay and on through today, it makes me realize just how long Madarame has held that flame. While I’ve seen longer unrequited loves before, both in fiction and in reality, four years is still a lot. And yet, if Madarame had continued to withhold his feelings, four years would have been a drop in the bucket compared to 10 years, let alone maybe 20 or 30. That’s the kind of pressure Madarame has faced as a character, and while it’s not the same turmoil that Ogiue or Hato have experienced, it is in certain ways just as powerful, possibly moreso for those of us who can relate to him.

In the flashbacks are the younger Madarame, with young Madarame hair, and I find that, even if he has for the most part remain unchanged in terms of overall physique (or lack thereof), the combed hair of the current Madarame stands out all the more. It’s been like this for quite a while, ever since Madarame graduated in fact, but I think that the mere effort affording combing his own hair says a lot, if only because his old hairstyle, while certainly dorkish, I imagine wouldn’t be that out of the question for a salaryman. And yet, here we have effort on the part of Madarame to look better, or perhaps even more adult.

This, I think, is what Saki in previous chapters had been reacting to, not so much the hair itself but the way that Madarame just gives off a decidedly different vibe compared to his former self. Seeing how Madarame turned out all right and also considering the way their friendship has grown, I think Saki is supposed to be regarded with full honesty when she says that a relationship with him might have been a possible future had Kohsaka never been there. It’s not a platitude for a wounded heart, nor is it even just a sly reference to Spotted Flower, but a sign of actual respect between real friends: an honest answer to an honest question.

That said, the notion that you could’ve been with the girl of your dreams had circumstances been different or if you had done something sooner stings. I’ve not experienced such a thing myself, but I don’t think you need firsthand knowledge to understand how that could be a source of mind-numbing pain, which we can see encapsulated in the one panel, with a silent Madarame, face flushed, just shaking. What if he had done something sooner, when their relationship wasn’t quite as strong? Would he have been able to overcome their childhood friendship or his perception of what a childhood friendship means? And when you think about it, wasn’t it Madarame who first prompted Kohsaka to confess to Saki and kiss her on the spot? What could have been! What could have been.

But considering those situations in a vacuum makes them seem more ideal than they actually are. After all, if Kohsaka had never started dating Saki, would she have even stuck around Genshiken? Would Madarame have even had the opportunity to fall in love with her? Even putting that aside, would the younger Madarame even had the fortitude to actually confess, to overcome that fear that you might lose everything good you have already, or did it take all this growing up to even get him near that capacity? Given that his confession still wasn’t entirely direct (“You had a nose-hair sticking out!”), I’d argue that time was a vital component to some extent.

Another aspect of Kasukabe’s honesty would be her tears. The way she explains it, she suspected Madarame to be into her well before Madarame even thought so (to be precise, at the cat-ears incident), and she regrets her decision to not address it sooner despite being aware of the possibility specifically because it’s caused him so much anguish. It’s a cold move, and her tears reflect just how much she considers him to be her friend.

It also might make a re-reading of Genshiken different, knowing that this was kind of on Kasukabe’s mind through all the aches and pains of burgeoning adulthood. I haven’t done so myself, but I’m sure it’d be a fun and interesting activity.

To end this review, I’d like to talk about a comment I received last month about the previous chapter. In it, the commenter expressed confusion as to why everyone seems to be encouraging Madarame to confess his feelings when everyone, from Madarame himself to Kohsaka the boyfriend to all of their friends, also realizes that it’s a foregone conclusion. One interpretation he came up with is that it would be a cruel prank on a poor guy who has nobly sacrificed his emotions for the sake of the greater good, which I had to respond to in order to explain that the confession and expected rejection aren’t part of some nasty prank or a way of ruining a friendship, but rather as a way of releasing a man from his inner burden, and to show how much stronger real friendship can be. With this chapter, we get to see that come to fruition. It’s a new stage for Madarame, or as the chapter title states, it’s a good “final episode” (don’t misinterpret that as saying that this is actually the final chapte, though). When it comes to Madarame and Genshiken, life is dramatic, but it’s also many other things too.

As the next chapter preview reference implies with its Smile Precure! nod, it’s a time for happiness. Ultra happiness (or not).

18 thoughts on “Dreams, Resolution: Genshiken II, Chapter 80

  1. The thought of receiving pleasure is usually a greater pleasure than actually gaining it. Conversely, the thought of pain is sometimes more painful than actual pain itself, so I’m glad the two were able to work it out. I suspect they’ll actually start being more open towards each other and interacting much more, which I think is a good thing.

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  2. >“I’ll be honest, the whole Mada x Saki thing has never been a terribly big deal for me. I’m certainly no shipper of the pair[…]”
    Well, it’s tough to get behind a pairing that, honestly, never really had a chance, at least not in a fairly realistic comic like Genshiken. Even aside from some of the difficulties and hypotheticals you mention, she’s out of his league, as he was probably too well-aware.

    That said, I’ve always rooted for Madarame, since I can closely relate to him in this plot thread. Just being able to finally move on and get some closure allows a lot of catharsis, and I’m looking forward to seeing where Madarame goes from here.

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  3. A bashful Saki is a cute Saki – she has moe, Kousaka’s opinion be damned. And is it just me, or does that dress emphasize certain features? Also, I see Kio wanted to redraw Saki in the KujiUn cosplay again… and the confession gave him a perfect opportunity to do this.

    Still, it’s a good thing he finally got it over with – it’s been too long, and it’s been tying Madarame down for some years.

    Also, Kousaka’s a bastard for teasing the fujioshi like that.

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  4. Finally, the years long, heart-wrenching plot (for me anyway) has finally ended.
    I couldn’t have ask for better resolution than this. ‘Cause again Genshiken is a very realistic, dare I say even ‘slice of life’ manga. Madarame is perfect example how a very awkward modern man struggle to find his place in a ‘normal’ society. He has made some improvement in his life, but in the end, he can’t always get what he wanted.

    So, MadaxHato anybody? *evillaugh*

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  5. As expected, this is a painful chapter for Mada X Saki shippers, but except for a handful of wishful-thinkers, most of us already saw this coming. The existence of Spotted Flower is a given hint. Anyway as painful as it is, I am also relieved that Madarame can finally move on with and maybe focus on other things and set his priorities right.

    In line with this, I prefer if Madarame doesn’t end up with anyone within the Genshiken circle (no, not Sasahara’s sister either). Let him take his own path and vanish for a while, then come back to Genshiken during special occasions such as this festival and bring a normal girlfriend with him. The girl doesn’t necessarily have to be as stunning and good-looking as Saki, maybe someone similar to Yoshitake will do. Doing this will also develop the storyline of the new generation of Genshiken members. I mean really, Yajima and Yoshitake were basically no show the past few chapters, and the only reason why Hato is making appearances is because he is involved/dragged into Madarame’s situation.

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    • It is funny how neither Madarame nor Saki could address the situation in fear of hurting people. It is kinda bittersweet seein that they share such a trait.

      To think that Sasahara’s sister would bring the resolution of this plot…

      Madarame has just gained many levels of character development.

      Great conclusion. And, hey, when I get sad over this I can always go to Spotted Flower as the alternate path (like Fate Stay Night).

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  6. ha I was hoping for Mada x Saki up until the end I suppose. even up until the end of the chapter I was hoping for her to just walk up and kiss him. Ah well, I wonder if Hato knows how HE feels about Mada… if Kio wants to go that way I’d be alright with it.

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  7. One thing I always liked about the original Genshiken was that Madarame’s crush never got resolved. It made it feel more real that way. That said, I do like how he handled this.

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  8. What could have been! What could have been.

    Exactly.

    I wasn’t too invested into that relationship myself, but it was always an engaging part of the story. And I also enjoyed the strength of the relationship enough that both of them could shed tears in front of each other.

    For someone who also wasn’t apparently that invested in that relationship, I like your take on it. :3

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  9. Right at the end there, with Mada’s remark that she cries really easily, I thought for the first time, “It could have worked.” Genshiken be damned, they would have been good for each other if they’d had that awareness at the start.

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  10. Thank goodness, the dreaded confession didn’t happen.

    I liked the way the question of Madarame’s crush on Saki was left unresolved in Genshiken 1. In fact, I was totally on Sue’s side when she told him there was “another way of solving the problem and moving on” without confessions or rejections — that is, falling for somebody else and finding new love. (That’s one of the most insightful things Sue ever said in this manga!!) So, yeah, I was devastated at the idea Madarame would go and tell his friend’s girlfriend: “I like you, go out with me!” It felt shameful, like a betrayal, never mind whether Kohsaka was understanding of the whole thing or not.

    Thank goodness, the author handled it right. Madarame never said the dreaded words. When he was about to do it, something inside him stopped him and an entirely different statement came out. And it was OK, because Saki was able to read between lines, and got the meaning; and thus Madarame actually conveyed his feelings for her (and received an answer) without really putting said feelings into words. Whew! Well done!

    Oh, BTW, one more thing I’d like to mention: the part where Saki tells Madarame that a romantic development between then could have been possible (if she weren’t in love with Kohsaka) is extremely important for Madarame, but… I believe it’s not quite in the way you seem to think. Madarame is shaken, yes, but, IMO, it’s not a matter of “Oh noes, if only I had done things differently! OH THE REGRETS!” The way I see it, there’s no sting of regret in Madarame’s feelings; he always knew that it wasn’t meant to happen, “Kohsaka iru kara” as Saki says, he knew there was nothing he could do to change that. I believe Madarame is shaken because, for a long time, Saki has been a mirror that reflects reality to him. You see, there’s the little world of the otaku, and then there’s the real world; and Saki has always been an avatar of the real world (and of the “real girls” out there) among the otaku. For a long time, Madarame’s got used to see his real value as a real man in the real world when looking at his reflection in Saki’s eyes. So, hearing from Saki’s mouth that he is good enough a real man that Saki might have fallen in love with him (were she not already with someone else) is a mind-blowing revelation for Madarame. That “arigatou” he utters comes from very deep inside. I do believe we will find, in future chapters, that he will have A LOT more confidence in himself from now on.

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    • Good call on the Kousaka point! However, Mada-chump ain’t out of the woods yet. He could still take it the wrong way. Lets see if Saki presses the lesson home next chapter.

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  11. Although it does look like this is the end, I still have a sliver of hope. Either way, Saki+Kousaka is a black box that wasn’t meant to be understood. I just finished a full reading of the original Genshiken manga and the conclusion I get is: there was a lot left unsaid about their relationship, enough to ask why the hell they are still together when most normal girls would have dumped Kousaka.I take it as a tragedy, about missed opportunities for *both* of them. Saki is too stubborn to realize her sensitive side and let things flow–she is so determined to make it with Kousaka all the time she is closed to other possibilities. She has trapped herself.

    Anyways, I don’t consider this a proper confession–do you go to a job interview to make it easy for the interviewer to turn you down? Even if it’s not to Saki, Madarame needs to man up and make a *true* confession: “I need you and I can’t live without you. I will be there to take care of you and even if you turn me down, I’ll accept it but I’ll still have the same feelings and I don’t regret it.”

    “You had a nose hair” does not cut it as a true confession!

    Batter up for Confession Part III one more swing at bat. I insist!

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  12. Pingback: Genshiken Second Season Episode 11 | OGIUE MANIAX

  13. I’ve just read book 4 of the second series and finally allowed myself to watch episodes 10-11 on Crunchyroll. This is the comment I wrote on Crunchyroll:
    I have been Madarame. Shimoku Kio’s almost unnatural understanding of fragile emotions transcends culture revealing how we are all human. Our yearnings transformed and shown to us through these characters. It’s uncanny and devastating.

    I have read it since the beginning and it’s been an outstanding journey to me.

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  14. The official English translation has a note saying that “good finale” is a joking term among Japanese otaku to describe a deep or powerful scene which is not actually the end of a series / episode XD

    Now, I wonder if Kousaka’s “bi”-ness will go anywhere? Well, you already know, as you can read Japanese. I have to wait, so will go back to avoiding the blog until the next book XD

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