Genshiken II, Chapter 86 looks to possibly be a turning point. We’ve had quite a few of those already though. Also, next month there might be more news about the upcoming anime! It’ll be a long 30 days or so.
Sue visits Hato’s place, using Janglish to ask if he likes Madarame. Hato denies, but is clearly hiding something. After a tussle pitting Hato’s judo training against Sue’s freestyle which ends in a win by submission for the American, Sue discovers Hato’s secret Mada x Hato (in drag) drawings. Hato, who is increasingly confused about his feelings for Madarame (he feels that at this rate he might actually start liking Madarame), decides to just stop crossdressing and go back to being “a normal otaku.” This clearly makes Yajima uncomfortable despite her previous objections to Hato’s crossdressing.
With this chapter, I think I finally understand one of the big overarcing themes of Genshiken II. Yes, there’s the generation gap and the otaku/fujoshi distinction, but even more fundamental to the manga is a concept I’d describe as “the complexities of personal perceptions.”
The foremost example is Hato. He is getting to the point where he likely feels something for Madarame. I want to point out, however, the fact that Hato had no problems showing his “Hato x Mada” art to Sue, declaring that it was just the realm of fiction, but for some reason he also felt it necessary to keep his “Mada x Hato” hidden. I think the distinction between the two pairings is extremely important because it indicates a denial of clear-cut narratives about sexuality in describing otaku.
“What’s fiction is fiction, and what’s real is real” is a clear and concise argument. So is “what you’re attracted to in fiction can influence your real life preferences (and vice versa).” The former argument is used by Hato, while the latter was suggested by Kaminaga. With Hato and his feeling towards Madarame, however, it might actually be the case that his yaoi delusions are separate from his real feelings, but he began developing feelings for Madarame anyway due to their growing friendship, and that this manifests as Hato x Mada vs. Mada x Hato. I wonder if this is the case just because Mada x Hato for some reason apparently has to involve Hato crossdressing, as if to say the idea does not “make sense” to him otherwise.
In anime and manga about (or including) fujoshi, often there is significant time spent explaining how important the orders of pairings are important. “It’s like saying ‘curry on rice.’ No one says ‘rice on curry!’ says a character from the 4-koma series Doroko. This is generally played for laughs while trying to introduce to the reader the “mysterious” mind of the fujoshi, to allow the reader to say, “Oh fujoshi, you’re so lovably wacky.” I think that with Genshiken, Kio is trying to discuss that mindset a little more seriously.
I predict Ogiue is going to start playing a bigger role in this, just because Hato looks like he’s trying to run away from his current situation at all costs. Ogiue is more than familiar with this situation, is aware of how much trying to deny oneself can generate a festering wound of self-loathing, and just how complicated the real/fiction distinction can get. I think, or perhaps I simply hope, that Ogiue will manage to be Hato’s mentor, like how Ohno was there for her. Also, Hato says he’s “going back” to being a normal otaku, but was he ever a normal otaku? He discovered yaoi in junior high, so it’s been with him for a long time, which makes me think that Hato is trying to simply act like how a “normal otaku” is supposed to without truly direct experience, somewhat like how Ogiue sometimes tried to approximate a “non-otaku.”
If the Hato example is a little too crazy, I think Yajima in this chapter also provides an interesting case of personal perception. Clearly the reason why Yajima blushes at the end is because she still associates male Hato with the time she accidentally saw him naked, in addition to just the fact that he’s a guy. She doesn’t react this way so much to Hato in her female guise, which means that the wig and dress is enough to “trick” Yajima psychologically so that the first thing she thinks about is Hato’s clean-shaven personal area. What Yajima thinks of Hato is of course its own puzzle having at its origin her own self-image and her lack of experience interacting with men.
I don’t know if Sue counts towards this as well, but I do find it interesting that Sue’s embarrassment over kissing Madarame has nothing to do with him and everything to do with the fact that Kasukabe saw her doing it. On some level, I feel like I can really understand that distinction. Somewhat like that famous scene in His and Her Circumstances when Miyazawa accidentally runs into Arima while out of her “perfect student” guise,” there are people you feel like you can be a fool around and people you don’t. I also continue to think that it’s kind of brave of Kio to give Sue a larger role, as semi-fluent foreigner is not the easiest thing to pull off without reverting to very basic stereotypes. Sue is many things, but “basic” isn’t one of them.
By the way, there’s something I find really impressive about Sue and Hato’s fight scene, particularly the panel where Hato drags her and sweeps the leg. It captures that one moment so incredibly well, while allowing it to transition into the next set of panels. It actually makes me want to see Kio draw an action series.
To end, I want to ask a simple question: Sue x Hato, what are your thoughts? If this were a more popular series, I’m sure that neck-licking thing would have people talking.
Sue x Hato, that’s an interesting idea. Also regarding Hato, do you think that given that most of things he has done is linked to Madarame, is that making him a satelite character or a more developed character? Thanks for the analysis. I gain so much more from these as they introduce me to pairings that I never thought of, Mada x Keiko, and other more in depth ideas. 87 will be very interesting, that much I can already tell from this chapter.
As a former judo competitor I just want to say that the move that Sue did against that foot sweep does not work. I’ve learned that the hard way…
I really liked this chapter and Sue x Hato certainly has its appeal
and of course trying to suppress a long continued behavior may
distort or more likely since this is a comic, confuse Hato for some
time. “What will it do to his art?” perhaps is the most interesting
Sue x Hato? Considering that Yajima had more interactions than Sue, Yajima x Hato would be more likely to happen, I think.
Sue X Hato = Usotsuki Lily V2. Could be funny, but might be too light for Genshiken.
I don’t know why, but I don’t think they mix well. But that’s probably because I wanted to see Madarame with Sue.
IRL? I couldn’t see it happening. But I do appreciate Sue literally gaining definition – she’s being drawn more realistically, more often, and we’re getting some depth to her character.
I’d like to see more of Sue’s character explored, not sure if I want Hato as her love interest though, not sure I want anyone to be her love interest :P
I was recently bought the English volume 2 of the manga and saw that scene again where Yabusaki and Sue are working together at comicmarket and later hanging out(?), I’d love too see more of that in the future! I think they play off each other very well and I’ve always liked Yabu despite there not being to much to know about her.
And since someone already mentioned Madarame, I was firmly for Madarame x Keiko for a while since I think she’s hilarious and I LOVE her and because it might be interesting if it turned out Madarame only ever falls for non-otaku girls but now I’ve leaned over to Madarame x Angela , though she acts inappropriately at times and is wacky I feel like there is a lot more yet to be explored when it comes to her (kinda like Yabu <3) and I feel like she really has eyes for him – that and since she's involved with sports and is very out going and un-shy I think the two of them could learn a lot by talking with each other being such opposites.
I can totally see a scene where there are just Madarame, Angela and Ohno (or Sue) in a room where the two characters get too have a long uninterrupted – yet translated – conversation about their interest and feelings =/////=
That was all, like your blog, bye.
In my humble opinion, Sue’s licking Hato’s neck means nothing to her. Just like when she kissed Mada. If Saki was watching and caught her licking Hato, now THAT would have been different (oh the embarrassment!), but, since they were the only ones there, the whole thing means nothing to Sue.
And Yajima and Hato don’t go well together. Yajima might have a crush on him, but Hato feels nothing for her. Sorry to those who like that pairing, but Yajima is not Hato’s type at all. (And he has enough romantic trouble already with his relationships with other people, too!)
Just a random thought, but about the Mangaka’s cryptic comment at the end: If Risa (?) should up in boy-dress and fixates on Hato-kun, then he will have no peace, still “appear’ gay, while he begins to lust for Sue, while Sue begins to lust for Mada .. would = profit!
Hato…why….you need to be honest with yourself… I’m sure Madarame will understand…
I’m not actually fond of yaoi, but I’m a big fan of trap characters. And think this internal struggle that Hato is having is a great plot point. It poses a question about how well do we really understand our own sexuality. This question, I think is even more relevant in our modern society, with the advances of globalization, pushing the acceptance of many aspects we used to consider taboo in our society.
I’m curious about how Kio will resolve this plot, though I’m will always be rooting for Mada x Hato…
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Sue x Saki.
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