Just Go For It: Genshiken II, Chapter 90

In this month’s Genshiken the guys and girls are separated on the line to Comic Festival, but in both cases the topic is the same: Madarame, and the women (and man) who might love him. There’s also some cosplay, as the girls dress up as the cast from Bodacious Space Pirates.

Yajima as Luca, Yoshitake as Coorie

The real-life Comic Market upon which Genshiken‘s Comic Festival is based is traditionally seen as a space existing in a dimension separate from the realm of romance and general extroverted interaction. It’s a distinction acknowledged even by Genshiken itself (Madarame’s famous exclamation that having a tan at ComiFes is “embarrassing), but it’s also a series where relations are fostered (Sasahara and Ogiue). Even though the series does have a tendency to place those conventionally incongruous elements together, the juxtaposition between people discussing potential love interests while waiting hours to buy doujinshi is nevertheless still quite strong.

The boys’ discussion revolves around the four whom Kasukabe believes have something for Madarame, namely Angela, Sue, Keiko, and Hato. Although Kasukabe is the definitely the most socially perceptive character in the series she’s also not perfect (she thought Madarame fell in love with her well before he actually did), so it isn’t necessarily presented as the gospel truth aside from the extremely obvious Angela. Given her strong observational skills, however, it’d still be fun to discuss each of them in detail, not to pick the “best” one but to do some semi-intense character analysis.

Before we get into it, though, I do want to say that it isn’t that unusual for Madarame to be  a target of affection, and I don’t mean that in a “deep down he’s a good guy” sort of way. Not only is Madarame kind and intelligent, but he’s made major strides of the years to improve his sociability. That, and some girls are into the scrawny nerd type.

Angela,dressed as Misa Grandwood, Ohno in the background as Chiaki Kurihara

If you’ll recall, Angela’s interest in Madarame is actually a retcon from the second TV series (Genshiken 2, not be confused with Genshiken Second Season even though it’s totally easy to do so). The aggressive Angela enjoys Madarame’s passive demeanor, and what’s especially important about her perspective is that she isn’t thinking of this in a very romantic sort of way. While she wouldn’t mind seeing him long-term, she’s also definitely okay with a down and dirty one night stand. One thing I find interesting about Angela is that in her you have the portrayal of a woman who’s using every asset at her disposal to (literally) charm the pants off a guy. Even putting aside the aggression, if you look again at Chapter 66, you’ll notice that at the end of the day Angela switches from the outfit she was wearing in the morning to one with a short skirt and exposed cleavage.

Angela’s original appearance in the manga involves her, a non-Japanese speaking foreigner with a perfect body being very social, a form of kryptonite to the poor otaku Madarame. Personally speaking, there’s something hilarious about a rigid guy being with a sexually charged bombshell in that it’s fun to watch the layers of restraint and fear either melt away or intensify. For Madarame it’s more the latter, a response I find to be realistic for a nerd, though the fact that the unrequited love for Kasukabe is now a done deal changes the game. Her attitude frequently makes me wonder about what life is like for her most of the year, especially because she’s such a fearsome individual, able to notice Madarame’s pining for Kasukabe after just one or two brief ComiFes visits.

Sue as Gruier Serenity

While I’ve seen some Angelas in the American anime fandom, I’ve seen many more Sues, and I still find her to be surprisingly close to the kind of fans I tend to encounter at US anime conventions (although Yoshitake is actually pretty close too). Sue appears shortly after Angela in the original series delivering Asuka’s signature insult (“Anta baka?”), and it’s been interesting seeing her develop, from a non-sequitur gag machine with a penchant for making things awkward for those around her, to a fully fleshed-out character fluent in Japanese though still capable of intentionally generating the same awkwardness.

Sue’s feelings for Madarame aren’t as clear-cut as Angela’s, but Sue also frequently interacts with Madarame while appearing to enjoy it immensely. If she does like Madarame to that extent, it explains a lot of her actions with respect to him, like her remark that Madarame should “find a new love.” I also have to wonder how an actual relationship between the two would look. Sue is perhaps the only girl that can go toe-to-toe with Madarame when it comes to sheer obsession with anime and manga to the point of building up a seemingly endless wealth of quotes. There’s also something about their combined awkwardness that makes me imagine some of the interactions from Nichijou.

The thing I find funniest about Keiko is that years ago, when the original manga was still running in Japan, before there were these specific moments in Nidaime between the two to fuel the fire, there were already fans of the Madarame x Keiko pairing. If I had to reason why the combination has its supporters, it could be that in a way this would be the most “realistic” (read: cynical) couple, that image of the otaku whose average-looking girlfriend doesn’t quite understand his hobby and is a little too frivolous with cash. Perhaps the best reason is that Madarame was rejected by Kasukabe while Keiko’s affections for Kohsaka never went anywhere, comfort in mutual sorrow. Still, the reaction from Madarame and Sasahara is understandable (and also hilarious), as Sasahara basically pleads with Kohsaka and Hato to strike the very idea from the world. Watching the two guys basically not even consider her a factor is one of the best parts of the chapter.

The extras in Volumes 13 and 14 of Genshiken paint an interesting picture of Keiko. In Volume 14, Hato notices that Keiko has actually changed her makeup style to a more natural-looking one. One of Keiko’s visual characteristics since her debut in the manga has been her heavy makeup, and to forego it in favor of a lighter look implies that she’s aiming for a guy who might find that heavily dolled up look intimidating. On the other hand, a Volume 13 extra also shows that she has some interest in Hato, asking him if he’d be willing to have sex with a girl while still in drag. That 4-panel comic actually changed my perception of Keiko, and I wonder if her position in all of this is more complex than first expected.

Then there’s Hato, whose interactions with Madarame I’ve analyzed many times over and which you’ll find in numerous previous chapter reviews. Two things are clear: Hato is really complicated, and he pays a lot of attention to both Madarame and the people around Madarame. After all, he’s the one who noticed that Keiko changed her makeup. He’s also clearly very confused about what he does and doesn’t want, and you can see it in the way he went from needing to crossdress no matter what, to absolutely refusing to do so and trying to play the part of Average Joe Otaku. It sort of reminds me of when nerds who know nothing about sports (which includes myself to an extent!) try to discuss basketball or something: awkward, unfamiliar, clearly an act.

His past with Kaminaga makes it even more difficult to discern his intentions, as it isn’t clear whether he wanted her or wanted to be with her (or perhaps even both). However, if we assume that Hato does have feelings for Madarame, he then presents an interesting position in that he would see himself as a man who likes to crossdress and look at yaoi, but not someone who identifies as a woman and would therefore see a relationship with a man as heterosexual. If Genshiken then actually had him get together with Madarame, it would bring the entire manga to a whole other place.

The chapter ends with Yajima getting ready to say something to Hato, and amidst this strange situation their relationship is also something which has changed over time. Where once Yajima had been uncomfortable with Hato in drag, now she’s the opposite, mirroring Hato’s own feelings. I’m actually quite looking forward to how this develops next month. The “next chapter” reference, by the way, is Jewelpet Happiness.

One last vitally important thing to discuss: Ogiue’s cosplay is amazing. Somehow the series keeps finding great characters for her to dress up as, and even if the look doesn’t match entirely her intense expression makes it entertaining nonetheless. Ogiue cosplay is something special.

Ogiue as Quartz Christie

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16 thoughts on “Just Go For It: Genshiken II, Chapter 90

  1. I’m so glad I found your blog. Ever since the scanlations of Genshiken stopped, I’ve relied on your summaries/reviews. Of course I’m buying the official releases (the original Genshiken was the first manga I owned all of) but it’s going to take years for them to catch up. You go into the perfect amount of detail and analysis that I enjoy getting out of them. I still wish I could read the chapters myself first, but I’m glad you are here to do this as a replacement to hold me over for the next few years until I can finally read this officially.

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  2. As interesting as a relationship between Madarame and Hato could be, I think it would just be too complicated to juggle. I think it’s going to be a growing experience for Hato, helping him secure a sense of self, and maybe providing a perspective for Madareme. But I will be shocked beyond words if they get together. It’s just too fantastical for a series that dedicates itself to tracing the lines between fantasy and real life.

    I would have REALLY liked to see it, though. I think otaku, and Japanese people in general, feel quite comfortable drawing a line between what you do and what you are, so such a relationship won’t be the defiant, shoving-progress-down-your-throat affair you’d see in the same scenario, presented in western media.

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  3. Perdoname por escribir en español, siento que así me expreso mejor. Sigo la serie de mangas desde el 2004 y había buscado incansablemente blog y foros donde pueda resolver mis dudas acerca de Genshiken en general y de su trama tan emocionante, agotadora y estimulante. He leido todos tus post a lo largo de varias semanas y me sorprende los puntos de vista que tienes acerca de Genshiken. Mi personaje favorito es Ogiue y luego esta Madarame, ciertamente por sus caracteristicas, creo que en el fondo yo soy como Madarame y tengo algo de Ogiue. Me gustaría leer más acerca de Genshiken y espero con ansias tus siguientes post. Muchas Gracias!

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  4. I think that Madarame would make a perfect pair with Sue, they would match in tastes and characters. But I agreed that on real life Madarame would probably get Keiko, I have already saw several situations like that.

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  5. It really is a shame that no one is scanlating the manga any more. :-(

    Anyway, I just reread volume 2 (11) of the manga, where the 4-koma comic strip showed Angela’s strategy for Madarame. One of the things I like about the whole Angela-Madarame element is the realism there. Angela knows Madarame is a virgin and she’s doing things to entice him. Madarame isn’t used to a hot (and in this case, foreign) babe coming onto him, so he suspects that it is all a setup and resists. Most girls enjoy a challenge, so that just encourages Angela to bring it on more.

    Regardless, her strategy was that if she failed to entice Madarame, she’d at least flip enough switches on with him so that he’d feel the need to “meditate” to her later on, mistaking lust for love. By the time she shows up for the winter ComiFes, he’d be interested in her. That part hasn’t happened (at least, not as far as I can tell) because Madarame still doesn’t trust her. Even if he did “meditate” when he got home, I suspect he used the usual 2D girls to finish the job.

    For me, what would be interesting if is Angela showed up at his apartment one evening. She’d basically have to take control (and she’s shown she’s willing to be his teacher), but I think she could get her one night stand with Madarame in that circumstance. Her laying it all on the line to show Madarame that she’s serious would likely be all that it would take. I’d be interested to see how such an encounter would change Madarame.

    Keiko is like the non-aggressive version of Angela. I don’t think she’d give Madarame her card and ask him to look her up at the hostess club if she didn’t have some level of interest in Madarame. But that’s about as far as Keiko will go, as I see it. She will drop the hints, such as leaving him her card, but she wouldn’t go the extra mile like Angela would (and the extra mile is what is needed to reach Madarame because he would never truly believe a girl would want an otaku like him). Since Madarame isn’t the type to make a move on a girl on his own, I can’t see Keiko getting anywhere with him, more so since Madarame probably hasn’t even considered the idea of Keiko until this chapter. That will make Madarame’s next encounter with Keiko more interesting.

    Sue is the one I want to see hook up with Madarame. I think back to the 4-komi strip in the original “Genshiken” when she’s riding on Madarame’s shoulders when the group did their trip to the temple on New Years. She clearly liked him then (though not romantically), but over time, for whatever reasons, she has come to like him. I think Ogiue’s hardcore drawings may have flipped Sue’s switches. *lol* In a weird sort of way, they are comfortable with each other, but they are also awkward with each other based on things that have happened recently (Sue kissing Madarame on the cheek and Sue becoming more aware of her feelings for Madarame).

    Anyway, thanks for the review. I hope scanlators pick this up again since it will be ages before Kodansha Comics actually gets to these chapters in book form. Until then, your reviews are the only lifeline we have as to what actually happens in the current chapters. ^_^

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  6. I can’t help but wonder that even after all this time, we never truly found out what Hato’s feelings towards Kaminaga were. I could be stretching in believing that Hato’s “feelings” towards Madarame are the same admiration that he has/had for Kaminaga. Whether it progressed to romantic is anyone’s guess. It’s not just towards Madarame but Hato seems to have questionable relationships with everyone

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  7. I just read the chapter 91 raws on Sen Manga. I love Angela more and more. It’s a shame I can only read the parts they put in English. Can’t wait till this gets reviewed. Now if only it could get translated -_-

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    • I saw that as well. Thankfully, Kio-sensei knows English (or has someone on his staff that knows English) well enough to make some decent English sentences for Angela to speak. It really is a shame that no one seems willing to touch this since Spore quit.

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      • Spore probably would have kept going but those cease and desists will kill anything and there’s not much that can be done. I’m just gonna have to learn Japanese. Then watch as by the time I can read Japanese the manga gets officially released in the US.

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        • I hadn’t heard about C&D notices. I know the place he was hosting files for DDL had them all removed, but that is not unexpected. After all, it is routine for whomever has legal authority to do take down notices, and they don’t even have to prove their case (as I well know after being hit twice with false DMCA claims which I won). I was actually surprised they weren’t scrubbed sooner.

          I’ve never spoken to Spore about this, but I’d long thought he may have been getting weary of the scanlation process (and I think he was a one-man operation, unlike some scanlation groups) and so used the take down of archived files to relieve himself of that burden, which if true, I well understand. ^_^

          Still, I thought someone else would pick up the torch, and a couple of chapters have been done post-Spore by anonymous person(s), but I guess the series just doesn’t have the fandom it once had.

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          • I just assumed it was a c&d. I always found it curious that 2 chapters ended up getting translated after spore stopped. One of the great mysteries of the world will be who did those chapters, heh.

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  8. I just finished a full reading of the original Genshiken manga, and although it looks like Nidaime is taking things in its own direction that is unique, there is one take away I had from the original that hasn’t been shaken yet: Kasukabe Saki lies, both to herself and to others. The moment her lies really take off is in Chapter 10. After that, I took her words with a grain of salt–if you do, it changes your perspective on the whole series and why exactly she joined the Genshiken, especially the secret activity she wanted hidden.

    Everyone, helped by innuendos that Saki does nothing to suppress but rather encourages, thinks it’s something kinky sexual or involving dirty cosplay. Think about it: if it was something just sexual, and everyone with dirty otaku minds already suspects it, why would that force her into joining? She already drops hints on her own about all the “private time” she gets with Kousaka. Why hide one more? The irony is that both Madarame and Saki play a game of exaggerating their sex lives (his with his hand and hers with her BF, hehe). Madarame goes out of his way to show how disgusting he is, with porn he doesn’t even like…read the manga with this dynamic in mind and the whole story has a different tone and feel to it.

    My opinion: Saki is hiding a lot of feelings for Madarame, she and her BF barely if ever have actual sex, her crying during both confessions means something else and not what she says it means. I think she does have “moe” and I’m still sticking to that to the bitter end.

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  9. Pingback: Choosy Nerds Choose…: Genshiken II, Chapter 93 | OGIUE MANIAX

  10. Pingback: Sakuraaaaaai: Genshiken II, Chapter 112 | OGIUE MANIAX

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