When in Rome: Genshiken II, Chapter 92

This month’s Genshiken provides what may be the best use of a pool/bath/hot springs chapter that I’ve ever seen.

As a bunch of the guys take Madarame away to get his hand treated, the rest of Genshiken (and company) go to a public bath to relax and air things out. Angela and Keiko make their intentions regarding Madarame clear to each other, beginning a strange rivalry of sorts between the two. Meanwhile, Hato finally admits out loud that he has feelings for Madarame, while Sue continues to contradict herself every step of the way.

I get the feeling that this chapter plays a lot with standard anime and manga tropes, especially in the fact that it manages to fit in both an extended bath scene and a festival-like environment, but does so in a way which actually leaves the guy at the center of all this drama literally at home. Obviously with a chapter that takes place almost entirely in a bath there’s bound to be an element of fanservice, but I found it also to be quite enlightening. This isn’t just referring to Hato finally coming to terms with himself, but just the way everyone involved communicates so openly. It’s as if the abundance of nudity this month is a metaphor for simply baring it all: no boundaries, no restrictions, just the truth from the heart (at least in most cases).

There’s actually a lot of information and development this time around, and it’s presented in a way that I think has become characteristic Kio Shimoku, more refined than ever as he continues to improve his storytelling ability in manga. This page above caught my eye in particular, because of how well it conveys not only the fact that Ogiue and Keiko’s have gotten a bit closer (by virtue of Ogiue being Sasahara’s girlfriend) just through the page composition and their positions within it, but also how the panel with Angela gives the impression that you’re seeing her from Ogiue and Keiko’s point of view. The height and the angle of the “camera,” as well as the panel following it give this impression. The way you can see Keiko’s confidence falter as soon as she sees Angela is also a nice touch. This is only the second time that Genshiken has done one of these bath scenes, and the last time around the relationship between Ogiue and Keiko was quite a bit more antagonistic, so it’s interesting to see them getting along in a similar setting.

Similarly, Yajima, though she doesn’t do a lot this chapter, actually says a lot. With the way the manga focuses on her at key moments, it really does give the impression that she feels something for Hato, even if it might not be strictly romantic. When I think about it, the fact that Yajima isn’t being particularly body-conscious despite being around Ohno and Angela must mean that she’s so distracted by Hato’s situation that she’s ignoring her own normal worries. I also have to point out that Kio actually drew her naked, and not in a way which is directed at appealing to a chubby lady fetish.

It’s been quite a journey with Hato, and when I look back at my own musings about him from chapter to chapter, it’s interesting to see how my own views have gone. At first, I took his self-assessment in regards to things like his self-image and his sexuality at his word, but over these few years it’s become clear that even Hato himself didn’t quite understand, though it wasn’t as simple as “Hato’s BL obsession was a sign of a closet homosexual/bisexual all along.” I think there’s enough evidence so far to say that his gender, sexuality, and fantasies don’t all perfectly correlate with each other. Last chapter, I wrote about how the “Stand” versions of the female Hato and Kaminaga are meant to be two separate aspects of his psychology, and here it’s made plainly obvious by the fact that both appear simultaneously. The way I see it, the female Hato represents Hato’s fudanshi side, or rather the image of a fujoshi in his mind who can communicate with other like-minded individuals, while the Kaminaga relies on Hato’s view of the real Kaminaga as someone who is always true to herself. This is why it’s the Kaminaga who has made it impossible for him to deny his own feelings about Madarame, whereas Hato has been easily able to brush aside the female Hato’s fantasies. Though having them float above Hato just has me thinking that the two are having a “conversation” in the men’s bath the whole time. It may also be of interest that none of Genshiken takes issue with Hato on this whole matter.

I honestly don’t think there’s going to be a Hato x Mada (or Mada x Hato) ending, and Madarame’s going to be in a position where he’s not just been rejected by someone but had to reject someone himself. Overall, if this is the case it’ll be a serious change for the otaku among otaku.

At this point in Genshiken we’re already familiar with the fact that characters like Angela and Keiko don’t prescribe to the true love romance mantra that appeals to otaku so much, but it’s still kind of refreshing nevertheless. Angela is provocative in more than one sense of the word, and the more I see of her the more I get that she’s actually quite intelligent. Angela’s insistence that Madarame needs “help” after buying “all that doujinshi” and that Keiko “wouldn’t be able to satisfy him,” ends up coming across as measured and calculated. Obviously Angela knows that Madarame is not some studly he-man with an unquenchable thirst for womanly conquest, and so the idea that Keiko wouldn’t be enough for him is clearly facetious. She’s just trying to get a rise out of Keiko, though what I find funny about all of this is that I can see a definite friendship forming between the two. They both want to win out, but at the same time their smiles and even the way they decide that Sue should be the one to go visit Madarame means that neither of them are especially bothered by the idea of losing. There are more fish in the nerd sea, and a bitter competition this is not.

Speaking of Sue, for all of the attention Hato and Madarame get, I feel like in the end it’s Sue who really steals the show this chapter. Her expressions are amazing, even more than Ogiue’s (which I enjoyed immensely).

Though her own emotional turmoil is played for comedic purposes in contrast to Hato’s, I do wonder what’s in store for her. Her development throughout the new series has come in fits and starts, but it’s undeniably there.It’s interesting how Sue is normally immune to embarrassment but here it overwhelms her to the point of violence and frustration, and I feel like I want to say more about her, but I don’t know where to start.

So, I think I’ll save it for the future.

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16 thoughts on “When in Rome: Genshiken II, Chapter 92

  1. Sue always seems to steal the scenes she’s in. Sometimes, I think that’s why Kio-sensei has made her development so uneven. I think she could easily take over the manga, thus Kio-sensei puts her on the back burner for a bit when he’s trying to do something else.

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  2. Really enjoying your insight on genshiken (as always). I love it how you perceive the whole issue like panel and shots (?) in this manga, since I myself used to draw comics too.

    I always admire Kio’s artwork and writings, and reading your appreciation gave me a better insight on his minds. In facts I always came here very time I finish reading chapter of genshiken nidaime.

    Man I wish I can tunnel inside his mind (ala being john malkovich)

    thank you..

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  3. Great analysis, pretty much everything I thought about it too. Interesting note about Ogiue and Keiko becoming closer, Kio really is a great storyteller. And your idea that the Kaminagi stand represents being honest to yourself, etc, makes too much sense considering that’s why Hato admired her so much, I feel dumb for not realizing it earlier.

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    • I don’t think it’s anything to feel dumb over. The first time you see the Kaminaga stand it seems as if one turned into the other, and it was only something as simple as differing chest sizes which made me consider the possibility that they aren’t merely meant to be two sides of the same coin.

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  4. Great chapter. One of my favorite part is actually Sasa and Ogi sneaking off at the end (bottom of p. 25 and almost hidden at the top of p. 26) for their own little date. Very cute.

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      • Haha, I stand corrected.

        Well so I read the raws, and I was like… harem, onsen, and festival all in one chapter? What the heck? So unrealistic, totally not the old Genshiken, etc. You saw my rant over at SA.

        But then last weekend I had dinner with two friends who just got back from a 2-week trip to Tokyo and Shanghai, and they said that they went to this giant indoor public bath/hot springs complex on this island called Odaiba in Tokyo Bay, and how they gave you robes that you wore inside, and how it was night in there all the time, and they had all these shops and games and stuff like a festival. And they showed me pictures, which looked strangely familiar.

        Then the translations for chapter 92 came out, and I was like… huh. So this is actually a real place, I had no idea it existed last week, and now I’ve been told about this place by two complete different sources. Thus Kio isn’t making this up; there really is a combo indoor onsen/festival place a mile from where Comiket is held.

        Still doesn’t quite excuse the harem thing, but I’ll have to cut him a bit of slack on the onsen/festival bit.

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  5. Great post. I still prefered the ancient Genshiken that was more about anime and manga and less about people and their feelings, but I can’t get everything. And I hope that Sue wins!

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  6. Wow! This is a great blog and a wonderful post!

    Is it really not possible for Mada X Hato? (Hato X Mada….)

    In the last couple of chapters, there have been moments where Madarame seems attracted to Hato-kun, though he doesn’t seem to understand his feelings. (During the group cosplay in Chapter 91 for example…) If we add in the scenes in the anime where Madarame freaks out over his interest in Hato-kun, there is seems to be a slight chance for Mada X Hato (???)

    Though these might be the overly hopeful dreams of a fujoshi…..

    Could it be possible for Kio Shimoku to be questioning how we define sexuality and the confines of the labels gay, straight, etc?

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  7. I really enjoyed this chapter, primarily for what it showed regarding Keiko’s feelings about Madarame and how she relates to Angela and Ogiue.

    I agree that Angela’s comment about Keiko being unable to satisfy Madarame is definitely facetious on a literal level, I can’t help but think she truly believes that Keiko can’t satisfy him on the level of understanding his hobbies, like she or the other Genshiken members could. Although Keiko made it more explicit, I think both might strongly object to Madarame hooking up with the other.

    Angela’s been pretty calculating all along, although I still can’t guess her motives. She delayed until the last day of the comifes (presumably her last full day in town), against Hato’s plans, to reveal her own and everyone else’s feelings. I can’t think she expected for those feelings to resolve themselves, or for Madarame to actually sleep with her on that same day. As Mada said, she could only be his girlfriend three days a year, and I wonder if Angela is actually reluctant to start something for that reason. On that not, even Sue might have a somewhat pragmatic reason for denying her feelings.

    Although I was pretty strongly shipping HatoMada for a while, now I’m actually more interested in seeing where Yajima’s relationship with Hato will go. Although Yajima shows up at measured points in the chapter relating to Hato, and we are aware that she has some measure of feelings for him, she barely registers a blip on Hato’s radar. The conversations they’ve had can be boiled down to her disapproval of him or fujoshi talk. I want to see them interact about these more recent developments.

    Wow, I think I went overboard on this response. And btw, you wrote Angela and Sue begin a rivalry, etc. in the first paragraph, where I think you meant Keiko, right?

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  8. I think Sue, despite her antics in general, does not really like being the direct focus of attention, if that makes any sense. For some people (like myself), it’s all fun and games until the camera is solely focused on you when you’re not the one creating that attention, and I think Sue’s response when the conversation shifted to her said volumes (especially how she tried to dodge Ogiue’s initial question by trying to act in a way that draws attention to her idiosyncracies rather than the person herself). Again, we know that Sue’s painfully shy in some ways, and her responses help highlight that. I think.

    I do wish we get to see Hato’s thinking process when he takes time to process himself. I’m sort of hoping it includes a reconciling of his two “Stands”, though it’s interesting that his Kaminaga is more of “reality” versus is 801’s “fantasy”, but that both of them essentially head to a similar ending point. I really would have liked to see what his mindset was at the time he created what he eventually revealed to Sue some chapters back.

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  9. Everyone laughed when I said from the first couple of volumes that Hato was clearly going to be coming out (if not gay, as having feelings for Madarame). If you reread what’s there in it’s entirety, you can see a clear picture being painted. His story is clearly a subtle lead up to his eventual coming out.
    Which has actually been tastefully done. That’s one of the things I’ve always admired about Kio. He’s always been able to gracefully touch on things like this.

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