Subete Wakannee: Genshiken II, Chapter 101

Since the last chapter, Madarame has been mulling over Hato’s Valentine’s chocolate. Feeling a sense of happiness over receiving them yet also confused and alarmed by this very reaction, he seeks the advice of Kugayama, who is the only other guy out of the old Genshiken crew to not have a significant other and thus won’t spill the beans to the girls. As the two get increasingly drunk over some barbecue, Madarame reveals where he believes the confusion lies: to him, Hato is a man and therefore someone Madarame can relate to, whereas women are so foreign to him that he doesn’t know how to even begin dealing with their affections. Kugayama suggests going to a soapland to help him get over his fear of women, but realizing that it’s probably too big a jump for either of them they consider instead going to a cabaret club, more specifically Keiko’s.

For a chapter basically consisting of two scenes and a brief look into Yajima’s attempt to improve her figure drawing with the help of Yoshitake, there’s actually a whole lot to unpack. At this point, it’s something I expect from Genshiken even putting aside my own tendency to analyze the series in depth, but the more I thought about the simple events and topics of this chapter, the more complex the exploration of otaku sexuality and its perception in the otaku mind becomes.

Although I’ve had to re-assess the manga’s messages when it comes to attraction and sexuality a number of times, at this point one thing continues to be certain: Genshiken presents the idea that one’s “2D” and “3D” preferences neither overlap entirely nor are they truly separate. It wasn’t that Hato was in denial when he originally said his preference for BL existed purely in the realm of doujinshi and the like, but that he honestly felt that way. However, as we’ve learned, even the distinction between “2D” and “3D” is tenuous, as the characters of Genshiken ship real people (or at least imaginary approximations of real people). I would argue that BL was not Hato’s realization of homosexuality, but something which made the idea a distinct possibility in his mind that helped him to clarify his feelings for Madarame.

While I don’t think Madarame is having the same thing happen to him, I do think his actions in this chapter reflect a similar semi-disconnect between his 2D and 3D desires. Consider the fact that one of Madarame’s warning signals was that he began re-playing his otoko no ko eroge. One would expect the situation to be that ever since Madarame received the chocolates that he began to look into those games, but he in fact had them for a while. While Madarame maintained is self-identity as heterosexual, he was playing those types of games the whole time, and as implied in the chapters where he first discusses his experience with those games, it’s less about being into guys 2D or 3D and more about the use of sexual expression coded generally as “female” in otaku media that appeals to him. Hato, who similarly performs “femininity” looks to be hitting the same triggers in Madarame, and the very fact that this deliberateness in the end positions Hato to be male is also what makes Madarame feel as if he can relate to Hato better than any woman.

The female sex is something Madarame has viewed his entire life as a realm of distant fantasy, only barely entering his purview of reality when Kasukabe suggested that maybe they could’ve had something if circumstances had been different. This, I think, is why Madarame has trouble deciding what he feels in reaction to Sue and Angela (via Ohno) giving him romantic chocolates as well. Madarame has expressed interest in 2D characters similar to Sue, and there’s no doubt that he finds Angela attractive on some level, but they’re a foreign existence, both figuratively and literally. In that sense the anime girl and the real girl are equally “farfetched.” This is also what makes the Chekhov’s gun that is Keiko’s heavily photoshopped business card so powerful. Not only is it the case that Madarame’s refusal to visit the cabaret club back in Chapter 59 potentially overturned the next chapter, and not only is Keiko one of the other girls into Madarame, but Keiko herself plays a “character” at her workplace. Even firmly within the realm of “3D,” the line between fantasy and reality blurs.

Another thing I find interesting about this whole notion that Hato’s feelings are easier to respond to because Madarame can relate to them as a fellow guy is how this somewhat mirrors one of the reasonings touted for why people get into BL of shounen manga. Traditionally, female characters and love interests in battle/sports/competition manga have been on the sidelines, and most of the displays of fiery passion consist of male rivals and enemies confronting and antagonizing each other, which leads to more time and effort to devoted to those relationships than the ones between the hero and his would-be girlfriend. While this isn’t quite the same as what Madarame and Hato have, what is similar is this concept of guys being able to understand each other on some deeper level (or with girls in yuri), whether it’s intrinsic or something that’s developed over time. In the case of Madarame, it’s perhaps an inevitability given his inexperience with women. In a way, Kugayama’s solution of breaking the “mystique” of the opposite sex through the use of a “professional,” while extremely typical in various cultures (there was even a King of the Hill episode on the subject) is itself also a breakthrough for the otaku-minded, as it involves a desire to get away from the ideal of sexual purity and enter “reality,” though even that conception of the world is fueled by a fantasy. There’s a more I could say about Kugayama as well, but I’ll leave it alone for now except to say that Kugayama in some ways occupies Yajima’s position.

As for the scene with Yajima, Yoshitake, Hato, and Sue, although it’s fairly short, it is notable that Yajima is actually trying to improve her drawing despite being previously resigned to suck at it forever, and Hato’s mention that he’s been drawing manga lately is likely going to mean that he’s gotten past his previous dilemma of only being able to draw BL when dressed as a girl and a rather bizarre style when as a boy. The “disappearance” of the two voices that accompanied Hato (his other self and the other Kaminaga) were likely a prelude to this development. I suspect we’ll see more in the next chapter.

Also, Ogiue does not appear in this chapter but is at least mentioned twice, once when Madarame believes Sasahara would definitely tell her if Madarame were to divulge his secret struggle, and once when Yoshitake states that it was Ogiue’s suggestion for Yajima to do some rough sketches.

 

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17 thoughts on “Subete Wakannee: Genshiken II, Chapter 101

  1. Sounds like a really interesting chapter, can’t wait to read it myself. All of those ideas it’s been playing around with is one of the reasons I love Nidaime and of course Genshiken as a whole, it’s nice to read an in-depth analysis of it all.

    And that’s a good point about Keiko’s image that I never thought of before, I wouldn’t be surprised if it came up as a thing next chapter. It would be cool to see Hato’s normal manga sometimes soon, too.

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  2. Started reading the first chapter of Genshiken a few weeks back, I wasn’t able to stop until I reached this chapter. I’m so into this manga.

    Speaking about chapter 59, isn’t that where Madarame mistook Keiko for Saki? I can’t help but think something similar is going to happen, since Madarame is a bit drunk… Not to mention Keiko might act like Saki to please her “customer”?

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  3. I’m inclined to think that perhaps Hato is “gender fluid”, with a predominant female side. Human sexuality can be veeeeery blurry for some. Anyway, I’m going to love the next chapter for sure. We’ll see Keiko pushing Madarame’s buttons one by one. Somehow I find myself whishing for those two to get bed, messily and thoroughly, for a chance. >:)

    By the way, the last scanlated chapter of Spotted Flower left me a bittersweet aftertaste: it’s definitely a paralel reality, (¡confirmed! There’s no roundabout way out for Kio there) but it also shows a possible future for some of the cast. I would like to know how’s Tanaka, Sasahara, Oguie or Keiko. But I think I will wait for Genshiken to finish first. It’s confusing.

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    • “Parallel reality” might be too strong a term, though it’s clearly meant to be a parallel in a certain sense. The characters look juuuust different enough that you can’t say they’re the same people, though of course it’s just Kio playing with our minds and the associations we already have with his other work.

      Part of me also wonders if he does Spotted Flower so he can draw R-rated Genshiken material.

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      • Well, to be more precise, I´d say now: a “parallel future” for the cast. It´s so obvious, from the way he downplays the similarities, and at the same time, makes those so evident. However, the delicious incertainity in which Kio Shimoku indulges himself pleases me. Although the 12th chapter (Spotted Flower) left me feeling a bit strange. Hato is so adorable in “the present” (Nidaime) that the mature, and sharpy (he knows how to sting with words, such a lovely okaa-san, or mature lady :D) demeanor of this older version feels almost bitter, although successful in other areas. There´s a story in between sugested there… I kid, I kid. Wong Kar Wai would be proud :P.

        Of course, “Saki” knows. But the “winner” is a bit dismayed…

        I hope, however, for surprises in Genshiken Nidaime. It is meant as it is for the wacky, college transformations the younger and newer of the cast are living. The actual Madarame arc is acting as a thin foil peeling off for Hato, a character in whom Kio has spent a lot of pages. And also, kind of a brewing (real) closure for Madarame .The poor sod would still be, and still is, enshrining his own image of Saki to the bitter end.The “purity” ideal you mentioned in the post, yes. Which is nothing more than the “ideal” of what a “woman” is. Deep down, lies the real flesh, and the scary uncertainity of having to read the feels and emotions of the other sex, a language unknown for him (not that he has tried real hard for it). This is why I wish for Madarame to have a fling (¡Keiko!), and be done with it, in a way. Sink or swim)

        Anyhoo, that´s what I believe, hmm.

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  4. Have you seen Spotted Flower #12
    Spotted flower #12 is out and the story might be
    neatly projected onto the Genshiken Nidame as a possible
    future.

    No names are mentioned. The mangaka depicted is very bold
    and the best, most enlightening lines are on the final panel.

    bliss

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    • Spotted Flower #12 was amazing. With all the things Kio has done with that character in Nidaime, I had no idea Kio would go that far with it. But now it seems a sort of confirmed “possible future”, even if it’s not really the same person.

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      • Aside from the sheer wonder of seeing a version of Hato with you know what, it’s interesting just seeing Hato older, more mature, and a bit bitter towards Madarame.

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        • Also more seductive. I’m still shocked at some of those close-up panels.
          And that bitterness too, yeah, but I took that “spineless” comment as also being wistful and sad.

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  5. Well we think of these as being the older versions of the characters we know. Speaking from personal experience people change as they age so
    it is quite credible that these could be the character we know and yet
    because of time and experiences completely different people.

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  6. Thanks for the preview and considered thoughts on Genshiken 101. It is an odd, perhaps-not-too-much of a coincidence that the latest Spotted flower also shows up now. At first reaction, it was “Kio is trolling, patrolling…” and “I’m the Rimmer from the double-double-universe!” But very soon the edge is felt. All I could think of was a very minor bit of sci-fi from decades ago; ‘Cascade Point”, wherein the main character’s job had him experience moments of having to see endless streams of other-probability versions of himself. The result was deep and unshakable depression.

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  7. Genshiken has never been a tragedy. Kio puts his characters through tough times, but they always bounce back and grow because of them. I’m really curious about how he’s going resolve Madarame’s, Hato’s, and to a lesser extent Yajima’s unrequited love. Originally I thought that after Madarame got rejected by Saki, that he would slowly mend and then use what he learned about being rejected to gently do the same with Hato. In other words, he would know exactly what Hato was going through and be able to help her through the same thing. This in turn could help Madarame as well. But I’m worried about Madarame. After the initial relief he felt from being rejected, he regressed. He has no job and is trying his darndest to live up to the image of the loser that he thinks he is. I have faith that Kio is going to turn things around for Madarame, but I’m not sure how. Hopefully Keiko will provide Madarame with some insights. (At the very least we know it will be a lot of fun. Those two always have great scenes together.)

    The alternate Hato in “Spotted Flowers” made me really sad because, like others stated, although Hato was successful and appeared comfortable with her gender, she obviously bears some strong scars. Both she and Madarame have a special chemistry, but nothing can come of it because of Madarame’s personality. I hope Genshiken’s Hato fares better.

    I don’t mind Kio “beating up” his characters a bit (it would be a very dull story without conflict), but once again, I’m really curious how he’s going to resolve things. I like how he’s not taking the easy way out and keeps pushing his characters. I love the “first part” of Genshiken, but all of the conflicts had pretty obvious solutions. Once that characters were honest about their feelings and accepted themselves, their lives got better. Also, it was a “no brainer” as far as who would be coupled with who.

    It’s unclear who (if anyone) will pair up in Nidaime, and most of the answers aren’t as simple as “just accept who you are”. For example, no matter what choice Madarame makes, he is going to reject and hurt at least three people.

    As always, thank you for your post. I really enjoy your writing as well as other people’s comments.

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  8. I honestly couldn’t be more happy about Madarame and the harem he got… I’m not good with words but i think that’s Hato who is going to force Madarame to re-think and change his way of living, and with all the insights that come with it, he’ll realize how to exactly exempt Hato, without completely destroying his fellings…. But we’ll have a lot’o drama on the way. ^^

    As for me, i’m totally rooting for HatoxMada, even knowing it propably won’t happen…. but im my dreams, maybe. xD

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  9. Pingback: Hostess Twinkles: Genshiken II, Chapter 102 | OGIUE MANIAX

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