Hostess Twinkles: Genshiken II, Chapter 102

As suggested in the last chapter, Madarame and Kugayama visit Keiko’s cabaret (i.e. hostess) club. Though Keiko at first turns up the charm typically expected of a hostess, she quickly reverts to her familiar, sharp-tongued self upon finding about Madarame’s recent inner conflict over receiving Valentine’s chocolate from Hato. When it comes time for Keiko to switch out with another girl, however, Madarame asks if Keiko can stay because in spite of being a girl Madarame feels like he can talk comfortably with her. Many hours later, Madarame wakes up from a drunk stupor only to find out that it’s 3am in the morning. Madarame goes to find a 24-hour internet cafe to crash at, but Keiko suggests he come over to her place.

The Almost-Romantic Misadventures of Madarame (If They Ever Begin At All) is such a strange place to be at when you think about how Genshiken began and Madarame’s original role as alpha otaku. Obviously the awkwardness around women was there from the start and has persisted to even this most recent chapter, but now Genshiken is actively presenting Madarame pairings for people to ship and feeding solid arguments for each. In the case of Keiko, we see Madarame able to actively argue and interact with Keiko in a way that looks natural. Not only that, the fact that Keiko herself quickly reverts to her true self instead of continuing her performance as a hostess means that this attitude is reciprocal. Perhaps if this were a different manga, Keiko would say something like, “I can’t help but be myself around you!”

I bring this up not to board the Keiko x Mada train, but in order to preface something I’ve felt about the past two chapters. I find that, perhaps more than ever, the manga gives the impression of a sense of “progress.” In other words,  while obviously many characters have changed in major ways throughout the series (Ogiue most of all), the smaller developments in Madarame feel potent because of how relatively small they are. To some extent, this has to do with the fact that these chapters have concerned characters from the older generation like Madarame and Kugayama, but what’s even more significant is that, even though these conversations feel comfortable, there’s a new context around them in the form of Madarame’s girl troubles that also tinges it with just a bit of exciting unfamiliarity.

Having never been to a host or hostess club, anything I know about them comes from media (anime, written articles, etc.), so I was a bit surprised to find out about all of the little things they do to get your money. While I’ve heard that people spend lots of money on their hostesses, what I didn’t know was that they actively switch every 15 minutes or so and that the only way to keep talking to your preferred girl is to spend money on them in the form of drinks. It reminds me a lot of how contemporary free-to-play games work, giving the customer a small taste and using the allure of continued immersive entertainment to lighten their wallets.

In that sense, the cabaret club is not that different from cute girl-oriented games such as Love Live! School Idol Festival or Kantai Collection, especially when it comes to all of the tricks the girls use to keep a guy enticed. School Idol Festival presents little “stories” where the girls talk about their favorite things, and there’s always the implication of an ambiguous romantic attraction to you the player (“Maybe next time, I can wear other outfits for you!”). Similarly, in this chapter, Keiko demonstrates a number of tricks of the trade. Showing a bit of cleavage is an obvious one, as is presenting a cutesy and demure persona through her attitude and posture, but it didn’t even occur to me until she dropped the act and crossed her legs that her original way of sitting with legs pressed together is clearly suggestive. This doesn’t mean that bare, uncrossed legs are always about sending signals, but in the context of a cabaret club and its employee it’s pretty clear what the true motive is.

I believe that Keiko’s familiarity with the use of a persona to attract men, perhaps not only due to her current profession but possibly also due to the circles she’s run with in the past, is what makes her so skeptical of Hato. Seeing Hato act so girly while knowing that he’s really a man (and sees himself as a man), most likely Keiko thinks that Hato must have some kind of ulterior motive or is not presenting his true self. After all, she fakes her personality for work every day, and knows what will get a guy to pay more attention (and money).

Of course, as established previously, Keiko does have some degree of attraction towards Madarame, and so this changes the dynamic of their hostess-customer relationship in this chapter. However, I find that her approach to getting Madarame, while comparable to her hostess strategies, is still significantly different and perhaps even closer to Angela’s approach. When originally trying to get with Madarame, Angela told Ohno (in the between-chapter extras) that she had intentionally emphasized her dynamite body around him so that her image would linger in his mind (Angela specifically says that he wanted Madarame to masturbate to his memory of her). Although Keiko doesn’t utilize the same sledgehammer method as Angela, it’s also clear that Keiko knows exactly what her words imply when she invites Madarame over to her place at 3am in the morning, and that this has instantly planted a seed into Madarame’s imagination. Keiko the hostess nudges and winks, Keiko the person presses the issue.

Even though he doesn’t have much of a presence in this chapter (or well, ever), there are these little things the chapter presents about Kugayama that I find interesting. After Madarame wakes up, Keiko informs him that Kugayama paid for everything, and that it looks like he makes more than a decent wage. While we’ve seen Kugayama employed for a long time now, this gives me the impression that he’s become a true otaku salaryman, in the sense that while he may not have much time anymore he’s able to devote his earnings to continuing his fandom. Additionally, while Kugayama is secretly praying that Madarame won’t buy an expensive drink for Keiko with the expectation that he’ll be treating Madarame to it, Madarame himself doesn’t even consider the notion that he’s doing this on Kugayama’s own dime (or 10-yen coin ha ha ha ha please don’t kill me). There’s just something there that makes me really feel their friendship even though we don’t see it too often anymore.

The last thing I want to mention is that the next chapter preview reference this time is actually from Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers, the bizarre anime where Captain America and friends are kind of like Pokemon. Kio frequently makes both obscure and recent references, but this one actually caught me by surprise more than any other.

18 thoughts on “Hostess Twinkles: Genshiken II, Chapter 102

  1. I always thought that Keiko was simply “jealous” of Hato, just like she’s jealous of Angela. But I found it weird, considering Hato is a guy. What you said about her being suspicious of him because of his girl persona is making more sense to me now.

    I really thought Keiko and Madarame were going their separate ways at the end of the chapter… And then I see the last page! Damn you cliffanghers >_<

    Saki still seems to be a sensitive subject, as they are arguing immediately after Keiko mentions her…


  2. This could be one of the most significant chapters in a long time. I’ve always felt that with Keiko she has been irked at the fact that Madarame does not see her as a romantic possibility. She in turn sees Madarame as a challenge of sorts. The bottom line is that here we have two people that are comfortable with each other. That in itself is a sign of sorts.
    I’m betting it will go nowhere, but I’d love it if it did. I just want to see Madarame keep growing, and for Gods sake let something good happen to the guy.


  3. Is Hato really being himself when he gives chocolate and cook for Madarame in his female clothing? Or is it a feminine persona just to make Madarame attracted to him? I think that’s one of the main reasons why Keiko feels so pissed at Hato, because she thinks that if Hato was really genuine about having Madarame falling in love with him, then he should not crossdress in front of him and be himself as a male when they are together.


  4. I’m kind of wondering if Kio had to hit up a few clubs in the name of research…

    Shinji: Hato really did amp up the Idealized Kaminaga after deciding to act on his feelings towards Madarame. I can understand why she feels that this can’t be good for Madarame – a relationship built on deceptions and false images is pretty damned certain to be doomed, and she seems to feel protective/proprietary enough of Madarame to be upset on his behalf. Sue’s not much better, using her foreign otaku persona to interact with Madarame. Only Angela is forthright with her feelings, but even she plays up a role to some extent, in order to get what she wants.

    Seconal: part of it may also be protectiveness for Saki’s sake, IMO. She’s watching out for an idiot who can’t even admit his feelings to someone else’s girlfriend while being obviously into her. And of course, the fact he’s adorable in an awkward way, and a total 180 from the guys she’s previously chased (confident Alpha male assholes concerned with chasing 3D gyaru girls)


    • Sue… Can you really say her attitude is a persona? I mean, to me, she’s acting as her true otaku self, the complete opposite of how Sasahara and Ogiue were at first. It isn’t like she’s using it to seduce Madarame, she’s like that with everyone…
      Well, in fact, not around Madarame anymore. She’s always shy and blushing around him, now.


      • She’s still playing the stereotypes of the tsundere very closely – always going after Ogiue, and then getting listed at Madarame without admitting anything. And even now, she wpdoesnt seem to show much of what she is to anyone – she’s a foreign otaku, but she seems intent on making sure Madarame ONLY knows that role she’s playing.


  5. Hi- liked the blog for a while, first time posting. This chapter was very odd to me initially- I was confused by Keiko’s character attacks on Hato at first, and I agree with the analysis about how she could think it’s a facade akin to her work and her life experience, but I think it goes a little deeper than that.

    Keiko has never been the most empathetic character in the manga- when she first met hato, she was far from accepting. In fact she gave off a somewhat phobic vibe of “eww, omg, you’re a guy, that’s not normal!!!” MAYBE she sees it in a similar view to her work, but i think there is something to be said about her inability to accept someone like Hato who’s placement on the LGBT/sexuality spectrum is in flux. For her, it may be easier to assign him into a conventional gender role within a love triangle (I don’t doubt keiko harbors some feelings towards Mada, if only for flirtatious fun/teasing at least, and not actual desire, tho I do see the point being made about his being a good guy compared to who she runs across work-wise). But due to hato’s own personal confusion over it all, it makes it harder to do so. I think Keiko’s reaction is similar to sniping at other females in the conventional zero-sum dating game world. Just makes it easier for her to deal with.

    Other thing of note- such SUCH great demonstration of movement in that panel posted- the snap of the leg, keiko’s rictus face, arm on the cushion- so well designed within the panels to really give off the flow of movement =D really fun chapter to “watch” as if it were almost animated!


  6. What a great manga! And this is a fine set of comments to it. The whole Genshiken series, and all the other stories by this mangaka that have been scanlated, have given me great joy. As a shy man, I’ve always been intensely curious whether there are so many men like me in Japan as depictions of men in manga and anime suggest, and now I’m happy to see the depth of sensei’s creative insight:
    Even the most timid imaginable virgin man will make the transition into the world of sex and love eventually!

    PS: If I were Keiko I’d be concerned for Madarame too. He’s amost certainly straight in his basic orientation (Most men are!), and a straight guy this virginal and self-questioning needs a girl as his first lover. There’s a lot of learning to do once you leave the quiet harbor of virginity, and it’s best that it be done with the gender of person you’re fundamentally attracted to.


  7. “I bring this up not to board the Keiko x Mada train,”

    Awww, c’mon aboard!

    “Other thing of note- such SUCH great demonstration of movement in that panel posted- the snap of the leg, keiko’s rictus face, arm on the cushion- so well designed within the panels to really give off the flow of movement =D really fun chapter to “watch” as if it were almost animated!”

    Those panels were incredible!


  8. After reading 103… Not going into details until there’s there’s the article about it here, but Keiko’s now, to me, bottom of the list.


  9. Pingback: Spotted Blessing? Genshiken II, Chapter 103 | OGIUE MANIAX

  10. Pingback: Slaughter of Twenty Faces: Genshiken II, Chapter 105 | OGIUE MANIAX

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