Hidden Power: Genshiken II, Chapter 104

As Madarame licks his proverbial wounds after his “close encounter” with Keiko, Hato reveals to the Genshiken club members that he’s decided to finally try and draw manga, and non-BL stuff to boot. Frustrated over her own lack of talent compared to Hato, Yajima decides in a moment of frustration to draw her own manga as well. The next day, both of them give their comics over to Yoshitake and Ogiue to read, at which point the unexpected occurs: they love Yajima’s manga much more. While Hato’s artwork is superior as expected, his story is inscrutable. Yajima, on the other hand, although lacking talent in terms of pure draftsmanship, is actually Hato’s better when it comes to the comics format.

For this chapter, I feel that there are two major points of discussion.

The first is that Chapter 104 is all about revealing new facets of characters we should have been more than familiar with at this point, and how this potentially changes their interpersonal dynamics in the process. Yajima up to this point has felt consistently “defeated” by everything around her, from her looks compared to the other members of the current Genshiken, to her poor drawing skills, to even having the little attempts she makes to try and “catch up” backfire. Hato has served to further magnify this inferiority complex, an issue further complicated by her feelings for him. Yajima is a character who survives off of stubbornness and perseverance, but now for the first time, possibly in her entire life, she has “won.” She has displayed a skill that is not easy for most people, outdoing Hato in the process, and perhaps even Ogiue the manga professional. Yajima might finally get the confidence she’s been missing all these years, and it potentially changes her relationship with Hato as well.

There’s also an important lesson for readers in that creating comics is not simply about being able to draw well. As is mentioned in this chapter, having your ideas come across effectively is often considered to be just as if not more important, and there are plenty of manga which succeed not because they look the best, but that their style is conducive to storytelling, or is just plain entertaining even if they might look ugly as sin.

As for Hato, it’s actually quite interesting to see the degree to which Hato is fazed by his lack of success in creating his first manga compared to Yajima. Since the start of the second series, Hato has consistently been shown to be unusually talented in pretty much anything he puts his mind to, be it judo, crossdressing, or even mimicking the drawing style of the girl he looked up to. While he isn’t a perfect being, seeing as Hato has hit obstacles in the past such as his eccentric drawing style when out of girls’ clothing, it’s clear that Hato is in a way unaccustomed to failing when there are no mental blocks in his way. For the first time, he may have to realize his limits, but in the process might become more thankful of the myriad talents he does possess.

There’s a strong likelihood that this new angle leads to collaboration between Hato and Yajima. The last campus festival was all about team efforts to create manga, and seeing as the two potentially complement each other better than the Hato/Ogiue or Yajima/Yoshitake duos, it could lead to great things. Of course, the burning question in all of this is, could this collaboration be the catalyst for something more romantic? Given Madarame and his woes, it’s impossible to predict Genshiken anymore, but there is a precedent of sorts with Sasahara and Ogiue.

Speaking of Ogiue, even she shows another side of herself in this chapter as we get to see her ultimate goal for Genshiken. Having inherited the club from Ohno, she’s been not-so-secretly desiring the end of the club’s reputation as a “Cosplay Research Society,” but only now are the pieces in place to mold Genshiken in her image as a manga-creation club. Though I don’t think Ogiue is any sort of devious mastermind, I do have to wonder if the executive decisions we’ve seen out of her so far—the return of the Genshiken club magazine Mebaetame, encouraging the creation of manga for the campus festival—were all building blocks for this. Overall, I’m honestly surprised at how much this chapter feels like it changes everything, and yet is such a sensible progression of the story as the characters’ emotions are on full display.

That leads me to the second major pojnt of discussion for this chapter: THE FACES.

I’ve talked about the amazing expressions in Genshiken II before, but this chapter blows every previous one out of the water. Just look at these images of Yoshitake with a grin that would make the Joker jealous, and how Hato’s intensity is radiating off the page.

 

Of course, seeing Yoshitake practically melt into a pile of goo seen above is one thing. After all, Yoshitake has always been a powerful source of hilarious faces. So is seeing Hato’s expression of jealousy over Yajima’s heretofore unknown talent for manga, as it’s not that different from how he usually looks, even if it is kind of unexpected. What’s really remarkable though, at least from my very biased perspective, is the veritable treasure trove of Ogiue faces that this chapter has graced us with. In the past, Ogiue was mainly known for a perpetual expression of deep anger, and even in moments of joy (like the intimate moment she and Sasahara have in the final chapter of the original series) she still tended to stare daggers at people, if unintentionally. One of the big shifts in Nidaime is the fact that her expressions have softened up considerably over time, and in a way it feels as if this chapter is the culmination of that development.

I don’t have any exact statistics on this, but I do trust my memory as an Ogiue fan on the following: do you know when’s the last time we got to see Ogiue literally laugh out loud so hard she couldn’t control herself? The answer is never. I believe it is a first for the character, and it helps to hammer home the point that Yajima’s manga is legitimately funny, and legitimately interesting.

Next chapter looks to be focused on Madarame and Sue. Given the insanity of last month’s chapter I think this “break” from Madarame’s girl troubles is great, but seeing as this chapter was so downright enjoyable, a part of me hopes that it shifts back to the threads that have laid down here as soon as possible, even though I expect great things out of whatever antics Sue has in store.

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9 thoughts on “Hidden Power: Genshiken II, Chapter 104

  1. Looking through the raws, I loved that it seemed to be about manga and the club members just talking, good stuff. I guess it’s necessary after that bombshell last chapter.

    Hato’s stare was really shocking. It’s familiar enough, but also very new. Perhaps this is a prelude to him losing Madarame and how he’ll take it, as has been foreshadowed. I also hope he grows more and more because of this. Him and Yajima possibly collaborating makes me think of the latest Spotted Flower more and more, too.

    Ogiue’s laugh was also wonderful. And an actual possible Sue-focused chapter? My god, I can’t wait.

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  2. The Spotted Flower implications here are getting scary, to the point which I can’t even tell if its the mangaka trolling or making a deliberate attempt to link the two universes together.

    Its rather nice to see Yajima finally catch a break though, and the anticipation of a Sue focused chapter is simply juicy.

    Where’s my RIsa X Hato chapter though….

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  3. From what I understood, Hato’s manga was way too complex, to the point Yoshitake didn’t even understand it. Yajima’s manga was a simple 4-koma gag manga. I guess Hato wanted to make a super-deep manga right off the bat, he wanted to take a shortcut, but you need experience for that, in not just drawing, but knowing how to tell a story.
    Yajima on the other hand, started at the “bottom” hierarchy of manga types, so even if she’s lacking experience, it isn’t really a problem.
    But even despite that, indeed Yajima might be more well-suited for, story, panels and things like that which may result in a collaboration like in spotted flower (had a hard time understanding it was Yajima though, and so I reiterate: I want to see Sue in Spotted flower)

    Some panels I especially liked: 4 panels with Hato’s thoughts on a side and Ogiue’s on the other (just before Yoshitake finishes Hato’s manga).

    In the big panel with Hato looking at Yajima, I could sense jealousy to the point it gave me a scare.

    The spitting laughs and reactions of Ogiue and Yoshitake made me think of Nisekoi, they do it like at least 3 times per chapter. It never fails to make me smile, it’s even stronger in Genshiken since it’s rarer.

    And finally, Sue. In “normal” romance situation, she’s just too shy to do anything. Seeing that panel with the scary eyes and what happened with Keiko, I wonder if Sue isn’t going to do something really weird that will scare the hell out of Madarame as well.

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  4. Wow! Incredibly insightful preview/ review! The dual examination of Yajima’s new strengths and the characterization through the drawing made me run back to the raws and go wow! Hato trying a full story is a stretch for him; he only does steamy yaoi clench scenes, but yup, he is unaccustomed to failure, and he is obsessive. I have always suspected that his inability to make a story is being used by Kio Shimoku as a mirror or metaphor for his inability to decide who he is – to tell his (or his/her or ??) story to himself and then to his friends and then the world. No wonder his first big effort would be confused and all over the place – that’s the Hatos in a nutshell. But Yajima creating a successful, funny -4 komma is it?- is great! You nailed it, collab approaching! As for Ogiue, I hope she doesn’t plan on submerging “the cosplay research society”, just leveling up the dojin/ comic producing wing of the Genshiken.
    Thanks again! /M

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  5. Yay for Yajima! Seriously. That character is understated, but in Genshiken Nidaime, there seems to be a certain equilibrium for the cast in personality and character’s exposure.Nobody is completely left out. There is no Kuga-pii, or Kuchiki-like female characters, at all. There’s a lot of fleshing out in the cast. Overall, the cast is rounder and more detailed. Kyo Shimoku isn’t afraid of giving everyone (in the cast) a sharp look, avoiding stereotipes. Well, excluding Sue, who is very comedy-like and somehow unrealistic, but the rare chances we’ve seen her act outside of campus and the Genshiken group, I can’t help but notice a certain loneliness in her. It would be interesting to see a unusual side of her, or even a abrupt change in her behaviour (properly plot justified, of course). In that sense, Yajima, despite her minor stance in the cast, is
    a lot more fleshed out, serious, with common social issues ( and yet, sometimes Kio Shimoku portrays this with classy humor that doesn’t demean the character at all), something we have yet to see in Sue, until now used mostly for something like zany comedy and to insert otaku references at random :D

    I too, like the change of pace. What will happen now?

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  6. This was a pretty good chapter, but I still can’t help but think back to last chapter. Something has been bugging about me about it lately and it wasn’t until I reread it until a thought popped into my head. Keiko was lying. I mean other then the fact that she says she has a boyfriend, there is no other proof. Then I thought, hmmm, who would call Keiko after work to hang out, and who she would not want to be seen with Madarame, and that’s obvious, Saki. Would she want Saki who she says has some feelings for him to see him with her, in her apartment, at midnight, and without her bra?

    I know, kinda of a leap, but it makes sense especially when you take her actions into account. I mean she makes up a story on the spot, and she even falters too when describing this boyfriend, first he’s the “president” of a company, and then he’s a “assistant”. It sounds like one of your stories one of your friends make up when there pressed on whether they have a girlfriend or not, “yeah she’s a lingerie model, who goes to med school”.
    Secondly, if they been going out for 3 months, why didn’t she mention it at the comiket, especially during the bathing scene. That probably would of been something to bring up, “Do you like Madarame?” “No, I have a boyfriend”. And lastly, I’m sure Saki would’ve known that Keiko that was going out with someone, and she wouldn’t of tried to get them together if she had a boyfriend.

    So, what do you guys think?

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  7. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH Yajimaaaaaaaaaa.

    I think the interesting thing is that girl Hato is very, VERY intimidating. If it was boy Hato in the room, I don’t think Yajima would’ve had the same kinda shrinking reaction. Something I worry about with girl Hato is that, now that he’s embroiled in the Harem wars and has indicated he’s willing to fight dirty, if any of that leaks into things like being jealous of Yajima, especially when their strengths can offset each other and probably make better than either of them could imagine (SPOTTED FLOWER WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO US).

    I’m really, really, really, really, really, really hoping we get the Hato and Yajima school festival or comifes team-up and just see this come to a head somehow.

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