Turnabout: Genshiken II, Chapter 115

It’s Keiko’s turn for with Madarame, and she uses the opportunity as only Keiko can. At the same time, she shows both some chinks in her armor and her resilience in spite of that. The chapter also ends with a reference to Overman King Gainer, which is never a bad thing.

One thing I’ve neglected when it comes to these recent Nikkou chapters of Genshiken is the potential meaning behind Yoshitake’s historical expositions. One purpose is to show that Yoshitake is indeed a history otaku, and visiting such a culturally significant place as Tokugawa Ieyasu’s tomb would set her off, yet I can’t help but feel that there’s a sense of metacommentary behind it. According to Yoshitake, Ieyasu purposely lied about the true location of his grave in order to mislead his enemies, and similarly it’s possible that Kio Shimoku has been placing one Madarame love interest in front of the others as a kind of red herring. The question is, then, which of the four is actually in the “lead?”

The answer is probably Keiko or Hato at this point, and you could make cases for either. In Chapter 115, Keiko outright states her case. Keiko: The Realistic Choice. It’s not the most inspiring campaign slogan, so to speak, but as I’ve mentioned in the past that is part of the Keiko x Mada pairing’s charm, that they already seem like a married couple, that opposites attract, etc. In certain ways, like a tangent graph, the more Keiko x Mada is a thing, the more it approaches (but never quite reaches) Spotted Flower. It’s realistic in a very specific sense of the word, where it reflects a popular image of how monogamous love and relationships are “behind the scenes.”

As for Hato, Yoshitake makes a comment that Hato has gotten closer to Madarame as a guy than he ever has in his female guise. Whether Yoshitake realizes it or not, she’s directly addressing one of Keiko’s criticisms of Hato, that he’s putting on an act, a performance, to get attention. Is this gender performativity, and is Keiko any less guilty of it?

If Hato is the front-runner, however, then this chapter is possibly the undermining of that, and again it has to do with Keiko. At the end of the chapter, Speaking of that, Keiko defies the standard manga progression, where secrets are unspoken and affect the dynamics of the love polygon, by just telling Hato about Yajima’s feelings for him. Cutting to the chase in that way is very characteristic of Keiko. You’d think it’d perhaps also be Saki-esque, but I feel like while Saki was devious, it’s a different kind of planning and awareness when Keiko is involved. Keiko is “realistic,” and part of her “reality” is that she both shatters illusions while creating others, and is very aware of everything that goes into presenting herself to Madarame. The main thing that throws her off is that Madarame is indecisive beyond her imagination, to the point that she at first interprets his waffling as rejection. There is a great deal of miscommunication because Keiko just perceives the world differently compared to the primarily otaku cast.

Keiko’s reaction to her “rejection” is fascinating in its own way. You can tell just from how shocked she is that Madarame might not be interested in her just how much confidence she had about winning. It actually didn’t occur to her that she wouldn’t be able to do just the right things to get Madarame to fall into her arms. It’s indicative of how she thinks that she feels that Angela is the biggest threat to her but is thankfully stymied by a long distance, and sees Sue as being too reticent for anything to happen, not realizing that this might be part of her appeal. Keiko aims for physical desire, and aims her personality in that direction.

So what does it mean that Hato is aware of Yajima now? It could go in a lot of different directions, but I could see it going for a while where Yajima doesn’t know that Hato knows about her crush. Yajima is fairly observant, but nowhere near on the level of Keiko or Saki, and Keiko is likely going to try and push them together. In other manga, Keiko might be viewed as the scheming villain, but I wonder if Hato and Yajima would be so bad after all. For one thing, characters like Yajima, especially in terms of physical appearance, are kind of a rarity in manga and anime, and to have them together might make for an interesting statement.

As for the red herrings, perhaps neither Keiko nor Hato are as likely choices as they seem.

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17 thoughts on “Turnabout: Genshiken II, Chapter 115

  1. Another great installment! I confess to being on the Keiko side. I have been ever since the end of chapter 91. In 91’s last few panels, Madarame looks up from his escape from the Angela suggestion of a 4-some and sees a very “normally” dressed Keiko with a very normal expression of “hi” on her face. She shows no clue to what has transpired that day, she just seems pleased to see Madarame; and then wackiness and injury ensues.

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  2. Evidence from social psychology suggests that opposites do not attract.

    At this point, I have no idea which woman is winning. The arc could just as easily end without Madarame pairing with anyone.

    In terms of compatible personalities, there are usually two variations–complementary personalities and similar personalities. Angela and Keiko are extroverts, and they complement Madarame, the introvert. Hato manages a pretty good balance between introversion and extroversion. In terms of body language, Sue is usually an extrovert, but when you consider verbal communication, she’s an introvert. From this perspective, Angela, Keiko, and Sue are the likely candidates. One must also consider the contenders’ values.

    Madarame values modesty, frugality (except with regard to the purchasing of porn), and fidelity. Technically speaking, Keiko still has a boyfriend (I think). Thus, she lost points with Madarame when her boyfriend called as she tried to get intimate with Madarame in her apartment. And, assuming she still has a boyfriend, Keiko is still losing commitment points on this trip. Angela doesn’t seem big on commitment, nor does she seem interested in learning Japanese, so I think she’s out when viewed from this perspective. Sue and Hato seem about even in regard to commitment to Madarame. With Keiko and Angela out due to incompatible values, Hato and Sue win this round.

    In terms of similar interests, Keiko lags behind the other contenders. Sue, Hato, and Angela tie here.

    From the perspective of sexual orientation, Hato loses to the girls, because evidence shows that Madarame is heterosexual.

    I could probably dig deeper, but I’m tired. Awarding one point for each degree of similarity (i.e. personality, values, interests, and sexuality), one sees the following results. Sue gets a 4; Angela gets 3; Hato gets either 3 (if you consider his situational personality to be simultaneously complementary and similar to Madarame’s personality) or 2 (if you don’t give him the personality point); and Keiko gets 2. Sue has the most points, so she wins this short analysis.

    I feel that Hato x Yajima is the most likely result of this arc, because they share many characteristics. They feel uncomfortable about their bodies, they’re fujoshi, and they’re artists. In addition, they spend a lot of time together. As a general rule, the more two people interact with each other, the more they will grow to like each other. Taken together, these factors increase the probability that Hato and Yajima will become a couple.

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    • Technically speaking, Hato is a fundanshi, no?

      I feel like the question here isn’t “who’s the most fitting/resonable candidate?” but “what kind of Story Kio wants to tell?”.
      Is Kio here to tell us “reality is what it is and you can’t break habits and social norms? That makes Keiko the likeliest choice, as the normal, socially accepted girlfriend with the conventional romance dynamics.
      Or is Kio telling a story about “Deifying norms and finding your happiness outside exceptions”? That makes Hato, with his unique relationship and closeness to Madarame, more likely.

      I think both Sue and Angela are too outlandish to fit in a serious relationship drama. They’re both presented as extreme characters, complex and deep ones, but still more tropes than realistic characters (as presented in story compared to the rest of the cast).

      So, my cynicsm toward Japanese culture suggests the aesop here is going to be geared toward realism: you can’t just discard social structures and you have to try and live harmoniously while accepting the way things are. Meaning HatoMada is too subversive and would never work, and Madarame is either going to try going out with Keiko or (equally likely) decide he is not ready for a relationship.

      I don’t like the idea of Yajima and Hato hooking up yet. If they manage to converse honestly and reach some level of comfort with each other, without one of them secretly feeling superior/inferior, than maybe. But right now it feels too much like steering Hato back into the safe bosom of social acceptance and pulling a big ‘no homo’ moment (which would really suck, considering how original a representation of serious queer characters is basically non-existent in manga).

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      • I think this manga is really flirting with the idea that Hato x Mada can be a thing before swerving back and saying no on it, which is, agreed, sad. Because there is no real question of a gay identity in Japanese Manga.

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      • >But right now it feels too much like steering Hato back into the safe bosom of social acceptance and pulling a big ‘no homo’ moment (which would really suck, considering how original a representation of serious queer characters is basically non-existent in manga).

        I think a serious romantic relationship involving a transgender/nonbinary character would be original regardless of the other partner’s gender.

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  3. Pingback: Genshiken Ch115: impatience | HEARTS OF FURIOUS FANCIES

  4. “You are the only one who can make me act like that!”

    That was Madarame’s big winning line from his bed scene with Hato. ^_^ But it wasn’t just a line. Think about it, recall the story so far: it’s absolutely true, Hato is the only one who can bring the manliness out of Madarame.

    Add to that how the very observant Angela, while taking Madarame’s hand to her cheek, noticed Madarame and Hato looking into each other’s eyes while the world faded to grey around them — and decided on the spot that she was retiring from the harem race…

    The conclusion is pretty obvious: right now Hato is number one in Madarame’s heart by a large margin. Gender is unimportant. (Or at least much less important for otaku Madarame, whose sexuality is shaped by manga & games, than it would be for a riajuu).

    As for Yajima, she has a snowball’s chance in hell with Hato. She is the direct opposite of everything Hato looks for in a partner, man or woman. Really, if Hato were to fall for a girl, Yoshitake’s imouto is a better candidate.

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    • >As for Yajima, she has a snowball’s chance in hell with Hato. She is the direct opposite of everything Hato looks for in a partner, man or woman.

      I can’t recall Hato even admitting to wanting a partner, except for Madarame, so I think it’s premature to conclude that. Besides, if Madarame really is Hato’s type, Yajima bears some similarities to him.

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      • I agree. But I worry that partnering Hato with Yajima is meant to show us he is not NB or trans, but to reinforce the idea he’s a totes straight guy who likes to wear dresses but no homo. Their healthy romance will bring out his True Man and Yajima will become a True Girl and HAPPY ENDING! A clear separation of fantasy, where you can be anything, and reality, where you can be straight and CIS and maaaybe a nerd if you don’t make a fuss about it.

        Of course it doesn’t have to happen, and is in fact not very likely, but that’s my worst case scenario and I’m a pessimist.

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      • Have you forgotten Hato’s sempai from the art club? The one who later becomes his sister-in-law?
        We know it already: that’s Hato’s type, when it comes to women. ^_^

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  5. Considering how much of nidaime has focused on Hato finding himself, and Madarame growing…I stand by my thoughts. I think something will happen between the two of them. It’s just a matter of what that thing will be. I personally think if they do get together it’ll be short lived and they won’t stay together. A lot of manga artists have a habit of playing it safe. I think there’s a very good chance the same will happen here, and they wont go the full distance. Madarame won’t be into the peen at the end of the day.

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  6. I think it´s pretty clear that Angela and Sue won´t finish the race: Hato or Keiko are the only ones with whom Madarame is at ease to a certain extent. Keiko is straightforward with him (in the sense that she doesn´t stop her mouth for “mere courtesy”. Even when she is flirting, she´s blunt with her assets), while Hato understands well the very otaku-ish manly side of Madarame, as a fellow otaku. That much is obvious. But I think that neither of the two know what Madarame really wants. Which, by the way, Kio doesn´t completely shows. Is Madarame still misguided by juvenile imagination? Or he is steering, little by little, to a conclusion of his own? The easy take on this is that he will remain forever a “pushable” person, but even so… as a MC on a manga, the final decision it´s for him to take. That´s almost tradition in harem manga. My bid´s on Keiko, but with reservations.

    P.D. The sad thing is that Saki & Madarame admired and respected eachother, even when they both wouldn´t admit it. The moment Madarame “confessed” and was rejected, and Saki cries a little, we spot Madarame thinking that he just knew, way before, Saki´s weakness on these things… I can´t shake off Spotted Flower… if that were to be the “true” future universe to this one… what would have happened to Kousaka?

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  7. Finally read this chapter and personally I want Keiko I win for one thing: she pointed out that Madarame is unemployed, broke and had already graduated long before her more successful brother. With Hato only making a passing reference to Madarame’s financial situation (and only to keep him from going to a cabaret club), Keiko is the only harem member that has addressed the one real life factor that love alone won’t handle.

    I’m just more pissed at Madarame’s indecisiveness. I always thought he was delusional by thinking that the harem could work out but this chapter just solidified it. I’m gonna have to wait for the next chapter though, because I don’t feel like talking about Yajima x Hato until then.

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  8. Maybe I’m just the outlier here but with the keiko pairing i see nothing but a potential abusive relationship. She is basically telling a meek and vulnerable person that they can’t do any better than her because no one else would ever want a loser and a freak like him. This might just come from seeing actual relationships like the keiko pairing. The guy ended up in the hospital from attempted suicide from the abuse. If not hato then someone else because even someone like mada deserves someone that will care about him and not say such hurtful things. No human being male,female,or otherwise deserves to be treated like that.

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  9. Wow! Great discussion. As always; I can only react to the story by projecting my own feeling into the mix. I get a vibe that Keiko actually likes Madarame in her odd personal way. She doesn’t just see him as a scalp on her belt. She sees her self as too good for him and feeling he should see her as being generous by offering to be with him, not out competition but as a “normal” thing to do. I see her as having been effected by repeated contact with Saki & Kousaka’s relationship, and with her brother’s relationship with Ogiue-Domo. Hato I see as determinedly avoiding drowning in his mix of feelings, desires, fantasies and friendships. He is making progress towards some unknown shore, while working like Hell to keep his head above water. Like all good Harem stories I have great affection for all the Harem members but not nearly as much for poor Madarame.

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  10. I don’t know who it will be, but I’m hoping for Hato and I think it’s been left wide open as an option. I think people who say that Mada is straight and there for can’t be into Hato long term forget that Mada has a thing for trap characters in Ero games. He’s always been a unabashed about what he likes, and unafraid to buck norms, for example he quit his job. Even though Hato ” doesn’t even have boobs though”, I can totally see that relationship working for him long and short term.

    Also if any manga is going to make this work it will be Genshiken, so I’m hopping.

    On a different note, Yajima is an amazing character. Who are we going to get to for her? She deserves better than a Kugayama like treatment.

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