Kiss Kiss Fall in Love: Genshiken II, Chapter 118

It’s finally time to see Sue and Madarame’s date, which apparently involves ring tosses and ultra obscure references. After Hato comes by and advises Sue to express her feelings not in anime quotes but in her own words, Sue finds an opportunity to say what she really thinks of Madarame.

This chapter is all Sue x Mada all the way, and makes a rather strong argument for why they seem to fit together. Madarame is the only one high-level enough to not only immediately get Sue’s anime and Japanese pop culture callbacks, but also to build on them. What really stands out about their time together, however, is that we finally get to learn the truth behind Sue’s peck on the cheek during the school festival.

You might recall that it was a move to get Madarame to jump out of hiding so that Hato would notice that Madarame’s looking out for him after all, and that Saki saw the whole thing. When next we saw Sue, she would blush profusely whenever looking at Madarame, while denying any feelings towards him. The reason, as Sue explains, is that she herself thought she was just teasing Madarame, but having someone like Saki witness it made her self-conscious of the fact that the only reason she can mess with Madarame is because Sue views him differently. To Sue, Madarame is special. That’s why she can call him Nekoyasha and then ride on his shoulders. That’s why she can be so comfortable around him.  That’s why she can finally confess to him, and be the first of the potential four love interests to do so.

I think it makes sense. Genshiken is full of otaples at this point, and a Sue and Madarame relationship would be at the top of the food chain. Not only that, while “I’m comfortable around you” can seem like the most generic of non-reasons to fall for someone, we see how their interactions play out. To some extent, Sue’s able to behave similarly with Ogiue, and even make jokes about Ogiue being her “wife,” but there’s a certain understanding that it’s all a friendly joke. That’s how Sue was with Madarame, but now Madarame’s open-ness and existence as absolute embodiment of nerdery have transformed into a strange attractiveness. Moments when characters realize their feelings are always highlights of Genshiken, whether that’s Madarame and the Saki nose hair incident or Ogiue seeing Sasahara smile, and this one seems to shout, “kindred spirits.”

Visually, Chapter 118 is unsurprisingly the Sue Show. As a character that doesn’t talk much, her facial expressions carry a great deal of weight. Combined with her sharp yet wistful eyes and exaggerated further by her pale features, light-colored coat, and knee-length blonde hair, it’s like her nervousness and emotional tension either take over the entire page, at least whenever Sue herself isn’t being put side by side with Madarame and his darker features (mainly his hair). Nowhere is this more apparent than at the moment when Sue says, “Madarame, I like/love you.”

I almost didn’t want to include this image, just so it could be a surprise to even those who read this review before the chapter itself. However, I think it makes too striking a statement to leave out, especially when considering the fact that Sue purposely prevents Madarame from responding, as Hato hasn’t had his chance yet.  Also, there is arguably an even better moment at the end of 118, and I think I’ll leave that for you, the reader, to discover.

In the end, what I find interesting about all of the members of Madarame’s “harem” is that they connect to him in different ways. Angela’s attraction is physical, and while that might seem shallow she’s the one who brings to the forefront the idea of Madarame as a sexual being. Keiko is somewhere between physical and psychological, and her strategies reflect this. Hato has the closeness of being a guy, the intrinsic understanding of how Madarame might be thinking of a situation. Sue is as awkward as Madarame in many ways, one of their many similarities.

Next up is Hato, and this, perhaps, is where the show really begins.


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7 thoughts on “Kiss Kiss Fall in Love: Genshiken II, Chapter 118

  1. I found this chapter particularly moving. Sue isn’t just shy but has trouble communicating – both emotionally and in her own words. On top of that is the issue of language, since she’s communicating in Japanese which is not her native language. Using anime quotes is a sort of safe space for her, but it’s ultimately borrowed language.

    What struck me is that the power of her own speech. Despite still being rendered in katakana, which gives it a foreign effect, the words themselves were powerful, and they were HER words. Her words, in Japanese, which has become her language (despite the katakana). On top of that, it was a very “Japanese” moment in that it was a love confession. Sue is a very visual character, but I felt the words were very important here.

    As someone with a somewhat fraught relationship to Japanese (I have a degree in Japanese and studied Japanese literature for a year in a disastrous flirtation with grad school, but have not lived over there for any extended period, the longest time being just 3 months), this particularly resonated with me. I think I empathize with Sue in a lot of ways, as a western otaku, as someone who feels somewhat awkward socially (though I am not nearly as extreme), and as someone who learned Japanese as a second language. I think that, in speaking a second language, it starts off as a “foreign” language but gradually becomes your own, even if it is imperfect. With Sue, this was one of the barriers between her and Madarame, but the barrier becomes a door when she uses her own words – her own language.

    Also interesting to me was that Madarame’s world literally flips upside down in the panel after the confession.

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  2. I had a very different reading of this chapter – I think Sue’s words were very important, more so than her expressions (as amazing as they were).

    Sue is a second-language Japanese speaker, a westerner, an otaku, and very shy. It seems clear to me that speaking in quotes was a sort of safe zone, especially when her Japanese ability was weak, but it also became a sort of way to maintain distance. Having her use her own words, Japanese words, in this particular way gives Sue a very strong voice where before it was very soft and also opens the door between her and Madarame (where before there had been a language barrier). Despite speaking in katakana, I think it’s clear Sue is very fluent, and also has spoke her heart.

    I empathize a lot with Sue as a second language Japanese speaker, an otaku, and somewhat socially awkward (though not in the same way). For me it was very moving to have Sue speak this way, especially as I have a somewhat fraught relationship with the Japanese language. Sue has made it her language rather than a “foreign” language and in that moment crossed the barrier from being simply foreign to being a girl in Madarame’s eyes. The way she did it, a very classic kokuhaku, at a shrine no less, emphasizes this bridging of the cultural and linguistic gap.

    Also interesting was the way Madarame’s world literally turned upside down in the following panels. That was a nice touch.

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  3. More so than the moment when Madarame noticed his feeling for Saki, I’m reminded of the moment when Saki noticed his feelings for her, when Madarame was teasing Saki by putting cat ears on her. Like with Sue he was only comfortable enough to tease her because he liked her. It really showed the similarity between Sue and Madarame.

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  4. Pingback: Drifting Along: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for December 2015 | OGIUE MANIAX

  5. This chapter makes me happy :). I like “this” Sue. Suddenly I´m rooting for her. And, by the way, that was a honest to god love-confession, one that Madarame deserved. That guy may not realize that (yet), but he certainly needed that. (He is still coping with Saki in his mind. He´s one step closer to what Keiko and Sue said to him once: “change one´s love to another”, and thus, to heal, finally. To move on, basically.He needs to pry his eyes open again (romantically speaking), and maybe, Sue has just done that.)

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  6. I’m rooting for Sue – not because I have any aversion to Mada x Hato… but because in every way, Madame and Sue fit perfectly together. I also don’t seen this a Lolicon situation; Sue can in every way take care of herself, but the comfort of finally being able to relax within a safe, loving place would help them both grow, as individuals and a couple.

    As for Hato, that would be a completely different, and hugely challenging situation. Not that they couldn’t handle it, and it would blaze an amazing new trail… but my heart is with Sue.

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  7. Hey, I read a post on chapter 117 a while ago and I just read 118, I came back to see what you thought about it!
    This is by far one my favorite chapters in the series. It’s up there with the one where Keiko and Madarame are left alone in her apartment.
    Anyway, I’m all for Sue x Mada, the minute she got introduced I thought it would be a great match, way back in Genshiken 1.0. I don’t have anything against Hato x Mada, it works in the ‘ethereal’ aspect of love, where they understand each other and all that, but when you get to the mechanics of it, it’s hard to see Madarame accepting to be with someone he views as a guy.
    Anyway, I’m eagerly awaiting for the next one!

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