Future Boy: Genshiken II, Chapter 119

At long last, it’s the final date! Hato gets his turn with Madarame, but while their time together starts off with some comedy, it quickly turns into a very serious conversation that brings Genshiken back to a core theme: 2D characters vs. 3D relationships.

Actually, to be more accurate, the clash between “fantasy” and “reality” emerges from the very beginning. Just calling it a “date event” betrays the entire club’s otaku orientation; among regular people it would just be a “date.” From there, Hato starts to clearly delineate the differences between a biological woman and he himself who only dresses as a woman, namely that a crossdresser tends not to want people to get too close, otherwise they might recognize the truth. Though it ends with a funny moment where Madarame and Hato try out holding hands (did you know that Madarame has cold hands?), only to pull them apart after being spotted by the rest of the group, the tension is already set.

Though the dirty looks from Sue and Keiko (and Kuchiki) are magnificent.

Throughout the chapter you see Madarame use certain words that associate Hato with the the characters in the boy-girl (otoko no ko) games Madarame plays. He uses terms like “spice,” or “forbidden,” which eventually causes Hato to directly confront Madarame about what it would take to be in a homosexual relationship. Hato outright says to Madarame, “I’m a guy!” (pairing an effeminate “watashi” with a masculine “otoko”) and essentially asks if Madarame has really thought about what that means. If he actually starts something with Hato, then in the long term it won’t be a crazy alternative, or a thrilling experiment. Dating a man, even one that dresses convincingly like a woman, won’t be like seeing it in an anime or a visual novel, where no real consequences can occur. If he chooses Angela, Sue, or Keiko, then he won’t have to deal with these hardships.

I don’t know if I’m reading too much into this, but I think that implicit in Hato’s words is the awareness that gays are stereotyped and discriminated against in Japanese society. Picking Hato comes with it a future of tribulations, and the question is if Madarame is really prepared to take this seriously, or if it’s just a fetish at the end of the day that can’t move beyond fantasy.

Madarame’s response in turn, “Sorry,” then signals two things. Hato’s devastated reaction indicates that he’s not so much taken aback by Madarame’s apology, but the very nature of it. That’s because the “sorry” comes across as noncommittal, another case of Madarame vacillating because he still desires for the pieces to fall into place without him having to make any hard choices. Madarame has the potential to start a real relationship with Hato or any of the others, but he’s still afraid to make a decision. It calls back to the Madarame who originally decided to let his crush on Kasukabe slide by unrequited, and was willing to let it eat away at him for the rest of his life.

What I also find fascinating about this entire situation is that it not only subverts that harem aspect of the series, but that it’s a strong reminder that the qualities that have made Madarame somehow charming to these prospective partners are also the very things that can aggravate them. He’s both his own best friend and his own worst enemy, and I believe it keeps the series from truly entering actual “harem” territory.

The question of how Madarame will engage with the reality of having a flesh and blood partner is what I think makes Ogiue’s appearance at the end so interesting. As stated in the chapter itself by Ogiue, Hato’s running away from Madarame mirrors Ogiue trying to reject Sasahara out of fear of both hurting others and being hurt. However, I also feel it’s not really the same situation.

Sasahara hesitated because he was a naive dork who couldn’t read between the lines. Even though he recognized his own feelings for her at that point, when Ogiue told him that she couldn’t date guys, Sasahara took it at face value and almost gave up as a result. Madarame, on the other hand, has to decide whether his feelings are for Hato the person or Hato the image, and whether he’s willing to take a much more difficult road in the process when he clearly has three less troubling options moving forward that he also seems to have feelings for.

Writing all of this out, it makes me realize that Madarame’s hesitation can also be interpreted as wanting to make certain that he makes the right decision. He’s been raised to believe that romance is a special thing, a world of childhood friends and deep bonds that are anything but frivolous (though at the same time sex is raunchy and powerful). It might be another angle worth exploring.

Angela believes that Madarame clearly has eyes for Hato. We’ll see if she’s right.

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11 thoughts on “Future Boy: Genshiken II, Chapter 119

  1. I was going to write up a huge response as to why it’s obvious that Madarame is in love with Hato and such. Instead, I’ll just focus on something from this chapter, namely the hand holding scene.

    I think there was a lot more to it than just being a “comedy” scene. I think it perfectly showcased how Madarame’s feelings for Hato are the strongest out of the rest of the harem. Both Angela and Sue grab Madarame’s hand on their respective dates and in both cases, Madarame never holds their hand back. However on his date with Hato, Madarame’s the one who holds Hato’s hand is the one proposes it in the first place. Similar to how Angela noticed that Madarame’s eyes went to Hato when she cupped his hand to her face, I think it’s a major indication of where Madarame’s true feelings lie.

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    • I actually get it through a site called honto.jp. They’re a Japanese online bookstore with ebooks. Getting it to work in iOS can be tricky (you have to change your region), but once you get the app, you only need to make purchases through the main website itself.

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  3. I do think the Ogiue parallel works, and it works if you forgo the same-sex aspect of the relationship for just a sec. Ogiue running away from Sasahara was a form of self-sabotage, just like Hato told Mada to forget about his feelings at the hotel room. The climax of that character arc was being able to bare it all and still be accepted by the one they love. I do think Hato and Mada are heading in the same direction…

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  5. We’re in for a hurting scene. Ángela may have guessed correctly where Mada’s heart líes, but I think she’s not as keen as Kasukabe… What I fear is that we’re reaching the high point which made Hato so resentful in Spotted Flower, the realization that Madarame doesn’t quite understand him as he wish to be, and worse enough, Madarame isn’t trying to reciprocate seriously his intents and purposes, but instead, talks obliviously in a roundabout way . This could be a feeble patch that goes sour in time or the final stab in the guts for Hato. (To sum this short: Is this making Spotted Flower to cannon category?)

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    • Kio said himself in an interview that there’s no relationship between Spotted Flower and Genshiken. So the two canons won’t ever intervene. If Mada/Hato doesn’t work out it won’t automatically lead to a Mada/Saki ending either, I think.

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  6. Eh, i agree with almost all that you said. But i think that Kio is beginning to force reality for Hato`s plot. It`s not fatal, still.

    Because Madarame is, or was, a full character even before Nidaime. A guy that remember the first time a girl slaped him, and was in a circle of male friends, a best friend (Sasahara), playing galges with not even the slightless things for boys love. Sure he always hesitate, so the actual plot works, but the final result should be faithfull to the character. Even as far as the visit from Sue to Madarame`s place, and the answer “he doesn`t have tits”, shows that the Hato thing is platonic, pretty much like a 2D thing.

    But i`m beginning to fear… Angela, and Ogiue are pushing. This Madarame has been made weaker than the original so… maybe…

    It can`t be. Sue should be the right choice for a lolicon. Even the first time she shows up, Madarame saw her… Personally i would have liked a Mada x Yoshitake, but Sue is what the logic and reality demands.

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