Pent-Up Penultimate Supernovas: Genshiken II, Chapter 126

In case you haven’t heard, Genshiken Nidaime ends next month (!!!). Nevertheless, we haven’t reached the finish line quite yet.

Chapter Summary

After a bit of haranguing, Kasukabe and Ogiue finally manage to get Madarame and Sue on the phone together. At that moment, Madarame confesses his feelings for Sue in the one language she truly understands: internet memes and anime references. Deftly avoiding his statements, Sue finally gives pause when Madarame says the magic words—”I think you’re ridiculously moe.” Madarame explains that, while moe, love, and sexual attraction aren’t necessarily the same thing, he wants to believe in moe as an important facet of being an otaku, and Sue is basically the manifestation of his 2D interests in 3D. Finally, Sue agrees, and the two officially become a couple.

That same day, Madarame reveals that he’s finalized the deal on his new apartment, and is moving away, further from the university than he’s ever been. With a new home, and a new girlfriend, Madarame finally moves on from the past but without abandoning his otaku pride.

A Bit of Hindsight

Is this the true nail in the coffin for the canonicity of Spotted Flower? Maybe, maybe not.

I’m pretty shocked that Genshiken is coming to a close once more. Given this sudden news, it makes me think a bit differently about these past few chapters. While I’ve seen complaints that the Madarame harem story took too long to reach its conclusion, I was okay with that length while under the assumption that we’d get to see a lot more. Now, however, we won’t even get to witness the younger Yoshitake sister’s college debut. We won’t get to see how Madarame and Sue’s relationship grows. We won’t get excited as new members of Genshiken are made. Because of this, a part of me now wishes that the harem arc would’ve finished sooner so that we’d have room for more stories. I know manga publishing doesn’t necessarily work that way, but a guy can dream, right?

The Case for Susanna Hopkins

Moving onto Chapter 126, this one hits with the force of a battering ram. Where once we thought Madarame’s romantic life would fall back into stasis for the time being, here it is, pried wide open by the power of Kasukabe Saki. Seeing as the series is ending so soon, Kasukabe’s actions might be construed as a kind of deus ex machina. However, can a character be simultaneously a deus ex machina and a realistic character at the same time that all of her actions are perfectly in-character? In Genshiken, it seems, anything is possible.

The lines that Madarame uses this chapter are as follows: “The moon is pretty,” which is an indirect way of saying, “I love you”; “About Sue, Madarame- !”, which is the romance manga standard for many interrupted confessions, and finally, “Sue makes me pig out! Oink oink oink!” All of these are varying forms of otaku communication, and it shows what about Madarame and Sue makes sense as a couple. Madarame is an otaku, through and through, and Sue is the only one truly capable of matching him in terms of power level. That’s not to say that none of the other potential partners would not have made sense, and I think this is in the manga’s favor. We’re left with one of four possibilities, and when looking at the outcome, a particular set of messages is conveyed.

Liberty, Equality, and Moe

I think it’s very telling that Madarame’s explanation about his attraction to her revolves around the idea of “moe,” and how he contrasts it with erotic attraction. While he doesn’t position them in a dichotomy—moe can lead to sexual attraction and vice versa, as was the case with his feelings towards Kasukabe—Madarame’s decision to go with the “moe” one is an embracing of his continued desire to be an otaku. Madarame feels like he needs to grow up. Times are changing, but that doesn’t mean that Madarame has to “graduate” from being exactly the kind of otaku he is, which is an old-school geek with old-school geek tastes.

In other words, Sue lets Madarame be himself in a way the others wouldn’t, even if they would have made nice couples anyway. Sue not only possesses all of the features that Madarame loves in anime characters, being a “blonde loli with a rude attitude,” but she’s also his equal where it counts for Madarame: as a fan of anime and manga. Because of this, Madarame is moving on with one aspect of his life by separating himself from Shiiou University as the anchor he could not (or did not want to) escape, but he is still projecting his core being as he moves ahead. Where once Madarame was an otaku tied to the past, now he is an otaku looking ahead to the future. Also, Sue still attends the university so he’ll probably be around sometimes anyway.

Madarame’s decision to go where the moe is doesn’t have all that much in common with the other couples in Genshiken. Ogiue projects her BL version of Sasahara onto the real person, but this acts more as a kind of intimate bonding (and implied foreplay). and she increasingly shows how much she loves the actual Sasahara. Ohno and Tanaka came together over their shared hobbies, but it’s in the space of passion and community. Kohsaka and Kaminaga both have non-otaku partners who are fairly different from each other. And even though it doesn’t really count, Kugayama wants to get to know his beloved Cabaret Club girl Rino better. To put it differently, Genshiken presents many possible avenues of romance for otaku. There is no one size fits all, whether the significant other is an otaku or not, and so Madarame’s choice to embrace moe (and Sue in the process), is the path he, as an individual, takes, and his way of navigating the nebulous border between 2D and 3D.

I know the Madarame/Hato dynamic and the end of that possibility leaves a bitter taste in many fans’ mouths, but I do want to point out something very noteworthy in this chapter. When Madarame is comparing his prospective partners in terms of moe, he mentions that everyone but Sue would better be categorized as “sexy.” When asked about whether that includes Hato, Madarame says, “Hato too.” In other words, Madarame feels sexual attraction towards Hato (though whether it’s Hato the boy or Hato the boy dressed as a girl isn’t clear), and his decision for going with Sue is something that almost transcends the flesh. Madarame being very quite possibly bisexual is something I don’t think anyone expected from Genshiken originally, and it’s kind of amazing to say at all now that it’s come to this.

Sue’s Meta Powers

Before I bring this review home, I want to talk more about Sue as an entity of fiction. Though it isn’t ever explicitly stated who the most popular character in Genshiken Nidaime is, many signs point to either Hato or Sue. It’s Sue who was made into a DLC costume for the game Akiba’s Trip, who was made into a hug pillow, and who is increasingly prominent on the store-exclusive bonuses for buying new volumes of the manga in Japanese. Could this popularity have been a factor in deciding the final couple?

Another aspect of Sue that bears mentioning is the fact that she’s able to make not just anime and manga references, but references to Genshiken itself. Sue’s way of saying, “Yes, I will go out with you Madarame!” in this chapter comes from twisting a quote from Zenigata from Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro: “He stole something quite precious: your heart.” Except, Sue replaces “your heart” with “my panties.” One might think she’s just being weird, but this is actually the very line that Ogiue thinks when Sue flies back to the US in the first series while still wearing the underwear she borrowed from Ogiue. As one might remember from early on in Nidaime‘s life, Sue was somehow even able to reference Ogiue’s self-introduction (in spite of her not even being there at the time!). Sue actually might just be some kind of metatextual alien.

In Closing

One more chapter, and next month is Kuchiki’s graduation. In the meantime, enjoy these Ogiue moments. Though it’s a Sue-centric chapter, it was actually rife with Ogiue goodness.

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16 thoughts on “Pent-Up Penultimate Supernovas: Genshiken II, Chapter 126

  1. Fantastic write-up. This was one of my favorite chapters in all of Nidaime. Towards the end of the harem arc I started to believe that Sue represented the best romantic possibility for both the person Madarame could become and the person he was. After being disappointed by Madarame’s excuse for not choosing her, this chapter did a great job at showing why she’s nearly perfect for him and I thought the confessions by both were written really well.

    This being the end makes me even more disappointed that the harem arc retroactively becomes the core focus of the second generation, but the last few chapters have been great and it seems likely that the final one will be as well, so I’m not too upset that the next chapter will be the end. Even though I’ve mostly been critical of Nidaime (primarily because of Madarame) in comparison to the original Genshiken, there were quite a few moments and characters that I loved. I’m looking forward to the conclusion.

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  2. I’m so sad it’s going to end! I’m somewhat conflicted about Sue, I personal was on S.S MadaHato, but I do think Sue and Madarame will work well as a couple, I just feel that Sue could have used some more character exploration throughout the series. I feel if we got to know a bit more about Sue as a person I’d be a bit more satisfied with this result.

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  3. Who knows what the future holds for Genshiken after these last chapters but if this is the end forever then all I can say is that following this manga over the years has been wonderful. Such a great story with a fantastic cast of characters. The Sue ending seems to be a rushed way to tie things up but maybe this was the plan all along ever since Sue walked into the club room and Madarame complimented her hair before she quoted Asuka from Evangelion.

    Will have to see if I can order the print version from Japan since I won’t be over there to buy it I want to have the final chapter for sentimental and collection value. .

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  4. Does anyone believe that there won’t be a Sandaime? The characters still have lots to offer.
    I believe Genshiken will finally, truly end for real when the last members from the first manga graduate, i.e. Ohno and Ogiue.

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  5. Even though I didn’t know what they were saying, the faces they made were hilarious.
    I want to believe that it’s just “Genshiken Nidaime” that’s going to end and that there will be another Genshiken series (as what happened with Tokyo Ghoul for instance), otherwise it would be too cruel to put Madarame and Sue together and not being able to enjoy these two interact as a couple for more than a chapter. Plus, Ohno and Ogiue haven’t gratuated yet, not to mention the Hato-Yajima case…

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  6. I feel a bit uncomfortable about this sudden conclusion… There is a story line i wish i could see more deeply that is the Ohno and Tanaka couple and the problems with her grades in university affecting somewhat their possible “marriage”
    I really thought that she seemed a bit reclusive about her decisions and that could be more explored.
    Really hoping for a Genshiken Sandaime haha

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  7. I’m a little surprised by how many readers seem to be pleased with this ending.

    We know almost nothing about Sue and her inner life, and spent a relatively tiny amount of time with her on the page — less than any of the other new club members. If this was where Kio was planning to go with the “harem” arc then he should have spent those chapters developing Sue’s character and giving readers some sense of why they should be invested in this particular matchup. Madarame spends almost no time in the hundreds of Nidaime chapters thinking or talking about Sue when she isn’t around. And then he only asks her out because he’s literally forced to? Because Sassahara pressures him to so he can more time alone with Ogiue?

    Honestly, this development feels slapped-on and sloppy, so much so that I’d suspect editorial interference if I was feeling a little more paranoid. As it is, I’m left having to assume that Kio lost control of his own manga and ended up scrambling at the end.

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    • My suspicion is actually that he likely had this ending in mind, but that it would’ve required at least another 30 chapters to play though. Feels like someone pulled the plug, but I’m not sure of course.

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      • It was probably that Genshiken Nidaime wasn´t going well in the polls, or in sells. Editor´s choice, I suppose. I

        Anyway, this chapter almost redeems the harem arc, upping the ante in Madarame´s mind exposure: we get to see what HE REALLY WANTS in his life. He´s really trying in this one, guys.
        In a way, it´s almost a relief. But, in the other hand, it´s a bit sudden, as the Madarame-Sue romance hasn´t got as much exposition as Sasahara-Ogiue had in the original Genshiken. It feels a bit rushed, yes, but nevertheless, it is a plausible ending. It suggest an opening for new series, but I wouldn´t hope for much in that regard (Heed me, Risa lovers!).

        I´ve enjoyed this ride. But… those loose ends dangling outside (Hato´s future, Yoshitake, Risa,Yajima, etc…) have left me a bittersweet taste, now that I know that I won´t see them developing in the middle of their hijinks.

        P.D: Doesn´t this completely kill Spotted Flower´s apparent canon? Does this clossure cement it as a completely alternative future? Ugh, questions!

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  9. Thought-provoking and interesting writeup as always!

    Written out like this, the qualities that seem to make Sue compatible with Madarame make sense. But Kio, I’m sorry, I’m just not buying it. At all. They had maybe…one actual conversation pre-harem arc? Sue’s never been fully developed as a character, and neither have her feelings for Madarame. And I’ve seen nothing to indicate Madarame likes her romantically beyond sheer “moe” attraction – which, hang on, weren’t there a hundred conversations over the last X chapters about “fantasy vs. reality” and how clinging to the former is a Bad Thing?

    I shipped the hell out of HatoMada, but I can still look at the series objectively, and this just feels like bad writing. The fact is, Madarame /was/ having conversations with one of the harem members, and blushing around them, and going out of his way to spend time with them, and reaching out to them over and over and over, but it was not Sue. It was Hato. That was the relationship that Kio devoted the lion’s share of page time to.

    Now, if he somehow managed to write that entire emotional arc by accident and planned all along to have Mada bail on the whole harem, fine. I personally might find it a massive waste of time, but fine. But to turn around two chapters later and have Madarame end up with Sue after devoting precisely zero time to their relationship is infuriating. It feels like a slap in the face. Again.

    (Once again, I’m sorry for venting my frustration all over your comments section, but the Genshiken fandom seems to have shriveled as of late and there’s not a lot of avenues for discussion. Makes me sad.)

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    • The thing is, Hato makes a good point – “You can’t have an ending without a beginning.”

      Way back, I was nonplussed and a little mad that Genshiken originally ended with so much left to say, but Saki’s graduation was a natural ending and a beginning. It left you to form your own conclusions. It was also resonant with my own experiences of my uni anime club, members leaving, some staying in your life, some fading out and moving away when they get together.

      Now Niidame’s ending, while rushed, is a more traditional open ending than when the original slapped “End Of Genshiken” under Saki’s confused face in the middle of the graduation party. Madarame’s date with Sue might work out into a longer romance, it might not, but the point is, while he might have been pushed into it, Madarame, the otaku who couldn’t decide, still asked her out.

      Did Sue show less character development than Hato? Yes, if your criteria was to have her talk normally to Madarame. But she’s a shy otaku who hides behind her quotes (believe me, I know the feeling) and only barely competent in conversational Japanese. Hato didn’t have that disadvantage. Instead, her expressions and actions towards Madarame said a lot towards expressing her crush.

      As to whether Madarame liked her more than all the rest, no. But minus the pressure of the harem game, she is the one he could see himself dating, and that’s the difference. It’s still wishy-washy, still a little unsatisfying, but very consistent with his personality.

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      • I agree wholeheartedly with all you´ve said. It is true that Sue hasn´t had as much exposure in scenes with Madarame, but, like in real life, not always the love which stays with us is the one most familiar (by frequent contact or allure), but the one which we decide (consciously, as mentally prepared and positively decided) or deem possible.

        Both Hato and Madarame where aware of what they loved of, and of which they could be able to take from that same love. In this case, Sue looked as a more compatible prospect in the longterm, sharing an interest in anime knowledge, as Madarame didn´t believe that fujoshi-ism would sit with him that well.

        In a way, Madarame finally made a choice for himself, in and out of Genshiken. He did a calculated guess, and tried to be honest in his choice, within his own reason.

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