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Between showers, fools, and lambs, April is a month of change and transition. It’s only appropriate then that I try to evolve as well! As always, it’s with the help of my friends and Patreon supporters that I continue to try and improve Ogiue Maniax:

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Sasahara Keiko fans:

Kristopher Hostead

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

So, the first change I’m making is a small adjustment to my schedule. Since 2010 I’ve generally structured my weekly posting schedule to be posts on Tuesday and Friday with at least the occasional lighter post on Sunday, most typically a Fujoshi File entry. However, I’ve noticed that most of my readers come in on Sunday, and to give my lowest-impact content at that point feels like a shame, because if you’re coming to Ogiue Maniax I believe it’s to read something interesting. Because of this, I’ve decided to switch Sunday to being a main posting day, with either Tuesday or Friday being less heavy. I’m still on the fence on which one to use, but most likely it’ll be Friday. I hope you enjoy the change, and of course, if you miss the post it’s always there in the archives.

kiminakare_mainvisual

A second possible change is adding another series other than Genshiken for me to review regularly. The title is Kimi xxxru Koto Nakare (“You Can’t Do That”), the new monthly manga by Okachimachi Hato (creator of one of my favorite manga, Fujoshissu!) about a high school romance between a male idol and a female celebrity comedian. The question is, how should I cover it? To help me with this, I’m using a handy dandy poll:

Keep in mind that this is just for feedback and the winning answer won’t necessarily determine what happens. Also, I mistakenly thought it was a weekly manga, so a previous Patreon post of mine mistakenly had weekly options.

As for what’s happened on the blog over the past month, the biggest event for Ogiue Manaix and all current Genshiken readers definitely has to be the latest manga chapter, which concludes the Madarame harem story. I won’t say much more, so go check it out if you’re curious as to what goes down and my thoughts on it. Also, I need to point out that a funky translation of Chapter 122’s contents has been going around, and it provides an inaccurate image of the characters. In response to this, I’ve also translated a couple of small but vital excerpts from the chapter in the hopes of clearing up the confusion.

As mentioned last month, I went to see a whole bunch of animated films. These include The Boy and the Beast, The Case of Hana & Alice, Beyond Beyond, Kizumonogatari Part 1: Tekketsu, Psycho-Pass: The Movie, and Long Way North. This means it was a pretty danged review-heavy month, especially because I also covered Please Tell Me! Galko-chan, the mahjong manga Saki, and the ever-successful Aikatsu! I’m typically more of an analysis and deep thinking kind of writer, but it’s not bad to have months like this either, and most of the time I my reviews are more half-review/half-analysis anyway.

Speaking of reviews, I also finally updated the Reviews section of the blog. I neglected it for about…a year and a half? orz

I also talked last month about my concern over stagnating as a writer. My smart and ever-perceptive friend David Brothers gave me some advice in response to one of my Apartment 507 articles on Yandere characters, which is that I should think about putting more of myself into my writing. I think that ever since I’d gone in a more academic direction it’s improved Ogiue Maniax in a number of ways. At the same time, that sort of more casual and personal feel, while still present I believe, might not be as apparent. Sometimes I have to be more friend than teacher.

Three final comments:

  1. Shout outs to Abadango for winning Pound 2016 using 99% Mewtwo (with a dash of Meta Knight). It’s the first major tournament in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U that has been won by a Mewtwo.
  2. Some cool and mysterious fellow recently published an academic article about the science fiction manga 7 Billion Needles in the journal Japan Forum. If you’ve got access and that’s your sort of thing, maybe check it out?
  3. This past weekend was the final Love Live! concert for the original μ’s girls. Love Live! forever! Hanayo banzai! Also, sorry about the April Fool’s joke (not sorry).

NOTE: It seems that an inaccurate translation of the contents of this chapter have been floating around. Please look at this supplemental post after reading this review to get the right picture.

At long last, Madarame makes his choice in Chapter 122. And in the end the winner is…

Is…!

…No one. Madarame chooses to abstain.

I get the strange feeling some readers might be pulling out the pitchforks, but I think it’s best to put them away. I believe the reasons behind Madarame’s decision are worth exploring, as they really show the kind of consideration Genshiken has for its characters and their connections to both the real world and that of their awkward nerd fandom.

Madarame says that there is no universal reason he’s chosen not to date any of the girls. Each circumstance is unique. When you add them all together it paints an interesting picture.

For Angela, it’s a matter of a long distance relationship, but Madarame explicitly mentions that it has to do with the idea that being with the hottest thing on Earth, but only having physical contact twice a year, would be like “torture.” Implied is the notion that Madarame is open to the idea of a relationship based on bodily desire, but that’s untenable unless Angela moves to Japan.

Physically, Madarame is ready, but emotionally he’s not. This is what puts Keiko out of contention, as the possibility that Keiko will remind him of Saki, whether because of their similarities or because Keiko might just mention her in conversation is difficult for him at this point. While Madarame is indeed attracted to Keiko, the important thing is that he needs more time to come to terms with his lost love. As Madarame mentions, he’s just been kind of passively going along with everything, and that’s probably what he needs least at this point.

Sue’s is an odd rationale, because Madarame’s “reason” for not dating her is because he likes seeing Sue’s displays of yuri affection with Ogiue. This feels like a cop-out, but I really do think there’s more to Madarame’s words than meets the eye. Given how positively Sue reacts to Madarame’s explanation, I think it shows that Madarame not only understands Sue well, but that he sees Sue herself as not being ready for a relationship. She’s still shy and sensitive, and might need more time to step out of her shell.

Madarame’s basis for rejecting Hato is the most complex of all, but it all comes down to not wanting to hurt Hato. Madarame explains that, even if he and Hato were to work out as a couple, the constant worry that Hato has had to suffer because of Madarame risks being not simply a short term thing.

In all likelihood, their relationship would be forever plagued with doubts and second-guesses as to whether Madarame likes the fantasy more than the reality, or whether Hato feels comfortable being who he is. As Madarame puts it, Hato should be with someone who just simply accepts him as he is, and lets Hato feel like his identity as a crossdressing fudanshi is a matter of course. This mindset mirrors a conversation the two once had, where Madarame mentioned that Hato’s just the way he is and it shouldn’t be a big deal.

I think some readers might also be concerned that Hato says that Madarame will be the first and last man he ever loves. Hato says a lot of things, like how he has no interest in men at all. Pretty much every character in Genshiken changes their mind, and Hato is just the best example of this.

All of this means that, of the four prospective love interests, only Hato has truly been rejected. Madarame considers both Keiko and Sue as not having any faults that aren’t rooted in Madarame’s own broken heart, and if Angela were to move to Japan, I think he might die from crushed pelvis (it’s also worth nothing that the virgin vs. whore thing doesn’t even come up, which might say something about Madarame’s maturity). Essentially, Madarame has been on the rebound this whole time, and his clouded judgment, combined with his propensity for waffling, has been a bad combination that can only be solved with time and some space.

I think it all makes sense.

Genshiken sets up two new threads in the aftermath of the Madarame harem arc. First, as Hato mentions that he likes the idea of finding someone who accepts him without much fuss, Yajima sees this as possibly her opportunity. The irony here is that Yajima didn’t accept him for the longest time, as her more conservative values as well as her poor self-image made Hato a target of mild disdain and jealousy. Things are different now, but the real question is…how different? Spotted Flower different?

Second, as if to speak directly to those readers who missed the way Genshiken was once upon a time, the next chapter preview basically says that the manga is going back to doujinshi and clubroom antics. Something tells me that this isn’t giving the whole picture though.

As for Ogiue, I feel as if Kio put in extra care when drawing her this chapter. Call it a hunch.

If you liked this post, consider becoming a sponsor of Ogiue Maniax through Patreon. You can get rewards for higher pledges, including a chance to request topics for the blog.

This month I’d like to thank the following Patreon supporters, as well as my unnamed patrons as well. You’re all awesome and I’d like to talk with you all someday (and many of you I have!):

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

One thing that I’ve noticed is that my patrons come from all over the world, and I know that support for anime can be hard to come by in some places. It’s why I’m thankful for living in a major metropolitan area. Between the New York International Children’s Film Festival, and screenings of both The Boy and the Beast and Kizumonogatari, March is going to be kind of a crazy month for anime here. What’s your situation like?

Nothing’s really out of the ordinary for Ogiue Maniax this month from a content perspective. There’s the new Genshiken review (what an intense chapter!), the return of Patreon-sponsored posts in my review of Garakowa -Restore the World-, and a post that I’ve been wanting to write for a long time: an overview of the thematic relationship between Space Runaway Ideon and Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Lately I haven’t been trying to broaden my horizons in terms of writing, and I wonder if it’s causing me to stagnate some. Sometimes I wonder if I’m not developing or changing or taking risks with my writing enough, and at times I struggle to come up with new topics to write about as a result. This is actually why I’m grateful for patron Johnny Trovato, because getting outside topics to write about can spark some inspiration. Just as a teaser, this month’s requested topic is an anime I’ve been wanting to delve into more after dipping my toe in many months ago, so this is the perfect opportunity.

Though maybe it’s because I’m playing more video games, things like Fire Emblem Awakening (I know I’m a game behind!), Splatoon (in my first Splatfest ever!), and of course Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. I attended a local tournament this past weekend and did okay, getting 13th out of 35 players. It’s not much, but I enjoy just checking things out and seeing where my Mewtwo stands. I don’t think that it’s bad to play games, of course, but perhaps I need to redirect my attention back to anime and manga a bit more.

To end off, I do want to mention something I’m doing over at Apartment 507, where I also blog. After the success of my analysis of Yazawa Nico from Love Live!, I’ve decided to tackle all nine main girls (and maybe a few more!) over the next few months in the leadup to Love Live! Sunshine. For February I’ve written about Sonoda Umi, so check it out if you’re all about the Umidaaaa!

 

The trip to Nikkou winds down with a final stay at Yajima’s family home. Yoshitake presses Madarame to make a decision about who to date, but as each potential partner makes their case (or has their case made for them), Madarame is still hesitant to pick. However, when Kuchiki suggests that it be done by lottery if Madarame doesn’t care one way or another, Madarame chooses not to leave it in fate’s hands and declares that he will make his decision…next chapter.

Is it at long last the end of the Madarame harem arc? Will he end up with anyone or perhaps no one at all? Will Genshiken actually have Madarame choose, or will it be a Naruto-esque string of chapter titles each more final than the last?

Personally speaking, the harem aspect itself, the fact that four individuals are attracted to Madarame to varying degrees, is less interesting in terms of who ends up with who, and more in terms of its opportunities for characterization. This includes characters both inside and outside of the harem.

One of Yoshitake’s recurring traits is that she always has the group dynamic in mind. Much of the reason she wants Madarame to just choose already is because she’s worried about the relationships, the friendships, that exist among the members of Genshiken. The longer Madarame takes, the more these threads get frayed, but at the same time she wants the decision to be a real one, not a spur of the moment fancy. That’s why she arranged the whole Nikkou kujibiki dating scheme in the first place.

Angela is an impossibly attractive blonde American who encourages polygamy, having the least to lose due to the distance between the US and Japan. She has an interest in Madarame, but is more about having a good time. Sue, as Ogiue puts it, is Madarame’s ideal character: a blonde loli who’s also fluent in both “Japanese” and “otaku.” However, even after her confession it’s clear she still isn’t entirely sure what she wants their relationship to be. Hato is a “girl-boy” straight out of a visual novel,  but interestingly enough is still espousing the potential pitfalls of a homosexual relationship to ground Madarame in reality. They all carry some element of wish fulfillment that borders the realm of perverted imagination with some counter-balance in the fact that they’re all actually human.

In contrast, Keiko’s points out that she’s the most similar to Saki out of all of them, and this hits Madarame like a ton of bricks. While that makes Keiko in a way the most “realistic choice,” her words also carry an element of fantasy to them. She is the closest to fulfilling Madarame’s unrequited love for Saki, the most profoundly grounded woman he has ever met. The fact that Madarame reacts so intensely to Keiko’s words shows that he still holds a torch for Saki, and perhaps even suggests that his indecisiveness towards both accepting and rejecting others is a product of a desire to be wanted but also to want someone like Saki.

It’s surprising that Keiko of all people objects to Angela’s “harem ending” suggestion, stating that she’d rather not be involved at all if that’s how it’s going to end up. She wants to try a monogamous relationship, and she’d rather be single than deal with some fantasy otaku arrangement. Given that Keiko is not above seeing more than one guy at a time, I think it might say something about how Keiko sees Madarame as an opportunity for some stability, and further puts into relief the differences between her and the rest. At the same time, being an approximation of Saki isn’t actually being Saki, so in a sense Keiko becomes the most “ideal” choice of all. Of course, she certainly doesn’t see it that way, and I wonder if she in fact sees herself as what Madarame ultimately needs.

Madarame, as much as he acts like anyone would do because he’s just a dorky, desperate otaku, is suddenly against the idea when it’s suggested that he pick randomly when Kuchiki brings it up. Madarame is neither totally noble nor utterly selfish, and the realization that he cannot just keep the harem in stasis as is common in long anime and manga series ultimately forces him to try and choose on his terms rather than leave it up to luck. I think somewhere in his decision is the belief that having the choice made for him is utterly irresponsible and would lead to more harm than good, while also clarifying that he clearly does not see all of them the exact same way. In the end, actions have consequences, and I look forward to seeing how this plays out.

To end off, this month’s Ogiue moment is more of an Ogiue focus than anything in a long while. As briefly alluded to above, Ogiue gets really invested in presenting Sue as the best possible choice for Madarame, even going so far as to say that this is Madarame’s once in a lifetime chance to be with this girl of his dreams. What’s really notable about her behavior in this instance is that Ogiue has never really come across as being particularly invested in the Madarame/Sue combination even if she does believe it’s the right choice. It feels like there’s something more at stake here. Is it being able to finally get Sue to abandon the “Ogiue is my wife” joke (probably wouldn’t happen)? Does she truly believe that Madarame and Sue are best for each other? Does she want to give Sue some happiness? Whatever the case may be, I quite enjoyed seeing Ogiue’s fire.

If you liked this post, consider becoming a sponsor of Ogiue Maniax through Patreon. You can get rewards for higher pledges, including a chance to request topics for the blog.

With Go Princess! Precure finally over, I feel like this is when the winter anime season truly begins. I hope that you’ll enjoy coming along the ride with me.

I’d like to thank the following Patreon supporters this month.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

In particular, I’d like to welcome back Johnny Trovato. He was the source for many past topics through Patreon, including posts on the Tokyo Olympics and CensorshipTouhou vs. Kantai Collection, and the rise and fall of Saimoe. If you’d like me to write about a specific topic on Ogiue Maniax, it’s a perk you can get for the highest reward tier on Patreon.

This past month has brought a lot of interesting changes for me. Outside of Ogiue Maniax, I recently started contributing articles to a site called Apartment 507. They were looking for someone who communicate with the hardcore Japanese pop culture fans that comprise their audience, and I’ve been happy to oblige. The main reason I got this gig was because of my efforts on Ogiue Maniax, so I am grateful to my readers here for reminding me of the value of writing and that, simply put, anime and manga are awesome.

I decided not to include those posts on the Patreon page itself because they’re not technically being supported by my patrons, but I have been linking to them on the blog itself. Just look for the [Apartment 507] tag in the title if you’re wonder which posts are which.

As for the blog proper, I think I’ve written some of my best work this past month. I wrote a response to another blogger where I talk about some of the problems that come with evangelizing sakuga, a review of the powerful new film The Anthem of the Heart, and of course the latest Genshiken chapter review. If you haven’t been keeping up with Genshiken, or even if you have, this chapter is a big deal, so I recommend you check it out! By the way, I’ve noticed that my Genshiken reviews are some of my most popular posts. I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise but I’m actually really happy that I’ve established myself as a source for interesting insight into Genshiken.

January also marked the return of the Fujoshi Files with a historic Fujoshi #150. I have to confess that these might get more sporadic as I don’t have as much time to research fujoshi-themed anime and manga as much as I used to, but I do strongly believe that we’ll hit #200.

In addition, I decided to do something a little different and interview a Super Smash Bros. for Wii U competitive player. Earth, the world’s best Pit, is actually also a mahjong and The iDOLM@STER fan, so I had to ask him a few questions.

The last thing I want to say is that I’ll be traveling to Japan in May! I’ll be releasing posts the whole way through, and when I get back I’ll have plenty more to talk about. And yes, I will be getting all of the dagashi (have you been watching Dagashi Kashi? I highly recommend it).

This month’s chapter of Genshiken Nidaime is about anal sex. No, I’m not kidding. Yes, my title for this post is awful.

Last chapter, after an emotional discussion between Hato and Madarame, Hato runs away. At the advice of Ogiue (who knows a thing or two about a situation like this), Madarame goes after him. As the two talk once more, Madarame explains that he does feel something for Hato (especially after that incident at the hotel), but as he goes into detail about the idea of being with a fudanshi, Hato brings up an important question. Is Madarame truly ready for what “Hato x Mada” really means? After discovering that the rest of the club was eavesdropping (a Genshiken tradition!), Madarame decides that he’ll have to “think about it,” and their date continues.

You can see my immediate reaction to this chapter in the tweet above. While Genshiken has gone many places, I never quite expected it to arrive at this point. Suffice it to say, I’m both surprised and impressed in a multitude of ways. I have to compliment Kio for being willing to take the story this far, and to do so in a way that makes sense for the characters of Genshiken. What also stands out to me about Chapter 120 is the way in which clarifies the conversation between Madarame and Hato in Chapter 119, whereby Madarame finally and much more clearly understands Hato’s concerns. In Hato’s own words, being with Hato consists of having to encounter a series of “landmines.”

Last chapter, Hato expressed the idea that Madarame doesn’t seem to understand what it means to be in a homosexual relationship. This chapter, Hato lays it out. First, Madarame mentions how he’d have to get used to the idea of being seen as a “sou-uke,” a total bottom, as is the trend among Genshiken’s BL fans. Second, Hato reminds Madarame that Hato is not like Ogiue: he’s not a fujoshi but a fudanshi, a guy. Third, he brings up the idea of Mada x Hato, and how he’s prepared for the possibility, which fazes Madarame a bit. Then, finally, he brings up “Hato x Mada.” As realization slowly dawns upon Madarame, the impact of that epiphany on Madarame is, in my opinion, a prime example of what I love about Kio’s storytelling through manga.

Madarame confesses that he hadn’t even thought about “Hato x Mada.” Right there, it becomes clear that Madarame hasn’t actually contemplated the prospect of being with Hato all the way through. Not only that, but it makes perfect sense given just how Madarame has approached the idea. In Chapter 72, Madarame mentions having played games with “girl-boy” characters, and that, because of the censorship and the effeminate appearances of the characters in those games, it’s not that different from heterosexual fare. In other words, Madarame has always seen himself in the “man’s role” so to speak, and the sticky, naked realities of having a mutually satisfying relationship with Hato was just completely outside his realm of imagination until now.

I don’t read very much BL or gay manga, but I get the feeling that these sorts of nitty-gritty details aren’t so common in stories unless they’re particularly explicit or raunchy. Not only that, but given the purpose of those stories, I believe the end result is usually what is expected. In contrast, it’s not clear where Madarame will end up. Of course, correct me if I’m wrong.

The fact that Madarame doesn’t just completely shut down and break away from Hato might say just as much in favor of Hato’s chances, as does Madarame asking the question of whether Hato x Mada would involve Hato in women’s clothes. However, I suspect that the story might actually be heading in a direction where, although the two have a kind of emotional or spiritual connection, Madarame might ultimately not want a physical one. Keiko even brings this up at the end, saying that the body itself will ultimately be the deciding factor (which she believes is in her favor, even with Angela around). In a way, this might be even more ideal for the fujoshi of Genshiken, just because it could be interpreted as a love beyond the trappings of flesh.

I have two more things to say about this chapter. First, we finally learned just what happened when Hato’s other selves, the BL fangirl floating in the sky as well as the Kaminaga version, “merged” with Hato. Obviously he didn’t really have magic ghosts with him. Rather, it was symbolic of him accepting all of his passions, that he can be into both “Mada x Hato” and “Hato x Mada.”

Second, at the beginning of the chapter when Ogiue is talking to Madarame, she mentions how Sasahara accepted everything about her. Just that one gag panel where she ends her sentence in a heart as she blushes profusely is actually one of Ogiue’s most adorable moments ever. As an Ogiue fan, it is quite satisfying.

If you liked this post, consider becoming a sponsor of Ogiue Maniax through Patreon. You can get rewards for higher pledges, including a chance to request topics for the blog.

Whether you visited family or went to Comic Market or something else entirely, I hope everyone had a delightful end of the year. January means a new season of anime, reflection the last year’s, and a time to see where this crazy train takes us.

As always, I’m here to thank my Patreon supporters. They’re a strong reminder that my way of writing resonates with people, and for that I’m ever grateful.

General:

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Anonymous

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

 

I’m happy to see that patrons are taking advantage of the Ogiue Maniax sidebar. Don’t forget, if you’re already pledging $2 or more, you can put your website on Ogiue Maniax without any added cost!

Also, due to work I may have to slow down the pace of Ogiue Maniax a bit. As stated in last month’s Patreon status update, I’ve been trying to bump the rate to three posts a week, but I might have to bring it back down to two on average. I hope this doesn’t cause any problems!

Highlights from the past month include my annual picks for best characters of the year, and of course the monthly Genshiken review. In fact, there was (sort of) another Genshiken post this month too, as I compared Oshino Ougi from Owarimonogatari to Ogiue herself. Are they twins separated at birth?

Thanks to the Reverse Thieves, I got plenty of other opportunities as well. I appeared on their S.W.A.T. Review podcast to discuss the interesting and somewhat controversial Smile Precure! dub known as Glitter Force, and even wrote a follow-up post about some of the censorship that has gone on in the series. I also participated in their Anime Secret Santa project (an annual tradition), where I finally tackled the yuri science fiction anime Simoun. You can even check out my thoughts on other bests of 2015 on their blog.

The last post I’d like to draw attention to concerns my thoughts on the idea of the “Mary Sue.” It’s become an increasingly prominent term when discussing media, so I think it’s worth remembering where it all comes from.

While the requirement for me to write about something at your behest is a pledge for the “Decide My Fate” Tier on Patreon, I am curious as to what my readers would like to see more of from Ogiue Maniax. For example, I’ve been doing more video game-related posts, though they’re not super common. Obviously I’d never abandon the anime and manga aspect or reduce its importance on the blog, but would people for example like more general fandom posts like the Mary Sue one?

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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Throughout Nisio Isin’s Monogatari series there has been a mysterious character whose motivations and origins are difficult to grasp. Oshino Ougi, who purports to be the niece (and sometimes nephew) protagonist Araragi Koyomi’s Hawaiian shirt-wearing mentor, seems to come out of nowhere and has a knack for planting thoughts into people’s minds and for getting them to unconsciously open up. Is she just a manipulator or something more? Given the series and its author, the latter is more likely, though either way what Ougi reminds me most of is the biblical devil, whose half-truths are designed to deceive men into making grave errors.

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What stands out to me most about Ougi, however, is how much she resembles Ogiue from Genshiken. She has deep, black eyes just like Ogiue’s from the first series. She has a hair style similar to Ogiue’s when she lets it down, especially Ogiue’s look during Nidaime. Ougi also has a similar chest size and overall figure, and the fact that she’s sometimes a boy (in terms of sex, gender, or something else? It’s mysterious.) reminds me of Ogiue’s overall tomboy demeanor.

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Drawing this comparison even closer is the fact that Ougi and Ogiue share the same voice actor, Mizuhashi Kaori (Mami in Madoka Magica, Laharl in Disgaea).

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Check out this Ougi fanart by artist Dowman Sayman as well. Given the way they draw Ougi, especially her nose, she looks even more like Genshiken‘s fujoshi president.

Is it mere coincidence? Most likely yes. Even so, whenever I watch the currently-running Owarimonogatari and see Ougi, I can’t help but think of Ogiue Maniax’s namesake. Maybe that’s why Oshino Ougi has become my favorite character in the series.

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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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