Kio Shimoku Twitter Highlights November 2022

In contrast to last month, Kio Shimoku tweeted up a storm in November. The big topics: Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise, drawing characters playing baseball, and…sketching out manuscripts for pornographic manga?!

Kio announcing that Chapter 41 of Spotted Flower is out. He mentions that the way the image is cropped unintentionally makes it look more improper than it actually is.

Kio finally got the chance to see the theatrical version of Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise (which had recently been playing again on the big screen). He didn’t even know about it back when it first released, though he’s seen the TV-broadcast version tens of times. In fact, he’s seen it on TV so much that seeing the scenes cut from that version added back in felt kind of weird. The full theatrical version adds a lot of nuance to places missing from the TV version, but Kio still has an affinity for that one, and he thinks they did a good job with the edits. He talks about how nowadays, it’s unusual for people to want to watch cut versions, but he still loves it nevertheless. He doesn’t have the TV version, and Wikipedia doesn’t even mention it at all. Kio wonders if anyone actually remembers it.

A follower also talks about the cut TV version of Castle of Cagliostro, which Kio also has a recollection of. Others chime in that they have seen Royal Space Force on TV, including one person who remembers Anno Hideaki providing commentary on it for an airing on the program Friday Roadshow (which airs movies on TV). Someone else chimes in that they can remember Anno explaining a few things. Namely, how good the scene is where Marty says 「誰かが必要としているからここにいられると思っている」[If anyone can provide a translation with proper context, that’d be a big help], and how the TV version uses monoaural sound, so it couldn’t replicate everything, like the way the sound changes as they go up into space. 

“I think I’m here only because somebody needs me.”

The saga continues: Watanabe Shigeru, the editor of the TV version of Royal Space Force actually replied to Kio! In a rare instance, we get to see Kio fanboying over someone. Watanabe mentions that while he’s an anime producer now, back then he was a mere tradesman. Kio asks if there’s a betamax version, but Watanabe says there isn’t, and the TV version was basically a “necessary evi.”

Watanabe also recalls that they had Okada Toshio and Yamaga Hiroyuki (also of Gainax fame) for the TV broadcast as well.

Someone else mentions that there’s a scene with the characters drinking milk that was included in the laserdisc release but according to Kio, it wasn’t in the theatrical re-release. Watanabe chimes in again and explains that this extra scene wasn’t shot on 35 millimeter so it didn’t look good when upscaled. However, it’s included with the blu-ray as an extra.

As a follow-up to last month’s trip to the batting center, Kio has been drawing Hashikko Ensemble characters playing baseball. There’s also some discussion about the characters and how 

As an aside, my friend Diogo Prado (and a Patreon member of Ogiue Maniax) got retweeted by Kio!

A fan apologizes for discovering Hashikko Ensemble too late, and asks if there’ll be a sequel (like Genshiken Nidaime). Kio says not to sweat it, and that everyone discovers works at their own timing.

Kio also went to see a new theatrical run of GOTHICMADE. Much of the story has also been told through the manga, but the last part of the film has still yet to be adapted. 

Someone replies to Kio’s preview of Spotted Flower Chapter 41 by saying the meme line, “But he’s a guy” from Stein’s;Gate. Kio replies “They’re both,” to which the replier apologizes. However, while the replier assumed he meant that Not-Kohsaka (depicted there dressed like Not-Hato) was nonbinary, what Kio meant was that both characters are guys.

(I guess this answers the gender identity of Not-Hato).

Kio reacts to the official Twitter account of Kumamoto Castle tweeting a saying popular among idol fans and the like: You’ll stan the ones you stan when you stan (the actual word being oshi). It’s basically saying you’ll know who’s your favorite because it’ll come out from you.

The batting center is a 30-minute walk for Kio, but that walk is a good way to sober up, apparently.

Kio went to see Royal Space Force in theaters again! This time, he noticed a sound similar to a baby crying that had never registered to him before while watching.

Kio and another talking about how they can’t stop humming the music from Royal Air Force

Kio’s reaction to a mecha from The Five Star Stories: “Oh? Whoaaa! Magnapalace!”

Kio mentions Ueda Masashi as one of the all-time greats of 4-panel manga, and writes about how even these simple characters could be portrayed as having unseen “adult” sides to them. He even used Ueda’s work as a basis for a scene between Not-Ohno and Not-Tanaka in Spotted Flower Volume 5.

Kio saw Shinkai Makoto’s new film, Suzume no Tojimari.

Sometimes, Kio sketches out ero manga manuscripts, but finds striking the right balance between elements difficult. Moreover, he feels that the order of priority is different for ero manga: Instead of paneling -> text ->  images, it’s the other way around. After all, you can’t tell if something is gonna be hot just from a barebones layout. (Note that Kio had previously praised ero manga artists for their talents—this seems to be a follow-up to the idea that it’s not that easy.)

When asked what he’s drawing, Kio says it’s new and original characters. He’s also entertaining the notion of quietly putting something on the adult website Fanza.

Related to the above tweets, Kio struggled with the most recent manuscript for Spotted Flower.

Kio went on vacation for a few days, taking a break from Twitter.

Kio watched the first half of the Japan vs. Germany World Cup 2022 match and went to sleep early assuming it was all over for Japan, only to wake up to headlines about the upset.

He planned to watch the second half once he got home, wondering if player Ito Junya went wild (which Kio later confirmed).

After retweeting a bunch of plastic-model-related tweets, Kio says he really wants to build plastic models, and remarks about the “big wave” of model-building hitting after all this time. Author Ikuhana Niiro encourages him to do so, to which Kio responds by wondering whether he should finally open all the cardboard boxes that hold his model kits.

Kio Shimoku Twitter Highlights October 2022

More tortoise talk (and a COVID booster) for our beloved Genshiken creator this month!

Kio loves ICO, and is making jokes with others about treating September like the girl from the game.

After taking medicine, the pet tortoise is no longer having snot issues!

The tortoise relaxing. When asked if it ever hibernates, Kio mentions that he never tries to make it hibernate because it’s scary to do so.

Kio agrees with a commenter that the tortoise kind of looks like a croissant sandwich.

The legs coming out as they are is a sign that the tortoise is getting warm.

Kio got his fourth COVID vaccine shot! He took some Bufferin to deal with the side effects.

Kio had a dream where he was going to school again. As is typical of such dreams, he was late to school, he forgot his textbook, he couldn’t find his classroom, etc.

Kio responds with amazement that b the Hashikko Ensemble fan managed to find the reference for the hot spring location used in the manga.

Kio asks why his manuscripts have to emerge from his mind the way they do instead of making it easier on him.

Kio finds a livestream featuring manga artist Kuroi Midori, analyst Koizumi Yuu, manga artist Hayami Rasenjin, and editor Iida Takashi to be quite powerful.

Kio’s plan to set up a camera in his room to keep track of his tortoise has gone better than expected.

Kio is looking forward to the season premiere of How Do You Like Wednesdays? He’s talked about it in the past August and September as well.

Kio went to a batting center for the first time in about 30 years. The speed of the balls was scary. Though he did play in a softball club as a kid and was pretty good at it, it also has been almost 40 years. He did manage to hit a home run, though!

Kio Shimoku Twitter Highlights September 2022

Not many Kio tweets in September, so this is a pretty sparse entry this month. That said, there are some drawings that notably use Kozue from Hashikko Ensemble as Kio’s avatar. It’s interesting that he regards her (or at least her design) so fondly.

Kio retweeted an image describing an idea from a Tokyo University professor, who says that motivation comes from a specific part of the brain, but in order to activate it, you have to actually start doing it. Kio comments that even if he knows this, he’s still not able to work up the motivation. He then mentions drinking the energy drink Lipovitan D, and that he seems to be putting a lot of faith in it.

A drawing of Not-Kohsaka dressed as Not-Hato from Spotted Flower. Kio comments that sometimes he does have the motivation to do a big, high-quality drawing to his satisfaction.

“It’s humid…”

His right wrist hurts, but he can’t figure out what’s the matter. It doesn’t seem to be tendonitis. Kio ends up wondering if it might be that he’s using a different mouse.

This past summer, Kio’s pet tortoise started leaking some kind of snot-like liquid. To take the tortoise to the vet, he placed it in a cooler bag filled with ice, and also carried a sun umbrella. Kio remarks that this made him look like an ice cream vendor.

Apparently, the tortoise is 21 years old!! While it’s doing better, Kio thinks the issue might be a change in environment, as Kio recently moved to a place with no yard.

Kio realizes he promoted a sale for Spotted Flower too late…

Kio Shimoku Twitter Highlights August 2022

There was a hodgepodge of topics this month from Kio Shimoku’s tweets.

Kio has always had a problem with the air conditioner in his work area, where 28°C (82.4°F) is too hot, but 27°C (80.6°F) is too cold. This year, though, he has an AC that can be set to a perfect 27.5°C.

Kio wishes a happy birthday to Aoki Ume, author of Hidamari Sketch. (Seeing two of my favorite authors interact makes me happy).

At an Oedo Choraliers concert.

Kio reminisces about the Zukkoke Sannin-gumi, a juvenile novel series. Because Kio turns 48 this year, he read the sequel series Zukkoke Chuunen Sannin-gumi (when the child heroes from the original are now middle-aged) and thought it was the best. He thanks the author, Nasu Masamoto.

Someone mentions buying all of the Zukkoke Chuunen Sannin-gumi, to which Kio replies, “Amazing.”

Kio is two volumes away from finishing Zukkoke Chuunen Sannin-gumi and loving it. A fan of the soccer team Sanfrecce Hiroshima replies that the Hiroshima-born author actually had a collaboration with that time, and that a lot of the matches during that period ended up being very zukkoke (unusual, foolish).

Mourning the death of Kobayashi Kiyoshi, the original voice of Jigen Daisuke in Lupin III, who played him up until last year.

Kio promoting some new digital chapters of Spotted Flower, specifically starring Not-Angela! A fan replies with an emoji for panties, and Kio finishes the statement with “Please”—another reference to Genshiken and Spotted Flower.

Mourning another apparent death. This time, it’s illustrator Suzuki Masahisa, who passed away back in June.

Kio bought a new printer with a scanner function, and has moved his old massive scanner capable of handling A3-sized (manuscript) paper off his desk. He mostly works digitally now so it’s not always practical, but that old one comes in handy with things like scanning in paper drawings to use as extra materials for manga volumes.

Having more room on his desk means being able to use a dual-monitor setup, so he can look at references while drawing. He does this most often with women’s clothing.

A fan expresses how much they love “An-san” (Not-Angela), to which Kio replies that all three extra digital chapters this month revolve around her.

Promoting the third of the extra Spotted Flower chapters.

b, the huge Kimura Jin fan, asks Kio if he wants to promote a special campaign that lets you read the first two volumes of Hashikko Ensemble until August 31, and Kio does just that.

Kio has gotten around to gathering the film recordings and books he needs to put into manga what he couldn’t before. When asked what he’s drawing and if it can be shared on Twitter, Kio replies that it might be possible but it’s better to play it safe.

Kio talks about how exciting it would be go to the live talk event for Hirakata Ikorusun, author of Special, and ask about what happens in the final volume. (Hirakata debuted in Rakuen, the magazine Spotted Flower runs in).

Kio admonishes himself for still not being good at drawing panty shots after 28 years as a manga artist, and also for still putting in panty shots after 28 years.

Apparently, it’s not exactly for “work” (or is it?).

Kio Shimoku Twitter Highlights May 2022

Kio Shimoku provides a few more insights into the Hashikko Ensemble creative process this month.

Kio realizes that Menturm and Mentholatum are different products.

Kio posts a Hashikko Ensemble drawing used for a Monthly Afternoon cover. A fan mentions that they originally thought Himawari would become part of the core cast, to which Kio apologizes but in a way that makes him sound like an elderly man.

Kio clarifies that Hanyama would be Second Tenor, and was supposed to join as a tone-deaf member, but it never happened. (In the manga, it’s mentioned that Hanyama isn’t tone deaf, but rather is the son of a monk and therefore used to singing Buddhist chants, where the notes are slightly off from Western music.)

The drawing with Hanyama should be the last of the color illustrations, though Kio thinks there might be one more.

It took too many chapters to get Kousei into the Chorus Appreciation Society, which resulted in Shinji becoming the Second Tenor of the group. While that wasn’t the original plan, Shinji’s use as a tsukkomi character came in handy quite a bit.

Right when Kio starts to relax, a new manuscript is due. (It’s likely a new chapter of Spotted Flower.)

A drawing of Kozue feeling something in the stomach, with Kio saying that he thought stomach warmer season was over, but it looks like he still needs it.

A rough from the new chapter of Spotted Flower.

Kio suddenly needed to handle a bunch of administrative work, which exhausted his mental capacity to keep working on manga. 

Lately, Kio has been revising his roughs into line art for color images rather than using the pen tool to do so. For some reason, the latter approach isn’t quite hitting the mark for him, even though that’s how Kio does B&W art.

It looks like Kio got drunk while watching a DVD of the “Hajimete no Africa” specials from the variety show How do you like Wednesday?

Kio Shimoku Twitter Highlights April 2022

Kio’s tweets this month feature lots of his preliminary sketches for Hashikko Ensemble! It’s worth a look if you want to see how the characters began.

All the drawings used for the cover of Hashikko Ensemble, Volume 8!

Kio comments on the passing of Fujiko Fujio (A), remembering a Ninja Hattori-kun story he loved where Hattori moved next door and turned the house into a ninja mansion.

The pet tortoise at an active time.

Kio recommends that B the Jin fan go see Oedo Coraliers, a chorus/gee club Kio previously worked with.

The artist Shigisawa Kaya is feeling conflicted about waiting for things to calm down but that never being the case. Kio comments that he’s finally gotten around to checking things off his bucket list, but it’s after 28 years as a manga artist.

Kio has always felt that preparing salads is a pain even though it’s good to eat more vegetables, but then realizes that he basically makes salads for his tortoise every day.

Kio went to the library for the first time in a long while. The drawing of Kozue talks about the feeling of getting an author’s new work, only to realize that it’s already five volumes long and also finished. He then recalls borrowing tons of books from the library as a kid and reading through all of them before going back for more, but looking back wonders how in the world he managed to make the time to do that.

Kio comments that it’s the season for haramaki (stomach bands), and jokingly states that this year’s Fanta vintage is good.

A drawing for Afternoon that didn’t end up in any of the collected volumes of Hashikko Ensemble.

Kio began sharing some preliminary character design drawings for Hashikko Ensemble. Akira is described as having a contrast between his timid personality and his newly acquired bass voice. 

Jin’s initial background had him singing since he was five years old, and that he can even sing soprano. 

Kousei the baritone was always intended to have a heavy backstory. 

Shion was a more serious character, though had the quality of being made to learn piano by her mother, as well as having poor grades.

It’s interesting that some of the character designs changed significantly. Also, a few of these drawings were actually used in the teaser for Kio’s “new manga” back before the series began.

The student work uniforms.

Mimi-sensei, mostly unchanged. A capable person despite how she might appear, though lacking in experience.

Probably the biggest departure of all: A male character named Koizumi Yuusuke who would eventually morph into Akira’s neighbor and childhood friend, Himari. Described as an idiot who thinks he’s smart.

Kio mentions that people might ask “That’s it?!” when seeing how few planning drawings he does, but that’s just how he works. He mentions that he did have to design all the students in Class 1-5 afterwards, and that’s where Kanon, Kozue, and Shinji came from.

Kio elaborates on the point above that he tries to get a solid idea of how the characters will be in the roughs, and by the time he’s inking, he more or less knows how they’ll be. Someone asks if this was the same process he used for Genshiken characters, and he says yes. Kio also says that he feels the drawings feel the best in that rough stage and he wants to keep that feel, but that the designs inevitably change over the course of serialization.

An even earlier Shion sketch. Apparently “not owning a smartphone” was in there from the start.

A Chinese-speaking individual thanks Kio for all his work, to which Kio thanks them. Also, the person is clearly an Ogiue fan, and therefore a superior human being.

The rough versions of those early Hashikko Ensemble designs. Kio is asked how he came up with the names for Akira and Jin, to which he replies, “Intuition.”

To come up with various students and teachers, Kio gathered image references online and then started doing sketches based on them.

More sketches to better solidify the designs.

Kio Shimoku Twitter Highlights March 2022

This month was the release of the 8th and final volume o f Hashikko Ensemble!

Kio saw the anime film Goodbye, Don Glees! and enjoyed it. He’s particularly fond of the last scene, which he likens to a large mosaic.

The man can’t find his copic markers, but eventually does.

Kio made his first trip to Akihabara, but took a different route this time. The last visit, he went to Melon Books, ZIN, K Books, etc. This time, it was Yodobashi, Volks, Yellow Submarine.

When asked if his interests are going from books to 3-dimensional things, Kio says that his interest in ero is growing weaker, while his desire to build gunpla is growing stronger.

Another reply shows Kio that the old Genshiken capsule figures still exist, to which he expresses surprise. He’s also amazed at how the swimsuit figures of Saki and Ohno managed to happen. The original replier says he likes this Ohno figure, but likes the bouncing boobs Ohno bust that came with an issue of Monthly Afternoon.

(Ogiue Manaix note: I have this one too, but I never managed to get the Ogiue counterpart because it was Japanese mail-order only…)

Countdown to the release of Hashikko Ensemble, Volume 8—the finale!

Kio mentions that the Hashikko Ensemble characters feel like they could keep going. (I agree.)

Kio was exhausted, so he ended up just drinking beer and falling asleep.

Kio’s pet tortoise isn’t going to have the garden space it used to, so Kio is trying to set up a habitat for it on his balcony. 

The Kimura Jin super fan known as “b” talks about how pure and innocent Jin looks, and asks Kio if Jin is saying “ni” (two) in the countdown image above. Kio gives an affirmative.

A close-up of the back cover from Volume 8.

I had to ask if there’d be any limited store exclusives for Volume 8. Kio answered “no,” which helps me a lot because it determines how I order the book.


Kio thanks b for giving him courage.

Technically not Kio tweets, but manga artist Shigisawa Kaya drew some Hashikko Ensemble fanart! In the first image, they mention loving Kozue’s fat fingers.

More drinking.

Artist Ikuhana Niro mentions wanting to get a new back and shoulders sometimes, and Kio agrees with the sentiment.

The artificial rendition of “Kanade” by Sukima Switch, as performed by the main characters of Hashikko Ensemble, goes away April 25th, 2022! Make sure to listen.

Kio wonders who the heck “Nagayama Koharu-chan” is. (Note: It’s actually a weird troll account by the author of Chainsaw Man where he pretends to be a third grader into Chainsaw Man).

Kio Shimoku Twitter Highlights February 2022

This month was pretty light when it came to Kio Shimoku tweeting.

Kio stumbles on a new technique while doing art for the final volume of Hashikko Ensemble.

B the Hashikko superfan asks if it’s due the cover, and Kio says it’s for the back cover because the front is going to be crowded.

B also mentions going to a choir concert thanks to Hashikko Ensemble, to which Kio expresses excitement that there was such an event.

Kio and Ikuhana Niro swap stories about buying alcohol on Ikuhana’s birthday.

Gathering the components for the release of Hashikko Ensemble Volume 8.

He slacked off on working out for three months, but got back into it recently. The post-workout aches from being away for so long are pretty bad.

Kio is about to private his Hashikko Ensemble YouTube video soon! Listen while you still can!

Another Five Star Stories model kit.

The pet tortoise returns! Kio apologizes for only having lettuce.

Next month is after the release of the latest chapter of Spotted Flower, and when the final volume of Hashikko Ensemble goes on sale. I expect a lot more tweets in March.

Kio Shimoku Twitter Highlights January 2022

This month’s tweet highlights for Kio Shimoku are a little different: I’m doing them in chronological order rather than grouping them by subject. Tell me what you think!

January is also the month that Hashikko Ensemble ended. Check out my review!

Kio decides to drink and bathe at the same time, then watch some DVDs. He can’t drink the next day, so he hopes he can indulge in the moment.

Various model kits he built.

Kio talks about what a big personal step it was for him to start a Twitter, and that he’s gradually learning how to use it. He thought he had to do it at some point, and thinks it was good timing in more than one sense.

A compilation thread of all the various drawings he posted on Twitter over the past year.

Kio compliments a follower’s Kurotaki Mai fanart.

Kio wishes everyone a Happy New Year.

The man loves Dennou Coil, (like everyone of great taste).

Kio draws Kousei as a tiger man to celebrate the Year of the Tiger. B, the “I love Jin” superfan  for the Hashikko Ensemble character asks if Kousei’s always been that buff (while also stating how Kousei’s cat-like qualities make the image work), to which Kio says he added a bit of fantasy to the drawing.

(Just as a warning, that Jin fan’s Twitter account is very NSFW. Their love of the character is serious business—as the Ogiue Maniax, I should know.)

Kio mentions finishing the manuscript for the final chapter of Hashikko Ensemble. When the Jin fan asks if the series got canceled, Kio says “more or less.” Elaborating a bit, he says he got the call to start wrapping it up in summer of 2020, but was given the opportunity to go past the School Festival arc and end on eight volumes total. For reference, the original Genshiken was nine.

Unbuilt model kits, including Girls und Panzer.

And Five Star Stories kits, of course. He actually got the first one as a gift from a reader!

Feeling some nostalgia from when he got this at Wonder Festival. A fan shows a similar arm from a model kit of theirs, and Kio replies that he was never able to get that one (the Mighty Beta).

Kio found an old L-Gaim Mk.II model kit he built 25 years ago. He loves the look of the mecha, and finds that it has a real “Showa” feel to it.

Kio got a new scarf, and decided to draw what it looks like with Madarame as the model. He saw it being called an ascot scarf, but found that it didn’t match his Google searches. “New York scarf” seems to fit the bill better.

In light of the death of famed baseball manga artist Mizushima Shinji (Dokaben), Kio reminisces about growing up with Mizushima’s manga. In his home, there would always be assorted volumes of Dokaben around, and he would read them voraciously. In his estimation, a lot of baseball know-how for kids his generation came from reading Mizushima manga, and he especially enjoyed the series Dai Koshien. Kio offers a prayer at the end.

Also, at some point, the Dai Koshien character Kyuudou looks like a Scope Dog from VOTOMS (I don’t understand the context to this).

Kio wanted to reference an old chapter of Spotted Flower for his manuscript, and opened his old file, only to remember that he did it in the program Comic Studio. He’s switched over to Clip Studio Paint now, and seeing Comic Studio start up took him by surprise. He also notes that Asaka-sensei had a different hairstyle in this earlier chapter.

B the Jin fan has a question for Kio, asking how Kio managed to get a music note generator version of Sukima Switch’s “Kanade” because it doesn’t seem to be for sale. Kio responds that he uses a program called Score Maker Zero by KAWAI, which can also sing using a synthesized voice. Kio can’t read sheet music, so it’s very helpful for him.

Kio says that he generated these notes for “Kanade” himself, and asks if B lives nearby. B thanks him and doesn’t say anything about location, but he does mention going to the high school that Hashimoto Technical High School is based on. Kio is impressed.

As Kio was rearranging his desk in his room, his pet tortoise awoke (after barely moving during these winter months), and then stepped out of its box, ate some food, went outside, and then peed and pooped.

Kio made a Hashikko Ensemble Youtube channel, and uploaded a video of his tone generator version of “Kanade” by Sukima Switch for two male voices. It’s supposed to evoke the image of Akira and Jin singing together.

Kio made a Hashikko Ensemble Youtube channel, and uploaded a video of his tone generator version of “Kanade” by Sukima Switch for two male voices. It’s supposed to evoke the image of Akira and Jin singing together.


Some old NEO-GEO games from his college days that he found in a cardboard box. They include a bunch of Fatal Fury games, Samurai Sho-down, and even Far East of Eden.

Settling the Score: Hashikko Ensemble, Final Chapter

Akira and Jin are singing as the lyrics to "Kanade" by Sukima Switch appear as if they're reverberating from the harmony. Mai looks on in awe.

48 chapters later, friends compete for the first time in this conclusion to Hashikko Ensemble.

Summary

It’s shortly after the start of the new school year at Hashimoto Tech, and all the clubs are presenting to recruit first-years. While the freshmen predictably look a little too rough-and-tumble to sing chorus/glee-style, Jin declares his confidence that they’ll find new members.

The chapter jumps back one month in time to White Day, where the last chapter left off. Akira and Jin both sing “Kanade” by Sukima Switch, but unlike the previous two times they’ve done this song together, this time they’re in a one-on-one “exhibition match.” For those familiar with Jin, especially Yumerun, it’s highly uncharacteristic to see Jin singing against someone rather than with them. At the end, with no clear victor, Jin proudly announces that he’s going to apply for music college just like Akira. Smiling, Jin calls Akira his rival, to which Akira happily agrees. 

Then, Jin reciprocates Kozue’s romantic Valentine’s chocolate with a White Day chocolate of his own, and says he likes her too. Kozue is happy, but notices Yumerun staring daggers into her, leading to a bit of off-panel comedic fury. 

The story then shifts forward again to the recruitment, and the group is going to be next on stage. Shion is nervous because all of her work to pass her classes has made her extremely competent at all that vocational work, but made her forget how to play. Kousei just says that she has to play decently, and it’ll be fine. The other members notice that they’ve gotten a bit closer, while Mai wishes she had the courage to give Akira chocolate.

As the announcer calls for them, Akira and the others come out to the audience as the official, full-fledged Chorus Club. The freshmen notice that there are an unusual number of delinquents in it—as well as girls—before the club starts their song.

The entire Chorus Club walks out after being officially announced, and freshmen in the audience notice both the heavy presence of delinquents among their members, as well as the girls present.

Concluded or Canceled?

Having Hashikko Ensemble all end here feels both well-timed and abrupt, and the actual answer is that it’s a little bit of both. On Twitter, Kio Shimoku said that he was told to begin wrapping up at the start of the Culture Festival arc, and he was able to get enough time to finish that arc and wrap things up, ending the series at Volume 8. It’s not quite the same, but it reminds me a bit of what happened to the original Mobile Suit Gundam: It was slated to be a 52-episode series, only to be canceled early and revised to be a 39-episode show, but the staff managed to convince the higher-ups to at least make it 43.

That, in turn, makes me think of that old Genshiken anime episode preview where the characters talk about how so many great series got canceled early—like Gungal (Gundam) and Dizner (Layzner). Madarame turns it around and says that maybe it’s the opposite, and a series is only truly great if it gets canceled.

I feel that Hashikko Ensemble is a story that had plenty more room to grow, and I would have enjoyed seeing them at least get to the end of high school, if not further beyond that. Still, there was at least enough room to resolve things well enough, and the main thrust of the relationship between Akira and Jin ends at an interesting and uplifting point.

Unrequited or Unseen?

Jin gives chocolate to Kozue and declares that he likes her back. Kozue blushes but turns to Yumerun, who looks like a ghost out for revenge.

Of the many romantic threads in the series, It’s funny that Jin x Kozue was the only one that resulted in a definitive couple. Hashikko Ensemble largely didn’t dwell on their relationship, and a lot of their interactions didn’t even indirectly hint at the subject. This can be chalked up to their personalities—Kozue is not prone to flights of fancy, and oblivious Jin probably didn’t even think about romantic love at any point in his life until Kozue’s confession. Giving the least prominent romance closure but not the others feels like a troll of sorts, but one I welcome for it’s unexpectedness.

And even then, others are somewhat open-ended. Kousei and Shion appear to be closer, and that development is likely a direct response to Shion proving that she can successfully perform the physical labor tasks involved in passing her classes—and by extension someday live the kind of life Kousei envisions for himself. Mai regrets not confessing to Akira, but it’s not like there was any sort of rejection. In the world of the story, they’ve still got at least another couple of years. If this were a series that had people writing fanfiction about it, this would probably be a prime topic.

Learning to Be Selflessly Selfish

Jin tells Akira in front of everyone that he's going to take the test for music college, and that he now considers the two of them rivals.

It feels appropriate that things would essentially boil back down to Akira and Jin. What’s fascinating is the journey they both took to get here.

The lesson Jin learns in the end is one that runs almost opposite of what is typical in anime and manga. Stories are often about someone discovering the power of teamwork, but what Jin needs in order to grow is the capacity to individually compete and outperform. His match against Akira isn’t about trying to win, but to see if he can actually use his singing as a tool to raise himself rather than support another. To go from “teammates” to “rivals” is, again, sort of counter to the standard narrative of manga about high school clubs. 

As Akira states in his thoughts, he’s grateful for all he’s gained thanks to Jin. He originally was woefully self-conscious about the deep voice he suddenly developed in middle school, and it was something he sought to hide and minimize. But Jin encouraged him to go out of his comfort zone and embrace the bass in his voice, and here, Akira brings not only his gratitude but everything Jin ever taught him.

Poetically, Jin himself turns out to have been forced outside his comfort zone by Akira’s rapid progress, which is how we get to their relationship in the final chapter. Rather than the student becoming the master, the two recognize each other as true equals.

Songs

As stated, the last and only song for Chapter 48 is “Kanade” by Sukima Switch. As with every time “Kanade” appears, I’ve linked the official music video above, but there’s a very special treat this time as well.

Kio actually uploaded a version of “Kanade” that’s supposed to be an approximation of how the song would sound as a duet performed by Akira and Jin! According to his tweets, Kio stated that he made it himself because it didn’t exist, and that he accomplished it with the help of a couple music programs.

One thing I never really did with all these Hashikko Ensemble reviews over the years is provide analyses of the lyrics for the various songs used in the manga. This was partly for space and time reasons, but they often add meaning to each chapter, so it has been a bit of a glaring omission. 

For this final chapter, I think it’s worth looking at “Kanade” and what the song is saying. The lyrics are largely about someone getting close to a person and guiding them, only to see them growing into an adult and changing. But even though things aren’t going to be the same, they’ll use their voice to protect the other.

How fitting for Akira and JIn, and perhaps the entirety of Hashikko Ensemble. So much of the series is about the characters finding support in one another, and watching them grow beyond what anyone expected.

Final Thoughts

The series is ending literally one month short of its fourth anniversary, and looking back, there are many questions about Hashikko Ensemble left unanswered and open to exploration. Mai, who ended up becoming my favorite character, never got enough time to fully shine, but I appreciate the fact that she ended up becoming a more prominent character towards the end. I also have to wonder if Jin’s mom was introduced during the Culture Festival because Kio knew the manga was set to finish. It feels somewhat like an appearance that resulted from things having to wrap up, and a longer series might have had her shadow (rather than her physical self) loom in the background for a greater amount of chapters. Would Jin ever learn that his mom thinks highly of his singing ability? I could see it going either way.

Hashikko Ensemble is notably different from pretty much all of Kio’s previous works in the way that there’s a concrete underlying goal for its cast. Whether it’s Genshiken or any of the series that have preceded or followed it, Kio’s stories have always been more about exploring character relationships in spaces devoid of strong ambition. Hashikko Ensemble is very much about the characters and how they connect with one another, but the theme of music and an in-story goal of forming a proper club (and a proper chorus) means that there’s a good deal of forward momentum that’s absent in Kio’s other manga—with the arguable exception of Kujibiki Unbalance. Seeing that relatively more “focused” Kio Shimoku manga makes me wonder how things would go if he took it a step further, maybe even into a more adventure-type work, or something like palace intrigue.

Akira, Jin, and the rest are so charming and authentic as characters. Their personalities contain both simplicities and complexities, and as they grow, they gain new dimensions while remaining true to their cores. It reminds me of past Kio series to be sure, but there’s a kind of enthusiasm that I think is indicative of the high school setting—a mark of youth and the potential that lies ahead. Yet, with all the adult figures in the background, there are characters even those who feel far removed from their younger days can relate to. The fact that Kio actually joined Twitter as this serialization was happening even lends an air of trying to communicate with an audience that’s both younger and older. It’s not TikTok, but maybe that’d be a step too far.

Hashikko Ensemble ends up feeling like it has the perspectives of both teens in the midst of their days and adults looking at youth in action, and that interaction has been a joy to read.

Standing with Jin after finishing singing, Akira thinks about how he went from trying to hide his voice to learning to use it thanks to Jin. Flashback panels appear all over the background.

Thank you for another great series, Kio-sensei.