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chuo-curve

A geek voyage to Japan typically involves trips to the various otaku mecca strewn across the country. From shopping areas such as Akihabara and Den Den Town to sites found in anime such as Lucky Star and Inari Kon Kon Koi Iroha, otaku pilgrimages are a special way to appreciate Japanese pop culture (and support them financially through tourism in the process). For me, there was one place that I needed to pay my respects to on a trip to Japan: the university campus upon which Genshiken is based.

Before proceeding, I have to thank this site for the information on how to get to the university, as well as showing important spots in the first place. The photos they took are also much better than mine, so if you want really good reference material that’s the place to go.

chuo-animeclub

While the actual Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture is based on a club at Tsukuba University in Ibaraki, the actual campus of the fictional Shiiou University is based on Chuo University’s Tama Campus. This is made immediately obvious by the Chuo University sign adorning one of the campus’s buildings.

chuo-outside

The real main event is the club area, where the Genshiken club itself would be located if it were real. The building is constructed in an interesting oval shape with an open court in the center, which gives it a distinct appearance. The windows of the two sides of the club building face each other, which is how the members of Genshiken set up their doujin traps to break down willpower in their new members, and how they first noticed Ogiue jumping out of the Manga Society window.

chuo-hallway

Upon entering the club building, it is immediately noticeable how well-worn it is as an environment for students. Remnants of flyers new and old adorn the walls, and produce a strong sense of history. Given my club experience back in undergraduate, I wish we had a place like this to share in the club experience. Though the building was fairly empty at the time, there were definitely signs of life. The first thing I heard was the wails of a death metal vocalist in training, which I assumed came from a Heavy Metal Research Society or something similar.

chuo-posters chuo-mangasociety

chuo-folkdanceclub

chuo-mangacreationclub

chuo-senkisociety

Looking at the flyers themselves showed just how spread out otaku interests could be. From what I could tell, the many clubs included a Animation Research Society, an Anime and Manga Research Society, a Manga Research Society, a Manga Creation Research Society, a Voice Actor Appreciation Society, an Idol Appreciation Society, and an Idol Games Research Society. Many clubs also utilize cute manga characters such as the Folk Dance Research Society and the War Chronicle Research Society. Signs advertising different circles for different doujin events could also be found throughout the building.

chuo-genshikendoor

I eventually arrived at the door where I believe Genshiken’s club room would be located. Though I anticipated some kind of signage to indicate this fact, there was nothing of the sort. The only things that could be found were scraps of paper taped to the wall, with no clear marker as to what club might currently be using the room.

Though I think this shows that Genshiken is nowhere near as big as, say, Love Live! or Lucky Star, and I do wish that it was known enough that some kind of signage would be present to point fans of the best manga series to its source material, it is perhaps for the best. The club building at Chuo University’s Tama Campus still has the feeling of truly being used and handed down by generations of students, which is now an even more solidified theme of Genshiken with Nidaime currently being published.

On a final note, back in 2005 when I originally visited Japan, I went to the Tama Zoo. located near the Tama Campus. Not long after I left Japan, Sasahara and Ogiue had their first date at a zoo. I strongly believe that the Tama Zoo is where they went, though I of course at the time could not know that it would become a pilgrimage site for Genshiken fans; I couldn’t predict the future, after all! However, I am taking the liberty to consider this a retroactive visit to an important Genshiken locale, partly because it makes me feel better.

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berserk-new-visual

Just some thoughts on how much has changed since Berserk first debuted.

Don’t forget, the Ogiue Maniax Love Live! Contest ends this Saturday!

With that out of the way, let’s get back to our regularly scheduled monthly blog update.

As always, much thanks to my Patreon sponsors:

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

A special thanks to Diogo in particular for giving me an amazing present: Volume 1 of the Brazilian edition of Genshiken!

genshiken-brazilian

A new season of anime is on the horizon, and I’m looking forward to checking out as much as I can. I’m most looking forward to Love Live! Sunshine!!, which started airing just this past weekend. Unfortunately, I tend to watch many more shows than I have time to write about, so often some of my favorite series don’t end up getting blog posts dedicated to them. I’m considering doing something about that, but it’s always a small struggle between writing about the anime and manga that no one’s looking at to get them more exposure and talking about the things I like that people already have some familiarity with so that there’s an easier connection to be made.

I think that, due to a lack of time, my posts have started getting a bit shorter again. I believe that there are strengths and weaknesses to larger and shorter entries, but it also means that Ogiue Maniax might feel more like the scratchpad for my thoughts that it originally was in the first place. What do you readers think of this, and is there any kind of preferred ratio for you?

June’s post of the month has to be the review of Genshiken Chapter 125. I know, I know, Genshiken is a highlight every month, but I think this is a real case of the manga zagging when you thought it would zig, and it more than anything else reminds me of how wonderful a series Genshiken is.

I also have more reports from my trip to Japan, including my visit to two different Love Live! events, and a look at Comic Store Wonderland in Osaka, which is home to a ton of amazing autographs from famous manga artists. The Hanayo bag I bought at the doujin event is quite possibly my favorite piece of merchandise from Japan. Taketayo~

Another highlight is my review of the new Cardcaptor Sakura manga. CLAMP is back! I mean, they’ve never left, but I just lost interest after years and years of Tsubasa and XXXHolic. This new CCS really feels like a return to form, and I’ve already got plans to get each issue of Nakayoshi as it comes out in Japan.

Lastly, I wrote a post about Mystic Archives of Dantalian, as requested by Patreon sponsor Johnny Trovato, where I explore the show’s intersection with the idea of chuunibyou.

As always, if you’re interested in having me write about something, you can make a pledge through Patreon.  And if you’ve ever wondered why that tier is so high, it’s actually because I really want Ogiue Maniax to still be a space where I share and explore my thoughts, and so having the blog just be about fulfilling requests isn’t what I really want. However, because I’m also always eager to broaden my horizons, I invite the opportunity to make me watch or read or talk about something I might not have thought of otherwise.

I hope you all have a great July. I’ll be spending the month getting panels ready for Otakon in August. If any of you are going, I look forward to possibly seeing you.

Name: Mahoron (まほろん)
Alias: N/A
Relationship Status: N/A
Origin: Happy Fujoshi: Fujoshi no After 5

Information:
In addition to being a fan of the “Randy x Gerdt” pairing from an unnamed series, Mahoron is a doujinshi fiction writer who focuses on her favorite pairing. She looks up to Yuzu, who she considers to be the best the genre has to offer, giving her a copy of her book at their karaoke event.

Fujoshi Level:
Mahoron listens to conversations between guys on the train and imagines them as lines for Randy and Gerdt.

In this month’s chapter of Genshiken Nidaime, the old boys are back.

Chapter Summary

Madarame, Tanaka, and Kugayama meet up for drinks. While they start talking about how things have changed now that Madarame’s finally not going back to the old university, the conversation eventually shifts to girls. As Madarame realizes how the boys of Genshiken have at some point started talking about girls instead of anime, he swears to bring himself back to his original mega otaku self. However, just as he successfully tempts the rest of the guys to pull out some 18+ doujinshi, Kohsaka shows up with Saki, who seems unfazed by Madarame’s attempts to creep her out. Not long after, they reveal to the guys that Saki is pregnant.

This causes Madarame to flip and exclaim that he should’ve just picked someone and ended his virginity, but then Saki reveals that it was all a lie orchestrated by her and Kohsaka to get Madarame to confront his true feelings. She then tells Madarame straight up that he should go out with Sue on account of his reasoning for rejecting her being total BS, and even gets Sasahara to call Ogiue and get Sue on the phone. Saki says to Madarame that, if Sue’s not interested anymore then it’s fine, but otherwise…

Straight Shooter Saki

Ah, Kasukabe Saki. While Keiko kind of fulfills her role as the no-nonsense outsider, she doesn’t quite capture Kasukabe’s ability to just cut straight to the point. Quite a few of the readers on this blog have commented that Madarame’s reasoning for rejecting Sue was incredibly weak, and I find it interesting that Kio Shimoku would purposely set that up as a sticking point. While I do still think that Madarame’s reasoning wasn’t solely to run away from the situation, it was pretty flimsy on the surface.

It’s also revealed that Saki set her ploy up because Kohsaka and her suspected that Madarame’s real reason for not choosing a girl was that he was still pining after he deep down inside. While I think this was pretty clear, especially given his reason for rejecting Keiko (she reminds Madarame too much of Kasukabe), this really shows just how much that’s actually the case. Somewhere in all of this is the idea that the other girls are maybe too otaku to get to the heart of the matter. Ogiue might be blunt and Yoshitake might be a schemer, but their anime and manga-oriented minds inadverently allowed the harem to flourish, and thus allowed Madarame to remain wishy-washy about the whole thing. Saki really is amazing.

As for the fake pregnancy, before Saki revealed the truth my immediate reaction was that this basically would have marked off Spotted Flower as a possibility. Now, it’s back to being in this nebulous space of pseudo-canon/alternate universe, and it’s a very intentional move by Kio to mess with his readership. Maybe, somehow, we’re all Madarame. What this also means, based on all of the talk of girls and sex (or in some cases lack thereof), is that the thematic gap between Genshiken and Spotted Flower is ever-shrinking.

By the way, the named of the chapter is “High-Slope Flower,” which is a parody of Spotted Flower, only with a reference to Kohsaka instead of Madarame; the saka in Kohsaka means “hill.”

Kio you troll.

Sex Talk

Though it’s one of the main jokes of the chapter, it really is crazy that the boys of Genshiken have been having varying degrees of success with the ladies, not least of which is Madarame’s recent harem adventures.

It’s unclear if Rino the Cabaret girl is actually interested in Kugayama or is basically doing her job and manipulating her client for more pay (remember, Cabaret Clubs are all about talking with girls as opposed to being a sex service), but it’s very likely that the latter is a factor. Kugayama himself acknowledges this, but just the fact that he is making some kind of vague move towards fulfilling his desire for real-life women, and that he’s gone from visiting Cabaret ladies to just one in particular, is itself a kind of change or progression.

One of the more notable aspects of this chapter is that Tanaka and Sasahara reveal quite a few details about their sex lives. Tanaka mentions that he “only” gets to have sex with Ohno about once a week, while Sasahara says that his rate is about once a month, much to Madarame’s consternation. Tanaka even mentions to Kugayama about how asking for a girl’s three sizes in order to get a cosplay outfit made for her (Kugayama’s current plan for a gift to Rino) can turn into dirty talk.

References to the characters having sex is nothing new to Genshiken. Way back, Saki talked about her and Kohsaka doing it doggy-style. Ogiue started drawing more realistic penises in her doujinshi after she began her relationship with Sasahara. I think this situation might feel different because it’s the guys, the ones who are supposed to be the “losers,” doing it, and so the dissonance in Madarame is understandable. I also believe that this dissonance was a huge factor when it came to Madarame’s decision to abstain from choosing a partner. This candidness contrasts with the younger characters that comprise the main cast now as well, because they are for the most part are still very shy about this sort of thing.

It’s easy to tell that the conversations are causing Madarame’s imagination to go wild, and that too is understandable.

They Just Keep Pulling Me Back In!

If Madarame does indeed end up with Sue after all, does it matter that it happens after the harem arc concluded rather than it being a direct result of Madarame’s decision? After all, choosing a partner would have, by definition, ended the arc anyway.

This is all speculation at this point, but I do think there is a difference between having Sue the winner of a competition versus her and Madarame potentially building something up together on their own. I think the harem itself put a lot of pressure on Madarame that a simpler one-to-one relationship wouldn’t carry, even if it doesn’t work out.

As for Sue essentially being Madarame’s 2D complex ideal given flesh and how this might mean that Madarame loses the last vestiges of his realistic otaku self, there are two points to take into consideration. First, guys can have many different ideals to the point that arguably any of the other partners could be considered an “ideal,” but the way the story has portrayed them shows a lot of interesting facets to their characters. Sue still seems a bit otherworldly, but this might be the start to opening her up more. Second, Sue really is the only one at Madarame’s otaku power level.

No Ogiue Image This Month

They do mention her, though.

Sasahara: Basically, Sue’s at Ogiue’s apartment, which means I can’t visit. Do something about it, please.
Madarame: Wha? What do ya mean? Wait… You just want to have sex with her!
Sasahara: ……That’s right! What’s wrong with that?!

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Name: Mayu (マユ)
Alias: N/A
Relationship Status: N/A
Origin: Happy Fujoshi: Fujoshi no After 5

Information:
Mayu is an office worker and who devotes most of her time and money to her fujoshi hobbies. She is particularly into the Randy x Gerdt pairing from an unnamed anime, and is invited to a karaoke party after a doujin event.

Fujoshi Level:
Mayu has a very busy life juggling both her work and her otaku life, but keeps herself motivated by thinking about Randy x Gerdt, even at work.

soremachi-8-9-14

In the June 2016 issue of Monthly Afternoon released in April (it’s confusing, I know), there’s an interview with two previous winners of the Afternoon Four Seasons Award, which is a manga competition run by the magazine. One of the winners is Ishiguro Masakazu, creator of And Yet the Town Moves (Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru). When talking about his influences, Ishiguro mentions a number of manga artists, but two in particular are especially important to him and his style. Those would be Otomo Katsuhiro of Akira fame, and Fujiko F. Fujio, creator of Doraemon.

akira2_0 doraemon-sticker

Although it isn’t terribly surprising that these two titans of manga would influence other manga artists, in the case of Ishiguro this is a really big deal. That’s because, if you think about what Soremachi is, how it’s drawn in terms of environment and character expressions, and how the stories range from the dramatic to the silly, from the everyday to the alien, Soremachi is pretty much an even fusion between Akira and Doraemon. There was even a story about time travel that revolves around some super delicious snack cake!

Quite a few years ago my friend, translator Ko Ransom, mentioned to me that he felt Ishiguro’s art style reminded him a lot of Akira. As it turns out, he was right on the nose with that one. When you think about it, it’s not like it’s immediately obvious given how different those two stories are, which makes me all the more impressed by his keen eye.

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kiminakare3-natsumi

I realized that I’ve been giving the wrong name for the main guy. It’s Hayato, not Shuuto, and I somehow missed that despite it being written clearly in the very beginning of Chapter 1. Sorry about that.

I’ve since gone back and changed the previous chapter review. I hope this hasn’t impacted your enjoyment of this series or my reviews!

Also, a better translation of this title might be Thou Shalt Not xxx. It’s the same structure used in Yosano Akiko’s “Thou Shalt Not Die” power in Bungou Stray Dogs. Maybe I’ll call it that from now on, maybe not. What do you think?

Summary

In Chapter 1 we got to see the world from Hayato’s point of view, and Chapter 2 was a Nobuko’s-eye view. This time, it’s primarily from their other close friend that we’ve seen in previous chapters, Natsumi.

Chapter 3 mainly takes place in the past, when Hayato and Natsumi were classmates in elementary school. They’re putting on a play about a prince (Hayato) and multiple princesses, but Natsumi gets picked on by the other girls for being poor and not very “princess-like.” Hayato, being the naturally good guy, defends Natsumi, including being wiling to not participate in the play. Natsumi develops a crush on Hayato, and is inspired to start acting thanks to him, but learns the painful truth from day 1 that his heart belongs to Nobuko.

kiminakare3-natsumihayato

Back in the present of the main narrative, it’s revealed that this chapter takes place between Chapters 1 and 2, after Hayato first confessed to Nobuko. Natsumi quietly asks if Hayato’s feelings could possibly be love, given how young he was at the time. However, Natsumi senses her younger self telling her something important: Natsumi was only a kid when she first noticed Hayato, and she knows those emotions are genuine.

A Slowly Expanding Cast

I wondered last month to what extent Kimi Nakare would begin to fill in its side characters, and the process has already begun. What I perhaps didn’t expect (though in hindsight maybe I should have) is that there would be a love triangle. I guess it’s maybe technically not a triangle depending on how you define it (Hayato only has eyes for Nobuko), though it’s also looking not to be as much about the exclusive world between Hayato and Nobuko as I first thought. I am a little apprehensive because I know how heavy and meandering love triangle manga can get, but I have faith in the creator Ohachimachi Hato’s ability to weave an interesting tale with endearing characters.

Who Will You Kiss? Me or That Girl?

Nevertheless, the chain of emotions is established, but one interesting wrinkle to this tried-and-true formula is that Natsumi is clearly the more attractive of the two girls. Whether she’s supposed to be relatively plain in the mold of the typical shoujo protagonist, or she’s supposed to be extremely beautiful isn’t entirely clear (were the girls who picked on her jealous or just snotty brats?), but she has all the features typically desired in a girl in manga. Natsumi is quiet, has a good heart, and just comes across as “better girlfriend” material. And yet, she’s the one on the backfoot, because Hayato is just enraptured with Nobuko.

kiminakare3-nobuko

It’s not unusual for the third girl in the love triangle to be at a disadvantage because of personality or because there’s some kind of charisma that the main girl possesses, but it’s also usually not to this extent. There might be some similarities to Kimi ni Todoke, but Natsumi is no Kurumizawa Ume, and Nobuko is two steps beyond the eccentricities of Kuronouma Sawako. Just the fact that Nobuko’s only appearance in this chapter is in the form of a comical rendering just pushes home the idea that Natsumi is competing with a force perhaps unlike any other in romance manga.

Last Thoughts

This is definitely not the Chapter 3 I was expecting. While I worry about love triangles a bit, I’m also looking forward to where the manga goes from here.

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wonderland-shoujofight

In many big anime/manga stores in Japan, there are signed images from notable manga authors. Often times, you’re not allowed to photograph them, so they can’t really be shared with the rest of the world. One notable exception is Wonderland in Osaka’s Den Den Town (sort of the Kansai equivalent of Akihabara), where employees gave me free rein.

This gallery includes a number of highlights from Wonderland, so see if you can spot your favorites. However, it doesn’t show all of the ones at the store. If you have the chance, go there in person to see the rest!

By the way, the image above is by Nihonbashi Yoko, who I recently discovered through the manga Shoujo Fight. What a coincidence!

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5tips-genshiken

I’m trying to do lists my way! My latest post on Apartment 507 features five pieces of seemingly generic but I think useful advice for those who want to get more into anime/manga (or want to revive their lost interest) but feel lost doing so. Tell me what you think, and even throw in some tips yourself because this certainly isn’t a closed list.

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