Kio Shimoku’s First Audio Interview Is with a Virtual Youtuber!

Kio Shimoku has historically been a very private person, not even revealing his face until 2018. Shockingly, the Genshiken author had his very first audio interview, and it was by a Virtual Youtuber to boot! Luis Cammy is apparently a big fan of Kio’s work, and talked with him for a whopping 80+ minutes.

Translating the whole thing would be a whole endeavor in itself, but you’ll find all the notes I’ve taken from the interview. There’s a lot of it that’s all-new information and insight into Kio’s creative history.

Note that Kio has a remarkably deep voice. Personally, he reminds me a bit of Kugayama from Genshiken.

Also, as a final disclaimer, it’s possible I misunderstood some of the things spoken about. If anyone has corrections, feel free to leave comments!

Introduction and Miscellaneous

Luis has been a fan of his work since Gonensei (“The Fifth Year”), an early Kio manga and dark sequel to his prior work, Yonensei (“The Fourth Year”).

As part of their collaboration, Luis sang a cover of the Kujibiki Unbalance opening, and Kio provided drawings of Luis cosplaying as Ritsuko Kübel Kettenkrad for a music video. The video

Is meant to resemble late 1990s to early 2000s galge/dating sim intros. Luis looks like Saki from Genshiken/Ritsuko already, so it was a challenge to differentiate her.

Kio learned about VTubers from manga author gatherings. He doesn’t watch YouTubers much, let alone VTubers.

When asked if he knew how popular his work was at the time, Kio said he didn’t really look at comments online, but felt he rode the wave of the era.

The very beginning of Genshiken was Kio wanting to draw otaku as normal people. He want to madk what he himself wanted to read.

Luis mentions that otaku and their status have changed drastically since the days of Genshiken (when otaku were picked on and persecuted), like how there are light otaku now. Kio says his daughter is in middle school right now, and to her, she doesn’t get the whole otaku-as-negative thing. A group of popular kids in her class have Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba merch. Kio responds, “Times have changed, huh?”

Luis talks about how even regular folks say they like her, and it’s like the wall between normies and otaku isn’t there. Madarame has become a popular representative of otaku (to the extent that he’s Kio’s visual stand-in for this interview).

Genshiken

Luis mentions how fans by Nidaime love Madarame, and that he’s like a dating sim protagonist in Genshiken Second Generation/Nidaime.

Kio talks about how, in the very earliest planning stages, the first idea he sent to editorial was about the relationship between Madarame, Kousaka, and Saki. The love triangle was inspired by Ping-Pong Club, the nose-hair chapter in particular. That scene was thought up very early on, back when Genshiken was a mere chick. In a sense, Madarame and his romantic relationships were a part of Genshiken from the start.

Luis talks about her mahjong teacher, Saito Go (a professional player and mahjong VTuber), likes Genshiken. He especially remembers that scene with Madarame and Saki eating sushi together, and then not talking afterward on the train ride home.

Luis points out that Kio likes to use silent panels, which Kio agrees with. However, he thinks it’s overdoing it with those types of panels isn’t good either. The nose-hair chapter ends in silence too. Luis says a lot of information can be conveyed in such panels. Kio says it can convey a sense of realism.

Luis points out that the recording was the day of Saki’s birthday!

When creating character profiles for the compiled manga volumes, Kio had to come up with birthdays. He actually used Gundam Horoscopes to think them up. [This has been mentioned in other sources before, like the Japan-only Genshiken Official Data Book.] Actually, it was sort of like a backwards horoscope, in that he picked a mobile suit that would fit Saki well, and decided the birthday based on that. Sasahara is a Ball.

Personal Questions and Family Life

Kio is into Gunpla. He got into it when he was a 6 thanks to his bigger brother. Plamo-Kyoshiro (the 1980s precursor to Gundam Build Fighters) was his “bible.” He would categorize himself as a plastic model otaku above all else. He still wants to continue it as a hobby, but he’s busy. In Plamo-Kyoshiro, the way they used cardboard boxes in the manga really sparked his imagination as a kid.

Luis asks if Kio’s daughter ever says, “Why is our home filling up with more [otaku] stuff?” Kio says that his workplace is different from his home, so it’s his workplace that gets filled up instead. Doesn’t think his daughter is an otaku, but can’t say for sure. Luis jokes about Kio’s daughter showing up on the live recording and telling him not to say so much. Kio mentions that she doesn’t know about this, so Luis responds that she could come in saying, “It sounds like you’re doing a broadcast with someone from Nijisanji.” Kio comments that she might actually know what VTubers are.

Kio’s daughter has always walked in while he’s drawing manga, so she’s been reading manga for a long time. Kio still reads current manga. Luis says that manga has become like a “communication tool” these days, like, “What? Do you know this title?” as a conversation starter.

Genshiken More In-Depth

Luis describes the first Genshiken as being about ancient otaku. She asks Kio, if there was a Genshiken Third Generation, would it have VTubers and stuff in it? What kinds of characters and what sort of content would it include?

Kio concurs that they’re ancient otaku. His thinking was, “If I try to draw something totally new, it’ll quickly date itself. But if I make them feel older, than it’ll age better.” He doesn’t consider himself to be on the cutting edge. Genshiken came from whatt he personally wanted to draw. As it continued, it progressed into fujoshi stuff.

As for VTubers, once they become old, maybe then they’d show up in Genshiken. Kio says that plenty of current manga have VTubers in them already.

Luis asks if Kio is happy to have ended Second Generation when he did, and Kio says yes. “It felt like, ‘That’s about where it should stop.’” He explains how the sequel started out as a one-shot, but he’s not good at doing extra stories and the like, so he kept on working on it. Kodansha editorial (the publisher of Genshiken) said he should do enough to fill one volume. It was originally supposed to be a short serialization. 

Kio began with the thought of “How would Ogiue and the others continue the club?” and of course, it would end up with a bunch of fujoshi. But would it be all girls? What about guys? Hence, Hato.

Kio really went back and forth about whether or not to include a character like Hato. When he was drawing the manuscript, he kept having the feeling of “Is this really okay?” Coming up with the idea of Hato purposely using a more feminine voice is when he finally thought he could make it work. Fujoshi and otoko no ko (boys who dress convincingly as girls) are the main aspects of Second Generation. Kio didn’t want to put Hato through so much hardship, but as the story progressed, he felt that’s what should happen—though he did worry over it. 

The original Genshiken was supposed to be in real time, and things moved quickly. But it stopped being that way during the Ogiue story at Karuizawa. At the time, Ogiue was a “problem child” when it came to drawing the manga, as he didn’t know if he could resolve her backstory.  It’d be difficult to do that and still maintain the “real-time” thing, and he would’ve selfishly wanted to end the series in the Spring if it had stuck to being in real time. But it took multiple months to get through the Ogiue story. 

The series was supposed to end at Volume 8, but then there were plans for the second special official doujinshi [the first one was included with Volume 6]. Because of that, they decided to continue the series up to Volume 9. The original Genshiken features Ogiue’s turmoil, and Second Generation features Hato’s turmoil.

Luis comments how there are the Ogiue fans, and then there are Hato fans. Kio responds, “The Ogiue fans really are somethingl…” and then trails off. [Ogiue Maniax note: I feel attacked.] 

Spotted Flower

There are things that were hard to put into Genshiken, like sexual stuff. That’s where Spotted Flower comes from. From here, the two jokingly pussyfoot around Spotted Flower’s similarities to Genshiken.

Luis talks about how Spotted Flower is a different world (tongue-in-cheek), but it has kind of a crossover feel. Kio responds that they’re ostensibly different characters. Luis replies that the series is like a “what-if” universe (if-sekai in Japanese).

Kio says it’s not supposed to be them, but through it, he can do what he couldn’t in Genshiken.

Luis says, “What-If Madarame has a ‘Why youuuu!’ feeling.” Kio laments the husband as well.

Spotted Flower was supposed to be just a few short pages for Rakuen: Le Paradis magazine. The resemblance to other characters was originally not planned, but is actually something he noticed after the fact. He didn’t explain the meaning of the title to them when he submitted it [madara means “spot” and saki means “bloom”], so they probably didn’t realize at first. So he figured, “Why not keep going?” and it developed along the way.

“And now there are four volumes,” says Luis..

Kio’s feelings: “It’s not a book that comes out often, but if it interests you, I’m grateful.”

It was one thing when it was just the husband and wife, but then he added the Hato-like character, and the Kousaka-like character, and so on. He still can’t really say for sure that it’s them.

Hashikko Ensemble and Kio’s Overall Career

Luis finds the Hashikko Ensemble main character Akira cute. Kio says that he began with the idea that Akira would have that gap between his very deep voice and his shy personality.

Volume 5 of Hashikko Ensemble should be coming in September. 

Kio says he’s been in the manga business for 25 years. Luis thinks all his works are great, in terms of information provided, emotion, and atmosphere all being wrapped up in them. “It’s no small stuff.” To Kio, he sees all the things she mentioned as his shortcomings Luis comments that she enjoys seeing Kio reflect on his work.

Kio is the type to regret not saying this or doing that. Luis remarks that this is a live broadcast—is Kio okay?

Kio doesn’t recognize his own voice when recording. Luis said she never thought of her voice as anything special but the fans would say it’s cute. Luis compares Akira’s voice to Kio’s. Kio never had any experience with singing or choruses, but figured, why not give Akira a deep voice like himself?

He thinks people who can come up with characters purely from imagination are amazing.

Hashikko Ensemble a story of the passion of youth, but Kio didn’t originally plan it that way. Like Genshiken, he wanted the story to be something ridiculous and fun, and landed on “chorus club high schoolers.”

Luis loves stories about the passion of youth (seishun), like Yowamushi Pedal and Big Windup. Kio replies that he’s never drawn manga in that vein—like Chihayafuru—but thought, “If I put all I had into it, could I draw one?” The characters in Genshiken are all pretty mellow. He wasn’t that good at drawing the kind of youthfulness that appears in Hashikko Ensemble, at first.

Luis makes the argument that the original Genshiken is a “passion of youth” story, because it’about figuring out what club to join and what to do? Like, Kugayama’s waffling on whether or not to draw, or Ogiue’s decision to go, “I guess I’m gonna draw.” 

The kinds of “passion of youth” stories Kio enjoys are a little strange—not so much “hot-blooded stuff.” Luis describes Madarame as a hot-blooded otaku. As for being a passion of youth story, what about that story with Saki mentioning Madarame looks good in his new glasses?

Originally, Genshiken was supposed to be a club that doesn’t put anything out. One of the things that made Ogiue tricky is that she wanted to draw herself, so Kio had no choice but to make a story about her trying to get into Comic Festival [the Genshiken in-universe equivalent of Comic Market].

Doujinshi???

Luis says Genshiken is what made her want to attend Comic Market as part of a circle. She asks Kio if he ever participated as an artist. Kio says yes!

Kio released a doujinshi at Comic Market in 2003 (Luis points out that 2004 was the year of the first Genshiken anime, which Kio totally forgot about).

Kio did not use the name “Kio Shimoku” for Comic Market. He sold 200 books, which impresses Luis. For reference, Luis says that 100 is considered a lot, and she herself sold 50 copies of her own doujinshi at a Comitia [a major doujin event primarily dedicated to original, non-fan works].

The doujinshi was indeed pornographic, and an original work. It bears resemblance to Kujibiki Unbalance and Genshiken.

Luis talks about how big sister loves Kujibiki Unbalance, to the extent that she put out a pornographic doujinshi starring Ritsuko. Luis helped her a lot with it, including stapling it together. 

“Putting out a Kujibiki Unbalance-esque doujinshi yourself is like actually being in Genshiken,” says Luis.

Kio also participated at Comic Market a second time—in 2010. It was a doujinshi based on a “certain space opera that uses Episodes,” flipping around the genders of the character roles involved. The inspiration was that with some wordplay, the title resembled the phrase “Sister Wars.” He drew what was supposed to just be a manuscript based on Episode 1, but it ended up being 350 pages. Kio wanted to draw up to six.

“Please complete it!” Luis says.

“But I wouldn’t be able to sell it!” Kio replies.

[Ogiue Maniax note: One of Ogiue’s characteristics is prolific output, just like Kio here.]

Luis asks if there’s anything he’s watched lately, old anime or new anime. Kio doesn’t have anything, and Luis says his free time to just sit down and watch without moving must have decreased. Kio agrees.

Kio wants to absorb more shows, but just doesn’t have the time.

Questions from Kio for Nijisanji

As future reference for manga, Kio asks if VTubers wear sensors to track movement. Luis responds that it uses 3D tracking. She quickly “corrects” that the animated figure you see is the real her.

Luis says that Kio’s participation in Comic Market makes his manga feel more real.

The two talk more about the Kujibiki Unbalance music video they collaborated on. Kio says it’s like a doujin-style fan work. Luis talks about how she has Genshiken and Kujibiki Unbalance merch. Luis has the Kujibiki Unbalance Ritsuko school swimsuit clear file drawn by the light novel artist, Yagumo Kengou. Kio mentions that the image was a request from him [Ogiue Maniax note: Not 100% sure about this last sentence].

Kio mentions that he gets some harsh comments, but others will say “That’s the kind of author he was all along!” But he doesn’t want to remember himself from the Gonensei era.

What an Interview!

There’s a lot to unpack in this interview. I hope to follow up with an analysis.

Also, I can’t believe there’s a Virtual Youtuber who’s into Genshiken, Kio Shimoku, and mahjong! It’s like someone designed a VTuber especially for me.

I guess the Ogiue Maniax VTuber pantheon is now Sugomori Tenkomori and Luis Cammy.

Original the Comic: Kansai Comitia 48 (Original Doujinshi Event)

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Whenever the typical English-speaking anime or manga sees the word doujinshi, a particular image comes to mind. Typically, doujinshi are associated with fan-parodies of titles both popular and niche, the realm of what-ifs that run the gamut from the silly to the sexy. However, many doujinshi are original works, and Comitia is the largest group of “original-only” doujin events in Japan. I attended Kansai Comitia 48 Osaka recently on May 15, 2016, and it was a fun learning experience. Not only could I feel the creators’ passions, but I also have come to view the importance of doujin events in a different light.

Original Doujinshi

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While I am certainly a fan of doujinshi based on existing properties, in many ways original doujinshi are more impressive because they cannot rely on drawing in the fan bases of those works. When I think about it, my first exposure to the idea of doujinshi, the anime adaptation of Comic Party, mainly focused on original works. In that TV series, the main character learns an important lesson: making doujinshi is about what you want to do, not simply what sells. Across dozens of creators, that is exactly the spirit I saw at Kansai Comitia 48.

The event site was laid out roughly according to genre, and when you look at the categories listed it becomes easy to see the variety of interests on display. There was the “Fantasy” section, which was by far the largest, but there were also things like Criticism, Travel, Shounen, Shoujo, Seinen, SF/Mecha, Animals, BL, and so on. The first doujinshi I picked up was a record of the author’s trip to Russia, while my favorite had to be a cute romance about a girl with a bentou box for a head. The handkerchief normally used to wrap a bentou box became the ribbon that accentuated her girlish charm. One table was selling guides to girls’ school uniforms throughout Japan, and the circle that was responsible for it consisted of a mix of both men and women.

What About the 18+ Stuff?

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While doujinshi often brings to my pornographic works, the Adult section at Kansai Comitia 48 was rather small. This is not that unusual, because most doujinshi made are in fact not sexual. However, even there the space for doujinshi as a place to explore one’s passions is visible, and one might even argue that it’s where such sentiments are most evident. Many of the 18+ circles were focused on otoko no ko, or boys who look like girls, and one was even solely about handsome bad guys kissing young girls. There was one artist who drew heterosexual josei-style smut, which can be rather uncommon given the sheer amount of BL that exists.

I picked up one adult title at the event, but not necessarily for the reason you might expect. The artist who drew it was actually Kakimoto Kenjirou, a published manga artist in the 1990s whose series, Futarigurashi, ran in Young Jump. It appeared that he was out of the manga game for quite a while, but here he was at Kansai Comitia drawing what he wanted, and the doujinshi I bought was actually a sequel to Futarigurashi. Here was a space where even someone with manga industry experience could continue the stories they wanted to tell, and essentially make “amateur” sequels to their own “professional” works.

A Haven of Lost Drawing Styles

One aspect of Kakimoto’s doujinshi is that, while it didn’t look quite the same as it did in the 90s, he still retained a very 90s style of manga drawing. What’s more, he wasn’t alone. Throughout Kansai Comitia 48, I saw doujinshi with characters that looked like they came from bygone eras of manga and Japanese pop culture. One artist created a giant robot themed after Nagano Prefecture, Naganoizer, and was clearly inspired by 80s anime artists such as Mikimoto Haruhiko (Macross, Gunbuster, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress). Another artist’s style was closer to 70s shoujo legends such as Hagio Moto and Takemiya Keiko.

In the actual professional manga industry, failing to change one’s styles with the times comes at a risk. While popular creators such as Miuchi Suzue (Glass Mask) or the aforementioned Hagio and Takemiya still draw in the same style as they did in the 1970s, many have clearly made shifts over time that correspond with trends in manga as a whole. For better or worse, events like Comitia are where those older styles can still exist, away from the pressures of having to pick up on what’s popular. While some are able to sell doujinshi at a profit, that is the exception. Most doujin artists make doujinshi purely as passion projects.

Comparing with Artist Alleys in America

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I’ve been to quite a few Artist Alleys in American anime conventions, and while you can get a good variety of styles, for the most part I tend to see many similarities in how artists approach works there. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that anime fandom has a rather high turnover rate where many grow out of it as they get older. This is not to say that American anime con artists lack variety, or that they all draw in an “anime” style, but the result is you don’t really get those 80s/90s-style holdouts.

A better comparison would be with the artist alleys at places like New York Comic Con, because you’ll often see artists who are inspired by past generations maintain those styles. For example, you’ll often see artists who love Jack Kirby and aim to maintain his style. They will pepper their drawings with Kirby dots, dynamic poses, and other signature characteristics of the King’s drawings. Similarly, at Kansai Comitia 48, you had artists who still believed in those older styles. Whether it’s because they refuse to adapt or can’t, the result is a window into a different world that is not so much experimental as Indie comics in the US tend to be, but are basically different shades of mainstream from older generations.

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Hato Kenjirou Fans, This Is for You: Hatozine

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A few months back, I mentioned the fact that Hatozine, a fanzine dedicated to the Genshiken character Hato Kenjirou, was accepting submissions. Now it’s been released, and I think it’s worth taking a look at to see the myriad expressions of interest for a character as dynamic and intriguing as Hato. Also it’s free!

Hatozine features fanfiction, fanart, comics, and even some essays, including one by yours truly. What I think is especially awesome about Hatozine is that it has work from both fans of Hato/Madarame and Hato/Yajima.

Check it out if you’re a Genshiken fan, a Hato fan, or even just fascinated by an otaku character with a very complex gender and sexuality identity. If you’re not interested in those things, it might just be an interesting window into the minds and feelings of those that are.

The Soul of Doujinshi: Why I Like the Comic Party Anime

As more and more dating sims and visual novels have gotten adapted into anime, the question of what makes a good adaptation frequently comes up. When I’m asked this, the title I most often mention is Comic Party.

I’m going to get into specific story details to express the strengths of Comic Party, so I’m going to be spoiling a good deal. Also, I have never played the original game, so while I am aware that a number of differences between the source and the adaptation exist, I do not know to what extent, aside from the very fact that the main characters seem to have been de-aged from college to high school.

Based on the dating sim by To Heart creators Leaf/Aqua Plus, the first Comic Party anime is not that different from a number of similar titles. A single guy finds himself surrounded by a variety of girls, including one childhood friend, one bespectacled jokester, one quiet girl, and so on, only this time the guy is a fledgling doujin creator and the girls are fellow doujin artists, cosplayers, and otaku. But what sets apart Comic Party from other dating sim adaptations is its approach to that single guy, that protagonist around whom the story revolves.

Kazuki, amateur artist, is introduced to the world of doujinshi by his enthusiastic otaku friend, Taichi. Although a rocky start, Kazuki ends up being inspired by a number of other doujin artists and eventually creates his very first doujinshi. A square-jawed violent tale of gangs and guns called “Not Hundred,” Kazuki’s isn’t exactly a crowd pleaser, but still manages to sell a few.

The joy of having his own artistic work purchased and read by others gives Kazuki a new determination. For his second attempt, he would do some serious research, learning what people wanted in doujinshi and how he could best incorporate all of it into a single work. Full color, twice the size (and price) of his first doujinshi, and featuring a big-breasted giant robot pilot as its main character, Kazuki was confident that his follow-up would be a smash hit, but failed to realize that in his attempt to make a big seller, his work lost its soul in a way that was recognizable to anyone who picked it up.

Feeling dejected, Kazuki abandons the world of doujinshi. However, with the help of the friends he made along the way, Kazuki is able to regain inspiration and draw again. Though his third work is rougher than the last two, even being made by xeroxing copies at the local convenience store, it is clear that his enthusiasm and spirit are stronger than ever. Kazuki learns what it means to be an artist of doujinshi.

Kazuki’s character is remarkable, particularly when you compare him to other dating sim heroes, where most protagonists of these adaptations are primarily viewer surrogates who act as guardian angels of sorts to help solve the problems of the girls around them. While this exists to some extent in Kazuki, what’s more important is that Kazuki has a significant character arc. He finds a goal, grows, falters, and recovers, and comes out of it a better person. I know that dating sim anime are not exactly where people look for anything more than wish fulfillment, but I was glad to have gotten an actual story and a much more active main character. This is also exactly the reason why I dislike Comic Party Revolution, as the anime went from being a tale of artists to just a nudge and a wink to the existing fans and an excuse to see all of the characters together.

Comic Party was also the first anime which introduced me to the concept of doujinshi (incidentally, also the concept of moe). It told me that doujinshi were comics created by fans for fans to celebrate the joy and love that comes with being a creator who sees himself not above his readers but as a peer. It wasn’t about money, it was about loving anime. And while I know that there are many doujin artists out there who do manage to work for profit, that doesn’t tarnish the ideal Comic Party presents.

Let Me Tell You About Comic Market 76 Which I’m Not Attending

…But maybe someday!

It’s Friday evening in Japan right now, and that means the first day of Comic Market 76 has ended. Not living in Japan and not being able to fly over means I can’t join the hustle and bustle of sweaty nerds inching their way to tables full of fan-made comics, but for those of you who are and have been, I wish you the best of luck.

What’s most important though is the fact that people are still making Ogiue doujinshi. They’re not great in number, and apparently according to the catalogue they’re all located at the same table, but to you fine artists who are keeping the dream alive, I salute you wholeheartedly. I may or may not have friends who are willing to exchange my money for your goods, acting as a  proxy for those of us with a passion for Ogiue and a love of supporting those who also understand Ogiue’s position of superiority in the world of anime and manga.

What did I do for Christmas?

Well, some family stuff, but that’s not really a concern for this blog.

The important thing is I’ve been buying Ogiue-related imagery from dlsite.

Someone please stop me.

Bastards

I got to the New York Anime Festival at around 5pm, and went to see if there was any Ogiue doujin in the dealer’s room.

Apparently it all sold out in the morning.

You bastards.