The newest chapter of Genshiken II hints at the most glorious team-up in otaku manga history. However, the antics of Battlehopkins and Double Asada are only for a few panels, and the real focus is split this time around between Ogiue’s precarious deadline juggling and Hato engaging in a Hato x Mada-themed thought exercise. This month’s theme is friendship!
Before we jump into the chapter though, I want to point out the next-chapter anime references that are at the end of each chapter. We’ve seen Occult Academy, K-ON!, and Heartcatch Precure, among others. This time it’s Jewelpet Tinkle. I didn’t even know that series had an otaku following.
Ogiue discusses her professional debut with Yabusaki, who is equal parts jealous and proud of her former enemy and current doujinshi collaborator. Ogiue’s challenge, as established a few chapters back, is to finish both the manuscript for her first published manga and the doujinshi she’s planning for Comic Festival (which we now know is Fullmetal Alchemist-themed), and though she has an insanely prolific work-rate (see her previous 80-page draft which she drew in about one night), it can be a double-edged sword; as we can see at the very end of the chapter, Ogiue can get so engrossed in her imagination that it can be difficult to put her professional responsibilities above her passions. I get the feeling Sasahara knows this better than anyone, which is why their unofficial editor-artist relationship can be so volatile.
During their discussion, Ogiue and Yabusaki speak in their respective Tohoku and Kansai dialects, which is nothing short of amazing. While Yabusaki does this all of the time, it is an incredibly rare case that we get to see Ogiue use Tohoku-ben out loud instead of just thinking in it, and I believe that this is the very first instance of Ogiue speaking in her native dialect for an extended conversation outside of flashbacks. I think this is a very important indication of not only how much more comfortable Ogiue has become with herself, but the extent to which Ogiue and Yabusaki get along now, even if their faces don’t show it. Ogiue doesn’t even use her Tohoku dialect in private with Sasahara! Her Tohoku talk, combined with her newer hairstyle, in a way reminds me of Heartcatch Precure, where we get to see girls change while discovering their true selves.
At the same time as Ogiue, Sue, Yabusaki, and Asada are talking art, Hato is taking respite from the heat in Madarame’s empty and air-conditioned apartment. Here, we get to see Hato’s gender-divided fantasy in action, as Hato the guy’s thoughts run practically parallel with Hato’s thoughts as a “fujoshi,” represented by an imaginary(?), naked, and decidedly feminine Hato floating nearby. Alternately called a Stand and an 801-chan among other things, Hato’s mind inhabits this unusual territory where he scrutinizes his own natural actions and provides a field day for psychologists of fictional characters. Hato turns out to be so tired that he ends up dozing off, and by the time he wakes up Madarame is already home. A potentially awkward situation to say the least, especially given Hato’s out-of-body musings.
Just as we were able to see a current Ogiue talking in her own dialect for an extended period for the first time in Genshiken, this is also the first time that Madarame gets to see Hato sans drag, but rather than making things more uncomfortable, Madarame just treats him as one of the guys. While sharing dinner, Hato brings up the fact that he does not consider himself to be homosexual, even though he likes BL as much as he does. Anticipating Madarame to react somehow, Madarame still doesn’t seem particularly fazed by this “revelation.”
Speculating as to why Madarame is able to take such a declaration in stride, I can only think that it’s because Madarame, as an otaku, knows the significant disparity that can exist between 2-D and 3-D. Ogiue is into yaoi, but she doesn’t expect Sasahara to be into other guys even when she uses him as “inspiration” for her own doujinshi. An even better example might be Madarame himself, whose taste in the erotic can skew a little young, and yet he finds himself in love with the very mature Kasukabe Saki. For that matter, Sasahara and Ogiue sometimes skew young in their preferences as well (young Ritsuko Kubel Kettengrad and Edward Elric, respectively), so I think the whole of Genshiken understands the divide well. Still, gender and sexuality is not the easiest of topics to talk about, and you might be surprised at how the complex lines of tolerance and understanding can fall within people’s own values.
Seeing how relaxed Madarame is being around Hato despite the possibility that an outsider observer (i.e.
“herself”) could interpret all of this as fertile soil for romance, Hato can’t help but see Madarame as a weak bottom because of how open he leaves himself to “attack.” For some reason though, I feel like Hato’s logic behind the “hetare uke” Madarame “character” is different from Ogiue’s. I think Ogiue’s variant has more to do with how passive he is despite his passionate otaku outbursts and the like.
Speaking of Saki, Hato accidentally becomes aware of Madarame’s unrequited love, though Madarame himself is unaware that Hato knows. Maybe Hellsing creator Hirano Kouta is right after all and Madarame really is the most moe character in the series.