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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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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!

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

A number of sites have cropped up in the wake of the 8.9~9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan last Friday and the ensuing tsunami and nuclear scare with the purpose of uniting anime fans to donate to Japan. Certainly a noble cause, but one that I have honestly not felt entirely comfortable with, just because I don’t want it to be “about” being an anime fan.

I have benefited greatly from anime and manga. It has been a great source of entertainment, comfort, self-realization, and even one of the reasons I currently have an unbelievably wonderful job. I studied in Japan because of a love of animation, and I continue to make friends in Japan because of that passion. But before I could donate as an anime fan or an anime blogger, I had to do so as a human being.

However, I realized that it’s not my place to tell people “why” they should donate, or even if they should be donating at all. I have my reasons for acting as I have, and I know that the folks running these donation drives have the best intentions at heart. The more opportunities the better, and I can at least provide people with links to donate, whether you want to do it as an anime fan, an anime blogger, or just a person who wants to help.

Anime Fans Give Back to Japan: They’re doing a 24-hour podcast tomorrow, March 19th, starting at 6pm EST. They have a number of fans, podcasters, and even industry professionals lined up to show their support.

Crunchyroll Japan Earthquake Donation Fund: The biggest streaming site for anime promises to match donations.

Anime and Manga Bloggers for Japan: They’ve got two donations going, one for Shelter Box, and one for Doctors Without Borders, a self-explanatory group that I first came to know due to their distribution of Plumpy Nut to combat malnutrition in Africa. That’s not exactly the problem here, but I think it says a lot about their mission.

Japan Society: 100% of donations go straight to helping Japan.

Red Cross

UNICEF

Lastly, a lot of artists have been creating work in response to the earthquake, and as much as I have neglected that side of myself, I felt my hand moving on its own when put in front of a piece of lined paper and given a writing tool to work with. It’s not exactly a clear-cut “Pray for Japan” image, but it definitely comes from the heart.

I do not have any relatives in Japan, and I’m grateful for that. No need to worry in that regard.

But I do have friends living in Japan, people I’ve met both in real life and online. I’m not sure if this qualifies as irony, but whereas the folks I know primarily through the internet I can more easily find through those channels (or at least try to), the people I met in real life first are the people I have less chance of contacting. Whether it’s through changing e-mail addresses or just lack of contact over time, I have people whom I would call friends who are probably in Japan right now and I have no idea if they’re okay or not, and I have no way of ever finding out. Part of me regrets my own lack of initiative to try and keep up with them in the first place.

It reminds me of the first time I ever ate udon and onigiri, at a small Japanese restaurant in the World Trade Center, back in about 1999 or so. The udon was amazing as far as I could tell with my limited experience, and the onigiri were $2 per ball and absolutely gigantic. I never really got to know the owners or anything, so when 9/11 hit I found myself wondering whether or not the people working there made it out okay. Of course, I have no way of ever knowing.

I do not have any amazingly close ties to Japan. I’m not going to lose much sleep over it. But I do hope my friends are okay.

I was looking at my old photos from my time in Japan in 2005 when I came across this one. Looking back, it’s probably the best photo I took, and so I’ve included it here.

I’m normally a terrible photographer so the fact that this one came out well at all is mere coincidence.

I submitted a response to Anime News Network’s (new) Answerman and it got published. Go there if you want to read yet another story about me relating to Ogiue.

I really enjoy this new Answerman, Brian Hanson. He brings a level of positivity and sincere respect for his readers and anime fans in general. Really good stuff.

Last time I talked about the reasons that Ogiue’s overall character captivated me, but this time I’m going to discuss the path my obsession took, from beginning to end. This might just double as a Genshiken review without me realizing it.

I first discovered Genshiken due to a combination of the Jinmei Juushin scanlation of the first volume and the fansubs for the first series appearing online. Genshiken was great. I loved how it was a somewhat painful look at the fandom, that I enjoyed it and both lamented my own status as anime fan because of it. I particularly liked the Opening, which was so very appropriate for a series about otaku. I showed it to friends, they enjoyed it as well, and many good times were had.

Then I went to Japan to study, and it is there that I found Ogiue.

My first exposure to Ogiue was in the ending credits to the last episode of the first Genshiken anime, prior to my staying in Japan. I think this is probably where a lot of people first saw her. Seeing as she was facing away from the screen, my initial reaction was towards her hair. I worried that her unrealistic hair style meant that she was an unrealistic character, and that it would mark a downhill trend for Genshiken.

Ha.

Anyway, in the city where I lived in Japan, I found a Book Off, and there I found Genshiken Volume 5. I had read previously that the anime covered roughly volumes 1-4, so I figured I could start with 5 and not lose too much. So my initial exposure to Ogiue wasn’t “I’m Ogiue and I hate otaku,” but rather her hesitant reach towards the stack of yaoi doujinshi, Saki waving a hand through her fude, and the tears on her face during the troublesome times of creating their first doujinshi. Of course, above all that the first thing I noticed were her eyes, and as I’ve said in the previous post in this series, I have a, ah, shall we say, preference for those kinds of eyes.

So volume 5 came and went, and then I found out volume 6 was coming out soon. I bought the normal edition because at the time, I was a fan of Ogiue, but I wasn’t a major fan, and I figured, what was the big loss?

Of course, now I want to go back in time and force myself to cut class to obtain it.

While volume 5 had not made me into the Ogiue fan I am today, volume 6 was the catalyst, and it all began with her scene of walking in on Sasahara pulling on Madarame’s necktie. Ogiue’s rampant fantasizing was one of the most wonderful things I’d have ever seen, and still is today. Anyone who talked to me at that time knew how much amazing I thought that one scene was. This isn’t even mentioning how great the rest of volume 6 was, with the disguised Ogiue, the cosplay Ogiue, and of course the graduation of Madarame, Tanaka, and Kugayama. That last one isn’t Ogiue-related but still.

It was around this time that I finally accepted myself as an otaku. I had been walking to school, and the only thought I had was, “How would I make SRW animations for Zambot 3?” Then I stopped myself, realizing that if this was the highest priority in my mind, then what could I be other than an otaku? It’s not something I proudly declare or aspire to be, it’s something that I simply am. These feelings of discovery and change I believe coincided with my discovery of Ogiue such that her impact became that much more significant.

Volume 6 was done, and I began turning directly to the actual Monthly Afternoon serial magazines to get my fix. I think somewhere around this time, I was in Akihabara with Shingo from Heisei Democracy and Kransom from welcome datacomp, and I completed my back catalog, with volumes 1-4 and the official Genshiken guide book.

My memory is a little hazy, and I don’t remember if I bought Genshiken volume 7 while I was in Japan, or while I was back in America, but eventually I had to return home, and began simply importing issues of Monthly Afternoon. Volume 7 came out, and it was once again incredible, further cementing my love for Ogiue’s character.

Then, in the final chapter, seeing Ogiue so very happy, seeing all she had gone through, and most of all, seeing her as one extremely sexy Kaichou, it was about as satisfying a series ending as I could have hoped for.

Except it wasn’t over.

For those of you who’ve read Del Rey’s releases, the way I and anyone else who kept up with Monthly Afternoon was a little different from the way you did. After the contents of Volume 7, there was originally just enough content for one final volume, so we thought it would be an 8-volume series. Imagine our surprise, then, when we found out that Volume 8 would contain two, new, never-before-seen chapters, and that there would be a Volume 9! It was a good day for Genshiken fans. On top of that, they were releasing a Drama CD, with Ogiue! If Ogiue had a voice, surely that meant an anime would be on its way! And of course, I wanted nothing more than to see an animated Ogiue.

The new content of Volume 8 had me floored. I remember sitting in a Chipotle, eating a burrito with Genshiken volume 8 in hand, my jaw wide open as I read

“Our date’s not over yet.”

And then Volume 9 was practically all new content, and once more I read the ending.

Truly, it was a good time.

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