Kio Shimoku and Genshiken Trivia, Courtesy of “Mou, Shimasen Kara”

Over the past year, the manga magazine Monthly Afternoon has featured interviews in comic form with its own serialized manga authors through the series Mou, Shimasen kara. Afternoon Gekiryuu-hen by Nishimoto Hideo. This past month’s issue puts the spotlight on Genshiken and now Hashikko Ensemble creator, Kio Shimoku, so I’ve taken the liberty of summarizing all of the Kio factoids in it.

-For the first time ever, Kio actually reveals his “face” (albeit in manga form). He’s known for being a private person, but he decided show himself through this manga. He reasons, “I’m over 40 now, so what does it matter if I show my face or not?”

-Kio used to work analog, but has been an all-digital artist ever since Jigopuri. He does everything, from thumbnails to color, all on his Wacom. He doesn’t customize his pen or brush settings much.

-He almost never uses assistants. Kio had one assistant on Genshiken Nidaime and none for Hashikko Ensemble, his new series. For those who don’t know, this is highly unusual.

-Kio got the inspiration for Hashikko Ensemble because his daughter joined a vocal ensemble, and he happened to listen to an all-male group.

-He was never a musician, but knew a local group, so he did do some singing for them about once a month, and even had a voice trainer. He’s a second tenor, which was the basis for Akira’s baritone in Hashikko Ensemble. Kio has a fairly deep voice himself, so he decided to exaggerate it for the manga.

-Once, in school, he saw two kids harmonizing on the way to class, providing further inspiration. “I want my manga to make readers want to sing.”

-Kio was in the softball club in elementary school, the judo club in junior high where he was the captain, and the art club in high school.

-He submitted his first manga in high school, for Shounen Sunday. It was about a high school student who works at a used bookstore and discovers an ancient text that he then tries to decipher.

He drew a lot when he was kid, and was an otaku in middle school, where he imitated Doraemon, Kinnikuman, and Captain Tsubasa.

-However, he stopped drawing between 4th grade of elementary and the start of middle school. This was because he was really into Miyazaki Hayao as a kid, and when he couldn’t copy Miyazaki successfully, he got depressed and stopped trying for those few years.

-In middle school, he helped a friend out by drawing backgrounds for his manga, only for Kio to realize he was also better at drawing the characters too. One day, when he tried to draw Miyazaki characters again, he noticed he had gotten way better.

-He wanted to be an animator, but Ghibli only wanted people 18 and up. Once, he created a manga based on the Laputa novel in a couple of notebooks.

-In college, he majored in Japanese art because he thought the pencil and brush skills would translate to manga.

-Kio’s dad worked at an insurance company, and while he wasn’t flat out against Kio’s aspirations, he would constantly ask him to consider the risk of being a manga creator. This made Kio want to quickly win a manga reward, to help his parents accept it.

-The school he went to had a club called the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, becoming the inspiration for Genshiken. Surprisingly, however, Kio was actually only a member for half a year. He didn’t quit because if anything in particular, he’s just not good with group activities.

-Despite what it might seem, the Genshiken characters are not based on any real life counterparts.

-In response to the realism of his characters, Kio says he tries to convey a sense of “presence” with them.

-Kio feels Genshiken came at the perfect time, matching the zeitgeist of the era. However, it makes him feel like a one-hit wonder. If Hashikko Ensemble fails, he’s going to feel enormous pressure.

-He didn’t attend a technical high school so he needs more research. One of he authors of Mou, Shimasen kara. did, and the other has a sister who attended one, so they try to help out.


Kio’s done a lot!! He sort of seems like a renaissance man.

That bit of surprise aside, it is fascinating finding out just how many aspects of his own personal life and career have made their way into his manga. The attending a Genshiken-like club is one thing, but it’s notable that he was in the judo club and then the art club—just like Hato. He also converted to using a tablet monitor for manga at some point—just like Ogiue. While his characters aren’t based on any real people in particular, he takes bits of himself and places them in his creations. While not stated outright, I think it’s pretty clear that Jigopuri (which is about raising a baby) is the product of firsthand experience.

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When Anime Babies Get Real

Babies in anime and manga serve many differing purposes. They can mark the passage of time, or a transition into a new stage in life. In series for young girls, they’re often a way for children to emulate their parents. Whether they’re a source of comedy, an adorable presence, and evil force in the world, the role of the baby is myriad and generally based on the audience being served. Among these varied works, the baby portrayal that tends to catch my attention the most are the ones that get a little “real.” These depictions aren’t necessarily trying to portray the entire baby-raising experience, but they will bring up the inherent difficulty in bringing up a small child. Even when they’re doing it for laughs, there is a sort of sobering effect that can potentially apply to all ages and demographics.

s2e4hana The first baby that comes to mind is Hana in Ojamajo Doremi. In the second season of the magical girl franchise, titled Ojamajo Doremi ♯ (“Sharp”), elementary school girl Doremi receives a magical witch baby from a tree. From one season to the next, she and the other girls take care of her. In many similar series, such as Doki Doki! Precure, the baby is often just there for cuteness factor, or maybe to sell a few baby-themed toys. Doremi plays it differently.


In one episode, Doremi, generally a clumsy girl, is having immense trouble taking care of Hana. She gets so frustrated by it, and the fact that the other girls are scolding her for doing a poor job, that she runs home to her mom looking for comfort and understanding. Instead, her mom slaps her (off-screen), and basically says, “If you get hurt, you just feel bad. If there’s no one to take care of Hana, it’s a matter of life and death.” In that moment, Doremi’s mom makes a crystal-clear point about how literally helpless an infant is, as well as the responsibility and strength absolutely required for their sake. Hana still acts the part of the precious anime baby, but even as a burgeoning witch with immense magical powers, reality sets in.

However, if we’re talking harsh depictions of the mental and physical toll babies can take on their parents, then one need look no further than Jigopuri: The Princess of the Hell. A short, two-volume manga by the author of Genshiken, Kio Shimoku, Jigopuri follows a young widowed mother named Ayumi and her newborn child, Yumeko. In contrast to the older characters, who all have a more typical moe look, Yumeko is drawn strangely hyper-realistically. The manga portrays raising Yumeko as a harrowing experience. Ayumi occasionally wishes ill on her own daughter due to the stress she causes, and feels immensely guilt over it. In one chapter, as Ayumi attends a meeting for new mothers, she finds out that others occasionally look at their children with disdain as well, which gives her immense joy and relief.

Unlike Doremi, which targeted an audience of young girls presumably into the idea of playing pretend-mama, Jigopuri ran in a magazine targeting adult otaku, Monthly Afternoon  which might be why it wasn’t terribly successful. It’s just not the kind of thing otaku are expected to know or care about. I find it kind of funny that a series targeting small children could deliver a serious message about raising children and then go on for two-three more years, while adult men rejected a similar message.

Nevertheless, I think that attempt to confront a reluctant or perhaps ignorant audience of certain truths or circumstances is what I find appealing about the “real” baby, even if seeing an infant girl with invisibility powers as per JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 4 garners more laughs. In fact, I think of Spotted Flower, another Kio Shimoku manga about an otaku and his pregnant wife (who gives birth in the second volume) is kind of a do-over of Jigopuri. Even though it runs in more of a josei magazine, Rakuen: Le Paradis, it’s a compromise of sorts. Perhaps just as Hana is a magical baby with fun powers, having an otaku father can settle it into a more comfortable place.

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Kio Shimoku in the Flesh

Kio Shimoku, the author of Genshiken, is an elusive individual. Portraying himself as a kind of ape, he so rarely makes public appearances that he is sometimes mistakenly believed to be a woman. In fact, when he appeared for an event to celebrate the Genshiken Nidaime (Second Season) anime, it was kind of a big deal. Thanks to Brazilian Genshiken enthusiast Diogo Prado, however, I’ve learned that photos of Kio do exist.

Apparently Kio had attended an event in Taiwan in 2010, where he promoted the release of his manga Jigopuri (also known as Digo Puri). His desire for privacy is respected here, as none of the photos actually show his face, yet it’s still pretty cool to see the man himself. Obviously I don’t know how he is as a person, but the fact that he looks like a nerd who knows how to clean himself up and dress nicely is a trait also demonstrated by the characters in Genshiken over time, namely Ogiue and Madarame. In fact, he looks pretty similar to Madarame from behind, while in the old Publisher’s Weekly interview with Kio he said that Ogiue is somewhat reflective of his own experiences.

By the way, I wonder how Jigopuri ended up doing in Taiwan.

How Kio Shimoku Got His Groove Back

Genshiken II‘s been running for a while now, and every so often I go back and look at the earlier chapters of the new series (would you expect me to do otherwise?). Upon a recent revisit, it hit me just how much the artwork had changed between the inaugural Chapter 56 and its immediate followup in Chapter 57.

For comparison, here is Ogiue in Chapter 56 on the left, and 57 on the right.

There’s a clear difference between the two versions of Ogiue (or any other character) that can’t be chalked up simply to the gradual evolution of art style that happened throughout the original Genshiken. This change, given just how drastic it is, was more abrupt, though one has to keep in mind that the real life gap between 56 and 57 was almost a year (Chapter 56 was originally a one-shot that got turned into the start of a new series).

Because of how much softer and more cutesy Chapter 56 Ogiue is portrayed, my suspicion is that Kio’s style was affected by his time working on Jigopuri. Indeed, Chapter 56 of Genshiken actually came out in the middle of his run on Jigopuri.

In fact, if you look at one of the characters in Jigopuri, the little sister Kaname (pictured left), she looks pretty close to the Ogiue of Chapter 56. What’s also kind of funny is the fact that Volume 1 of Jigopuri features an Ogiue cameo on the inside cover, and it’s clear that the Jigopuri style hadn’t fully taken over Kio’s artwork yet at the time he drew it.

I think it’s interesting how an artist can get so influenced by how they’ve been drawing that it makes it difficult to shift gears back to a different kind of story. It’s different depending on the artist of course, but I have to wonder how much effort Kio put into switching into a less moe-type art style. Something tells me it wasn’t easy.

Moe Anime Girl Gets Pregnant, Has Baby – Jigopuri Volume 1

Kio Shimoku is a manga author who is best known for his work on the 9-volume Genshiken series, about the members of a college anime/manga club. It’s personally my favorite manga series ever. It may come as a surprise then to know that Kio’s latest manga, Jigopuri: The Princess of the Hell, concerns itself with a topic normally far-removed from that of watching anime: Teen Pregnancy.

Well, not teen pregnancy per se, but it does center around a widowed 18 year old mother and her newborn child. The mother is Okiura Ayumi, her daughter is Okiura Yumeko, and living with them is Ayumi’s twin sister Hino Kaname. The raising and nurturing of young Yumeko, who is less than one week old when we first see her, is the central focus of Jigopuri, and the manga’s approach to a topic which is incredibly common in the real world but incredibly rare in comics is rather unique.

Despite its realistic tone and content, the art style of Jigopuri is closer to that of Kujibiki Unbalance than it is Genshiken, and it might be difficult to reconcile the fact that doe-eyed moe anime girls are discussing topics such as diaper-changing and the unbearable stress that comes part and parcel with raising a newborn. What can be even more jarring is the fact that Yumeko is drawn in a rather realistic style, more closely resembling a photograph than a kawaii anime infant.

No, Yumeko is not an ideal entertainment baby who is ten parts adorable and one part cuddles. She is a wrinkly, crying, pooping baby who needs attendance at all times because she’s a baby. Everything revolves around this fact, from the deliberately slow pacing of story (chapters generally span only a single day) to the way it handles all of its seemingly incongruous artistic elements, and understanding why Yumeko is portrayed in this manner is the key to understanding Jigopuri.

From the start, Jigopuri puts a young, inexperienced mother with no time or desire for romance in the spotlight, and in doing so makes Ayumi, and by extension the whole of Jigopuri, into something partially meant to stand against the tide of common trends seen in moe anime and manga. Although Ayumi at times feels helpless, it is never because she can’t do anything, but rather because she does so much. That doesn’t mean Jigopuri condemns moe, but it does remove much of the glamor and fetishism that accompanies many tropes of modern anime and manga. Nowhere is this more evident than in the comic’s portrayal of breasts.

As one might expect out of Jigopuri, breastfeeding occurs frequently, but the sight of an attractive woman exposing her large, shapely breasts (with nipples shown) begins to lose its erotic appeal once you are made aware of how inevitably their appearance is attached to the shrill cry of Yumeko as she wakes a sleep-deprived Ayumi up in the middle of the night. After a while, you begin to really feel for Ayumi, as you think to yourself, “She has to take out her breasts again?” And further cementing this un-fetishizing is the fact that Ayumi’s breasts are visibly veiny, an effect achieved through smart use of screen tones, and an indicator that these are not the idealized breasts you’d see in other works willing to show them with the same frequency as Jigopuri.

That’s Jigopuri as of Volume 1, and I really do recommend it, though I understand it’s not for everyone. Its cutesy art style combined with its realistic content can throw people off quite a bit, but if you can read Japanese or if it comes out in English, I think you should give it a chance.

A common sight in Jigopuri is a tired and weary Ayumi with deep bags underneath her eyes, a sign that each day wears on her even if she truly loves her daughter.


I recently purchased Volume 1 of Genshiken: The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture creator Kio Shimoku’s newest manga, Jigopuri: The Princess of the Hell, about an 18 year old mom trying to raise her newborn child. A review will be posted in due time, but there is something more important I must address.

Manga published in Japan generally has a dust jacket where the manga’s front cover is printed, as opposed to manga published in the US where the image appears directly on the book. As such, manga often have images underneath the dust jackets. Curious about Jigopuri, I looked underneath only to uncover this on the back cover.


Ogiue is saying, “Whatever the circumstances may be, there’s no way they could get this big.” (Thanks to prinny for correcting my mistake)

Even when the content isn’t even related to Genshiken, Kio Shimoku still finds a way to fit Ogiue in, and for that I give him eternal respect and devotion.

Incidentally, this is on the front cover.

Madarame: Why did he use these designs?
Sasahara: Who knows?

The Joys of Afternoon and Kuroda Iou

Recently I found out that Kuroda Iou, creator of Sexy Voice and Robo as well as one of my favorite manga artists, has a new series entitled Atarashii Asa (New Morning) in one of my favorite magazines, Monthly Afternoon. Afternoon was home to Genshiken, and is where Kio Shimoku’s current series about a teenage mom Jigopuri, as well as Mysterious Girlfriend X, are running. Suffice it to say, at this point I am almost, almost tempted to consistently buy Monthly Afternoon even though I understand how much the costs tend to add up after a while.

This got me thinking about why I like Kuroda’s artwork, as it’s a wild style unlike most other artists in the anime and manga industries. If you look at my previous Sexy Voice and Robo review, you can get a good idea of what his drawings entail. He’s detailed but not meticulously so, and his brush usage leans away from the “cleaner” style that is so popular with so many people. Often times his drawings and panels aren’t completely coherent, but I feel like these “mistakes” are part of what make his style so unique. I call them mistakes only in the sense that in the end he did not decide to redraw something so that the thickness of the lines made a little more sense or the proportions of a character’s fingers were more realistic, but ultimately it was a decision, and it’s these decisions of which I am fond.

I’ve mentioned before that his style is pretty much what I wish I had, and it really has to do with conveying a sense of energy that goes beyond “accuracy.” Accuracy has its place in that world, but it is not at the forefront, much to the dismay of people who scrutinize single frames from Naruto episodes. While I don’t think my own style will ever be JUST LIKE his, it’s good to know that he’s still in Japan producing works that hopefully will get brought over to America at some point.

Oh and I found out Jigopuri’s first volume should be out, but that’s it’s not listed on Kinokuniya’s website. Maybe it takes a while for new series to get over there.