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Kio Shimoku Interview at Anime News Network… and He Answered My Question!

A couple of months back, Anime News Network announced that they were interviewing Kio Shimoku for the release of the new Genshiken Second Generation (aka Genshiken Second Season aka Genshiken Nidaime) bluray set. The interview is now up, which you can read here. Kio speaks about topics such as why he decided to introduce Hato to Nidaime, how he feels about otaku culture.

Kio actually answered my question, which I’m totally stoked about! I’ve reproduced it below, though I’m sure you could find it by just hitting “ctrl+f Ogiue.”

When it comes to Ogiue, one of the more notable visual changes is how her eyes are drawn. As this quality is unique to Ogiue in Genshiken, why did you decide to express her mental and emotional growth in this manner? Additionally, is it something you planned to do from the start, or was it something you developed as you worked on the manga?

It was accidental and naturally developed.

To put emphasis on her unfriendly look and distant nature, I designed her eyes without the highlight. After her mental transition, those characteristics changed and the initial design for her eyes simply didn’t work anymore.

It’s not surprising to me that the change in Ogiue’s would have come from a whim of sorts, as this is the case with a lot of creators and their characters. As much as I love the original Ogiue’s eyes, it also makes complete sense that they wouldn’t work nearly as well as she began to truly open up to Sasahara. It’s also quite noticeable how differently she looks and behaves compared to her former self (something I’ve tried to show off in my new banner).

The 0ther answer I find most interesting has to do with how Madarame’s “harem” has developed, because Kio states that it’s something of a natural progression. There were already characters interested in Madarame in some capacity, and when Saki finally rejected him, it opened up the playing field, so to speak. He wasn’t suddenly popular, they just began to be interested in him for just the way he is. If I were to interpret it further, it’s not like Madarame became the image of the attractive guy, but rather that he attracted exactly the type of people that would be into him.

As for the rest of the interview, it’s really worth a read and gives a lot to think about, especially when compared to his old interview with Publisher’s Weekly back in 2008. At the time, Kio expressed a lot of discomfort with the increasing attention otaku were getting in the media, and even in this ANN interview he talks about how he came from the generation where people were ashamed to be otaku. It’s really fascinating to see this mindset play out and evolve over time, as well as how the concept of “otaku” itself has become more nebulous. In fact, this sentiment has also been expressed by Tamagomago, who calls himself an old-type otaku standing in the face of these changes. In a way, it makes me wonder if Genshiken Nidaime is an attempt to navigate this newer environment in a way that embraces it, rather than shunning the unfamiliar.

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Ask Genshiken Creator Kio Shimoku!

In preparation for the American bluray release of Genshiken: Second Generation (aka Genshiken Second Season, Genshiken Nidaime, Genshiken II), Anime News Network and NISA are accepting questions from fans for an interview with creator Kio Shimoku. Keep in mind that Kio has historically given very few interviews even in Japanese, so this is a very rare opportunity for anyone who’s a fan of Genshiken and the man himself.

I of course will be submitting my own question, and it will most likely be Ogiue-related. Also, I may have bought the Japanese blurays already, but I definitely plan on picking these up as well.

(Thanks to Patz for telling me about this.)

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.

Anime! The Cause of, and Solution to, All of Life’s Problems: Genshiken II, Chapter 58

It’s a big day for the newest members of the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, as the three rookies spend their very first chapter almost entirely independent of Ogiue and the others. Can Yajima, Yoshitake, and Hato carry the story without backup from the Genshiken veterans? Do they have what it takes to garner their own fans? And is Sue a fan of Hellsing? All these questions and more (or not) will be answered in Genshiken II, Chapter 58.

Ogiue, Genshiken chairman that she is, decides to foster camaraderie among the club members and revive an old tradition by having everyone write/draw their own profiles for Genshiken’s defunct club magazine, “Mebaetame.” If you’re not sure what that is, try to remember the little blurbs they had in between chapters of Genshiken where they talked about their favorite Kujibiki Unbalance characters and what-not; that’s “Mebaetame.” If you’ll recall, Ogiue never actually participated in the magazine, and perhaps we’ll finally learn just how to pronounce her pen name, Ogino/Okino Meisetsu/Nayuki/Nariyuki.


Yoshitake thinks this is a good opportunity for some healthy bonding, and invites herself and Hato over to Yajima’s place to work on their profiles together while having some beers. Yajima (kind of) agrees, but is uneasy about alcohol. Hato doesn’t seem to mind either way. Here is where we see our first bit of additional insight on the new members: Yoshitake, cheerful and bubbly, has no qualms about knocking a few back (which creates anticipation for the inevitable drinking session/contest with Ohno) and breaking some rules, whereas surly and practical Yajima, citing age restriction as the primary reason to not purchase alcohol, turns out to be more naive than expected. In fact Yajima’s naivete and confidence (or lack thereof) seem to be a major topic for this chapter.

Lacking faith in her own artistic skills (“I said that I draw, not that I can draw!), Yajima, whose first name we find out is “Mirei,” is arguably the most “typical” of all of the girls in Genshiken at this point, especially in terms of looks. When she compares herself to members past and present, including a curvaceous cosplayer, a fashionable “normal” girl, and an impossibly attractive male cross-dresser, you can see how it impacts her self-image. Even Ogiue is likely included among the “beautiful,” as Yajima has only ever seen her as Ogiue Chika, Well-Dressed Professional Manga Artist with Boyfriend, and wasn’t around for the Ogiue who wore clothes two sizes too big, or her gradual and awkward transition to her current state. You can see Yajima thinking, “Wait, otaku aren’t supposed to be this way! If even my fellow nerds are this attractive, where does that leave me?” It’s all the more troubling for her when she remembers that Hato indeed has a Y-chromosome, and that a guy is passed out in her apartment from drinking too much. Being the innocent straight-arrow of an otaku that she is, when she accidentally/intentionally confirms Hato’s gender via skirt lift, it’s clear that it’s far outside of Yajima’s comfort zone.

Seeing as it’s a chapter taking place in Yajima’s apartment, it’s no surprise that she’s getting the most development of the three, though we still learn a few details about the other two. In addition to Yoshitake’s excited, yet nonchalant attitude towards life and its vices, we learn that she has an appetite on the level of Kobayashi Takeru and equates “profile” with “personal essay.”  And with Hato, we now know that he 1) is an Economics Major 2) has quite good taste in anime, and 3) is pretty damn hardcore with the BL. Among his favorite titles are Hetalila, Doarara!!!, Winter Wars, Fuyume’s Book of Friends, and Sweets Basket. He also likes a series called Femto, which I’d like to believe is some Berserk spinoff all about Griffith but might actually be a reference to Boku no Pico.

So overall, I think that Yajima, Yoshitake, and Hato held their own, though next chapter seems to be focusing on Madarame, which is also welcome. Until then, I’m going to try and popularize the phrase “Dai Ogiue.”

The Not-So-Gentle Path: Genshiken II, Chapter 57

From the moment I began this blog, I’ve established the fact that I am a huge fan of Genshiken. After reading the inaugural chapter of the all-new Genshiken II however, I realized that this is the first time that I’m actually reading fresh material alongside all my fellow Genshiken enthusiasts. Sure, there was the second TV series, but that was mostly existing material, so in a sense this new “limited series” acts as a kind of return to basics for Ogiue Maniax, a starting point for me to share my thoughts so to speak.

So to celebrate this small revival and to welcome back this blog’s namesake to the world of serialization, I am going to give my thoughts and impressions on this first chapter. As more chapters come out there’s a possibility that you’ll be seeing Ogiue Maniax’s first ever instance of episodic chapter blogging, but I’m not making any guarantees.

New Genshiken feels different. I won’t pretend that it doesn’t. The cast is mostly different and is now populated primarily by women, replacing the “awkward men’s club” vibe that kicked off the original series. At first this seemed a little jarring, but Ohno’s off-handed mention of the soul patch guy, aka the Genshiken member that never was, reminded me that prior to the arrival of Yajima, Yoshitake, and Hato the membership barely ever increased. Ogiue and Kuchiki arrived together, while the following year Sasahara’s sister Keiko entered, and in the case of Kuchiki and Keiko both of them were already introduced previously. Sue is Sue. If anything, with such a large cast change I’d be surprised if the series didn’t feel a little different.

The focal point of Chapter 57 is the cross-dressing Hato Kenjirou (who might be a reference to Hayate the Combat Butler author Hata Kenjirou), or rather, everyone’s opinions of Hato. I think Hato’s inclusion set off alarms in a lot of readers’ heads more than anything else, creating a bit of fear that the series would lose its heart and pander too much to otaku at the expense of what made Genshiken good in the first place. As the chapter went on, I could feel that fear growing in myself, but I think it was actually all just set-up for a really pointed reminder that Kio Shimoku did not forget what made Genshiken tick in the first place.

While I clearly favor Ogiue, I think the real star of the chapter was Yajima. Throughout most of the chapter the club feels almost uncontrollable when it comes to the topic of Hato and cross-dressing in general despite Ogiue’s best efforts, sort of like the impression you might get at an anime con seeing a bunch of young attendees with no supervision. Then Yajima comes out and says that she’s kind of uncomfortable with Hato’s cross-dressing. By presenting this point of contention, Yajima manages to bring the club (and the manga itself) back down to Earth and keeps the club environment from getting completely out of hand.

This sort of conflict is actually a pretty persistent theme in Genshiken, whether it’s in the earlier days with Kasukabe’s mean-spirited attacks on the club, or later on with Ogiue and her own inner demons. In a way, Yajima’s somewhat direct personality and her unfamiliarity with the beast that is the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture makes her the “Saki” of the new bunch, even if she can’t match Kasukabe in looks. Whereas Saki was a normal person experiencing the world of otaku for the first time, Yajima, who is already an otaku, has to deal with an anime club unlike any she’s ever experienced. That’s not to say that the other characters are unrealistic, though. Hato is developing well, and even the way in which Ohno, Sue, Yoshitake, and Kuchiki get carried away is not that unusual. It’s simply that Yajima, as well as Ogiue, act to rein them in a little, creating a new and different character dynamic.

On the topic of Ogiue, I found it quite interesting that, aside from a small bit of pictorial exposition by Sue, Ogiue goes through the entire chapter without her signature paintbrush style. Even the one-shot had Ogiue tie her hair up, something that was established in previous material as a habit of hers when drawing. Though I’m sure it’ll return in at least one future chapter, it still feels like a break of sorts with the previous series. In terms of her character, it’s interesting seeing Ogiue as Genshiken chairman. After all, back when the original series ended it was one of my greatest wishes to see the continued appearance of Ogiue as head, and in this situation I find myself to be quite fortunate.

Ogiue isn’t a natural leader. In fact, none of the previous chairmen were, with the possible exception of the mysterious First Chairman. However, all of them were able to develop their own natural strengths into leader-like qualities, whether it was Madarame’s strong self-image as an otaku, Sasahara’s subtle confidence and understanding, or Ohno’s gentle guidance, and Ogiue looks to be doing the same. Though not always consistent, Ogiue can have quite a forceful personality, especially when she puts her foot down about something, and I think that this aspect of her personality, combined with the fact that those new members are all freshmen, will result in her being more and more comfortable with her position of authority as time passes.

So that’s the start Genshiken II, and I look forward to more. Of course.


I mentioned it a while ago, but I just wanted to remind everyone that Genshiken 2‘s compilation box set is being released tomorrow, December 22nd, 2009 in Japan. This box set will differ from the previous DVD release in that it will have special exclusive box art by Genshiken author Kio Shimoku featuring Ogiue, Sue, and Angela.

More importantly however, MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY in fact, is the news that Kio Shimoku has actually penned an ENTIRELY NEW CHAPTER OF GENSHIKEN. Much, much thanks to this anonymous commenter for making me aware of it. You can find a link to the chapter itself in there, and if you want an actual copy I believe it will be a part of the February 2010 issue of the magazine Monthly Afternoon, whose official release date is Christmas Eve (though apparently it’s been leaked!) Most likely it will be included as a special with volume 2 of Jigopuri, Kio Shimoku’s current series about a young mother.

The chapter focuses on Ogiue as chairman of Genshiken, and makes references to Kinnikuman. So in other words, pretty much everything I wanted.




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