If last chapter was crazy, this one is downright mental.Genshiken II, Chapter 76 is the origin of one Hato Kenjirou, and what an origin it turns out to be.
After the truth of Hato’s identity is revealed by his former senpai and doppelganger Kaminaga, Hato tells everyone the story of his high school trauma. As has been previously revealed, Hato was in his high school’s art club, which was populated by fujoshi. Though a fan of BL himself at that point he denied any interest, until one day he found himself alone in the art club with Kaminaga’s doujinshi lying there.
Taking it to the bathroom so as to avoid anyone walking in on him reading, his classmate Konno found out about it and completely misinterprets the “reading it in the bathroom” aspect in a way that probably most people would. Konno told her fellow club members, who spread the rumor through the school and Hato became “that homo.” To rub more salt in, upon graduation Kaminaga, who Hato seem to have had a crush on, ends up dating Hato’s older brother, Yuuichirou.
And it looks like there’s going to be more next chapter! Not quite a flashback perhaps, but something.
Honestly, I am completely surprised they revealed Hato’s background so soon into the run of the new Genshiken. While it probably makes sense given that it’s been something like 19 chapters at this point, I always thought they would save something like that for a much later period. Thankfully the origin of Hato is a solid one. It’s the degree of trauma that would most certainly make life miserable for Hato, but not so miserable that he would end up like Ogiue, who had to deal with suicide and deep self-loathing.
Hato’s backstory is also fortunately supported by some really interesting characters. Truth be told, I was just a tiny bit concerned as to how Hato’s old classmates might turn out story-wise, but I’ve turned out pretty impressed. Kaminaga for one seems like a character with many layers to her. If there’s one word I would use to describe her, it’s perceptive.
Throughout this chapter, whether it’s pulling off Hato’s wig as he tries to throw off the girls by pretending to be someone else, or when she brings up the fact that Kuchiki mistook her for Hato “for some reason,” or even in the extended flashback, Kaminaga shows herself to be really smart and observant in a way that might even exceed Kasukabe. Probably the character most similar to her in Genshiken would be Yabusaki’s friend Katou. On top of the fact that she could talk so candidly with Hato’s brother about yaoi (in spite of the fact that Yuuichirou had zero knowledge about it) and then start dating him on top of that shows a new kind of fearlessness.
As great as Kaminaga turns out to be, however, I think Konno might actually be my favorite character of the new cast, and not just for her saucer eyes, though I find them to be hilarious. It’s quite clear that Konno had a crush on Hato all through high school and did not truly mean to make Hato’s life more difficult by spreading rumors. I think that Konno just had to confide in someone in order to deal with this problem, and I can imagine that Konno felt inferior to Kaminaga in both looks and talent, and to have the boy she likes have only eyes for her must have felt bittersweet. Moreover, the scene at the very end of the chapter where Konno now believes that she’s responsible for turning Hato into a full-on crossdressing homosexual makes you want to tell her everything will be okay.
The biggest mystery that still remains is just why Hato dresses like Kaminaga most of the time, and while a less savory answer would have something to do with how she started going out out with his brother, I’m more inclined to believe that it’s because Hato, in transforming himself into the perfect fujoshi, saw Kaminaga as the ideal basis. With all of the positive attributes mentioned above, which includes physical appearance as well, it makes sense. The fact that Hato probably had feelings for her really puts an additional twist on the whole matter, but I’m inclined to believe that it still all relates to Kaminaga as the ideal girl (of sorts).
Another thing to consider is the fact that this chapter reveals that Hato can draw well, like when he copies from a still life. Perhaps Hato, who believes he can only imitate Kaminaga’s drawing style, might have more of an issue with trusting his own imagination?
So, not a ton of analysis compared to what I normally do this time around, but I am definitely looking forward to seeing what happens.
By the way, Genshiken Volume 12 goes on sale in Japan on June 22nd. There don’t seem to be any special editions, so I’m grateful I won’t be spending as much on it as I have the last two volumes.