Things Are Tight: Genshiken II, Chapter 96

Ohno and Yoshitake are thinking about going to a beauty salon, and try to rope Yajima along. Yajima, being the consummate otaku she is, resists to the best of her abilities but eventually concedes. (Un)fortunately, the latest fujoshi-targeted anime hit comes out and all of their plans go out the window as Ohno and Yoshitake spend all of their money on buying the blurays. Yajima gloats.

I enjoy every chapter of Genshiken that comes out, but this month in particular I found myself literally laughing out loud multiple times while reading. Even though most of it is just Yoshitake, Yajima, and Ohno sitting around and talking about whether or not they should go pretty themselves up, the combination of Yoshitake teasing Yajima and the way their conversation always re-emphasizes their identities as otaku makes the whole thing feel delightfully endearing. At one point Yoshitake suggest bringing along Kasukabe and going to a particularly expensive salon, only to be reminded by Ohno that they just all went to ComiFes and are mutually low on funds.

In a way, I find the beginning of the chapter to be kind of a fake-out even ignoring the way Ohno and Yoshitake backpedal, because the fact that it begins with Ohno talking about finally cutting her hair short brings to mind an older conversation where she mentions that the long hair can be an interview while job-hunting, and so we’re led to believe that she’s referring to finally getting serious and moving out into the adult world. It even ties a bit into Tanaka’s implicit proposal back in Chapter 83. Then we find out it’s just so that she can cosplay more character and that goes out the window. Ohno’s refusal to enter the “real world” is an interesting character flaw, to say the least.

(Also notable is the appearance of Kantai Collection references. It had to happen!)

The real focus of the chapter though is Yajima, who once again is feeling the pressure of fashion and appearance, though notably this time Hato is in no way involved outside of a mention by Yoshitake. It’s interesting seeing this topic again after so many other other developments have occurred, like the resolution of Mada/Saki and Hato’s realization about his own feelings, as I think it makes it easier to connect to Yajima who appears to feel almost lost in the madness. Yajima scoffs at the idea of going to a beauty salon initially, stating how she prefers getting 1000-yen haircuts to whatever madness other girls prefer, and it’s entirely understandable. Hell, when it comes to conversations like this, I am mostly on the side of Yajima, and I even recall recoiling in horror at seeing the price of haircuts when I lived in Japan myself.

Of course, as a guy I don’t have to deal with the same societal forces which tell me that appearance is important, and when you look Genshiken it’s clear that even though all of the guys have become more fashionable over time, it’s not nearly the same as what girls have to go through. Like the most significant pieces of fashion advice I’ve received are to not wear clothes that are too large for me, and to never wear yellow (it doesn’t match me apparently), and that’s pretty small potatoes compared to going to a beauty salon. That said, I’m reminded me of what Yoshitake had to say about fashion, which is that she dresses up not to attract men but to intimidate women. Fashion becomes a tool, rather than an identity, though that’s probably still too much for Yajima (or myself for that matter).

Out of all of the funny moments this chapter, the biggest one has to be the reveal of the fujoshi-bait show of the fictional in-universe Winter 2014 season of anime. Suikyuu! is an anime about water polo of all things, a kind of mix between the team competition of sports series (like volleyball manga Haikyuu!!, namely) and the lithe, well-defined fanservice of Free! It even has the exclamation point! From Yoshitake’s reactions to seeing a team of elderly men join in (and thus set up the obvious reveal that Ohno watched it too), I think this is the first time that Nidaime has its own Kujibiki Unbalance, something which is grounded in the tropes and trends of the time that can be a consistent source of discussion for the Genshiken members. At least, that’s the potential, as we’ve of course yet to see more of it.

Genshiken Second Season Episode 12 and the Fanservice You May Not Have Seen

Episode 12 wraps up the school festival. If you want to read my thoughts on the events of the episode, you’ll find them as part of my analyses on Chapters 81 and 83. At this point I’ll have to assume 82 will be covered in Episode 13 or just not at all.

So with all the cosplay this episode, particularly from Ohno, there was a hefty amount of fanservice in the most obvious sense. This was magnified by the fact that they combined two disaparate chapters together to make it an almost “cosplay-themed” episode, but amidst all that more overt fanservice the anime actually added a little something for the Ogiue fans in particular.

This image is actually an anime original, and though it’s just a single frame it communicates a lot of intimacy and perhaps even eroticism between Ogiue and Sasahara. Ogiue never ever, ever has an expression like that, with the wry and suggestive smile as well as the sideways glance towards Sasahara who’s more tacitly responding in kind. The message this image communicates is that Sasahara likes what he sees out of Ogiue, and Ogiue is pleased that he likes that. While you might think that this is me reading too much into it, given their interruption by Sue previously, there’s no doubt in my mind how we’re supposed to interpret it.

However, if you want something that I consider fanservice that probably no one else does, it would be another anime-exclusive moment:

A Go Go Curry parody!

As long-time readers of the blog might know, I am a huge fan of Go Go Curry, and what’s more, the very first Go Go Curry I ever ate at was one in Akihabara. Though there’s no way to tell if the one Madarame is at is the same one that introduced me to the wonders of Kanazawa-style curry, I’d like to pretend that it is.

Really though, Episode 12 of Nidaime actually combined two of my favorite things, Ogiue and Go Go Curry. On some level I have to rank it pretty highly, albeit at a fairly shallow level.

The Mawaru Penguindrum merchandise also helped.

What hints of Genshiken’s status do we get from the Kujibiki omake?

A third post on this simple 3-page omake. Unlike the first post, there will be spoilers here, and this isn’t exactly fair game like the anime or manga, so this is your warning.

Ohno is waiting in the club room in a Yamada cosplay outfit. Ogiue, with hair down, comes in accompanied by Sue. Ogiue questions why Ohno seems to just be cosplaying for no reason, and Ohno in turn laments the loss of Ogiue’s fude. Ogiue says that she can’t wear her hair the way she normally does when she’s at work, which is fairly often these days. Ogiue then asks why Ohno is cosplaying as Yamada when she normally cosplays as the Vice-Chairman, and Ohno says it’s because the Vice-Chairman’s voice actor changed. Ogiue, switching her hair back to normal fude mode, asks how Ohno could be so tired when Ohno hasn’t even been looking for a job, and Ohno nonchalantly mentions that she’s actually postponing her graduation for another year. Ogiue accuses of her of purposely delaying her job search, which Ohno weakly denies. Ogiue tells Ohno that Madarame is the only super senior that Genshiken needs, to which Ohno replies that that’s not quite what Madarame is. Then Sue chimes in with

I’M IN DESPAIR! JAPANESE PEOPLE WHO CAN’T SEEM TO EVER GRADUATE HAVE LEFT ME IN DESPAIR!

Ogiue remarks that her despair is a little too valid. Ohno then says that Kuchiki will be gone by next year, implying that it’s a good reason to stay. Ogiue says she’s rather he leave sooner. Sue mentions that she’d like to see Madarame cosplay as Zetsubou Sensei. Madarame sneezes.

Now…

What can we learn from this?

First, is that this chapter clearly takes place after the events of volume 9. Ogiue’s un-fude hair is a direct reference to an image of her in volume 9 where she questions whether or not to have the fude at job interviews.

Ohno’s Yamada cosplay is from Kujibiki <3 Unbalance, instead of the normal series, and the implication is that this takes place in 2006, and Genshiken the manga has always been pretty good about maintaining its timeline. Sasahara, Saki, and Kohsaka all graduated in 2005. Further reinforcing this is the mention that Kuchiki will not be there anymore next year. So clearly this means that the Ogiue we are seeing is, in fact, Chairman Ogiue.

YES. Oh man, how I wanted to see Ogi-kaichou. Thank you, Kio Shimoku.

Sue is in Genshiken, and these events take place after her appearance at the beginning of Volume 9. I think that she has fulfilled her dream and is studying at Shiiou University. Her Japanese has improved considerably, as her remark that Madarame should do Zetsubou Sensei cosplay is not a direct quote or reference, but rather just her speaking normally, if with an American accent. Congratulations Sue!

Ohno delaying her graduation means that Ohno and Ogiue graduate the same year. I’m sure that was part of her plan.