Last month, we were promised a chapter with Yoshitake in the spotlight and Chapter 68 delivers in spades. We learn a lot about Yoshitake’s personality, her family, and even her deepest, darkest secret!!! Suffice it to say, a lot happens, so there’s more to talk about than usual, so you’ll have to forgive me if the following synopsis is wordier than usual.
When a couple of guys enter the Genshiken club room in an effort to hit on Hato, and the only senior member available is a spineless coward (Kuchiki), all seems lost until a tall and striking figure appears and shoos them away. The man turns out to be Yoshitake (Rika)’s brother, Rihito, and we learn the following about him: he is one year older than Yoshitake, attends a different university, and is an otaku (also apparently a shotacon). Yajima is completely smitten by this knight in shining armor, which Yoshitake picks up on immediately and uses to tease poor Yajima in subtle ways.
It turns out though that the guy who’d been hitting on Hato (and who had been asking about “the girl with the long brown hair” back in Chapter 60) is a member of the student government named Harima. Harima’s boss, a serious-looking man in glasses named Mikami, is concerned with the fact that this brown-haired girl no one knows has been seen around Genshiken since the start of the semester. There are strict rules against non-students attending, and Hato, though he is of course a student at Shiiou University, is fearful of having his secret revealed. Harima interjects and convinces Mikami to let him handle it.
Harima tries to clear up the misunderstanding about himself with Hato, except that it wasn’t really a misunderstanding and he actually was trying to hit on Hato after all. The awkward situation is only exacerbated when Kuchiki runs in for the “rescue” and is immediately choked out (again) by Hato. Harima is scared off, and Kuchiki falls unconscious with a smile on his face, though in the process inadvertently places his hand on Rihito’s chest. This in turn generates a decidedly feminine response in Rihito, who reflexively recoils away with a yelp, revealing an elaborate charade.
Yoshitake Rihito turns out to be Yoshitake Risa, Yoshitake’s younger sister who attends an all-girls’ high school and is a member of the school’s basketball club (but still actually a shotacon). Risa is a senior and was checking out Shiiou University as a prospective college, when Yoshitake decided to use the fact that Risa is often mistaken for a boy anyway to pull a prank on the others in Genshiken. However, Risa inadvertently reveals that her older sister is older than she seems. Yoshitake, though a freshman in college, is in reality 20 years old due to a combination of having failed the entrance exams the first time around and having an April birthday (the Japanese school year starts in April), and is the reason she was able to buy all of that alcohol back in Chapter 58 without any hiccups (20 is the legal drinking age in Japan). The chapter ends with the first years + Risa drinking over a discussion of the pairing between Mikami and Harima.
With all of the new character introductions and particular displays of characterization contained within Chapter 68, there is a lot to think about, more than even I’m going to talk about, but let’s begin anyway.
As has been pointed out by Japanese blogger Tamagomago, Yoshitake is very socially savvy, and nowhere has it been more obvious than in this chapter. Probably the best example of this is the fact that she is able to immediately pick up on Yajima’s attraction towards “Rihito” because of how Yajima keeps looking away from the
older younger Yoshitake sibling. One might say that it’s as classically obvious a signal as possible, but stuff like this can be surprisingly difficult for nerds to pick up on. While Yoshitake isn’t quite on the level of Kasukabe or possibly even Keiko in terms of perceptiveness, she is still far greater than the average otaku. Sasahara may be considered the “normal” otaku to an extent, but I can’t help wondering if Yoshitake deserves that title more, though its meaning changes when applied to her. On the topic of siblings, this is the first familial relationship we’ve seen since Sasahara and Keiko, and in looking at the interaction between Yoshitake and Risa with a bit of hindsight, Yoshitake really does act like the older sister. This is shown in the way she hits Risa, and how Risa appears to be completely used to it.
When I first saw “Rihito” I thought to myself, “So this must be where Yoshitake gets it from.” It seemed that Yoshitake simply had a good role model who made it look perfectly all right to be an otaku and that it didn’t have to affect your attitude or wardrobe. However, the truth turns out to be far more interesting, as the more likely scenario, given what we know now, would have Rika being the model responsible for Risa’s success in balancing a life of exciting high school basketball competition with one of rampant otakudom. Yoshitake makes being otaku look cool and normal, and it has an admirable effect on her younger sister and her generation of fandom.
Speaking of basketball, Risa makes me think of that fateful scene from Volume 5 where Ogiue tries to explain away her attendance at a Scram Dunk BL event by claiming that she has a younger brother who’s into basketball. I wonder how Ogiue would react to seeing “Rihito?” How quickly would her mind race in order to conjure up dangerous situations for Risa? Actually, Ogiue doesn’t even make an appearance this chapter, so I have to wonder if Yoshitake is going to try to pull a fast one on her (and the other absent members) in the near future.
Risa’s character design is quite interesting in that generally when you have a crossdressing female character in anime and manga, they tend to still look very feminine regardless of the clothing (Mayo Chiki), and even someone like Fujioka Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club, who can pass for a guy fairly well, is still smaller than the men around her. Risa, on the other hand, even when her secret is revealed and she stops acting “manly” (an act which I think was clearly modeled on bishounen characters in the manga she reads) doesn’t just suddenly look like a girl. Her mannerisms do change to an extent (her body language differs and she begins to use her older sister’s signature -ssu in her speech), but she’s still quite different from what you’d typically expect out of a crossdressing female character. Her height helps with this of course, being one of the tallest characters in Genshiken and dwarfing her older sister. The fact that she’s so tall also puts a bit of a spin on the fact that she’s a shotacon, though I’m not exactly sure how.
I’d also like to point out how Risa and Harima in this chapter mirror each other somewhat. Both are assumed to be one way at first (Rihito is a cool dude, Harima is a sleazebag). Then the truth comes out (Rihito is Risa, Harima is a member of the student government), but it turns out that there was a grain of truth in the lie (Risa is into shota after all, Harima was actually trying to get with Hato). One of the trademarks of Kio Shimoku is having his chapter titles (“Your Name is?” being 68’s) mean more than one thing, and this parallel showcases that aspect of his work.
As for Yoshitake’s dark secret (being 20 years old), I think many of her fans are probably breathing a sigh of relief that it didn’t turn out to be anything more serious. As it stands, Yoshitake is not cheerful to compensate for something else, she just is that way. That she was embarrassed of the fact that her behavior isn’t stereotypically befitting of a 20 year old shows that she indeed aware of how things are “supposed to be” but willfully flouts them anyway, and at the same time also shows that she’s not invincible in the way perhaps Kohsaka is. She’s concerned with what others might think about her, but not too much. It adds a nice dimension to her character that we knew was probably there, but weren’t quite sure what form it would take.
The last thing I want to talk about in the chapter is Yajima’s reaction towards “Rihito” because I think it perfectly captures the feeling of the nerd crush, complete with the fact that Yajima clearly felt that he was out of her league. In that respect, it feels different from the other attractions we’ve seen in the manga in that Ogiue’s, Sasahara’s, and Madarame’s had the awkwardness that comes with familiarity, and Kasukabe thought herself on the same level as Kohsaka. Yajima also has to contend with her own personality in that instance, so the embarrassing nature of that moment for her comes not just from body image problems but also that she has set herself up to be kind of a “cool” character. It reminds me of Yajima’s introduction to Genshiken where she tried to pass off her interest in the club as something kind of casual, and the emotional confusion this whole situation has caused for Yajima is surely going to be a fun thing to explore.
So there we have it for Yoshitake’s first-ever chapter with internal monologue. Next chapter continues the drinking party, and I hope we get to learn more about everyone, as much as we’ve learned already. The next chapter quote is taken from Mawaru Penguindrum, which is to say, watch Penguindrum for more sibling hijinks (also penguins).