Almost lost this one; It has been a while, and there are few things more maddening than having to completely scrap a post. But the thread I was working on was turning into an ungodly mess, and as each new episode of Genshiken slipped by, the main idea (which shall go hide for a while) was making less and less sense. Time to marathon the entire G1 again to see what I missed.
If anything the break between the first and second parts of the Genshiken saga are now even more pronounced. I have a feeling that Shimoku-sensei has either painted himself into a corner, or is really, really, really trying something new.
I hope he doesn’t wrap the series up.. I didn’t mind seeing Negima vanish, but now I hear that my favourite Despairing Sensei is soon to end and I have this feeling that mangaka are tired all over. sigh!
Did I mention despair???
One thing that leaps out at me after a re-read, is how the G2 fujoshi tribe is far more monolithic than the original Genshiken.They might be more productive, but in a curious way they are far less entangled in the 3-d world than previous Genshikeners.
This makes them, and the G2 weak.
Is there something like unconscious sexism popping up here,
either in the mangaka, or in me?
The absolute lack of any high-school romance stories is handled well enough that you let the thought slip by for a while, but a re-reading of G1 puts the difference, if not the lack into high relief:
As we meet the characters from G1:
Makoto Kousaka has the complete and undying lust of Saki Kasukabe.
She is NOT an Otaku. Hijinx ensue. Both get jobs and graduate.
Souichirou Tanaka finds his dream girl in Kanako Ohno.
The Original Club President remains a mystery, but goes off to write a dissertation.
Harunobu Madarame is defiantly Otaku. 2-D is far better than 3-D!
Later he will get his heart broken, and after months of looking, land a job as an office manager. For now he is the uber-otaku.
Kanji Sasahara wins the heart of Chika Ogiue. He becomes an editor-in-training, while she overcomes self-doubt, powerful guilt and self loathing to become strong; the leader of the Genshiken; a workng mangaka and a circle leader. Both must finish their studies soon.
Keiko Sasahara has a kogal lifestyle, but wants something else. She fails to get into University, but makes it into Business college. She brings a bit of the real world into the Genshiken too.
Mitsunori Kugayama’s personal life is a mystery, but he transitions to salaryman life quite effortlessly.
Manabu Kuchiki is a boke.
As G1 ends…
We have 3 couples, who straddle the Genshiken and the real world.
Madarame morphs into a ronery guy who reaps what he has sown..
Angela Burton has healthy appetites.
Susanna Hopkins is a mystery working on a character. Because she is a spunky, crazy Gaijin gal, no one questions it.
Hato has a complicated life, but he is quite celibate.
Kuchiki is boke (who has can use a bit of English, if he cares to)
In the second Genshiken:
Ogiue and Sasahara have a cute ongoing relationship. Ogiue has EXPECTATIONS within the relationship, which she has delightful habit of springing on Sasahara. A hetro-seme (the slightly reformed fujoshi’s idea of a proper boyfriend?) is supposed to be assertive, jealous, fiercely monogamistic and (c’mon drop a few hints besides that one little tidbit -punish every night ???? ) a “top” under the sheets. Cue the Korean TV heartthrob and the swoons of middle-aged Japanese women.
Well at least he better not be a -gasp- HERBIVORE!
Hato has a complicated life, but is quite celibate.
Rika Yoshitake is a celibate fujoshi.
Merei Yajima is a celibate fujoshi (who feels some curiosity and sense of protectiveness towards Hato, but remains uncomfortable with his crossdressing).
Susanna Hopkins remains a mystery; despite all the “Ogiue is my Waifu!” she is so far quite celibate, while in Japan. It would be the crime of the century to turn her into generic Yuri-bait.
Somebody’s sister has shown up – she will join next year, if she doesn’t get
Yabusaki of manga club, no idea.
Naoko Asada of the manga club no idea, but I am betting celibate fujoshi
Madarame is an object of pity – very celibate.
Manabu Kuchiki is a still celibate (and sometimes sexually confused) boke.
Now as my favourite art teacher from days of yore used to say, “a limited palette can be a great exercise”, but G2 might be cutting it a bit thin.
A re-marathnonning of G1 also brings into sharp focus how important Saki and Ohno were to the entire Genshiken. Saki might burn down the garbage shed, and get a tip or two from the Prez, but she has enough real-world relationship smarts to exploit the tip long enough to throw athlete-foot-girl off an anti-Genshiken crusade and onto the matrimonial track.
And we must not under-rate Ohno’s presidency as just COSPLAY COSPLAY COSPLAY. Her people skills bring us the Americans and smooth Hato’s entry into the Genshiken, while her relentless matchmaking shoved Sasahara and Ogiue into each others arms. Not to mention her role in breaking Madarame’s cold Otaku heart by instigating Saki’s cosplay – and her continuing sneaky habit of feeding Madarame all the Saki-cosplay pix she can get her hands on.
How can Madarame maintain the delusion that no one knows about his hopeless crush on Saki. For gawd sakes, the pix spilled all over the place in front of everyone, Saki included!
Ohno is a force of nature. But her fairy godmother powers are waning..
The great yawning lack of “worldliness” in the G2 is lampshaded (And I mean HANG A BIG UGLY LAMPSHADE ON IT! IT IS GLARINGLY OBVIOUS!!!!) in the lack of any high-school romance reminiscences. Sure the author gets to throw a smoke grenade with Hato’s second dire pronouncement of “I am only imitating HER!” (.. duh duh duh dum…..) but all this is just slight of hand that obscures the lack of any 3-d world experience from any of the characters.
They are far more cut off from the nasty real world than the G1 crew.
Where are the stories from Ogiue about day to day fun and tribulations of being a working mangaka, or from Sasahara about being a working editor-in-training-temp? What little we see plays out only between Sas and Ogi. Sharing these things is what grounded the Genshiken in real life; something that was inevitable and had to be accommodated.
Do any of them even troop off to Akiba or Maiden Road any more? The lack of the rest of the world, or even a greater Otaku-dom threatens to turn G2 into a post-high-school genderbending comedy: Usotsuki Lily redux.
Madarame is reduced to an object of pity and a toy for Hato’s Stand (the translator and the author ?? win the naming rights, but I have no idea what a Jojo’s Bizarre adventures is/ are, and wiki helps little – even if S-sensei drops hints that this will sooooooooooon mean something). It is damn hard to tell with grey source translations)
Kuchiki is going to get a job at a bank out in the burbs, Ohno is going to either settle down into domestic bliss or engineer a merger of her and Tanaka’s Awesome Cosplay powers with Moon Costumes
(low cost gakurans anyone? – Please visit the Doctor Evil section!)
The rest of the alumni can drop in now and then for heart-warming cameos, but at SOME POINT the new kids need to get on with it!
As of Ch74, Ogiue has no clear leadership successor: Yajima needs to get her act together. Hato; take away the immediate cross dressing turmoil and he is a cypher. We know only of a Yaoi book in the Judo class lockers, some stick from the girls in a high-school club and of a mysterious (dah, dah, dah, dum..) “HER”. Sue will not break character from her Baka-gaijin-de-gozaimus-Hai! persona, Kuchiki will not develop gravitas, and Rika is one-dimensional. Adding more Fujoshi refugees from the Manga club won’t solve the problem either.
It becomes obvious that we need a crisis!
(I push the playset lever forward!)
Hato needs to be exposed, “come out” and militantly defend his rights to being gender confused. The Japanese variant of political correctness seems to privilege gender dysphoria above mere homosexuality, to the extent that some women-who-love-other-women (Monty Python chorus: “there are no lesbians in Japan!”) play the gender identity card and register themselves as “male” in order to legally marry their sweeties. They wont legalize gay marriage, but they will let her switch genders with a doctors note??? (the gummint made her Butch!). So time to take a stand for the gender confusion! Hato will be Hato damn it, and draw whatever the ^%#$^%$ Hato wants!
Better bring a doctor’s note just to be safe.
The Genshiken is a safe haven for freaks – it will die if it does not defend itself as such. Gather the posse!
Madarame needs to pop by, looking completely sexed down (a hawaiian shirt always helps), with Angela Burton in hand (Ohno gave her his email address, they got in touch, he’s going off to grad school in the States! She does a damn good “president” cosplay too!”).
Angela can ask Saki for tips on the management of Otaku boyfriends. – Wait, maybe Saki should ask Angela.
Yajima must AVOID becoming a female Kugayama. That means a strident “YOU MUST NOT KILL THE MANGAKA’S INTEREST” declaration is overdue.
Rika must curb her enthusiasm and get serious about narrative focus – the lack of which is her sole defining trait. Someone has to yell at her:
“Give me one story from one character and break my heart”.
Fortunately Sas’s only skill as an editor in training seems to be a keen eye for narrative focus.
Time for Yajima and Rika to go see Phineas J. Whoopie.
Better if Oguie frog-marches them over to him. She has her hands full with Hato counseling. Perhaps Sue can handle it in unexpectedly perfect Japanese…
…While letting slip that she is in Japan enjoying her otaku fantasy while evading her n’er-do-well and soon to be divorced husband. (Japanese folks can’t guess Gaijin ages, and vice versa)
The Doctrine of Identity must be appeased!
Genshiken needs to be Genshiken in order to save itself.
To yourself be true or else!