Fearful Symmetry

Just because you have two fools in the same boat doesn’t mean you have to ship them.

I have to hand it to Shimoku sensei: not only has he set a whole slew of characters in motion, he has used them all as a perfect distraction for a masterful bit of author’s sleight-of-hand!

In chapter 77 Hato got sanded by HER, his fearsome uber-fujoshi first crush and yaoi drawing goddess/ muse/ demon. It’s not like he got caught stealing her undies or anything, he just stole her face, and her drawing style, and…
From his dissimulation in the next chapter, this meeting has hurt like heck.

And lest it slip by in the clubroom crowd scene in the very next chapter, Madarame has been well and truly poked and prodded by his fearsome first crush, as Saki seeks to apply a few TIME TO MOVE ON kicks to a particularly stubborn otaku butt. “Moteki”? really? This I have to see…

All the fluff about shipping Madarame and Hato falls before the stronger bond that these two guy share: they are both classic loser males, wounded with unrequited WANT for the girl they can’t have, and fittingly worked over by the same.

These guys dont need to discover man-secks; their bond is the more primordial cry of the wounded male ego when it realises that all the torch carrying in the world has given them nothing but sore arms. Nought, nadda, zip, nuthin.
Welcome to the “waughhh! she really fucked me over good! waughhh!”” sobbing society. I feel your pain bro, chin up, have another beer, we all go through it. The jukebox is playing Solitary Man. The lyrics are begging the question:
perhaps you are doing something wrong, neh?

Have a seat by the fire and grab a drum.

If it is any consolation, this is something that the girls, even the fujoshi tribe will never share, and never really understand.

On one side, the queen bee of harsh reality, on the other side the queen bee of depraved fantasy. Note how Saki becomes the center of the Genshiken when she drops in. The author doesn’t just hang a lampshade on it, he lets off fireworks, just as HER posse earlier made it plain along with the flashbacks that she was the alpha wolf in Hato’s high school fujoshi pack.

Results: pretty much the same in terms of devastation. Hato got a bit of hidden drawing talent released for his troubles, while Madarame got some fashion advice. Bad ending, no wins possible in this eroge.

And of course both of them brought it on themselves.

And they probably both realise it.

As noted by one who must remain nameless, Hato presumes to know a bit more about Madarame than he really does, and that leads him to jump in at inopportune moments. I would venture to add that Hato is suffering from over-identification with Madarame’s plight, having just taken a few more kicks to his already suppressed manhood, all while putting up as much of a brave front as he could muster in the face of his tormentors. I suspect that Madarame will now feel a certain bro-ship with Hato-kun, if he ever gets the whole story. Or maybe he will have to feel broship with Hato-chan, which seems to be the only way to make Hato’s internalized version of HER shut the eff up when anywhere near Madarame. Cross-dresses just to talk with the girls, yeah, right!

“None of it hurt a bit, I just wanted to hang with the fujoshi and discuss deviant comix,,”

“None of it hurt a bit, I’m just chillin, reading my little book o manga…”

Madarame wont argue the accusation that he is into hardcore s&m pron, and/or that he is a lolicon, or even that he chases sheep (just kidding!), as long as his sacred vow to remain 3d celibate until the fates drop Saki into his lap remains unquestioned.

And Hato gay(?), or Hato just wanting to talk about yaoi with the girls, or Hato being able to finally draw when he assumes a female persona based on the most hardcore fujoshi he has ever encountered all lay down smoke to cover his original sin.

And now both are confronted with their unobtainable ones becoming truly well married off and really, tuly, rai-ju-ly unobtainable. I concur with the observation by another commenter that Saki’s dress looks downright maternity-ish, and deeply out of character with the old Saki.

Both Madarame and Hato have constructed selves that make sense of, and allow them to avoid facing their loss and disappointment. Madarame was a hard-core otaku who suddenly had to confront a hopeless crush, and so has retreated deep into a vow of uber-otaku 3D celibacy.

Hato faced an even more complicated problem: finding himself strangely interested in yaoi comix, he ran headfirst into HER and was overwhelmed. His solution is much weirder than Madarame’s but holds a certain internal consistency.

The really, really, really odd thing is that a wig is all that he needs to look like HER. Did he fall for a female mirror image of himself? As Zeus said to Narcissus: “watch yourself Boy!” And what does that say about his brother? At least Hato has fixated on an uber-fujoshi and not an idol

Both fantasy-derived identities require that the objects of their fixation remain timeless, unchanging and remote, so as to preserve the illusions that feed them. Yeah right, how’s that working out for you guys?

Genshiken is, at its core a romantic comedy of errors, and with a full cast of otaku and fujoshi the potential for comedic error is cranked to 11- with Madarame and Hato stuck center stage singing the goat song.

Otoku wa tsurai yo!

Otaku wa tsurai yo!

addendum: The ever-insightful ogiue maniax coverage on this chapter is out, and on the Hato question he is completely for ambiguity – which he notes Shimoku  has been playing for great effect. (and which I too am ideologically in favor of) But I’m sticking to my hunch – Hato is straight and even more fixated on (Ok, start using HER name) Kaminaga than Madarame is on Saki. The Yaoi stuff, to the extent that Hato is interested in it, throws a curve, and the fujoshi tribes are perfect to keep to confusion swirling, but it is all smoke, mirrors and story-slight-or-hand! Fer crissakes! He’s got a mini-her stuck in his head, telling him that he has to ship everything, including his male self whenever he is anywhere near anything to do with his “hobby”. The only time she leaves him be is when he becomes Hato-chan. If anything, this is less about sexuality and more about the otaku guy getting shot down and retreating into a fugue state – with perhaps a side poke at the Japanese penchant to take “mastery” in a hobby to extremes.

I feel your pain, dude!

Hato is Madarame V2.5, and V.1 never even got his “day of flight”.  Madarame is too invested as a character to be left hanging, and too developed to simply be paired off with one of the girls and trundled off into the sunset. Can, will the Genshiken, as a community, in spite of their fixations support them until they resolve their contradictions?

Shimoku-sensei has upped the ante!

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