Genshiken Nidaime

April 20, 2014

Well, I didn’t expect they came out with another season of the previous season aired way back in 2007. I guess somehow the summer of 2013 had quite a number of anime sequels, making me think that it is the season of anime sequels. Rozen Maiden, Senki Zesshou Symphogear, High School DxD and Tamayura just to name a few. But Genshiken Nidaime is not to be confused with the second season of the Genshiken series. This is in fact the fourth instalment. Well, if you count the OVAs as another season. Nidaime may be a confusing word to some because it means second generation. Some may take it as a second season but it’s really not. Second generation I feel is quite suitable but yet not as accurate for this season because no doubt there are new members to the Genshiken club, the old ones still make their presence felt as they do return to their university club from time to time. All of them. So it’s like they’ve never left the club in the first place. And when you think of a second generation, you would think entirely new set of casts and the old ones just rolled over somewhere. But still, it is still worth the watch if you’re an otaku and a fan of the series.

Episode 1
Ogiue is worried on how to recruit additional members to Genshiken seeing Oono and Kuchiki are the only ones left. Suddenly here comes crazy foreigner and transfer student, Suzy to the fore! There you go, she’s back and joining the club. But they need to do more than that. Despite dressing up in cosplay outfit, Ogiue is going to do what she does best. She starts drawing on the white board and this attracts everyone’s attention. In the end only 2 members joined. BL enthusiast, Rika Yoshitake and I-thought-this-frumpy-woman-looks-like-a-guy, Mirei Yajima join the bandwagon. Oh, there is a third one, the beautiful Kenjirou Hato. Yoshitake seems like trying to turn this into a BL discussion by handing out her favourite BL works. Ogiue is worried Genshiken will turn into a BL circle at this rate. Cheeky Kuchiki is admiring Hato’s hair and tugs it… It nearly comes off! A wig?! Wait a minute… Hato is a cross-dresser???!!! A guy who loves BL???!!! Why do weird people end up in this club? Oono becomes interested in Hato because she wants to put on some cosplay costumes on him… Or her… Whichever. Later Suzy goes to Madarame’s house just to make him answer a call to meet with the rest. Along with some of the other ex-members of Genshiken, they try to pinpoint which of the 3 new members is a boy. Can’t really tell, huh? The rest can’t either. But when Saki comes in, she immediately could pinpoint Hato as the cross-dresser!

Back in the clubroom, Oono wants Ogiue to ensure that the newbies stay because this club has a history of members joining and then quitting. Maybe she just wants to cosplay Hato. Besides, Ogiue and Kuchiki were from different circles before they joined Genshiken. The topic shifts to Hato and how he dresses up. Where does he change? On the campus? Kuchiki wants to be the first guy to catch Hato in the act of changing and goes to find him. Of course the girls think it will be a big problem if Hato changes on campus so Ogiue is forced to call him and is relieved he is at home (I don’t know about the president’s job to guard Hato’s chastity). Yajima is the only one bothered by Hato’s cross-dressing. The rest aren’t because they had Kousaka who cross-dressed for cosplay as well as Saki. Ogiue leaves the room and to her dismay, sees Hato coming out from the woman’s toilet! Wasn’t she changing at home? Hato runs away and almost bumps into Kuchiki. Don’t worry. Her auto defence mode kicks in and gives him a judo throw. Hato is reprimanded by the rest for changing in the toilet because the police could have gotten involved (I’m not sure about this rule). Hato doesn’t change at home because it takes a long time to put on everything. She doesn’t want to miss the bus. Why not change here in this room? She doesn’t want them to think of her as a man. Yajima couldn’t understand what the fuss is all about because it would be better for everyone if she comes in as a guy. Till Kuchiki tries to be cool about telling her off something about someone this cute couldn’t possibly be a girl but Ogiue steals his line. How did they solve this problem? They have Hato change at Madarame’s place and have him give the keys to his apartment.

Episode 2
Ogiue suggests making a short pamphlet to introduce the club members. She demonstrates and it looks good. However Yajima mentions she isn’t good at drawing so Yoshitake suggests they hang out at her place to help her draw. Call it some sort of bonding between the newbies but as Yajima fears, Yoshitake didn’t really get down to drawing and wants to talk about some BL pairings. It must be a long night of fun because when Yajima wakes up, she realizes nothing got done. Seeing Hato asleep, it makes her wonder if she is truly a guy. One way to find out, right? Touching her smooth skin and remembering the beauty regime Hato did just for the skin to stay beautiful, the dilemma is continuing to tear Yajima apart. Could be a girl. Or could not. All she needs to do is take a quick look underneath her skirt when Yoshitake catches her in the act! Perverts, aren’t they? Yoshitake wants to join in but when Yajima tries to prevent her, the gust of wind blows up Hato’s skirt. What did she see? Let’s say her worst nightmare is confirmed. Everyone hands in their pamphlet and nobody guessed Hato could draw a very hentai BL illustration…

Ogiue receives a call from her editor that her one-shot manga will be published. However it will run in September and October which means it will clash with their ComiFest event. To help Ogiue with her tight schedule, the newbies go to her home to become her assistants. Kuchiki is appalled that his harem is gone and he can’t go either because Oono is there to make him stay put. Yajima is so bad at drawing that she flops at her first go. And that is even drawing a straight line… At school, Yajima laments Hato is like the perfect person and good at everything. Suddenly a guy comes up to her asking about Hato. Luckily Kumiko Yabusaki from the Manga Research Club drove him away. Yajima and Yoshitake head to Ogiue’s house and are surprised to see Hato in a shorter wig. It gets in the way of the drawing. They tell her how she is popular enough that other people are asking for her. Yajima again brings up the topic of cross-dressing. If she stops, the attention to the guys will also stop. She wants to know why she is so obsessed in cross-dressing. Her school didn’t have a manga club so the closest was the art club. She joined and when she wanted to talk BL with those with same interest, I guess you can tell what happened. Yajima felt guilty for probing her. It’s like as though she was jealous. But still, she tells Hato that she doesn’t need to force herself like this because they won’t bully her. Yoshitake tells Yajima she doesn’t understand. The reason why she is cross-dressing is because she loves it. Every guy wants to be a girl at least once. Hato adds it’s not because she was bullied or viewed it as fun. She was able to see herself and her situation from the outside. It’s somewhat interesting. Like when she got the key to Madarame’s house. That situation could lead to Hato x Madarame, right? When Yajima and Yoshitake leave for the night, they see Oono pulling up a van with Tanaka and Kugayama. She is here with loads of boxes of cosplay outfits. She is ready to cosplay. However she is shunt out because Ogiue is busy working. Thank goodness they haven’t unloaded the boxes yet.

Episode 3
Madarame returns home from work as a salary man in a sewer construction company. His place is nicely cleaned up by Hato but is relieved that his secret stash is still safe. It must be nostalgia’s sake that Madarame sits in Genshiken’s room alone. Till Keiko (Sasahara’s sister) pops in. She works in a cabaret but points out it is not a prostitution ring. There’s a big difference. Keiko is upset that Madarame tries to hide his feelings for Saki. He thought nobody knew? It was obvious. He continues to play dumb so she gets rough with him. Suzy walks in and sees them in an ambiguous position. Before Keiko leaves, she tells him to ask somebody out for real for once. Suzy suggests a way to move forward without giving up on his last love: Find yourself a new love. Isn’t that contradicting? Anyway she hands him lots of BL references… Not into that! Madarame goes home to see Hato just finishing and leaving. He almost goes crazy after thinking about something unholy with Hato. Looks like a woman, sounds like a woman, talks like a woman, but… On another day, Hato dressed as a boy is outside Madarame’s apartment. His female alter-ego is excitedly making some Hato x Madarame comments and to go for it. There’s even suggestion of pretending to be asleep and then surprise Madarame with a yaoi attack or really fall asleep and let Madarame attack him with his yaoi move. But Hato fell asleep for real and when Madarame wakes him up normally, he starts panicking. There goes the plan. Madarame cooks for him and so Hato’s mind goes wild thinking this may turn out to be Madarame x Hato flag instead. Madarame speaks normally to him because at least he is a guy (for now) and it’s tough to talk with the rest being girls. Hato mentions the voice training he did from books and internet to make his voice sound like a girl. He also mentions that he is not that a hardcore of BL because if he really was, he would have fallen in love with him by now. As Madarame continues to talk casually with him, Hato feels he isn’t wary or suspicious at all. Madarame falls asleep so Hato puts him to bed. A chance for a goodnight kiss attack? Doesn’t feel like it tonight. As he leaves, he felt something drop behind the shelves. He picks it up to see a secret stash containing photos of Saki in cosplay outfits.

Episode 4
Oono picks up Angela at the airport. Meanwhile Ogiue and the newbies are making a crazy rush to finish their work just before ComiFest begins. I wonder how many crazy nights they have stayed up together. But suddenly Hato can’t work. Because she spots a beard growing. She can’t work like this. Yajima tells her off just change into her man outfit and get it over. But… She didn’t bring any guy clothes. Yoshitake has an idea. Remember those cosplay outfits she dumped here? There has to be one that is for males, right? However… None there are! All female cosplay outfits for the trap! Disappointed? But she hasn’t given up yet. Yajima’s size is XL, right? Yeah. Yajima is forced to wear the cosplay while Hato wears her over-sized clothes. Yoshitake also ‘cosplays’ by wearing a jersey. Because Yajima realize Hato may have to go home in her clothes, she refuses to lend it to him and forces the trap to wear a female outfit instead. Yoshitake then convinces Suzy and Ogiue to dress up too. But when Yabusaki comes over, she is appalled to see them so and thinks they are not serious in making the deadline and lectures for an hour. After that she helps out and they finish. On the first day of ComiFest, our non-staff Genshiken members wait outside for it to open. Angela molests Hato’s ‘boobs’ just to ascertain he is a boy and gets scolding by Oono. As ComiFest opens, the newbies plan their route to buy the doujins they want. Oono and Angela cosplay for photographers. Yabusaki and Suzy help out in Ogiue’s booth but the president isn’t here herself because she ended up having fever. Thanks to those crazy nights…

Yabusaki is surprised that Ogiue’s doujin is well received and feels guilty like as though they are trying to profit off her. She just wanted to work with her? She sounds like a tsundere. Hato is having trouble going to the toilet. She is made clear that it is only the male toilet for her. There’s a long line… Imagine what the other guys will think when they see a girl waiting in queue. Yabusaki meets Ogiue’s middle school friend, Nakajima. When this b*tch finds out Ogiue is a president of a circle, she mocks Ogiue about trying to kill herself over a guy again. She thought something happened to her because she didn’t turn up in the last ComiFest with her boyfriend. Because back in middle school she used her boyfriend, Makita as the source for her BL doujin. He was so embarrassed that he transferred schools. Suzy is about to blow her top but Yabusaki was just cool to say this job is perfect for Ogiue. Suzy adds that Ogiue and her boyfriend are dating and very happy together. Since there is nothing more to b*tch about, Nakajima leaves. She won’t be back here again and hopes she won’t meet Ogiue. It’s better that way. Well, she’s standing right behind you now… Noticing her fever is running high, Yabusaki orders Suzy to take her away. At the end of the day, Ogiue’s doujin was a sell-out. Ogiue is brought back home as Sasahara takes over from the girls. Suzy gets jealous and hopes this boyfriend will explode. Ogiue lets go her emotions. She held up crying because if Suzy saw her so, she would worry. She made her help out a project that has nothing to do with Genshiken and got too sick to come on the day they sold their first doujin. All Sasahara says is that even if her fever subsides, she still shouldn’t go tomorrow either.

Episode 5
Everyone joins in on the third day of ComiFest. Except for Sasahara who is nursing sick Ogiue. Oono loves today because it is group cosplay. Angela still likes Madarame and tries to flirt with him but Oono puts a stop to her before she gets more daring. Hato feels bad for Madarame so he decides to go as a boy and accompany him, breaking Oono’s heart because this means he can’t be in the group cosplay. She was really looking forward to it… By the way, it’s Madoka Magica theme and Suzy is Kyuubey! Fitting or what? Hato talks to Madarame about the fest and the likes. They also talk about Angela but Madarame thinks she is only fooling around and is here for ComiFest. Hato knows he is lying when Madarame says he has no interest in 3D girls. Pics of Saki behind the shelf… Hato is probably trying to boost his confidence saying he can get along with any girl. Madarame almost interpreted this situation as gay. When they continue their ‘tour’, they see Kousaka cross-dressed. He is working to promote a new eroge. They send a picture of Kousaka to Oono and she is fuming with jealousy and frustration. She can’t go to see him because she can’t leave the cosplay area and he can’t go to see her because he is working. And yeah. The cosplay outfit of Madoka she made for Hato was wasted since she didn’t cosplay. Hato notes Kousaka as Madarame’s rival for Saki. But aren’t Kousaka and Saki dating? He doesn’t think Madarame can win since Kousaka is cute even without makeup. Talking about this to Madarame again, that guy even hints he can’t win. So Hato puts on his wig and transforms back into a girl. This is to prove he is as good as Kousaka when it comes to cross-dressing so don’t say he can’t win against him. When they regroup, Angela of course tries to flirt with Madarame but Hato steps in (translation courtesy from Oono). Angela becomes aggressive telling Hato about rights and future thingy to counter her argument of feelings that develop over time is much stronger than one night stand (as suggested by Angela). I suppose Hato panics. She losses it when she says Madarame is more of the uke type. She goes on pairing Madarame with all the Genshiken guys but the one she finds more fitting is Kousaka x Madarame! Her logic that Madarame doesn’t have time to be dating a girl? Angela is going to get serious and let Madarame’s fingers touch her breast. This time Suzy cuts in. She can’t take it anymore and gives that American a butt kick! And it’s butt kick all the way out! Yankee go to hell! Thumbs up for Hato? Hato apologizes for saying those things but Madarame couldn’t be more grateful for being saved from something much worse than death. Then it hit him. He is uke?! Biggest shock he ever had.

Episode 6
Ogiue learns about Hato calling Madarame an uke. Suzy thinks Ogiue should show Hato about her Sasahara x Madarame doujin to cheer her up. Because outside Genshiken, Hato is always alone and she only has Madarame as the only male friend. So Ogiue shows the newbies that doujin and everyone is impressed how good it is! Yoshitake wants to photocopy them! Somehow the plan backfired because it flipped some weird switch in Hato. Now she will draw what she has always fantasized. Madarame suddenly walks in and everybody scrambles to hide the doujin. Suzy called him to come to settle this but didn’t expect him to come so soon. Yajima apologizes to him because when they first saw him, they really think he is the uke type. She hopes they can ignore what they say and write it off as bad experience. But there’s an unwanted problem brewing. Kuchiki has made his decision. Just for his precious Hato, he is willing to be seme and tries to kiss Madarame! Suzy’s foot was fast enough to kick his face. But that’s not enough to put him down. Now he wants to pull down his pants! Show me your ass! Hato chokes him unconscious while Madarame runs out for his life! Kuchiki then develops some fetish for Hato’s choke. Because she won’t do it to him again, he is going to wait for Madarame to show up and attack him. Then the guy who asked for Hato, Harima comes in to show his friend about her. Yajima feels the need to do something about this because all the other members are not around. Kuchiki is being a useless coward. Suddenly there is this hot guy coming in to tell them off they do not belong here. He is Rihito and Yoshitake’s older brother. He is a shotacon. Do we really need to know that? Yajima can’t look at him because it’s turning on her yaoi switch. Rihito compliments Hato and it seems he doesn’t know about the cross-dressing. Yoshitake could tell about Yajima’s flustering and suggests they all go out for a drink.

On their way out, they are stopped by Mikami from the Circle Leadership Committee. He heard complaints and rumours of a student attending circle meeting who is not a student of this university. The description fits Hato and he hopes she could clear this up. Suddenly Harima doesn’t want Mikami to pry further. He told him he would look into it and leave it to him. He never told them about himself because if he did and tried to hit on Hato, Mikami would get angry. As he is about to get Hato’s statement, here comes Kuchiki the raging bull! Before he could attack Harima, Hato chokes him unconscious. He gets his wish… Before he passes out, he touches Rihito’s chest and he lets out a girly scream… Eh… Could Rihito be… And so it is revealed she is actually Yoshitake’s younger sister, Risa. As a basketball player, she is often mistaken to be a guy. Yoshitake brought her here just to test them if they could tell. Yoshitake also reveals her real age (20 years old) but Yajima doesn’t care for that. But because of her prank, she will have to pay for the drinks. Back home, the newbies and Risa talk and Risa expresses her wish to see Hato as a guy. Initially he is reluctant but Yajima accidentally spills her drink on her. Hato goes to take a bath and Yoshitake takes this chance to peep on her. She is going to ascertain ‘that’. With Risa holding down Yajima (because little sister must obey what big sister says), Yoshitake makes her way to the toilet. Yajima uses her fatty power to go on a rampage. Everyone stumbles into the bathroom and I guess it is the second time Yajima sees it. This time very clearly with her eyes. Since Yoshitake was the only one who didn’t see, she pesters Risa to explain further since she is flustering about it being silky smooth. Yajima makes Risa lose her memories with a big chop to her back. Because Hato never came out of the toilet, they are forced to stop for the day. On a little note, Risa decides to enrol in their university next year.

Episode 7
Sasahara is seen encouraging Ogiue. That’s because her manga really got criticized over the internet. But back to club matters, Ogiue wants to discuss what they’ll be doing for the cultural festival. Obviously for Oono, Kuchiki and Suzy, they want to cosplay. That was quickly shot down and it is suggested they write and sell their own doujin. They call Yabusaki for ideas. Little did they know that she and her friend got kicked out by her club because they helped Genshiken during ComiFest. Even so, she won’t join Genshiken. The question now is what kind of story to write. BL? Well… As long as it’s acceptable to all ages. Ogiue notes the mystery of Hato. It’s not her cross-dressing or love for BL. It is her exceptional art. She was able to switch between drawing styles and may be even better than her. Ogiue hints indirectly she wants to read a manga she writes and this shocks everyone. Ogiue can’t come up with anything to draw after she said that to Hato. Yajima-Yoshitake collaboration ended before it could start due to ‘creative differences’. All that’s left is Hato. She then tells the truth. It seems her art style changes depending on her dress style. As a girl, she can only draw extreme BL scenes. As a boy, let’s say the drawing sucks. While she was Ogiue’s assistant, she only drew backgrounds and that was manageable. So when she’s in girl mode, it’s like some sort of hidden switch got flipped and she becomes possessed and starts drawing the extreme. The discussion ends in a deadlock till Suzy suggests that everyone cooperates.

Ogiue then asks the newbies if they have fallen in love before in high school. That’s because she thought of doing a romance genre as their story. Well, Yajima seems to be acting strange. Could it be she had an experience? She explains she sucked in drawing some anime character but this delinquent guy boasted he could do better and he did. Ever since, he called her ‘Sucky’. By the time he calls her by her real name, that was the last time she talked to him. Everyone thinks this sound like a bully case but Yajima says she thought of it too. However the delinquent took back what he said. As for Yoshitake, her high school days are only filled with getting into arguments and discussions with her fellow BL lovers, so there’s nothing much. Hato is left. However she is blushing. Her face is very red. Yoshitake tries to be aggressive in trying to make her spill out the kind of romance she was involved. Yajima tried to help Hato get out of her sticky predicament but backfired. Hato really doesn’t want to talk or remember about it but Yoshitake remains persistent. She guesses Hato must be popular with guys and girls due to her style. But what about Yoshitake? Isn’t she stylish too? She notes that make-up isn’t to attract guys but to keep other girls in place! Hato is out of options when Kuchiki comes in. He is determined to do some trap cosplay with Hato. Symphogear theme? However Oono denies him that. The guys are not going to cross-dress and cosplay. It would be against Hato’s best interest to keep his identity hidden. So just no. Then they ask him about his high school romance. He easily answers yes. Apparently some unknown girl came out to him to confess and ask him out. While he was doing some topless dance at the bonfire… Don’t ask. Everyone suddenly feels gloomy but Kuchiki feels a great aura of disrespect. Hato notes that it was Kuchiki’s who saved her from her predicament. By the way, how long did Kuchiki dated her? Well, the next day, she told him never mind and he only spoke to her for less than 3 minutes. Ah…

Episode 8
Yoshitake complains to Yajima about Ogiue-Hato pairing to draw a manga for the festival. Ogiue will do the storyline and Hato will draw. She is in a dilemma to draw something or not so Yajima tells her to make up her mind. Hato is at Madarame’s place as usual to change into a girl but his female alter ego keeps bugging him with annoying BL fantasies. Especially when Hato sees an eroge. The one whereby Kousaka cross-dressed and promoted. Heck, they even used his name as that character! His thoughts go wild wondering if Madarame had already played this game and finished Kousaka’s route. Madarame is at the door but Hato’s female alter ego tells him to drop everything and show everything off. Not going to happen. Madarame takes a little walk around the block so Hato could finish changing. He’s worried about the state of his company. Will he get a bonus this year? When he returns, Hato has finished changing. Madarame tries hard to remember that Hato is a boy beneath those clothes despite her girly manner. He invites her in to talk. He realizes the eroge on the desk and tries to hide it but Hato mentions she has already noticed it. This leads to a talk about the cost of buying eroge, BL and clothes. Men’s clothes are less expensive because all you need is just a necktie. Madarame offers to lend the game (or any eroge) to her but since she is blushing, he drops the idea because it looked like sexual harassment. But what Hato is interested in is not the game but his thoughts on it. Madarame did play the game but finds it weird that all the routes have those traps getting pregnant. Hato notes to us unfamiliar viewers that in the world of BL, it is common that guys get pregnant.

Hato then asks the important question if he has cleared Kousaka’s route. Pregnancy ending and in a maternity wedding dress! This causes Hato to fluster that they have gone this far. However Madarame notes he didn’t pretty much like Kousaka’s character. When he wonders if Saki knows about this kind of game, Hato begins to wonder if this causes a tension in the relationship between Saki and Kousaka. Perhaps then Madarame will have a comeback chance. She wanted to fantasize a Kousaka x Madarame plot with Saki but in BL, you can’t really include girls. When Madarame also mentions he doesn’t mind being called uke, Hato apologizes to him for that Kuchiki incident. She has already properly told him off and it’s okay for him to come back to the clubroom. Madarame feels it’s not good for a graduate to hang around his old university forever. He feels awkward to stay there and think a change of scene would be a good idea. Part of him tells him to stay away from university. Hato blames herself she started calling him uke and thinking of BL pairings of him that led to this. She mentions about the festival and hopes he could come. Asking what Genshiken will be doing for that, Hato says Ogiue told her to draw a normal non-BL manga but all she has ever drawn was only BL. Madarame says she should draw what she wants because if it gets bad, Ogiue will stop her. She notes despite being called uke, he doesn’t ask people to hold back. Madarame promises to come. Back at Genshiken, Hato will do her best to draw a non-BL manga.

Episode 9
Sasahara compliments Ogiue’s manga. All that is left is to do the art at Hato’s place. Sasahara allows it but Ogiue thought he should’ve said no. Hato may be a cross-dresser but he’s still a guy underneath and should be worried. I suppose Sasahara wanted to get closer with Ogiue but her handphone rings. She has a bad feeling of this. Suzy and Hato are at the door. Interrupted something? In the clubroom, Yoshitake is ranting about her convoluted storyline. Whatever. Once again, Hato’s drawing turns into extreme BL. This time using Ogiue’s characters. Yoshitake is desperate to watch (and learn) how she draws porn BL but Yajima takes her away to finish their own work. Ogiue guides Hato to draw while she is cross-dressed and gives her encouragement that she isn’t copying. From Hato’s words, she could guess she is talking about that person when they were talking about love then. High school senior who is good at drawing and a fujoshi. Harima comes in to give them the rules for their cosplay during the festival. Harima tries to flirt with Mikako Takeya (Hato’s current pen name) but his friend warns he will report his every move to Mikami. After the guys leave, Hato couldn’t control her BL mode and starts drawing it. Oono gets a call from Saki saying that she and Kousaka will come to the festival. Oono is happy that she is able to make her cosplay but she hung up. Yajima’s old friend, Mimasaka turns up at Genshiken and compliments Yajima’s good art. Yoshitake thought of making her see reality but realizes their friendship bond is strong. Then Yoshitake’s old buddies show up and they haven’t lost touch of their eccentricity. A couple of girls, Konno and Fuji just arrive at the festival and they thought they saw their senior, Kaminaga. They are looking for Hato. When Madarame arrives, Hato feels bad about the awkward situation he will be in when Saki and Kousaka turns up. When Keiko arrives, she bluntly teases Madarame about Saki coming. This causes Hato to think that she might be the only one who didn’t know Madarame likes Saki. Keiko teases Madarame might be going out with Hato because the latter was staring at her. Well, we know it’s physically impossible. Hato is surprised when Konno and Fuji turn up in the room. She hopes they won’t recognize her and is confident they will not since her voice sounds much cuter and they’ll never think about the cross-dressing part. Thanks to her pen name, they didn’t see the similarity although they find the drawing as similar to Kaminaga’s. Suddenly Kuchiki blabs about Hato returning to dressing in such a way. However she is not Hato but Kaminaga.

Episode 10
Kaminaga did note that Kuchiki mistaken her for Hato. Which means she is around. Madarame points out to where Hato is. Bad move? Konno takes a closer look but still couldn’t believe. Kaminaga takes off Hato’s wig. Now you believe? Konno starts crying and blames herself. Ogiue takes them outside to talk. Flashback reveals Konno, Fuji and the rest of the girls in the art club used to admire Kaminaga’s extreme BL drawings. Konno teased Hato’s ugly drawing despite his intention to become an artist. Hato’s older brother, Yuichirou used to pick him and Kaminaga back. He didn’t understand about Kaminaga’s BL fantasies and asserts he is not into this gay stuff. Kaminaga loved BL stuffs so much so she even starts having BL fantasies of the brothers. One day Kaminaga forgot to bring her BL drawings back so Hato spotted them and looked through them in the toilet. He is of course amazed. When he returns, he sees Konno looking for them. Realizing it is in his hands, Hato reveals he likes BL stuffs. Konno gets the wrong idea that he looked through those BL drawings in the toilet. Soon the atmosphere in the art club changed. Hato hardly attends it and by the time Kaminaga graduated, rumours spread throughout school that he is gay. Konno is inconsolable and blames herself that it is her fault for telling her club members about Hato looking through BL stuffs in the toilet and thus led him to cross-dress. Hato assures her she is still the same person despite her different outside appearance. Kaminaga says if Hato really wanted to see her pictures, all she had to do was ask. She wonders if she was displaying drawings of hers, why did they mistake Hato for Kaminaga? Ogiue explains that Hato comes as a boy but only dresses so in Genshiken. Hato has switches outfits so people won’t identify her and one of them looked very much like Kaminaga. Kaminaga is impressed and would really like to see it but Konno thinks she’s being rude. She hints a reason why Hato would dress like her. It is because Hato always liked her.

Hato explains she always looked up to her and wanted to be like her (in BL terms). However as noted by Konno, in the end Yuichirou ended up with Kaminaga. What is she trying to imply? As Kaminaga puts it, a macho big brother with a girlfriend while a quiet and delicate little brother cross-dresses to look like his big brother’s girl. So? Hato wants to be like Kaminaga and be loved by Yuichirou! Hats off for her fantastic BL imagination… Even Ogiue and Hato nods in agreement and starts discussing the kind of story they can set for this. With both sides making amends, Kaminaga says they can start over as fellow fujoshi. She informs that she will get married to Yuichirou next spring. This is the reason she came here as Yuichirou wanted her to tell Hato personally. This means Kaminaga would be living in their house and can observe the brothers in their natural activity! Anything can fuel her BL imagination. Kaminaga adds that looking back, she thinks Yuichirou might have known how Hato felt. Kaminaga asks one final question. If Hato cross-dresses and likes BL, won’t her sexuality change? She says she just likes the genre but isn’t into guys. Kaminaga says that is a common line in BL. Especially, “I’m not in guys. I’m into you!”. Wondering if there is anybody who knows Hato’s real identity and yet hangs out with him. Yeah. It might be Madarame. Oh, here he is stumbling out from hiding behind the pillar before hiding back again. He was tasked by the girls to eavesdrop on them (since the cosplayers cannot leave the room). He has been making excuses why he can’t get near. Suzy tried pushing him but he won’t budge. Till she gave the ultimate move: A kiss on his cheek! He almost had a heart attack and reprimands Suzy. Then he has a bad feeling. Yup. Saki saw it and calls him a lolicon.

Episode 11
Hato sees Konno and Fuji off while Saki returns to the rest. Kousaka isn’t with her as he is in some game tournament. From what I hear, seems Tanaka and Oono are dating and the former isn’t sure of starting up a cosplay business. Annoying Keiko is also here to give her business cards to the guys. She had to point out she gave one to Madarame but he didn’t come at all. Saki says he wouldn’t. Because he’s a lolicon and a loser. She also mentions how he rejected Angela. This only proves he is a lolicon, no? Hato tries to vouch for Madarame. She did clean his room and find some eroges lying around. Keiko then discovers Hato is a guy and tries to flip her skirt just for prove! She insists on a proof so Hato whispers in her ear her manly voice. Saki thinks how popular Madarame has become. Suzy, Hato, Angela and even Keiko. She thinks of teasing him and mentions about the S&M game he had. Of course Hato tries to cover for him and mentions she didn’t find anything while cleaning his room. Try searching harder. Madarame is confident they won’t find anything no matter where they search till he realizes something. And then Hato also realizes. Dead giveaway. Something fishy… Remember Saki’s cosplay photos? Yeah. That. When Hato whispers to Madarame about this, he bolts from the room. She goes to find him and Keiko bugs Hato to tell what she exactly said. She can guess it’s something about Madarame liking Saki. Hato wonders if this is an open secret so she tells her. Keiko couldn’t believe her ass. Keiko hatches a devilish plan. Why don’t they make Madarame tell her that himself. Hato is thinking about his feelings and doesn’t want this forced upon him. Keiko blames Hato as the one for starting this and wrecked any chance of Madarame’s wish of wanting things to stay the same. Because it’s tiring to keep a secret that everyone already knows. Madarame is an idiot and can’t deal with it. That’s why he ran away.

Keiko and Hato find Saki and Madarame respectively to let them talk alone in the clubroom. Oh, Sasahara and Kousaka in cosplay are there. Surprise? Oh. Kousaka won the tournament. Kousaka and Sasahara return to the rest. They wonder if Kousaka is okay with Saki and Madarame alone. He is. Because he likes Madarame too. Doesn’t that give off the wrong impression? When the duo are alone, we see Madarame sweating in his pants and nervous while Saki is just cool. He tries to hint but is she playing dumb? Since Madarame is just nervous, Saki starts off talking about old times. Like how he first teased her by putting cat ears on her and probably thought he likes her. There’s the hint. Madarame thinks back wondering if that was the first time he liked her. It couldn’t be. Because it was when he first saw her cosplaying. He is in a dilemma to tell her. What is the use of doing so if you well know you’re going to get rejected? So he says it was her nose hair sticking out back then. He wasn’t brave enough to say it so it was easier to pretend he had forgotten. Is that what he really wanted to say with tears in his eyes? She’s okay with it. She adds she has Kousaka now and can’t be with him. Asking if Kousaka wasn’t around, would it have been him? Saki hints they might have a future together. Madarame felt a huge relief. It’s like the burden was lifted off his shoulders. Saki then suddenly starts crying. It’s like she’s relieved too. Those years she swore she wouldn’t act like she already knew but it just made her feel like she was hurting him. Madarame denies that was so. Now he knows Saki does cry easily and those days were indeed fun.

Episode 12
The duo emerge from the room and Saki admits that Madarame confessed and she rejected him. Keiko pesters Saki for details. Madarame wonders about the cosplay pictures about her. It’s up to him. In that case, he’ll keep it. He wants to leave but Keiko forces him to go back to tell the rest of Genshiken. To Madarame’s dismay, it seems everyone in Genshiken knew about his crush on Saki. Kousaka surprises everyone by saying he thought this would happen. If it did, he hopes Madarame would love him too! Is that a line he took from that eroge’s harem route? Kousaka then has Ogiue, Hato, Oono and Saki cosplay as the girls from that eroge so that Madarame could have a group picture of them. When they part, Saki asks about Madarame’s work. He thinks of quitting. She tells him not to. But she hopes he will drop by the university from time to time. Because it may really unlock his harem route. Meanwhile Oono submits another cosplay request but the teacher warns her about her thesis since she still has not have secured any job after graduation. Oono is in a dilemma because she loves to cosplay and now it’s the peak season. At this rate she won’t be able to find a job till next year. Though Tanaka could pay for her, Oono wants to pay her own way. Even if she ends up being just a housewife. Yoshitake suggests doing a cosplay CD and earn some big money from it. Oono talks to Tanaka about her problems and he is encouraging and supportive of the decisions she will make although the future is still uncertain.

I guess Oono becomes desperate as she couldn’t secure a job so she decides to do a cosplay CD. She starts posing in erotic ways despite it was agreed they were striving for generally accepted atmosphere. Touched by his consideration, Oono starts posing even more erotic. Yajima couldn’t hold it any longer and tells the truth. It was all Yoshitake’s plan. She made Oono drink an entire bottle of sake, though initially it was supposed to be a bit but Oono was tough. Tanaka reminds her the dangers in doing a cosplay CD so she breaks down relating her problems in finding a job. He tries to comfort her but is being told by Yajima how edgy she is lately. He explains he got into cosplay business because of her. He came this far only by making outfits after outfits for her to wear. Whether he will work for a company or starts his own, he was planning to make cosplay his business. Despite the uncertain future, he will think of something and help her cosplay forever. So please wait for him. The rest quickly understood that Tanaka proposed to Oono. Oono is so happy that she decides to go back to school for another year and wait. Hope she isn’t serious in that. When the newbies return to the clubroom, they see Madarame hanging around. He just returned from Akihabara. On a weekday? What about work? He quit. He has decided to live a life of a loser. Hato seems to be feeling responsible so after she changes in his room, she rushes out and hugs him! She hopes he will not stop coming to the club. Madarame is taken aback with the sudden turn of events. Is his really happening? His harem route?

Episode 13
Suzy, Yajima and Yoshitake are at Madarame’s place and blaming him. Something must have happened because Hato stopped coming to the club and even his cross-dressing ways. It felt like Madarame’s job quit was a big deal for Hato. Suzy forces him to call Hato but the ex-cross-dresser did not pick up. Even Yajima spotted Hato (in boy form) at university but he quickly ran away. Clearly he doesn’t want to see them. Suzy then suggests a club trip to Karuizawa. All the Genshiken members (including Hato – they sent a telegram to him since he wasn’t picking up!) turn up and Madarame is the only ex-member. I suppose they have a plan. But Kuchiki can’t be naughty because Suzy is really mad… You don’t want to make her angry… At Karuizawa, seems Yoshitake becomes the tour guide and rants her extensive knowledge about those Sengoku generals she loves so much. Too much history… At the inn, Kuchiki thought he could satiate his anime needs as he has brought his laptop, WiFi, etc. Till Madarame points out there is no internet connection here. Bummer. The conversation between Madarame and Hato is awkward but at least they’re talking. When it is time to go to the hotspring, everyone would love Hato to come as a girl. Because Yajima is the only one who actually saw Hato’s ‘thing’ she has a hard time trying to object to that. She can’t explain it either or else. As usual, Yoshitake’s mind is too small for a big pervert like her. She even admits her fantasy train in her mind is out of control! Everyone takes a dip except for Ogiue who is talking to Hato. She relates how she was very embarrassed when she admitted to Sasahara she used him in her BL works. She had drawn dozens of them. In the end, she felt glad she was able to change. She asks if Hato regrets being here right now. Not really. And that is good enough. Kuchiki still wants to seduce Hato but before he could sneak up on him, Suzy gives the ultimate Street Fighter combo that knocks the daylights out of him. I want to know what buttons to press just to do that!!!

Girls talk in the hotspring. Touching boobs and the likes. Courtesy of Yoshitake. Nobody can control her. Madarame and Hato continue their talk. The latter asks his next plan in life. Find a job. Duh. Hato apologizes for everything and Madarame admitted that he had thoughts Hato stopped coming to his place to dress up for good to stop cross-dressing. Has he? Not sure. He thinks he has to at some point. Why? Because things will change. Everyone too. Like how Madarame did on his job. He dismisses it was related to it this way and that Hato is a genuine otaku. That part of him won’t change. Everyone has their own fetish. It is not important if he cross-dresses or not. If he wants to, go ahead. Otherwise, don’t. Keep it simple. Back in the room, Kuchiki has horrifying thoughts about his blackout. He thinks he has been kidnapped by aliens and being conducted experiments on! Well, Suzy is the alien. And she suggests of continuing the dissection! Everybody votes for Hato to cross-dress as a girl. They prefer him/her that way. Besides, didn’t Hato bring all the necessary stuffs? And so we welcome back female Hato for the first time making her appearance in this episode. Even Yajima approves. Although she is still against cross-dressing but has gotten used to Hato’s ways. Then everyone discusses what to do for next year’s festival and other club activities. Cheeky Suzy prepared a futon side by side for Madarame and Hato. Too bad idiotic Kuchiki had to ruin it when he drops ‘dead’ on it. The club trip continues. Everyone had their fun before heading back. Hato seems happier.

OVA
This takes place before the newbies join Genshiken and I suppose it’s to give the older members of Genshiken some screen time. Back to the time when Suzy and Angela visited Japan and meet up with Genshiken for the ComiFest. It somewhat explains why Suzy and Ogiue are close to each other. Seems Suzy stayed at Ogiue’s place and since she speaks nothing but Japanese anime lines, it was hard for Ogiue trying to figure out things. The ‘epic’ things that I remember about Suzy is how she punched Sasahara in the guts, requesting to wear Ogiue’s shima pantsu when she gets out of the bath and finding the hidden stack of Ogiue’s hidden drawings behind the shelf. And the most surprising thing? She can actually understand Japanese! Much to Ogiue’s frustration. The second half sees the gang heading to Naritasan for New Year’s Day. The group splits itself into 2. Ogiue, Sasahara, Madarame, Kugayama and Suzy decide to pay their respects at the shrine while the rest follow Kuchiki via some alley shortcut to some drinking bar. Epic scene: Suzy forcing Madarame to let her ride on his shoulder. Meanwhile the girls are getting drunk at the bar and making fun of Kuchiki who has been out cold. It’s getting out of control. So when Ogiue’s group stops for tea at a rest area, the drinking spree has just gotten worse. Especially with Oono going on a rampage. Madarame excuses himself to go to toilet but gets lost. Tanaka finds Ogiue’s group and brings them to the bar. At that time, Kuchiki has been stripped! Saki excuses herself to the toilet and bumps into Madarame. She collapses but he catches her. Actually she wants to go to the toilet. After that, they walk back to the bar before proceeding to watch the sunrise. When Suzy flies back to America, Ogiue realizes she has stolen something from her: Her panties.

The Society For The Study Of BL And Yaoi Culture
I can’t say I am impressed in any sort of way. For one thing, I don’t seem to understand where this season is leading and can’t make any head or tail of it. I might not remember much about the original Genshiken series but I remember the quirky characters and the otaku parodies that made the club so. But then again, it’s perhaps their way of doing things. So what happens to everyone in the end? Life goes on. Pretty generic. Maybe it is because I am not really a knowledgeable person in the otaku world so I don’t really understand the tiff between Hato and Madarame in the end. Was it that careless uke statement that led up to all this and him quitting his job whatsoever? I can’t seem to connect the dots even if it’s staring at my face so please, somebody tell me what’s going on. Oh, I’m too lazy to even do my own research since like I said, I wasn’t impressed. Therefore I’m not interested. Really. So in the end, everything was like, meh. Hato (or whoever that character we’ve been put in the shoes of as first person view) returns to the club. Yay. Hooray. Happy ending. Good for everyone. Read, sarcasm.

Seems like Genshiken has pretty much changed since I last know them. There is no more that familiarity anymore. At least some of the obvious parts. Last time it was male majority but now it is pretty much female dominated. Not counting the old members, Kuchiki is the only true guy in the club. Hato? Erm… So girly that I am starting to believe he is more of a girl than a guy. Also, the club has somewhat turned into a BL club with almost everyone seemingly having a fair love for that topic. Some are more passionate than others who would prefer to probably be a closet fujoshi. I don’t think Kuchiki is into BL but his initially weird personality towards Hato could mean that he prefers having BL relationship in real life instead of being confined to his imagination. I don’t remember Oono being into BL as she is more into cosplay. Oh yeah. She is into bald old men… To each his/her own. Maybe Genshiken should change its name to something like Ya-Ken-Bu. Hmm… Doesn’t even sound good. There are a good amount of BL scenes (courtesy of Hato’s fantasies of changing in Madarame’s room and those eroges) and drawings (courtesy of female Hato going wild and extreme as an unstoppable BL drawing machine) to make you believe this is a BL themed anime but stops short of showing anything suggestive. If it does, the good ol’ mosaic will perfectly do its job.

A big chunk of this season seems to focus on Hato and Madarame. At least that is how I viewed it. About Hato’s cross-dressing conundrum and possible his/her confused feelings for Madarame. That guy too seems to have lingering feelings all because of Saki and I suppose it is good that he finally gets it out of his system and settled it once and for all. He wasn’t the prankster I knew him and somewhat toned down very much. Maybe life has really got to him. Hato is a bit hard to understand. I know he wants to be accepted for who he is without hurting anyone. So much so I think he has developed some sort of personality disorder. Especially when he is in boy form, his female alter ego can be seen hanging around him like a fairy trying to provoke this guy into embracing yaoi and doing all that lewd stuffs that is only limited as far as her wild imagination can take her. But when his female side takes over in reality, she’s quite shy and so girly that in your wildest dream you would never have thought she was a guy. A nightmare if you find out.

The other new characters are rather okay. At least with enough screen time it makes you feel like they’ve already been long part of the club. Yajima hardly ever smiles so much so I don’t remember she ever did. It’s like that grumpy looks is always part of her face and the only other emotion besides that gruffly moody exterior is when she flusters thinking she might have said the wrong thing or made the wrong decision. But that hardly is any different from that moody look too. Yoshitake can be labelled as the cheeky and mischievous one and even surpassing Suzy. Well, we all already accepted Suzy is kind of weird so no matter what she does, it won’t be a surprise. It’s like that girl has is crazy but not crazy enough to qualify to be put into a mental asylum. And there you have it. Suzy running around free in the campus and saying lines that don’t make sense for half of the time. But for Yoshitake, she is like riot if left alone and uncontrolled. Maybe that’s why Yajima is always with her. I kinda noticed that they’re like a pair in this sense. Could be a potential manzai comedy duo if they ever decide to get into this after graduation. I wonder what happened to Yabusaki after the ComiFest. She got kicked out and then what? It’s like she’s tsundere for Genshiken especially Ogiue but won’t admit it because of her pride and perhaps well, she’s tsundere. From my observation, I think Suzy also has this particular liking for Ogiue because of the way she blatantly says Ogiue belongs to her. Like her panties. Konno, Fuji and Kaminaga’s cameo appearance felt like it was just to push forth Hato’s past and story and let this series go somewhere.

Other old returning characters besides Madarame feel okay too. It’s like they have matured from the last time. Ogiue as the latest Genshiken president doesn’t feel like she had an impact overall in the series since Madarame and Hato hogged the spotlight. I felt her significance took a serious impact ever since she got sick during ComiFest. Oono, she’s still there doing fine and Kuchiki another weirdo but falls into the loser category. I thought he had the potential to be the funny guy even though it would be annoying but like I said, Madarame and Hato hogged everything so this guy is one of those who doesn’t have any important scenes unless it is for comic relief. The fool of the club. Feel free to ignore him as you wish. Other ex-Genshiken members pop up from time to time perhaps just to tell us they’re still attached to the club even after graduating and to make it feel like it was yesterday once more. Because new characters and different people might change our perspectives of the old entirely.

Saki oddly I remember her as the only Genshiken member who hates otaku activities but is forced to hang out in the club because of Kousaka. She’s willing to go this far for love? Don’t blame her. Here, Saki exudes an air of maturity. She even looks matured into a lady instead of that young adult look. She’s still cool and you can’t easily take her for a fool. Of course just like any other girl, also cries and feels insecure. She just doesn’t show it. Kousaka remains cool too and I don’t remember him getting upset ever. It’s like he is a very understanding guy but has no qualms doing cross-dressing. All part of being an otaku? Not much scenes for Sasahara unless it involves Ogiue but their love story may be reserved for another day (or another season). I don’t remember Tanaka being into cosplay because I thought he was into plastic models, though I barely remember he is also a cosplay designer. But then again, I don’t really know him that well. Worse appearance of the old school Genshiken members goes to Kugayama. So unnoticeable that you may think he is just some furniture following the rest. Haha! Oops. I think there was even a time in the next episode preview that Kugayama was worried if he would make more appearances. Not that I noticed. Even if he did, it didn’t make any lasting impact. Oh wait. Remember the first mysterious president of Genshiken? Don’t remember him? Neither do I. And Angela… Her brief return was possibly the flag that led to how the rest of this season is played out. Keiko is a little daring. I wonder if her failure to get her hands on Kousaka causes her to shift to Madarame. Or maybe she just enjoys teasing him. That’s because she likes him, right?

The romance feels on and off and doesn’t amount to anything much. Not at least what I thought it would be. It makes me wonder if Hato really likes Madarame or maybe it is just his BL fantasies. Then of course the season ended with Madarame closing the chapter of his secret crush on Saki. Sasahara and Oguie’s relationship felt like it didn’t go anywhere. Not at least I can see. They’re still the same as before, both pretty much occupied and busy with their own stuffs. I’m not sure if there is any headway in Saki and Kousaka’s relationship but I suppose there should be since they’re still going strong together and Saki learning to accept Kousaka’s odd fetish for cosplaying and even as a trap. I wonder if Kousaka is a bi because from the way he ambiguously put things, it’s like he is okay with either side. Tanaka and Oono seem to be going somewhere though it is just hinting. Just thinking about Ogiue-Suzy got me thinking if this will ever turn into something yuri. Ironic. Yuri in a yaoi club? It also got me thinking at the possibility of Madarame getting a harem. I know it won’t happen but imagine if it did. That won’t feel like Genshiken anymore…

Watching the art and drawing style for this season, it seems there are some changes. Although the obvious is not much but you can tell there is a difference. From what I can see, Nidaime’s art style follows closely of the manga. Something that animes these days are getting pretty much into. Personally, I thought it lacks that ‘refined beauty’ that I saw first in the prequels. Not to say the previous Genshiken’s series had quite excellent art but this season’s one seems simpler than before. For instance, Oono’s hairstyle once reminded me that she popped up from some Japanese ghost horror movie since her bangs are quite messy. Now her black flowing hair looks pretty mild here. Some of the characters look pretty odd especially Konno and Fuji. Look at their eyes. Konno’s eyes are so big like as though she came out from an American comic strip while Fuji has bug eyes. Creepy? Yajima looks so frumpy that I really thought this woman was a guy and thus I was annoyed about the mismatch of her voice to the character. Then she turns out to be female. Yikes. I thought Fuji too looked very manly but the scrawny type. Suzy is already so odd that the crazy looks befit her and it passes without me having to feel weird about her. The bags underneath Kaminaga’s eyes, I thought she looked very much like To Aru Kagaku No Railgun’s Kiyama.

An aspect that is totally changed is the voice acting department. Every character has been given a new seiyuu to voice! For instance, I remember Ayako Kawasumi was the voice behind Oono. Now she is replaced with Yukana (C.C. In Code Geass). I know it feels odd at first but I got used to it. But the good thing is that despite they sound different, they sound as close as possible to the character. But you can still tell the difference. The replaced casts include Nozomi Yamamoto as Ogiue (Yukimura in Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai), Rina Satou as Saki (Haruka in Minami-ke), Jun Fukuyama as Kuchiki (Grell in Kuroshitsuji), Naomi Oozora as Suzy (Yuragi in Noukome), Ikumi Hayama as Keiko Tatsuya (Shinobu in To Aru Kagaku No Railgun S), Kazuyuki Okitsu as Madarame (Tasuku in Seikon No Qwaser), Momoko Ohara as Kousaka (Miyashita in Mitsudomoe), Kobashi as Sasahara (Jack Roland in Strait Jacket), Takayuki Kondo as Tanaka (Oishi in Prince Of Tennis) and Misa Kobayashi as Angela. As for the new ones, Yumi Uchida as Yajima (Nagisa in A Channel), Sumire Uesaka as Yoshitake (Tamaki in GJ-Bu), Shou Saotome as Risa, Yuri Yamaoka as Konno (Choi in Tamako Market) and Risa Taneda as Fuji (Xenovia in High School DxD New). Hato’s character has been given 2 seiyuus to reflect the gender that character is in. Ai Kakuma (Hikari in Campione) does the female version while Kazutomi Yamamoto (Yoshida in Blood Lad) takes on the male version. Oh, there’s a pleasant cameo by Mamiko Noto as Kaminaga.

The anime rock outfit opening theme, Genshi, Joshi Wa, Taiyou Datta by Sumire Uesaka has cute opening lyrics. The ending theme, Aoku Yureteiru sung by the seiyuus of Ogiue, Hato, Yajima and Yoshitake sounds like a generic anime pop. As usual, there are lots of trivia for you to see. I have spotted a few myself and though it is just a fraction of the anime culture shown, I am proud of my achievement! See if you can tally up some of them here as I did on Anime News Network. Oh, the in-anime show of Kujibiki Unbalance is not seen here. Unless you consider those cameo cosplay pictures like the photos of Saki in Madarame’s hands as one.

The point is everyone is their own otaku in their own way. Nobody has the right to tell you what is good and what is not for you. Although what they say is not really your business anyway. Freedom of speech and expression, I’d say. Then again, you have to consider the laws and moral implications especially about cross-dressing. Sure you’re fine, your close friends are fine but what about everybody else? Can’t say it’s none of their business, right? Only way is to make otaku culture mainstream if you want the people around the world to wholeheartedly accept. So can we start off by saying otaku culture isn’t for geeks, perverts or losers in life. Otaku culture is the new way of life!

Genshiken

December 19, 2009

If you want to have an idea of the life of doujin otakus, then I suppose Genshiken would be a good example. I’m not saying that this is how every otaku in Japan live out their lives, but this series gives us a glimpse of the challenges they face and the things they do. As we all know that anime and manga is currently a booming trend worldwide and is considered one of Japan’s most successful exports. If not, the number one all time thriving exports.
 
This series focuses on a group of university students who share the same passion and hobby which is no other than you know what. In a way, the characters here in terms of age are a little older as compared to most animes that I have seen who are usually around middle or high school. Thus in Shiiou University, there is a club called Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenkyuukai which literally means "The Society For The Study Of Modern Visual Culture", or Genshiken for short. As far as I am concern, this club with little members seek to bridge the connection between anime, manga and game.
 
While watching this series, there are some cultural and otaku references and terms here albeit not as heavy as parodied series like Gintama, so if you are a blur case like me, you won’t get to understand them. Even if the fansubbers did a good job in prompting some of the lines, for me it was just the knowledge of being exposed to it. I’m not that hardcore by the way. Also, due to copyright reasons, some of the famous animes of course have been ‘renamed’. Want to know what Code Geass, Slam Dunk or Gundam is in this series? Watch to find out.
 
When I first watched the first episode, I thought I was watching the wrong series and was taken surprise with the prologue and different opening credits and animation. Yeah, I thought I was watching Kujibiki Unbalance! I later found out that this an anime series made for this series itself and in the story, Kujian (that’s what it is famously known as in short form) is quite a popular series. Remember just like Densha Otoko and Getsumen To Heiki Miina? Due to the popularity of the former, it was enough to create a spin-off series for the latter. In which in this case is also true. But we’ll save that story for another day. Over the series, you can see clips of Kujian being played on the TV screen in the Genshiken club and the members discussing on it.
 
So back to the story proper, our main protagonist, Kaniji Sasahara, is a shy freshmen and is coming to terms with his inner otaku. He follows some note in his book which leads to the Genshiken club. But he is having a hard time due to his shy nature but eventually manages to pluck up his courage and ask for information. Elsewhere, another freshie, Saki Kasukabe, is telling off some guy who is trying to hit on her but seems to be attracted at first sight to another guy. Soon she realizes that this guy, Makoto Kousaka, is her childhood friend and you know, she is interested in being his girlfriend. Finally as Sasahara is outside the doorstep of the Genshiken club (such a gloomy and dilapidated place. And I’m talking about the whole university’s corridors!), Kousaka approaches him and wonders if he’s a member but his reply is that he’s just checking out. Upon entering, we see the other Genshiken members but they seem to ignore Sasahara, letting him do what he wants while they carry on their own thing. Soon, one by one each one leaves the room and Sasahara is left all alone. As they say curiosity kills the cat, Sasahara checks out the shelves and cabinet filled with erotic stuff. I guess any guy would ‘enjoy’ such stimulants. Then everyone else comes back and that is when Sasahara realized that this is all a setup. Yup, caught red handed in the act reading porn! So one of the guys asks him if he would consider joining when Saki comes in. Sasahara thinks she is one of them but she punches him in the face! WOAH! She is pissed that he groups her with the rest of the otakus when she herself hates such creatures!
 
I guess it is natural that after experiencing such events, Sasahara is still in a dilemma whether to join or not. So he and Kousaka had a chat and the latter thinks he fits in nicely. Kousaka also mentions that Saki isn’t really her girlfriend but someone who likes to hang around him a lot. Get a hint, pal. So Kousaka invites Sasahara to play some video games back at his home and soon the other Genshiken guys drop by and join the fun. Then Kousaka receives a call from Saki wanting to come over. Sasahara realizes that Saki wants to spend time alone with Kousaka so he and the other Genshiken guys leave as he tells Saki to come over. Saki does and the good news is that she has Kousaka all to herself. The bad news: He is more interested in playing his video games. Bummer.
 
How is that for a start? So let me introduce the Genshiken members. First, we have the mysterious president of Genshiken whom I shall only refer as Kaichou. He has that enigmatic and stealthy presence and perhaps because of his weird face, I have an impression he is an alien. Maybe I watch too much animes. Then there is the bespectacled and skinny Harunobu Madarame, the most hardcore otaku among them all and I think there is potential for him to be the ‘interesting’ one of the pack. Not forgetting the huge sized and stammering Mitsunori Kugayama and the cosplay designer and plastic models expert, Souichirou Tanaka. Now the most amusing one is of course Saki. Considering how she hates otakus, she always seems to hang out at Genshiken, claiming to wait for her so called boyfriend. Furthermore, she sometimes helps out the club while hiding it behind some excuse though I feel she genuinely isn’t interested in the club. It’s ironic, isn’t it? Her boyfriend is totally one and I always wonder why she doesn’t leave him after all the attempts to get his attention. I mean, Kousaka is pretty much a dense guy in a way that he doesn’t understand Saki’s feelings for him. But you can’t hate that guy because he is honest and is always polite and smiling. Hmm… Maybe that’s why Saki liked him. And I hope she’d realize it will be futile to try and change and otaku. Wanna prove that love is greater and that appearance doesn’t count? Yeah, unless you can tolerate all the frustration and otaku terms and jargons…
 
In episode 2, the Genshiken members (Madarame, Tanaka and Kugayama) take Sasahara to Akihabara to let him experience his first taste of the world of doujinshi. So in the doujin bookstore, with the wide variety, it’s understandable that it’s hard to choose which one. Well, everything would be perfect but since you have a limited budget… As for Saki, that girl is yet in another attempt to get closer to Kousaka by going out shopping with him. He’s still an otaku at the end of the day… Later Saki tells the other members how she found eroge in Kousaka’s room and doesn’t like a bit of it. So the other members give their reasons why it is acceptable in the world of anime. The truth is always horrifying, Saki. Then when they learn how Saki and Kousaka are childhood friends, they get amazed and start to fantasize how attractive Saki is since she is a living example of a real life anime reference of childhood friends.
 
If you want to know how scary the sea of people lining up just to enter the ComiFes (the world’s largest self publication comic fair), you can have an idea in episode 3. The Genshiken members are waiting in line in the crowded place when Madarame’s hyper activeness causes him to slip and injure his hand. He tries to act tough like as though nothing happened because I think he would rather die rather than miss out on the fair after coming all the way here. Too bad he is no Superman. Though he tolerates the pain, eventually he gives in and has to be wheeled to hospital. Don’t worry, the guys will back you up and buy your share. Sasahara continues with his buying spree and possibly that experience visit to the doujin shop helped. During his spree, he meets Haraguchi, a member of Shiiou University’s Manga Club. Now this Haraguchi guy is one character everyone loves to hate. He is self imposing, obnoxious and his smooth talking seems to hint a form of intimidation into submission. Haraguchi is trying to persuade Sasahara into joining his club but since he is badmouthing the Genshiken members, Sasahara politely refuses and that he is fine with Genshiken. So in the end, Sasahara thinks that he may fit in after all.
 
Tanaka suggests Kousaka and Saki to cosplay in episode 4 but as usual Saki refuses. Don’t want to be embarrassed, eh? Yeah, she’s frequenting the place so often that I guess it’s natural for the rest to assume she’s a member. Just then, a girl with long black hair and busty proportions, Kanako Oono, comes in interested to join the club. She just returned from USA. It can’t be more bad timing for Saki because she can’t believe a girl who enjoys cosplaying and Oono loves doing them, making Tanaka happy. She agrees to cosplay for the club for the upcoming cultural festival. However, Saki doesn’t mind taking measurements for Oono. Saki arrives at Oono’s place and finds out she likes bald men! To each her own… Though Oono is embarrassed, Saki pretends that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Soon Tanaka is taking photos of Oono cosplaying as Guilty Gear X’s Cloudberry Jam while Saki gets a call from her ex-boyfriend who wants to patch things up. When they meet up, Saki tells him that she isn’t interested in him and thankfully that guy understands. Then Madarame puts a nekomimi on Saki and though the crowd finds her cute (including Kousaka), upset Saki starts chasing him. But the turning point is when she bumps into her ex-boyfriend since he is looking around the festival. Yeah, imagine what he would think since he thought she hated otakus. Uh huh. Saki goes berserk. Unleash your violent fury! You guys are so dead.
 
The Genshiken club is threatened to be closed down in episode 5 because they have not been active in holding activities. Well, what do you expect? Bumming around all day long in the room. Saki is happy because the closure of this club means Kousaka will no longer have to come here. However Haraguchi comes in and implies of having Kousaka join his club so this pisses off Saki a lot as she takes Oono to go see the student council. The vice president, Yurie Kitagawa, explains the misuse of the club and due to the lack of space in the university with the mushrooming of other clubs. You can tell Saki and Kitagawa aren’t going to get on good terms. Smell a cat fight. Meow! Saki isn’t going to give up so when she learns from Kaichou how Kitagawa got athlete’s foot, she goes to the student council office and blackmails her with this information. However it ended up like some love story because it seems Kitagawa and the student council president ended up confessing their love together and he doesn’t care about her athlete’s foot. Yeah, Saki seems to have unwittingly helped in bringing the couple together. In the end, Genshiken club is saved and because Kaichou subtly hint about Saki’s passionate encounter with Kousaka (now her turn to get blackmailed!), Saki suddenly announces that she is joining Genshiken, surprising everyone else. Surprise, surprise. It is odd to see how Saki personally went to fight for the continued existence of Genshiken while the other members were like bumming around doing nothing till the last minute when everything is cleared up.
 
Saki tries to be more attractive to Kousaka so as to get his attention away from video games in episode 6. After he hugs her, her happiness turns to despair when he says there’s an anime he NEEDS to watch. Bummer. Looks like he doesn’t need you. So she gets advice from Madarame and he suggests playing a game and start it off with a Tetris-like game. So that night when Saki challenges Kousaka to a duel, she lost so badly that she cried alone underneath the blanket and vowed never to touch a game ever! Pitiful. Did I mention that Kousaka is a game expert? Don’t mess with him even if he looks calm all the way. Later Sasahara gets a call from his sister Keiko to meet up and the guys are all abuzz but he says that his sister isn’t what they think. Indeed he is right. The gang trails Sasahara to the train station. We see Keiko not only a fashion disaster (too much make-up!) but her attitude stinks. The siblings are so contrasting in character. Keiko is demanding some money from Sasahara. Then Kousaka passes by and Keiko thinks of hitting on him! Not when Saki is around. Yeah, Kousaka displays a large poster of some eroge character because Keiko wanted to see it. Saki, oh Saki… To add salt to injury, that night as Saki and Kousaka are to get intimate, Saki sees that poster right on the ceiling above his bed. Ouch…
 
Kaichou thinks of graduating and hands over his position of the club to Madarame in episode 7. Finally getting serious, eh? Also, the Genshiken club is receiving 2 potential new members. They are the beardy Sawazaki and a noisy joker Manabu Kuchiki. Of course Saki doesn’t like them and tries to discourage them from joining by setting lots of condition for those losers. This includes trying to scare them off. Hey wait a minute. If she wants this club to close down by dwindling its members, what the heck she was doing several episodes ago trying to save it? Some may call it hypocrisy… Anyway even if they aren’t members yet, the rest holds a welcoming party for them at a restaurant. There, we see Oono getting drunk and all over Saki, Sawazaki trying to hit on Saki but the latter knows and isn’t interested while Kuchiki, erm, let’s just say he’s just eating and being too noisy. Can somebody shut this guy up! Since Sawazaki is still trying, Saki suggests playing a game with Kousaka and if he wins, she’ll kiss him or else he will have to leave. This guy doesn’t know the trouble he is getting into. Saki is such a sly girl. Kousaka beats Sawazaki flat. The next day at university, I guess the 2 new recruits didn’t materialize because when Sawazaki saw Saki and Kousaka together, he remembers the embarrassing moment of loss and walks away. On the other hand, when Kuchiki sees them, he remembers the time he embarrassed himself at the restaurant toilet singing some song. He walks away too. Yeah, Saki, your plan seems to be working even if it wasn’t your doing.
 
In episode 8, Tanaka is teaching Sasahara and Oono the finer points in assembling the plastic models. Saki doesn’t know what the hype is all about and couldn’t care less. Everyone is worried on the way she is handling it and true enough, she accidentally drops and breaks one of Tanaka’s models. Everybody safeguard your models! Don’t let her touch them! Soon Kitagawa tells them that she has received complaints from other clubs because they are using thinners to paint their models. So they go paint them outside in which Kitagawa isn’t pleased too. Expect another Saki-Kitagawa spat. Oono and Sasahara complete their models and Saki request to have a look at Oono’s. The guys are reluctant but Oono allows. Their fears come true when Saki once again breaks a part of the model. Though she feels sorry and promises to buy another set, but it isn’t the money, but the time and effort put in. Something non-otakus would understand. Saki then promise to do anything to make it up to her. Anything she says? Yeah, Oono wants Saki to cosplay but she refuses. Ah, she was hoping something non-otaku, eh?
 
Episode 9 feels like a solo play between Madarame and Saki. Madarame comes into the club room only to find Saki alone. While Saki is quietly and calming reading, it is Madarame’s wild imagination that is going through his otaku head. Yeah, dating game simulations and scenarios, anyone? If real life was as easy as choosing the options onscreen, eh? Madarame’s paranoia has him trying to talk to Saki but was unsuccessful. He then spots a nose hair sticking out and his mind goes wild again, trying to think of ways to tell it to her. Finally he is going to pull it out and have her thank him via his refreshing handsome face (note, this is his imagination) but in reality Saki who is engrossed reading the manga saw a perverted monster face coming right at her instead. Naturally she gets freaked out and punches him away. Saki realizes what she has done and apologizes. Though his face is swollen, Madarame says it doesn’t hurt and manages to tell her about her nose hair. Maybe he should’ve played it cool and told her straight from the start.
 
The Genshiken members go to the beach in episode 10. Oh no. Keiko tags along too. She isn’t giving up on Kousaka yet. Uh huh. Saki is going to have a tough time distancing her while Kousaka is as dense as ever. Is he that blur, doesn’t mind or doesn’t care? As for the other guys, they are just sitting under the parasol discussing anime. Isn’t that no different than in the club room? Eventually they all get out from the shade and have a taste of real mother nature. As busy Saki is trying to prevent Keiko from getting close to Kousaka, she ends up helping her when Keiko bumps into her harassing ex-boyfriend. Later Keiko gets an idea on how to attract Kousaka so she forces Sasahara to help her be a hardcore otaku. You know, you can’t actually turn hardcore overnight. This includes following the guys to ComiFes. Yeah, Saki has to tag along just to be sure Kousaka don’t fall into her trap. The girls experience the hell in which all otaku considers to be normal. In the end, they’re both exhausted and realize that they are not each other’s enemy but anime. Saki relates her experience of dating an otaku and even says how the key to their relationship is letting the otaku do their hobby from time to time. Look who’s talking. She sure can put up with all that. So Keiko, are you willing to go the distance?
 
Saki flex her authoritative muscle in episode 11 by ordering the Genshiken members to clean up their messy club room by throwing away all those useless stuff. I can’t believe they listen to her even if they are reluctant. After putting all the boxes at the storage area, Saki has thoughts of burning them as she lights her lighter. Must be her inner hate. But even if she doesn’t eventually, when she realizes, the whole area is on fire! Everyone tries to put out the fire. Saki sees a nearby pail, takes it and splashes it towards the spreading fire. I don’t know why but Oono is standing right there and takes the splash. I wonder what weird liquid was in that pail… Though the fire is put out (Kitagawa called the fire department!), the student council bans the club from using their room until further notice. Saki feels sorry as Oono starts to feel sick. Oono will forgive her on 1 condition. Saki must cosplay in her place. Oh the horror. She tries to give excuses but since everyone is putting the blame on her, she has no choice but to agree. On the day of the event, Saki cosplays as Ritsuko from Kujian and astounds the spectators. To Saki’s horror, she sees Kitagawa among the crowd and she is laughing! It must seem like an eternity for Saki on stage. Saki then spots a pervert secretly recording up the girls’ skirt on stage. She goes down, slaps him and reveals his unholy intention. Everyone’s applause surprises Saki. Finally as Saki is giving statements to the police officer, he seems to take a liking for her outfit, in which she is still in. Kitagawa still giggling…
 
In episode 12, Saki continues to feel guilty for what has happened to Genshiken. Shouldn’t she be happy? I guess it made her look like the baddie in this case. However Madarame’s careless blame statement has gone too far so much so Saki actually cries! No crocodile tears. Kousaka apologizes and comforts her while Madarame reflects on his actions. Having been banned for 10 weeks, the Genshiken members have to undergo various community services as punishment. However, this coincides with their winter ComiFes. So the only person who is free is Saki. If she wasn’t feeling this guilty, she wouldn’t have run this errand as she musters up her courage to buy doujin stuff for the guys. Call it a blessing in disguise? When they get to use their club room again, Madarame decides to hand over his presidency to Sasahara since he is the most normal otaku of them all. Plus, Madarame intends of going on a job hunt. Can’t stay like this forever, eh? Still, an otaku has to be realistic. Sasahara is reluctant at first but accepts since the others support him. So as his first order as president, he wishes for the club to participate in the next ComiFes.
 
However this isn’t the end yet and though the next 3 episodes are OVA episodes, they are continuation from the first season. Episode 13 (OVA 1) has Genshiken getting 2 new members. Remember that Kuchiki guy? Yup, he’s back and officially joins them. Since he is still his noisy self, notice how he is always at the receiving end of Saki’s punch. Or rather, she likes taking it out on him. The other member would be Chika Ogiue. The gang first spot her when she jumps down from the 2nd floor of the Manga Club! Don’t worry, she survived. A Manga Club member, Takayanagi introduces Ogiue to Genshiken and tells how she and the other girls in the club didn’t get along and wonders if Genshiken would accept her (like shifting their problem to another club, eh?). Now, Ogiue is another amusing character. She claims to hate otakus, especially female otakus. Yup, she and Oono won’t get along. And you thought having Saki was bad enough. Note her horizontally standing side burns too. It isn’t long before she drives everyone up the wall. Oono devices a plan with the other guys to find out Ogiue’s true character. They are spying from opposite the building as Ogiue enters the club room alone. Another thing about Ogiue is that she is secretly a yaoi doujinshi! And she says she can’t see why girls love homo! The hypocrisy! Being embarrassed is another thing but to this extend? Ogiue is going to read a yaoi doujin when Saki comes in. This ruins Oono’s plan to find out what it is. Saki notices Ogiue’s yaoi doujin but the latter gives excuses. Then Ogiue’s fetish to yaoi has been exposed so she tries to give excuse that she was exposed to it from her friend since 5 years old. Then Oono comes in and the whole atmosphere turns cold. Ogiue doesn’t want Oono to learn about her yaoi fetish but Oono isn’t that dumb. As the ‘war’ escalates, Kuchiki comes in to show the girls that he has a picture of Ogiue lining up at a yaoi doujin line. In her embarrassment, Ogiue tries to jump out the window once more but luckily Saki restrains her.
 
I notice that Kaichou won’t be making anymore appearance. Graduated for good, eh? So in episode 14 (OVA 2), Saki is seen ‘advising’ Ogiue on her fashion sense. Later Saki notices Madarame’s square-shaped glasses and laughs out loud. Though he felt he wanted a little change, he wonders if it’s good. So this episode is basically Madarame in a dilemma shopping for clothes and whether he should change his outlook appearance or not. Not to mention the price tag too. Yeah, that guy even gets some tips from Saki while dining at a sushi restaurant. So when Madarame enters the club room with the clothes he recently bought and to his surprise, Saki gives the green light. However, Ogiue comes in and surprises everyone with a weird fashion combo. And Saki isn’t amused…
 
Episode 15 (OVA 3) has Oono doing a cosplay shoot for the university festival. Of course Ogiue isn’t fond of it and dismissed the idea, upsetting Oono. Tension… Plus, Oono isn’t pleased to find Tanaka has been making cosplay outfits for other people. Ogiue perhaps? Well, those outfits don’t fit Oono’s size. But she forgives him. Then minutes before the shoot, cheeky Saki plans to get Ogiue to cosplay and smooth talks hesitant Ogiue into doing so. Better to take it out on someone else, eh? Yeah, Saki is like I’m not trying to make you cosplay but merely to put it in front of you so that I could see how you look like in the mirror. Oono realizes what Saki is doing and strongly advices not to force someone to cosplay. Well, Saki was forced into it last time, right? Eventually Ogiue has to because if she doesn’t strip Saki will… Meanwhile the guys are discussing how Ogiue and Oono don’t get along with each other and even bet among each other if Ogiue will cosplay or not. Kousaka and Tanaka bet she will while the rest against. Then it is time for Oono’s shoot so Saki and Ogiue come out and the latter is back in her usual clothes. The guys are surprised to learn from Saki that Ogiue cosplayed as Renko from Kujian. Ogiue gets embarrassed when she learns about the bet. In the end, Saki mentions that her intention was to bridge the gap between Oono and Ogiue and perhaps one day Ogiue might cosplay in front of the guys.
 
The otaku lives on as there is a second season called Genshiken 2 with a further 12 episodes. Long live otaku! So in episode 1, Sasahara learns that his club has been successfully admitted to participate in the upcoming ComiFes. Looks like they are going for a hentai doujinshi of Kujian. Kugayama and Ogiue will be the artist since both can draw while Oono plans to cosplay to help draw in sales. Sasahara also consults Takayanagi on printing matters. However, Haraguchi learns of Genshiken’s participation and makes his entrance to the club by offering his help. I thought this guy has graduated? Anyway, he insists on suggestions of how things should be done and even if Sasahara refuses them, he already moved his hand by calling several famous doujinshi artists to help out. He even ridicules them about their plan (something about masturbating which isn’t as good as real sex – Go lose your virginity for real? WTF?!). Finally Sasahara tells him off that they just want to do this at their own pace and not for the money. Sasahara also requests the numbers of the artists so that he could contact them and call off their help. Haraguchi then leaves and everyone is relieved. Good grief. After Sasahara obtains the numbers from Haraguchi, to his surprise, he learns that the artists hate Haraguchi as well. No one is. Yeah, he was like using Genshiken for his own selfish means.
 
However Sasahara is facing a crisis in episode 2. Looks like he and Kugayama are in a feud. It all happened when Kugayama gave excuses which delayed the completion of their work. Even if Sasahara volunteers to do the other job like editing and such, Kugayama just had some reason. Plus, Kugayama is the only one who has access to scanner and Photoshop facilities. Ogiue suggests helping out but Sasahara thinks she has done her part. And the deadline is looming. Seeing that the deadlock is not going anywhere and that Ogiue suddenly cries, Saki puts down her foot and instructs Sasahara, Kugayama and Ogiue to do the job. No buts. No sleep either. Would you want to go against her? Miraculously, they get to complete the job and send it for print. See, it isn’t so hard, isn’t it? I know, the first step is always the hardest. Hmm… What is this? Sasahara taking a little liking for Ogiue?
 
Genshiken’s first ComiFes participation starts in episode 3. So with the others manning their booth, Kuchiki will do the errands buying the other doujin work. Sasahara meets Takayanagi at the fair and true enough, Haraguchi is also here. Looks like he cheated his way in. He takes a look at Sasahara’s work then gives it back, not wanting to take one even if Sasahara offers him for free. That guy has to be insulting right till the very end. Later Kousaka cross-dresses as a female Kujian character and with Oono cosplaying too, this helps in attracting more sales! Soon Sasahara is free on his shift and goes round and meets other artists that were set up by Haraguchi. Though he apologizes, they aren’t too concern about it as they exchange their doujin work. As the Genshiken club’s copies are successfully sold out (Sasahara and Kugayama also reconciled), Saki finally arrives and is horrified to see Kousaka cross-dressing. And she thought she has tolerated all his worse sides. Kuchiki comes back from the buying spree and in bad timing, Saki takes out on him. At the end of the day, Madarame wonders if Sasahara plans to do this again the next round but I guess he’s tired for a first timer and decides to pass this one out. So everyone celebrates their success at a restaurant in well, that was enough to wipe out all their profits made.
 
Oono and Tanaka are spending quite some time together so why aren’t they like a couple? Well, episode 4, the other Genshiken members wonder about their relationship. Loudmouth Kuchiki asks them straight, which earns him a good punch in the stomach courtesy from Saki. Later Saki finds out from Oono that they are a couple, just that she is sad that Tanaka isn’t making any first moves. Likewise, Tanaka is talking to Kugayama about the same case but to Kugayama, he sees her as another otaku. One night, Oono drops by Tanaka’s place and requests to place some eroge with him. Which guy would boldly play an eroge with a girl? Unless you’re Kousaka. Of course Tanaka feels uneasy. Even if the game will take the whole night, Oono still wants him to show her. Finally Tanaka can’t stand it anymore so he confesses that he likes her. But he has low self confidence and feels that cosplay is the only thing he could offer her. However Oono disagrees because without that, she wouldn’t have confidence. She promises to go out with him if he stops making cosplay outfits for others. Still hesitant, Oono then decides to give him a little encouragement as she turns off the lights and woah! What a passionate kiss that was! I want that kind of encouragement too! Oono even mentions that she is willing to have cosplay sex with him if he desires! Well, she can’t do it in other cosplay costumes because she believes in not disgracing the character. Next day, Oono surprises everyone as she cosplays as an eroge character. Then Kuchiki comes in cross-dressing as the same eroge character and he starts panicking when he sees Oono. I don’t know whether to laugh or feel disgusted.
 
Episode 5 is the gayest, most homo, most yaoi episode of them all! It all began when Ogiue enters the club room and sees Sasahara pulling Madarame’s tie (the latter was on a job hunt, the reason for suiting up). That’s when she starts to misinterpret and fantasize a yaoi relationship between the duo. Hey, everyone looks so mature and good looking! Let your mind run wild, girl! She even goes on fantasizing a harem for Madarame which includes Kuchiki and Kugayama but concludes it definitely has to be Sasahara. Then she gets another wild idea after seeing Oono-Tanaka pair. Something about Sasahara disheartened to see Madarame in bed with Tanaka whom he thought is a hetero. Uh huh. Something about Oono was ‘blind’ not to realize his true type of love. Then depressed Sasahara is seen in bed with Kousaka but the latter leaves him and has a passionate kiss with Saki (looking very good in a cheongsam) because he feels he isn’t the man he used to be. While Ogiue continues to sketch, Saki catches her and tries to cover up. So Saki misinterprets that she likes Sasahara. The final yaoi fantasy moment came when Madarame saves dejected Sasahara from an oncoming vehicle. Realizing that they are fated to be with each other, they proceed to have some S&M sex with Sasahara being the dominant one! Holy sh*t! Sasa x Mada sex! This girl is dangerous! Lastly when Ogiue tries to clear up Saki’s misunderstanding by showing her yaoi sketch, Saki misinterprets and thinks she likes them both and can’t decide on which. Bummer. Then she shows her sketch to Oono and she completely understands her yaoi work but Ogiue notes their totally different taste on the matter. It was really a surprise to me that Ogiue is capable of such fantasies. Yeah, I was laughing all the way rather than disgusted since I’m not a yaoi fan.
 
The Genshiken members are discussing their plans for the winter ComiFes in episode 6 but Ogiue says she won’t attend it at all. Is she? Not surprisingly, Ogiue disguises herself to attend the ComiFes and hopes she won’t bump into the Genshiken members. However the other girl members of Manga Club recognize her from afar and wonder what she is doing here. Thing is, Ogiue ends up buying all the doujin work before they could because it’s a sell out. Finally Ogiue happens to chance upon the Genshiken members. She could’ve left but I guess she was interested in hearing the guy’s opinions on her. Yup. They’re all talking about her from dating simulations to ultimate hentai sex. Hah! If Ogiue can fantasize, so can the guys. But that is normal for males, right? Then Sasahara sees and thinks he recognizes Ogiue. She starts to panic and runs away but bumps into Oono. The embarrassing thing isn’t her busted identity, but her doujin purchases all sprawled across the floor. What to do? Run away lah! She is so busted. So back at the club room, Ogiue nervously hands in her application for summer ComiFes. Might as well.
 
Graduation looms for Madarame, Kugayama and Tanaka in episode 7. Oono is sad because since she is a transfer student from USA, she won’t have enough credit points to credit until 2 years later. That means, everyone else will be gone by that time. She cries as Saki comforts her and promises she will cosplay for her on her graduation day (serious?!). At the graduation ceremony, Saki finds Kitagawa graduating and that she is marrying the student council president soon after. Like a fairytale come true, eh? What about her athlete’s foot? Well, that wicked laughter could mean it’s totally gone and Saki feels she has been defeated. Meanwhile the other Genshiken members gather for a group photo when Takayanagi comes by to tell them how Haraguchi is in hiding after running into problems for selling unauthorized scripts. Serves him right. At the end as everyone walks back, Sasahara decides to pass his presidency to Oono. It’s becoming a trend for Genshiken, eh? Oono is reluctant at first but when Saki suggests she could turn the club into a cosplay research club, Oono is all for it. Note that sparkle in her eyes… Uh oh. She attempts to get Saki to cosplay but was instantly shot down. Now she turns to Ogiue. Better flee, girl. Then the gang are having a farewell celebration at the restaurant and this time, Tanaka himself accidentally breaks his eroge plastic model. Yeah, Oono feels happy. Madarame also says how he has found a job located just 10 minutes walk from the university. A reason for him to visit the club on and off. As everyone parts and say goodbye, Madarame, Kugayama and Tanaka have now officially graduated.
 
While Ogiue learns she is accepted for the ComiFes in episode 8, Oono is holding a recruitment drive for her club as she cosplays and displays several of the outfits at the corridor. Even if Oono and Ogiue still aren’t getting along well, they both have a common person whom they just can’t stand: Kuchiki. Yeah, that annoying guy is driving away potential club members with his irritating attitude so much so Oono has to chase him away. Ogiue won’t even allow him to lend her a hand in handing out posters. Kuchiki goes back to the club room and when Saki comes in, she advices him to act normal after asking of his weird personality (he says he can’t control it?). Kuchiki goes back out and takes over Sasahara’s duty to watch their booth. Kuchiki then notices a guy stealing a cosplay outfit but is in a dilemma whether to tell Oono or Ogiue. Kuchiki confronts him and though that guy denies, he eventually returns the costume to him because of his weird act. See, it works. Oono then sees Kuchiki and is pissed to see what he is doing. Being the funny and weird guy he is, Kuchiki suddenly undresses himself and puts on that costume! Oono is horrified! Hear her distressing screams! Yeah, he’s going to dirty and ‘taint’ them. Though Oono learns of the truth later, in the end, nobody joins the club. Don’t want to be associated with weirdoes, eh?
 
In episode 9, Sasahara goes on a job hunt as a manga editor but because of his low self esteem, he isn’t successful. I mean, he is honest in telling of his weaknesses and his life without a goal but which company would want to hire someone like that? Also, Kuchiki wants to go on some camp trip with his members and possibly set up Sasahara with Ogiue but Saki tells him to go himself. Other than that, this episode is predominantly gloomy but the best part is when Saki finds out straight from Kousaka’s mouth that he prefers 2D! OMG! Yeah, after all his explanation on people playing eroge for stimulation and such, which I find it to be true. Then the final bomb came when Kousaka enters the club room and announces that he has found a job: A programmer for an eroge company! Oh Saki! Hey, I didn’t know Kousaka took up programming? Oh, he mastered it in 1 month. A genius! To make things worse, the programmer ran away so Kousaka has to start work tonight! After hearing how Oono murmurs pitiful and painful, Saki couldn’t stand it anymore and takes Kousaka to find the nearest hotel! She’s saying that they’re going to do it like bunnies 10 times! DESPERATE CASE! But Kousaka thinks she is doing it by herself so she has to spell out that they are doing it together. DENSE CASE! Uh huh. She says she can’t forgive herself if they don’t do it. Later as Sasahara comes back from another failed job interview, he plays his eroge (the loser hentai dialogue is amusing!) but seems to be fantasizing doing it with Ogiue.
 
Oono, Sasahara and Ogiue are discussing their plans for ComiFes in episode 10. Oono notices how they both like each other but aren’t true to their feelings. Reflecting on her own relationship with Tanaka, Oono notes how Ogiue would respond if Sasahara would just approached her. Next day at the club room, Madarame is alone when a very friendly blonde girl comes in and starts hugging him! She’s speaking in American English so he can’t understand her and starts to panic. She is Angela Burton. Then Oono comes in with another unfriendly-looking loli foreign girl, Susanna Hopkins AKA Suzy (she only speaks lines from anime!) and tells her stop doing it since Japanese people may take such subtle messages seriously. Oono’s English isn’t bad, though the little accent here and there. They are Oono’s American friends who are here for a visit. Because of that, Oono apologizes she won’t be able to help Sasahara and Ogiue for the ComiFes. Then at Tanaka’s place, Angela wants Tanaka to make her a cosplay costume and even seduces him! Oono, better hold on to your man tightly! Though Oono wants Tanaka to refuse but he just can’t so Angela strips instantly so that he could take her measurements while freak out Oono tries to put her clothes back on. Are Americans this crazy? Later as Angela is alone with Madarame in the club room, she is sending mix signals to him while reading a magazine and only communicating in English. Then before she could kiss him, Saki and Kousaka come in. Madarame backs out. Of course she was just testing him. Saki seems to be able to speak English and knows her since Oono told her about them. Then to Madarame’s surprise, Angela could speak and reply in Japanese but in heavily American accent. As Oono walks home with her American friends, Angela notes how Japanese are sensible people. Is she hinting she has a liking for Madarame?
 
Sasahara and Ogiue go set up their booth in episode 11 while Oono and her American friends wait in line. While Ogiue is nervous when a lady customer takes a look, Oono and Angela energetically cosplay. Then Ogiue’s middle school friends come by and are surprised to see her here so Ogiue gives them a free copy. Soon Suzy comes by and browses. The duo start panicking since they can’t speak English and are thinking of giving her a free copy so when Sasahara blurt out "Present for you", Suzy blushes and says thanks before leaving. But it isn’t before long she returns and asking for Ogiue’s autograph. She’s her total fan now. Yeah, she’s saying "This page is awesome. Real hardcore". Ogiue panics and thinks she’s doing it on purpose since Suzy wants her sign on the hentai page! Oono then gets a call from Ogiue saying how Suzy has settled in their place reading the manga. And she’s not moving. Or listening too. I don’t know how but later the girls are soaking at a public bath and the funny part is Suzy following panic Ogiue like a stalker! She even mentions about her flat chest! Then she opens her towel in front of Ogiue like a complete flasher! Scaring the wits out of that poor Ogiue! The next day at the ComiFes, Suzy continues to follow Ogiue but Oono thinks she’s close to her. Ogiue finds out how they have read her manga and especially Angela is loving it (WTF?! The sperm thingy says she?!). Sasahara and Madarame concludes thinks she has megane (spectacles) fetish. Angela wants to have a look at Sasahara’s work too but he is embarrassed and refused. The foreign nightmare will soon be over as the fly back to America after ComiFes ended. Phew. But due to large amounts of doujinshi they bought, Oono will have to mail it to them. Later Oono and the Manga Club girl are reading Ogiue’s work and want more of it! Man, that girl must be good!
 
Episode 12 has Sasahara feeling very much vexed. I don’t blame him if it’s Kuchiki’s constant yapping about his camping trip but the actual cause of it is his failure to land a job as he is handed rejection after rejection. It’s enough to put a guy down. So 1 day when he comes into the club room with an unshaven look thinking about going on a camping trip to get away from realities of life (including going as far as saying himself as a failure), Saki and Ogiue become disappointed with his attitude and told him off. After lots of thinking and a call from Kugayama, Sasahara finally lands a job in an editing production company. He calls Ogiue about it and she congratulates him. Soon everyone else learns about Sasahara’s acceptance. Sasahara finally has the courage to give Oono his earlier doujinshi so that she could mail it to Angela.
 
So that’s how it is. The ending was pretty okay. I mean life has to go on, right? Even if it is a small club, at least the Genshiken members will be bonded by that special bond of friendship that they made and spent during their time together. It isn’t smooth sailing with a little problem and tension here and there but in any organization or club, there’s bound to be that. Sasahara who was lacking direction and goal during the start of the series at least is a little better off now. Likewise, I find Ogiue to be more open, honest to her fujoshi feelings and accept her otaku personality than before. However, I was hoping to see Sasahara and Ogiue become a pair at the end after seeing how Tanaka and Oono became one (that girl doesn’t like bald men anymore, eh?). But that didn’t materialized. I guess it’s better to take a small step at a time. Like they say, birds of the same feather…
 
During the first season, I felt that it was mainly Saki and to a certain extent Madarame that was making the series interesting because of their character especially Saki’s intention to close down the club so that Kousaka could be hers. Then the OVA and the second season, they were more toned down and I felt the one who stole the limelight was Ogiue and Kuchiki. I read many viewers like Ogiue in particular. Of course things weren’t as lively if it wasn’t for Kuchiki. Who wouldn’t love and be annoyed at the same time the words and nonsense he spews. Right till the end, I’m still puzzled about Kousaka’s character. I know he mentioned that Saki is just a person hanging around him but that guy has got to open his eyes and be more sensitive. Sometimes I don’t understand what is going on inside that guy’s mind. Okay, maybe eroge, manga and anime. Acknowledging he prefers 2D has got to be a damning revelation. I also have to admire Saki’s tolerance and perseverance to stick by her man. Well, don’t give up. Hey, what about Keiko? Has she given up? It’s a good thing we didn’t see her after the first season. She could have been more than just annoying. I also find Saki to be more receptive of Genshiken towards the end even if she doesn’t admit it. Some of the other characters too have changed like Kugayama who finally had the inspiration to continue drawing even if he is working.
 
I find the drawing and art for the first season to be a little dull in terms of colouring. Then the OVA and second season seems to have polished up quite a lot as the characters and background looking a lot brighter and smoother. So much so some characters like Kousaka looked a little different. However for the OVA, I noticed that when the characters blushed, in addition to having their cheeks in pink, the blush lines drawn are kinda, how should I put it, unrefined. It’s like as though they’re just simply sketching them. I don’t know. That’s how I felt.
 
Initially I was surprised to find that Tomokazu Seki was the voice behind Tanaka. After hearing all his hyped up and lively roles like Kenichi in History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi and Pierrot in Yakitate! Japan, voicing a less vigorous character makes him sound unrecognizable to me. Ayako Kawasumi fits perfectly as Oono and if you know how Nodame of Nodame Cantabile sounds like, you have an idea. It was just amusing to hear Oono tell off Suzy to shut up. Kaori Mizuhashi plays Ogiue nicely too especially when she is in her shaky and nervous tone. She was the voice of Miya in Hidamari Sketch. I also like Akira Ishida for voicing Kuchiki (Hakkai in Gensoumaden Saiyuki, Gaara in Naruto) well because of his liveliness. Other casts include Takanori Ooyama as Sasahara (Byakuran in Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn), Nobuyuki Hiyama as Madarame (Madarame in Bleach – yeah coincidentally they share the same name), Satsuki Yukino as Saki (Kagome in Inu Yasha), Mitsuki Saiga as Kousaka (Robert in The Law Of Ueki) and Kenji Nomura as Kugayama (Misao in Hatsukoi Limited). Another surprise for me is to find that Yuko Goto did a cameo role as Suzy. I’m used to her voice so I instantly recognized her even if Suzy spoke limited anime lines and in English. However it wasn’t a Caucasian who voiced Angela but Yuki Kaida instead (Kurapika of Hunter x Hunter, Fuji in Prince Of Tennis). Sounds close enough but if you listen closely, indeed there is a little Japanese accent.
 
On a trivial note, for the first season, the episode titles sound like long lecture topics like as though there is a class on anime otaku. I won’t be surprised if there is actually one. Because of that, I don’t really understand or see how the episode title is related to that particular episode. Man, if I ever took up such lecture topics, I’m not sure if I will get a pass. Then for the OVA and second season, the title drastically changes into something much shorter and relevant to that particular episode. I wonder what was the mecha parody for the second season’s opening animation. Not to mention the girls cosplaying as Kujian characters while the guys at one point are… topless mugshots? I guess for a series to have several otaku parodies, it is befitting to have one for its opening. Fancy Genshiken saving the universe in their piloted mecha? The ending animation for the first season and OVA changes each time and shows the aftermath of the members in club room for that episode like getting beaten up from Saki after the nekomimi stint. Then for the second season, it was just a sketch being coloured to life before the Genshiken members come into sight.
 
People today may have their own stereotypical views towards otakus. It is just like doing your favourite hobby on a bigger scale and passionately so much so it affects your life. While I don’t consider myself to be a hardcore otaku or even half of it, but at least I know and not afraid to let people know of my number 1 leisurely pursuit (if they’re interested, that is). Definitely the anime culture is here to stay for a long time to come and to sign off with a little modified saying with a hint of otakuism in it: "You can take the otaku away from the anime, but you cannot take the anime away from the otaku". Now that’s hardcore.
 

Genshiken