Anta baka??

Genshiken chapter 40: Come here, my dear [previous chapter]

serialized 07/25/2005 in Afternoon

The chapter opens with Ohno bringing Sasahara over to Ogiue’s place to discuss their plans for Comifes. Ohno plays the well-meaning but slightly misguided matchmaker, mentally plotting ways to get the pair alone together; she leaves them for a bit and they get nowhere fast – by the time she gets back the tension is so thick it could be cut with a spoon. They make the neccessary arrangements, and the scene shifts to the next day in Genshiken’s club room, where Madarame is sitting alone, and suddenly the chapter takes a turn for the unbelievably hilarious: Angela walks in.

She is shortly followed by Sue, who drops the ANTA BAKA on him. Ohno rushes in just before things collapse and explains that these are two of her friends from her time studying in the US who have suddenly and without prior notice come to visit. The real shock comes on the last page of the chapter, though, when Ohno announces that she won’t be able to mind Ogiue’s Comifes table as she needs to spend the day keeping her gaijin friends out of trouble. This means Ogiue and Sasahara, alone together, for all of Comifes day two…

Genshiken chapter 41: Yamanai Ame wa Naku, Susumanai Gyoretsu mo Nai (No Ceaseless Rain, No Endless Lines)

serialized 08/25/2005 in Afternoon

Comifes day two is finally here! Ogiue and Sasahara arrive, the former extremely prickly and self-conscious, the latter his usual easygoing self. They reach Ogiue’s table and find her book there, fifty copies in a cardboard box. She tells Sasahara that he’s not allowed to look inside under any circumstances, not allowed to touch it even, which he finds problematic given that he’s supposed to sell the thing. Meanwhile, Ohno is waiting in line outside with Angela, Sue, Tanaka and Kikuchi. We don’t see much of them aside from a couple of cheesecake cosplay shots in the middle of the chapter (much appreciated, as an ardent Ohno fan – apparently doujin artists aren’t the only ones who have seen her as a perfect ringer for Tifa).

Ogiue is having some mental issues as the event begins, and Sasahara watches her with concern as he sells the first copy of her book and she’s not able to say anything until she gasps out a “thank you” as her customer walks away. This is obviously a very conflicted moment for her, only made more acute when some of her “friends” from junior high find her there. Sasahara is a supportive influence, and you can see her gradually mellowing toward him and coming to trust him a lot more. Not being one to rest on those laurels, Kio turns everything on its head again when Sue shows up at the end. Sasahara rescues Ogiue from an awkward moment (Sue is trying to pay for the book, Ogiue wants to give her a copy for free but doesn’t know how to say so in English) with a “present for you”, but things fall apart when Sue asks Ogiue to sign a particularly graphic spread, thus exposing Sasahara to the book’s contents which he had thus far managed to avoid.

Other than the first part of 40, which was a bit of a drag, these two chapters really brought home Kio’s genius in weaving another (albeit minor) part of idiosyncratic Japanese otaku life into the already packed-to-the-brim mix that is Genshiken. One wonders whether he’s had personal contact with foreign fangirls or has just done his homework, as the characterizations of Angela and Sue certainly had me nodding in agreement as I read. They’re caricatures, true, even more broadly painted than the rest of the Genshiken cast, but damn if they weren’t done right. He got most of the English spot-on too… I’d like to pick his brain regarding the creative process that led to this little episode.

While Ogiue is undergoing a visceral, almost visually painful transformation process in these chapters – certainly the focal point of plot progression here, and a fascinating one at that – Sasahara is left disappointingly untouched by the magic wand of character development. After the scene at the end of 39 I was hoping for a bit more psychological torment on his part – he’s acting pretty natural for a guy forced to spend protracted time with a girl who he’s used as masturbation fodder (especially compared to what we’ve seen happen when Madarame and Saki are left alone for any amount of time). I’m curious to see what Kio has in store for their relationship; they could be practically an item in the next chapter, or there may still be “issues”. Only time and next month’s Afternoon will tell.