All good things must come to an end.

Chapter Title: Genshiken
Release Date: May 25th, 2006
Serialized in: Afternoon
Author / Illustrator: Kio Shimoku (木尾士目)

previous chapter

The final chapter in the Genshiken saga opens immediately following the graduation ceremony of Sasahara, Kousaka, and Saki. Wandering through the clumps of happy graduates and well-wishers, a cutely-dressed Ogiue comes upon the group, the rest (sans Tanaka, Kugayama, Madarame and Sasahara’s sister Keiko) having already gathered. They exchange greetings and pleasantries, with Ohno lamenting her inability to wear the formal kimono this year along with Saki (“it wouldn’t feel right to cosplay in it”, she says).

Just as they’re settling into the conversation Keiko appears, ruffling feathers all around (clamping onto Ogiue with a “hello sis!” and prompting Sasahara to ask why she bothered to come). Ohno commands Keiko to not treat Ogiue so roughly, saying she’s uncomfortable with the contact (“a fine thing for you to say”, Saki interjects), and tells Keiko that she should hold her more gently, like this (gesturing, “right, Sasahara?” “Don’t ask me,” he says).

Madarame shows up at this point, commenting that things are pretty lively (and what’s with all the girls?). We see the implied passage of time, and the group decides to split up so the graduates can go change into less formal clothes. Sasahara says he’ll be stopping by the club room to take care of some business first, so he heads there with Ogiue as the rest go their separate ways.

They arrive at the darkened room, full of memories, which Ogiue seems to be thinking more of than Sasahara, who has come back with the intent to hunt down a volume of doujinshi he thought was left behind. Ogiue becomes rather peeved by his uncontemplative mood (and by his apparent inability to notice the special effort she took to dress for the occasion). She finally manages to elicit a compliment from him, though hardly a spontaneous one.

They chat for a bit about the unlikelihood of their being together in this scenario, how when they first met neither would have dreamt they would wind up dating. The mood softens, and Ogiue asks if she can come stand by him. “Of course,” he replies. She comes closer… “if you don’t do it quickly Ohno will be back,” she says. Sasahara finally figures out what she wants, but as they approach each other, he remembers being in this situation once before. “Ohno’s taking an awfully long time in the bathroom, isn’t she?” he says, and turns to look out the window.

Sure enough, the rest of the group has gathered in the manga club room across the courtyard and has been watching the whole thing. Not surprisingly Ohno orchestrated it, calling the others when she realized the pair would be alone. She apologizes to Ogiue, who is understandably put out, as Keiko jabs her for initiating the kiss. “What should I do now?” Ohno says. “Just when I was planning to ask you to be the next club president, Ogiue…”

No way I’d do that!!” Comes the emphatic reply. Ohno tries to explain the thought behind her choice but doesn’t much headway, so Saki cuts in: “if you become president you can change it to the “society for the study of homos!” “NOT A CHANCE!!” Ogiue retorts. Sasahara puts a word in as well: “If I can do it, you certainly can…”

Ogiue gets fed up. “You’re making it sound like I’m the one at fault here.” “I didn’t mean that!” Ohno protests, but Ogiue cuts in – “I’ll do it. That’ll get you off my back, right? In exchange, I’m taking all of the presidential authority right now.” Ohno: “Kyaaa~! Thank you, Ogiue!” “Anyway, as of today, no more cosplay for you, Ohno-sempai.” “Eh!?” “…It’s a joke. (don’t take it seriously, geeze.)”. Everyone smiles.

Ogiue orders everyone off to change clothes for the party. “You too, Sasahara-san!! …’cause I’ll be coming with you.” “Sure.” The next page gets a line in from everyone in little word bubbles as the camera pans out from the club room and away across campus:

Saki: Alright! I’ll change and be back quick. Tonight it’s drinking time!
Keiko: Me too!
Ohno: It’s a celebration for all your graduations, and Ogiue becoming the next president! I’ll be drinking too~~!
Ogiue: There’s no need for that. >:(
Sasahara: Settle down…
Madarame: Guess I don’t have to change clothes, do I.
Kuchiki: Ahem… I was under the impression that the next club president would be myself, but….
Kousaka: That would be a “no.”

Time passes… shadows fall over the campus, the empty clubroom dark and forlorn. But then voices echo down the hall, and can be heard from inside the not-so-empty room – which now looks a bit different from when Genshiken’s former iteration held reign there. The voices waft in:

“Well, we take it easy…”
“You guys have a PC?”
“Yeah, the basics.”
“That’s good to hear.”

“…I see, looks like an average box.”
“Ah, Prez!”

The page turns…

“The new members are here!”

fin

…Dammit, I’m getting all weepy here. And this is my fifth read through the chapter, too. A great way to end a great manga, it’s hard to say more… my love affair that began two years ago has hardly flagged since that first fateful encounter, and the monthly pick-me-up that Genshiken has unfailingly been will be sorely missed.

It’s not over til it’s over, though, and good news comes in the announcement that volume 8 is set for a late-August release and will include special bonus material (I’d bet on a depiction of the post-grad party) not found in this chapter. The earlier announcement of a second season of Genshiken anime was in fact premature, but we will be treated come fall to a full season of Kujibiki Unbalance as well as a separate Kujian manga to be written and directed (though not fully drawn) by Kio-sensei himself. The official announcement found in the current issue of Afternoon follows:

Whether or not any further narrative occurs in the Genshikenverse beyond what we see here, I must say I’m satisfied with how things have turned out. The characters will live on in my memory as a formative part of my own fandom, acting as they have as guides and helpers down the path to otakudom, and a reminder of just how sane and real – despite their lives on flat paper – fans of anime, manga, figures and eroge can be.

Life goes on, we graduate and move apart to other lives and pursuits, but the memory remains, and the fandom does not die merely with the passage of time. Stories about fans are some of the most eternal, I think, because they deal most directly with the condition of the reader and can be applied as a lens through which other stories can be viewed. While not a sweeping epic or deep philosophical tract, Genshiken has moved me profoundly, and you can’t ask for more than that in a piece of entertainment.

See you again!