Genshiken Second Season, Volume 3 – Review

Back on the Genshiken train! I had a whole ton to say about this volume, since these chapters really dig into a lot of the nerd culture and identity stuff that makes Genshiken so interesting. Stuff about social cues, stuff about gender performance, basically just all sorts of interesting stuff. It’s nice to have a work to talk about that rewards these discussions!

Anyway, here’s my full review over at ANN. Lots of notes below!


“We have an emergency: non-otaku pick up artists invading the Genshiken.” Jeez, heavy start

Yoshitake’s older brother arrives and saves the day

The brother’s cute, so Yajima’s uncomfortable

Yoshitake’s clearly stewing in some secret that’s fun for her. Yoshitake really likes to push people’s boundaries in a way that isn’t really okay, but everyone around her is insecure about their own deals, so they don’t have the awareness or confidence to really confront her on how she makes spaces uncomfortable. It’s a very human thing

The pick-up dude, Mikami, is actually a member of the student council. Just as sleazy as he looks at first

Kuchiki acts ridiculous again, resulting in the reveal that Yoshitake’s older brother is actually Yoshitake’s younger sister, Risa

Risa is extremely tall, and can pull off a masculine look. Playing in more gender expectation spaces

Risa didn’t even want to pull the trick. Yoshitake’s kind of like the new Madarame, but in a different way

Yoshitake feels self-conscious about her age. Self-consciousness all around

Yoshitake’s obviously the stronger personality in the family

Also nice to see the manga using a spectrum of body types for its characters

Risa (the sister) is into shota

Risa’s conflicted about continuing basketball. It consumes a lot of her life

Risa wants to see Hato as a boy. She sees Hato’s dedication as a kind of bravery. Really interesting choice. More about peoples’ mixed relationships with their own assumed genders and the expectations that come with them

Yoshitake tries to look for secrets in Hato’s apartment, but Yajima rushes to Hato’s defense, and then of course it ends with them accidentally seeing Hato naked. Wah wah wah

There’s a bit of a disconnect between how much this series wants you to believe in its characters and how much of an anime-style prankster asshole Yoshitake is allowed to be. Yoshitake goes waaaaaay beyond ordinary disrespect for peoples’ boundaries, but the manga seems to frame it as pratfall material, and not particularly meaningful. It’s an awkward note

The line density actually feels more purposefully variable here than in some previous volumes. And the use of panel space remains excellent – wide, open shots create the moment of silence necessary for various punchlines, closeups or angled shots are used to define power dynamics between characters

Sasahara really sounds like an editor now

Ohno is Bayonetta, Sue is the Princess of the Crystal. Great stuff

Good banter over them deciding what to do for the school festival. Yoshitake proposes a collaboration – her story, Yajima’s art

Ogiue asks Hato if he wants to do anything, which leads to Ogiue questioning the incredibly high quality of Hato’s art. What does Hato create on his own?

Ogiue pushing Hato to create in spite of her own misgivings and slight anxiety over their relative skills. Ogiue’s really grown as a person

A wonderful, almost wordless sequence in the middle of Hato coming home, trying to create manga, getting frustrated, cooking dinner, trying again, being frustrated again. The story’s told in faces, in panel flow, in shot composition

As a girl, Hato only creates BL. As a guy, Hato only creates weird-as-hell experimental characters

Of course, Ogiue acts mature in person, but still worries when she gets home. We’re still who we are – a key theme in Genshiken

“If everyone who drew like this suddenly changed by putting on women’s clothing, life would be a lot easier.” Great line, Yajima

His secret power is drawing hardcore yaoi when dressed as a woman. It’s a pretty limited power

Sue suggests a collaboration between Ogiue and Hato

Yoshitake revealing how much she respects Yajima for her art. Yoshitake just doesn’t understand boundaries, she’s not a malicious person

“The story’s up to me. Do I go on autopilot with my usual adolescent ennui?” Another great line

Trying to match Hato-kun’s art in the storytelling. Very shoujo manga

“In the end, my style is nothing but a copy of hers.”

The panels draw the eye for emotional effect or punchlines so often. Traveling down Hato’s legs, clicking on a light and scanning down a room, etc

Hato’s “other self” pushing him to articulate the classic fantasies in Madarame’s room

Yajima actually trying if wearing a skirt improves her drawing skills. Yajima so moe

“If he’s aware of that, he’s still thinking like a guy.” It’s great seeing the limitations of Madarame’s thinking. His understanding of gender is informed by his knowledge of the old Genshiken. If he knew the new Genshiken…

“At the end of the game, they’re all pregnant. No explanation, just pregnant. Those boys are amazing!” Goddamn I love this series’ dialogue

The distance between your fantasy preferences and real-life preferences is an arbitrary line the story is determined to mess with. What really moves these characters?

The disconnect between Hato trying really hard to respect Madarame’s feelings and falling into his own fantasies is pretty great

“Lately I’ve been thinking it’s maybe not the best thing for a graduate to hang around the school all the time.”

Madarame’s just sort of accidentally accepting of everyone else. He’s actually more the opposite of Yoshitake – hyper-sensitive, but also carefree in some ways

Ogiue asks the Genshiken for their high school romance experiences

Yajima has the most half-hearted love story ever

Yoshitake spots that there’s a romantic reason behind Hato’s crossdressing

Ahaha, Kuchiki has the closest to an actual romance. Total romance time: three minutes

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