Genshiken Second Season, Volume 5 – Review

Kinda behind on linking these, but I’ve been busy with stuff! Anyway, I got a bit negative on this one, since we’re now right in the unsteadiness of Genshiken shifting towards a more full-drama style. The whole Madarame harem thing doesn’t kill the manga for me, but it certainly tends to make it lean into a more heightened reality than the story normally evokes. I guess we were all guilty of loving Madarame just a little too much.

My review is here. Notes below!


Opening with Madarame and Saki thrown in the club room together

The characters force and fabricate the emotional moments their friends need based on the narratives they live. Their awkwardness is endearing and genuine, as are their feelings of concern for their friends

Madarame trying to sidestep the actual confession, but Saki refuses to let him get away with it. His behavior is classic nerd emotional evasion, but Saki finds it understandably offensive and condescending

I love the dynamic diversity of panels here. It’s not ostentatious, it’s just a wide variety of rectangles that all control space well

“That one day, you had a big ol’ hair sticking out of your nose.” THE CONFESSION. And that really was such a classic, memorable Genshiken moment

The strange distance between Madarame and Saki has classically been one of Genshiken’s greatest strengths. Moments like that hair scene, or the time the two of them got sushi together and then silently rode the train home, count among the show’s best, and this scene pays its respects to those moments

Saki looks pretty gorgeous in this chapter, jeez

Madarame admits he feels a lot better getting it off his chest, and then Saki starts crying, thinking she’d made him feel bad for four years. The two of them are so great together

Chapter 2

And Sasahara’s sister makes sure everyone else knows how it went, clearing the air entirely

And Tousaka starts quoting the harem route of the game, fucking with Madarame. Tousaka is quite a guy

Tousaka gets everyone, even Saki, to cosplay for Madarame’s sake. This feels unbelievable – they went a step too far. It feels like the author just wants to have Saki cosplay again, in contrast to what a big event it was the first time. It’s too large of a moment for this manga – this manga excels in small revelations, and this isn’t one

Nice seeing Madarame counter it by intentionally evoking his obnoxious original self. He has grown

Saki advises Madarame not to quit his job and cut his ties here. “If you keep trying, you definitely might have a harem.” Also feels a bit much

“I do treat Saki-chan greatly. I give her 100% of who I am. Madarame pretended to be someone he wasn’t, so of course he didn’t get picked.” Kousaka’s a very unique but also clearly real personality type – he’s carefree in mannerisms, but absolutely sharp, to the point where he can come across as brutal when prompted. He’s enough “above” this situation as far as self-knowledge goes that he doesn’t mess with things, and just lets them happen

Of course Yoshitake’s interest in Hato’s backstory only extends as far as the shipping potential

Chapter 3

Yoshitake wants everyone to talk about sex, of course

And then Yoshitake and Yajima find a butt toy in the club room. Back to business as usual!

Hato shows up at just the right moment. Standard farce stuff

Hato and Yoshitake have presents for Yajima’s birthday. A great page of Yajima feeling awkwardly grateful for Hato’s thoughtful gift. They make a great pair of friends

“What if I grew a penis and he played the girl?” DAMNIT YAJIMA

Yeah, pretty silly chapter all around. Though it again shows Kio’s talent for panel pacing

Chapter 4

Ohno feeling the pressure of being a college senior. No job lined up, stalling on her thesis

Considering selling a CD of her cosplay photos. Turning passion to work. Worrying about her future with Tanaka, what he’s thinking about

Ohno’s boobs featuring prominently in this chapter

Yoshitake gets her drunk to lech up her photo shoot, of course. Friggin’ Yoshitake

“I’m going to make your cosplay outfits for the rest of your life!” The genshiken crew sure have a way of making confessions

Ohno is like Madarame. The older characters are struggling, and basically clinging to the comfort zones that once kept them secure

And right on cue, Madarame has quit his job

Chapter 5

“I kinda want to see how far I can fall” damnit Madarame

So now Madarame just hangs around the club room

Hato gets commissioned to do a page for Ogiue’s doujin. I like how the call is a momentary glimpse of the busy adult lives other characters are leading

“Only a man can heal the scars inflicted by a woman!” Hato’s inner self is going all out

“Fantasy and reality are entirely separate things. If I mistake one for the other, I’ll only wind up hurt.” This is critical to Hato and to the genshiken in general. It’s true, but none of these characters can separate their fantasies from their realities. The story is all about how their fantasies are important to them, important to their friendships, and even reflective of how they see their lives and relationships. The line should be protected, but it’s not. It can’t be

For once, Hato’s inner self looks exactly like his senpai – her embracing of her own fantasies is the instinct the inner self embodies

Yajima’s “oh give me a break Hato” face is so good

And now Sue is all flustered about Madarame. Madarame, Destroyer of Worlds. Still a little ridiculous

Chapter 6

Yajima calling out the genshiken prank for being a mean-spirited tradition. The character shift results in nice reflections like that

“I don’t think I can win against her.” Hato, on Sasahara’s sister. Jeez

Sasahara-sis can easily talk to Madarame, unlike Hato. And she nails his reason for quiting

And more drama, and it ends with Sue about to confront Hato

“You act like a fool, but you’re thin-skinned… part self-loathing, part prideful… somehow liberated while also being secretive…” Jeez, Tanaka has Madarame’s number