This volume delves even deeper into the confusion of gender roles and otaku (mis)understanding of romance.
Story & Art: Shimoku Kio
Translation/Adaptation: Stephen Paul
What They Say
DAMSEL (?) IN DISTRESS
The cross-dressing Hato has captured the hearts of everyone in the Genshiken, but the sudden appearance of a beautiful “girl” in the otaku club raises suspicions among the student council members. A knight in shining armor steps in to save Hato… Yoshitake’s big brother! But he has secrets of his own…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
If I had any complaint about the second season of Genshiken, it would be that the only male character from the ‘first’ series that continued with regular appearances into this follow-up series is Kuchiki. Out of all the male characters, Kuchiki is the guy I can relate to the least. However, that weirdo does manage to instill his own special brand of humor. Lately, he has been obsessed with Hato’s sleeper hold that put Kuchiki lights out in the last volume. Now Kuchiki attacks any innocent bystander because he believes Hato will save the day by subduing him. I have to wonder if it is mostly because Hato makes a cute girl when he’s cross-dressing or if it is merely a newly discovered masochistic fetish for Kuchiki.
Either way, Hato continues to steal the show in this series. His cross-dressing is so perfected that he is much prettier and more lady-like than the girls in Genshiken. But Hato is even more complicated than that. He also has an odd mental block when it comes to drawing, which causes problems as Genshiken wants him to draw a comic for the school festival. It has kind of become an unspoken understanding that Hato’s art is way better than Yajima’s and probably better than Ogiue’s too. Only problem is that Hato can only draw well when he’s dressed as a girl and he can only draw hardcore yaoi scenes!
Much of this volume continues to focus on Hato as he explores the depths of his art problems; all the way down to the bra and panties. Aside from all that hilarity, he also has a weird bipolar thing going on with his inner female personality. She comes out whenever he’s dressed as a boy, and much like the devil on the shoulder in cartoons, the girl personality puts all kinds of dirty thoughts into Hato’s head. Like all kinds of fantasies about poor Madarame. I say poor Madarame because he has been at the center of so many of the Genshiken girls yaoi fantasies and he knows it.
The gender confusion in this volume doesn’t end with Hato, nor the hilarity. We learn a lot more about Kousaka’s latest video game that he was selling in the last volume. The game is about cross dressing boy characters and Kousaka has a starring role! Plus, Yoshitake’s younger sibling visits Genshiken, complete in gender confusing drab. Oh, and not to be outdone, Kuchiki also wants to cosplay as a girl at the school festival.
Genshiken does so many things right. The art is just plain great; with a perfect blend of character designs, variation of facial expressions, detailed backgrounds, and just enough SD humor without going overboard. Combine that with a nice steady pace to the storytelling and the depiction of everyday life of college kids that fans can relate to, and Genshiken is a wonderful break from the shounen-heavy releases of American publishers. This volume continues the slice of otaku life that we have grown to love as Hato continues to cross dress and explore his own quirks as he explores the odd connection between his ability to draw and dressing in women’s clothing, particularly undergarments. His curiosity about Madarame continues to grow to the point that it has kind of become an full-blown infatuation. All of that aside, I just crack up over the fact that he is a lot more ‘girly’ than the actual girls of Genshiken, and they know it!
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: September 17th, 2013