What They Say
It’s graduation day for Kanji, Kousaka, and Saki–and the whole Genshiken gang is there to cheer them on. Get ready for the biggest celebration of all time! Kanpai! Final volume.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Oh, the bitter agony of saying goodbye to loved ones forever.
First off let me ask any fans of the Genshiken anime that haven’t been reading the manga; why not? The first season of the anime ended around volume four of the manga, so that means you have missed out on five more volumes of Genshiken hilarity. These volumes have everything from more Saki cosplaying, to new club members, and sweet, sweet love between two hopeless otaku. So everyone that found enjoyment in the Genshiken anime really should pick up the manga.
Now for the rest of us in the know, it is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our old friends at the Genshiken club. Getting this volume going is the return of Ohno’s friends from America. Yes, the anime-one-line-spouting Susie has returned with a vengeance. In fact, it seems she plans to transfer to Japan next year for school. Ohno is clearly against the idea. She’s worried about how tough it is for otaku living in Japan, even tougher for someone who can’t speak Japanese. However, Susie won’t be denied, and aside from her hilarious one-liners and physical antics, it seems she can understand Japanese better than she’s letting on. With all the focus on Ogiue in the last volume, it isn’t too surprising that Susie latches onto Ogiue. While Susie spends the night at Ogiue’s apartment, we get a glimpse at even more character development with Ogiue. Rounding up about the first third of the volume is an examination at Oguie’s attempt to submit a manga to Afternoon magazine and Sasahara’s attempt to balance his love and work ethics as her un-official editor.
Next, the story focuses on Saki and Madarame for a few chapters. Poor Madarame. If we can’t see any of ourselves in Madarame’s character, then we can certainly see our friends in him. Not very good looking, extremely socially inept, and in denial of his own desires for a flesh and blood girlfriend; Madarame finds himself with one last chance to express his feelings for Saki. The heat is on, since when Saki and Sasahara graduate, there will be no reason for Madarame to see Saki again and he desperately wants to tell her he has always liked her. Saki even unwittingly sets Madarame up for the perfect opportunity to confess his feelings, but you’ll have to read it yourself to find out how he does.
After Madarame and Saki’s time together, a whole chapter flows by without a single word of dialogue. It is an interesting experiment and it works well enough. Ohno forces Saki into one last session of cosplaying involving multiple outfits and Tanaka taking photos. Lucky for Saki, only Tanaka is allowed in the room with the promise that the photos are for Ohno’s eyes only. This leads to a very interesting ending of the chapter as Ohno pulls Madarame into a dark corner to give him copies of the cosplay photos. Why would Ohno only share with Madarame? Does she know he secretly likes Saki? Or does she think Saki would be most upset with Madarame seeing her in cosplay? Ohno was the driving force behind getting Ogiue and Sasahara together, so maybe she knows more than she lets on. Regardless, Saki finds Ohno in the act of giving the photos to Madarame. Presented with an embarrassing situation, Saki stays true to her character. Or does she?
The ending after that is somewhat strange to me. It left me feeling empty as there doesn’t seem to be any resolution. Then again, this is a slice of life story without a pointed goal like revenge or the championing of justice seen in an adventure story. So perhaps the ending is a perfect way to finish a series like this, and perhaps the emptiness I feel is that of knowing I will never see an old group of friends again. This only adds to the way Genshiken has always felt like a reality show happening at the next college over.
With great sadness, I place Genshiken volume 9 on the shelf alongside its brethren and my final word on this series is a solid A+.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: A-
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Del Rey Manga
Release Date: November 30th, 2007