Sunday, May 11, 2014

Genshiken Nidaime: Victims, Villains, and Gender Relations among Japanese Otaku -- PART FOUR

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Madarame's Perdicament
No matter who Madarame chooses, somebody is going to lose and get hurt.  It dawns on him when he asks Hato if he can bring Sue with him next time he comes over to cook for him--an extremely feminine move that screams "I have romantic feelings for you."  Hato is visibly hurt by this and Madarame realizes that in the manga and anime, the protagonist in the harem always seems to resolve all conflicts in a way that is noncommittal and maintains the status-quo.  Nobody is hurt or rejected.  The power balance, the detente between the other harem members, is perpetual.  To an American, this is absolutely boring and why I can't watch Ranma 1/2 or any other harem anime (especially after I heard about how the ending of the manga resolves absolutely nothing).  To a Japanese person, this is reassuring because wa--harmony--is maintained and Japanese values are reaffirmed.

Oh the humanity!!!
Mada knows he's not equipped for this.  One misstep and somebody gets hurt.  The resulting chain-reaction could lead to him in an even worse social position than he is.  All of his friends could be lost.  What's worse is, Mada can't not do anything because even that could lead to a disruption of harmony.  He never knows if an off-hand, innocent comment could completely blow the whole situation apart and lead to hurt feelings, anger, and all kinds of other social eruptions.  In the latest issue, Hato gives him an escape hatch--he's perfectly happy maintaining the harem's balance-of-power.  He's willing to take the reins of control from Mada.

Here, Mada has a dilemma.  Does he take agency or surrender it to Hato?  To Mada, if he accepts control over his actions and authorship for what he says and does, it seems inevitable that someone will get hurt and harmony will be lost.  Male authorship, male agency, results in a cascade of catastrophes in the female-oriented Genshiken.  Hato's agency doesn't count as male--he's in female mode, possessed of the spirit of a woman and actively annihilating his male self (psychological self-castration, perhaps, or do I go too far?).

Poor Mada.  Just become an herbivore and tell everyone to screw off.

Or is that where Shimoku is headed?  Will Mada become another statistic and simply swear off love and become a grass-eater?  There's a sort of depressed fatalism in that.  Frankly, if Mada chooses the herbivore path, it will result in a regaining of dignity, empowerment, and agency.  It may even be a choice he can make without alienating the rest of the harem, letting it dissolve gently and easily without conflict.  However, it would simply be another wall, another defense mechanism to protect his heart, a tatemae over his honne.  He'd be back to where he started when he first was introduced in the very beginning of the original Genshiken.  His illness would be the same, it's just the symptoms that would have changed.

Unless Shimoku pulls some awesome stunts, Mada is going to either break Hato's heart and end up a bad guy or Mada is going to succumb to Hato's advances and be unmade, annihilated, nullified as a character and turned into an empty plot device.  Mada's biggest problem is that he cares.  Yoshitake is just amused by the whole thing.  No matter what happens, she wins.  It's everybody else that gets hurt.

Yajima, the Female Mada
Yoshitake is the stereotypical fujoshi.  She's not a real person but a literary device.  Like I said, she's the villain of the comic (cue the hatemail and angry comments!).  She might look like she's the female Madarame, what with her tendency to go on long diatribes, but that's all an illusion.  It isn't a defense mechanism.

Yajima, however, is the prototypical fujoshi.  She embodies the same sort of fringe mechanic Madarame does, and indeed, does it better than Ogiue did.  Yajima needs to protect herself and her feelings as much as Madarame.  Her crush on Hato puts her in a predicament as painful as Mada's crush on Saki.  Is it possible that in a Genshiken Sandaime she'll find herself surrounded by a male harem?  One can only hope.

In this regard, Yoshitake is a psychologically violent person.  Disguised as Yajima's friend, she pushes, prods and eggs Yajima on.  It remains to be seen (in my opinion) if she is actually Yajima's friend and not just Loki putting the mistletoe javelin in Hoder's hand.  (Really bad metaphor, I know.)  If Yajima gets shot down by Hato, will Yoshitake cackle and cavort and humiliate Yajima as Keiko did when Saki shot down Madarame?

Who knows.  These may become moot points and Shimoku could completely upend everything and Yoshitake actually comes out being the hero of the whole darn story.  What a bait-and-switch that would be!

Sue is the Real Hero
Now Hearts of Furious Fancies had this to say about Sue being a hero (see here for the post):
Or something else is going on: With all the yuri teasing that Kio Shimoku has been dropping onto Sue, could she be watching, pining away as the girly-boy of her dreams dotes on an inappropriate guy? Heartbreaking! Nawwww… Sue too cool for that… But if she likes the soup, she should demand cooking lessons.If circumstances force Sue into doing something heroic we are more likely to get one smitten Mada and a full circular triangle; field strength %98 and holding.. We need a crisis, something that threatens the entire Genshiken. Saki was able to “save” the Genshiken from the stuco last time, Could a V.2 Sue do the same?Hero or not, Sue will not glomp onto Mada. Sue already has a more or less platonic hero fixation with Ogiue, and what Ogiue represents to her cannot be found (yet) in anyone else. Neither Mada or Hato can claim to have gone from shameful abject yaoi fiend to successful circle leader, dojin artist and semi-pro mangaka who won over the boy she once shipped, and who supports and protects her kouhais (- heh! Wait a second! Could Hato also be stuck in a loop of Ogiue worship ???) If Sue becomes heroic, she will do so in emulation of Ogiue and the needle of Hato’s heart will swing to her as to a lodestone. Madarame can’t do that. Then again if Hato becomes Ogiue-ish heroic, Sue would fixate on the new Hato. They would make one heck of a mutual admiration society.
And here I very much disagree.  Sue may have hero-worship for Ogiue but she's already a hero in her own right.  She just doesn't realize it.

Nobody else seems to, either.

Sue makes me proud.  She plays the stereotypical American loli fangirl but in reality, she's Angela's foil as well as Yoshitake's.  Sue is far, far more sensitive to the mood and tone surrounding her than any American would be assumed to be.  Shimoku has taken yet another trope and turned it on its ear.

Sue's actions and words are always calculated to have an effect on the group, an effect that redirects attention away from an uncomfortable situation, lightens the atmosphere, or otherwise helps to alleviate any actual, deep disruption of harmony.  Sue will play the dumb American and say something ridiculous, troubling the surface of the harmony briefly so that the deeper currents can remain untouched and preserved.  If anything, I'd argue that Sue has done far, far more to keep the Genshiken from fragmenting than most people think.

Dun, dun, DUUUUNNNNN!!!

Sue sees where Angela is going, suggesting a multi-partner sexual encounter involving herself, Mada, Sue, and Hato.  Sue fails to preemptively shut Angela down with her fist but that failure is unimportant.  What is important is that she tries.  Later, when Keiko and Angela compete at the festival to see who will "comfort" Mada while he is injured, Sue steps in, defeats them both, and preserves Mada's "virtue."  Sue disapproves of Mada's assignment as spy on Hato and his high school friends and tries to drive him out of his hiding spot.  Sue is the moral center of the group in this regard and her actions demonstrate an actual concern for Mada's feelings and the integrity of the group as a whole.

So, why is Sue and Hato now competing for Mada?  I think it is because Sue, despite her protestations to love only Ogiue, actually does care for Madarame.  I wouldn't go so far as to suggest she loves him but she does care about him and seems to realize the threat that Hato poses to both Madarame and himself.  Sue does care about Hato and his feelings and has clued in on the reality that Hato is going down a self-destructive path.  Perhaps setting herself up as competition is an attempt to save both Hato and Madarame.

Of course, it could be much more mundane.  I could be reading too much into Sue's character and behaviors.  However, Shimoku's been doing too much with her character, having her break the mold of what is expected of the waifish, loli-looking American stereotype.  Because Sue's Japanese speaking ability is limited (though improving) and she's often limited to conveying her thoughts and feelings through quotes and halting, stilted phrases.  Hence, her interactions are quite puzzling.  At first, she seemed to be trying to make Hato face his attraction to Madarame ("Mada is sou uke!").  Now, I'm not so sure.  Maybe she was trying to make Hato realize something else?  Sue's a tough nut to crack.

After all, in the Chapter 88 on 4chan an anon asked, "Why is Sue so best girl?" and another anon replied, "Because she's a fujoshi, anon.  In fact, not only is she a fujoshi, she's one that ships real people, and tries to force her ships onto them regardless of their actual sexual preferences.  If she wasn't cute and a wacky gaijin you'd hate her."

At the time that seemed plausible.  Indeed, at the time, I downright agreed with the second anon.  Now... I'm not so certain.  She's definitely jockeying for a position against Hato.  There definitely seems to be a degree of chemistry between her and Madarame as well.  And I cannot forget that innocent little kiss she gave him at Comiket to make him jump into view while he was supposed to be spying.

So... What Now?
Genshiken is, at heart, about friendship and mutual support.
Why bother? from the start, the Genshiken was not an allegory of otaku redemption, but one of accommodation and finding the strength of friendship and community. To find support from others you have to take the risk of rubbing up against others, and most of these others are not going to be completely to your taste. The situations that emerge are not all going to be within your comfort zone. In the Genshiken, the most important part of learning how to be open with others has been the breaking down of the walls that separate male and female fandoms as a microcosm of larger problems in Japanese society.  --Hearts of Furious Fancies, "Why Hato: Build Up Logically."
I won't disagree with this.  Conflict, however, keeps a story interesting and the conflicts within Genshiken Nidaime are far, far, far more complex than the ones in the original Genshiken.  Shimoku has really raised the bar for himself.  The above post is not a condemnation of what he's writing.  It is simply my attempt to analyze some of the dynamics between the characters that no one on earth has seemed to see.  The most important thing I can point to is that I do not perceive friendship and community at work except between the females.  The males are no longer overtly supportive.  Part of this is due to the obstacles of geography, employment, and other realities of the Japanese working-adult lifestyle.  Mada is not supported but objectified.

This is the core issue I perceive in Genshiken Nidaime.  Can males survive in a female-oriented space?  Are we human beings damned to forever live in clubhouses with painted signs saying, "No girls allowed" and "No boys allowed"?

I think Shimoku is building up to something in which this issue is resolved and not perpetuated.  I don't think Shimoku is saying that males must be objectified by and exiled from the female space.  I do think he is tackling gender-dynamics head-on.  I'm not sure where he is going with those dynamics but my analysis should reveal a lot of deeper, gender-driven conflicts and how these conflicts effect a number of these characters on a more psychological level.  At least, I hope.  I am, after all, not Japanese, I am American and I could have totally gotten the entire thing wrong.

And hey, I could totally, absolutely, 100% be mischaracterizing Yoshitake.  Except for seeing her as Loki.  She's definitely the trickster god.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Genshiken Nidaime: Victims, Villains, and Gender Relations among Japanese Otaku -- PART THREE

Part One
Part Two

Mada also doesn't need a broken wrist but he sure as hell gets one.
Emerging Female Space
As Hearts of Furious Fancies cribbed in this post, "The arc of Genshiken is long, but it curves toward female agency."

Apparently it does so at the expense of male agency.  Or at least the agency of male otaku.  Madarame is the prototypical male otaku.  Or perhaps I speak too soon, because Shimoku isn't finished.  There's more to come and perhaps I speak too soon.

Thus far, however, the conversion from male space to female space has been violent to the males.  They've been expelled by graduation, employment, and/or the change in atmosphere or relegated to the fringe as buffoons, like Kukichi.  The only male who is truly accepted in the space is Hato and that acceptance is strongest when Hato cross-dresses and behaves in a female manner, fanning out over and drawing the fujoshi comics that the girls enjoy.  Mada is on the cusp of acceptance but the primary reason he has any level or degree of belonging is because he is an object of female machinations--they're conniving and plotting to direct his romantic involvements.  Not all of them are guilty of this by action but more by association, which I'll discuss more in a bit.  Nevertheless, after his wrist is broken, Mada completely abandons the club in a physical sense, although he remains a topic of conversation and machination within the circle.

Consider the facts--female agency resulted in Mada's "confession" to Saki, her shooting him down, and the subsequent nullification of his own agency, dignity, etc.  On top of that, the creation of the harem, the forward advances of Hato and Angela, the abusive psychic violence of Keiko, the isolation of Mada by from his male friends, the removal of a safe male space where he can be male in a secure place, all of this serves to rob Mada of free will and agency, dignity and respect.  He becomes an object to the other characters.  He becomes their MacGuffin, something they can ship and slash without considering the consequences of these manipulations upon his heart and mind.  Hato cares about Mada and his feelings, true... but as an object, an archetype, a replacement for his former senpai and not as Mada.

Sue, Yajima, and Yoshitake spying on Hato and Mada in the club room.

Apparently all gender agency must come at the expense of the adjacent gender.  (I say "adjacent," not "opposite," due to my own personal beliefs on gender.)  Hato is just as much a victim as Mada.  Unfortunately, Rika and Hato's hometown acquaintances have maneuvered Hato into a position where his own self-actualization relies upon the further destruction of Madarame as an agent.  He must be reduced to a role in a BL doujinshi in order for Hato to self-actualize.  And Hato has signed on.  In other words, Hato has acquiesced to the New Order.  Males are now objects, females are empowered.  Hato has opted for being a female in order to fit into the New Order.  Hato has now compartmentalized Mada as the recipient of his affections.  Indeed, Hato has also compartmentalized his male self, done psychic violence to his masculine side.  Hato is in the process of nullifying himself as a man just as much as Mada has been nullified.

Darkness and evil incarnate behind that cute smile?
The proof is in the comic itself.  Hato-chan/Kaminaga-simulacrum is always there, lurking, pushing, taking the form of Hato's former senpai, Kaminaga, the woman that Hato wants to be and cross-dresses as.  She has only vanished once Hato has drawn her into himself, accepted her as himself, and chosen to bury his maleness as anything more than a possible sexual encounter with Mada in a seme-uke relationship.  An objectified relationship.  A fantasy relationship.  An object.  Not people.  Things.

And Yoshitake is enabling this.  Everywhere there is an opportunity to disrupt the status-quo, to shake things up, she's there.  She is the very symbol of the new Genshiken, the embodiment of the very meaning of the club's emergence as a female space and a place of female agency.

Or is she?  She ruminates and vacillates.  Is BL like a king from a fairytale?  Or can we manipulate, cajole, push a little here, and pull a little there, and manifest that king in reality?  Yoshitake is the villain (I know people will hate me for this) but she's a very, very, very interesting villain.  First she seems to be encouraging and then she turns around and tries to disabuse Hato and everyone else with "reasons Mada is a loser."  Then she gives that up and just rides the harem-train while whispering in Yajima's ear.

Rika Yoshitake is the Devil.  Or maybe Loki.
The above are reasons are why I view Yoshitake Rika as the villain of the manga, if villain it would have.  She's the primary instigator and enabler of everyone's own inner dilemmas and instead of helping one-another cut through the complications and really, truly self-actualize, she's contributing to the over-complication of everything.  She waffles as to whether the wants Mada's harem to exist or not.  She pushes Yajima with regards to her crush on Hato but also encourages Hato's crush on Mada.  She encourages Hato's fantasies of slashing Mada and himself.  The entire time she does these things, she's smiling.

The Villain

Maybe I'm missing something, here.  I am an American after all and TONS of Japanese nuance is lost on me.  However, to me, Yoshitake seems to be the female incarnation of the trickster god of myth and legend.  She's the anti-Japanese.  Far more than Angela and Sue, the Americans of the bunch, she's disruptive of the harmony in the group.  As a literary device, she's fantastic.  As a character, she's the Devil, the Adversary, tempting the characters with tantalizing visions and fantasies of their desires.  Just sign on the dotted line.  In blood, please.  Thank you.

Mada's totally bewildered.  He's the Job of the group, beleaguered.  The rest of the club pretty much clocks in as Job's friends and wife.  "Curse God and die!" Hato seems to say.  I wonder who is going to appear in a whirlwind and set everything to rights as God in the end?

See, most people perceive Hato as the protagonist of the story and it is true that the story is centered around Hato.  But I do not perceive Hato as the protagonist.  Not by a long shot.  I may be really missing something, here, but for me Mada is the main character.  This has developed into Mada's story for me and Mada is cast in the role of Job for certain.

Reality vs. Fantasy
Baudrillard would have a field day.  When you watch the television, it also watches you, right?  The thing that is symbolized eventually becomes the thing.  Or something along those lines.  Whatever.  Baudrillard was French, after all.

The hilarity of it all is that when Genshiken was male-dominated, the men didn't try to make the women into manga and anime characters.  Oh, sure, Ohno cosplayed and even got Saki and Ogiue to do it, too.  That enabled the male characters to perceive different aspects of the female characters' personalities (yes, even Ogiue's, much to her chagrin).  The male club members struggled with the reality vs. fantasy idea and at least Tanaka and Sasahara managed to overcome any sort of desire to make fantasy reality.  Mada did so very gradually--after all, for him fantasy was a defense mechanism against reality.

Okay, here's where Baudrillard comes in.  It's all about Simulacra and Simulation, right?  (This is sort of revenge for Hearts of Furious Fancies referencing Lacan.)  Power relationships between groups and all that.  Signs and the signified.  Alright, let's be honest, nobody knows what the hell post-structuralists talk about, and neither do they, but everyone pretends they do and so do the post-structuralists, and Derrida recanted on his deathbed, so it doesn't matter what we say because everything has meaning in relation to the network of signifiers around it that it is not, so we can only truly talk in double-negatives and ohmygodIjusthadananeurism.

Anyway, back to Baudrillard.  The fantasy BL manga is likened to "a king from a fairytale" by Yoshitake.  The drive, the desire of Yoshitake is to see their king from a fairytale realized.  They consume the fantasy, an unrealistic simulation of homosexual partnerships, and in response the fantasy begins to consume them.  Just like the citizens inhabiting not the empire but the map of the empire Baudrillard discusses (taken from Borges' "On Exactitude in Science"), the girls in Genshiken inhabit not the physical space of reality but the imagined space of the doujinshi.  Therefore, reality starts to decay around them.  Their will and desire is pulling their fantasy into reality, or conversely, themselves into the doujinshi they read.

But see, there's this reverse of Baudrillard going on.  These characters in the club live vicariously through their consumed entertainment and always have, even since the very first issue of the original.  The attachment to reality has always been strained to breaking.  I don't know if you can ever take narrative and picture and so divorce it from reality that it has no attachment whatsoever to said reality, as Baudrillard posits in the fourth stage of simulation.  Nevertheless, there is a gradual psychological detachment the otaku in the manga make from real life.  That they, themselves, are simulations makes it even more amusing because is creates a sort of infinite reflection loop like in a hall of mirrors.  They inhabit a mise en abyme.

Remember I mentioned Hato is perhaps a personification of Genshiken and not, actually, just a character?  Hato's own schizophrenia is a manifestation of this breakdown of reality in favor of the simulation.  Indeed, Hato's own simulacrum of Kaminaga within himself has become more real than Hato.

Now that Genshiken is a female space, making fantasy into reality is the name of the game.  Reifying the fictional as factual is their primary focus.  Yoshitake is the spearhead of this.  The thing is, this reification will inevitably result in psychic violence and objectification.  In this case, that violence is being done to Madarame.  It is important to note, however, that it is also being done to Hato.

Yeah, Ogiue slashed Madarame with Sasahara but she was doing so as a means to come to terms with her own feelings for Sasahara.  She was struggling with something and this provided an outlet for her to explore her attraction for Sasahara.  She never once attempted to maneuver Sasahara and Madarame into a romantic situation.

Yoshitake isn't like that.  Yoshitake has seized upon Hato, however briefly, as a way to make fantasy into reality.  Now that reality is dawning on her that it can only end in tears, she laughs maniacally and seeks to prod Yajima into positioning herself to play "hop on pop" in order to assuage Hato's broken heart once Mada breaks the news that he's straight and cis-gendered and not into people with male anatomy.

In the end, the real loser is going to be Mada.  He has done nothing to ask for this harem.  He's not responsible for its creation.  However, all of the accountability for its continuation and the responsibility for the hearts of the girls that are vying for his attention is placed upon his shoulders.  Like Governor Tarkin, Yoshitake has rolled up a Death Star on Mada's planet.  Hato is Darth Vader.

Concluded in Part Four.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Genshiken Nidaime: Victims, Villains, and Gender Relations among Japanese Otaku -- PART TWO

Part One

Sexual Dynamics:  Hato
Hato Kenjiro is confused.  Supremely.  Other bloggers have commented that homosexuality and transsexualism do not manifest as they do with Hato--not even when a person is "in the closet."  Hato, in my opinion, has no idea who he is or what he wants.  Indeed, he's extremely troubled and not at all attached with reality.

Hato and his alter ego--based on Kaminaga
I don't even know where to begin with Hato.  Perhaps with the fact that he began to cross-dress as a girl and draw BL comics out of his infatuation with his upperclasswoman/elder brother's girlfriend (now fiancee), Kaminaga.  Hato seems to need a senpai upon whom he can fascinate.  The problem is, he's not really being himself.  Indeed, I, as a reader, don't know who Hato is.  He's cloaked in so many personas within himself, constantly struggling to figure out which one he is that it is ridiculous.

It doesn't bother me that Hato cross-dresses.  It doesn't bother me that he's trying to figure himself out.  What bothers me is that he isn't taking steps to actually resolve his issues but exacerbate them, and he's dragging Mada into the mix.

As Hearts of Furious Fancies notes, Hato doesn't wish he was born a girl.  He appears to be a female trapped in a male body, but none of the typical internal dialogue about being so is presented to the viewer.  Hato is in conflict but the whole why is really obscured and obfuscated.  We get a lot of factors involved in his conflict but the nature of it is one of self-denial on some level.  Hato wants to embrace his female side but that female side evolved as a sort of redirected infatuation with Kaminaga.  This woman invaded Hato because he couldn't express his feelings for her--she was his brother's girlfriend!  So, instead of just carrying a torch along like Madarame, Hato created her clone within his own psyche.  Hato tried to become her.

This is extremely telling.
Down this path has led madness.  Hato is a hot mess.  He doesn't want to be a woman because he was "born that way," Hato made himself that way.  It is a coping mechanism gone all wrong.  Hato's been conquered by a Kaminaga clone he created.  The poor guy is an emotional train-wreck waiting to happen.  He's got far, far too much baggage he needs to sort out before he is even remotely ready for a relationship.

Hato cannot even draw unless he's dressed as a woman.  This is not a symptom of a well person.  It hints at schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder, you name it.  Perhaps I'm bringing far too sober and serious an eye to this entire thing but there is a powerful subtext of dysfunction that has surrounded Genshiken from its very beginning.  In the first generation, it felt very supportive and accepting.  Ironically, Hato gains acceptance but it is as a female.  The moment Hato attempts to accept his male self and stop cross-dressing, the entire dynamic of the club changes.  The female-dominated space feels slightly perturbed.  The female characters react to this with varying levels of acceptance to silent disagreement but no one really actually supports Hato's choice... except Madarame.

Why?  Because Madarame got what he actually needed, something he's been missing since Sasahara graduated and went off to work.  Madarame got a friend, a male companion... a bro.

'Sup, brah?  Or not...?

Mada Needs a Guy Friend
Although it crushed Hato on some level, the fact that Mada had found a guy friend with whom he could relate had been a huge boon to him.  Mada has, throughout Genshiken Nidaime, been shedding the layers of belligerent, geeky otaku-ness for a more mature definition of self.  It appears that he's been growing a degree of self-confidence, baby-step by baby-step.  Interestingly enough, despite the stripping of his dignity after Saki breaks his heart and douses his torch for her, Mada seems to still be building himself up as a mature adult.  He's still confused and trying to find his niche in the world but he's doing it somewhat calmly and in a relaxed, laid-back manner in contrast to his former self.

Mada's maturity is accompanied by his loneliness.  His old friends are scattered, living their own lives, busy with their own attempts at finding jobs, livelihoods, and enter the adult, Japanese, workaday lifestyle.  His closest friend was ostensibly Sasahara Kanji, who rarely ever pops up in the manga anymore.  Through his arrangement with Hato (who gets changed at his apartment), Mada has actually gotten to know Hato as a guy and not as a cross-dresser.  Mada has found a companion in male Hato.  The thing is, male Hato and female Hato are different people outwardly (although inwardly they're conflicting poles of the same persona).  Mada can deal with male Hato as a male friend--something he desperately needs.  Female Hato only confuses Mada more at first.  Gradually, Mada comes to accept both as two sides of a coin but he feels far more comfortable and safe with male Hato.

Female Hato has finally announced his affection for Mada, exacerbating the harem situation in which Mada finds himself.  (Use of pronouns here is getting... sketchy... so I'm going to use pronouns based on biology).  The thing is, Mada is straight and Hato is trying to validate his own confused needs and desires by latching onto Mada and making him the object of his infatuation and a replacement for his former senpai.  This is not only unfair to Mada, it robs him of what he really needed--a male non-romantic, non-erotic, entirely non-sexual friendship.  Comrades.  Pals.  Bros.

What Mada Doesn't Need
Mada doesn't need to be a replacement for Hato's former senpai.  He needs to be Mada.  He doesn't need to be Hato's uke or seme either.  He needs to be Mada.  Mada is a straight cis-gendered male.  (I swear to God, I'm going to burn my Genshiken tankobon if Shimoku is so gauche to magically turn Mada gay for Hato.  I think Shimoku is better than that--so far he's lampshaded most of these manga tropes and the whole, "I'm not gay I just love you" guy-on-guy romantic arc is a definite fujoshi-manga trope.  Nevertheless, I've been disappointed by cheesy dei ex machinae before and that one would just infuriate me because it wouldn't be true to Mada's character.)

Hato Doesn't Know Who He (or She) Is
Hato can't really get true, honest support because Hato isn't ever honest with himself.  Hato hasn't really come to grips that his female persona is entirely fabricated as a coping mechanism.  He may have admitted it but he hasn't really done anything about it.

No, strike that, he has.  He rejects it, stops cross-dressing, tries to accept that he's a straight male who likes BL and still tries to hang out with all the girls.  He tries.  He gets and A for effort.  Then Mada tells him how happy he is that he has a male friend again.

POW!  Hato is crushed.  Kuchiki tries to "go gay" with Mada for Hato but that guy is such a clown that all it does is make everyone look and feel ridiculous.  In the end, Hato throws in the towel and starts to gradually merge himself with his Kaminaga-clone self and start seriously and deliberately indulging in--and exacerbating--his crush on Madarame.  The sexual tension continues to ratchet up and Mada is caught in the middle.  In the end, Madarame has lost a friend and gained a harem member.  Mada cannot entirely be himself anymore because of this.

What has me tearing my hair out is... why?  Why has Hato fixated on Madarame?  Is it because he is desperately trying to manifest himself in one of his BL fantasies?  Is it because he actually is gay and in love with Madarame?  There is the constant reminder through the manga that reality and fantasy are not the same but that doesn't seem to be stopping Hato from trying to create some sort of romantic relationship with Madarame.  And all this seems to belie the fact that Hato is not a transsexual.  He is comfortable with his male anatomy even though he's emerging as a female persona.

Or is Hato a personification of Genshiken as a whole?  If that is so, then Shimoku is saying something really twisted about what happens when male spaces convert to female spaces.

Continued in Part Three