Friday, August 29, 2014

Genshiken Nidaime and Spotted Flower

Note:  I originally wrote this post back at the end of August, 2014.  It's now early April and I've not posted anything because I've been incredibly busy with teaching at a local community college and finishing up my M.Ed. and my coursework for teaching certification.

As issue 110 was just released of Genshiken Nidaime and Kio Shimoku's latest interview with Anime News Network, I've got to say, a lot of what I've said here may not, at all, be relevant anymore.  I still feel very similarly to how I did back in August of 2014 but a lot of reveals since them have introduced and changed many of the facts.

Therefore, much of what is written here may not really be relevant or applicable.
 End of note.

So, I reread all of Genshiken and Genshiken Nidaime in July and August.  It seriously made me reconsider a number of assessments I had made in my previous series (Intro, Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4) on Genshiken Nidaime's gender dynamics, although, on the whole, recent developments during the summer, including Kio Shimoku's recent publications in Afternoon (especially issues 101, 102, and the as-yet untranslated 103) have seemed to validate a number of my assessments.  Coupled with the two most recent issues of Spotted Flower (issue 12 and issue 12.5), I am going to depart from my usual style of "impartial" analysis and actually do a bit of "shipping."

I've no serious investment in whether Madarame and Saki get together.  Although I like the characters, I recognize them as fictional and I won't get upset if events don't play out as I'm predicting here.  The reason I'm writing this post, however, is to demonstrate the contextual and literary rationale for my "shipping," essentially arguing that Kio Shimoku has been spending about half of Genshiken Nidaime building toward the situations found within Spotted Flower via analysis of the plot thus far as well as analysis of the characters themselves.

I'm only going to discuss my reassessments in brief, so let's get them out of the way first.

Yoshitake
I will admit I mischaracterized Yoshitake's character as a literary Satan/Devil/Loki character.  While she is somewhat chaotic, most of this is due to her enthusiasm and happy-go-lucky personality.  She's not really experienced heartache, nor seen heartache in her friends.  She accepts that she's somewhat pathetic (re: Ogiue's question regarding everyone's romantic histories) but it doesn't seem to bother her at all.

The problem with Yoshitake is that she doesn't realize she's playing with fire by trying to set up Yajima with Hato.  Broken hearts are difficult to mend and while Yoshitake realizes that the circumstances surrounding Hato's infatuation with Madarame may lead to a breakup of the Genshiken as a whole, she doesn't seem to realize that her meddling could hurt Yajima as well.

Yoshitake's motivations are alright.  She wants Yajima to be happy and in that regard, she's a great friend.  Yajima doesn't have any confidence in herself and her feelings for Hato, albeit known to Yoshitake, are suppressed and denied by Yajima for fear of failure and rejection.  What Yoshitake doesn't seem to realize is that there's no doubt that Hato would reject any romantic advances from Yajima.  Or perhaps Yoshitake does realize this?  If Yoshitake does, is she trying to maneuver Yajima so that she, too, gets rejected like Madarame was rejected by Saki in order for Yajima to get over it?

I don't think Yajima will recover from a rejection like Madarame did.

Sue
After re-reading Genshiken, it became quite clear what sort of personality Sue has.  Sue finds Madarame attractive and is drawn to him but she constantly rejects and refuses her feelings in order to maintain a persona.  The fact is, Sue is almost always playing a character in front of everyone.  When she speaks Japanese from her heart and not by reciting quotes we get a glimpse into her personality--a caring, observant, sensitive person.  Unfortunately, she keeps this part of herself submerged unless the situation requires her to speak up and help the group to remain solid and harmonious.

Sue's defense of Ogiue at the Comiket is a fantastic example of this.  Sue's encouraging of Ogiue to not allow Hato to feel isolated after he "outed" Madarame as a fantasy uke is another example.  Sue's conscientious and despite her "funny gaijin" caricature, she's genuinely compassionate and perceptive.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Madarame, or perhaps just men in general, Sue's got some major issues and unless Kio Shimoku shifts focus in the upcoming Fall's issues, we're not likely to get a real look into her psyche to see what her deal is.  She's chosen a persona that's possessive of Ogiue and a self-proclaimed rival of Sasahara.  Granted, this rivalry isn't serious--it's all part of her act.  It's not who she really is.  Interestingly enough, everyone else seems to know this.

Like Madarame's shell of otaku-ness, Sue's persona is a big defense mechanism meant to protect her heart.  She easily bonds with the women around her and becomes protective of them.  The men, however, really don't get much interaction with her (with the exceptions of Hato and Kuchiki, who are, well, exceptional) beyond "Die, Sasahara!" and "Die, Tanaka!"  It's unclear whether she feels fearful and threatened by men or simply perceives them as rivals and antagonists.  Her feelings for Madarame are likely due to his growth toward passivity and unobtrusiveness.  He's not threatening to her because, as he expresses at the end of Issue #103, "Girls are scary!"  When it comes to Madarame, Sue can feel safe and in control.  Unfortunately, she is also scared of revealing her true feelings.  She's made her mask so important to her that she's resistant to actually expressing her actual self.

Unless something serious happens, like when the entire female contingent of the Genshiken cajoled and maneuvered Sasahara and Ogiue into coming to terms with their pasts and feelings toward one another, Sue is very much unlikely to ever confront herself enough to make any real, honest advances toward Madarame.

Hato
Hato's come to terms with himself and his hobbies.  Whereas I saw Hato as tremendously confused back in the Spring, I now recognize Hato as a character who has come to accept who he is and what he loves.  The problem with this is that he has become infatuated with Madarame.

Porn addiction is a serious problem and all of the female club members in Genshiken Nidaime struggle with it to one degree or another.  Make no mistake, porn addiction has been linked to a number of romantic and erotic psychoses developed by those experiencing it, male or female.  For most of the female members of Genshiken, their "addiction" is pretty mild-to-nonexistent.  In Hato's case, however, it has driven him to an alternate (and in Japan, deviant) lifestyle.  While the rest of the members struggle with it by characterizing it as a 2-D vs 3-D dichotomy, Hato has jumped down the rabbit hole and is deliberately trying to live out a 2-D fantasy in real life.

Keiko's blasting of Hato's character in Issue #102 has been questioned by some (such as Muda-kun at Hearts of Furious Fancies) as potentially bigoted and homophobic.  I argue that it's not.  Keiko is no saint and is a petty and narcissistic person (as evidenced by the big reveal in Issue #103, which, if people recall a few moments in the original Genshiken, isn't so surprising after all).  Keiko's criticism of Hato, however, is entirely correct.  If we are what we do, then Hato's a deceiver.

I don't dislike Hato and I don't think Hato is a Bad Person.  I do think Hato is doing something very unethical and immoral, however.  I explained it to Muda-kun thusly:

Hato deliberately put himself in situations where he would fall in love with Madarame.  His Hato x Mada fantasy is something he's desperately trying to bring into reality but the truth is, Madarame will end up in his own version of The Crying Game and everyone is going to be hurt in the end.  Indeed, Madarame could end up going full-blown hikikomori from this entire affair.  I know it's a fictional manga, but Shimoku isn't one to go after unrealistic plot resolutions and Madarame going gay for Hato is about as unrealistic as Madarame piloting a Gundam, not to mention damage if not totally destroy many of the premises from which Shimoku is working. 
If Angela [and Keiko are] bad idea[s] for Madarame, and [they're] cis-gendered heterosexual female bombsell[s], then Hato is potentially disastrous... .  Hato is quite confused but he's less confused than he was before.  What he used to be confused about was his orientation.  Now he's accepted it alongside his love of BL and his enjoyment of being a trans-gendered future-female.  These things aren't a problem--the problem is Hato can't draw the line between fantasy and reality anymore.  Although the fujoshi in the club have tried to help Hato out often it has come with side-effects that muddied the waters and made things inadvertantly worse (ex. when Ogiue, at Sue's urging, showed Hato her Sasa x Mada drawings, which simply threw gas on the fire).  What Hato is doing to Madarame is just as bad as a straight guy doing the same thing to a lesbian woman... . 
Everything she's said about Hato doing "shitty things" has been in regards to seducing Madarame, especially during a time when Madarame is weakened.  Since summer Comiket, he's been humiliated (in part thanks to Hato, in part, thanks to Angela), he's had his heart broken by Saki, been put in an awkward position because of it, had Angela show up again and humiliate him, broken his wrist, been told he's got the weight of a harem to navigate, and on top of all this, Hato is in full-on yamato nadeshiko mode with aims to seduce Mada.  Mada's not attracted to Hato, here, he's desperately attracted to the yamato nadeshiko Hato is dressing as and Mada's having a hard time keeping in mind Hato-chan's [not actually a girl].
Let's consider the last sentence of the second paragraph here.  "What Hato is doing to Madarame is just as bad as a straight guy doing the same thing to a lesbian woman."  I can't imagine any homosexual women approving or even remaining tacitly indifferent to a storyline in which a lesbian woman is "seduced" back to being heterosexual.  It's extremely offensive and the readers would be outraged not just at the writer but at the male seducing character as well.

It doesn't help that Hato is taking advantage of the fact that Madarame's years of sexual isolation and frustration have programmed a weakness to yamato nadeshiko archetypes.  Hato is deliberately accentuating and exemplifying the tropes and characteristics regarding the yamato nadeshiko just as much as he was accentuating and exemplifying BL tropes and characteristics when he was changing at Madarame's apartment.  The only difference is that Hato is no longer engaged in any internal debate.  He's completely committed to his cause.

If Spotted Flower Issues #12 and #12.5 are any indication, Hato is headed for severe disappointment.  This is a big turnaround for Kio Shimoku with regards to how things had resolved throughout Genshiken.  Nevertheless, given how badly some things turn out for the depressingly stupid and narcissistic characters in Yonensei and Gonensei I am wondering if Shimoku is going to bring forth bitter fruit for any of the Genshiken Nidaime characters' decisions.

The Case for Spotted Flower
Spotted Flower is a point of contention for many readers of Genshiken Nidaime.  Is it canon?  Are the characters actually the same as the ones in Genshiken and Genshiken Nidaime?  Is it an alternate universe?  Are the similarities between all the major (and unnamed) characters in Spotted Flower only to tease the audience or is Kio Shimoku changing certain aspects of appearance and omitting names only because of copyright laws (Spotted Flower is serialized in a jousei manga anthology magazine and not Afternoon).

There is the teaser at the end of Genshiken Nidaime #80 after Saki has let Madarame down.  Are we to consider this a plug for an unrelated comic, an unofficial and non-canon glimpse at a would-be future, or a look at the actual future for the characters?  It is my contention that, given all of the facts in Spotted Flower and Genshiken/Genshiken Nidaime that Spotted Flower actually is the future of the Genshiken but Kio Shimoku filed off all the numbers in order to avoid any legal issues that may arise from serializing Spotted Flower in a different magazine.

Kousaka
The biggest hurdle to demonstrate that Spotted Flower is in fact the future of Saki and Madarame is Saki's assertion that, if it were a different universe and Saki wasn't dating Kousaka, that there might be something between the two of them.

This, however, is just how she feels at the time.  If it weren't for Kousaka, Saki never would have even met Madarame, never would have come to care about and respect him (or any other members of the Genshiken, for that matter), and never learned to be tolerant of and even accepting of his otaku-ness.  This is blatantly alluded to in the first few issues of Spotted Flower, where the wife reveals she had dated the husband's friend from his college circle and that the relationship taught her not to feel revulsion for otaku hobbies and interests.  Thus, in Spotted Flower, it is already established that the wife once dated the husband's friend but the relationship ended, allowing the wife and husband to get together.

The following excerpt from the comic (found here originally) after Saki turns Madarame down is extremely revealing.
Kousaka asserts that he love's Saki enough to show her 100% of who he is.  That's lovely.  The problem with Onno's rejoinder is that she doesn't point out that Kousaka doesn't love Saki enough to change in order to give her what she needs.  This is a problem.  I'd say he would be a good candidate for someone with Asperger's if it weren't for some inconsistencies in his behavior that invalidate him.  Kousaka only shows affection for Saki when it is required.  He is perfectly comfortable with or without a relationship and in the earlier issues of Genshiken the audience is privy to Saki's fears and frustrations in not getting what she needs from Kousaka.  Kousaka feels no need to put Saki first.  This is a serious problem.

Saki's been a champion.  She doesn't demand Kousaka change for her and, indeed, she's grown and changed a great deal.  She's gone from being the Genshiken's primary antagonist to a hero that's rescued the club numerous times.  Saki may dearly love Kousaka but their relationship is not healthy, no matter how many Kousaka x Saki shippers try to demonstrate otherwise.  The few moments of their relationship that are illuminated for the audience in Genshiken Nidaime don't give any evidence that Kousaka has grown or changed at all.  His order of priorities puts Saki pretty low in comparison to his hobbies.  Anyone who has ever been in a relationship or studied even rudimentary psychology knows that Saki is in an unhealthy situation.

This is why I see her relationship with Kousaka as temporary.  After Saki started to change and became a true friend to the other members of Genshiken, I went from snickering at her relationship woes because she was a terrible, shallow, self-centered person to hoping she'd break up with him because she deserves better.   A break-up with Kousaka is almost inevitable.

Genshiken was about a lot of things but one of them is Saki's personal growth.  Similarly, Genshiken Nidaime is about a lot of things but it is also about Madarame's growth and maturity as well.  I think Kio Shimoku is setting up a situation in which, when Saki and Kousaka break up, Madarame will be healthy enough and able enough to participate in a relationship with Saki.

Conclusion
Kio Shimoku is doing one of two things with Spotted Flower.  Either he's giving the audience a glimpse of the Genshiken characters' futures, specifically Saki and Madarame, or he is trolling his Genshiken audience.  There really isn't much of a chance for any other interpretation or possibility.  It is entirely possible that the next few months of Genshiken Nidaime will feature events that drastically redirect the course of the plot (especially since Winter Comiket is coming and that means Angela's return, as well as the new school year and possible new club members in Spring).  Kio Shimoku progressed through four years of character growth and plot events in 55 issues (Genshiken), but the past 48 issues haven't even spanned the course of a single year!  A lot of fans are hoping that Shimoku wraps up the Madarame harem storyline soon, which has been going on for about 23 issues so far (that's nearly two years' of issues).

19 comments:

George Mori said...

Interesting read, I just caught up with Genshiken after not reading it for years, and kinda agree.

I think the biggest issue with the Harem arc, if it is supposed to endgame Madarame with someone other than Saki is that well, he doesn't actually fit that well with any of the characters who are after him.

He's not gay, so Hato is out.

Sue is a cutie, but she is still a bit of a non character to me. She feels like a trope in a way that other characters do not. She seems like the least real of the Genshiken, by a fairly large margin. I realize that she is playing a character, or several characters, but that doesn't help her much at all.

Angela may as well be a non entity. She's great as the girl who is interested in a one night stand when Mada is oblivious, as part of the 'harem' it just doesn't seem like something that would ever last.

Keiko is great, but at the end of the day she is Saki without the morals. She has heart, and I love her to death, but her and Mada seem like a bad idea. And after the Boyfriend thing, I don't see him going for it.

That leaves no one in the harem who would actually work. Now that doesn't mean he might not date one of them, for a bit, but I don't see it going anywhere.

That honestly only leaves Saki, which by its nature would require a breakup with Kousaka, and a whole lot of character development from Madarame, and a bit from Saki too.

Ganshiken thus far has been a great realistic story in its insanity, but the one thing that has bothered me with it is that there have been no breakups with any of the couples. Of the three couples within the series thus far I can buy one, MAYBE two staying together in the long haul.

Perhaps Kio doesn't want to go back over ground he tread in Yonensei and Gonensei (which I haven't finished) about the more difficult side of relationships, but at this point I think it's kinda needed.

Dave Cesarano said...

George, you pretty much hit the nail on the head. While I don't exactly share your ambivalence toward Sue, I still agree that none of the harem are really good candidates for a healthy relationship that will last with Madarame.

Samrat Dey said...

Hi, I watched the three anime seasons of Genshiken recently before going through the most recent manga chapters. Your articles about Genshiken, particularly your views on the whole Saki/Madarame situation were of special interest to me. Since I was earnestly hoping for some resolution to Madarame's feelings, and the confession scene was frankly depressing while the following manga chapters have provided little comfort.

I won't go into why it's unlikely for Madarame to end up with any of the 'harem' members, since you've already discussed this in great detail elsewhere. However, I would like to point out why I think Saki and Madarame getting together is virtually impossible (despite the fact that I for one would definitely enjoy such an outcome).

First of all, the relationship between Saki and Kousaka. As you pointed out, it's stagnant, unnatural (given the practically zero character development for Kousaka) and possibly unfair to Saki. However, that's only from the perspective of the fans (and some characters like Ohno), and possibly not from the perspective of Shimoku himself. As long as it's established instory as a stable relationship (which it has), there's no chance of a break-up; furthermore it's even more unlikely given that a relationship breakdown is unprecedented in Genshiken and goes against its established tone and flow.

Secondly, suppose that miraculously they do break up; what are the chances of Saki and Madarame getting together? Let's analyze Saki's feelings for Madarame. Simply put, there are none; absolutely no evidence for it: her attitude towards Madarame while moderately friendly and compassionate is characterized by small amounts of pity and kindness and large amounts of indifference. There hasn't been any indication of anything more and thus there's no incentive for Saki to even think of choosing Madarame even if she breaks up with Kousaka. It completely goes against her character.

Thirdly, suppose again that Saki, having broken up with Kousaka, is willing to give Madarame a second chance, so to speak. Would he accept it? Madarame has already repressed his feelings for years and then (no matter how well-intentioned the set-up may have been) suffered pain and sadness at being turned down. After going through all that and finally on his way to a possible recovery, it's unthinkable he would risk being hurt all over again. There's also his pride and self-esteem to consider. It's not bitterness but a resolve to move forward which would likely cause him to politely decline.

In conclusion, I don't think Saki and Madarame would (or for that matter, should) get together, no matter how pleasant that would be for the fans (including me). The first and last chance of that happening was lost at the confession scene when she turned him down, and getting them back together now or later would require convoluted plots and out-of-character interactions, essentially making for a poor plot. The mangaka won't risk going that way. (As for Spotted Flower, Shimoku says in a recent interview that it's unrelated to Genshiken in any way; the characters and their backgrounds may have been inspired from Genshiken, but that's all. I see no reason for Shimoku to be trolling.)

So, sad as it may seem (and given the very low chances of a natural and convincing relationship emerging from the harem situation), Madarame is likely to remain alone; gradually relegated to the background as a plot device and finally quietly disappearing (like the other first generation members including Saki). Of course there may be a final, even more painful scene where he attends Saki's wedding with Kousaka before slouching off into the sunset. All subsequent chapters would then deal with the newer members and their predicaments , and Madarame would never be mentioned again.

I do hope he gets a job at least.

Samrat Dey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dave Cesarano said...

Wow. I've been so busy with teaching I've neglected my blog, so I hope these "new" comments I discovered don't find my response too late.

Okay, Samrat Dey, I'm going to respond to you, point-for-point first. You bring up some pretty good points.

As you pointed out, it's stagnant, unnatural (given the practically zero character development for Kousaka) and possibly unfair to Saki. However, that's only from the perspective of the fans (and some characters like Ohno), and possibly not from the perspective of Shimoku himself.

Considering he's pretty tight-lipped about the entire thing, it is uncertain what he thinks, if anything. On that note, you still have a darn good point. One cannot assume that Shimoku's views are what the fans think.

As long as it's established instory as a stable relationship (which it has), there's no chance of a break-up; furthermore it's even more unlikely given that a relationship breakdown is unprecedented in Genshiken and goes against its established tone and flow.

These are also good points. However, Shimoku has done some pretty harsh things to characters before, like in Gonensei and Yonensei, relationship-wise. In his oeuvre it is not unprecedented.

A tonal shift in Genshiken is not unprecedented, although a relationship collapse would be. I would contest that it still remains a possibility--one I would actually prefer to see. Again, though, my preference does not mean that is what Shimoku wants and all of this is, of course, conjecture, after all. We won't know what happens until Shimoku reveals everything.

Secondly, suppose that miraculously they do break up; what are the chances of Saki and Madarame getting together?

I'm going to omit the remainder of the paragraph for brevity's sake. Again, you make a good point. It overlooks, however, the reality that people's feelings can change and Saki herself did say that if Kousaka had never been a factor, her and Madarame may have had a shot. The door is not open, but it implies the possibility that it might.

Shimoku constantly dances along the reality-vs-fantasy line. I've seen people who, in high school, had no interest in one-another get together fifteen years later and get married. As people mature, their values, perceptions, and priorities shift. The Genshiken characters are not stagnant and indeed, Madarame's personality has undergone several tremendous shifts in maturity over the course of the series.

Your point is a good one but only works if it assumes that Saki never changes.

Thirdly, suppose again that Saki, having broken up with Kousaka, is willing to give Madarame a second chance, so to speak. Would he accept it?

If Saki just up and approaches him with it, he might not. Who knows? The thing is, that wouldn't have any drama if it went that way. What would probably occur is Shimoku would have Saki and Madarame gradually realize their feelings for one another and develop a relationship over time. Again, your point is a good one but it overlooks some tremendously important factors.

After going through all that and finally on his way to a possible recovery, it's unthinkable he would risk being hurt all over again.

Actually, only if he doesn't mature after he's healed. Experience and perspective. It is possible he could go full-blown hikkikomori from these events. I'd rather not see that happen.

There's also his pride and self-esteem to consider. It's not bitterness but a resolve to move forward which would likely cause him to politely decline.

Maybe at first. Again, who knows. Shimoku may play out the entire scenario as you described. Like I said, we're operating entirely on conjecture and discussing hypothetical situations that have yet to be inked on the page.

Dave Cesarano said...

To continue our discussion...

In conclusion, I don't think Saki and Madarame would (or for that matter, should) get together, no
matter how pleasant that would be for the fans.


Well, North American fans, at least. I would absolutely love to find out what the Japanese fans think.

The first and last chance of that happening was lost
at the confession scene when she turned him down, and getting them back together now or later
would require convoluted plots and out-of-character interactions, essentially making for a poor plot.


See, I take issue with that. Frankly, if you don't think the current plot is not somewhat convoluted, honestly, I'm left scratching my head. The entire harem-situation, while lampshading the harem convention, still requires a ridiculous amount of narrative gymnastics and does stretch credibility.

Also, I must stress again that Shimoku is trying to walk down that fine line between real life and fantasy from a position of critique and commentary. Real life events can really change people dramatically. Again, I've seen people do things that ten years ago would have been incredibly out-of-character for them.

(As for Spotted Flower, Shimoku says in a recent interview
that it's unrelated to Genshiken in any way; the characters and their backgrounds may have been
inspired from Genshiken, but that's all. I see no reason for Shimoku to be trolling.)


... Yeah, I heard about that. I'm not entirely certain if that should be taken at face-value. He could have said it for legal reasons (Spotted Flower is published in an entirely different magazine from Genshiken). Shimoku has had no problems writing up situations to explore with interesting and unique characters. I don't see much of a reason for him to draw heavily from Genshiken and explore a "what-if" scenario that he's never going to make canon.

Madarame is likely to remain alone; gradually relegated to the
background as a plot device and finally quietly disappearing (like the other first generation members
including Saki). Of course there may be a final, even more painful scene where he attends Saki's
wedding with Kousaka before slouching off into the sunset.


Well, see, again you may be right. I vehemently disagree with you that a Saki + Mada ending would necessarily be contrived. I think if handled properly it could be pulled off. I mean... seriously. Madarame with a harem. I'll say it again, Madarame with a harem. Stretching credulity already and people still enjoy it.

But back to Madarame slouching off into the sunset. Yeah. I really do not want to see that happen. As it is, I'm returning to the comic less and less as the months drag on. The last time I checked up on it was around the January issue. I've not seen the February or April releases.

I'm not a hater but I do feel like the manga is leaving an area with which I can relate or care. I don't begrudge the evolution of the comic. I'm not upset or angry but I am losing interest.

All subsequent chapters would then deal
with the newer members and their predicaments, and Madarame would never be mentioned again.

I do hope he gets a job at least.


Well, yeah. By this point, I'd have moved off of the comic myself if this is what happens. I like some of the new characters but I don't find them nearly as relatable to myself as the previous generation. Again, this is not a judgment of Shimoku's decisions but a reflection of my own personal tastes.

Samrat Dey said...

Firstly, thanks for going through and analyzing my comment in such splendid detail. Your arguments are convincing and I agree that a Saki+Mada ending need not have been contrived - if Saki had at least appeared since the confession scene, which she hasn't even once ,as far as I know.(Even Kousaka, Sasahara and Tanaka have made a few cameos since, but not Saki.) At the moment she seems to be a background character who is often mentioned, that's all; unless there's another huge arc involving her after the harem arc, I don't think she's likely to appear anytime before the series finale. Of course this too is conjecture, but she would at least have to be there for anything at all to happen, right?

Regarding Shimoku's recent interview, I went through it again and he indeed has firmly dispelled the notion that Genshiken is connected in any way to Spotted Flower. While the latter may not be canon in Genshiken, however, it's becoming increasingly difficult not to see these as the same characters or at least inspired by the same. (Hato, Yajima, Ohno and even Tanaka in the latest chapter have been alluded to.) Honestly it's too obvious and Shimoku's firm denial seems quite strange when there's an abundance of evidence of Spotted Flower being, if not canon, at least a 'what-if' scenario.

Finally, to be absolutely honest, I strongly ship Saki and Mada and equally strongly dislike the Saki-Kousaka pairing (which surprisingly has many shippers apparently unperturbed by Kousaka's one-dimensionality and their relationship's less-than-one-dimansionality!) Yet, seeing as I still don't see that happening any time soon, if ever (unless Shimoku writes for years and years); I would be content if Mada ends up with anyone, even Hato (though as a straight guy myself it would be difficult to relate to, it's fine with me so long as it's a happy ending for Mada.) Things are taking interesting turns right now, and I feel there's at least some chance of a conclusion, for good or ill, in the not-too-distant future. Let's wait and see, though admittedly I find waiting for 20 something pages each month beyond frustrating. Unfortunately Mada's fate is something I need to know!

Dave Cesarano said...

Hey, Samrat, glad you enjoyed my response. As you may have noticed, I had to put a big red note at the top due to recent... revelations (some of which you had mentioned). For brevity's sake, I'm going to skip pleasantries and get right to the meat of our discussion.

...if Saki had at least appeared since the confession scene, which she hasn't even once ,as far as I know.

I'm pretty sure she has... just not in any substantial way. Or maybe she hasn't, I have to go back and check. Either way, your point is still valid.

Regarding Shimoku's recent interview, I went through it again and he indeed has firmly dispelled the notion that Genshiken is connected in any way to Spotted Flower.

Eeeeeehhhhh. I'm still not entirely convinced he didn't say that for legal and copyright reasons. However, for the time being, I will, for the sake of the discussion, assume that he spoke 100% truthfully and isn't hedging. Thus, I'm conceding this one to you... for now. We'll see if this is really the case... eventually... I hope.

Honestly it's too obvious and Shimoku's firm denial seems quite strange when there's an abundance of evidence of Spotted Flower being, if not canon, at least a 'what-if' scenario.

Yeah, there's the rub. And it's an awfully sand-papery one.

Finally, to be absolutely honest, I strongly ship Saki and Mada and equally strongly dislike the Saki-Kousaka pairing...

I hate to admit to shipping because it makes me feel so... I dunno... pathetic? Corny? Juvenile? I mean, Christ, I'm a 36-year-old college professor and I'm shipping comic-book characters. Eh, whatever, it's the internet. Anyway, you were saying...

...(which surprisingly has many shippers apparently unperturbed by Kousaka's one-dimensionality and their relationship's less-than-one-dimansionality!)

Yeah, that bugs me. I feel strongly about it because I've seen pretty unhealthy and one-sided relationships and theirs seems pretty unhealthy and one-sided. I feel as though it says a lot about the readers and their own views on relationships and how their views are inherently unhealthy. Yeah, it's just a comic but Shimoku is deliberately trying to be realistic and there's the whole "art imitates life" and "life imitates art" feedback cycle.

...I would be content if Mada ends up with anyone, even Hato (though as a straight guy myself it would be difficult to relate to, it's fine with me so long as it's a happy ending for Mada.)

I don't think it would be but that's because Mada is confused. Frankly, if Mada weren't Japanese but American he probably would have broken down by now and told someone how unfair it is that the girls have put him in this position. They're being rather selfish and it is, indeed, at his expense. Whatever choice he makes, he will alienate everyone else and that could threaten the group as a whole--a big no-no in Japanese culture.


Things are taking interesting turns right now, and I feel there's at least some chance of a conclusion, for good or ill, in the not-too-distant future. Let's wait and see, though admittedly I find waiting for 20 something pages each month beyond frustrating. Unfortunately Mada's fate is something I need to know!

Me, too, Samrat Dey. Me, too.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for my bad English, but if you're interested in the Spotted Flower-Genshiken relationship, you can read this Kio interview:

http://konomanga.jp/interview/33082-2/2

It's in Japanese but you'll probably be able to understand it if you use Rikaichan.

Basically, he says that the main characters of Spotted Flower were based on the concepts "love" and "otaku" and that he's having fun with the look-alikes but when he's asked if he's drawing it as a sort of Genshiken spin off he says no. That if that was the case, he would have never done Spotted Flower.

Anonymous said...



We are taking the Spotted Flower too seriously.
Can no one see it as Shmioko-Sensei recreation,
a doujin by the author?

I want the current section of the story to be
over and the Third Season of Genshiken to exist.
Genshiken has the capability to be endless as
more otaku join and continue the club into an
indefinte future.
bliss of rec.arts.manga a Usenet Newsgroup

heartsoffuriousfancies said...

Well, this is after a long time,but if you still get notices from comments on this blog, and if you still follow the Genshiken, I would be interested in your take on the current situation.. Ch120, not yet scanlated, looks like Madarame is going for Hato. Hato is trying to dissuade, not completely working yet.
Weigh in!
Cheers /M

Dave Cesarano said...

Hey, Muda-kun,

My current teaching position is keeping me awfully busy but man, I read the last few issues and your last few posts and... well... what is stopping me from writing is simply how much I have to say and how long it will take to say it. I agree with some of your "personalities" or "aspects of self" and disagree with others and see you reaching towards some sort of internal synthesis of the various positions.

Also, I'm not quite sure I don't want to wait it out and see how things turn out, first. I've been wrong before about where Shimoku was taking things. I could be wrong again.

Samrat Dey said...

Hi, it's been over a year since our last conversation here, and in case you're still following Genshiken Nidaime and haven't yet caught up with the latest chapter,
SPOILERS
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In case you have read the latest chapter, you know that the long, long Madarame harem arc has finally ended, with Madarame turning down all four potential interests each for distinct reasons. This was indeed the safest way to conclude the arc, maintaining the status quo and hence 'balance' of the group as you once mentioned, while at the same time enabling some measure of character growth.

Personally I was never invested in any particular pairing among these four, and looking back on my older comments here I feel awkward about having been so serious about the Saki-Madarame one. I freely admit that I have since turned 360 degrees and no longer have any interest whatsoever in these two characters getting together; the chances are negligible and moreover it's really not desirable if we take their personalities into account. Madarame would always have been better off alone or with someone other than Saki.In any case, given everything that has happened I am satisfied with the results: Madarame is now a happier, far less pitiable and honestly far more enviable character.

The conclusion of this arc reveals that Madarame still hasn't fully come to terms with Saki's rejection, but he's still gained the strength and confidence to move forward (or away) and find himself a job. Which indicates that Madarame will probably gradually disappear from the Genshiken pages, like so many other first generation members before him. A further continuation of his romances at any point in the future seems unlikely if not impossible, after such a long time the author is likely to prefer something new.

Finally, though Spotted Flower continues to throw in references to Genshiken with even an adult Sue appearing in a recent issue; there's still nothing to indicate it ever will in any real way tie to Genshiken.

Dave Cesarano said...

Hey, Samrat.

I must be honest, I really disagree with you on your last point. I think that Spotted Flower is the future of Genshiken but Shimoku has to keep his fingers crossed for legal reasons. As you said, there's even a grown-up "Sue" who shows up and behaves precisely as she would be expected. Although the evidence is only circumstantial, I think it far outweighs the evidence that Spotted Flower is not the future of Genshiken. After rereading Spotted Flower, especially all of the interactions "Hato" has with "Madarame," I am all but convinced at this point, especially since the harem arc conclusion. (Note that I do use the quotation marks--a nod to the opposition, of sorts).

Samrat Dey said...

I agree with you that considered independent of Shimoku's public assertions, Spotted Flower does seem to simulate a future Genshiken. But Spotted Flower still refuses to have any character names and moreover is drawing to a close (with the couple's child being born). And the same legal reasons you mentioned could prevent any concrete connection or continuity from ever being established. I believe both Spotted Flower and Genshiken will individually conclude ambiguously and the mangaka will leave it up to the readers to come up with their own theories. Shimoku has been playing it rather safe so far, chances are he won't change that.

Samrat Dey said...

Hi! Once again it's been a long time since I last wrote here, because I hadn't been following the manga since the apparent conclusion of the harem arc; and I checked up on its progress today, to several surprising results. Spoilers in case you're yet to read...
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So the harem arc actually continues and ends definitively with a Madarame-Sue pairing, aided into existence by none other than a suddenly returning Saki; and this is also the penultimate chapter (Ch. 126) which means that Spotted Flower is definitely not canon and no possibility remains of a Mada-Saki pairing whatsoever. I can't honestly say I like the ending, given my still remaining bias towards Mada-Saki and the hopes raised by Spotted Flower, nor do I dislike it; a Mada-Sue pairing fits the characters and a Mada-Saki pairing may have required a long and possibly contrived storyline given that Saki's character has remained as much of a static background as Kousaka's for a long time now. This ending may be the best, though it cuts short the potential of many other characters who could have flourished in later generations. Well, this has been the year of endings indeed.
What do you think, and what is your opinion of Spotted Flower? It seems Shimoku was making fools out of us, after all! Even after all this it continues to have perfect future versions of Genshiken characters, albeit unnamed. But then again it's also drawing to a close and in fact may have already ended, with the couple's child being born.

Dave Cesarano said...

So the harem arc actually continues and ends definitively with a Madarame-Sue pairing, aided into existence by none other than a suddenly returning Saki; and this is also the penultimate chapter (Ch. 126)

Yeah.

... which means that Spotted Flower is definitely not canon and no possibility remains of a Mada-Saki pairing whatsoever.

No, dude. That is based on a whole horde of assumptions with no evidence.

1) Sue wants to return to the States to start her own doujinshi shop.
2) Assuming Madarame doesn't want to leave Japan (highly likely since he speaks next to no English) they will likely separate if and when she graduates and goes back home.

It seems Shimoku was making fools out of us, after all!

Perhaps, but what purpose would that possibly serve?

I am still under the assumption that Spotted Flower is canon unless solidly proven otherwise. A lot of people are looking at the Mada-Sue pairing as proof and it isn't--not by a longshot. Although I absolutely love the Mada-Sue pairing, I do not think it will last once Sue goes back home.

Samrat Dey said...

Hi Dave, though Genshiken is now over I have to say I have really enjoyed our discussions and look forward to more such opportunities in future.
I have recently started a blog of my own. I'm quite new at this and the articles are nowhere near as well-thought and analytical as yours, but mostly they are records of my personal thoughts and impressions regarding any movie, tv show or anime I've watched and bothered to write about. I plan to add a lot more reviews soon.
I would really like any ideas and insights you might have regarding how I can improve my blog. So, if possible, please take a look and follow.
Here's the link:
https://thewatcheroftheworlds.wordpress.com/

Dave Cesarano said...

Hey, Samrat. I don't blog as often as I used to, as should be obvious. Ever since I returned to the United States, I've trailed off of the blog train. I will sometimes go MONTHS without even checking the comments, let alone adding a new entry. Work keeps me very busy.

That being said, I'll try to keep your blog in mind and see if I can't visit it from time to time. Take it easy.