Genshiken – 9-11
It has been kind of weird to rewatch Genshiken and discover again just how much I relate to Madarame, haha.
Not so much from the standpoint of being a ginormous anime fan, mind (the guy is way out of my league!), but more from the standpoint of not knowing what the hell to do in certain situations. While ep9 is undeniably hilarious, it is also a bit painful for me to watch, because I could insert myself into that scenario, and very little would be different. Maybe there would be less dating sim imagery as it pertains to Saki. But the moment where Madarame imagines asking an innocuous question to Saki, and then it launches into this vigorous discussion between them about the merits of the Kujibiki Unbalance anime, only for Madarame to slap himself out of the fantasy and chastise himself for being a huge dumbass, definitely hits home. Oh, how many moments of my life have been wasted retreating into the dark corners of daydreams.
The best part of the episode is the increasing absurdity of Madarame’s imagined situations. Madarame morphs into a more ludicrously bishounen version of himself as the episode goes along, while Saki becomes more loliesque. He tries so very hard to cast the situation in a way that does not threaten himself. Again, hits right home, although I never really went to that extreme with any of my daydreams. (Then again, some of my fantasies may have been just as absurd in their own ways. Just … absurd in a more normal way!) Watching Madarame freak out about the nose hair situation is quite funny, too. What do you do in that situation? I would probably be too embarrassed to say anything, but then I would be setting the other person up for more embarrassment afterward. Might as well take the less hurtful of the two roads and bring it up while you’re alone.
After such hilarity, the episode wraps it up with a strong, bittersweet ending. This is where Madarame really starts crushing on Saki, though he has not outright admitted it yet. But the feeling is there, and it’s strong. Can’t really blame him, either. Saki is a strong woman, and she’s a fighter. Who wouldn’t be attracted to someone like that? Madarame’s hidden crush on Saki is my favorite recurring story in Genshiken because it’s the one handled with the most delicacy and honesty. Won’t hint at anything down the road, just in case, but the way Madarame handles the conflict speaks a lot about him as a person. But for now he is left confused about how and why he could be so awkward around someone he had spent a lot of time with for a year. Hearts are a-fluttering~
Ep10 features a fun trip to the beach and the Keiko/Saki rivalry for Kohsaka’s love kicks into overdrive. Only it’s not really that much of a rivalry, because, really, how in the hell would Keiko ever stand a chance in hell of attracting a guy better than Saki? She looks like she speed read the make-up chapter in the How to Be a Whore handbook. Also, she is the very epitome of teenage fakeness. I went down that road once upon a time. Very rarely does one not look like a damn fool trying to chameleon his or her way into different social groups. Keiko’s completely silly attempt to become an otaku is just dumb, although the way her face lights up once she gets a load of Ohno’s yaoi doujinshi is funny as hell. “Holy shit, I can be a geek and like this stuff?! Count me in!”
Fitting into social cliques is a subtle theme of this episode, actually. For instance, you have Madarame mentioning that he would not be caught dead going to Comifes with a beach tan. When you’re alienated from a large part of society, you have to cling to whatever you can that signifies that you are a member of a whole, I suppose. Then, of course, there is Keiko trying to break into the otaku group and Saki giving her the straight dope on how that mission is destined to go down in flames. You can’t cram yourself into a group you do not understand. Like Saki says (quoting Madarame): “You either are an otaku, or you aren’t.” Saki was freakin’ miserable when she tried to be like Kohsaka. She can understand (to an extent) why they like what they like, and she can even have fun with it on a light level (she’s reading manga the whole time Madarame is being awkward in ep9), but becoming a full-fledged is not something Saki can do, nor is it something she wants to do, so she knows to leave well enough alone and enjoy the time she can.
Of course, I believe Saki can do much better than Kohsaka. She doesn’t need to settle for snatching time here and there. Aim higher, Saki. Aim higher, I say!
Ep11 is a boatload of funny. There is this weird slapstick element to it when Saki accidentally sets the spare doujinshi and figures on fire. Madarame bouncing around like a madman and waving his arms to and fro is so damn silly, but it makes me laugh so much. Ohno getting splashed with stinky water and looking like the creepy chick from Ringu is also funny in a really sad way. I can’t help but feel guilty at having a laugh at Ohno’s expense. She looks so downcast, but hell, I wouldn’t begrudge someone snickering at me if it were me with a bucket of smelly water all over me. OK, I would, but I would get over it eventually.
But Ohno gets her win later when she and the rest of the Genshiken crew guilts Saki into cosplaying at the club festival, since the school sort of frowns upon arson. One of the top five funniest moments in the first season, for me, is Saki slipping into an Ohno impression when she is onstage in front of all the otaku at the festival. She is all smiles and a high-pitched, energetic voice, and it is just so completely unnatural for her. Saki does not say it directly, but you get the feeling that is how she believes all female cosplayers act. Somewhat understandable, since she really has only Ohno for an influence.
It’s a great stroke of genius to have Saki cosplay the tough, frosty president of Kujibiki Unbalance, though, because she completely owns the role when she exposes (lol) the pervert snagging some panty video of the other cosplayers. Nobody sneaks a peek at Saki and lives to tell the tale. Nobody. She earns the hell out of those cheers after unknowingly morphing into the president to mete out some justice. (Would you watch a show about president!Saki owning the hell out of perverts and other deviants? I totally would.) Even though she’s confused as to why everyone enjoyed her act so much, Saki briefly knows the fun of cosplay . . . that is, until the real world smacks her across the face, and Saki has to endure the embarrassment of being grilled by a police officer who is just a bit too interested in the costume.
“Never again!” Saki shouts. You almost had her, Ohno. Almost.