Genshiken – 4-6

OhnoCosplay

I love Kanako Ohno.

This is simply because she is one of the — if not the — strongest and most honest characters in all of Genshiken. Yes, she hides her preference for bald, muscled older men (due to some bad experiences showin’ her moe in America), and she is prone to stammering when she does not know what to say, but she is not afraid to stand up for herself and what she loves. When Saki reacts like, “HUBBAWHA?!” to Ohno — a woman! — actually wanting to join Genshiken, Ohno just replies, “But I like cosplay.” That’s all that matters to her. That other people may disapprove of it never crosses Ohno’s mind for even a second. This is who she is! She loves to put herself in the shoes of different characters; nothing makes her happier. And she loves to put that happiness on display for others to enjoy. It’s tough thing to develop the confidence to show yourself like that. Certainly the men of Genshiken are nowhere near being able to do that, except perhaps Tanaka, who is pretty much Ohno’s exclusive designer from here on out, haha.

Saki starts really coming into her own here, too. She doesn’t approve of a woman joining a club of what she sees as a bunch of perverts and weirdos. The very fact that Ohno is eager to join the club and dress up as fictional characters just blows Saki’s mind. But she doesn’t totally dismiss Ohno and leave it at that. Instead, when she sees Ohno has left her door unlocked to clean her apartment up a bit, Saki takes this opportunity to barge in and see what Ohno is hiding. And her brain kind of fizzles a bit when she sees Ohno’s old man posters. But rather than completely mock Ohno, although she does laugh a bit at the strangeness of what she has stumbled upon, Saki reaches out and theorizes that Ohno just wanted to be friends and tested Saki in a roundabout way. (Albeit this all happens after a hilarious scene where Saki tries to call for Tanaka and Ohno practically chokes her to death. xD)

I think the fact that Ohno is a woman helps Saki be a bit more accepting of this and helps her to open up a bit. At this point, Saki is still relatively grounded in traditional thought — things outside of her experience are kind of, well, strange, and she fits the Genshiken guys into all the otaku stereotypes (their behavior does not really help this, to be fair, haha). But then she sees a woman — a pretty woman, no less — wanting to get in on all this, and Saki’s thought process shifts a bit. Instead of being dismissing, Saki is curious. And that curiosity leads her to see what makes Ohno tick, and Saki finds that Ohno is not really different from any other person. “The world’s filled with lots of girls who like older men,” Saki says. They have a laugh together, and Saki’s worldview has shifted ever so slightly.

OhnoSakiViceChairman

Ep5 sees a radical shift with Saki. She says she lives to see the day when Genshiken will go under, but when she is confronted with Genshiken’s demise, she reacts strongly against it. Why? Partly because it seems unfair to her. Genshiken hasn’t had many activities, but neither have many other clubs in the school, and they are not being targeted for closure. But the larger reason, I believe, is because the imminent closure of Genshiken allows her to see the club members as people. Saki sees how crushed the guys would be if the club closed. Sure, they would just find another spot in which to shack up, but the clubroom is like a symbol to them. It’s their home base, their retreat. It is them. And Saki sees how reluctant they are to fight for it, because they are not used to standing up for themselves.

So she takes pity on them and fights their battle for them. This is huge for her. She fights a battle she does not want to fight because, damn it, someone has to fight it if those losers won’t fight for themselves! Ohno also tags along with Saki as eye candy (Saki’s words, not mine!). Although she does not do much, I think Ohno’s support is important because it solidifies her friendship with Saki. Also, I totally love this part of the series because I love strong women, and we’ve got two strong women here going up against another strong woman in the student council vice chairman. I could watch Saki go up against the vice chairman all day and not be bored.

In the end, Saki and Ohno show the goofball guys — who by that time just barely decide that they want to fight for the club’s right to exist xD — that it’s OK to grow some freaking balls and fight for yourself. And through some, er, manipulation by the club president, Saki becomes a full-fledged member of Genshiken herself. But she is basically a member by this point, anyway — she hangs out in there all the time, and she fights for the club’s existence. She is Genshiken.

SakiKohsaka

In regards to ep6, a friend of mine says part of what he loves about Genshiken is that it gives you characters you either completely fall in love with or totally despise immediately. And he hates Kohsaka. On second watch of Genshiken, I am starting to agree with him. I always felt sorry for Saki because her attempts to seduce Kohsaka are completely unsuccessful. There is a level of irony there — the beautiful, normal woman cannot capture the attention of the utter otaku — but it’s not something I can really enjoy because Saki is so appealing. She’s a fighter. She is utterly opposed to Genshiken in the beginning but gradually makes friends with them. Saki is not a person to despise. She is just a person trying to get someone she likes to like her in return. It’s just one more thing that brings her closer to the otaku she is surrounded by every day.

Saki makes another attempt to go beyond a shallow interest in Kohsaka’s looks by trying to share his interests. She plays Puyo Pop Fever, and even though she is not good at it, she goes over to Kohsaka’s place and proposes a game or two to have a bit of fun together. But Kohsaka completely destroys her because he cannot see that she is just trying to share something with him. Saki doesn’t really play games, so what fun is there in pounding her to a pulp? And in an earlier episode, when even Kohsaka could sense that Saki needs a hug, he acts as if he is on the clock as a boyfriend, and after a few seconds he punches out because an anime he likes is coming on. Ever hear of a tape recorder, dude? Damn, that’s cold. I don’t think Kohsaka treats Saki the way he does on purpose — he is just completely clueless. But, in a way, that is just as bad. I’ll probably keep screaming for Saki to abandon ship every week, haha.

Sasahara’s sister, Keiko, is a big ball of yuck, too. She’s in that teen phase where you think everything sucks, but you’re also too dumb to realize it’s you who sucks. (I went through this from  13-14. Man, was I an insufferable asshat!) She is basically what the Genshiken guys think Saki is initially like — a completely shallow person who judges based solely on appearance and who shifts her views like a chameleon to get her way. Keiko is pretty much the worst little sister for an unassuming guy like Sasahara to have, haha.

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