Genshiken – 7-8
Just as I could not remember where the hell Kuchiki is introduced in Genshiken, here he is! And he is accompanied by some random asshole I also forgot about.
Poor Madarame is in over his head trying to make these two feel welcome to Genshiken. They go to a restaurant for some good ol’ fashioned eating and drinking, but the conversation is stiff and awkward at best with Madarame taking the lead. I definitely sympathize with him there. I can hold my own in conversation just fine — once it gets going, that is. But starting them up and keeping the flow going is not my strong suit, nor is it Madarame’s. All he can think of are lame questions about why the newbies want to join Genshiken.
It does not help that Madarame has a formidable opponent in Saki, who is dedicated to crushing the n00bs’ spirits and driving them away from the club. She doesn’t want Genshiken to thrive, but I think her secret reason is that she does not want to spend a ton of time with Kuchiki and Random Asshole. Saki is basically a full-fledged member of Genshiken, even though she does not participate in activities, so she is trying to make the club environment the best it can possibly be for her. Kuchiki is really weird and creepy and probably the biggest dork out of anyone there. Saki does not approve. Random Asshole is just a smarmy douche who pretends to know more than he really does. Saki also does not approve. They must be crushed. Can’t really blame her for thinking this.
But, man, the stress it causes poor Madarame! He regrets taking on the Chairman position more and more. He is the biggest otaku in the group, but he does not really have the stomach for a position of such leadership and pressure (even in a lowly club like Genshiken). His poor attempts at damage control would be really funny if they didn’t totally hit home with me. Again, I would be the one weakly trying — and utterly failing — to right the ship while Saki wreaked havoc with the newbies.
Ep8 is definitely funnier than the previous episode. Never really built plastic models, myself (blasphemy?), but I can identify with the feeling that someone is going to ruin a precious item one owns.
There is this palpable sense of doom running through the entire episode, as if Saki is this personification of total destruction that will inevitably cause some catastrophe involving the models. Saki claims to not be interested in the models, and yet she wants to touch them as much as possible. I think she appreciates how nice they look at the end but does not want to put in the work to achieve that end. Still, she is at least semi-fascinated with them, and everyone damn near has a heart attack when Saki has her hands all over the models. The musical cues are fantastic, too — they could come straight out of a cheap horror movie.
This episode is also a fine example of how insular Genshiken is. If you do not give a shit about plastic models, and the work it takes to make one, then you will probably not give a shit about this episode. It’s funny to me (and I’m actually getting the Gundam references this time around!), but there are somewhat lengthy scenes with just Tanaka, Ohno and Sasahara building models, and Tanaka is pretty much just short of having a hard-on the whole time. But I guess that is par for the course with this series!
Also, Ohno is a really good friend. She knows Saki is going to break her model. She knows it. There is no way this will not happen. Yet she lets Saki fondle the model, anyway. And when the inevitable does occur, Ohno is not even bitter about it toward Saki; she is sad, yes, and tries her best to fight back the tears (I’d be sad, too, if something I worked on for a solid week was suddenly destroyed), but she is not at all spiteful toward Saki. (Although you can kind of sense her suggestion that Saki cosplay to make up for ruining the model is a sort of vengeful act, haha.)