I found out recently that “Genshiken: Second Season” wrapped up its serialization in Japan. My friend Steve has been keeping up with the scanlations and he let me know that the series has also been fully translated at this point as well. He also dropped the cryptic hint that Saki — the non-otaku member of the group who was one of the main characters in the first “season” — was revealed to be the true protagonist in these final chapters. Anticipating only two volumes left in the series to be released over here I was fully prepared to wait until (what would likely be around) this time next year in order to find out how things ended with the release of the final volume in America. Courtesy of its official release from Kodansha Comics.
However, a quick trip over to the scanlation site that Steve and I both frequent revealed that there aren’t two volumes left to release in “Second Season.” There are three. So instead of “Fall 2017,” I’d now be waiting until “Spring 2018” for the finale if I waited to read this through proper channels. As you can probably guess, I caved and read through the rest of the series yesterday.
While I’m still committed to supporting the official release of this series by buying the new volumes as they come out, don’t expect to read any more about “Genshiken” here. At least, until the final volume comes out and I drag Steve in for the podcast post-mortem regarding the title. That’s because reading the ending has robbed me of any optimism I may have had regarding some of the long-term developments in this title.
Yes, I’m talking about “Madarame’s Harem” here. The previous volume may have instilled some hope that this setup (and one pairing in particular) could’ve worked, by the end of the series it’s all a wash as far as I’m concerned. This is particularly disappointing because there’s a lot of good character work done amidst this contrived romantic setup. Particularly between Madarame and Hato, and — shock of all shockers — even Sue gets a breakout moment too. There’s also a point where it looks like the harem business has finally been resolved in about as satisfying a manner as we could’ve hoped for. Problem is, it’s reversed by the end of the series in a way that succumbs to “Genshiken’s” worst fan-indulgent tendencies. I can’t really slow-clap a comic, but I really wanted to after getting to that point here.
I’ve had plenty of issues regarding this series, but I’ve kept reading on the hope that mangaka Shimoku Kio’s skills as a storyteller would be able to redeem this misguided storyline. Ultimately, that doesn’t happen despite some scattered bright spots over the final three volumes. One of those is the return of the main cast from the first “season” of the series. It’s a wonderful bit of nostalgia for me because the whole vibe then was much closer to what it was like in the anime club that I attended and later ran during my college years (and then continued to hang out at for several years afterwards).
“Second Season” hasn’t had the same vibe, but only part of that is down to my changing/aging tastes. I’d much rather have seen Kio focus more on the fangirl priorities of the Genshiken’s current members, as well as Ogiue’s budding manga career and the like-minded aspirations of Hato and Yajima. Instead, it wound up being dragged down by a story that posited what it would be like for a guy to wind up in a harem situation straight out of anime/manga/h-games while mostly failing to provide a credible reason for any of these individuals to fall in love with him. “Genshiken: Second Season” isn’t a creative failure on the level of “Gunsmith Cats: Burst”where a creator returned to his signature creation out of apparent indifference and without a story to tell. “Second Season” had one. It was just misguided to the point that no amount of skillful character work could redeem it.