Ogiue’s appearance marks a shift in Genshiken from loosely organized slice of otaku life to something a little more like a recognizable romance plot — but, I emphasize, only a little more like a recognizable romance plot, as Genshiken has that fantastic way of maintaining absolute subtlety, subverting every trope in the book, and hitting a little too close to home all at once. Genshiken has a generally interesting structure, in fact, involving the buildup of overlapping styles, and I can only adequately represent it with one of those enigmatic graphics I so enjoy.
These are, at any rate, the major divisions I make when I read Genshiken. The Madarame/Kasukabe subplot is significant enough to drive the story on some occasions, and sustained enough to warrant mentioning; the Comiket/doujin arc is a leveling-up moment for both the Genshiken and Sasahara (both of whom, lo and behold, actually do something, and continue to do things thereafter); and, for me, the most significant shift occurs when Ogiue brings her quirks to the clubroom table.
In a way, Ogiue is the most “character-like” of all the characters; she’s easily identifiable as both tsundere and a potential love interest with a tragic past. Of course, her co-characters peg her character traits, too, and her “tragic past” involves a yaoi doujin, so the spirit of Genshiken remains intact throughout. But the way things play out for Ogiue isn’t unheard-of — she softens up to the other club members over time (she’s one of those classic-type tsundere characters, I guess), and she learns to live with her past with the help of friends and a love interest.
Here’s something I find interesting, though: why doesn’t Madarame go for Ogiue?
He has every reason to, doesn’t he? Given his lolicon tendencies and his preference for tsundere, Ogiue is precisely the kind of manga character he likes (literally!). When she’s finally talked into cosplay, she even dresses as Madarame’s favorite Kujibiki Unbalance character, who, in terms of broad traits, isn’t all that unlike her.
Wouldn’t Ogiue provide Madarame with a distraction from the girl he loves but can’t have? She might even be able to relate — she liked a guy, once, and suddenly found that he was beyond her reach. The circumstances were different, I know, but that doesn’t mean the two situations don’t contain some seed of commonality that might serve to bring Madarame and Ogiue together. One has to wonder — but, in the end, I can think of a few reasons why things don’t play out like that.
Firstly, maybe Madarame’s just that into Kasukabe. Maybe he’s holding out hope not because he particularly wants to, but because he can’t help it. That’s how it goes, isn’t it? And, anyway, Madarame’s the type to let his circumstances carry him where they will; I suppose this is why the fujoshi girls have him pegged as a sou-uke, a “total receiver” of…well, you know. For anything to develop, the girl in question would probably have to make the first move, and Ogiue certainly wouldn’t go that far.
Secondly, maybe this is a simple case of 2D preferences not making the leap to the 3D world. I, like Madarame, have a thing for flat-chested (albeit not underage) tsundere characters (plus glasses, plus nekomimi, plus forehead…goddammit Shimoku-sensei, get out of my head!), but I don’t require those qualities in my real-life love interests. Hell, it’s not as if “tsundere” is something that applies well to reality; people are, after all, a little too crazy for neat classification, as the social sciences continue to discover. I seriously doubt that Madarame evaluates Ogiue (not to mention Kasukabe) based on his 2D preferences, their actually being manga characters notwithstanding.
And, thirdly, the possibility of an Ogiue/Madarame end may be precluded rather early in Ogiue’s tenure as Genshiken member, as she may fall for Sasahara earlier than is readily obvious. This time through Genshiken, I noticed myself picking up on more of Shimoku’s brilliantly-situated hints, and while I might’ve initially wondered about the abruptness of the Ogiue/Sasahara setup, I have no such complaint now. It’s possible that Ogiue has developed a healthy thing for Sasahara as early as the explosive doujin production crisis control meeting, which occurs only a few chapters after her appearance…
…and it seems likely that her feelings begin to take shape before the end of the doujin arc, given her reaction to Sasahara when she sneaks into the following winter Comiket (or Comic Fest, or whatever they call it).
It’s the resultant carelessness (with a little help from Ouno’s accoutrements) that gives her away, in the end. And I especially love this scene. I mean, check out Ogiue’s expression here; you have to wonder if this is the moment at which she realizes her feelings. It’s panels like that one that completely and utterly justify all the sacrifices made on the altar of fandom.
But I digress. While it may seem somewhat logical that Madarame should at least develop a passing crush on Ogiue, even if he isn’t prepared to date her properly, logic often doesn’t factor into the decisions we make regarding the people around us. The gut acts first, you may recall. And Genshiken is nothing if not authentic — so authentic, in fact, that it can be as difficult to read as it is enjoyable. But, lest I spiral off into another, more personal digression, I’ll end here.
(Because I failed to namedrop him anywhere else: SDS is, of course, the undisputed king of Ogi fandom in the English-speaking world. He has written about her at length on his blog, aptly titled Ogiue Maniax. But of course you know about SDS already if you even know about someone like me.)