Genshiken chapter 44: Mekurumeku (to dazzle, to blind) [previous chapter]
serialized 11/25/2005 in Afternoon
We left off last chapter with Saki pulling Ogiue in to join the girls’ drinking party at their improbably rented cabin in the woods, and this month’s installment wastes no time in getting down to the nitty-gritty of Ogiue – presumably drunk – divulging the secrets of her past.
We are taken back to the spring of her third year of junior high, and romance is in the air. Ogiue is obviously already the class introvert, with a knack for drawing and an eye for a boy in class named “Makita” who looks like a mysterious hybrid of Sasahara and Madarame. At the outset she doesn’t appear to be particularly persecuted, but from the expressions and attitudes of one girl in particular the reader is given the impression that all is not perfect harmony in her class’ social order.
Ogiue is part of the literature club at her school, as is Nakayama, the girl in question; one day as they’re walking home from school together a third girl suggests that they put together a story involving Makita and his best friend in a rather compromising relationship. Nakayama initially rejects this as being too far out, but she turns and asks Ogiue if she would do illustrations for the book.
Ogiue says “if the story is interesting enough, I’ll do it.” Then they part ways, and Ogiue heads off alone to meet Makita at a shrine up in the hills. Apparently the feeling of affection is mutual, but they’re hiding it from their class… or think they are.
Nakayama finishes her manuscript a couple of days later and hands it off to Ogiue. “No pressure”, she says. “If you don’t find it interesting, you don’t have to do a thing.”
Ogiue gets home, and somewhat trepidatiously opens the manuscript. She starts reading through it, and reaches for a pencil.
The next day when Ogiue arrives at school, Makita isn’t there. His best friend doesn’t know why, but he refused to leave his house in the morning. Ogiue starts to get a bad feeling, and for good reason: she sees what is certainly the creepiest image in 44 chapters of the Genshiken manga thus far. If a pack of girls looked at me like that I would bolt for the nearest fallout shelter immediately.
She is summoned to the principal’s office, and brought to task for the book. Turns out her classmates weren’t quite as chummy as they seemed…
Here Ogiue’s tale ends, and we are brought back to the present. She informs Ohno and friends that Makita never came back to school, instead transferring as soon as possible… even now she is tortured by the thought of what she may have inadvertently done to him.
The chapter ends with Ohno taking Saki aside and vowing, out of earshot, to “have Sasahara make Ogiue happy, no matter what”.
And there we have it: the rest of the manga’s plot, tied up in a nice tidy package. Surely Kio can stretch this little character development knot out until graduation in April.
All in all, I found this chapter to be a complete reversal from the last two: a very solid piece of writing with emotive force comparable to the best of Welcome to the NHK. The bulk of the story unfolds with little need for dialogue – Kio does a masterful job here of depicting emotions that lie so close to the surface at the middle school age. The scenario is well within the realm of believability, and dovetails with our impression of Ogiue to this point, her motivations, and most of all her physical turmoil while participating at Comifesu. She’s certainly the best-constructed character of the post-upperclass graduation arc of the story; here’s hoping this level of quality is sustained through to the finish.
Reasons to Purchase Genshiken vol. 7 on December 22nd, 2005
- It’s being released on December 22nd, 2005.
- It contains chapters 37 through 43, one more than the usual count of six for a volume. Extending this line of thought, if the manga’s final chapter is published in April as I’m guessing it will be, vol. 8 will be released with the usual six chapters (November ’05 through April ’06, or chapters 44-49).
- It will contain an omake section, occuring between chapters 43 and 44, in which Ogiue enters the cabin bath (Kio hasn’t forgotten the Ogiue fans after all, it seems).
- It will have the regular four-panel manga strips at the end of each chapter.
HD will bring you further details on this as the story develops.