Genshiken Volume 9
The otaku/manga/anime fan series by Kio Shimoku comes to an end with this volume and school graduation.
The club president’s American friends have returned. Sue, the bad-tempered yaoi fan, now has a dream: to attend university in Japan as an exchange student. Since she only talks in anime quotes, there’s some confusion over just how much Japanese she understands or can speak.
For that reason, her friends think it’s a bad idea, but Ogiue (who winds up hosting Sue as a kind of test) admires her lack of insecurity about being such a fan. The others have a kind of self-disdain over their hobbies, perhaps because they’ve internalized the cultural attitudes that look down on such geeks. As an American, Sue instead has an unafraid independence. Which is kind of ironic, since everything she says comes from somewhere else.
I especially liked the story where Ogiue wants to polish her manga art in an attempt to go pro. Her boyfriend Sasahara is going to be a manga editor, so he advises her based on his reaction to her work. The two have to negotiate working together, separating their feelings from their professional needs. It’s tough, and emotional, but I was glad to see the two help each other. And his advice is pretty good for any writer.
The second half of the book has an air of finality, with characters thinking about their last chance to tell someone how they feel and a last cosplay party. That chapter is told silently, which gave me the feeling of watching a senior slide show. Images flash by, capturing the year’s memories — happy, sad, goofy, nostalgic, bittersweet, ridiculous. I admire the artist’s skill in portraying them in such varied fashion without text.
After that, it’s graduation and passing the torch and letting go of the college days, a feeling the reader shares knowing this is the end. It’s just the right ending for an enjoyable series. (The publisher provided a review copy.)