i've praised the Genshiken series before for the accuracy of its portrayal of comic and anime geeks in a college setting, as well as for Kio's wonderful sense of comic timing and inventive structure, and the newest volume, Genshiken #8 here in the States, is no exception. Cool.
Interesting how the series has moved from the broad comedy of the group from the earlier issues to finally devoting an entire book to the dreaded "relationship" issue. How many series simply drop dead at this point, their plotlines slowing down into a morass of drippy sentimentality? Fortunately Kio's sense of pacing doesn't fail him here, as the resolution scenes take the right amount of time, stretching the moments that would appropriately gut wrenching to a potential young couple to a suitable length, before moving forward again. Finally we see some resolution to the tease of Sasahara and Ogiue.
Ogiue, as a character, has been relatively undefined for a while, and, like Kuchiki, used for comic relief relatively early, but has been stealing the show with Ono for some time now. The comic, while still centered on Sasha as the main character, has really been female driven for some time now, changing the balance from the early issues that teetered back and forth from Sasha, Madrame, and Kousaka vs. Saki and Ono. We're finally given the chance to see what makes Ogiue tick, and its certainly a time bomb in terms of her personal relationships.
So what are we left with? some wonderful scenes of fumbling college age relationships between the geek and the uber-geek, and a growing sense of where Sasha, the manga editor, might be going as a man. Kio wouldn't throw his characters under a bus for a cheap laugh, thank god, and we end up with no easy resolutions, but natural ones. Far more so than most romantic comedies, which, oddly enough, is what the Genshiken series has become.
I salute kio, whose work I find amazing and so effortless that it must take a hell of a lot of work to produce. Thanks. I have no idea if there are volumes to follow, but what we have now is one great read.