Am I My Sempai’s Keeper? Hato and Madarame in Genshiken Nidaime
The other day, I got an itching to pop in my DVD set of Genshiken to feel the camaraderie of one of the great casts of anime characters. As I watched, I was reminded of Genshiken Nidaime, which I was “meh” about and hadn’t kept track of. Still, infected by the Genshiken bug, I went back to it and caught up very quickly, becoming absorbed in the story and feeling an affection for the new generation of characters, who I had cared little about before.
The last few chapters have been very Hato-heavy, as we learn more and more about his personality (explored further in the most recent chapter, for which I’m eagerly awaiting translation and resisting the temptation to read all about at Ogiue Maniax). In particular, I’m really enjoying exploration of the bond Hato has with Madarame and the empathy he feels toward him.
Hato knows about Madarame’s feelings toward Kasukabe (they eventually have to get together, right?) and is obsessed with the painful longing that he imagines Madarame must feel. He wants Madarame to be happy, but what can he do about it?
While we in reality live in a world where we value friendship and often see our friends as family, there’s often a curious detachment when it comes to getting involved with others’ personal lives. While we certainly don’t want to step over boundaries, I’m often amazed how we might feel bad about others suffering, but still leave a situation as is with the idea that the person in need has to deal with his or her own problems. True, oftentimes, there’s a good reason to let things be – tough love, boundaries, and the feelings of others involved among them. But sometimes, we’re using these ideas as an excuse.
I think the most important thing in this world is relationships. And we cultivate those through love, which is dead if not demonstrated. Are we our brother’s (or sister’s) keeper? Heck yeah, if you love someone as a brother or sister, you should be watchful over that person. You should care for her and keep her from harm or comfort her when you otherwise can’t – and oftentimes even help further.
This is love.
So what happens when an opportunity presents itself? What is Hato, for instance, to do? Should he just offer a shoulder to lean on? Should he stay in the background and help where he can? Or should he boldly try to bring Madarame and Kasukabe together? The choice is difficult, as they are for us in situations where we must decide how to help those we love.
Every situation is different, but this answer is always the same:
Don’t be lazy.
Don’t be scared.
Do be there for your “brother” or “sister” and love them as best you can.