Manga and anime review: Genshiken

I actually wanted to write a review about the anime of Genshiken Nidaime, but as I was thinking it out, I realised I couldn’t do it before telling you guys more about the original Genshiken. And since I’ve read both the manga and seen the anime, I thought it was best to review both at the same time.

Manga

  • Romaji name: Genshiken
  • Mangaka: Shimoku Kio
  • no. of chapters: 55
  • original run: 2002-2006
  • Status: finished
  • genre: comedy, slice of life.

In Japan, every high school and university has after school time clubs. Most students are a member of such club and in some schools membership is even mandatory. There are cultural clubs, such as art, drama, and history, but also sports clubs, such as football, tennis and kendo. Students are even allowed to form their own clubs, as long as the school board allows it.

Genshiken, which is short for Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenkyūkai (The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture) is such a club. Although the club name may sound pretentious, the club contains of nothing more than a bunch of otaku’s who spent their time watching anime, reading manga, gaming or discussing them. The word otaku can be roughly translated as ‘geek’. But it has a slightly stronger meaning. The average otaku is a socially awkward shut-in, who’s built his entire life around manga, anime and gaming.

In the beginning of the story we meet Kanji Sasahara, who is in his first year of Shiiou University (Tokyo) and decides to join the genshiken. As the story progresses, we meet the other members and follow their everyday lives, and also learn a lot about otaku culture in Japan. Manga, anime, video games, eroge (which is short for erotic games), cosplay, figure collecting, model kits, dōjinshi (fan-made manga), visual novels,fujoshi (literal translation: rotten girl; a girl who’s into boys love), visiting Akihabara (the electronics shopping district of Japan), and comifes (comic festival), nothing is left out. As a non Japanese otaku, or a noob otaku, this manga is really interesting to read, because it basically learns you everything you need to know about otaku life in Japan.

Although we follow Sasahara at the beginning of the story, there are a bunch of characters that get just as much attention or even more, so there isn’t really any lead character. It’s almost as the mangaka wanted you to pick your own leading character. Is it Sasahara, new to the otaku world? Or Madarame, a real otaku-veteran. Or maybe Saki, who actually despises otaku, but is forced to join because her boyfriend is a member. You can also pick Ohno, who’s really into cosplay, or Ogiue, who has to come into terms with her fujoshi-ness. As we follow the members for four years, old members leave university, new ones join, and relationships develop.

Genshiken is one of those manga that really stuck with me. Because you follow the characters over a course of four years, I was really able to develop a bond with them. There is lots of humor and you learn something about otaku-life.

Grade: 8/10

Anime:

  • No. of seasons: 2
  • No. of episodes season 1: 12 (2004)
  • No. of episodes season 2: 12 (2007)
  • No. of OVA’s: 3 (2006-2007)

Although there are some slight differences, the first season of the anime almost literally follows the story of the manga. There is a gap between the first and the second season, which is filled by the OVA’s. Unfortunately, the second season skips a lot that happens in the manga. So if you want to know the whole story, it’s not enough to only watch the anime. The first intro (King of my own pace, by manzo) is really catchy (I prefer to listen to it right before I attend to an anime/manga convention to get into the mood) and the anime is really able to catch the atmosphere of the manga. But because I know they left out a big part of the story in season 2, it’s hard to enjoy it as much.

Grade: 7/10

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About Tekira

26 year old psychologist, on the quest of finding a job, loves anime and games.

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