Genshiken

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babyeinstein12's avatar By on Dec 5, 2009

Story

The lyrics of Genshiken’s ending theme poetically summarize the show’s content:

We are not yet adults

Both simple and complex, a shiny marble

When we looked through it back then

It was nothing special, but our world was shining

What we see now through this marble in our hands

Is a little different, but it will shine on

Discreetly next to us

Sigh.

As a college-aged anime lover myself, these words have affected me to such an extent that I could sing you the song, memorized, this very moment. Never has any other piece, or any other series, given me so much pride in my otaku-ness. Our lives would appear simple or even artificial when filled with the wondrous stuff of Japanese animation, video games, and comic books, but to us it makes our lives shine as brightly as a glistening marble, continuing to do so as we stumble into our adult years.

This is what renders Genshiken such an arresting work. From the eyes of a layperson, the show provides an unadorned look into the college life of an anime nerd: No sparkles, ninjas, improbable harems, other dramatic accessories, or even an overarching storyline added. It seems unnecessary. Why spend your precious entertainment time looking at…real life? Sometimes, though, a show like this is indispensable, where the characters you see are raffish reflections of your own selves, and you can laugh and clap in the middle of an episode exclaiming, “I totally understand what these people are going through!” Genshiken’s humor is as subtle as it gets – to the point where you’re not completely sure how to react. It becomes even better for the American wannabes: Here is a taste of true, authentic, Japanese otakudom. Either fling yourself into the fire or run away screaming.


Animation

Genshiken’s visual style may not be for everyone. Character designs look slightly blocky, colors are on the dull side, and the animation flows like an airplane on the tarmac – you keep expecting for it to take off but it never does. But the sheer eccentricity of the style may add a rather “genius-like” flourish to an otherwise eyebrow-raising piece of artwork. For one, the utter lack of exciting movement suitably fits Genshiken’s unique pacing, designed to replicate the ambling commonality of a college student’s life. For another, the colors’ darker, earthier tinges seem a little too dark and earthy to not be purposeful. In some ways it acts like how a looming homework assignment would to a middle schooler’s afternoon in front of the tube. As the blander colors of reality (adulthood) creep around the edges of your screen, you acknowledge in a remote corner of your brain that the fun has a limit. Which, I think, is quite clever. (Or it may just be my imagination).


Sound

In many ways Genshiken’s tonal palette consists of little more than recorded traffic, college hustle and bustle, buzzing silence, and other mundane soundtracks of an unembellished world. As with the animation, one could view this anomaly as either a stroke of genius or an indication of bad taste. In any case, voices are terrifically gauged to fit their roles, and the luminous opening and closing themes are among the most thoughtful I have encountered.


Characters

The best way I can describe Genshiken’s cast is to liken it to an orchestra: Each person plays a different instrument (in which certain ones stand out more than others), and each holds the ability to perform them to a certain extent. But only when one character steps onto the podium as conductor does the group settle into place and commence its harmonious – or hilarious – collaboration.

Of course, every member of the Genshiken club promises his or her own personality bonus, ranging from Madarame’s neuroticism to Sasahara's endearing timidity to Ohno’s love of cosplay to Kohsaka’s understated fanaticism. But only so much can be done in twelve episodes. The writers for Genshiken simply don’t have the time to lavish histories, flashbacks, and emotional turmoil to every single club member. Fortunately, these characters do not allow themselves to be defined by solely one stereotype; their murkier individual personas lend to fluid and interesting interactions, which eventually tie the individuals into a strong group product. Who does the tying? Saki, of course.

As the black sheep of the club, Saki is able to endure the geek-heavy atmosphere for a single end: to spend more time with her boyfriend Kohsaka, and hopefully fish him from his fanboy activities (with little success). Her ferocious grappling with otaku culture singlehandedly becomes the fodder for Genshiken’s humor. Whether it’s through terrorizing Madarame, entering a cosplay contest against her will, dismantling a week’s worth of work, or accidentally setting the school’s courtyard ablaze, it is Saki who highlights the entire group in all its eccentric, riotous glory.


Overall

Genshiken remains rather difficult to summarize. It’s part documentary, full comedy, a warm immersion into modern Japanese culture, an illustration of vanishing youth tinged with a hint of nostalgia. The meaning increases with amount of anime watched, so I may not be particularly apt to predict how people will feel. Nevertheless, I find it highly unlikely for anyone to dislike this series.

Why the careful, strange score of 7.25? One thing I wished of the show was a more convincing transmission of intent onto the screen. I feel that the makers of Genshiken held more in their hearts than they showed: Otherwise, an entertaining twelve-episode series about otaku could have blossomed into something much more powerful.

7.5/10 story
6.5/10 animation
8/10 sound
8/10 characters
7.25/10 overall
Justice4harima's avatar By on Jan 8, 2016

If you're into pardies about sutff you like you're into a rare treat. There are not many anime about otaku, and especially not dubbed ones.

Basically most main characters are Otaku. This anime also shows how anime production, especially doujnshi is created and sold.

It has both the realistic side and the fantasy side.

10/10 story
7/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
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angelsreviews's avatar By on Jul 22, 2013

Oh dear me. When you have an anime based on Otaku life, its not going to always be pretty. Still, the show is rather good for its own right. It was odd because the very first episode actually felt like my group of friends just sitting and talking anime like the podcast. Also, for those that want to learn a little bit, I should say you should watch all the way through the credits because after, they sometimes have little facts. I even learned from them even though I watch tons of anime.

The main character is really a bland guy, but I feel that they did this for a reason. It brought us into this world with somewhat a clean view on things. Now if only he wasn’t always talking about Hentai and dojinshi… I guess on the bright side, he is in a point that he’s not a complete otaku but more on the edge who is just learning the deeper parts of his fandom.

What’s great about an anime like this is that there is a character that anyone could really relate to, not just the main character. Sometimes you can even take parts of the characters and put them together to represent you. They have the cosplayer, the game player, the over obsessed guy, an artist, and even a newbie in the group as well. All these characters help give a wide variety of storylines to grab hold of and give you a sense of connection. The feeling I normally get watching this is that this little clubhouse, this small sanctuary of otaku-dom is pretty much their home. They are almost like one big family who doesn’t want to lose their life.

The only person that really creeps me out is the head chairman. He has really black eyes and acts really odd most of the time. Also, many times he talks in almost a out of this world manner. Just something that really creeped me out when he actually did anything.

People don’t really notice this but this show has a lot of philology involved in the show. It does dive into the reasons as to why people go to anime without going way to out of control. They dissect what makes an otaku an otaku and the reasons behind why some people don’t like it and some do. It’s also about people trying new things weather or not they will actually like it.

The animation is very bland, looking a little like Colorful but not as bad. It’s a step in the right direction at least and they do have a rather good contrast between the real world with its rather toned down colors and the anime side with its bright and rich colors. I never really found any point where they lacked art styles or was off. If something was, then it was slight and pretty much unnoticeable. What you see in the first episode is what you get throughout the show when it comes to art style with it only slightly getting better as it was going. Each of the ending credits surprised me though. The artwork for the ending actually changes each show. It’s not always the same ending.

The dub isn’t really all that bad actually. It’s an older one so some of the voices are slightly stiff, but it doesn’t feel unnatural. I would think they actually would be stiff when meeting new people or so and it’s not like they don’t end up warming up.

7/10 story
6/10 animation
7/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
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mustardbomb's avatar By on Sep 15, 2012

Rating an anime highly just because it discusses that being an otaku is okay? Give me a break.

This series, first of all, has terrible art and animation. The character art is that kind of lumpy facial style that seems to be the default shabbiest "acceptable" anime art form for people. It is completely lacking in style, substance, or detail. I am not just lashing out at random or trying to claim authority, this is seriously true; for instance, characters nearly never have elbows if their arms are straight (e.g. episode 3, near the end Kousaka randomly loses his elbows when he is crouched over, and just has claymation style lump arms). The animation has this kind of feel like it gets stuck in movement over and over, I imagine because there are just simply not enough panels. The coloring is good, but nothing detailed enough to make up for the rest.

The thing that really made me decide "this might be the single worst anime I have ever seen" was the within episode anime and hentai, which is all the lowest grade, sixth grade fanfiction junk I have ever seen. The within episode anime basic style is not so bad, it is the type of style Negima takes after for instance, but it is drawn so blockily, so completetly undetailed, that everything looks like a complete caricature. It would be one thing if this were more of a comedy, but this is supposed to be establishing otaku as "being okay" more than that. The overall effect is to prove everything everyone says bad about anime and otakus right.

The characters are losers, no mistake about that, but the characterization is decent a lot of the time. Unfortunately, when it slips back into portions like "the main character bumbling his way through terrible hentai as if he just started puberty, but unfortunately he is a college student," then that is right down the toilet. The only gags come from the non-otaku being mad (with suitably terrible art), often about otaku stuff, which degrades her character as well.

Honestly in the end this series just shows "most people who like nerdy stuff are a little terrible...", so I am not sure exactly why people are so gaga over this. It definitely does not redeem nerd culture, and even has the "appealing" otaku as singled out as weird by his fellow otakus for not being as terrible as them.. It just says "being an otaku is mildly terrible, not completely miserable like people think!" What a message of hope! I guess if you identify with being terrible, then this is the anime for you, but otherwise stay away.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
1/10 overall
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Shadowfoot's avatar By on Aug 5, 2011



Genshiken



 



Story (9/10)



 



Many
people think that a storyline makes an anime brilliant; I am one of those
people. In Genshiken’s case that is not true, there is no underlying plot in
this anime. Mostly it revolves around the day to day life of the Japanese
otaku, which in my view is a brilliant way to draw in the typical anime
watcher. The rolls into life with Sasahara, a college freshman, looking for a
club to join, thus he stumbles upon Genshiken, which stands for the study of
the modern visually-oriented culture. They do everything otaku related in their
club from anime watching to cosplaying to building figurines of their favourite
anime mechas. Can you think anything better to watch for the anime freak? I
can’t. That is why this anime had such a hold over me that I watched it from
the one morning to the next. They show how the mind of the otaku works and what
they like to do on a daily basis. It reminded me a lot of myself and many other
people who I know who love to watch anime, read manga and the odd doujinshi
here and there.



 



Animation (7/10)



 



Nothing
exceptional, but not mediocre in any way. The only thing that irritated me was
the way they drew the anime which they watch in Genshiken, but who cares? The
character designs were unique in their own ways. Kugayama for instance was a
big, fat guy who had a small voice and stutters when he speaks. Madarame is
also unique in his own right, a thin and weak looking guy who wears glasses.
All the characters were well designed to be excellent otakus.



 



Sound (8/10)



 



The
opening soundtrack was fitting to the story, very upbeat and fast paced. The
closing soundtrack was also nice to listen to, not as fast paced as the intro.
The soundtracks were very well chosen from my point of view. The voice acting
was also brilliantly chosen, again Madarame shone with his shady and not so
bravado voice.



 



Characters (9/10)



 



This
is where the anime shone the most to me. Every character had their own
intriguing perks and downfalls, fitting of otakus from my point of view. They
had Ohno as the cosplaying girl with big boobs, Tanaka as the cosplay costume
designer and Kasukabe as the girl that is dating Kousaka, she always tries ways
to get Kousaka, the pretty boy of the group, to stop being an otaku. Sasahara
in my opinion was the shining light of all the characters. He started out as a
normal manga and anime fan, but slowly but surely trough out the story he
evolved into a fully-fledged otaku. His character development increased the
rating of this anime tenfold; it was a delight to see how he learned about
manga, doujinshi, anime and cosplay to the point where he became the character
he was at the end of the anime. You also learn about the characters preferences
towards manga and anime and what encourages them to be the otakus they are.



 



Overall (8.5/10)



 



A
delight to watch till the very end. Recommended to ALL SERIOUS anime and manga
fans. The story envelopes you in the otakuness that the characters give off and
keeps you coming back for more every time, I think the only time I did pause
the screen was when I needed a bathroom and smoke break. ...Watch this anime...



 



 

9/10 story
7/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
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