Anime/Manga review: Genshiken
Status: switched to manga – read 8 – after anime series “ended”
Kanji Sasahara is a college freshman and a closet otaku. In an attempt to make new friends and come to terms with his secret obsession, he decides to join a school club. He eventually ends up at Genshiken: The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture – which is an extremely otaku way of saying a bunch of guys who watch anime, read manga, play video games, build toys and cosplay.
And as far as major plot devices, that’s pretty much it. The rest of the story involves the relationships between the club’s members as well as their various otaku obsessions, including episodes devoted to yaoi, cosplay and Comiket – along with the group’s desire to publish their own dōjinshi. This is a slice of life story, where the focus shifts from character to character as we learn more about each and their relationships become more complex. The full story stretches over a number of years and even though characters graduate from school, they still manage to spend plenty of time at the Genshiken club room.
Want to know the number one reason I love Genshiken? This panel:
This is Sasahara-san’s turning point, when he realizes that he is, in fact, an otaku and that it’s ok. Not only was this moment very affirming for me, but it also made me feel good that Japanese otaku are coming to terms with their sub-culture.
And there are so many other reasons I love this manga. It is brilliantly self-referential. The characters all feel like people I would love to be friends with – hanging out at Genshiken would be awesome! I’ve actually learned a thing or two about anime/video games/model kits. It is funny and moving. And it makes me feel a little more normal.
As mentioned, I started this series by watching the anime. But after 12 episodes the show went on a hiatus, so I switched to the manga. And even though the manga is more detailed, very, very well drawn and wonderfully paced, the anime is remarkably similar. I quite happily go back and forth between the two.
Highly recommended for all closet and out otaku.