Genshiken poster


Sasahara Kanji is a college freshman who decides to join a student society to share his hidden thoughts on manga, anime and gaming. When he first visited Genshiken, short for "Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenkyuu Kai" (Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture), his groundless pride was destroyed by the plotting of Madarame, a sophomore student in Genshiken, but he still couldn't admit that he is an otaku. However, as he participates in society activities such as visiting dojin (private publishing) shops and anime festivals, and hangs out with other society members Kosaka (a hardcore otaku despite his extreme eccentricities and good looks), Kosaka's girlfriend Kasukabe Saki (who isn't really an otaku), Ohno (a cosplayer) and the others, he opens his mind and resolves that he will make his way into the otaku world. With their help, Sasahara slowly adjusts to otaku life in Genshiken. (Source: AnimeNfo)

Ranking 814

User Count14427
Favorites Count155
Start Date10th Oct 2004
Next ReleaseInvalid date
Popularity Rank814
Rating Rank1225
Age RatingPG
Age Rating GuideTeens 13 or older


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For any anime viewer, there comes a point in their life, when Genshiken simply HAS to be watched. At least Once. Yes, that's right, I'm advocating that everyone who's seen enough anime (or read enough manga... or played enough geeky games for that matter) should have this down on their essential "to watch" list. "Genshiken" is a slice of life anime, focusing on the daily comings and goings of the members of a university society, which, funnily enough, is called "Genshiken". The term "Genshiken" is shortened from some long Japanese phrase that translates roughly into English as "Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture". If you think that sounds pretty damn geeky, then you're be right - essentially this is a society for combined otakus of anime, manga and video games. From the enegetic, eccentric and catchy opening theme (has there ever been an opening theme that fits an anime so well?), everything about "Genshiken" reeks of geekiness. But despite this, it's not a show that's "just" for otakus, because the brilliance of "Genshiken" is in its wide appeal for everyone who has even a passing interest in subculture it represents. Those who are really into this subculture will almost certainly connect with "Genshiken" straight away. For starters, there is a ton of references to popular franchise that is sure to delight the hardcore crowd. More importantly though, it's the characters that will be appreciated. Though their portrayal is slightly embellished for comedy value, it's mostly grounded in reality, and most people should be able to see at least some of their geeky traits reflected in themselves or in people they know. The comedy element in "Genshiken" is superb, despite not being laugh-out-loud funny. This is because the humour feels "real", the kind that you come across in real life, not the kind of forced humour you get in most anime. This means that the viewers can connect with "Genshiken" even through its comedy, especially when it's so often self-deprecating. This realism extends even further - "Genshiken" is not an anime that gives in to the usual cliche of a bunch of losers that somehow always succeed in whatever they're trying to do (e.g. in most harem anime). In "Genshiken", the way this dysfunctional group of characters flounders in awkward every day situations is not only realistically depicted and concluded, but often depressingly so. One of the best episodes is where one of the characters tries to deal with a social situation by pretending it's a dating sim. Though its execution is obviously exaggerated for comedy value, it's an episode that exposes the difficulty otakus have dealing with the opposite sex in a brutally honest fashion. It's not difficult to imagine that for many viewers, the feelings conveyed in "Genshiken" can hit all too close to home, and this is "Genshiken" at it's very best, decorating its more serious points with comical entertainment. Even if you don't get the more serious feelings underneath, it's still damn entertaining, and if you do get them, it can be incredibly funny and incredibly sad at the same time. It's probably no surprise that "Genshiken" can appeal to the otaku crowd, but what's arguably more interesting is how it appeals to the non-otakus. You would think that all this geekery would alienate anyone who's not a hardcore geek... but you would be wrong to think that. All that's required to enjoy "Genshiken" is a certain amount awareness of the subculture it represents. If you're reading this, then the chances are you already qualify - I can't imagine anyone who's completely uninterested in this subculture would be visiting this site and checking out a review for "Genshiken", an anime that, although reasonably popular, is hardly a juggernaut in the anime world. The reason "Genshiken" is able to connect with non-otaku is because a lot of the time, "Genshiken" is told from the perspective of an non-otaku, and this perspective comes from Kasukabe Saki. There isn't really a main character in "Genshiken", but Kasukabe probably comes closest to being the main character. Kasukabe isn't, by any stretch of the imagination, an otaku. And in fact she'll probably smash your face in just for thinking that she is, because she loathe otakus. Kasukabe is one of those confident, outgoing, trendy types, and she gets involved in Genshiken simply because Kousaka, the boy she fancies, is a member of the society. Despite being a bit of an oddball otaku, Kousaka himself isn't particularly interesting, in fact he's the very definition of a plot device - anchoring Kasukabe to Genshiken is pretty much the sole purpose of his existence in the show. And this is the one great irony at the heart of "Genshiken": even though a lot of what makes "Genshiken" fantastic is its realism, what differentiates "Genshiken" as a great anime as opposed to merely good is the non-realistic inclusion of Kasukabe. It's such a stroke of genius to throw Kasukabe into the character mix that the flaws that result from her inclusion can all be overlooked. Kasukabe's importance to the series cannot be overestimated because she is the foundation that the series is built upon. She pretty much drives most the character interaction in the first season as her presence changes character dynamics completely. Her gradual understanding of otaku culture and grudging acceptance of the members of Genshiken (and vice versa) is not only one of the most fascinating things about the show, but it is through this that the non-otaku viewers can gain a degree of insight into the otaku world. A great example of this is during an episode where all the Genshiken members are making plamos (abbreviation for PLAstic MOdels), although I never gave much thought to that particular hobby myself, Kasukabe's questioning of this seemingly pointless activity and subsequent interaction with the members of Genshiken allowed me to understand it better. By the end of the episode, I may not have been eager to rush out and buy myself a plamo kit, but I was certainly able to at least gain a degree of appreciation and respect regarding the amount of passion and effort that gets poured into such an activity, and what's more, I'm now totally convinced by the arguments for why a plamo is different from a conventional action figure. If there's one glaring thing missing from "Genshiken", it's the sense that the main cast are all university students - despite the members of Genshiken being university student otakus, only the otaku aspects stands out. They never seem to worry, or even talk about the main aspects of university life such as exams, classes etc. The result is that the whole university thing just feels like an artificial platform on which to bring the characters together. I've another very minor grip with "Genshiken" and it's something that isn't really the anime's fault itself - it's to do with the references it makes to geek pop culture. The idea itself is great, as delightfully filling the anime up with references really enhances the sense of "Genshiken"'s association with otakudom (though it does mean a lot of the jokes will go over the heads of the people who are not familiar with the franchise referenced), but the annoying thing is that most of the names they reference are modified, presumably to avoid copyright issues. Also, the game "Guilty Gear" heavily features within the anime, and the Genshiken members can often be seen playing on it (you'll even get to hear exciting terms such as "roman cancel" and "dust combo" or some gibberish like that that will no doubt mean more to a "Guilty Gear" player than it does to me), but what's annoying is that it seems like it's the same two characters who are battling all the time... in fact it looks like the same battle most of the time. In some ways, this is even more annoying than having the names of the referenced franchise changed. Maybe they could only obtain the license to use a couple of characters or something. It would be so cool if other companies would just allow Genshiken use references to their stuff properly, but that's probably not gonna happen in the corporate world. None of these small issues matter, however, because it's easy to glaze over them once you get into "Genshiken". With its endearing characters, "Genshiken" is infused with a most infectious likeability that is very rarely matched, even in the slice of life genre. There are several things I tend to associated with a good slice of life anime. While watching a series, I find it easy to get attached to the characters and I'm often filled with a warm fuzzy feeling inside after finishing an episode. Towards the end of a series, this is often accompanied by a feeling of regret as I don't want the anime to end. And After I finish it, I often look back on it with a lingering fondness at the very mention of its title. "Genshiken" ticks all these boxes, and is an absolute joy to watch. It may not be the best anime ever, but it's a timeless classic that I would recommend to just about all anime fans.

Story: It's about a group of people like most of us who watch anime that have a bit of a dorky side to them. They like anime or manga or games and they made a club out of it to group them all together. Heck even I can come up with a story like that. Animation: The animation is actually well done for it's time. You see a lot of small details in the background and the characters clothes and stuff have more detail then a lot of other animes out there. If I were to complain about the animation, it would probably be more to do with the characters faces, but I think they were going for just a real people look and not something crazy with rainbow color hair. Sound: The voice acting is well done but the opening and ending themes are forgettable. Characters: Nothing weird about these people at all other than they are dorks like me and like a lot of real people. In other words they are quite boring in my opinion. I would have more fun meeting these people in real life since we share similar interests, instead of watching fictional adaptations of them. They weren't so bad to make me drop the show though, so I guess that is something. Final Thoughts: I recommend going to an anime/gaming convention if you want to watch a bunch of people collect anime/manga/games. There is not much other reason to watch this show.

**As always, my reviews are spoiler free.** *This review covers Genshiken, Genshiken 2, and Genshiken Nidaime. Scores are noted chronologically in each category.*{::}**** What happens when Arms decides to try to differ from the standard Cute Girls Doing Cute Things/Slice of Life (CGDCT/SOL) formula to try to produce an anime that the audience can "relate" to? In the case of Genshiken, nothing short of an absolute travesty. In my eyes, it is an failure in more or less every aspect, varying in severity from season to season. So, if you somehow came expecting a cheerful review for your favorite anime, showering it with praise, you may not want to continue. In the following review, I am going to break down how and why I believe Genshiken failed.**** **Story - 3/10 (3, 2, 4)** Genshiken more or less chronicles of the "Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenkyuu Kai," or "Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture": Genshiken for short. Like any other SOL, it has little overarching plot and focuses on episodic plots and character interaction to drive the series forward. What this means to the series varies distinctly from season to season, as the characters behave quite differently each season. The result can often create a hugely inconsistent atmosphere. What they do manage to keep consistent are: 1\. Incredibly boring episodes that repeat themselves like a broken record. Same goes for seasons; it is more or less the same anime 3 times. 2\. An overall sense of "preaching" to the audience, mainly about the lifestyle of otaku 3\. Agonizing character interaction, whether it is nigh nonexistent or painfully forced 4\. Essentially no character development over three seasons, except in the cases it is forced down your throat Genshiken (S1) introduces the club as an easygoing bunch of otaku who do normal otaku things. They sit around, play video games, go to Comiket, participate in school events, etc. What makes it special? "It's supposed to be just like you!" Genshiken seems to shout at the screen, targeting the socially awkward 22 year old Japanese university student watching this in their dorm room at 2AM. "See how they all like anime and are awkward? Like you! And they have problems relating to these things. Like you! But they still can have friends, and you can too!" Put this message on repeat for 12 episodes and you have the first season of Genshiken. Arms must have noticed because in S2 you get character development. Oh yes, all of that character development you craved from season one all in one bug healthy lump. Other than that, you get a lot more of the same. Club meetings? Check. Comiket? Check. School activities? Check. It's a near carbon copy of S1, with just one stark difference. Otaku really love to pair characters up. Straight, yuri, yaoi, it doesn't really matter as long as the characters have met briefly and at least made some eye contact. So, Genshiken S2 has considered its audience's interest, and took the liberty of pairing up every character for you (Except Madarame, because screw him, right? We need him to be the unrequited love insert for the audience.). These pairings are seemingly thrown haphazardly together with no build up, reasoning, or development. I felt like I was watching a shitty romance anime on fast forward. How much drama can we pack in while still keeping all of our club meetings and Comiket? Let's find out, baby! It may have improved production quality, but it was easily the most painful season to watch. Season 3 (Nidaime) has noticed another aspect of otakus' interests: cute girls. So, for your convenience, Nidaime swept out nearly all the male characters (most notably the “protagonist” from S1+2) and replaced them with girls. Well, one happens to have a penis, but she's a girl at heart. Other than the trap, only one male character remains (and he gets nearly no screentime), with the veterans only making cameos. I bet you can guess what they do. That said, I enjoyed Nidaime the most by far; it had better characters, animation, sound… everything had improved. It may have drawn from the same formula, but even then it killed the relatability aspect that the series was built on to begin with. Genshiken is a bit like the Endless Eight; there are slight differences every time, but it gets old pretty fast. A common (and somewhat valid) objection to make here would be that sequels should be like their originals. However, they should improve and refine, whereas Genshiken just repeats the same thing over and over, grasping to find some new aspect of otaku life to feed off of while "fixing" its shortcomings. **Animation - 4/10 (3, 4, 6)** Even fans of Genshiken 1 often admit that the animation is poor, and boy would they be right. The character designs are laughably undetailed, and the animation itself is jerky. It experiences its fair share of QUALITY moments, and the atmospheric inconsistency carries over to the character designs as well, seemingly changing their head shape, bust size, and hair coloring at the drop of a hat. The backgrounds are likewise poor, which is surprising considering over half the series takes place in <u>one small room.</u> The second season improves… somewhat. It is still below average, but it isn’t quite as painful. After nine years, Nidaime finally gets the animation right, or as right as it’s going to get. Gone are the inconsistency, QUALITY, and undetailed characters. The backgrounds are leagues better, and the series expands the locations as well. There is nothing particularly special about it, but nothing to complain about either. **** *The evolution of Genshiken animation.* **Sound - 4/10 (2, 5, 6)** Where do I begin? The first season has one of the worst soundtracks I've heard in any series. The OP is terrible, the ED feels completely out of place, and the background music (if it's there at all; more often than not there's white noise) is poor and unmemorable. If you do decide to watch it, I implore you to go with the Japanese. The English dub is terrible, truly laughably bad. My conjecture is that it was recorded in a cave using a fliphone with homeless “voice actors” working for food. The second season's dub is nearly the same but with slight improvement, and the third season currently has no dub at the time of this writing. The second season improves the soundtrack more so than the animation. Now there is a solid OP and ED, and actually decent background music. Like I said, the dub is terrible, but again the Japanese cast does an adequate job. Nidaime improves on its predecessor yet again. I actually quite liked the OP for this one, and there is more prominent and better ambient music. Some are bothered that the Japanese voice cast changed. I respect this opinion very strongly, because I generally dislike when this happens as well. Two factors made me not mind the change, though. There was a six year gap between S2 and Nidaime, and while I didn't watch them that far apart (perhaps 3 years at most), I had kind of forgotten the voices anyway. Upon going back and listening again for this review, I actually think that the new cast is better.**** **Characters - 3/10 (4, 2, 5)** It looks like Arms decided to make up with quantity what they are lacking with quality, because Genshiken S1 has a big main cast. The "MC", Sasahara, is pretty much the definition of an insert character. He has essentially no personality or features. He exists to let the viewer sit in that cramped club room. Kousaka is a cheerful and androgynous fellow whose main purpose is to bring his girlfriend, Saki, into the picture. She turns out to be one of the more compelling characters, as she represents the "everyman" who dislikes the entire otaku subculture, but is drawn into it by her attachment to her otaku boyfriend. She is the one character who gets some consistent character development, and it is nice to watch her opinions about the activities of Genshiken change over time. A big round of applause for her. Our other female lead is Ohno, who is the big-chested fanservice character. Her interests lie in cosplay, meaning an excuse to take off her clothes to show some skin to that horny, sexually frustrated audience Genshiken so desperately tries to cater to. Madarame is the last moderately interesting character. He is the "king otaku", a complete geek who only loves 2D (well, except for Saki), and his antics and speeches, most notably “people who can’t get off to 2D have mental problems”, are some of the more enjoyable parts of the anime. Rounding out the cast are Tanaka, who makes cosplay outfits, and Kugayama, who is stuttering mess. They were so boring I often forgot they existed. Rolling on in to S2, the same cast returns, with Sasahara now the head of Genshiken. A new character, Ogiue is introduced. She is a self-hating fujoshi, who is generally blunt and mean to the other members until she hitches a ride on the romance train with the majority of the other cast, although the relationship is only implied until Nidaime. This series of romantic subplots ruined anything that S2 had going for it. It's difficult to go into exactly what happened without spoilers, but I can say that the atmosphere of a carefree SOL was often bulldozed out of the way for drama and romance, both of which were poorly executed. This made the characters of S2 totally unlikable, except for Madarame who remained "forever alone." Luckily, we get a brief glimpse of Sue, who is a friend of Ohno's who comes to Japan to visit. Her Japanese is essentially limited to phrases she learned from watching anime, and she is a huge yaoi fangirl, but her deadpan glare and interjections are funny. Ohno's other friend, “I want-me-some-censored-dicks” Angela appears briefly to whore herself out as a cosplayer. She shows up again in Nidaime to try to have a one-night stand with Madarame. She's an American whore, end of story. Shout out to Japan for making the only two Americans appearing in Genshiken to be a semi-crazy fangirl and slut. With Nidaime, we wave goodbye to all the male characters except Kukichi, for alas they have graduated and moved on to bigger and better things (like not being stuck in the Genshiken franchise). They are replaced with a cast of three new females, only one of whom is packing a dick, and Genshiken is now fujoshi paradise. While the anime now starts to focus almost completely on yaoi and traps (neither of which appeal to me personally) due to its new leads, I actually liked the characters from this season the most. Yoshitake and Yajima don't get any more character development than poor old Tanaka and Kugayama, but they were nice enough when on screen. The real star of show turns out to be Hato, the crossdressing new member. He gets a good bit of character development, and his situation lets Genshiken explore sexuality to some extent, and while it is often be played off comedically, it can have some refreshing messages of tolerance. Tolerance that Genshiken will make sure you have, as it goes over the subject again… and again… and again. Still, we get more Sue, cameos from Madarame (and the other old male leads), and some resolution on old character interactions left hanging. All in all, I believe this was the best season. So cut it off here, please. The issue with Nidaime was that it lost its roots: relatability to an otaku audience. That doesn't make it bad, but it is almost entirely separated from the previous parts of the series by replacing most of the cast.**** *Sue tried so hard to save the cast, but she just wasn't enough.* **Enjoyment - 3/10 (5, 2, 6)** So where did it go wrong? It was an interesting idea to create a relatable SOL for the otaku anime audience. It could have been done well. If the first season was made with a higher budget, a trimmed down cast, and a little more creativity, it could have been quite good. I would have loved to see this, but what I got was a slow attempt at improvement on mediocrity that ended up being too similar in plot while too different in atmosphere. With Nidaime, they tossed away most of what they had built up, and it turned out to be the best despite having almost nothing to do with the rest of the series. If only they had chosen to remake the first season entirely instead of trying to slowly tape it back together over time. What a pity.****

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