Simple, relatable, and faved
Obvious spoilers ahead, sorry about this
Quite honestly, I have no idea how I got to know this series, there wasn’t anything too special about this series rather, a character that was extremely attractive. I guess that reason told me to go watch this series for the sake of watching otaku’s doing what otaku’s do best, being otaku’s.
NOTE: So I was going to do the first season review but then I literally read through the manga (i loved it) atleast the original 55 chapters and decided to just do the entire damn thing now. So I will concentrate on the first generation of Genshiken
To be frank, I guess the main character is Kanji Sasahara, a freshmen in college who starts looking for clubs in his college. Seeing as though his main hobby or past-time is reading manga, watching anime and stuff, he checks out the anime club and manga club. However, it’s full of fat boys and the typical otaku male and so he is discouraged to join anything for now. While this is going on another “main” character, Makoto Kousaka is looking to join clubs as well along with his childhood friend he reunited with, Saki Kasukabe. Eventually Kousaka joins Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenkyūkai or Genshiken which translates to “The Society of for the Study of Modern Visual Culture”. Kousaka meets Sasahara and invites him in the clubroom. There he meets his friends who he will spend the next 4-5 years with. But for now, Sasahara is still not confident in admitting he has a penchant for anime, manga, and doujinshi’s. One by one, the club members leave to attend their own business, and when Sasahara is alone, he looks for some doujinshi. He eventually does, but he finds out that this was a test, to see if new members are truly “otaku” material. Sasahara is now the newest member of Genshiken.
After the years of college, the Genshiken spirit would still hold even after graduation. The manga currently is covering their antics even after college, and their relationships and even new members apparently.
I say that I don’t that many relatable connections to a bunch of characters, but I generally like all of them
- Kanji Sasahara (leftmost male with hat): Sasahara started the series by being the least otaku member of Genshiken. He had yet to fully accept his otaku self and didn’t stand out. I guess this was intentional because people like me and Light could relate to a normal guy who simply enjoys anime, manga, and games. Anyway, Sasahara would later truly embrace his otaku life and went as far as wanting to get a booth at Comifest. Later in the series, he gets into a relationship with Ogiue after encourages her to draw manga. After graduation he gets a job as a manga editor for a company and critiques Ogiue’s work. I personally found no big flaws on this guy, he’s not too special but he’s likeable.
- Makato Kousaka (blonde on the right side, smiling): Kousaka hasn’t really changed much from the beginning and to the end. Kousaka is the “gaming” otaku. He is always seen beating everyone in Guilty Gear (he abuses the female characters by perfecting them) and is the best videogame player in Genshiken (I want to fight in MvC3 man). Kousaka has the earliest “girlfriend” encounter (Saki) in the series. Kousaka is pretty blunt in his words and isn’t afraid to reveal his otaku nature to anyone. Kousaka has that “perpetual” smile and is pretty clueless when it comes to him needing to read the “moment”. He later fully gets into a relationship with Saki (but still doesn’t change his habits of watching anime while they share a nice moment) and after graduation, finds a job working at an eroge company, much to Saki’s chagrin. Kousaka’s looks mainly get him out of bad premonitions from non-otakus. Hell Kousaka cosplayed as a girl once and didn’t seem to hate it. He cosplays again as a female character when his company’s game had a cross dressing character. Kousaka was just a funny character for me and much like Sasahara, I found no problems with this guy, but he rarely shows up in the last few chapters.
- Kasukabe Saki (blonde girl on the left side): Saki started out with hating the members of Genshiken for their otaku ways and dated Kousaka much for his looks and small familiarity. She was shocked when she found a bunch of porn games and mags on anime characters which led her to be disgusted about otaku’s even more. As the series progressed (probably after she accidentally set fire to Genshiken’s stuff) Saki got a lot nicer to the Genshiken crew and although she passionately declares she is not an otaku, she doesn’t insult them a lot anymore. Saki’s character definitely was relatable. Non-otaku who is forced to be with otaku’s and later become friends. I guess what I just said is ineveitable, you stay with people long enough, you automatically start beginning to know them a lot better and after her mistake against Genshiken, I guess she just got a lot more considerate. Early she just dated Kousaka and tried her best to get him out of Genshiken but she got used it and later joined herself (mostly because of the First Club President). After graduation, she got a job but still comes regularly to Genshiken. I really liked Saki’s character and how she gradually changed to be a better person in general. She strangely acts as the club’s “muscle”.
- Harunonu Madarame (shirtless BAMF in the center with glasses): Madarame started out as the most hardcore otaku in Genshiken. He would not even look at the price of the doujins he would buy and just buy them anyway. Because of his dangerous but impressive will to buy whatever he pleases, he has very small money for his living expenses. Madarame has changed and he was probably the first to admit that he should get a job. After graduation, he would struggle to find a job and would then regularly dress in his business suit. He finds a job in a pipe repair company literally 10 minutes away from the college campus and regularly is found eating lunch back in the clubroom. Madarame’s looks and level of otaku-ness might lead one to suspect that he’s not outgoing at all, but he’s probably the nicest guy in Genshiken (actually, everyone’s nice but I expected him to say to people “you just don’t understand” but Madarame would try to prove his passion for anime with logic). Because of his voice in the anime, I thought I woudln’t like this guy, but he ended up as my favorite character nonetheless (and his voice is fucking LINK, FROM LEGEND OF ZELDA). Madarame’s character is something that i will mention later in this talk, but lemme finish these characters. Madarame’s character shows the constant change in one’s life and I really like his character.
- Souichiro Tanaka (guy on the right with the Takeshi(Brock) from pokemon’s eyes): Tanaka was debately the most easy going character in the series. His kind and calm personality just gave him that “upperclassmen” feeling. He is a diehard fan for cosplay (not that he cosplays himself) and cosplay outfit making and he also loves making robot models. He would try to coerc Saki into cosplaying but after Ohno arrives his dream comes true when he meets a nice girl who loves to cosplay. Because of their love for cosplay material, Ohno and Tanaka start dating. After graduation, Tanaka would work a fabric company. Because I’m not a huge fan of cosplay, I didn’t find him too interesting, but I liked his character, he was a pretty nice and collected guy.
- Mitsunori Kugayama (guy on the right sitting down): Kugayama is more or less the fat guy. But he’s a nice guy too. For a while, Kugayama was the only one who could actually draw but he never really published anything. Kugayama is soft spoken and has a stumbling problem which leads him to not talk in big social gatherings due to his voice being drowned out. After graduating he gets a job in a small manufacturing company. In my opinion, he’s just like Tanaka, I don’t have that much of the connection like I do with the others, maybe if I could draw maybe I could understand him. Like Kousaka, he rarely shows up after graduating but does stop by time by time.
- Kanako Ohno (girl on the left with the long hair): Ohno was the first girl to join Genshiken out of her own free will. Ohno is a cosplayer and is into “things” that involve middle aged men. Because of her love for cosplay, she becomes quick friends with Tanaka. Ohno also is a complete monster when it comes to drinking alcohol and has her own “stash” she saves for parties. Ohno was like Tanaka and Kugyama for me, no much connection. But I did find her hilarious in many occasions.
- Chika Ogiue (girl on the right with wierd hairstyle): Ogiue has a complicated past. She was dating a guy during…middle school i think but her “friends” were into making yaoi pairings with guys within their school and Ogiue was the aritst. However the guy she was dating finds the yaoi she was drawing and promptly transferred out of the school. Because of this she hates herself and her likeness towards yaoi and other girls who enjoy yaoi as well. Ogiue has one wierd ass hairstyle that resembles a paintbrush (reminds me of Sasuke from the Mystical Ninja series). Ogiue was part of the manga club but due to her hatred of otaku-ness, she jumped out the window and then joined Genshiken. At first she didn’t trust anyone and hated on Ohno but like Saki, got on friendly terms with everyone. After seeing Sasahara pull on Madarame’s tie she is instantly inspired to make a yaoi doujinshi. She starts dating Sasahara and she is given the mantle as Genshiken’s club president. She also decides to publish manga with Sasahara as her editor. I liked Ogiue’s character, her situation reminds me of GTO. The relationship between her and Sasahara is fun to watch
- Manabu Kuchiki (guy on the right with the hat and tie): Kuchiki (or rather, Kucchi) was introduced during the first years of Genshiken. They were the new recruits but due to Saki, they were scared away. Kuchiki made a return the following year and became a full member. Kuchiki is pretty wierd, he tries to talk like an anime character. He’s loud, obnoxious and basically acts like a perverted character in steriotypical anime. Kuchiki is more of a comedic effect character than an ACTUAL character we’re supposed to care about but he’s not a complete wierdo at times. He has good intentions and can be helpful. It is revealed that he doesn’t need to look for a job as his family guranteed him a job at a bank.
What I loved about Genshiken was the realistic art and setting and the fact that this anime was made in 2004, and the distinct anime art style pleased my eyes, no idea why. Anyway, Genshiken is just a very…casual series. You could say its like Lucky Star (which I have never watched but if you’re an anime fan and have scoured the internet for a while a few years ago, it was impossible not to hear about it) only without the moe and the cute little highschool girls who look like elementary schoolers. Genshiken’s amount of realism and the nice little setting in the otaku culture is just nice to see. I didn’t really watch it for story, I just watched cause it made sense and I could relate to it. You would understand if you were one of the few guys who understood memes and some games that weren’t just shooters in a school full of kids who only play shooters and don’t really appreciate Japanese subculture (or is it culture?). It’s a series I can simply turn on and watch for the sake of just seeing an anime about guys talking about anime.
After reading the manga to the latest chapter, here are my honest thoughts. I was quite pleased when they gave me the college setting instead of highschool. That added more to the characters when they graduated and got jobs. These guys would still meet after their graduation. They all keep in close contact to eachother. Characters walk into the clubroom and there would be someone there. Everyone gets jobs and lives far off but they still value their friendship for what its worth. I truly respect and admire that friendship, and I really enjoy manga that does that. It’s like Gintama almost. All the characters have a special relationship and you as the reader almost feels the type of atmosphere they have when they are talking, it almost feels like you’re there watching and hearing the characters. The inside jokes and all. I am aware of how a lot of series are like that but something about this series just strikes me and tells me it’s unique. Maybe it is the extremely realistic tone and setting. Characters are believable and the whole thing is relatable to. The characters of course, makes the greatest story. So human, so flawed, so believable
Section below is spoiler but it’s a relationship between two characters, it ain’t a huge spoiler for a series with a story like this but I would rather have you guys read it to truly see it
Feelings that had time to develop are stronger
My favorite characters are Madarame and Saki. Their relationship is so unique and I love the story the two have. In the beginning, Saki being the otaku hater and Madarame the lead otaku in the series, the two have their bouts. Saki thinks Madarame is scum while Madarame thinks Saki is just a “norm” or a “commoner”. They just generally dislike eachother. Around 3/4 of the anime or in the first 20 chapters Madarame finds Saki alone in the club room. He tries to make small talk but she ignores him and he increasingly gets extremely nervous. But then he notices nose hair on Saki and he subtley tries to tell her without getting hit, but eventually gets his anyway. After that, big fire because of Saki smoking, she gets a little nicer towards the crew. Eventually after the members mature a bit and near Madarame’s graduation, Saki and Madarame would meet in public, first time goes bad as Madarame thinks that Saki’s friends would insult her if she was with him and he ignores him. The second time, the two meet once again and then they decide to go eat dinner. It’s a very pleasing and casual scene seeing how far the two have come along in their relationship as friends. Fast foward around 20 chapters when almost everyone has gotten into relationships and jobs. Madarame finds Saki once again alone in the clubroom when he comes to eat lunch one day. It was exactly like that moment 4 years ago when he was alone with her. Only this time they are able to take. Saki mentions that time when Madarame got hit here, but he pretends not to remember. However, he musters up to courage to say….something. Instead of confessing to her, he instead confesses that he is very grateful that she was able to put up with such otakus like himself and his friends for 4 years. Saki upon hearing this starts to cry a little bit, saying that she has been reflecting the past four years before Madarame got here. She returns the favor and thanks Madarame for putting up with her, for the past 4 years. Madarame respects his friend and treasures the friendship they have made, and he is not willing to sacrifice such a friendship by confessing to her. I just love that aspect of the series, some tragic romance that you wouldn’t really expect from a hardcore otaku like Madarame. You can’t help but to cheer him on to find love
To end things off, this is one of the longest reviews I have written, and rightfully so, I think it deserves it. It is probably my favorite manga series that isn’t a series I read a long time ago (i.e: it isn’t exactly new, it isn’t exactly old)
Read it, if you’re like me and just ADORE character interaction (and i guess depth) and relationships then read this manga.
and if I ain’t lazy, I just might talk about the relaunched Genshiken manga that still updates once and a while.