Genshiken Review — A

Genshiken. A show about a college club of otaku. This is on the list of my favorite anime, and I felt compelled to rewatch it recently. If you haven’t watched it yet, do yourself a favor and go do so now.

Reading various other reviews, the general consensus seems to be that this is a great show because it’s relatable: a show by otaku for otaku about otaku.

I couldn’t disagree more. I don’t consider myself an otaku. I have never read a doujinshi (nor do I intend to do so). I have never bought a figure, Gundam model, or inflatable character pillow. My first reaction to cosplay would be to run away. I have no interest in eroge. I have never attended a convention. I watch anime, and read a little bit of manga. That’s it.

So I couldn’t relate to Genshiken (in this way) at all. But I still thought it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Why?

The reason is the characters. They come across as so human: beautifully flawed, broken and struggling, and yet the show leaves you with such a hopeful feeling. Madarame is trapped with a hopeless one-sided love, and you can’t help but root for him. Sasahara is mellow and demure, but is able to slowly come out of his shell. Ogiue hates otaku with a passion, but begins to come to terms with herself. Even if you have no interest in doujinshi, Genshiken leaves you completely enmeshed in the club’s efforts to create one.

The other point of strength (which allows the characters to grow so much in the first place) is the passage of time. Genshiken spans a period of several years, and the characters grow immensely over this period. New club members come. Old club members graduate. The audience witnesses changes, for better and for worse. Nothing will ever be the same again.

Genshiken is only superficially a story about otaku, although your experience will be heightened if you catch some of the references and jokes from its subject matter. At its heart, Genshiken is a down to earth story about growth and change.

  • Plot / Script – A – Meaningful dialogue, skillfully fits years of time into twenty something episodes.
  • Characters – A – Fabulous.
  • Production – B – Solid animation, not great, but who cares.
  • Overall – A

Recommendations – Welcome to the NHK, Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei, Haibane Renmei

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7 thoughts on “Genshiken Review — A

  1. interesting point of view. most people don’t really think i’m an otaku at first because i enjoy fashion, sports, socializing, and partying (although i think it’s unfair to stereotype anyone). but i’m not shy to say i am. i watch anime and read manga, collect figures, build gunpla, read an occasional doujinshi on fakku, and play an eroge once in a while. but you’re right that it’s not a show about otaku for otaku. as in most good shows, its the characters that drive the plot. and genshiken is a good show because it has good characters. i should go pick up the new chapters of the manga. enjoyed the review, and thanks for adding me to your blogroll.

    1. Yeah, I’ve been enjoying the new chapters of the manga. That’s one of the few that I read. 🙂 Although it could use more Ogiue. But everything could use more Ogiue.

  2. The two otaku shows I’ve seen (Ore no Imouto… and Boku wa Tomodachi…) were pretty bad…Welcome to the NHK was great, though.

    The RPG scene in NHK was legendary. OreImo and BokuTomo also have video game scenes, but they aren’t that funny.

    Speaking of Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei, did you see Mind Game?

    1. I love Welcome to the NHK. Pretty much every scene in that show is legendary. 🙂 I agree about OreImo and BokuTomo.

      I haven’t seen Mind Game, but it’s on my list. I’ve heard it’s great.

  3. I watched it recently but I wasn’t that much touched by it. The second season was better than the first, since Kasukabe stopped being such a jerk and was even weirder than the ‘otaku’ themselves (except the sex part- I can congratulate her for her patience with this pathetic boyfriend of hers =.=), and the side couples were adorable. I could relate a bit on the job-hunt, but aside this, the desert… nothing I could feel honestly excited about. Nice watch, but not sure that I’d say to someone that is a must watch.

    Someday I must try Welcome to the NHK, since you love it way more.

    1. See, to me Kasukabe was a side couple. 🙂 It’s all about Ogiue and Sasahara.

      Welcome to the NHK is great, definitely give it a try.

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