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