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shinsengumi's Genshiken Tv Review

Genshiken tv Review

A tongue-in-cheek introspective on otaku culture, Genshiken tells the story of a group of friends and their club at school, the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture (abbreviated Genshiken). Represented in the group are just about all of the anime fan archetypes, with social pariahs, hentai and ecchi fans, a model enthusiast, a cosplayer, a gamer, a pervert, and one Saki Kasukabe, an attractive and sophisticated girl who is conspicuous in her normality who views otaku culture with equal measures of bewilderment and disgust and simply cannot why her boyfriend loves anime so much.

Credits: shinsengumi

Story & Characters

A tongue-in-cheek introspective on otaku culture, Genshiken tells the story of a group of friends and their club at school, the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture (abbreviated Genshiken). Represented in the group are just about all of the anime fan archetypes, with social pariahs, hentai and ecchi fans, a model enthusiast, a cosplayer, a gamer, a pervert, and one Saki Kasukabe, an attractive and sophisticated girl who is conspicuous in her normality who views otaku culture with equal measures of bewilderment and disgust and simply cannot why her boyfriend loves anime so much.

The story is a chronicle of the activities of the club and the trials and tribulations of its members. At the same time, it is very much a chronicle of Saki changing her attitude towards otaku culture from revulsion to detante to acceptance as she begins to understand the culture through her experiences with the group, with which she can often be found because of her boyfriend Kohsaka, though among the members of which she is adamant about not being counted.

Rating: 9

Art

The artwork of the series is an adaptation of the excellent manga of the same name by Kio Shimoku into anime format, and it does so admirably, preserving the charm and detail of the original artwork in colored and animated form. The artwork is solid and the animation fluid; while it is not particularly innovative or breathtaking, it is crisp and well-executed in all respects.

The character designs are of particular note, managing to convey the personalities of the individual characters very well, from the handsome-yet-clueless Kohsaka to the sleazy Madarame. And then there is Saki, always standing in clear contrast to the rest of Genshiken crew with her style and sophistication, a practiced look of bored wariness perpetually upon her face. If there is something that brings the series down, it clearly is not its artwork.

It would be amiss to omit mention of the artwork for Kujibiki Unbalance. In the alternate reality of Genshiken, the most popular anime series currently airing is Kujibiki Unbalance, which serves as a series-within-a-series. The artwork in Kujibiki Unbalance is very different in style from Genshiken as a whole; it is much more bold and distinctive in its style. As a whole, it takes itself much less seriously, and therefore much more liberties are taken in the artwork and character designs, which are still top-notch and memorable, if a tad out of the ordinary.

Rating: 8

Sound

On the other hand, the soundtrack is nothing spectacular at all. I must stress that it is not a bad soundtrack, by any means, as it gets its job done by serving to complement the plot and animation, but it is clearly not something that one would listen to by itself and for its own sake.

However, the ending theme, biidama (marbles) by Atsumi Saori, is a conspicuous exception to the rule, as it definitely ranks among my favorite anime ending themes of all time. It is one of those more laid back, yet catchy, melodies that seem to be excellent for listening to in so many different situations, whether it be while studying, while driving in the car, walking to classes, and the like. Saori has a beautiful and soft singing voice that is perfect for the song, and her voice is excellently complemented by the accompaniment of accoustic guitar. Even today, quite a while since the first time I watched the series, this is a song that still consistently finds itself on my iPod playlist.

Yet even so, a single beautiful song is not enough to save the entire soundtrack from mediocrity.

Rating: 6

Presentation

Genshiken is brilliant because of the absolutely wide audience that can relate to and be enthralled by its premise and appreciate its execution. On one hand, self-styled otaku and more passive fans of Japanese popular culture will find it easy to relate to the members of Genshiken and will appreciate the often subtle references to well-known anime and games that pervade the series, the inside jokes, and of course the light-hearted and slightly self-parodying humor.

On the other hand, those who do not understand otaku culture will easily relate to Saki and share her initial wariness, bewilderment, and perhaps even disgust of both anime and its afficionados, but through the progression of the series may easily find themselves following Saki down the path to better understanding of the culture, its many facets, and those "otaku" who subscribe to it.

Furthermore, the series-within-a-series concept of Kujibiki Unbalance is brilliant; it adds an entirely new dimension of humor and parody in its illustration of anime culture. In the series itself it appears as little snippets here and there as a means to drive forward and present aspects of otaku culture, but in the DVD release, three demonstrative episodes of the fictional 26-episode series (which are references in the course of the anime itself) are included as bonuses, an innovative and interesting twist indeed.

With all things considered, Genshiken is definitely an excellent series both in its foundational premise and its ultimate presentation; it is a pity that it has escaped the attention and awareness of most and therefore is one of the most underrated series that has come out in the past few years. That said, for those who have yet to see it or have not even heard of it, it is highly suggested that you do so when you get a chance, for chances are you will not be disappointed.

Rating: 9

Final Verdict

8.33 (good)

Reviewed by shinsengumi, May 28, 2005

Comments

  1. Aa-chan May 29, 2005

    A well written piece about what seems a very interesting anime.

  2. ashleydean90 May 31, 2005

    I love this because it was very interesting and I think it was very good
    :)

  3. akika Nov 02, 2005

    I quite agree with your review~ It was a really funny anime~ my boyfriend kept bagging the way they play guilty gear in the anime because he thinks he plays better..XD I think the anime really suited him~ the little things like ringtones and things like that added that extra bit of 'otakuness' to it. If I lived in Japan, I'd probably be going crazy going to anime conventions as well XD
    Overall it was a pretty good anime, although I felt sometimes it was a bit slow, but definitely worth watching if you consider yourself an anime fan ^^

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