When it was announced that the manga for Genshiken Second Generation (Genshiken Nidaime) would receive an anime, my excitement was tempered by a feeling that the anime would ultimately be a letdown, as it would suffer from comparisons to the original classic. NIS’s slick release of the Genshiken Second Generation DVD set, though, proves that while it’s no classic, this new series stands on its own merits.
For those unfamiliar, Genshiken traces the lives of members of the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, a college otaku club whose associates are often rejects even among otaku. Though Second Generation has appearances by all the original cast, new members are featured in this season, including Hato, a cross-dressing fudanshi; Yajima, a surly fujoshi who disapproves of Hato’s cross-dressing; Yoshitake, a relentlessly and excitable fujoshi; and Sue, an American exchange student who speaks almost entirely in dialogue from various anime series.
This season centers on Hato, who is continuously dealing with his desire and need to cross-dress, and Madarame, one of the main characters of the original series, and both his adjustment into post-college life and undetermined and evolving relationship with Hato. These two storylines are dynamic and sometimes complex, but unfortunately, they’re not always particularly interesting. Hato and this Madarame are less compelling than the trio of Kasukabe, Sasahara, and Madarame in the earlier series.
Fundamentally, there’s a problem at the core of Second Generation: the two mains in this series are not as relatable as the three (four if you consider Ogiue) in the original show. Part of the magic of Genshiken was in taking a wide variety of characters, ranging from anime-obsessed Madarame to stylish, non-otaku Kasukabe, and infusing them with real emotions and thoughts, and in that way, creating characters that the audience can empathize with and relate to. In Second Generation, there’s such a heavy focus on fujoshi/fudanshi culture that a broader appeal is lost, while Hato’s struggles often felt unrealistic, and thus less relatable.
But while the series falls short of its predecessor, its by no means a failure. Read the rest of this entry
I had a really great conversation today with an exchange student at the university I attended, which is nearby my work. We talked a lot about how one person can have a powerful impact on others just by loving them. Our lives profoundly impacts other lives as we intersect in our relationships. We may not see the fruit these relationships bear – but sometimes, our words and deeds can move people.
Genshiken showed me a similar lesson this week. Truth be told, I’m not the biggest Genshiken Nidaime fan, even if I was reading the manga religiously until recently. I am, however, a huge fan of some of the characters from the original season, including Madarame and Kasukabe, so naturally, I was super excited about seeing the scene between these two in animation form. I was excited for it, and I wasn’t let down.
I remembered the confession scene pretty well from the manga, but one portion I’d forgotten until it aired was Kasukabe’s tearful relief at finally letting go of the pretense that she didn’t know about Madarame’s feelings. Even if her answer would always be “no,” she’d been holding back for long for someone she cared about, that it was a great relief for her for things to finally get settled.
Imagine if Madarame had not said anything? Imagine if he had done what he had always done and given in to the mentality that he had no chance? Not only would he be affected – but so, too, would Kasukabe, having to continue with the strain of holding back.
About six years ago, my wife and I left our church, hoping to find a body of believers that were in a similar life stage as us. We visited several churches, apprehensively going through the doors on Sundays and trying them out. It was a strange sensation – and uncomfortable one, as we nitpicked and wondered if these churches were right for us.
The new characters in Genshiken must feel the same awkwardness. Hato, Yajima, and Yoshitake are trying out the club, and the anxiety they feel (at the least for the latter two) is obvious. It mirrors Sasahara’s feelings of “Should I join or not?” in the very first episode of the original series.
The decision for the group is a big one, after all. This is the circle they’ll be spending time with throughout college. And in Genshiken and the other circles, you can’t be a background member. You’ll be spending time with these folks day after day and forging deep bonds with them. You’ll be preparing for and participating in events and be giving much of your youth to these people and this club. It’s a heavy commitment.
I wonder if many of us think of church in those terms. We attend, but are we committed? Read the rest of this entry
I’m so happy that there’s new Genshiken, even if the voices are different (and some are hard to get used to). Even the Oguie/Sasahara arc was skipped. Even if I didn’t really like the initial chapters of the Genshiken Nidaime manga.
It still felt like visiting old friends I hadn’t seen in years and not losing a beat.
And of course, there are new characters in the mix: Yoshitake, the self-admitted “rotten” otaku; Yajima, the frumpy fujoshi; and Hato, the fudanshi who dresses like a woman. They’re all fun characters and fit right into Genshiken.
Well, I think they do. The club president, Oguie, isn’t quite sure. Throughout the episode, we get insights into her worries about what the club is beginning and her trepidations at attracting these three new recruits, none of whom she seems to be particularly high on.
It seems that Ogiue has forgotten her humble beginnings.
Have you been paying attention to the new generation of Genshiken? Well, you should be. Even if you don’t particularly like the new cast, if you enjoyed the former, now is the time to catch up.
Because perhaps the climax of the entire series is about to occur – chapter 79 ends with a cliffhanger (SPOILER), as Saki and Madarame are left alone in the Genshiken clubroom, and the possibility of a confession is in the air.
I can’t believe it’s taken Madarame so long. Scratch that – actually, maybe it would be in-character if Madarame just put off his confession forever.
Many of us have a like tendency to put things off. Why do today what I can do later? For some, this tardiness might be about being lazy. But for actions that might bring pain, embarrassment, and discomfort, my guess is that among anime fans, many delay action because of fear.
Madarame may well be in that boat. He’s been in love with Saki for years now, but is unable to tell her. I’m sure that he’s been telling himself excuses – the most valid of which is that Saki is with Kousaka. But in chapter 79, that last bridge seems to be burned, as Saki makes clear she is willing to hear Madarame out and Kousaka, himself, tells Madarame and he needs to stay and speak with her, as if he’s willing to let her go if that’s what she wants (which would be quite in-character of him).
And this may be Madarame’s final chance with Saki. Read the rest of this entry
I’ve been on a Genshiken high lately. I’ve been enjoying the adventures of the new club members (and old) in Genshiken Naidame. I’ve also been revisiting the anime series regularly.
Each episode of Genshiken ends with a shot in the clubroom during the closing credits. The member’s actions are a little different each time. Episode six has Kasukabe and Sasahara playing Puyo Pop. That specific ending, along with the lyrics to the closing song, “Biidama” by Saori Atsumi, are very nostalgic for me. They remind me of doing the same with friends when I was a teenager playing Street Fighter 2 at the house of my pastor’s son.
We took no detours or shortcuts
And we weren’t afraid of what tomorrow would bring
As we kept walking down Inogashira Street late at night
Only vivid dreams extended deep into the shadows
I love these small moments between friends. Read the rest of this entry
The other day, I got an itching to pop in my DVD set of Genshiken to feel the camaraderie of one of the great casts of anime characters. As I watched, I was reminded of Genshiken Nidaime, which I was “meh” about and hadn’t kept track of. Still, infected by the Genshiken bug, I went back to it and caught up very quickly, becoming absorbed in the story and feeling an affection for the new generation of characters, who I had cared little about before.
The last few chapters have been very Hato-heavy, as we learn more and more about his personality (explored further in the most recent chapter, for which I’m eagerly awaiting translation and resisting the temptation to read all about at Ogiue Maniax). In particular, I’m really enjoying exploration of the bond Hato has with Madarame and the empathy he feels toward him.
Hato knows about Madarame’s feelings toward Kasukabe (they eventually have to get together, right?) and is obsessed with the painful longing that he imagines Madarame must feel. He wants Madarame to be happy, but what can he do about it?
While we in reality live in a world where we value friendship and often see our friends as family, there’s often a curious detachment when it comes to getting involved with others’ personal lives. While we certainly don’t want to step over boundaries, I’m often amazed how we might feel bad about others suffering, but still leave a situation as is with the idea that the person in need has to deal with his or her own problems. True, oftentimes, there’s a good reason to let things be – tough love, boundaries, and the feelings of others involved among them. But sometimes, we’re using these ideas as an excuse. Read the rest of this entry
- More Genshiken Manga on the Way
News: The popular manga about otaku, Genshiken, will be continued as Genshiken II in Japan in Kondasha’s Monthly Afternoon magazine. The sequel manga will feature Ogiue, now the Genshiken president, as the main character of the college club. New characters will join in, including a cross-dressing boy named Hato.
Views: Genshiken introduced some of the most memorable characters in recent anime/manga history, but seemed to finish fairly conclusively. That said, I’m a fan of sequels, and am hoping to see an extension of characters I’ve grown to love. Ogiue has become a fan favorite as she struggled with personal demons in a cute sort of way. More than that, she is a character whose actions and thoughts reveal profound truths about the human condition. We’ll certainly discuss her on this blog in the future.
- Court Uses Beserk Manga to Strike Down Obsenity Laws in Oregon
News: The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals struck down two proposed laws meant to prevent minors from accessing “obscene” materials. Considered overly restrictive, the court used Beserk as an example of a work that contained content which wasn’t considered obscene, but would have been restricted through the laws.
Views: Censorship is always a touchy issue, made even more troublesome by the fact that the second law struck down was meant to protect minors from pedophiles. Laws or not, protecting minors starts as a social issue. It is at home that parents have the opportunity to instill values meant to protect their children. On another note, Judy Blume was also mentioned in the decision: has any celebrated childrens’ author been on as many banned/restricted book lists as her? Makes me wanna to read some Superfudge.
- Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act Bill Introduced in Senate
News: Veteran Senator from Vermont, Patrick Leahy, introduced a bill on Monday that would give the U.S. Attorney General considerable power in bringing down sites that infringe on copyright laws, even if the creators of the site are overseas.
Views: As we all remember from our Schoolhouse Rock lesson (video below), this bill still has a while to go before becoming a law. That said, this law would be a major development. No manga site wants to have to deal with the federal government. Perhaps this is a marked beginning to a change for viewing habits of manga fans, and that might be a good thing.
How A Bill Becomes a Law