Genshiken 2

Title: Genshiken 2
Genre: Comedy/Romance
Company: GENCO/Toranoana Inc./ARMS
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 10 Oct 2007 – 26 Dec 2007

Synopsis: After becoming the club’s president and getting Genshiken accepted at ComiFes, Sasahara now only has the small matter of actually putting together a doujin to worry about. Finding out that Oguie is able and willing to draw makes the mountainous task slightly easier, but when Haruguchi makes a rare appearance at the club, he announces his own vision for the doujin… one that Sasahara and his fellow Genshiken members don’t necessarily wish to follow.

The Highlights
Comedy: Nowhere near as clever or funny as the first season.
Characters: Genuinely funny characters like Kasukabe and Madarame take a back seat.
Character analysis: Plays a big part in the slice-of-life component, but isn’t particularly engaging because the characters are boring.
OP sequence: Derivative, insulting, inane; this is not how one does parody.

What happened to this show? Genshiken(1,2) was arguably the wittiest anime sitcom of its time, deriding the stereotypes of anime fandom with the sharpest of jabs, but doing so with enough honest affection to encourage us to look at the reflection of ourselves within its characters and laugh. Genshiken 2 loses all of this. The sequel is a lot of things: university student slice-of-life, realistic romance, meticulous character analysis. It excels at none of these. What it isn’t is precisely what the first season excelled at: sharp, witty and scarily apt comedy that we, as anime fans, can readily relate to. This isn’t a terrible anime, but it’s impossible to watch this without comparing it to the original, and the original was so much more clever and funny than this. I know Genshiken as a franchise is capable of more than this because I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

It’s not like the first series of Genshiken was the ultimate comedy. There were a few minor knicks that are easily dismissed; however, it’s these very flaws of the first series that grow into major ones here. Genshiken never really had more than two consistently funny characters: Kasukabe and Madarame, but they were such immense screen presences and they appeared frequently enough that it was difficult to care that the other characters were boring archetypes or pushovers or thinly veiled wish fulfillment. In this series, Kasukabe and Madarame make way for the likes of Sasahara and Ohno, who simply do not have the same capacity for situation comedy as their predecessors. It leads to comedy that is, in a lot of cases, rather forced, or, at other times, potentially funny situations that fizzle due to the non-confrontational nature of these characters. The “new” characters (inverted commas since both appeared in earlier incarnations,) Oguie and Kuchiki are hit and miss respectively. Oguie’s self-denial of her otaku nature makes for a reasonable interesting character study but, more importantly, some hilarious moments. Kuchiki on the other hand is just annoying… there’s no real other way to put it.

Genshiken 2 takes a slightly differing approach to its predecessor on a number of aspects, and almost all of them are for the worse. Sasahara’s character comes under some pretty intense scrutiny, which is something I would welcome under most circumstances, but the overall blandness of his character makes the whole thing so laboured and makes him pretty difficult to truly care about. I realize he’s supposed to be a caricature of the average anime fan, but it seems that the aspect of that concept they’ve emphasized with his character is that word “average”. I mean, I’ve met anime fans. They’re generally not this boring. There’s a greater openness towards sex, which is worth handling since it’s such a prominent part of otakuism (as most who have been in the game for a bit of time will have almost certainly have noticed) but the crude way with which Genshiken 2 handles it impairs what could have been some of the funnier moments and commentaries. One episode in particular deals heavily with the yaoi fixation and… well, needless to say, I didn’t particularly enjoy it.

There’s nothing special in the music or animation without either being terribly bad… just like the comedy. The OP sequence does deserve special mention, though, for being one of the most derivative sequences ever in anime. I realize the whole thing was supposed to be parody, but parody loses its meaning when it sticks so closely to the conventions it’s attempting to make fun of. Ultimately, Genshiken 2 isn’t the worst comedy around, but setting one’s expectations based on the first series is a formula for disappointment.

The Rating: 5
5/10

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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