The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials


Title: Genshiken aka The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture
Company: Palm Studio/Media Factory
Genre: Comedy
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 22 Oct 2004 – 20 Feb 2005

Synopsis: A light-hearted meandering journey through the lives of a misfit group of otaku (and one very definite non-otaku) students in modern-day Japan.

The Highlights
Characters: Some are very detailed.
Setting: Accurate and informative.
Subject matter: Fascinating.
Storyline: Virtually non-existant.
Seiyuu: Extremely competent.
Side characters: Slightly underdeveloped.

I feel a solid plotline is the glue holding a series’ episodes together, providing a backbone from which everything else grows; without it, a series can become lifeless, ungrounded, and hard to follow.

Genshiken is an exception.

Following a small band of shameless otakus as they set about attending events, tackling issues and interacting with various people and organisations, we are provided with a unique insight into what it means to truly become obsessed – to the detriment of everything else around you.

For a series which pivots around its characters, Genshiken does have a habit of focusing a little too myopically on the more interesting ones, letting some of the cast you would not mind getting to know better simply fade into the background. Of the characters which are explored, by the end of the series you will have formed such a bond with them that they will begin to feel like old – if slightly strange – friends.

Played in a tongue-in-cheek style which both worships and pokes gentle fun at its characters and the situations they find themselves in, Genshiken takes care never to insult its subjects for cheap laughs. Clever devices such as the anti-otaku girlfriend attempting to come to terms with her boyfriend’s obsession are used to inject humour and explore various important issues.

Sharp but effortless humour permeates every episode, from the intentionally over-complicated episode-titles and the incredibly scary yet equally geeky former Chairman, to Kujibiki Unbalance: the hilariously contrived yet strangely accurate fictitious series frequently watched and read by the cast.

If you are looking for a series with a clear storyline leading to a definite conclusion, then this is not for you. If, on the other hand, a relaxed anime that manages to have the perfect blend of characters and style without taking itself too seriously appeals, then be sure to add Genshiken to your viewing list.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Scoot

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