The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Genshiken OVA

Title: Genshiken OVA
Genre: Comedy
Company: Asiadou
Format: 3 OVA
Dates: 22 Dec 2006 – 25 Apr 2007

Synopsis: Genshiken’s peaceful existence has once again been shattered, this time with a new first year member. Named Ogiue Chika, she was forced onto the club after an eventful parting with the manga club. However, her self-introduction of “I’m Ogiue and I hate otaku” immediately puts her at odds with the fellow members of Genshiken… particularly Ohno.

The Highlights
First OVA: Hilarious and irreverent; Genshiken(1,2) at its best.
Tone: Less focus on comedy, particularly in the latter OVAs.
Art style: Strikingly different to the TV series.

Genshiken is one of the few examples of a genuinely witty sitcom in anime, and deserves credit for being a slice-of-life series that carries with it a considerable bite. Considering how impressed I was with the first series, I was quite excited at the prospect of more Genshiken when this OVA series was announced, but walking away from it, I can’t help but be a tad disappointed. While the OVAs had their moments, they suffer from many of the same problems shared by other short bonus DVD-only series that come off the back of a successful franchise: at a mere 3 OVA, it’s just too short for anything significant to happen.

It’s hard to criticize an OVA off-shoot of an episodic franchise for being episodic, but that’s what I essentially find myself doing. Genshiken best moments come with its scathing “take-no-prisoners” brand of situation comedy, where it backhands its archetypes’ bizarre behaviour with hilarious results, but in a way that makes them sympathetic by showing that, despite of their zealous obsession for their hobby, they still possess distinctly human characteristics. However, when Genshiken did slow down to paint its cast members with individuality reminiscent of real characters, rather than mere archetypes, it tended to lose its comedic edge. The problem with the OVAs is that there are far more of the latter moments than the former. Only the first OVA really concentrates on the true strength of Genshiken, pure comedy, with the latter two mixing humour and “character development” in a concentration that resembles the weaker, less memorable episodes of the first TV series.

It doesn’t help that the OVA series ends suddenly, with no reasonable conclusion offered, or even an attempt to tie up loose ends. Not that endings are overly important; Genshiken is ultimately slice-of-life. What I didn’t approve of was that, with such a low number (three) of episodic, loosely related stories, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d merely seen a commercial for the manga… or, at the very least, for the rumoured, upcoming second series. With an aesthetic effort that doesn’t outshine its TV series counterpart (as an OVA should), and a lack of the consistent comedic bite of the first series, the Genshiken OVA is recommended for fans of the franchise, provided they don’t expect the same onslaught of rapid fire wit of its predecessor.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun

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