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Genshiken – Complete Collection (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

August 11, 2008 by  



“An anime series that anime, video game and manga fans can watch and enjoy immensely. One of the most unique, hilarious and enjoyable anime series that I have watched complete in one sitting and feel the need to rave to friends to check out! It’s that good!”

DVD INFORMATION:

DVD TITLE: Genshiken Complete Collection

DURATION: 300 minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Animated, Color, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC0

COMPANY: AnimeWorks

RATING: 13 and up

STAFF INFORMATION:

ORIGINAL MANGA: Shimoku Kio

DIRECTOR: Ikehata Takashi

SERIES COMPOSITION: Yokote Michiko

MUSIC: Takumi Masanori

CHARACTER DESIGN: Kinoshita Hirotaka

ART DIRECTOR: Okui Shin

CHIEF DIRECTOR: Kinoshita Hirotaka

CAST INFORMATION:

Kohsaka Makoto – Saiga Mitsuki

Kasukabe Saki – Yukino Satsuki

Sasahara Kanji – Ohyama Takanori

Ohno Kanako – Kawasumi Ayako

Kugayama Mitsunori – Nomura Kenji

Madarame Harunobu – Hiyama Nobuyuki

Tanaka Soichiro – Seki Tomokazu

Sasahara Keiko – Shimizu Kaori

Genshiken Chairman – Ueda Yuji

Sasahara appears to be a quiet college freshman but certain darkness lurks within his soul. For one thing he knows what “cosplay” is and he’d like to know more. He knows how to unlock all the secret characters in Guilty Gear X and he’d like to know more. He knows what the plot twist is going to be in episode twenty-five of Kujibiki Unbalance because he’s read the manga and he’d like to know more.He’s heard of Doujinshi and he NEEDS to know more. Enter Genshiken the barely legitimized Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture home to all the various subspecies of Otaku!

It’s very rare for me to watch an anime series that catches my attention like “Genshiken” has. Sure, there are anime series that I enjoyed and can’t stop watching but for this anime series, after I was done, I wanted more! I wanted to share it with friends. I just had a great time watching the series and I hope more and more people discover it!

The TV series debuted back in 2004 and is based on a manga series by Kio Shimoku that was serialized in Kodansha’s “Afternoon” magazine back in 2002.

Directing the series would be Ikehata Takashi knwon for his work with “Inuyasha”, “Angel’s Egg” and “Turn A Gundam”.

But the overall series centers around a club at Shioo University. With various clubs to join, the first episode features freshman Sasahara Kanji who is looking for a club to that fits his tastes. As an anime fan, he is curious about the anime club, as a manga fan he is curious about the manga club. He meets Kohsaka Makoto who introduces him to a club known as “Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenkyūkai” aka Genshiken (The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture). Which is literally a club that features a group of guys into anime, manga, video games, cosplay and ecchi dojinshi. Not specific to one thing but embraces it.

Along the way, we are introduced to other characters:

Kohsaka Makoto – Kohsaka is an otaku in a sense with his hobbies. Loves fighting video games, watches a lot of anime, listens to drama CD’s but unlike otaku, he’s very stylish from his hair to his clothing. Also, a master at the fighting video game “Guilty Gear XX”.

Kasukae Saki – A lot of the episodes center around her character. She is stylish and has fallen for Makoto (they eventually early on become boyfriend and girlfriend) but she can’t understand why he’s so hardcore otaku and just wants him to stop associating with the otakus of Genshiken and would very much like to see Genshiken stop. But eventually joins after the Genshiken chairman reveals to her that he knows some of her secrets.

Madarame Harunobu – The major otaku member of Genshiken and later becomes the club leader.

Tanaka Souchirou – The cosplay photographer of the club who likes to build cosplay outfits for girls. Also, the member who is totally into building plastic models.

Kugayama Mitsunori – The big, overweight member of the club. A good artist but not really motivated.

Ohno Kanako – The first female member of Genshiken that has a major interest in cosplay (and a fetish towards balding men)

The 12-episode series features a variety of storylines but what is most impressive is the tight writing behind the characters development and their various club activities.

I enjoyed every episode but a few of my favorites are:

Episode 3 – “Problems and Merits of Local Culture Promotion” – In this episode, the guys go to ComiFes and you learn through Sasahara’s first time of how long it takes to get into the event (and also to leave). With so much effort to get there and be the first to get limited edition dojinshi and swag, things go for the worse when Madarame falls on his hand.

But coming so far, Madarame is determined to get his limited edition’s knowing that his hand continues to get worse and worse and he possibly may have broken it.

This is a hilarious episode to see how these guys go crazy for ecchi dojinshi and how crazy they are about their fandom.

In episode 4 titled, ““The Sublimating Effects of the Dissimulation Brought on Through Makeup and Costume on Mental Obstacles”, Genshiken gets a new member by the name of Ohno Kanako. A girl who just came back from America that has long black hair and loves to cosplay. But for Saki, she doesn’t understand why a girl would want to join a club like Genshiken but due to her curiosity, she can’t help but understand a female’s perspective of being an otaku.

A hilarious episode just to see stylish Saki having a hard time comprehending female otaku’s and cosplaying.

In episode 6 titled “On Connecting with Others through Subculture”, Saki feels a bit underappreciated in her relationship with Kohsaka because of his otaku obsessions. So, she decides that maybe by taking an interest in video games (or game), she can get closer to him and have him pay more attention to her.

So, the guys teach her how to play “Puyo Pop Fever” and hopefully by playing a video game with Kohsaka, it will improve their relationship. Also, an introduction to Sasahara Keiko, Kanji’s younger sister who is a teen who is very outgoing and develops a crush towards Kohsaka but is in total shock that he is an otaku but yet looks so cool, stylish and handsome on the outside.

In episode 10 titled ““The Fetishism of Leisure Time Expenditures Considered by their Economic Result”, the club go to the beach and accompanying them is Kanji’s younger sister Keiko who is determined to get close to Kohsaka despite Saki being there. This leads Keiko to devise a plan by getting into her older brother’s anime series and watching them to get closer to Kohsaka.

This is a hilarious episode as Saki does what she can to prevent Keiko from getting close to her boyfriend.

And possibly my favorite episode, episode 11 titled ““On the Presence of Malicious Intent in Urban Crimes”. Something bad happens to the Genshiken club (a fire accidentally started by Saki) and their membership is revoked. In return, the club’s status in the upcoming cosplay contest is jeopardized but knowing that she owes the club big time, Saki agrees to the club’s demand to cosplay as the “President” character from their favorite anime series “Kujibiki Unbalance”.

This is also where “Genshiken” shines is that within this anime series, the group are fans of a TV anime series titled “Kujibiki Unbalance” (which is also released on DVD from AnimeWorks and OAV’s are featured in the anime DVD releases).

VIDEO:

For a 2004 TV series, colors are vibrant. I really enjoy the character designs and overall everything looks good.

AUDIO:

I watched the series mostly in Japanese (with English subtitles) but rewatched a few episodes via the English dubs and both are well-acted. English dub gives a different feel and vibe in my opinion but I realize that many anime fans dig the voice work for this series. So, it’s all good on both audio fronts.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

This is where each volume shines! There are a lot of special features. I mean A LOT!

Sure, you get the no-text opening and ending themes but there is a featurette for character show 2004 with the Japanese voice talent, a performance by Under 17 (Halko Momoi’s group) that performed the theme songs for “Kujibiki Unbalance”, an interview with the Japanese director Ikehata Takashi, interview with Ohyama Takanori (Sasahara Kanji) and Kawasumi Ayako (Ohno Kanako). Also, a press conference interview with Kawasumi Ayako (Ohno) and voice actress from “Kujibiki Unbalance” and just the Q&A was hilarious as the girls shared their opinions on “otaku” and which guy would they date from “Genshiken”.

But the biggest addition were the inclusion of the three “Kujibiki Unbalance” OAV’s. Clips from the series were shown during “Genshiken” as the club would watch the TV series in their club room. Granted, the series may not make much sense but fortunately, three volumes of the TV series are now available from AnimeWorks and those each include an episode of the three additional OAV’s of “Genshiken” (which introduce new characters to the club).

I really enjoyed this anime series!

One of the main reasons is because in college, I created a club similar to Genshiken but mainly a club where Japanese and Americans can get together and share their passion for Japanese music, variety shows, doramas, anime, video games and manga and much more.

We had a pretty big club (our club was the Asunaro Club) and we were not recognized officially by our campus, we had no interest in joining the Japanese club or the anime club but yet, we still put our event posters or flyers on campus walls and had some really awesome parties and get-togethers.

Similar to Genshiken, we had our stylish girls and we had our share of video game and anime otaku. We had girls who questioned our otaku members why they were into their crazy things. But yet, everything was all good and we had fun!

So, when I watch “Genshiken”, it reminded me of our club events and our get-togethers and the crazy situations that I had experienced.

Every episode was awesome! The characters were just well-liked and the story, I felt was just well-written and anime, manga, cosplay, hobby and video game fans can really watch and enjoy!

“Genshiken” is truly a unique series and I know about the comparisons of the old “Otaku no Video” anime OAV series which I enjoyed back then but “Genshiken” is much different as each character had something with their mannerisms and things that they liked, really make the series worth enjoying.

As for the DVD, Media Blasters has done the fans an awesome service by providing so many special features including the three OAV’s of “Kujibiki Unbalance”.

Just an FYI though that there are two complete collections available. One that is a “Premium Edition” but there are no differences on the DVD’s but the fact that one has a box and cost more money. The economy edition is if you don’t mind not having the box and just care about the DVD’s.

All in all, “Genshiken” is one of the best anime collections to buy and I can’t wait (and hope) for the second season to be released on DVD.

+ Awesome anime series!

+ Characters that you care about! And well acted both in Japanese and in English.

+ Special features galore!

ANIME DVD REVIEWS | ASIAN ENTERTAINMENT/POP CULTURE DVD REVIEWS

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