Genshiken Manga

Well I just finished reading Genshiken the other day. I know its been out a while, and I know theres a Genshiken anime out there too, but my reviews are solely manga based ( I didn’t watch the anime though xD)

This manga was written by Kio Shimoku and has 9 volumes. So a manga about otaku? (Do i need to add an ‘s’ there? I’m not too sure) Sounds right up my alley!
GenshikenGenshiken

Anyway, a simple synopsis. The manga is basically about the Genshiken, or The Society for Modern Visual Culture, its members and the stuff they do. An uninteresting premise you say? Well that really depends on what you think of the otaku culture. The first book begins with Kanji Sasahara (otaku), who is finding a club to join in his campus, and Saki Kasukabe (NOT OTAKU), accompanying her boyfriend Kousaka (otaku) who is joining the manga club. Someway or another, Sasahara and Kousaka end up joining the Genshiken.

GenshikenGenshiken

From there on, they begin their descent into otakuness and total whacked up fun.

Now, this manga contains elements that I totally disagree with such as erotic themes, homosexuality, and a whole host of other things that would make most people either cringe or stare hard. I’m in the cringe category. However, I realize that to each his own and that the manga focuses on other more serious matters such as obsession, loneliness and the longing to love and be loved in return.

Timeline wise, I would say that the manga covers a few years of the characters lives. We get to see what happens when some characters graduate, for example Madrame who just can’t seem to leave the Genshiken. Apart from separation issues, we’re also bombarded with many, many, many sexual references. We see Sasahara with his obsession for eroge ( porn games) and the entire Genshiken constantly shopping at the seasonal comic conventions just to pick up doujinshi ( filled with porn >_<). I mean the entire Genshiken room is filled with those.

Of course the main focus of the manga is to show otaku culture in all its ‘glory’. No holds barred. Sections are given to items such as cosplay, doujinshi and anime. Ohno is one good example; with her cosplay and acts of enforcing it on everyone (Mostly Saki and Ogiue xD). Madrame, Sasahara and the rest of the gang fit very nicely under the doujinshi category with their endless splurging on manga and anime related merchandise.

GenshikenGenshiken Chp19 24

However, besides the aim of the artist to show the otaku culture for what it is, I believe that he also intended to show that everyone, anyone, even otaku want acceptance. These guys are basically considered outcasts of society and are looked down upon. Take for example Saki, who says she can’t stand otakus and doesn’t want to be associated with them or Oguie who says she hates otaku ( though she is one). Over time though, these people learn that friendship and love aren’t only bound to stereotypes. I could really feel the emotional struggle and pain that these people were going through.

Which brings me to the the bad habits that these people sometimes try to hide. One good example would be Ogiue, who has a thing for guy on guy action (if you know what I mean >_<). She tries very hard to hide it and because of a past experience doesn’t open up to anyone (initially). However after time, we end up seeing relationships and bonds building between these people. its quite a touching story.
GenshikenGenshiken Chp47 109

Though, this brings me to another thing I disagree with about this manga. Instead of changing, the characters just accept all their bad habits. I personally feel that the message should be to change for the better rather than accepting the bad stuff. Thats just me though.

Anyway overall this manga was a really good read, with comedy, touching moments and the like. It reminded me of a few other manga I read with the same theme, for example; welcome to the NHK. Although that one was way more extreme. So, give Genshiken a try and if you’ve read this far, congratulations to you! No prizes though xD

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