Genshiken (げんしけん?) is a manga series by Shimoku Kio about a college club for otaku (extremely obsessed fans of various media) and the lifestyle its members pursue. The title is a shortening of the club's official name, Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenkyūkai (現代視覚文化研究会?), or "The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture". The series has also been adapted into an anime directed by Tsutomu Mizushima. The manga originally ran in Kodansha's monthly manga anthology Afternoon from June 2002 to June 2006, and has been reprinted in nine bound volumes. The ninth and final volume was released in Japan in December 2006.
A two-part short bonus story was included across both volumes of the Kujibiki Unbalance manga, published 2006/7. Three years after the original manga ended, a new chapter (Chapter 56) of the Genshiken manga was released as a bonus together with the Japanese Genshiken 2 DVD box-set. The chapter told us what the characters had become, and what was happening in the Genshiken club right now.
Kodansha's Monthly Afternoon magazine announced in their November 2010 issue that the Genshiken manga would return for a limited time as Genshiken Nidaime.
Genshiken follows the lives of a group of college students drawn together by their shared hobbies, and the trials and adventures associated with being otaku. The story begins with the introduction of Kanji Sasahara, a shy, confidence-lacking freshman who on club day at university, decides to join a club he would actually enjoy, Genshiken. Over his four years at Shiiou University, Sasahara comes to accept himself for who he is and loses the inhibitions and guilt he once felt and associated with otaku culture, becoming an enthusiastic clubmember, and for a time, a capable club president. As the story of Genshiken progresses, focus is also placed on Saki Kasukabe, a determined non-otaku who initially struggles to drag her boyfriend out of the club, and Chika Ogiue, a self-professed otaku-hater who feels a deep-seated shame and self-loathing toward her own interests and hobbies.
During the course of the series, the reader bears witness as the group grows in its cohesiveness over time, and bonds form between the characters as they begin to see themselves as more than fellow club members, but friends as well. In this context, club activities such as group outings, the biannual pilgrimage to Comifes, and even simply hanging out in the clubroom, allow the characters' complex relationships to grow into friendship, infatuation, and at times, even love. While a few of them never quite see eye-to-eye about their interests or the lives they lead, they are held together by the bonds of friendship that they share.
- Kanji Sasahara (笹原 完士 Sasahara Kanji?)
- At the beginning of the series, Sasahara is just coming to terms with his otaku nature and much of the beginning of the series focuses on introducing him to the otaku lifestyle. He is the most balanced member of Genshiken, with no real focus on any particular aspect.
- Makoto Kousaka (高坂 真琴 Kōsaka Makoto?)
- Kousaka is the character who most focuses on video games, particularly fighters and porn games. He also does not fit the otaku stereotype in that he is much more outwardly fashionable than would be expected. He likes his girlfriend Kasukabe very much, though she doesn't share his interests.
- Saki Kasukabe (春日部 咲 Kasukabe Saki?)
- The only non-otaku main character, Kasukabe hates otaku and their lifestyle, but is forced to hang around the Genshiken in order to be with her boyfriend Kousaka. A down to earth, practical, manipulative, and attractive young woman, Saki is somewhat ruthless and easily angered. She spends most of her time physically abusing the male members of Genshiken. However, as the series progresses, Kasukabe begins to exihibt more otaku-like characteristics, and slowly stops abusing Genshiken members.
- Harunobu Madarame (斑目 晴信 Madarame Harunobu?)
- Madarame is the most hardcore otaku of the Genshiken members. He carries his obsessions to an almost dangerous degree, spending nearly all of his money on dōjinshi, which leaves little money for food or other living expenses. For example at Compfest, he hurt his hand to the point of it being numb and swelling yet he didn't want to leave. Although he's the main antagonist of Saki, he gradually and secretly falls in love with her, but never have the courage to declare himself during 3 years, sure that his feelings have no chance to be reciprocated.
- Souichiro Tanaka (田中 総市郎 Tanaka Sōichirō?)
- Tanaka focuses on designing costumes for cosplay, and thus has a strong connection with Ohno. He also has a strong focus on plamo, or plastic models.
- Mitsunori Kugayama (久我山 光紀 Kugayama Mitsunori?)
- Kugayama is a stuttering, overweight member who is Genshiken's only artist until Ogiue's arrival. However, he lacks the motivation and commitment to create a full-fledged dōjinshi.
- Kanako Ohno (大野 加奈子 Ōno Kanako?)
- The first female to join Genshiken of her own free will, Ohno is a soft-spoken, well-endowed girl who enjoys cosplaying. Her enthusiasm for her hobbies serves as a foil for Kasukabe and later Ogiue, who both resist her attempts to get them involved in club activities. She has what is known as "oyajicon", meaning that her preference for anime men is that of middle-aged characters.
- Chika Ogiue (荻上 千佳 Ogiue Chika?)
- Not introduced until later in the manga series, and not introduced until the OVA for the anime, Ogiue reads and creates female-oriented, yaoi dōjinshi. The other female members of Genshiken sometimes call her a "Fujoshi" (腐女子, "rotten girl") because of that. She is deeply ashamed of her otaku nature, but gradually comes to accept it as the series progresses.
- Manabu Kuchiki (朽木 学 Kuchiki Manabu?)
- Also not introduced until later in the series, Kuchiki is a loud and annoying (but good hearted & helpful) member that sometimes is disliked by the rest of Genshiken, especially by the girls. He's actually the expansive cute-fixation otaku: he calls other members with the -chan suffix, his movements and behaviour copy those of many popular anime and most of the time he speaks imitating the voices of cartoon characters.
The series, being focused on the otaku lifestyle, contains numerous references to other manga, anime, video games, and other aspects of otaku culture. Common plot points include such otaku-centric activities as the buying and creation of dōjinshi, fan-made manga usually of erotic content; convincing a character to try cosplay (the dressing up as characters from manga, anime, or video games); the creation of plamo (plastic models that must be assembled); visiting Akihabara, Tokyo's electronics shopping district; or attending the biannual Comic Festival ("Comifes"), a reference to Comic Market ("Comiket"), Japan's single largest anime- and manga-focused fan convention.
Because the anime is co-produced by Sega Sammy Holdings, the Guilty Gear video game series is heavily referenced, with actual gameplay sequences being shown multiple times, Ohno cosplaying as Kuradoberi Jam, and various other minor references. The Sega puzzle game Puyo Pop[a] also serves as an important plot point as Kasukabe tries to gain Kousaka's attention. Numerous other non-Sega/Sammy properties are also referenced throughout the anime, but their names are changed slightly, such as The King of Fighters '95 being alluded to as COF 95 and Capcom vs SNK 2 as "S-Cup". Discussion of eroge, erotic video games usually of the visual novel genre, also occurs often.
Similar to the treatment of video games in the series, popular anime and manga are often alluded to by pseudonyms, such as "Gungal" (Gundam), "Haragen" (Fullmetal Alchemist), "Scram Dunk" (Slam Dunk), "Neko Yasha" (Inu Yasha), and many others. Genshiken usually avoids referring to these series so in-depth that it would require the use of names and lines from their real-world counterparts, with several notable exceptions: in the model-building chapter of the manga (but not the anime), actual Gundam mecha and characters are referred to throughout, while the dialogue quoted by Sue (except for one "Neko Yasha!" outburst) is pulled directly from Evangelion, Lupin III, Azumanga Daioh, and other series.
These cultural references have remained intact for the English adaption of the manga, which include a section for translation notes. However, due to the number of allusions made and the inability for a translator to always know what is being referred to, many explanations of otaku references are still absent. The anime however, has been criticized for having "excessive script variances" with its English dub translations, such as injecting English specific references like "talk to the hand" and for inconsistently including liner notes.
The majority of manga and anime references made in Genshiken are on the then-fictitious series known as Kujibiki Unbalance, a stereotypical romantic comedy. Kujibiki Unbalance was likely originally conceived (at least partially) to avoid potential copyright problems from referencing another series too heavily, but has since spun off into its own full fledged manga and anime series.
Ramen Angel Pretty Menma
Another fictitious series created for the series is Ramen Angel Pretty Menma, a generic adult visual novel. Mentioned in passing as Sasahara's first such game in the manga, it is given much greater emphasis in the second season of the anime. The plot revolves around Kaoru Torigara, only son of a ramen shop owner, who is going to renovate his inherited ramen shop. He discovers that his shop has a guardian angel named Pretty Menma. Pretty Menma tells Kaoru that his dead father's intention is making him succeed in the "Food King Wars", a battle of restaurants around the world that is held every 4 years. Kaoru and Menma must help each other to go through the struggles of the "Food King Wars". In the anime, there is also Ramen Angel Pretty Menma 2, which continues from the first version. Additionally, the third version of the opening sequence (that uses the same song, but adds scenes and edits existing ones) shows Ogiue cosplaying Pretty Menma, Ohno cosplaying Cutie Tonko (another heroine in this series who represents tonkotsu, a form of ramen broth), and Kasukabe cosplaying Menma's mother. This series is also spun off into its own Internet radio show, manga (serialized in Monthly Comic Alive) and a drama CD.
The manga was brought to television by the production company Genco in 2004 as a twelve-episode anime and in 2006 and 2007 as a three-episode OVA, adapting the first five volumes of the manga. The TV series was licensed for North American release by Media Blasters.
The anime adaptation is very faithful to the original work, with few revisions being made, with the exception that many references to specific anime, manga, and video games are changed or removed. The previously fictional Kujibiki Unbalance manga series was also turned into an anime series to match the medium, with three complete episodes being created for sampling in the anime version of Genshiken. The three Kujibiki Unbalance episodes are provided as bonus OVAs with the purchase of the Genshiken DVDs.
It was originally announced by Media Factory at Comiket 69 that the second season of Genshiken would premiere in October 2006. However, Media Factory clarified their statement in May 2006, saying that the series airing in the fall would be a full-fledged Kujibiki Unbalance series, rather than Genshiken season 2. Nevertheless, the DVD releases of the new Kujibiki Unbalance series each included an OVA episode of Genshiken, for a total of three new episodes. The first new episode was released with Kujibiki Unbalance DVD Box 1 on 22 December 2006, with the two subsequent installments following on 23 February and 25 April 2007, respectively.
On 23 April 2007, it was announced on the Genshiken homepage that a second season of the TV anime would be produced, including the character Ogiue, who had been introduced in the OVA episodes. The first episode of the second season aired on 10 October 2007 on Japanese TV. A radio webcast runs simultaneously with the second season's terrestrial broadcast. The final episode of the season aired on 26 December 2007; however, it did not conclude the story.
In 2008 Kodansha released the light novel "Shoron Genshiken: Hairu Ranto no Yabou", with Del Rey releasing the book in June 2010. The book introduces the character of Ranto Hairu, the rich grandson of one of Japan's most influential businessmen, as he takes over the student club organization with the intention of getting rid of any elements he views as unsavory. Meanwhile a supernatural force is slowly abducting members of Genshiken without a trace.
Chronologically the book falls just after certain events in the second volume, although it should be noted that few of the book's events follow the story elements already established in the series. Changes such as Kuchiki remaining with the Genshiken after his initial attempts to join, the established president of the student club organization drops out due to pregnancy, as well as Ohno and Tanaka's relationship being more established than it was during this point in time. The light novel also introduces several characters that are only present in the novel itself and do not appear in the anime or manga. Also of note is that there are several elements present in the book (such as the supernatural) that are not present in the anime or manga.
Genshiken has been praised for its execution of the slice-of-life genre, in that it is able to be funny while still maintaining a strong sense of reality. Anime News Network reviewer Bamboo Dong's review of the first manga volume called Genshiken "one of the best manga series out this year", praising Shimoku Kio's attention to detail and David Ury's translation work. Genshiken was also a 2005 Japan Media Art's Festival jury recommended manga.
Notes and references
- a^ : The series Puyo Pop is known as Puyo Puyo in Japan. Also, the specific game played is different for each medium: in the manga, it's Puyo Puyo 2, and in the anime, it's Puyo Puyo Fever.
- "Genshiken: Return of the Otaku". Del Rey Official Site. January 20, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
- "Goods/Book". Genshiken Official Site. December 20, 2007. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
- "Genshiken: The Saga Continues". Heisei Democracy. August 29, 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-29.
- "Genshiken Manga to Return as Genshiken II in Japan". Anime News Network. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
- Theron Martin (October 13, 2005). "Genshiken DVD 2 review". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2007-03-15.
- "ラーメン天使 プリティメンマ". Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- "ラーメン天使 プリティメンマ". Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- "ラーメン天使 プリティメンマ". Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- "NEWS FLASH: Genshiken Anime Season 2 Announced". Heisei Democracy. January 10, 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-24. External link in
- "New Kujian Anime". Anime News Network. May 24, 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-24.
- "("Goods" page on the official Genshiken website)". October, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-12. Check date values in:
- "「げんしけん」アニメ第２期シリーズ制作決定!". 23 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-23.
- "Genshiken uncensored". Heisei Democracy. January 5, 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-02.
- Bamboo Dong (June 21, 2005). "Genshiken G.novel 1: Society for Study of Modern Visual Culture". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2007-03-15.
- "Jury recommended works: manga division". Japan Media Art's Plaza. Retrieved 2007-03-15.[dead link]
- (Japanese) The official Genshiken web site
- (Japanese) The official Ramen Tenshi Pretty Menma web site
- Genshiken (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia