Anime A to Z: G – Genshiken (S1+S2 Review)

Until now, I don’t think I’ve watched an anime more otaku inspired than Genshiken. Or maybe I have, but no anime has made me enjoy watching the whole otaku lifestyle more than Genshiken. It almost makes me want to try attending an anime expo / event, buy figurines, and buy various manga.

What an anime.

I’m not sure if I would count as a true otaku, because the only otaku activity I actively participate in is watching anime – and writing about it here. Maybe this is enough to qualify, because I think most anime fans don’t also have anime blogs right? But I’m missing out on those figurines, manga, cosplay, and events! And then there’s the creation side of it all! Maybe we should all band together and create a manga? Haha.

Either way, Genshiken manages to take the otaku life and make it look really fun.

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Welcome to Genshiken!

Pacing

First topic I’ll broach is the pacing of Genshiken. It’s a slice of life anime, but I’ve noticed that the pacing across this genre varies quite a bit.

The shows biggest drawback is that it starts out very slow. I’d say I needed about 3 or 4 episodes before I started to get into it. Before that, I was sort of on the fence – not interested, but not disinterested enough to drop the anime. The good news is, Genshiken doesn’t take 20+ episodes to really get going, like Gintama was for me.

Once you get past the first couple of episodes, and start to warm up to the characters, the anime starts to get really fun and interesting. While the story does progress quite a bit through the first two seasons, there are a good amount of typical slice of life “nothing really happened” episodes. It’s a good mix, considering some slice of life anime don’t have any progression at all. And of course, the comedy is great throughout.

Genshiken manages to achieve that feeling of “a lot has happened” by the end of the second season, all while maintaining it’s position as a traditional slice of life anime.

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Kujibiki Unbalance

One of the most intriguing aspects of Genshiken for me was Kujibiki Unbalance (Kujiun), which is an anime within the Genshiken anime. The club overall is a big fan of Kujiun, so naturally we get to see a lot of Kujiun within Genshiken. Posters, excerpts from the “anime”, manga, etc.

There are several scenes where the characters are sitting around discussing their thoughts on the latest Kujiun episodes. It really made me want to join them, or discuss anime with someone – which led to me wanting to write some posts on this blog because I don’t have anyone to discuss anime with in person. There’s just something satisfying about watching these characters discuss Kujiun.

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Vice-Prez from Kujiun. (Underrated imo).

Here I am more motivated to write about anime on my anime blog because of watching anime characters talk about a “fictional” anime within their anime universe. Amazing.

Kujiun ends up becoming an incredibly intriguing part of Genshiken, to the point that not only were Kujibiki Unbalance OVA episodes released, but an actual 12 episode anime was released as well.

MyAnimeList ratings be damned, you can bet I’ll be watching both the Kujibiki Unbalance OVAs and the anime when I get to K on the A to Z challenge.

Japanese – English

I’m sure I’m not alone with this point…

Listening to “English” spoken by the Japanese VAs in anime is incredibly painful. I have no issue with the odd English word / phrase, but when I’m faced with several minutes of Japanese – English dialogue I instinctively begin to skip ahead.

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No disrespect to Japanese VAs, I firmly believe they are the absolute best at what they do – to the point where I have trouble listening to English VAs for almost anything animated. For example, I can’t play Final Fantasy X in English anymore after discovering that I could play it with the Japanese voice acting (which is amazing!). I also played through Nier Automata with Japanese VAs.

Japanese voice acting has definitely set the bar very high for me, when it comes to animated media.

There are a few characters who show up in Genshiken that are from America and only speak “English”, and the episodes where they are present were pretty painful for me. I got through them, but I wasn’t enjoying the voice acting in those moments.

This is the biggest issue I had with Genshiken.

Drab Visuals

I really wanted to use the word “drab” to describe the visuals, but I also don’t want to make it seem like I disliked the visuals. In fact, I enjoyed the drab visuals of Genshiken, once I had warmed up to the anime after the first few episodes. There just aren’t very many vibrant visuals in the anime (although this does change a little as the anime progresses).

Something about the drab visuals just works though. It’s a slice of life anime about an otaku club of people that sit around and don’t really do anything constructive. Not to mention the characters themselves are mostly average and drab looking as well. Genshiken feels like it embraces this, and uses drab colours to establish this as ordinary.

At first the visuals were one of the elements that made me apprehensive about watching Genshiken. Once I warmed up to the anime, the drab visuals started to feel comfortable.

The drab visuals ended up helping to create that cozy feeling that I look for in a slice of life anime.

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Notice the colour difference between otaku (right)  and non-otaku (left).

Season 3?

I normally watch an anime to completion of all it’s seasons – and I didn’t do that this time. I watched the OVA as well as the first episode of S3, but decided to stop there.
Here are a couple reasons for this:

  • Season 2 ends at a very good stopping point.
  • Season 3 begins to move in a much different direction. Major cast changes, with former main characters taking a backseat. The cast switches from primarily male otaku to female otaku, which really changed up the feeling I got from the anime. I’m also not really a fan of BL, which I suspect will come up often in this season.
  • Many characters in Season 3 have different VAs from the first two seasons. I especially dislike when this happens, because it’s hard to readjust to a new voice for a character I’ve watched for so many episodes.

Those are my reasons. I think that Genshiken S1 and S2 are more than enough to enjoy the experience the anime has to offer.

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Genshiken was an excellent slice of life. I’ve come out of this anime MORE interested in anime, as well as other aspects of the otaku lifestyle. So many aspects of the anime work very well to make this a great slice of life anime. It’s also introduced me to the anime Kujibiki Unbalance, which I am eager to watch (for better or worse).

I’d say that Genshiken (S1 + S2) is underrated on MyAnimeList.
I’m not going to throw out the hidden gem award for this one, but I will give Genshiken an honourary “Best Traditional Slice of Life Anime” award, due to it’s fine balance of pacing, comedy, and comfort.

Genshiken achieves what I believe traditional slice of life anime strive to achieve.

Well done.

Until next time!
Thanks for reading.

15 thoughts on “Anime A to Z: G – Genshiken (S1+S2 Review)

    1. I’ve got some ideas that would be fun, maybe we could play around with the concept. Even if we don’t actually get anything drawn, because that’s the hardest part.

      Like

  1. WeeaBroDerek

    Genshiken is one of the first anime series I ever watched beyond the shounen stuff that got me into it in the first place. Definitely moves at a slower pace, but is definitely one of the most underrated slice-of-life series out there.

    I never bothered with the 3rd season for much of the same reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Its the anime they watch in Genshiken. Was created post Genshiken because fans wanted to see it I guess.
        I’m watching it for anime K so ill see if the guys from Genshiken knew their stuff, or were just obsessed with a bad anime

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Genshiken is an amusing slice of life, and its reflection of otaku culture in Japan is nice.

    I don’t remember when I last watched Genshiken… but it has been a while, so I don’t remember much details. But I do remember I was quite amused with the series.

    Hmmm…. it appears that I have failed in updating my anime list on when I completed genshiken… I guess a re-watch is in order?

    Great review. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Anime A to Z: K – Kujibiki Unbalance OVA (pt. 1) | Umai Yomu Anime Blog

  4. I think you made the right call with stopping where you did. The change for, “season 3” is so vast it kind of becomes its own beast. There have been a lot of writings and a few videos for the reason behind this change, largely amounting to the fact that what an Otaku is has changed as this series went on, but I get ya. Still need to watch though, like I said. I’ve seen a bit of season 1 and liked it but then put it on hold because I wasn’t in the mood for it at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good point I never thought about, but yeah I guess the original Genshiken crew were your typical “old school” otaku. I could definitely see how the title would change over time.

      Sort of like how here in the West being a “nerd” used to be like that, but now pretty much anyone can openly enjoy video games, star wars, etc.. I don’t even really see the word “nerd” as a bad thing now, compared to how it was viewed when I was a kid.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: The Anime A to Z Awards! | Umai Yomu Anime Blog

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