This week I’m starting up a new manga series, one that isn’t from CLAMP. Instead we have a slice-of-life series about science fiction (and anime) fandom, called Genshiken.
Title: Genshiken Volume 1
Written and Illustrated by Kio Shimoku
Translated by David Ury
Lettered by Michaelis/Carpelis Design
Originally serialized in Kodansha’s Afternoon Magazine.
Kenji Sashahara is a otaku (geek) in his freshman year of college. While looking for a club to scratch his geeky itch, decides to join the Genshiken: The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture. There he meets a variety of various levels of geekery from the club’s members, including fellow freshmen Makoto Kousaka and Saki Kasukabe (who is not geeky at all and actively hates otaku, but joined the club because of Makoto, who she’s in love with, but who is oblivious to her attraction).
The High Points
The various members of the Genshiken feel more like real people, instead of the characters of an earlier geek culture anime I reviewed, Comic Party, whose cast felt more like it was made up of an assortment of archetypes instead of real people.
The Low Points
Saki, as a character feels a bit odd to me. She hates geeky stuff, but she’s head over heels for a geeky guy, to the point that she’ll join a geek club just to be with him. While I’m not going to say that love leads to rational thought, I constantly found myself while reading this asking why she’s hanging out with him if his primary interests are in things that she loathes.
No nudity or violence, but a lot of really frank discussion of sex and pornography.
Originality: This isn’t the first series about Otaku. Not by a long shot. However, I do that this series is more realistic than Comic Party and Otaku No Video, and isn’t necessarily as dark as Welcome to the NHK. 4 out of 6.
Artwork: The artwork here looks extremely real. Yes, some facial expressions are stylized, but everything has a lot of detail to it. Clothing has the kinds of wrinkles that you’d expect from clothing that’s being worn. This art is absolutely fantastic. This is made even more notable considering that this is a slice-of-life series, and these series tend to skimp on the art. 5 out of 6.
Story: This is basically a slice-of-life series, with no major ongoing plot, but instead a bunch of short one-chapter plots, with the only running thread between them is with the character development. 4 out of 6.
Characterization: (How’s that for a segue). The character development in this volume is executed very well. Shimoku does a very good job of fleshing out the individual personalities of the members of the Genshiken, and bouncing them off of each other, so we can see what they’re made of, and in turn making them all look like real people, instead of archetypes and caricatures. 6 out of 6.
Emotional Response: The comedy is fairly funny, but the reaction we get, which I hope is the one the writer was going for, was more like hanging out with a group of friends. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s just interesting. Considering the slice-of-life nature of the story, I’m going to consider this a success. 4 out of 6.
Flow: 6 out of 6.
Overall: Definitely a good series, and I’ll be continuing with this in the future. 5 out of 6.
In Total, Genshiken Vol. 1 gets 34 out of 42.