Genshiken Vol. 1
When watching anime, I always find it neat to see other animes referenced, or to see some modern Japanese cultural references. Well, that's the entire premise of Genshiken.
Yes, it's a show about anime. Genshiken revolves around the Genshiken club at school, or the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture! It isn't the biggest or the most popular club on campus, consisting of three members, as well as the very first president. That is, until two new freshmen at the college are looking for a new club to join, and each of them has a true passion for anime, manga, video games, cosplay, action figures, and of course, doujinshi.
Sasahara and Kohsaka are two very different people, but both love the same things. Sasahara has a quiet personality, and he is a bit embarrassed to show off his love for all things Otaku, while Kohsaka is an attractive guy that dresses well and has a good personality, until he starts going on about his love for anime and video games.
Something else separates Kohsaka from the rest of the group, and that's the fact that he has a really attractive girlfriend named Saki. Unfortunately, Saki does not want anything to do with anime, manga, video games, cosplay, action figures, and especially doujinshi. Although Saki really likes Kohsaka, because she was able to find her nice, pretty boy boyfriend, he can be a bit inept when it comes to Saki. On some nights, he'd rather go to a convention, or even play video games with the club than spend time with her.
During the club sign-up, both Sasahara and Kohsaka express an interest in the Genshiken club. After attending a few meetings, both decide that it's the club for them, although it takes the more reserved Sasahara a bit longer to come to this conclusion.
And so this is the story of Genshiken. It's as simple as that. So whatís so great about this series? That's an easy question to answer; it's hilarious, and the writing is great. Genshiken will have you rolling on the ground, especially since basically all of the people watching this show like anime, and they can relate to what's going on and understand what the characters are talking about. Another reason is the story; it's so simple, but great. Seeing these characters go to conventions, play video games, and discuss anime together is more fun than what you'd think. Not to mention that it's a fresh story about real people. You couldn't make a show like this without some of the most likeable characters around, and Genshiken is loaded with them.
The entire cast, from our two new freshmen Sasahara and Kohsaka to the vets of the club, Madarame, Tanaka and Kugayama, the characters make the show as much fun to watch as any anime out there. You throw in Saki, who is another wonderful character, and the cosplay-loving late addition to the fist volume, Ohno, and itís one of the best casts of characters that you'll get in anime.
The interactions between the gentle giant Kugayama, the passionate and intense Madarame, and nice guy Tanaka are what drives this show, and seeing how they get when Kohsaka and Saki are together is priceless, especially when they try to bring Saki into their lifestyle. When you watch her go shopping, you can see that she's a lot like her boyfriend, just with something different, and he's a lot more tolerant of her passion than she is of his. You also get to see that the club members are good people, just very passionate. Just watching scenes where everyone's cell phone is ringing, and Sasahara is remembering each one because all of them have a different video game or anime song playing is great. This makes the volume go by almost too quick, with the exception of the first episode, which is a bit slower. However, once you start watching, you'll just want to see more and more of what these characters go through.
One thing that I thought might not be a good idea if they play it out again is the addition of the "evil" character who wants to take members away from the Genshiken club. Granted, a show like this could probably pull that off, but as of now, it's something that I'd rather not see them play out.
As far as the technical aspects of the show go, it has good animation and character designs. You're not going to be blown away here by the animation of the show, but it's not something that will take away from the show in any way. The music is a good addition. Like the animation, it won't blow away anyone, but it's a good soundtrack that fits the show. The opening and closing numbers are both very good, and the fact that the ending animation is always slightly different each time to relate to the episode is a great touch. Genshiken probably has one of the better dub casts that you could hear. In a show that relies so heavily on its characters, the voice work is important and they nail it here.
Not only is it a good show, but it is a good release as well, since you get four episodes on this disc, as well as an episode of the anime that they watch in the show. Throw on top of that some great features like a live video of the opening song, and it makes it all the more worth purchasing.
Funny, cleaver, original, and fresh are all great words to describe Genshiken. From showing real life landmarks to the extremely creative episode titles, Genshiken is a show that simply does it all. By the time that the first four episodes fly by, you'll want to see more and more of this show. Fans of comedy will want to buy this one right away, and I'd even tell people who only watch something like action or sci-fi to grab this show.