Reviewed by: Molly Drury
Released by: Del Ray
Publishing Country: USA
Author: Kio Shimoku
Age Rating: 16+
Page Count: 192
Genshiken is a slice-of-life manga that follows a manga/anime club, Genshiken or The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, and its members, from the new freshman Kanji whose dream it is to belong to an otaku club, to Saki who faces the dilemma of having an anime fanboy as a boyfriend. Determined that her boyfriend will be a normal guy, Saki ends up discovering far more about otakus than she ever wanted to know, from cosplay and conventions to video games and collecting figurines.
Genshiken just screams 'slice-of-life' from every page, and yet it's never boring. But how can that be when there are no magical powers? No giant robots? Not even characters with huge sparkly eyes and angst-ridden lives? Well, the story follows some of the weirdest people in existence. Otaku, doing what otaku do best. Playing video games, reading dojinshi and lining up at midnight for CDs.
Saki is your average girl, and when she falls for Kousaka she never dreamed that her gorgeous boyfriend would be an otaku, and, try and she might, she just can't get him to be a normal college guy. But as Madarame says "It's not like one day he just woke up and chose to be an otaku. He can't just stop." Then there are the otaku, with atleast one person to represent each stereotype (cosplayer, gamer, anime fan, manga fan etc), and each of the Genshiken members have great personalities that really drive the story forward and keep you interested.
Due to the presence of Saki there has to be the rift between 'normal' people and otaku. I never realised how many different facial expressions could show confusion and disgust. Saki provides a great outsiders view on otaku and their interests. Though it is of course very ironic to be reading a manga about otaku, as you would have to be at least interested in otaku culture in the first place to even pick up a copy. But no matter how big or small of a fan you are, we all have friends who resemble the members of Genshiken, and that is what's so fun about the manga.
The artwork excels, with everything having wonderful details such as the posters, manga covers, figmas and even the background characters. Nothing is left looking like grey, shapeless blobs. Possibly one of the best things about Genshiken is that the chacters all look normal. There are no huge, shiny eyes or long flowing hair. They are normal human beings who look normal. It makes a lovely, refreshing change.
The translators also match every detail by translating signs, posters, signs and even leave the sound effects but put a small translation next to them. Also, for anything not translated there is a section of the back full of notes explaining in-side jokes, cultural references etc.
Genshiken is of the best manga titles I've read for a while. It's refreshing, funny and packed with hilarious characters. Slice-of-life at it's best, and a sure fire win for fans.