Review – Genshiken 2

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So I will be very honest with you… I don’t read manga. (*huh!?*gasp*) I never got into it and probably never will. It just doesn’t interest me that much. So how did I get into anime? Both as a combination of whatever available anime series in the 90s (Tenchi Muyo promo on laserdisc… ah laserdisc…) and video games (Final Fantasy… duh). So I tend to have a very different approach compared with most people when I watch anime. I don’t have any prior understanding of a series to judge from. This is good since I come into a series with a clean slate and open mind. This also allows me to focus solely on the anime’s execution. Why does this apply to Genshiken 2? To my understanding, this anime series has a solid manga in which Genshiken 2 will draw from. But I haven’t read the manga so I don’t expect things when watching this. My review on Genshiken 2 will be based only by me watching the original Genshiken TV series and OVA. If I didn’t see something on the series but it was in the manga, I will not know about it nor will it conflict with my review. And it will go this way for all manga-heavy anime series I watch. Just throwing it out there before I start this review.

Genshiken 2

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Plot Summary

Genshiken is about the lives of a group of college students in an anime, manga and video games club called “The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture.” Genshiken 2 continues where the original Genshiken TV and OVA series left off. Led by their newly appointed chairman, Kanji Sasahara, the group prepares to create and sell their first dōjinshi at ComiFes. Along with this, the club is also trying to help their relatively new member, Chika Ogiue, to adjust to the group.

Review

Plot: Genshiken 2 picks up directly after the end of the three episode Genshiken OVA. This means that viewers need to watch the OVA (or possibly the manga) to get up to speed. Without the OVA, the viewer will lose the introduction of one of the central characters in this series, Ogiue. I find it pretty hard for someone to step into this series without both the original Genshiken TV series and the Genshiken OVA. Genshiken 2 is pretty much the same otaku-centered slice of life show that was the foundation for its predecessors. Although Genshiken 2 is less about the reference-heavy comedy and more about the real life drama. The Genshiken 2 plot runs through mostly regular situations such as dating, graduation and the stress of finding a job.

Unfortunately for me, Genshiken 2 has lost its “aura” from its original TV series. Where the first Genshiken was about a non-otaku (Saki) and her attempt to at least come to terms with otaku culture, Genshiken 2 attempts to look at all the Genshiken members as they come to deal with real life. In the process of focusing on the characters’ issues, Genshiken 2 waters down on the “otaku moments” that gave the franchise its “aura.” Yes, there are some classic moments in this series with Oguie’s fan girl moments and the awkward situations with Sue. But these are just too few and they are mostly replaced with a so-so slice of life drama. Some drama parts are ok (Ohno and Tanaka). But most of the drama is too short, brought no closure and/or is out of place. The main arc (Sasahara and Ogiue) ends somewhat incomplete requiring the viewer to assume quite a bit.

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Upon looking at the opening for the first time, one can see how Genshiken 2 can top its predecessors in the otaku references department which made the franchise popular in the first place. Instead, beyond its opening, Genshiken 2 is a shell of its former self. Which makes one wonder: did they overspend for such an awesome OP sequence?

Characters: Genshiken 2 has all the main characters returning. Viewers who have seen the original TV series and OVA will receive the same sorta-wacky personalities they have come to know along with a few others (Sue). There are enough character personalities in Genshiken 2 to be varied without being too much. Visually, character designs are average as the series takes most of its visual cues from the OVA. Voicing acting is solid as expected. The voices match quite well with their personalities. Genshiken 2 also shows a bit of the characters expanded from their usual personalities (Ogiue’s fan girl moment) which is a nice change.

Production Value: Genshiken 2 takes most of its visuals and animation cues from the OVA which makes the show slightly more visually appealing than the original TV series. But Genshiken 2 is not as visually polished as the OVA nor is the show visually spectacular overall. Animation-wise, lacking but understandable as this franchise in this genre favors dialogue over action. Music and sound is about average as well.

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Arguably, Ogiue’s fan girl moment in episode five is one of the great pure otaku moments in anime. Not just because it referenced many of the elements common to fan girls, but it also used the other characters to describe it. Any anime fan boy or girl should be able to at least let off a large smile after seeing this episode.

Review Summary

The Good: The return of the Genshiken personalities, More depth to the main characters

The Bad: Not as many otaku references, A so-so slice of life drama element, Just doesn’t have the same “aura”

Overview: 7.0(7.5)/10 – I decided for this to put to ratings. The first is what I think as a whole. The second which could be higher (maybe 8/10) is for those who enjoy the Genshiken franchise. I find Genshiken 2 not spectacular. As for the genre it fits under, it is at best average. But since I know most who will watch this is a fan of the Genshiken franchise (which I am), Genshiken 2 is still quite enjoyable for its fanbase.

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