Genshiken : Return of the Otaku / by Iida Kazutoshi & Kio Shimoku
Based on the manga by Kio Shimoku
Translated from the Japanese by Katy Bridges, 2010.
Del Rey Manga/Kodansha Trade Paperback Edition, 2010
Originally published in Japan as Genshiken : Hairu Ranto no Yabo~Return of the Otaku, 2008
Stars: ★ / 5
The deafening whack-whack-whack of a helicopter above campus is the first indication that the balmy tranquility of the Genshiken Club is about to be disturbed. The chopper brings handsome Ranto Hairu: transfer student, scion of a powerful Japanese conglomerate, and newly named chairman of the on-campus club organization committee.
Hairu has strong ideas about the kind of clubs that deserve to survive (earnest, industrious) and the kind that don’t (arty, frivolous), and he’s a big fan of brute force. For Madarame, Kousaka, Ohno, and the others, the idea of losing their cherished club is the ultimate nightmare—but it’s only the first of many.
Fortunately, the Genshiken boys and girls have a few tricks of their own, including a certain swordfighter summoned from ancient times who could prove very handy Continue reading
If you haven’t heard the term “meta-manga” before, it’s probably because I made it up. The modern use of the term/prefix “meta” generally refers to “x” about “x.” I am very familiar with this concept because I work closely with “meta-data” which is “data” about “data.” In the case of manga, a meta-manga would refer to “manga” about “manga.”
I LOVE meta-manga! There’s something so exciting about reading a manga that is completely self-aware. It’s a bit like watching a movie and waiting for that moment when someone actually speaks the line that is also the title of the movie. It’s a strange and fantastic moment.
There are SO MANY meta-manga to choose from. What manga-ka (manga author) wouldn’t want to write or illustrate something they know about as intimately as their own job? Here are some of my favourites:
ONE. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun by Izumi Tsubaki.
This is a shoujo 4-koma manga (4-panel comedy manga originally marketed to girls) about a high school student named Nozaki who draws shoujo manga for Monthly Girls’ Magazine.
It begins with his cute classmate confessing her love to him and Nozaki, being so completely clueless and unable to focus on anything but writing manga, thinks she is asking for an autograph – and later convinces her to help him work on the actual manga itself.
Throughout the series you meet many other quirkly classmates each with distinct personalities and each with a hidden link to Nozaki’s manga.
The 4-koma format is a little jarring to get used to, as the story doesn’t flow like regular manga. It is really based on a “punch-line” format… similar to say…”Foxtrot.” But, over time as you get used to the format, the flow, the comedy, the characters, it becomes more-and-more enjoyable.
If you’re not sure you’ll like reading the 4-koma format I would highly recommend watching the short anime adaptation of this BEFORE getting into it. Continue reading
Kujibiki Unbalance 1
by Shimoku Kio
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Kujibiki Unbalance is the story written within the story Genshiken. If you aren’t familiar with Genshiken, let me explain: Genshiken is a story about a college otaku club with a mixed group of interests (hentai, gaming, cosplay, doujinshi…). However, their most unifying source of conversation and interest is the new anime Kujibiki Unbalance.
That being said however, you do not need to understand or even read Genshiken to enjoy this manga. Although, I do think it is a fun read, regardless of why it was written. The art is solid, the pacing is satisfying and the story is actually quite strong considering the material. Actually, I think the the manga uses a much stronger approach than the anime.
I do recommend this story, but if you don’t care for ‘fan service’ you might want to avoid this one.
Genshiken: Second Season, Vol. 1
by Shimoku Kio
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genshiken Second Season Volume 1 (or just Genshiken Volume 10)? I’m not otaku enough to know why this was released as “second season” — but I can assume it was to confuse fans into thinking that this was a new series and to buy it even if they didn’t have the first season.
It’s a new season — but all of the original characters are still there. They just don’t necessarily come to club meetings anymore. Except maybe Madarame-kun.
The new president, Ogiue has set out to find new members to join the club by doing the one thing that she knows how to do… draw. However, her drawing style, brings in a certain kind of otaku… the fujoshi (girls who love yaoi/aka gay-manga). On top of everything, one of the new members is just too pretty to be a girl!
It’s a fun series, and continues to please. I didn’t relate much to the fujoshi fangirl, so to me it’s not as comfortable as previous volumes. And some of my favourite characters take a back seat. It could just be the fact that so many new characters have been introduced, and a few of them don’t have a unique enough personality for me. I hope this is just growing pains.
Ogiue continues to charm as the classic tsundere character — and I’m so happy with Sally. I’ve read A LOT of manga in my time… and this is one of the best characterizations of an American otaku I’ve read. Usually Americans are “weird”, but Sally is weird with purpose. I’m really pleased about this!
Genshiken: The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, Vol. 1
by Shimoku Kio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genshiken is brilliant. And, one of my favourite manga indulgences. The artwork is beautiful and obsessively detailed — and the story is hugely character driven. I’m impressed with Kio Shimoku’s sense and understanding of human nature; an expression of this group of outsiders and their interactions with the world around them.
I’m always sad when I get to the last volume. Of all the manga I read, I feel this one most closely matches the world that I want to live in. When it’s over, I miss it. And at the end when the graduating members of Genshiken are moving on… I hate that it reminds me I have to move on and live my life again.
Every time I go to Japan, I go with an expectation that somehow I’ll fall into this reality. And despite the relief and happiness I feel about being there, I can’t seem to find it.