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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

on October 9, 2012
Genshiken is a manga about people who love manga, anime, and video games. Seems like a pretty focused niche, but it presents these various otaku in a way that endears you to them and has you laughing at their various antics. Maybe I'm a bit biased in favor of the story since I've been a fan of anime, manga, and video games for as long as I can remember, but I believe Genshiken would also be a good gateway to explaining the life of an otaku to someone not as knowledgeable about the scene.

Genshiken is well written, with great characters and some amazingly-detailed art (you have to respect someone willing to draw every little detail of an otaku's item-packed shelf). It's highly recommended to anyone who has at least a few animes or mangas somewhere in their bedroom.
1 helpful vote
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on January 23, 2006
This is the funniest thing I think I've ever read!

There's no cheesy sci-fi/fantasy stuff or day dreaming girls trying to get married. The situations are realistic, which makes them even funnier. If you've every dated a super dorky guy or find that you're spending your free time watching anime (almost exclusively), you'll really enjoy this manga.
5 helpful votes
6 helpful votes
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on September 25, 2009
So a kid joins a boring otaku club where they do nothing but talk about porn and play video games. Yep that's the gist of it.

With all the amazing reviews, I thought I'd give this one a chance, but I'm disappointed. Pretty boring 'storyline', none of the characters are likable, kind of a silly emphasis on porn, not particularly funny. I don't really see this manga going anywhere...

pros: the art is nice and simple and the characters are distinguishable from each other.

overall, an overrated manga. If you're easily amused and want to read about people doing the same boring stuff you can do in real life, then go right on ahead with Genshiken!
1 helpful vote
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"Genshiken" is a comic for the Super-Otaku. The references are obscure, the characters sometimes talk in quotes from favorite shows, and the Cosplay flows like fine wine. It is quite possible that I am not geeky enough, but it is still a wacky ride.

Drawn from the pages of "Afternoon," the fan magazine/comic book that is considered the most otaku of otaku magazines in Japan, "Genshiken" tells the tale of a group of misfits who pretend to study "Modern Visual Culture" (thus the name "Genshiken," taken from Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenkyukai). Pretend to study, because they mainly sit around playing video games and trading porn mags.

Providing the story conflict are Kanji Sasahara, a new-comer who is not quite sure if he is an otaku or not and takes tentative steps towards his new lifestyle, and Saki Kasukabe, a typical "cool Japanese girl" who can't stand the fact that her handsome and stylish boyfriend, Makoto Kohsaka, is a complete and utter otaku. They disrupt the ordered lifestyle of the Genshiken Club, providing some much-needed chaos and hijinks for the nerdy crew.

A guided tour through Japanese otaku lifestyle, the Genshiken takes the neophyte Kanji to all the hotspots, like Akihaibara the electric town, and Comic Fest, the massive otaku convention for shopping and cosplay, They explain in detail each step of otakudom, educating the reader at the same time.

The story is a bit slow to begin with, but picks up when Saki arrives. She brings a much-needed female presence into the mix, and provides the anti-otaku stance. A later addition, cosplay fanatic Kanako Ohno, also livens it up with some sex appeal.
13 helpful votes
14 helpful votes
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on November 3, 2009
This book is most succinctly described as a book about fans, by a fan, for other fans. And I need to be clear that this means written by a Japanese Fan. Now to an extent, fans all share similar traits regardless of nationality, but much of Genshiken's humor IS culturally drawn, and without at least a little familiarity with Japanese fandom, you'll only be enjoying this book to about 60%. these people who should not read this book:

New fans of anime or manga.
People under 13 (both for mature content and for missing the target audience)
People who've never looked into what the word 'otaku' means.
People expecting a major overshadowing or directing theme for the story to move in.

Any of these people will probably derive little to no enjoyment from this series.

The story begins around a sheepish college freshman (Sasahara) who is looking for an extra-curricular club to join on campus. He passes by several tables of more 'normal' clubs that are creative or athletic, but he looks long at the Manga club without ever having the nerve to walk up. Just as he works up the nerve to ask about the club, someone else walks in front of him and confidently asks about the club. Discouraged and not having the drive or confidence to pursue it, he looks at the club catalog and sees an entry for Genshiken's table. He goes to take a look at it only to be scared off by the rather intense looking personalities at the table, apparently giving up for the day.

Some day later, he finds the club room where Genshiken is meeting, apparently having worked up enough nerve to go check it out. The other members, sensing his discomfort and simultaneous interest in the manga and anime stuff packed into the clubroom, proceed to setup a spectacular hazing joke on Sasahara in the clubroom.

I won't spoil it for you, but if you don't enjoy this book by the end of that prank, you're probably not going to enjoy the humor of the rest of the series.
1 helpful vote
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on February 8, 2009
Note: This review is for the entire series and not just a single volume.


What is Genshiken about? Put simply, it's about a group of college students who hang around in a college club for the 'study' of manga, anime and video games, the club being called Genshiken (The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture). The group go to Comicfest (a convention held twice a year where fan made manga gets sold) twice a year and hold a school event once a year, but most of the series takes place within the Genshiken club room. Also, there's no real main character -- some characters got more 'page time' then others but there wasn't a character who was focused on a significant amount more than the others.

Genshiken is a very odd series. You'd expect a series with a small amount of main characters, not a lot of variation in the backgrounds and lots of repetitive otaku (people with obsessive interests, with manga, anime and/or video games usually being the interest) fun to get boring after reading for awhile. But that wasn't the case with Genshiken -- whenever I opened up one of the volumes, I found myself able to read the book from back to front without issue. Maybe it's because I'm into anime, manga and video games myself and, to certain extent at least, can relate to the cast? I don't know. All I know for sure is that the dialogue was well written, the art was very well drawn and the author just generally put a lot of effort into his work. As a series made for otaku by an otaku, it succeeds.

A large amount of the chapters involve the cast simply sitting in the club room and talking about whatever the chapter in question focuses on. This allows Genshiken to be easy to pick-up and read, but it also means that the manga will fail in the eyes of someone who isn't able to like or connect with the characters. So, in a nutshell, what makes Genshiken work is the characters, and that's why I'm going to spend most of this review covering the characters in as much non-spoilerific detail as possible.

One of the few negative comments I can throw at Genshiken is that a couple of the characters don't come across as realistic. The majority do, Madarame in particular coming across as very real, but I can't say the same about the best character (in my opinion, of course) in the story, Kasukabe, and her boyfriend Kousaka. It was a smart move by the author to attempt to link the lives of otaku to the the life of a 'normal', clothes loving woman because it allowed people who aren't as crazy as the rest of the cast to connect to at least one character. However, it's hard to believe that, for a period of around four years, a 'normal' woman would hang around with a group of otaku when she doesn't even have much interest in what the rest of the group are into. And as for Kousaka, her boyfriend, have you ever seen or heard of a real otaku that has sex appeal, doesn't wear glasses, spends money on fashionable clothes AND has an incredibly hot/understanding girlfriend? I rest my case. And in terms of personality, he's just an airhead...or, put in a more nasty way, he doesn't seem all the ticket. I assume his character was only created in order to link Kasukabe with Genshiken, and that's exactly why his character was a failure in my eyes -- rather than him having been created as a realistic otaku, he was made completely unrealistic in attempt to make 'normal' Kasukabe loving him and joining Genshiken to be with him realistic. For a story that's supposed to show the lives fictional but real people, the above two just don't quite fit.

I do love Kasukabe's character, though. Believable or not, she has the sort of fiery personality usually reserved for red-heads, and I must confess to having something of a fetish for the 'red-head personality'. Her character alone made the series funny at first with her comments and general lack of understanding with regards to how obsessive manga/anime/video games fans function. It was hard not to laugh when she had a serious discussion about her boyfriend deciding to switch positions during sex (doggy style, if interested) so that he could face the TV when an anime episode was on. Again, I have to question the believability since I find it hard (think anything twisted and you're a pervert) to imagine any male being able to focus on a TV screen whilst having sex with an attractive woman...but, of course, that didn't make the mental image any less funny. Her role did, sadly, become less important as the story went on due to her becoming more accepting of the group she, for some odd reason, spends a lot of time with for four years of her life. I kept hoping she'd switch from being more of a supporting character and return to being more of a main character but it became clear she wasn't going to once she stopped trying to get the Genshiken club to vanish.

As for the rest of the cast, only Madarame, a true otaku, was a truly memorable character. The rest of the characters have a quirk or two that separates them from each other but very little personality beyond those quirks. Madarame, on the other hand, came across as a person as well as an otaku. He had the 'camera' pointed at him a lot during the first half of the story, just like Kasukabe did, and that resulted in him receiving some decent development as he and Kasukabe, opposites in just about every respect, bounced words off each other. The most interesting aspect of his character is the hidden feelings he holds for Kasukabe and how he hides his true feelings because he knows she'll never return them, which allowed him to become more than just another otaku -- he became a person with understandable emotions; not just an insane guy. One of the best chapters involved Madarame attempting to act normal when alone with Kasukabe in the Genshiken room for the first time, with her oblivious to the fact that he he was sweating like a pig and didn't know where to look or what to do in order to look normal. Sadly, like with every relationship of this kind where, for one reason or another, the male won't reveal his feelings, the scenes the two shared alone never built up to anything beyond friendship...but there was a chapter close to the end that repeated the earlier chapter where the two were alone near the start, and this time around they actually managed to talk, which showed how much they'd both changed over the course of the story.

As the story moved closer to the end, a new character, who ended up getting a huge amount of chapters focused on her, came into the story -- Ogiue, an otaku in denial who enjoys drawing hardcore yaoi. The story started focusing more on the characters and less on otaku culture around the time Ogiue came into the picture. She was very difficult to like or understand because what she said (otaku hate) and what she did (joining otaku clubs, reading/drawing yaoi) contradicted each other. The reasoning behind her actions was explained in volume 8, but what was shown didn't seem to be a good enough reason for her to act as bitchy as she did for a lengthy period. Tsundere or not, I was never able to like her very much because what she did and the reasons behind what she did weren't equal enough for me to think, "Oh, I can understand why she was such a pain in the arse now. The poor thing..."

...If I keep going like this, talking about each character in detail, it's going to go on all year, so now that I've covered the most important characters I'm going to cover the rest of the important characters in a few sentences:

Sasahara (Kanji) - The first character in the story. He joins Genshiken right after he starts at his new college. At first he's afraid to admit he's an otaku and show his true colours, but the Genshiken group soon enable him to come out from within himself. He's a passive, rather boring character -- the sort that fades from memory quickly. He didn't have much to do until near the end, where he and Ogiue started spending a fair amount of time together. Out of all the characters, he was the most plain and lacked individuality.

Ohno - The cosplay freak. She joined Genshiken in order to cosplay. At first I thought she was just going to be there to show off her gigantic breasts in various costumes and smile (in other words, fan service), but her personality came out quickly once she started arguing about cosplay being a form of expression and the good of yaoi. She was one of the better, most likeable characters.

Tanaka - The model building and costume creating freak. He's not really a very important character, and he fades away like nearly all of the early cast do as the series goes on, but I thought I'd mention him because he's an important character for Ohno -- he makes all of her costumes and is involved in nearly all of cosplay related chapters.

There are a few other members of Genshiken but none of them are important enough for me to spend another couple of paragraphs covering. I'm sure after reading the above you will have a good feel for most of the cast and know if Genshiken sounds like your cup of tea already.

Like I said before I started talking about the characters, Genshiken doesn't have a main plot thread and, aside from a few chapters, most of the stories are self-contained. It's hard to rate the plot because of that. I was going to give the plot a 9 because, in this series, the plot and characters are one and the same...however, the open, inconclusive ending made me reduce the rating to 8 instead. Don't you just hate it when a story ends at a random point, without telling you anything about what happens to the characters? The Count of Monte Cristo did after 1250 pages; Welcome to the NHK, a very similar series to Genshiken, did and Genshiken also did. The blow was softened a little with Genshiken because there was a bonus chapter included that showed the characters talking after the end, but that didn't really make up for the abrupt nature of the ending.

Talking of bonuses, each Genshiken volume was full of extras. Every chapter has at least two four-panel stories, which connect to the chapter they appear after. They're all fairly amusing and added to my overall enjoyment. There was also a couple of bonus chapters, including what I mentioned above, and Del Rey spent a few pages in every volume explaining what certain words meant and what characters were referring to when they talked about certain otaku related things. If you're the sort of person who gets annoyed with buying anime DVDs and discovering no extras were put on the disc then reading the Genshiken volumes will please you.

And, finally, the art needs to be talked about a little. Each character was drawn excellently and I had no problem differentiating between them. It's worth mentioning that the characters often changed clothes between the chapters, which made the characters more real and showed that the author was far from a lazy person. And to back up that point, I'd also like to mention that the backgrounds are very detailed -- it was impressive to see that, in an attempt to make the rooms of the main characters look real, lots of games, books and models were included in their messy rooms.
The reason I haven't given the art max points? The Genshiken room. It appeared so much that I was able to memorize the layout, and that's saying a lot when I'm a goldfish. I got a little tired of seeing the exact same background over and over. It's not really a flaw when the series wouldn't have worked if not for the Genshiken room, but still...

Overall, I loved Genshiken. I put it straight into my top five after finishing it. There are few, if any, better character driven stories out there. It's a must read for every manga/anime fan because there aren't any out there that wouldn't be able to see parts of themselves in the characters. If money isn't tight or if you don't like to take the anti-piracy moral high ground then I recommend you read this series as soon as possible because you won't be able to stop reading once you start.

Rating: 9/10
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on January 29, 2009
Genshiken is by far my favorite manga series I've read. For the most part this is a comedy but at times it has hints or romance and at times gets rather sentimental.

It's the story of a college club whose full name in Japanese is "Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenky'kai" but since Japanese love to abbreviate names it's shortened to just "Genshiken". The club name roughly translates in English to "The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture".

Basically it's a group that enjoys watching anime, reading manga and doujinshi, as well as playing video games. All three of these aspects usually have their own separate clubs but Genshiken brings them all together.

The characters in Genshiken are what bring so much life and enjoyment to the story. As I mentioned it's mostly a comedy, a very funny one at that, but there are some romantic themes at times with the relationships between Ono and Tanaka or later between Sasahara and Ogiue.

There are some very poignant and sentimental moments such as during the graduation of some characters or the beautiful wordless pages in the last book where you get to see the characters interacting but no words are shown. You realize you are seeing the lives of these characters and you are almost able to fill in the conversations yourself.

I've read the entire manga series 4 or 5 times now and I expect I'll do the same many more times. The creator, Kio Shimoku, has created a world that I really feel "at home" in and love to go back to visit.

If your looking for a story a little different than Ninjas fighting, giant robots in space, or magical girls transforming then I think you should give Genshiken a try. I think it's great that there is such a variety of story types in Manga to pick from and Genshiken sure is a fantastic choice.
1 helpful vote
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VINE VOICEon September 1, 2005
Kanji Sasahara is a college freshman and as he browses the school club fair, he's trying to decide which club he wants to join. Even though he's a little ashamed of it, he's really a closet otaku. Also at the fair is Saki Kasukabe, who meets childhood friend Makoto Kousaka. Saki is instantly lusting after Makoto but is horrified when she finds out that he is now an anime and manga freak! Sasahara and Mokoto end up joining Genshiken:The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture, a club that focuses on manga, anime, and computer games. Saki is reluctantly drawn into their circle because she wants to bust a move on Makoto. It's up to the Genshiken club to bring Sasahara out of his shell and into the world of the otaku!

Genshiken is a great book about the love of Japanese visual culture and it's great to see your own interests reflected in the characters passion. While it is a comedy, its humor is usually subtle and more realistic. The only thing that I didn't like is that the characters seem overly obsessed with porno, whether it be fan manga or computer sims. I would have rather seen a more healthy interest in all kinds of anime and manga than just focusing on that narrow field of interest. But it is cool to see the characters roaming the streets of Tokyo or going to doujinshi conventions. Still a great read.

I would also recommend the anime version of this manga. Also, in a more humorous vein, Comic Party (the manga and anime) covers the same ground. You should also check out Otaku No Video.
4 helpful votes
5 helpful votes
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VINE VOICEon June 24, 2008
When I first saw the cover of Genshiken, I didn't know what to expect. I assumed that it would be another male-oriented manga where the main male character would fall for a girl who fit neatly into one of the manga stereotypes while everything revolves around fanservice & typical cliches. Boy was I wrong!

Genshiken surrounds a whole cast of characters, most specifically that of Sasuke, a freshman in a local college. He decides that he's finally going to join a group devoted to anime, manga, or both. He almost loses his nerve until he discovers Genshiken and becomes immersed in everything otaku. Along for the ride are a lovable cast of characters that are all distinct and never cliche. Everyone has a set personality that the reader can relate to, and the storylines are actually true to life. There's no magic moves, no love triangles (not really, anyway), and no transforming... even though the characters would probably love it if it actually happened. For the most part everyone's a realtively well adjusted person.

Would I recommend this series? Yes, but some may not get all of the jokes. Luckily Del Ray is faithful about putting explanations in the back of the manga. Fledglings will need them, but die-hard otaku probably won't. ^.^'
1 helpful vote
2 helpful votes
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on November 2, 2005
This series is for those who know what its like to be someone who knows more about comics, movies, etc., than what is going on in the "real world". If you're an otaku or just someone who growing up was a american comic collector will instantly recognize all the tell tale signs that yes this is what it was like growing up. Knowing the opening music of your favorite cartoon, knowing the lines of your favorite hero's creed, etc. All that and more is found in Genshiken, unlike other manga or what have you, with these characters you don't feel like you're getting to know them but have indeed grown up with them. I especially found the character designs to be great, seeing the look of terror on Sasshara's face was priceless as he was busted looking at the Genshiken's hentai collection. Also unlike countless manga out there where the characters are thin and beautiful these characters aren't (well at least most of them), and have a wide range of interests. From the cosplayer to the video game buff, almost everything is explored including adult oriented material. But most of all Genshiken perfectly portrays young adults who are comfortable being who they are even if that includes going to comic conventions whilst having to endure the pain of a broken wrist.
7 helpful votes
8 helpful votes
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