Well, to start off, let me make something perfectly clear. I hear from the various groups of anime fans I've been in that many of them profess to be "Otaku" and be proud of it. However, it is not a term of endearment. It roughly translates to meaning someone who is obsessed with something, in other words, geeks and nerds. What I am trying to say is that no respectable fan of anime would or should call themselves 'Otaku', in my opinion. I prefer to use the term 'anime fan' or 'anime enthusiast'.
Now, with that out of the way, this weekend's review is over Genshiken episode 1. This 2004 TV Series was directed by Takashi Ikehata and produced by Palm Studio and Genco, the series follows a club of anime enthusiasts and their adventures in college. Episode 1 was broadcasted on October 10 2004, which prompted 2 full 13-episode series after this. It is based off of a manga series that ran from 2002 to 2006, with a sequel series running from December 2010. AnimeWorks/Media Blasters licensed and distributed this title. So, what is in the first episode that helped to lift this series? Let's find out.
Episode 1-Study of the Modern Visually-Oriented Culture
The episode opens quite oddly, as it is showing a scene from an entirely different series (opening scene, Opening song) which leads to some initial confusion. However, it is just TV viewing of Kujibiki Unbalance (the show within the show) from the POV of Sasahara, the main character of the series. He is a freshman student at Suioh University (made-up i assume) and is seeking clubs to join. He comes across as a 'greenhorn' when it comes to anime. He comes across one group called 'Genshiken' or The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture.
At the same time, we are also introduced to Kohsaka and Saki, the first 'couple' in the series. I say 'couple' because it is terribly one-sided, on Saki's side that is. Saki is a snarky, abrasive, yet normal college girl. Kohsaka, on the other hand, is a hard-core 'otaku' so to speak. But, of course, they are childhood friends, so a relationship between the two can't be ruled out.
Anyway, Sasahara decides to join Genshiken. He goes to their club room, off in a secluded building on campus. Now, I like this part, as it reminds of my times going to anime club back at university. The anime club would meet up at one of more older and secluded buildings on the campus. The scenes where Sasahara is in the club room, and watching anime with the other club members, with the other members offering commentary on the episode, is a very nice touch. Sarahara also meets up with Kohsaka, who is also a freshman. Kudos to the creators for it.
Well, all of a sudden, the club members start to leave, one by one. Before long, Sasahara is left all by himself. So, being curious, he starts to wander around the club room. He notices all the consoles, shelves and shelves of manga and figurines. His mind wanders, however, to why the erotic stuff is, which is in a closed cabinet in the room. He then gets caught peeking into this by the other members, who then coerces him into joining the club. After some more stuff, Sasahara settles in with his new group of friends.
So, what are my thoughts? Well, I have to say it is an average start. Not too great, but not terrible. A pretty standard introduction to a show that is essentially about the culture it is a product of, a la "Otaku No Video". Of course, they are a bit more subtle in terms of the references in this than in "Otaku no Video". It also has a postmodern feel with the inclusion of Kuji-Un, which adds in some 'meta' humor quite well done. The English dub voice acting is much like the show, dry and dull while still being decent (i.e. listenable). Only one of note, for me, is Carol Jacobanis as Saki, who does probably a bit more effort than need be, but yeah having one character who is loud and lively in a cast of rather dull and dry geeks isn't too bad of a thing.
But one thing I get out of the episode is how it portrayed: rather average and ordinary. Which isn't a bad thing, I must say. I get the feeling that the show will be rather average. Not sure if I will do a full review of the series, since I don't have the full series yet.
So, why bring up Genshiken? Well, it is a good lead into the review I will be doing the rest of the month: Kujibiki Unbalance. Yes, that show within a show became its own series in Fall of 2006, done by a different director and studio. The reason why Kuji-Un was used by the Genshiken series was due to copyright issues. See, using clips from an actual show would cost money, which is a legitimate concern to be fair.
So, the next three weeks will be over the 12 episode series. Four episodes per part, with me doing some analysis and commentary as best as I can given the written format. That and the review in 3 parts will be released on Saturdays for this month.