Genshiken, Then and Now: A Reflection

 

Ogiue isn't happy here. Should you at the new Genshiken?
Ohno isn’t happy. Should you be at the new season?

When I first laid eyes on the first Genshiken, I was in Japan teaching English. More precisely, I was on break and I was in a random anime shop in Hiroshima City.

The moment I saw the clips of the new show playing on a TV screen in the store, I felt that it was a show that I must watch.

Back then, I understood little to no Japanese. No joke; I couldn’t tell what the guys and gals at Genshiken were saying. However, there was a spiritual connection that I couldn’t explain and still can’t explain today. It was like destiny.

I knew, I just knew: THIS WAS ABOUT US!

The realization struck me like a tidal wave. At the time, I was an American in Japan, having freshly acquired anime culture, but still an Akiba virgin. I went on traveling to Tokyo and to the sacred place later (sadly, the place is no longer sacred – ippanjin and AKB48 losers now roam freely in my spiritual home).

There was a beautiful innocence about Genshiken season 1, and somewhat about season two (that’s when it was no longer a pat on our backs) when I first watched them. I mean, one never forget his or her first time, right? It was like the first girl you’ve ever loved –she was pure, innocent; a gal next door or next to you in class or from the next class. Then you introduced your world to her, or she introduced her world to you. You were hooked on your first time experience for a while.

Then you met someone else; you moved on; you had new experiences.

Then some time later, you wake up in the middle of the night, or from your daydream, and you realized that it is no longer that touching or exciting or awesome anymore.

So now we come to Genshiken Nidaime—the second round/course/generation.

Just like before, it tries to laugh and poke fun at otaku culture and references. However, many shows have done that since the days of the first Genshiken.

It remains a slice of otaku life show, true to its roots. And it’s still fun. I mean, I had 3 batsu game moments when it referred to one of the newer shows that has a new season out now.

But wait, the first thing that I noticed was that all the original voice actors were gone. The fun and the impressions that came from the popular seiyuu from that era disappeared, and I was listening to the new cast. It was like a painful reminder that we didn’t live in that era anymore.

That didn’t please me very much. Strike one.

 

Wait is this Genshiken or FREE?
Wait is this Genshiken or Free?

Next, because the guys from the original Genshiken graduated or weren’t around much anymore, I was feeling a little alienated. The club essentially became a fujoshi fan club. I mean, the show is still funny, but the change turns me off. Strike two.

Last, I really dislike Hideyoshi type of girlish dudes (hate me all you want), and we have one here. He/she is voiced by a seiyuu that I don’t recognize. Strike three.

I’ll be honest, as a fan of the original, I’m actually biased in favor of this series. I will continue watching it to get a sense of continuing nostalgia. However, as a critic, I’m looking at an idea that other shows have already executed countless times since the heyday of Otakudom and the old Genshiken, and that’s not good enough.

I’m in severe doubt that the new gen can carry the torch, when the torch was passed on to others long ago. It is 2013 and not 2004, 2005, or 2006.

Rest in peace, my innocent days as a fresh Otaku in the height of Otakudom. Now I live on as a hardened, cynical veteran zombie of anime fandom.

Rest in peace.

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