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After Di Gi Charat. After Excel Saga. After just about everything ever made by Gainax. I had pretty much sworn off geek/otaku self-referential anime. The humor in spotting the reference had just gotten old and over done. Then I found Genshiken.

The first episode starts with the opening for Kujibiki Unbalance (which is not only a real anime, but also an anime within Genshiken), after which we are introduced to Sasahara, a college freshmen looking to join a club. Although he looks at the manga club, the anime club, and the gaming club he decides to join the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture (Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kankyuu Kai), or Genshiken for short. Genshiken combines anime, manga, games and other aspects of geek/otaku culture into a single group.

Unfortunately, in a sub-culture not known for its social adeptness, Genshiken tends to scrape the bottom of the barrel. Young Sasahara, doesn't seem to mind as he's been supressing his otaku-ness and is finally able to enjoy openly going to Akihabara and attending conventions. Other members include Kosaka, the pretty boy otaku. Madarame, the most obsessive of the bunch and most vocal. Ohno, who's into cosplay. And, Saki, who's Kosaka's girlfriend and not an otaku herself.

In many ways, Genshiken is the direct inheritor of the animated parts of Otaku no Video. Unlike it's predesessor though, Genshiken is not a total celebration of otaku-dom, but tends to be a more 'warts and all' show. I think it's especially interesting to view as a foreigner as there are enough cultural differences that I can watch it somewhat unbiasedly, but as a member of my own geek sub-culture there still a lot of familiarity (sometimes disconcertingly so). I'm also happy to add the word 'otaple' to my vocabulary.

The character designs range from semi-realistic (frex Sasahara) to typical anime (frex Kosaka), which makes things kind of odd looking at times. The backgrounds are highly detailed, which makes for fun spotting things in the club's room or at the convention center. The animation is typical modern television level.

In all, I recommend this series for it's frank yet humorous look at the fans behind the anime and manga.

US release of the anime is pending. The manga is coming out in April from Del Rey Books.

*This review was posted on more than one board.

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I love the show!

I'm not so sure if Kujian is a real anime YET though. I'm sure there's been talk about a spin off from Genshiken....but never heard any news of it out.

ANN lists it as an OVA. I've not seen it myself either, though.

Edit: going back to the official site, it appears that Kujibiki Unbalance anime is being released as a bonus disc with the DVD release of Genshiken.

Edited by JELEINEN
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