Genshiken Second Season Vol. 2 – Review

Genshiken reviews continue! This volume felt a bit bumpier than the first, mainly because the Angela drama felt kind of artificial. Madarame’s harem is beginning to assemble, which… yeah, I don’t even know what to say about that. But the best elements here were the same stuff Genshiken’s always been good at (natural banter, brief, bracing moments of personal truth, graceful character work), and Genshiken remains good at that, so I can’t really complain. And who wouldn’t fall for Madarame, anyway?

My full ANN review is available here. Notes below the cut!


The manga is more comfortable with the general character dynamics now, and so they bounce off each other with all the familiarity of the first series

First chapter is a comedy of errors kinda situation that starts with the characters all hustling to finish Ogiue’s manga and ends with them inexplicably but unavoidably all in cosplay

The little 4koma strips at the end of each chapter are actually one of Genshiken’s biggest rewards – they extend even further into the idle, naturalized chatter that characterizes the manga

Seeing stuff like Hato instruct the others in proper skin care is great – Genshiken makes its characters lovably human specifically through their faults

It really helps that anyone outside of maybe Yoshitake can carry a story all on their own. Sue + Yabusaki (Ogiue’s friend from the manga club) can handle scenes no problem

“I have to remember… dressing in drag and cosplaying are different things. Cosplay is meant to be looked at.”

“I guess I can think of everyone here as ‘my people,’ can’t I?”

The unique combination of Hato and the girls allows for some really frank, refreshing conversations about appearance and gaze

Ogiue’s old middle school classmate stops by trying to stir up drama by airing Ogiue’s dirty laundry, but Yabusaki and Sue are both unsurprised and totally supportive of Ogiue. Which gets at the heart of Genshiken – it doesn’t ignore these people’s faults and issues, but it embraces them anyway. These are good people and also real people, with all that entails

Seeing Sasahara console Ogiue about missing Comicon, or that single panel of Madarame wondering why he’s not excited to go, are wonderful, incredibly personal moments. These characters have built to so much, and they’re growing up still

Many of Madarame’s single panels are great – his insecurities about his current identity and future are now one of the great tentpoles of the series

Comic-Fest forms the centerpiece of this arc, with Hato’s excitement/insecurities and Madarame’s apathy/insecurities forming two of the big cornerstones

Ohno’s American friend suddenly being into Madarame seems unlikely, or at least just comes out of nowhere. Her being confident puts everyone else on edge

And Hato is now assuming the protagonist mantle – he’s both an emotional centerpiece and the connecting line between the guys and girls

Hato’s “normal people wouldn’t understand” being applied to the Genshiken members is pretty rich. What he lacks is confidence, not normality

Comic-Fest conflict comes to a head with Hato stopping Angela, which ends in typical Genshiken fashion – Hato talking about how Madarame must be gay for the obvious pairings to work out

This arc seems to be reaching a bit more for conflict than the first series generally did – it’s basically starting out where the first series ended. The effect of this is a kind of mixed bag, though it’s likely necessary since the first series simply covered so much of what an otaku slice of life exploration would be and do

It eventually again becomes about making Hato feel comfortable with his own fantasies in the group, which is resolved through more group honesty, and at this point even Yajima helps out

There’s also all the stuff about Madarame being an uke

It’s interesting to see how the fantasies these characters constantly reflect on in their media actually influence their perception of real-life relationships

3 thoughts on “Genshiken Second Season Vol. 2 – Review

  1. “It’s interesting to see how the fantasies these characters constantly reflect on in their media actually influence their perception of real-life relationships”

    This is the sort of thing you warn against when you’re talking about not identifying with your media choices, isn’t it? In addition, another question occurred to me- what exactly is different about this and Oreimo from the perspective of… what was it you had said? Consumerism and “acceptance” of overbuying or something like that? I don’t think the lack of engagement with others works in this scenario, but I thought of that as I rewatched it this past weekend, wondering what the difference between the two really was.

    • I actually mentioned Genshiken specifically in a couple of my rants on OreImo, as a way to successfully engage with these topics. The difference between Genshiken and OreImo is that while Genshiken humanizes and empathizes with its characters, it doesn’t present their choices as “right.” Even just within the series, we see their media obsessions actually resulting in negative consequences in their personal lives, and though the story obviously cares about its characters, it’s more a neutral observer than a vehicle for them to lauded. In contrast, most of OreImo’s big emotional moments focus on lauding Kirino for her lifestyle specifically, and she is never forced to accept any consequences for her obsessions – in fact, the story bends over backwards to make sure everyone else rewards Kirino. I’d actually love to see more series tackle the ups and downs of life within media obsession, but from the observational perspective of Genshiken, not the warped “this is awesome, do this” perspective of something like OreImo or NGNL.

      • I suppose that’s true. Thank you for your thoughts.

        As an aside, based only on its key visual, I had essentially decided that Shirobako was going to be another fanservice anime and basically didn’t watch based on that. But you kept saying it was amazing (and I’m now forced to agree), so I might have binge watched it a few nights ago. Damnit man, I’m trying to be productive here! D:

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