Genshiken: Second Season, Vol. 1

By Shimoku Kio. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Afternoon. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics.

This review is based on an advance uncorrected proof provided by the publisher, and does not reflect a review of a finished product.

It’s not all that much of a surprise that the Genshiken series has returned for more adventures of everyone’s favorite otaku club. The original series also slowly evolved over its nine volumes, seeing the club shed members and switch club presidents, even though the basic cast stayed the same. But now almost all that cast has graduated, so this sequel also has the challenge of introducing a whole bunch of new people and hoping that the reader will appreciate them in the same way they did when Ogiue joined.

Speaking of Ogiue, as the series starts she’s the new club president, not that there’s much of a club. It only has three people, partly as it seemingly duplicates other club’s interests, but mostly as it still has Kukichi. I have to say that while I appreciate his value as a comic foil, Kukichi’s utter creeptasticness still rubs me the wrong way, even in this new series. Luckily, as in the original series, he is used sparingly. This is partly because Kio-san also has another comic relief character to balance things out, Suzanna. Who is also creeptastic, particularly in her inability to speak in anything but old anime phrases, but at least doesn’t make me want to wash afterwards.

As for the new folks, there are two characters who get the bulk of the screen time, and I suspect they will start to force out Ogiue and Ohno just as those two slowly took over from Sasahara and company. Yajima is a poor artist but wants to be better at it, and seems to be filling the ‘we need at least one normal person in the club’ function that used to be Kasukabe’s, though Yajima at least is also an otaku. More interesting is Kenjiro Hata (I thought this might be a Hayate the Combat Butler joke, but it seems to be a coincidence), a character who I can’t really discuss without spoiling the first volume. It’s Hata I expect most Japanese fans will be glomming onto, though I’m not sure about Western fans.

For those wondering if this will resolve anything from the prior series, such as Madarame’s unrequited love… well, Madarame does show up throughout, despite having graduated, and he still seems to be hung up on Kasukabe. Whether that goes anywhere I suspect depends on how fast the new group of characters catches on. I am reminded of the K-On! series, which tried to have its came and eat it too by introducing some new girls for Asuka’s high school band while also following the four others to college. In the end, neither one caught on with readers. Genshiken has been doing this from the start, but we now have a bit more of a tonal shift. As the cast has gotten more and more female, the otaku obsessions have grown more and more BL. The series still runs in Afternoon, a magazine for young men, but I do suspect that the sequel over here may find a larger crossover BL-audience than the original did. (Though the original also had its female fans, of course.)

In the end, I enjoyed getting back to this series. It’s like visiting an old hangout and seeing what’s changed. Thankfully, there’s little melancholic ‘good old days’ here: things are the same as ever, just with a new cast. I look forward to seeing their awkward fits and starts of growing up. Which is, of course, the real plot of Genshiken: Awkwardness Is Magic.

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  1. Do you know if they are using the same translator as the original Genshiken release?

  2. Loved Genshiken’s original run and looking forward to picking this up. I agree that Kukichi is really pointless though, he just doesn’t have any redeeming features to offset the creepy factor. Slightly baffled why he was brought in as a member of the club in the first place.

  3. “It’s Hata I expect most Japanese fans will be glomming onto, though I’m not sure about Western fans.”

    Oooh yes, Hato. :D Hato’s suuuper-popular in Japan. The “sleeping Hato” figurine that came with the special edition of Genshiken 11 is definitely pandering to the “slavering deve” contingent of the Genshiken fanbase (you’ll recognize the scene it’s based on, I’m sure). The “standing Hato” one from Afternoon is super-cute, though (although you can still look up the skirt and see panties, if that’s your thing). Standing Hato’s on my bookshelves, guarding the Japanese V10; I’m looking forwards to having the English version for him to watch over too.


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