Reviews of Genshiken (2004) and related work
- Spin-off: Kujibiki Unbalance (2004)
Modern Tokyo. A university club called Gendai Shikaku-bunka Kenkyūkai (Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture) gets some new members. Their lives involve a lot of manga, anime, video games and related hobbies (cosplay, plastic modelling etc.). In an inversion of the coming-of-age motif, one young man resolves to work hard in order to join this unesteemed group of slacking misfits. Meanwhile, a girl who despises geeks starts sitting in with the club because another one of its new members is so pretty. She works to destroy the society of introverts that is “Gen-shi-ken”.
A fandom-centric, credible comedy, more so than Comic Party (2001). Lots of mono no aware, good characters and good treatment of many themes. The ED really hits the spot, thematically. Some inconsistency and uncalled-for silliness. Requires lore.
References here: Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! (2020).
‣ Kujibiki Unbalance (2004)
New students enter a school where a lottery (kujibiki) is used to assemble teams which compete throughout the year. The leader of the male protagonist’s team is a ditsy mushroom fetishist, and the chairman of the school board used to be intensely cute.
Meta-anime. Anime as it appears in the world of Genshiken, where Kujibiki is merely a play within the play, implied to be iconically geeky. Three episodes out of approximately 26 from the fictional series have been made, and they form the Kujibiki Unbalance OVA, parts of which were shown in Genshiken. Note that only episodes 1, 21 and 25 exist, so the story is not coherent. It’s basically an elaborate parody, including simplified character designs that look as if they’ve run through the subjectivity process twice. Good use of the limited idea, with many shortcuts.