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Genshiken Nidaime – Review

by Miguel Douglas

@isugoi

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Genshiken Nidaime is one of those anime series that will be very personable to many viewers who have been accustomed and taken part within otaku culture on a rather dedicated level. You will find instances within the series that you may have experienced in your own daily adventures at your local anime convention, perhaps even at your local anime club, or discussing why one anime series is better than another with friends, with Nidaime appearing yet again as homage to the otaku lifestyle as a whole throughout the succession of each new season and respective manga chapter in the franchise. Working as its third season, Nidaime certainly has developed an environment in which relating to these characters can and probably will happen to us as viewers, all the while coating itself through a variety of comical situations that points to the extremities that such a lifestyle can entail.

Due to this adherence of continuity throughout each previous season up until now, Nidaime will not appear as impactful to those viewers not familiar with the previous seasons, but the series does a great job of introducing us to new characters alongside of that some old characters. This change in direction allows for newcomers to the Genshiken universe to feel welcomed, not totally confusing them as to who characters are or what their relationship to one another is. Working as a double-edged sword though, some of the past characters – their personalities, histories, and relationships – may lead to some viewers scratching their heads in bewilderment, but their is certain balance here that alleviates newcomers from being completely shutout here, which one will find to be extremely beneficial.

For those traditional viewers of the franchise, Nidaime slides right into the same hilarious and satirical take on otaku culture that is has always showcased with its predecessors. The narrative  this time around follows Chika Ogiue, who has now become club president and having to deal with a whole slew of new freshmen who become apart of the Genshiken club at their university. Many of the previous club members – as seen in Genshiken (2004) and Genshiken 2 (2007) – have graduated and aren’t entirely visible in the series, but the new and eccentric cast members certainly make up for it. Continuing in the tradition of the series as providing an examination of the otaku culture, new characters such Hato fair well in elaborating upon the variety of the culture as a whole. As a BL fan (Boy’s Love, or homoerotic fictional media), Hato cross-dresses as a woman, including going as far as sounding like a female too.

Inclusions of characters such as Hato within Nidaime not only display the diversity of the otaku culture, but it also does not shy away from it. This does not mean that Nidaime is a series pertaining to one such niche within the culture itself, but it unafraid to explore, even if it is done in a comical but appreciable fashion. If one looks back as Genshiken and Genshiken 2, their ability to explore primarily the Yuri and Moe fandom was very intriguing, with Nidaime simply switching towards showing a more female-centric viewpoint on the culture itself, looking at the fandom that encompasses it. This is not to say that Nidaime is primarily directed for a female audience, far from it, instead bringing about a genuine representation of what the culture can offer to different individuals, expressing how they partake within it.

Characterization is definitely the series’ strong point, as each character is distinct and fancy for their own respective corner of the fandom. Harunobu and Kasukabe are finally shown as having some closure to their relationship to one another, which for those viewers having viewed the series thus far, will find some appreciation for. Susanna’s obsession with Japanese culture also remains funny, as is her need to spout off anime and manga quotes at a whim. Mirei and Rika offer their moments of humor as well, with each of them working as freshmen willing to take the plunge and enter the Genshiken club. Hato perhaps gets most of the attention and focus within the realm of new characters, but some of the other characters, both old and new, are mostly delegated to quirky situations throughout the series. Obviously, if there is another season then we will learn more about these characters, and as usually the case, thirteen episodes is challenging to have such a significantly large cast of interesting characters and find room for them that does not collide with the trajectory of the narrative itself.

Genshiken Nidaime, very much like its predecessors, is perhaps one of the best representations of otaku culture and its various facets. Individuals who would classify themselves as an otaku – you know who you are – will enjoy the referential humor and nostalgic quips that the series offers. While we do not exactly get much development from many of the characters, the situational humor and exploration of the some of the niche areas of otaku subculture is what makes the series more important than many other series out there. With Nidaime we do not just have characters who are fond of manga, anime, or any of the other elements of the Japanese pop culture. No, here we have characters who view it as an essential part of their lifestyle. For that alone, Genshiken Nidaime is a fine example of how to successfully showcase the intricacies of otaku culture in an entertaining and informative fashion. Let’s hope there is more to come.

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Author: Miguel Douglas

As an avid viewer of both Japanese animation and cinema for more than a decade now, Miguel is primarily concerned with establishing a critical look into both mediums as legitimate forms of artistic, cultural, and societal understanding. Never one to simply look at a film or series based solely on superficiality, Miguel has dedicated himself towards bringing awareness to Asian entertainment and its various facets.

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