Monday, May 21, 2007

in Review of: Genshiken #8 by Kio Shimoku

i've praised the Genshiken series before for the accuracy of its portrayal of comic and anime geeks in a college setting, as well as for Kio's wonderful sense of comic timing and inventive structure, and the newest volume, Genshiken #8 here in the States, is no exception. Cool.

Interesting how the series has moved from the broad comedy of the group from the earlier issues to finally devoting an entire book to the dreaded "relationship" issue. How many series simply drop dead at this point, their plotlines slowing down into a morass of drippy sentimentality? Fortunately Kio's sense of pacing doesn't fail him here, as the resolution scenes take the right amount of time, stretching the moments that would appropriately gut wrenching to a potential young couple to a suitable length, before moving forward again. Finally we see some resolution to the tease of Sasahara and Ogiue.

Ogiue, as a character, has been relatively undefined for a while, and, like Kuchiki, used for comic relief relatively early, but has been stealing the show with Ono for some time now. The comic, while still centered on Sasha as the main character, has really been female driven for some time now, changing the balance from the early issues that teetered back and forth from Sasha, Madrame, and Kousaka vs. Saki and Ono. We're finally given the chance to see what makes Ogiue tick, and its certainly a time bomb in terms of her personal relationships.
So what are we left with? some wonderful scenes of fumbling college age relationships between the geek and the uber-geek, and a growing sense of where Sasha, the manga editor, might be going as a man. Kio wouldn't throw his characters under a bus for a cheap laugh, thank god, and we end up with no easy resolutions, but natural ones. Far more so than most romantic comedies, which, oddly enough, is what the Genshiken series has become.

I salute kio, whose work I find amazing and so effortless that it must take a hell of a lot of work to produce. Thanks. I have no idea if there are volumes to follow, but what we have now is one great read.


Anonymous said...

I am liking your site more and more! I originally found this site by googling Genshiken. Then I found your write up of the Bill Mantlo book.

Two of some of my favorite things in one blog...the mind boggles!

Anywho, Genshiken ended it's run with the ninth and final book back in December of 2006 in Japan. I heard that it will not be released stateside until sometime around Christmas 2007.

I couldn't wait that long, so I ordered the original Japanese tankoban instead of waiting for Delrey to finish.

Let's just say that it is bittersweet at best.

Oh, the anime is pretty good too. That's how I found out about it originally. However, the manga is still better. But isn't the written source material always better than it visual presentation?

Since the storyline in the anime ended somewhere during the 4th manga, a three part OVA was completed this summer. This series of episodes also introduced Ogiue.

The good news is that, a)this OVA is coming to North America -- Thank you Media Blasters!-- and b) there will be a second season of Genshiken. Hopefully, the producers of the Genshiken anime will do the storyline up to it's conclusion.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

red - thanks for the nice words. I'm waiting then with baited breath for the final volume of the series to come out. And I'll temper myself for any ending that can use "bittersweet" as the best adjective.

However, I must admit that I'm clearly out of the loop on what an OVA is. Could you please help?

i'm actually not really a fan of the anime, as it seems a bit... off to me in the english language version. the timing is wrong for some reason, and I find that it simply isn't as well done in terms of using the form that the manga is. Kio is so inventive using the chat windows, four panel short cartoons, and after pieces to add to the story that I wish that the anime was similarly inventive. (and of course I sound like madrame at the 495th kuji-un discussion... but such is life.

Anonymous said...

inkdestroyedmyinkbrush said: And I'll temper myself for any ending that can use "bittersweet" as the best adjective.

I used the term bittersweet because it is the end of the series and we will not see these characters again. I also use it because, I am paraphrasing an old Jack Kirby quote that sums up my feelings regarding the last Genshiken book.

To me, there was an overall sense of melancholy even when things were funny or silly just because you know that this is it. The main characters are graduating/graduated and moving on so there will be no more stories from the Genshiken gang.

Now I'm depressing myself...

inkdestroyedmyinkbrush said: However, I must admit that I'm clearly out of the loop on what an OVA is. Could you please help?

An OVA (Original Video Anime) or OAV (Original Animated Video)is an anime that is released direct-to-video. This means that it was never aired on television like most anime series are in Japan.

Check the Wikipedia link for a better explanation:

inkdestroyedmyinkbrush said: i'm actually not really a fan of the anime, as it seems a bit... off to me in the english language version.

If you watched Genshiken with the english dub then I can see you being underwhelmed by the anime.

Okay, that was elitist thing to say, but most dubbed versions of anime, excluding the Disney dubs of Studio Ghibli films and a few others, are either mediocre to down right bad.

Usually I prefer to watch my anime subtitled or in the original Japanese.

That being said, even with the better Japanese voice actors, I will agree that the anime is still inferior to the manga. However, if I never saw the anime, I would have never found out about Genshiken. So in the end the anime served its purpose and turned me on to something that would have read otherwise.