Genshiken Vol. #05 (Mania.com)

By:Jarred Pine
Review Date: Monday, May 22, 2006
Release Date: Saturday, April 15, 2006



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kio Shimoku
Translated by:David Ury
Adapted by:

What They Say
The Genshiken has long been famous for its remarkable record of inactivity. But now that Kanji Sasahara has stepped in as the new club president, it looks as though things may change. Kanji wants the club to produce its first fanzine "and when the Genshiken members are accepted as official vendors at the summer Comic-Fest, they are forced to create a real doujinshi . . . and fast! With only a month before the submission deadline, can this sluggish bunch of otaku actually get anything done? Meanwhile, Kousaka is about to reveal a secret side of himself that nobody has ever seen. . . .

The Review
In the otaku Bizarro World, Seinfeld could easily become Genshiken, both great character based comedies. Saki is obviously Elaine, but who is Kramer?


Packaging:
Del Rey continues to use the original cover art from the Japanese tankoubon release. The original logo is replaced with the English version, which fits in very nicely with the overall flow of the cover. There is also an illustration of a Kujian character on the back cover. The color printing on the covers is sharp and bright.

The print reproduction continues to look great, very sharp and very clean. Chapter inserts include rants and raves from otaku on the final DVD release of the Kuji-Un anime, including an all too familiar rant from an angry otaku who is upset that a certain character wasn't shown in her panties. There is also the original inside cover image included as well as the "editor's version" of the clubs Kuji-Un doujin mag, which is mostly (and purposefully) black bars.

Art:
Kio Shimoku's artwork features a lot of thin, very clean line work with a good amount of tone work for texture and depth. The designs are very much based in realism and do a great job at capturing the personalities of all the characters. There still is a standard facial expression that I think is overused a bit, with the closed eyes and exhausted face. Overall there is just a lot of nice detail that is at the level I would expect from a monthly seinen title.

Text/SFX:
SFX are translated by using really small subtitles next to the original text. The font size and placement is about perfect. There were times where I didn't even realize there was extra text in the panel. The translation is solid as well. There are a lot of otaku and cultural references, which are explained in the translator's notes, and the overall quirkiness is captured perfectly. Honorifics are kept intact.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The one aspect of Genshiken that is possibly underappreciated by most readers is Kio Shimoku's ability to meticulously let his comedy unravel to the reader. As opposed to many other comedy manga that I have read, which overwhelm with hyperactive humor and rapid fire jokes, Shimoku usually tells each joke one chapter at a time making full use of all its 30 some odd pages.

This ability is never clearer than the first two chapters of this fifth installment. Ohno's orchestrated hazing of new member Ogiue turns into an exposé of Ogiue's closet fangirl fetishes. When Saki criticizes the group's fashion sense, Madarame searches long and hard for some new threads, all building up to quite a laugh when Ogiue shows up with a new surprise outfit. Is that a kogal otaku I see!?

The humor can also be extremely subtle and terribly clever. When Madarame finds that a pair of jeans costs 120,000 yen, he is quite shocked despite confessing that he has in the past dropped much more on a DVD box set. We all know where an otaku's priorities lie! Saki also asks what I believe to be the million-dollar question that has been burning in my brain for quite some time, "Isn't it kind of hard to draw porn when you don't have any real-life experience?"

Once past the episodic comedy chapters, which do a great job at bringing our new character Ogiue to life, the story picks up with the club creating their Kuji-Un doujinshi for Comic Fest. This is where most of the characters shine, each having their own moment: from Ogiue's touching realization of her manga talents to Kousaka's jaw-dropping surprise at their Comic Fest booth. It is interesting to once again revisit this same event with the characters in their new positions and dynamics, now the purveyors of smut rather than the consumers. The story may bog down a bit with the technical details of creating a doujinshi, but it is the personalities of each of the characters that carry this story arc to the end.

Finally, other characters besides Saki are taking the spotlight, with even Ohno showing some signs of a feisty and mischievous personality. Sasahara continues to lead the group to the finish line at Comic Fest, with some help from others, and even puts his foot down when confronting the money-scheming former manga club president, Haraguchi. The cast has an increasing depth and is no longer relying on Saki as the focal point.

Comments
As I was typing up this review, the television was playing syndicated reruns of Seinfeld (the episode with Paliacci the Clown) and I couldn't help but find a lot of similarities between these two comedies. Both follow a cast of characters with their own distinct personality quirks and traits who do . . . nothing! Okay, so there is the goal of Comic Fest on the horizon in this fifth volume, but most of the content is focused around the everyday conversations and situations between this lovable group of otaku.

The comedy for both also unravels slowly, small laugh by laugh, building up to a grand moment that just drives home Kio Shimoku's love for the characters. The cast is continuing to grow with Sasahara taking the reins, and the added dynamic with the defensive closet fangirl Ogiue makes for some hilarious moments. Genshiken continues to be a real winner on so many different levels, including Del Rey's stellar production on the title. Highly Recommended.



Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Released By: Del Rey
MSRP: 10.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 0-345-49153-X
Size: A5
Orientation: Right to Left