The troubles of relationships and job hunting consumes the final volume of the season and leaves us with a future full of potential – that you wish would be animated.
What They Say
Ogiue finally brings her own work to comic fest, and that means bearing her fantasies for all the world to see. To keep her from a total breakdown she has support from Sasahara, Ohno, and two new faces: the American Otaku! Of course, the only Japanese phrases they know are word-for-word quotes from Auska Langley Sohryu, but they are fangirls so they're at least fluent in the universal language of Yaoi!
Genshiken 2 has done well for Media Blasters so it’s no surprise that this is the rare title that gets a dub. The bilingual presentation is pretty basic though with a pair of stereo mixes encoded at 192kbps. The series is essentially dialogue based without much else outside of a few moments where it expands a bit, such as at the comic market or one of the imaginary moments. There’s some good placement in some areas when everyone is seated around the table, but generally it’s a straightforward stereo mix with a full sounding design. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2007, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Genshiken has a very detailed look to it with all sorts of things in the background, which does balance out its fairly static moments throughout. So much of it is dialogue and moments of the gang talking around the table that it isn’t a hugely active work. But it looks really good here with varied colors, lots of warmth and a solid feeling throughout. Genshiken is one of those shows that has a quality look throughout it and it shines through just right here.
Genshiken’s covers are love and this one is no exception as it has a magazine feel to it with its layout and the variety of cute text moments across it that fit ever so well. The character artwork for this one works with the whole cast in suits and looking professionally, ready to handle the world outside of Kuchiki who always looks like a goofball. It’s detailed, eye-catching and perfectly designed, definitely one of the better ones from Media Blasters as of late and that’s saying a lot. The back cover is very well done with several really nice shots used to showcase the animation laid out over a grayscale background of the club room. The summary deals with the overall idea of what it means to be in Genshiken and there’s a very clean prominent list of the discs extras. Add in the production credits and an accurate technical grid and it’s all good. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
Media Blasters often has me conflicted with their menus since they do some offbeat stuff and actually put in some effort with their design. It doesn’t always pay off and sometimes it’s just awkward. The artwork used for this one goes with the scene of Sasahara and Ogiue side by side when they’re selling at the comic market with a slightly upward angle. They use word bubbles for the navigation pieces and the problem is that you don’t see the word bubbles unless you move the cursor around so each character can “talk.” And it’s not a smooth move around either because it goes up and down on the screen. You may even miss that there’s a trailers section depending on how you move across. This is even worse on a computer since you use the mouse to move around often. Submenus do load quickly though and I have to give them credit for being creative. As is usual, the disc did not read our players’ language presets and defaulted to English language.
The extra for this volume is… unusual. Clocking in at twenty minutes, we get the Raman Angel: Pretty Menma Special. And they dubbed it no less so it gets a bilingual presentation. Honestly, this lost my attention pretty quickly as it uses various stills – shaken sometimes – to tell a story about ramen girls. It’s the equivalent of a radio drama with some static artwork used at times and I’m sure it has cute moments but it’s completely not something I find engaging or interesting at all.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The end of Genshiken 2 with this volume is bittersweet as it has some very good material and provides for a view of the future that you want to see. Sadly, though, this is the end and there isn't anything else at this point so watching them go through their lives and then to see a hint of the future feels like too much of a tease and causes these episodes to feel more like a setup than anything substantial on their own. And much of it revolves around the job hunt side while also bringing in some new characters that I'm hard pressed to say added much of anything to the show.
The few story arcs that play out here each have interesting moments to them though some of them are a bit more drawn out than they should be. Kasukabe's arc is one that I would have wished we'd see more of as she frets over relationship troubles with Kohsaka. He's been doing a lot lately and she's been focused on her work side so they haven't had much time together and she's feeling disconnected. She has a hysterical dream where Kohsaka tells her that he far prefers 2D women over the real thing that has a hint of truth to it which scares her quite a lot. When she discovers that he's gotten a job with an adult game production company as a programmer – after learning how to code in a month! - she's grabbing him by the collar to take him to bed repeatedly to make sure he knows the real thing is where it's at. Kasukabke is just too priceless.
Ohno has a bit of curious arc that involves some friends of hers from the US coming in for a few days to visit and go to the comic market. The two blonds are amusing in how they present themselves, with one of them being very outgoing and practically seducing Madarame in the clubroom. The pair end up in a number of situations that cause issues, notably when they show up at the comic market and Ogiue is there with Sasahara selling her yaoi manga, simply because their foreign nature throws everyone off so much. Ohno finds herself frustrated by them and she has a great moment in how she describes the way Japanese people are different and work heavily through non-verbal communication. With the forward communication they use, it's not wonder that Madarame is so flustered by it instead of playing it up.
The arc that runs the longest, or at least feels that way, is with Sasahara as he goes on his job hunt. It's also an arc that left me feeling the most conflicted because it has felt like Sasahara had more going for him after all the previous events. His job search has him getting no results and a lot of it is because he lacks confidence in presenting himself and even puts himself down completely at the start of some of the interviews. Rejection after rejection, he's still trying but starts to feel like he's lying about everything when he's asked questions. His goal is still to be a manga editor, but when he interviews for such positions he does find conflicts there with his own beliefs, but the real problem is that he's trying to give them answers they want to hear instead of his own answers. And for some of those key questions he doesn't have any answers at all.
During a lot of it there are some moments that deal with the relationship potential that exists between him and Ogiue with Ohno doing her best trying to nudge them in the right direction. The two definitely have potential and a connection that needs to be explored, but Ogiue is trying to ignore it and Sasahara is completely oblivious to it all. The time they do spend together is really sweet for the most part, especially when she continually tries to hide the material in the dojinshi she's drawn up. Ogiue also gets a number of hair down moments that adds to her character and removes some of the harshness she always seems to present outwardly.
Genshiken 2 isn't about closure or anything else, though we do get some nice nods towards the characters futures as the last episode rolls out. But these teases are things I want to see more of instead of seeing Sasahara trying to feel like he has some self worth. After all he has done and the friends he's made, he should have been better off by now or at least better than this. Still, Genshiken 2 has a lot to offer with several very engaging and fun characters and a group interaction that's blissfully fun to watch play out when they all come into each others orbits. Genshiken 2 works well but feels a bit less focused than the first series yet still leaves me wanting ever more to be made to see where life takes them. This is a good series but it's not quite what the first one was, which isn't a surprise.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Promotional Video
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.