Genshiken: Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Media Blasters
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Genshiken: Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture

Genshiken: Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     September 09, 2005
Release Date: September 13, 2005



What They Say
Saki's life at Genshiken as the girlfriend of an Otaku reaches new and interesting depths. When the student council threatens Genshiken, none of the members are able to take even the most basic steps to stand up for themselves. Saki is the only left, if she can just stop laughing at how pathetic the guys are long enough to do something. Then she is introduced to the wonderful world of model kits, the drive for new members, and the most mind-boggling event of all...otaku sex.

The Review!
The trials and tribulations of the club and its members continues to be the focus here as they all give their lives for what they love.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The shows stereo mix has some good moments to it overall as it mixes in a number of areas, from the show within the show that's a bit more dynamic in range to some well placed dialogue and massive crowd scenes that fill the forward soundstage nicely. We had no problem with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track and overall had a solid experience.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is done in anamorphic widescreen. All told, this is a very good looking transfer that's very clean across the board with really no issues at all. The series has such a range of detail to it and moves between a couple of very distinct styles that it handles both beautifully, be it looking at the crowded shelves full of manga, toys and video games that are very detailed or the much smoother and softer lines used for the in-show Kujibiki material. Colors are well represented for each of their sections and the show overall is very easy on the eyes and just shines.

Packaging:
The front cover for this release is great with a full illustration of Kanako reaching out in a full length sailor school uniform while behind her is a lot of people lining up and milling about for a convention but they're done as basic sketches with some minor pencil coloring to it which gives it a rough feel but is very nicely detailed and neat to look at. The back cover provides just over half a dozen shots from the show and a quick summary of what these episodes will cover. The discs features and technical information is all clearly listed and easy to figure out. Unlike the first volume, an insert is included with this one and it opens to two panels that provides liner notes for these episodes. It's unfortunate that they didn't include one for the first volume..

Menu:
The menu is pretty simple with the series logo pretty much stretching across the center while the background and below it is a few characters from the show in cosplay form with the big comic convention behind them. The only character you really get to see here is Ohno and lots of filler people milling around. It's a bit bright and out of place in general for the design especially considering what they probably wanted to do with the kind of materials and details that the show has. Access times are nice and fast and the navigation quick and easy to use. Unfortunately the disc did not read our player's language presets and played English without any subtitles.

Extras:
The extras are definitely paired down from the first volume which had a lot of material on it. For this round we get the various textless ending sequences to the episodes on this volume as well as a new directors interview that runs about ten minutes or so. Rounding it out like the previous volume is the second episode of Kujibiki Unbalance which is also directly accessible from the main menu.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Time flies in the world of Genshiken and over the course of this volume we move ahead practically a whole year as we get a new incoming class of freshman and more potential applicants to the club. But before that there are troubles to overcome and relationships that need to be figured out.

The first hurdle they have to overcome is being closed down as the student council president and vice president have posted a massive list of clubs that are being shut down due to inactivity. There's a claim of activity due to the photo shoot that was done but that's not given much thought since it wasn't approved beforehand. Pretty much everyone in the club just sort of accepts what's been handed down as there isn't even a probation period or a chance to prove themselves but Saki, for some strange reason, reacts badly to this and with the help of Ohno they try and change things. It starts amusingly with her using her sex appeal on the president before they get turned to the female vice president and have to try and use both logic and then blackmail to get her to give in to Saki's demands. Watching Saki go through all of this is a lot of fun to watch since she continues to go to the club but doesn't do anything and often just complains yet goes to such lengths to keep it open.

Saki in general has really become the lead character of the show though she's becoming less and less the observer of things and becoming more and more involved. In watching Kosaka, she finds that she wants to try playing at least one game so that she can play against him in order to get closer to him and she does a good job at first learning it and getting the basics but Kosaka's told to play his best. This means he completely annihilates her. What was truly priceless is when Saki goes for sex advice of sorts as she mentions a "friend" who while intimate with her boyfriend, was forced to doggy style late at night so that he could supposedly watch the anime that came in while they were busy. Using the excuse of needing the TV on to mask their sounds due to thin walls, she doesn't believe him. But she actually asks whether dressing up in cosplay and seducing him would help their relationship.

The introduction of new characters as applicants comes at a time of change for the club as the chairman has moved on so he can spend a year working on his dissertation now that he has enough data and has decided he should probably graduate. In his place, he nominates Madarame to take over as the new chairman and he starts trying to be more personable, though not in an really overt way, in order to be able to handle the role. So he takes on a bit more of a role as the new guys are brought in to be checked out but what really turns out to be a fun episode is the one focusing on a couple of the club members working on model building. From start to finish, they go over the deep love they have of it and introduce it to the newer folks like Ohno and Sasahara and it follows them over the week that they build their models. It's amusing in how they're essentially renaming and playing with the various Gundam names and models but it's pretty accurate otherwise and that goes a long way to what we said about this show at first.

Genshiken really is a love letter to its fans. While some of them are clueless, some have some real issues and they're not exactly the cream of the crop, they are indeed mostly harmless and basically good people who are just really into a particular hobby. They may come across badly to others, such as how the vice president treats them, but they're being more and more accepted as they get more out there in the world, which they're doing quite slowly. Everything from the game playing to the model building and just general club activities is treated properly and without any sense of meanness to it. So it's already obvious they have no real internet presence…

In Summary:
In its own way, Genshiken is very uplifting and inspirational as even as down as the group is, they manage to come out on top and usually through their own efforts or by those who have an interest in seeing them continue. The four episodes here are simply fun and light even when it's at its darkest and it brings a smile to our faces as we watch it. The mix of characters is a lot of fun and their love of their hobby really shines through even if they are all mostly specialized instead of generalized like more fans are. It's a shame that there's only one volume left but better to end with what's been told in the manga than to try and create more and not quite capture the original author's style and love of these characters.

Features
JapanJapanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Closings,Directors Interview,Kujibiki Episode

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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