Genshiken: Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture Vol. #3 - 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: 1.33:1/1.78:1 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. #3

By Chris Beveridge     December 18, 2005
Release Date: December 13, 2005


Genshiken: Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture Vol. #3
© Media Blasters


What They Say
There comes a time in every girl's life, where her friends try to get her to cosplay. For Saki that's every week, but this time Ohno may finally have enough pull to get her to don the helmet once and for all. Keiko's in on the action as well, determined to get in on the act. To make her way into Kohsaka's heart, she's decided to force herself to become an Otaku... even if it means going to Comic Fest. At least those adult dojinshi for women are kind of interesting.

Also included is the second to last episode of Kujibiki Unbalance. Will it end on an ambiguous cliffhanger? Only time will tell!

The Review!
The series comes to a close much earlier than it should as it teases with a few fun tales and then shifts into some much more personal issues.

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 the final volume has the shot of one of those moments that you just have been looking forward to since the beginning of the series and that's seeing Kasukabo actually do some cosplay and it naturally has to be from Kujibiki Unbalance. 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. Due to this being a review copy I didn't have the final packaging in hand to tell if it included an insert or not.

Menu:
The menu is pretty simple with the series logo tucked away in the upper corner while the volume title, Cosplay Confessions, is done like a big stamp across the three women that make up events on this volume. Their illustrations are decent but come across a bit jagged overall which is a bit distracting. 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 fairly similar to the second volume though a bit meatier all around. The included material for it has the textless closings as well as a lengthy piece of voice actor interviews from the Japanese circuit which runs about thirty minutes in length. Rounding it out like the previous volume is the final 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)
With not too many volumes of Genshiken out in Japan, the anime series does a good job of coming to a close at an appropriate time and not overstaying its welcome. With as well as they've done at being a loving satire and exhibition of what modern day fans are like, something that amusingly transcends nationality and continents, it's a show that could have become much harder to watch as it goes on and the subjects would become either far too narrow or venture into meaner territory.

Though with as few episodes as the show runs, it's done a nice job of providing distance between each of them so that things evolve over several months. The last volume brought us to a new year which had Madarame taking over as the club president so things have continued to change since then. With the greater windows between each of the episodes, the changes in the characters can be a little more striking but still done in a nice gradual evolution. The person this is most evident with is the most obvious one, Saki, as we see her continuing to be a different person around everyone the more familiar she gets with them. Her end goal of trying to make Kohsaka happy hasn't changed in the slightest but she's more willing to spend time with those he hangs with – seemingly at the cost of her own friends and activities. Therein lies the rub though as she's really much more like them than she cares to admit.

One of the best parts of this volume involves the entire gang plus Sasahara's sister going to the beach to hang out for awhile. Getting the women into tiny outfits is of course a plus, though Ohno seems to be more interested in covering herself up in general, but the fun is there since Saki flaunts it so she can establish more control over Kohsaka, though she certainly has competition in her own mind with Keiko over the entire thing. The beach aspect really gives them all a big fish out of water moment and they're so completely obvious about what kind of people they are. Even better is that Keiko finally makes a leap of logic that if she knows more about anime and manga and gaming that Kohsaka will like her more. Her attempts to learn all of this seem to scare Sasahara while Saki realizes that she's already made more of an inroad in this idea than she ever expected.

The last two episodes of the series do a good job of bringing in the biggest challenge to date and one based around an honest accident at that. The clubs future is certainly an issue as expected, since it's been an issue ever since Sasahara first saw it, but this time it is even more so because of how the accident plays out and nearly affects other clubs. Saki's growth is the main theme across these episodes I think as she proves that she will take responsibility when she knows full well it's her fault. What she's unprepared for is for the group to be more relentless than usual and they push her rather hard down a path that she's tried to avoid for as long as we've known her. The gag of course is given away on the front cover so it's not terribly surprising but watching it all play out is just priceless as is the events that follow it.

With just about six graphic novels out in Japan for this show as of this writing, they seem to have covered a good deal of what the manga covers in the anime. Both properties do a fantastic job of being honest about the people they're dealing with and their quirks and eccentricities but they don't crucify or really mock them along the way which is where the real change is. These last episodes put together some fun that brings certain elements full circle, such as the cosplay moments or getting Saki to even really open and read some manga, while also taking the club to a whole new level. Madarame's ascension previously brought about some amusing changes and you can easily see the series going in very interesting directions based on where they leave things here.

In Summary:
Genshiken has really filled a niche that's been unfilled for far too long. The examination of those that buy, consume and enjoy anime, manga and the other related aspects of fandom is something that's evolving constantly. As much as is done solid here, it's hard to imagine many clubs – populated by young high school geeks – would be so completely disconnected from the internet and all that it brings. Fandom is constantly evolving and that's one of the themes that they do bring to the show which helps a lot. Seeing the cast evolve and find new things in their lives makes it far easier to connect to them. Other than their unholy interested in Kujibiki Unbalance, they're all the kinds of characters that you can sense would be fine upstanding citizens as they get older. The people behind this know that they're essentially animating stories about themselves so it's never really mean but it is sometimes overly melodramatic and pokes playful fun at itself. This is just good stuff and a very good snapshot of fandom in the early 21st century that can be referenced for years to come.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Closings,Voice Actors 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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