So, here is it.
After months of conflicted opinions, and after talking about my doubts about Kio Shimoku’s reasons for his decision to restart Genshiken [whether motivated by a personal desire, by pressure from fans or his employers, or from the failure of his two previous manga series Digo-Puri and Kujibiki unbalance] here it is – the first volume to be released in English by Kodansha USA.
The first volume almost literally starts off from where the original left off [ its chapter count even starts from chapter 56] with Chika Ogiue, one time self hating yaoi fangirl and now president of the Genshiken, finding herself with not only cosplayer extrordinare Ohno and resident pervert/comic relief Kujiki but also a new set of members – yaoi fangirls Yoshitake and Yajima [with the formers over enthusiasm for pairing off people balanced almost straight man like by Yajimas more quieter, although still strong love of all things BL]. We also get an unexpected addition to the group with American anime fan and regular quoter of anime series both well known and obscure Susanna Hopkins, who fans of the original series will remember, adding her own randomness to the mix.
But by far the most…unique member to join the Genshiken is Kenjiro Hato , a demure, polite and all round refined seeming young lady – there’s just one slight problem…..
This girls a man.
Yep, Genshiken has its very own cross dresser and what’s more he’s also a Yaoi fan [known in Japan as a “fudanshi”] who also has a talent for drawing Yaoi – but only when he’s a woman – why does he dress-up so? Time will tell on this but his need to change clothes also results in the return of a alumni to the series….
While the rest of the original cast do turn up from time to time [which I have some thoughts on – but more on that later] by far the one to receive the most appearances is that of Madarame as its his apartment that inadvertently get sequestered for use as a changing room for Hato – we also see more development for Madarame who while in his days as a member and then president of the Genshiken was the general go-to guy for all things anime and ero games – now faces a life where, now with a full time job and commitments, wonders if now is the time to finally put aside his otaku days – and theres’s also there’s the question of his own unrequited feelings for Saki……..
The artwork, as with his previous work, is always top notch – with detailed work on rooms, props even little things like bra staps and book covers – all of them show the marks of Kio shimkou’s almost obsessive attention to detail, as is the ever present number of anime and manga references littered throughout this volume [ fortunately for the less than knowledgeable Kodansha have taken a note from Del rays releases and supplied notes to explain the more…obscure references].
And yet I cant help but feel that while I would be lying if I , as would any fan of this series, would enjoy a chance to rejoin this series again I would have rather have seen a full reboot – all new members, no returning cast – a clean slate.
As it is the series, while resplendent with new members, seems to think that it needs to keep bringing back members of the old cast all of the time for no other reason it seems but to say “ hey you remember these guys right?” it feels like its too tied to the past and I for one think that that will not only put off people who haven’t read the original series, but also start to get grating to reader of this series as well.
Another problem I see lacking with this iteration of the series was the very reason that made me love the original series – and that’s diversity.
We had Kousaka with his love of games, Ohno and Tanaka and their love of all things cosplay,
Kugayama [and later on Ogiue] were the artists, and im sure that we’ve all met someone as extreme about their love of anime like Madarame. wrapping it up we have Sasahara representing the newbie anime fan, fresh faced and wet behind the ears, kuchiki the self confessed hentai fan and all round pervert whoose more than willing to bare all [to everyones consternation] and Saki, the outsider with little to no interest in hanging around with these weirdos but for her boyfriend Kousaka.
And yet with the new group everyone is in some way a Yaoi fan – with Ogiue, Yoshitake, Hato and Yajima Fujoshi, and Ohno and Sue avid readers of Yaoi – where’s the diversity?
….[sigh] and Yet Kio Shimkou managed to take a story about a disparate group of Otaku and make a fan favourite series that spawned two animated adaptations, a light novel adaptation, CD dramas and multiple pieces of merchandise. Maybe Kio can make lightning strike twice with this series.
……..Only time [I hope] will tell.