Sasahara and the others have enjoyed their time in Genshiken, but whilst it seems unlikely that they will give up the otaku life any time soon, graduation is approaching, and the real world beckons. Can they manage to juggle the demands of studying and finding job with the usual round of cosplay, visits to Comiket and perhaps even a spot of real life romance?
The first season of Genshiken was undoubtedly a lot of fun- peeking into the otaku lifestyle (and perhaps identifying with some of it) had never proved to be so much fun. Unfortunately, twelve episodes had not been enough to cover the entirety of the manga, and when even the addition of a three episode OVA could not move the story on all that much, it was clear that the time had come for a second season.
Where the first season had largely played the comedic angle, however, this new batch of episodes was to bring a more varied (and not always entirely successful) range of themes into play. Early episodes were skewed more towards slice-of-life and a long arc about getting a doujinshi ready for Comiket- overall it was interesting enough, but with a heretofore unseen tendency to drag in places.
As the series moved into its mid-section, the focus shifted to new character Ogiue, a closet fujoshi who hates otaku; fair enough, perhaps, since she wasn’t in the first series and was therefore already behind the others in terms of development. It has to be admitted that the series does digress into filler with an episode entirely devoted to imagining HARD GAY relationships between Sasahara and Madarame, but this can be forgiven since it is arguably the best and most entertaining filler to appear in anime to date.
As the series moves into its latter section, however, the tone became more serious- our leads were facing graduation, and the carefree student life was about to be replaced by suits, job interviews and the depressing need to choose a career path. There was a sad sense of growing up and moving on not unlike that seen in Honey and Clover. With Madarame choosing a job that meant he could stay close to the university and his beloved Genshiken, and Sasahara wondering if he was cut out for working life at all, it wasn’t hard to identify with the characters, but in these new, more serious days, who couldn’t help pining for those earlier, lighter-hearted episodes?
Another key theme this season is the inevitable attempt to pair off as many characters as possible, with Ohno and Tanaka finally realising their feelings for each other, and Ogiue and Sasahara very slowly heading in the right direction. Whilst this is fairly standard practice for any series that runs over several years of ‘in-universe’ time, Genshiken manages to retain its typical approach even in affairs of the heart, with amusing moments such as Tanaka admitting that he used eroge to run ‘simulations’ of intimacy in preparation for his first time.
Visually, Genshiken 2 is stylistically identical to the first, using a range of solid and simple character designs from the attractive to the less aesthetically pleasing (sorry, Kugayama), in realistic but technically accomplished settings. Background music is largely forgettable, although the OP is worth a mention due to its highly amusing nature as a Gundam OP parody. Since it now has a series of its own, however, Kujibiki Unbalance does not feature as much as it did in the first season.
Although it is a solid and enjoyable series overall, Genshiken 2 just couldn’t quite live up to the original for me- the more serious tone and occasional slow moments ultimately let it down when compared to the sheer, unabashed fun of the first series. Nitpicking aside, however, anyone who watched and enjoyed the first season shouldn’t think twice about diving headfirst into this one.