Manga Review for the Day: Genshiken Vol. 3

Note: I don’t read much manga (although I would very much like to), it’s just because of financial constraints that I buy one so rarely. If you think about it, manga in my country is more expensive than a Booker prized paperback.

Characters’ academic setting: University status-undergraduate Synopsis: This is about the Genshiken club –a university group composed of otakus. This volume is about the members getting into plastic modeling, a day at the beach, the spirited attempt of a non Genshiken member stealing an already taken Genshiken member by becoming a fan girl and oh yeah, porn games.

I bought this manga out of curiosity (and milking my dwindling post-Christmas cash) to see the depiction of an otaku’s lifestyle and wasn’t disappointed. Rio Shimoku’s artwork is very neat and organized. The chapters are episodic centering on characterization, interaction and the everyday lives of these otakus. The pace is more languid but the humor sure punches hard. There is a chapter where you get a chance to get into the mind of a true otaku where he gets into a real life uncomfortable situation and realizes that this isn’t a video game he’s playing. Reading it gives you the feeling that thinking too much does indeed have hilarious consequences ;-). My other favorite chaper is “Life and Death”. The Genshiken’s obsession with porn games was a hoot and so is Saki’s (a non-otaku but since her boyfriend, Kousaka is, she has to put up with the Genshiken) take and observation of this favorite climactic passion from an outsider’s point of view. It illustrates her mounting frustration punctuated by her statement, “Are you saying those porn games are better than I am?”. It really puts to perspective if forms of escapism prove better than real life. To me, Genshiken is like a mirror between two world –that of the obsessed fans and the non-fans (with more emphasis on the obsessed) –portraying an outsider and insider view into the otakus’ minds. One would not miss this rare opportunity to get an inside glimpse of one of the most fascinating types of fandom.

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