Josh's Anime Blog Podcast Episode 81

Josh’s Anime Blog Podcast Episode #81 is now online! In this podcast, I review the first season of the anime series Genshiken.

This week’s Podcast Stats:
Time: 14:51
Download Size: 10.2 MB

Opening theme:
“Keikenchi Joshochu” by Rina Satou, Marina Inoue & Minori Chihara
Opening theme to Minami-ke

Ending theme:
“Biidama” by Saori Atsumi
Ending theme to Genshiken

You can listen to my podcasts in the following ways:

Flash Player: [audio:http://www.joshsanimeblog.com/podcast/JABPEpisode81.mp3%5D

Directly: http://www.joshsanimeblog.com/podcast/JABPEpisode81.mp3

You can also download or add my podcast-only RSS feed to your favorite reader or add my podcast using iTunes.

Genshiken (Season 1) – Anime Review

The Essentials

GenshikenName: Genshiken (Season 1), The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture
Genre: Comedy
Episodes: 12
Released: October 10, 2004 – December 26, 2004
Based On: Genshiken manga by Shimoku Kio
Director: Takashi Ikehata
Produced By: Palm Studio, Media Factory
US Distribution By: Media Blasters

Major Japanese Cast

Kanji Sasahara: Takanori Ohyama
Saki Kasukabe: Satsuki Yukino
Makoto Kohsaka: Mitsuki Saiga
Harunobu Madarame: Nobuyuki Hiyama
Soichiro Tanaka: Tomokazu Seki
Mitsunori Kugayama: Kenji Nomura
Kanako Ohno: Ayako Kawasumi
Genshiken chairman: Yuji Ueda

Major English Cast

Kanji Sasahara: Michael Perreca
Saki Kasukabe: Carol Jacobanis
Makoto Kohsaka: Kenneth Robert Marlo
Harunobu Madarame: Billy Regan
Soichiro Tanaka: Bill Rogers
Mitsunori Kugayama: Rome Elliot
Kanako Ohno: Rachael Lillis
Genshiken chairman: Tobb Garbeil

Scores

Animation: 8/10 (x 4 = 32 pts)
Story: 9/10 (x 4 = 36 pts)
Music: 9/10 (x 4 = 36 pts)
Coherence/Story Arc: 8/10 (x 2 = 16 pts)
English Dubs: 7/10 (x 1 = 7 pts)
Gut Score: 8/10 (x 5 = 40 pts)

Total: 168/200 (83.5%)

Review

Genshiken is about a group of otaku college students who spend most of their non-class time hanging out at their otaku-related club Genshiken, which is short for The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture. Genshiken mainly focuses on Kanji Sasahara, a new arrival at Shiiou University, as he ends up deciding to join Genshiken since it looks like it will be a club he will enjoy. Once he joins he meets a variety of different club members, each with their own interests and quirks.

As the series goes on, interpersonal relationships between the characters start, grow, and change over time, all largely centered around the otaku lifestyle that most of the characters are deeply involved in.

While she may not be the focus of the show, Saki, someone who could be best described as the anti-Otaku of the show, even though she’s forced to hang out with Genshiken to be with her boyfriend Makoto, ends up being a strong motivational force to several members of Genshiken. Her motivation may be, for the most part, unintended and done in roughly, if not cruelly, at times, though. However, her interaction with all the otaku around her certainly creates many humorous moments in the show.

In the end, the series turns up being a mostly comedic slice-of-life show about the otaku culture. Despite this simplistic sounding basis for the series, Genshiken ends up being a fairly entertaining show which shows both depth and quality, with all around character development and growth for nearly all the major characters in the show.

My biggest beef for this series runs directly from the type of series it is: an otaku-centric series. As a result, many of the jokes in the series are otaku in-jokes, often heavily relying on references to other series which one may not get unless you watched, or at least were aware of, those series. That can start to become frustrating as the number of jokes that one just doesn’t get starts to pile up. However, Genshiken is hardly completely based around these types of jokes, with humor that any viewer can laugh at still being the bulk of the laughs (at least…I think it is the bulk).

Genshiken excels in it’s technical aspects as well, having good animation, music, though it only has what I thought was an average dub.

If you’re a hardcore otaku, you’ll probably end up loving this series, and if you aren’t one, then this series still has enough in it to make it a worthwhile watch.

First Watched: July – August 2007
Do I Own: No
Do I Recommend: Yes

Top Anime of 2007

I thought I would wait until 2007 was over before compiling this list. This list was drawn from all anime series that I watched that aired in 2007. This includes series aired entirely within 2007, series which started in 2007 and are carrying over to 2008, and series which started in 2006 and carried over to 2007.

By my count, this totals to 23 anime series for me, and I’ve narrowed it down to a list of 10 (actually, narrowing it down to about 8 was the easy part. Tacking on 2 more shows was the hard part). So, without further ado, here is the Top Anime of 2007 (warning – spoilers may lie ahead):

#10 Genshiken 2

This is a series that I watched most of (I think I got through episode 10 before it got licensed) and was a pretty solid 2nd-tier show I thought. It’s pretty funny from start to finish (heck, even the opening is) and I think would be enjoyable for most people who saw the first series.

#9 Mokke

Another pretty solid 2nd-tier show, Mokke is a pretty, shall we say relaxing, watch. It’s not quite as jello-inducing as sketchbook, but it has much more of a laid back feeling than most shows do. Toss on top of this a nice story about a pair of sisters who have to deal with supernatural spirits and solid storytelling and you’ve got yourself a good show.

#8 Myself; Yourself

The first of two “out of nowhere” series, Myself; Yourself is a series I almost didn’t watch, but ended up doing so since the fine people over at m33w were subbing it. This ended up being a surprisingly good show filled with twists that keept you on your toes. There may be some loose ends in this series, but it is overall pretty good.

#7 Idolmaster Xenoglossia

Idolmaster tops off a rather lackluster Spring season for me, and is the only show from that season that cracked the top 10 (granted, I only watched 4). I’m not one for mecha anime, so to see one which actually held my interest through 26 episodes is a pretty good feat. I think one reason is because this show seemed rather unique, at least to me. Yes, it’s similar to Evangelion in the sense that the machines have some sort of soul, but it’s more softer in Idolmaster than harsh like in Evangelion. Also, I think that the characters, and not the mecha, also helped drive this series forward and up.

#6 Minami-ke

The second “out of nowhere” series, the first top-tier series, and another series which I very nearly didn’t watch, Minami-ke ended up being a good random-hilarity series. There aren’t many series that can utterly lack a plot line and be successful. Azumanga Daioh tried and succeeded. Lucky Star tried and, for the most part, failed. Now, don’t get me wrong, Minami-ke is quite a different animal from Azumanga, but it’s still a good laugh from pretty much start to finish.

#5 Blue Drop

The top 5 in the list get into the heart of the top-tier shows of the year, and Blue Drop was certainly a treat to watch. One of two Greek Tragedies on the top 10 list, Blue Drop was great to watch, seeing how the main characters, Mari and Hagino, expand their relationship (both romantic and otherwise) under the backdrop of an eminent alien invasion. Probably the big thing that separates this from the top 4 is that I think the animation is kind of lacking from Blue Drop, but the storytelling makes up for it.

#4 CLANNAD

The only show on the list which may grace the 2008 list, CLANNAD has thus far been great to watch, as we’ve gotten through the story arc of 1 girl and are well into the story arc of a 2nd girl as we continue to unwind the mystery in this series. Add on top of the great storytelling by Key the fantastic animation of KyoAni, and you have one of the best shows of the year.

#3 ef – a tale of memories

Ef was clearly the prize of the just-concluded Fall season shows as it presented a story which is somewhat unusual for anime based on visual novels: multiple stories involving multiple males. In fact, three separate couples come out of this show, which each girl having her own unique and compelling story. A mysterious and well told (and well animated!) story gives ef the third spot on the list.

#2 Kanon

Like it’s fellow Key-KyoAni show, Kanon is a cross-year show. This one started in 2006 and finished up in 2007. Kanon quite possibly embodies the perfect visual novel-turned-anime show, with nearly perfect animation and a compelling story from start to finish. This would easily be the #1 show of the year, but only if one other show hadn’t aired, and that’s…

#1 School Days

Could any other show finish in the #1 spot but School Days? This show made waves in so many ways. First off, you had the male lead in the running for lamest male lead in an anime ever. Second, it’s rare that you actually get a harem show where the guy actually scores, much less which no fewer than 8 girls. Third, they creators of the show actually went through with the bloody ending, and we didn’t just get one, but two bloody endings, and memorable ones at that (“there’s no one inside” anyone?). Finally, this show will forever be remembered with the Nice Boat incident.

Yes, School Days must be the clear top show of 2007.

Also, did anyone else notice that all the top 4 shows are all visual novel-turned anime series?

Fall 2007 Season: Quarter Post Report

We’re about 1/4 of the way through the fall season – which marks, obviously, the 1/4 mark of full season shows, the 1/2 mark of half season shows, and also the 3/4 mark of a left over summer show.

As opposed to the spring and summer seasons, it seems that none of the shows in the fall can be considered as bad. In any case, it’s time to briefly evaluate how the Fall 2007 shows are going so far. Episodes watched are in parenthesis.

1. Miname-ke (5)

The top position goes to what I would describe as my surprise for the fall season – Miname-ke. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable and hilarious series thus far. The humor in this show may be hit-or-miss for some, but it’s been pretty much all hit for me.

2. CLANNAD (6)

Kyoto Animation’s latest Key/Visual Arts anime adaptation hasn’t disappointed so far with a lot of story mixed in with a healthy amount of humor as well. I’m not sure any show this season has made me literally laugh out loud as much as this one, but CLANNAD also has it’s share of mystery and drama as well.

3. Blue Drop (6)

Thanks to a speed-subbing group picking this series up for the time being, I’ve been able to catch up watching it. And I’m glad as both the story and action seem to be ramping up in this series now. Blue Drop seems to have a very interesting mix of romance, sci-fi, with slice-of-life in a way, and I’ve liked how it’s come together so far.

4. ef – a tale of memories (6)

ef – a tale of memories rounds out the top of the class series of the fall season. All four top shows are really close, and like the other 3, ef is impressive so far. Unlike the other visual novel-turned anime series in this group, ef focuses more on the romance and drama than the comedy. ef still has some areas where i still needs to come together I think, but the story so far is good, and it looks like it’s going to get a lot better really soon.

5. Mokke (6)

Next, the first show in the 2nd-tier shows in the fall is Mokke. This has been a mysterious yet sweet (for lack of a better word) series, much as I expected it. It’s about as slice-of-life as slice-of-life can get, but with the twist of the sisters being able to see/easily get possessed by various spirits in the world, both good and bad. However, Mokke appears to be, above all, really a coming of age story.

6. Myself; Yourself (6)

This series ended up higher in the rankings than I was expecting it. The fact that the 10 year old girl likes hanging out with a bunch of high schoolers or whatever seems a little odd, and, almost halfway through the series, we haven’t even gotten into much romance for the main character, yet, but the story is still going on relatively well I think so far.

7. Genshiken 2 (5)

This may be the the first and last time Genshiken 2 is ranked since it has apparently been licensed by Media Blasters (no shock there) per a forum post by MB’s CEO, but it hasn’t really been “officially” announced. I’m still deciding what threshold my “no downloading licensed anime” policy kicks in – in comments made in forums or “official” announcements only. I’m leaning towards the latter since not even ANN has listed Genshiken 2 as being licensed in their database yet, despite their story.

In any case, Genshiken 2 seems to be much more Otaku-centric than the first series (and that’s saying something), but the slice-of-life part is still there too. I think this series could swing either good or bad, but it’s more good at this point.

8. Sketchbook ~full colors~ (5)

Sketchbook rounds out the 2nd-tier shows for this season. Watching sketchbook is kind of like watching jello coalesc, but I mean that in a good way. The entire show is basically one relaxing adventure of a group of art club members to this point. There isn’t much of a plot (or much of anything necessarily), but it still seems like a good show.

9. Shion no Ō (4)

Now it’s on to the third-tier of shows which are shows which have been disappointing, but can still redeem themselves. The first is Shion no Ō. I was kind of expecting more from this show. My impression was that Shion would use her shogi playing to somehow search for her parent’s murderer. Maybe she still will, eventually, but Shion still just seems like a person involved in the events around her rather than someone actually causing events.

While shogi may be an interesting game, I’m not sure it’s interesting enough to hold up a series on it’s own. Yes, there is still the mystery of who the murderer is, but that plot line seems to be spinning it’s wheels for the time being.

10. Sky Girls (18)

Sky Girls, a series which I had grand hopes for at one time, seems to fallen flat on it’s face. Interestingly enough, previously my main concern about this series would be whether it would revert to pandering to a loli fanbase, but that hasn’t happened – at least not to an extent which has bothered me.

Instead, it’s the action part of it which has faltered. Using the same method to destroy the W.O.R.M.s over and over gets rather boring after a while, and makes the Sky Girl’s work seems not really all that challenging in the end. Luckily, the latest episode looks like the series is about to take a turn for the better.

11. Shakugan no Shana II (6)

Finally, we have what has been the fall-solidly-flat-on-your-face series of the fall, which is the second season of Shakugan no Shana. The first two episodes started out well enough, but then we followed that up with 4 episodes of Shana and Yoshida being all stubburn and filled with teen romance angst. Through episodes 3 through 5, I can’t tell that a single plot line has progressed even an inch – which is rather a waste of 3 episode’s time.

Finally in the latest episode it looks like we may finally be headed towards a resolution of this story arc. Hopefully Shana II will soon head back to the story’s roots: Shana kicking Denizen ass. I just hope that this story arc hasn’t permanently damaged the series as a whole.

To round up, just to show how much better I’ve liked this season over the spring/summer season, just look at the tier breakdowns for the Spring/Summer:

Spring/Summer:
1st Tier – 1 show (School Days)
2nd Tier – 1 show (Idolmaster Xenoglossia)
3rd Tier – 5 shows (Lucky Star, Nagasarete Airantou, Sky Girls, Doujin Work, Nanatsuiro Drops)
4th Tier – 2 shows (Umisho, Seto no Hanayome)
5th Tier – 1 show (Moetan – I felt compelled to create it’s own special super-low tier)

I’ve also watched Mushi-uta and Baccano from the summer, but haven’t finished them. That shouldn’t necessarily be a notice of my like or dislike of them. I just haven’t gotten around to finishing them yet.

Compare that to the Fall Season:

1st Tier – 4 shows (Miname-ke, CLANNAD, Blue Drop, ef)
2nd Tier – 4 shows (Mokke, Genshiken 2, Myself; Yourself, Sketchbook)
3rd Tier – 3 shows (Shion, Sky Girls, Shana II)
4th Teir – 0 shows

And all the current 3rd tier shows have shown signs of perhaps getting better soon. Oh, and as a reference if you haven’t figured out already, by definition for the tiers are roughly this:

1st tier – great shows
2nd tier – good shows
3rd tier – disappointing, but has potential [Fair]
4th tier – disappointing, and has little potential [Poor]

Doujin Work licensed? Plus Genshiken 2

Doujin WorkAnime News Network reports that in an AnimeonDVD forum discussion, Media Blasters CEO John Sirabella announced that they would license Genshiken 2 and seemed to indicate that they had licensed Doujin Work – and not just for a subtitle-only release but for a full dub as well.

Genshiken 2 certainly isn’t a surprise, given that Media Blasters has already released the first Genshiken series and has already licensed the Genshiken OVA and Kujibiki Unbalance.

Genshiken 2However, for the first license to come out of the Summer 2007 season (that I can think of) to be for Doujin Work, well, let’s just say that Doujin Work was about the last series I expected to be licensed out of that group, considering it’s length (12 14-minute episodes), it’s subject matter (doujin), and it’s quality (eh, could be better).

In any case, I guess that ends my watching Genshiken 2 on the side now that it’s licensed, and I guess it depends how much Doujin Work will be selling for before I know whether I’d buy it or not.

First Impressions: Genshiken 2

Genshiken 2I have to start off by saying that I’ve seen the first season of Genshiken, but not the 3 Genshiken OVAs, so while I’ve seen most of the story so far, I haven’t seen all of it, though, besides adding two new characters, it seems to pick up from the end of the first TV series pretty cleanly with Genshiken still wanting to release a doujin at Comic Fest.

However, am I the only one who thinks this, or did the animation quality decrease from the first season, or do I just remember the animation being better than it actually was in the first season?

Not a heck of a lot exciting happened in the first episode, though perhaps like Shana II, the first episode was spent getting reoriented to the series and the good stuff will pick up again in the 2nd episode.

I’m still cautiously optimistic about this series. I liked the first season, but sequels are always usually hit or miss. Luckily it seems to be a “picking up where they left off” season 2, but then again, I think a different crew is doing this season too (at the very least the director and animation studio is different).

Fall 2007 Anime Preview

It’s that time again: It’s time to look at what anime is airing in the Fall 2007 season. I’m listing these in alphabetical order.

There are 7 levels of ratings that I’ll give a show:

  • Will definitely blog it
  • May blog it (implies that I will definitely watch it)
  • Will definitely watch it
  • May watch it
  • May watch it if I hear good things about it
  • Probably Won’t Watch it
  • Won’t watch it

This time around I’m also just going to leave out sequels to series that I haven’t seen yet. I’m not going to watch a sequel before the original, so there isn’t even any point in my writing about it. Also, thanks to PukiWiki for keeping a great list of upcoming shows. Oh yeah, and thanks to THAT Anime Blog for reminding me to do this lol.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way…here we go!

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What I Want to See: Genshiken

GenshikenGenshiken is a series that I’ve been eying for a while from both the manga and anime side, but I haven’t gotten around to starting either. I’m not sure I’d go as far as saying I’m an Otaku (though having a blog on anime certainly goes a long way), with me only watching anime for about 1 and 3/4 years, it doesn’t result in me knowing all the jokes told in series meant for Otaku.

However, with my enjoyment of other for-Otaku series like Haruhi Suzumiya and the currently-airing Lucky Star, and with releases often doing a decent job of trying to make the show relevant, even for those who may not quite get it naturally, I think Genshiken may be an interesting addition to the annals of shows that I have watched.