This will be my first full official episodic cover of an anime series in over 2 years and I think no series is more appropriate and more deserving than this one right here. For a very long time Genshiken has been a series that is very close to my heart, those who know me very well will testify to the fact that this show occupy's the very top spot in y heart for favourite series right alongside Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (and that's saying something). I started reading the Genshiken manga back in High School and at once I felt a strong connection with the character of Sasahara; I saw a great deal of my younger self in him, all of the desire to find a place to express feelings that I wasn't entirely sure would be accepted or tolerated by others and yet unwilling all the same to truly let myself go even if I did find such a place. The story of the initial part of Genshiken is the story of Sasahara's growth and in it's own way it was the story of mine as well. Though I never found a rag-tag group of quirky otaku misfits like he did, I learned to accept the truth and beauty of being who I was at all times no matter the circumstances through the adventures of their special little club. Much like with TTGL, Genshiken shaped the course of my life in ways great and small and is very much a part of who I am today.
That however, was then and this is now. Nowadays, though I still follow the Manga and everything Kio Shimoku has put out since then, I have a lot more on my plate and life calls for a slowing down of the heavy investment of time and energy into the things we once thought were so important to us so that we can take care of the responsibilities of "adult" life. I have grown up since the first time I started following this series and amazingly, thankfully, so have the members of the Genshiken as well.
A quick note here: these posts will probably be very brief and light on analysis simply because I've already seen all this material in the manga and I'll probably cover it on my some time in the near future.
Genshiken Nidaime starts off almost exactly like the first anime series with a recruitment drive for new members and incumbent president Ogiue has a stern but brief discussion with current members and Kuchiki about the negative effects that their shenanigans have on the clubs ability to gather new members. This scene is particularly nice as it clearly and simply gives the audience a glimpse into the personalities of these characters. The entire episode caries this kind of pacing throughout and much like the manga, it opts to weave this kind of character exposition directly into the narrative, allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions about the characters and their motivations in a natural way by simply observing them in their (un)natural habitat.
There isn't too much to be said about the episode; it's a standard introduction episode that manages to feel like your average first episode of a new series with a somewhat rapid-but not frantic-pace of character intro and story progression. In fact, with the exception of explicit references made by a few of the characters themselves, the nods at the previous series are relatively subtle and amount to no ore than a wink to long-time fans; this I feel is a great way to prevent alienation of newcomers to the show while still giving the old diehards like myself something to enjoy (e.g. Madarame blushing when Kasukabe walks in ^~). It's this feeling of welcoming the new and the old with open arms-much like a real club should operate-that makes Genshiken so special.
This epsode introduces the audience to a host of new characters and they are as remarkably different as they are astoundingly similar. Yoshitake: A high energy girl who's full of wild, passionate (read:obnoxious) enthusiasm for her hobbies, also a raging Three Kingdoms otaku. Yajima: a dour, even tempered and serious girl with aspirations to become a mangaka who also possesses a mild self esteem complex due to her appearance. Sue: a returning character from the first series who has been elevated to major character status. She is an American exchange student with a voracious and uniquely American love of anime and manga (a la Patricia Martin from Lucky Star) who communicates almost entirely by quoting lines from anime and manga verbatim. Then there's Hato: a two-for one special in the form of a boy who cross dresses as a girl because of an inclination to do so naturally but also, more importantly, in order to enjoy his guilty pleasure without fear of ridicule. What links all of these characters together you ask? Why their raging love of BL and Yaoi of course! This fact places president Ogiue in a precarious situation as she must now try to preserve the spirit of the original Genshiken while embracing the rather risque tastes of it's new (and old) members. The Genshiken is changing and at the center of it all is Ogiue trying to reconcile the old club of her memories with the new budding "fujoshi circle"; a trying task for the president and one that is both interesting and entertaining to watch.
Time to play "Spot the Trap"Seeing Genshiken animated once again really gives me hope for the future and if the scenes from the manga are faithfully reproduced I expect it will garner a whole new wave of followers and recognition (if not for the story, at least for Sue's crazy American otaku shenanigans). The club keeps growing long after the founders have moved on and, in a sense, I guess you never really do "move on" huh?