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Genshiken: Second Generation - Complete Collection
Genshiken Second Generation is actually a sequel series to the Genshiken anime production. While it's officially considered a "second season" it's actually the third season produced and there's even an OVA spin-off which preceded it as well. (The series even makes a referential joke to this odd fact in one of the episode previews.) It's a continuation of the popular anime franchise. The series revolves around The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture: an after-school college club which basically exists for "otaku" anime nerds to get together and be absorbed in anime and manga.
This season introduces a number of new characters into the series and is a re-launch of the story. This time around, the club is struggling to retain members and has only a few regulars who are keeping it alive at the start of the semester. There is only one male member who attends at the start. The group this season mainly consists of members Susanna Hopkins, Rika Yoshitake, Mirei Yajima, and Kenjiro Hato. Hopkins and Yoshitake are energetic members with their distinctive approaches to drawing manga.
Yajima is a tomboy-ish member who isn't very comfortable with themselves and especially their newest member, Hato. Hato is a new male member who always dresses as a female and who has a perfect high-pitched voice which is easily mistakable as a female voice. While the rest of the club members take well to Hato, Yajima doesn't like him or the fact he dresses as a girl and shaves all of his body-hair. Over the course of the season, one of the biggest conflicts is an exploration of this new member and why he cross-dresses.
The big "plot" element of the season revolves around the new attempts the club members are making to enter the professional manga world with their illustrations and stories. They all go attend a popular manga convention and try to find their own voices as animators. This plot is easily the most prominent element of the various sub-plots. The rest of the series tone focuses heavily on the character interactions, day-to-day events, and takes on a "slice of life" approach. When the series focuses on the character-development it finds moments where it is interesting. When the story diverts itself towards focusing on the romantic relationships and absurd manga hijinks it's far less successful.
This season is from director Tsutomu Mizushima (Genshiken, Big Windup). Mizushima isn't a stranger to this universe as he was the primary director on the original. The series has a good energy. Even with the storytelling often being bland and uninspired, the directing was more unique and creative at times. There was a strong emphasis on the interactions between the characters. Unfortunately, this isn't an amazing series by any stretch of the imagination, so ultimately even the sometimes reasonable direction can't make up for bad writing.
Production I.G. handled the animation for the series. I.G. is well known as being one of the big powerhouse anime companies in Japan. They have produced many other successes (including other series which have been released by NIS America), such as Kimi ni Todoke, Bunny Drop, Ghost in the Shell - Stand Alone Complex, FLCL, End of Evangelion, and The Sky Crawlers. Animation-wise, Genshiken Second Generation is an impressive series which boasts some unsurprisingly detailed and creative art. It is one of the strong points of the show and this attribute doesn't disappoint.
For those viewers who have been following the adventures of the Genshiken club with previous seasons, this latest season might prove to contain more entertaining comedic hijinks or it could be too much of the same formula seen before: I'm not sure either way as this was actually my introduction to the universe. As a newbie to the Genshiken anime world, I think Genshiken: Second Generation will at least make sense for those unfamiliar with previous season... but that doesn't mean it will make a good starting point. As a silver-lining: the storytelling can be easily followed for newcomers and mostly contains new characters (within a setting and concept that will be familiar for some viewers).
The series is presented on Blu-ray in 1080p HD with an MPEG-4 AVC encoded image. The picture quality is excellent throughout with great line detail and stunning color reproduction. This is a excellent presentation that only finds fault with some minor banding. The creative attributes all impress and the stylistic flourishes are effective on this well-encoded Blu-ray release.
The original Japanese language audio is preserved with a lossless 16 bit Uncompressed PCM soundtrack which is highly effective for the most part. Dialogue is easy to understand and is reasonably clear. The sound effects and stereo imaging adds an interesting element to the presentation. Subtitles are provided in English (non-removable).
The only extras included on this release are clean opening/ending theme songs and a Genshiken Discussion Points (HD, 16 min.) bonus video which is essentially a comedy sketch compilation of a few moments that feel like deleted scenes expanded into short films with the characters from the series.
Genshiken Second Generation is a sequel series to a successful franchise creation. This is a show that might appeal to new audiences but is probably going to be more popular amongst the more established fan-base. The slice of life elements offer modest entertainment but the odd comedic hijinks around the series sub-plots aren't as successful and might detract from the show for some of its viewers.
The series should be rented first unless one is already a fan of the franchise and feels confident in the production. For established fans, NIS America has done a excellent job with the presentation.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.