Being the nerd/geek/outcast that I was growing up, the original Genshiken, created by Kio Shimoku, really struck a chord for me. It reminded me a lot of my group of friends, even though only a few of us were big anime fans.
Genshiken Nidaime picks up not too long after the original Genshiken ended. A lot has changed, but a lot will feel familiar to fans of the original.
A new year has started and a lot of the male members of Genshiken have moved on to start their lives in the working world. With the start of the new year, Oguie is tasked with getting new members into Genshiken. Unforunately for Genshiken they do have a bit of a reputation for attracting the weirdos that the other clubs won’t take. It doesn’t help that one of their members, Kuchiki, succeeds in scaring most people off. Thankfully Sue has moved to Japan and is more than ready to put Kuchiki in his place if necessary. Despite the odds being stacked against Genshiken, Oguie manages to get the attention of three female freshmen with a painting she does. Unfortunately all three of them are yaoi (gay manga) fans who mistaken Oguie’s painting to have homo-erotic undertones. Oguie is worried that the sudden addition of these members may shift the original focus of Genshiken, but when they’re desperate for members what can she do?
The most striking change to Genshiken is the sidelining of almost all of the old male characters. The male characters, with the exception of Madarame and Kuchiki, have been reduced to cameo roles. I was a bit disappointed with this initially, but on the plus side, it’s great they kept Madarame around. He was my favourite character from the original series so it’s great to see him return to play a major role in the story. So where Genshiken once had an almost entirely male cast, the guys are now in the minority. The story, which once focused on the very male side of anime fandom sees a pretty dramatic shift in Genshiken Nidaime to the female side. I won’t lie, initially this was a bit off-putting. Not because I have anything against female anime fans, but with this dramatic shift in focus I realised how little I knew about what “rotten girls” (hardcore female anime fans) were into. So as the story unfolded it took me a while to learn about “the other side” of otaku (anime fan) culture.
So if you’re offended by the yaoi side of anime fandom, you might want to stay away from Genshiken Nidaime. There’s a fair amount of jokes that revolve around the girls’ interest in guy-on-guy action, and there might even be a gay relationship that develops in the story. If you aren’t easily offended, or don’t care about sexual orientation if the story is good, you’ll find Genshiken Nidaime to be one of the better anime shows this season. Also, if you haven’t seen the original show or read the manga, you might want to do that. There’s some references to events that occurred in the original story, and it’ll help if you really want to understand some of the older characters. If you’re already a fan of the original Genshiken, it might take a little while to adjust, but after a while you’ll start to feel right at home again.