I dedicate this blog to comics in all forms, manga, autobio, superhero, art books, etc. And of course, since I need a challenge, I've decided that I'll read and write (short) reviews for 365 comics during 2015.
It's been awhile since I've read Genshiken, but it didn't take long for me to regain my interest in the series. Although it is similar in tone to some of those zany shounen/shoujo comedy series (Love Hina, NHK etc.) at its heart it is a slice of life series that deals with relationships, self realization and self acceptance and 'growing up.'
The characters are all one sort of Otaku or another, some more interested in video games, others in cosplay and some historical manga. Though it is a series about all things geek, it doesn't shy away from some pretty interesting and tough topics. In the first series one of the characters had to come to terms with bullying she'd been through in high school that was causing her to basically hate herself.
Like Bakuman and Manga Dogs Genshiken takes a back stage look at the world of manga and anime, but does so in a slightly different way. Although it doesn't get into quite the same level of detail in the manga world as Bakuman, it delves deeply into the personal development and relationships between the characters. Like Manga Dogs it satirizes some of the genres tropes, but much more successfully than the rather sophomoric Manga Dogs, with an edge of realism to it all.
When it comes to manga I'm pretty picky about what I recommend. I read a lot of manga series (I still have yet to write a review of the reams of Shoujo and Shounen manga I read back in January) and most of them are ok, they entertain me at the very least, but nothing I'd recommend.
Genshiken is up there. It perfectly balances the zaniness and goofiness of comedy manga with realistic characters and plot-lines that will keep readers returning volume after volume. For those readers unfamiliar with lots of manga, afraid they'll miss out on all the otaku jokes, have no fear, there is a handy reference at the end of every book. Like Ready Player One, you don't have to know what the references are all the time to enjoy the story.