Genshiken Book 7

I’d previously tried the first book in this series, but then, it didn’t click with me. Now, I felt less like I was reading a book, and more as though I was meeting a new group of people, friends of friends (since I’ve had so many recommendations about the series).

Genshiken Book 7 cover
Genshiken Book 7
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That approach helped, since there was a lot I wasn’t told about these characters — it is book seven, after all. Still, it didn’t matter. If I didn’t know them, I knew the type, given my time at conventions and in fandom.

It seems that the president of the visual culture club has a strong predilection for cosplay, which makes one of the creepier club members sweaty and off-putting. That’s just an introduction to the main story of the book, which deals with a young artist debuting her manga at the huge Comicfest. She’s ambivalent about the honor, because she draws explicit yaoi, and she doesn’t want her friends to see it. She’s embarrassed by what her art reveals about her fantasies.

The president comforts her with the group’s acceptance. As geeks, they aren’t in a position to be judgmental of others’ hobbies or kinks. Some of the older members are distracted by a more important struggle, anyway: that of finding a job.

When the president isn’t trying to encourage the artist to complete her work, she’s trying to set her up with another club member, a friendly gesture that nicely humanizes the characters. The couple clearly has feelings for each other, but they’re too young and shy to do anything without a little help.

This book also includes two American guests, come to visit the club president and attend Comicfest. One gets a lot of attention because she’s large-breasted, and the other is a bad-tempered underage porn fiend. The thorough art grounds the more exaggerated nature of some of the characters by making it all more realistic with detail.

I enjoyed sharing these characters’ hopes and dreams, so I’ll be looking for the other books to learn more about them.

(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)


  1. I really like Genshiken, although when it started out I was lukewarm to it too. I think one of the things I like is that it looks unflinchingly at the neuroses and embarrassments of the members, without the undercurrent of contempt that I sense in stuff like Evan Dorkin’s Eltingville stories. I also like how while all the characters start out as types, they never stay that way. Even minor characters like Keiko (Sasahara’s bratty cogal sister) or the student-council vice-president eventually reveal unexpected–well, not depths, but aspects. There is the sense that things happen in their lives that aren’t covered in the stories. I think it’s the same kind of grounding that you mentioned in the art–the telling detail that makes it all seem that much more plausible despite the exaggeration.

  2. I like the series for basically the same reasons as Joshua mentions. The types and traits of the club members are certainly recognizable to me, and do seem divorced from the self-loathing quotient present in American comics that cover the same area. I think it’s appeal is also that it’s not just affectionate to the characters, but involved in showing change (to different degrees) in the leads. I think I just repeated everything Joshua said…

    About this volume specifically, I did myself mildly annoyed by the American characters. All in good fun, I guess, but it was a bit one-sided for this series. And a little weird, considering how much Japanese popular culture is the stylized misapprehension of foreign things.

  3. Joshua, that’s a great description of three-dimensional characters: it feels as though they have lives beyond the glimpses you see on the page.

    HCD: That’s one of the things that made me reconsider my opinion of the series, that the characters and focus had changed since book 1.

  4. A kinder, gentler Eltingville is a good way to describe Genshiken (if you want sharp satire, there’s “Welcome to NHK”). I agree it’s great because of how it handles its characters – Shimoku is interested in their characters more than raging against broad stereotypes and behaviors. It doesn’t seem as accusatory or divisive as something like Immonen’s convention sketch book sounds sometimes.

    I didn’t mind the portrayal of the Americans, not just because turnabout is fair play, but it’s still consistent with the tone of the series. I mean, the Porn Fiend Girl who spouts random Japanese phrases possibly without knowing what they mean isn’t too far off. But she does give Ogiue a level of support for her talents and her comic.

  5. […] At Active Anime, Holly Ellingwood reviews vol. 1 of Poison Cherry Drive and Christopher Seaman takes an advance look at vol. 2 of Penguin Revolution. Tangognat enjoyed vol. 1 of that series. Johanna jumps right in with vol. 7 of Genshiken, having only read vol. 1, and likes it better the second time around. Mangamaniaccafe checks out vol. 1 of Kamunagara. At Comics-and-more, Dave mixes up Manga Monday a bit with reviews of vol. 1 of Let Dai and vol. 6 of Hikaru no Go. The Star of Malaysia is suffering from Train Man fatigue but still has good things to say about CMX’s version. Slightly Biased Manga watches Hinadori Girl fizzle out. […]

  6. >I mean, the Porn Fiend Girl who spouts random Japanese phrases possibly without knowing what they mean isn’t too far off.
    “Not too far off”? I would say it’s dead-on accurate, myself. :P

  7. Calvin Reid

    Hey JDC
    I absolutely love Genshiken and the latest volume is as delightful as all the rest. I named it as one of my best-of GNs a couple of years ago when the series started. Whenever I see Genshiken getting some well-deserved credit I try and chime in. For those of you have haven’t read it, its a great way to get an upclose look at otaku culture. And while the book is illustrated in a naturalistic style, the series doesn’t hesitate to introduce every manga convention from panty-shots to chibis. Yet its still great at showing plausible, touching and very funny relationships between all the characters. Genshiken rules.

  8. […] club president’s American friends have returned. Sue, the bad-tempered yaoi fan, now has a dream: to attend university in Japan as an […]

  9. […] tries to appreciate the fan-favorite series, about an anime/manga/cosplay/videogame club, before I got the appeal, but once you know the characters, it’s a lot of fun. The first series ran nine volumes […]

  10. […] I thought that story ran a little too long and went a little too melodramatic, but I really enjoyed Genshiken by Kio Shimoku, which also gets a three-book omnibus ($19.99, due May 23, MAR12 […]

  11. […] other book news, Kodansha returns Genshiken to print in English with an omnibus volume ($19.99) reprinting the first three books of the series. […]

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