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Final Impressions: Genshiken Nidaime

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Witty reference.

Six years. That's how much time passed between Genshiken 2 and the confusingly named sequel Genshiken Nidaime, otherwise known as Genshiken Second Season. However, while fans of the show can certainly ponder the reasoning behind such a delay (it probably has something to do with the three year break of the manga,) there's no reason to expect this installment would deviate from the quality of the previous offerings.

And it didn't. A few alterations were made due to the ending of the original manga and the time skip between school years, which means we have new members joining the cast this time around. But don't worry, there's plenty of familiar faces still in the club, and even the graduates even show up from time to time.

But is this really necessary? With Sasahara, Kousaka and Madarame leaving the school, all of the characters you could label as the protagonist are no longer around. Instead, it's Ogiue who takes control as the president of Genshiken, leading a club that is now largely female. Is this what we wanted?

Pretty much, yes.

In Japan, the otaku culture isn't the niche it is in the west. You don't need to look far to find someone at least vaguely interested in anime, manga or video games, so it makes sense that those in school with a keener-than-normal interest in these things would group together to avoid the 'going home' club after school. This is how Genshiken was formed, a catch-all collection of obsessives that don't fancy limiting themselves to either the anime, manga or video game clubs.

However, there wasn't much of a female presence in the original series, with only Ohno and Kasukabe around from the beginning, and Ogiue showing up much later on. Genshiken Nidaime flips that on its head, throwing way more girls into the mix, and having the only new male character in the club often show up dressed as a woman. With all these shake-ups, this season was bound to leave a lasting impression, good or otherwise. 

The finale brings along a fair amount of baggage with it, as Hato spends a lot of his time just moping about the place. It's understandable that he would feel responsible for Madarame being rejected by Kasukabe and quitting his job, so perhaps removing himself from the club room and visiting Madarame seems like apt self-punishment. He blames his female persona for this whole course of events, and so he locks himself in his male body around those that have already accepted him participating in club activities as a female.

But is this justified? There's certainly reason to beat himself up, but on the other hand Madarame was already in a pretty depressing position. He was clearly not enjoying the day job, and while he'd obviously have preferred for things with Kasukabe to go differently, he knew that she was never going to leave Kousaka. Madarame even remarked earlier that this was a great weight off of his shoulders, and while you could argue that it was a spur of the moment exclamation, I believe there is truth to it.

That said, Hato wasn't privy to a lot of this information, so that explains that. Luckily he settled things with Madarame pretty quickly, thanks in part to some counselling from Ogiue and having Sue at hand to keep away the meddling titan-Kuchiki. So all's well that ends well, right?

Well, sure, I guess. Hato now hasn't got anything holding him back from continuing to dress as a woman whenever he hangs with Genshiken, and he no longer feels responsible for Madarame's life renovations. That's all fine and dandy, but in all seriousness Genshiken Nidaime felt a lot like one big Hato arc. We saw pretty much all there is to see about his crossdressing, his past and the complications surrounding these, but what did we learn about the other new members?

Ogiue is the club president, but she never really felt like she was in much of a position of importance. Madarame was even drafted in to support the Hato storyline, but he wound up with more screen time than a lot of the new characters. Don't get me wrong, the Hato story was handled perfectly, but I feel we've neglected these other characters just a little bit. Let's just say that it'd be great if they were more involved should we get another sequel.

That aside, this really is the third serving of Genshiken you've been waiting for. Even with the character changes and a big focus on particular characters, it never stops feeling completely in-line with the previous material, and it's pretty darn fun to watch, too. Even if you don't enjoy some of the serious plots that crop up in this thirteen-episode outing, there are plenty of anime references to simply get a good laugh out of it. If you've seen the older series' and have yet to jump on board with Nidaime, what are you waiting for?


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Chris Walden
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