Genshiken Nidaime – The Light Moe Version Of Genshiken You Never Asked For
Genshiken Nidaime heralds the beginning of a new generation for the Genshiken club. Following the graduation of the original cast the society for the study of modern visual culture is replenished with new faces, a new president and up-to-date anime memes. But Nidaime is a huge sidestep from what Genshiken originally was. The representation of otaku life here is set aside in favor of moe characters and otaku bait.
If you are on the lookout for a series that demonstrates the difference between old and new anime conventions look no further than Genshiken. The original Genshiken was charming as it was disturbing. A bunch of college guys (and eventually two girls) sitting in an untidy room speaking about the merits of cartoon wifes, assembling Gunpla, making (or wearing) cosplay and taking part in other quirks that can vaguely be bunched under the small roof of otaku culture. Genshiken was self aware and often balanced dreams with harsh realities. The members of the club were mildly ashamed of their otaku tendencies and found condolence in each other, the otaku community and the swag they frequently bought. Each episode in the first season of the old show ended with Biidama (marbles) – an ending theme that encapsulated the ill-nature of otaku life and the fear that this life style ultimately leads down the path of failing as a human being and a member of society.
Goodbye shame. Hello moe
In comes Genshiken Nidaime – the latest chapter in the Genshiken story. The old members of the club are gone. The female members Ogiue and Ohno, and the cooky Kuchiki are left behind, with Ogiue becoming the de facto president of the club. They are soon joined by Su (an old friend of Ohno from America) and three completely new faces – Yajima, Yoshitaka and Hato. Yajima is a sloppy and grumpy women while Yoshitaka is a hyper and positive person. Hato is a whole different matter though. He is a transgender who crossdresses as a woman and specifically requests to be treated as a woman. And so it seems that the Genshiken club has turned into a women’s-only club (Kuchiki is often being sent on errands or is outright refused entry). Even though the girls still have otaku tendencies (being fujoushi that is) the first couple of episodes focus exclusively on showing “girls doing everyday things”. The girls introduce themselves, throw an overnight party and generally pass the time in a harmless and attractive manner. Hato is demoted to a cute and tender girl so that he won’t pose a threat to any man watching the show. The women members of the club become very intimate with him fairly early on, despite the fact that he being transgender does not in any way implies that he is not interested in women. The entire way the series handles Hato is ridiculously offensive. The girls honestly think he just really likes crossdressing and this attitude stems either from their personal ignorance or, more likely, from the need to convince the viewers that the girls will “continue to be available” (as moe tradition dictates). Only Yajima is reluctant to trust Hato implicitly and is overall the only voice of reason in this series as of now.
It should be stated here and now – Genshiken Nidaime is a dumbed-down version of Genshiken tailored to appease the moe-loving fans instead of the hardcore otaku the original show catered to. Moe elements are scattered all about: Ogiue’s distinctly aggressive hair style is replaced with a tender feminine one, Ohno has miraculously lost most of her weight without loosing her impressive bust size (she was leaning towards the fat side in the original series), the American Su is a meme-only character whose sole purpose in the first two episodes is to make obnoxious references to Bakemonogatari, and the list goes on. Something is very wrong in the way Genshiken chose to present itself this time around. Even the old Genshiken presiden Madarame is left speechless when faced with the unrealistic behavior of the new members.
It is truly a shame when a series that previously prided itself on the awkwardly realistic representation of otaku fandom now results to compromising its own characters and story just to align itself better with what anime fans have become accustomed to in recent years. The original Genshiken crew would probably have had a thing or two to say about this show, that’s for sure.