The series focuses on Sasahara, a hapless college freshman and closet otaku. While perusing his university’s series of student clubs, he happens upon Genshiken, a.k.a. “The Society For The Study of Modern Visual Culture.” In an attempt to be all-inclusive, Genshiken was established as an alternative to the university’s manga and anime clubs. At Genshiken, anything otaku is a-ok, whether you enjoy playing King of Fighters until your thumbs go numb, buying fan-made hentai, or watching the latest episode of “Kujibiki Unbalance,” a bizarre fictional show-within-a-show which seems to concern eating lots of mushrooms and trying to impress a militant half-German girl.
Through his friendship with the guys (and girl) in Genshiken—including demonic, dangerously obsessive chairman Madarame, drooling bishounen game freak Kousaka, stuttering scribbler Kugayama, and shy cosplayer Ohno—Sasahara slowly comes to embrace his true otaku identity. And self-mocking, postmodern, otaku-bashing wackiness ensues. There’s a trip to Comiket, Japan’s twice-annual comics market, during which Madarame suffers a horrible injury—made worse by his rabid desire to enjoy the convention at all costs. Saki, Kousaka’s non-otaku girlfriend, struggles with her affection for a man who seems more interested in playing hentai games than getting it on. And Ohno reveals a sick obsession with bald guys. It’s weird, and funny, and oddly touching in its honesty.
The animation is excellent—colorful without being overwhelming—and the club’s travels through Japan’s shopping districts provide a fair amount of the local culture you’d want to see in a show about Japanese otaku. Definitely not for the casual anime fan, but a genuine treat for those of us with Final Fantasy X-2 action figures, Samurai Champloo wall scrolls, and an encyclopedic knowledge of Hana Yori Dango. You know. Nerds. (Whistles innocently)