Graphic Novel/Book Review: Genshiken Official Book

Genshiken Official Book
Written by Kio Shimoku
Translated by Satsuki Yamashita
Published by Del Rey imprint of Ballantine
ISBN 10: 034550402x
ISBN 13: 9780345504029

Review by Linda Yau

As a fan of the animation series, and spin-off, I was actually quite very happy to have the opportunity to read and review this book. This is one of those Japanese guidebooks that actually got translated for the American public. My opinion in that this is a definite must have manga companion for fans of Genshiken, something to pair up with those nine volumes.

However, as much as I can say that I like the book, there are still some bad points that must be discussed. Sure there a great deal of background information, or biographical looks at the characters in the series, but I can’t get over some things. One is the print quality. I have to praise Del Rey to even bringing the book in English, but then slam it; can’t you try to do it the quality of Japanese releases? Where is the sincerity? There is only one color poster pull out in the beginning of the book, and that’s it!

The original playing cards of Kujibiki Unbalanced, are only black/white Xeroxed copies! That stinks! This brings to my mind, the fact that I believe American fans don’t get the same love as Japanese fans. That publishers expect fans to be happy with any information we get, and sure it is can be a good thing or a bad thing. Comprehension/translations are one thing, but is there a reward in being a fan? I do believe that American fans are seen by publishers to be disposable income teens, and that maybe true, but that is still discouraging news. Another solution is to also have the Japanese version of this book, if you are a series fan/collector.

Before I go on another long rant, I have to try and steer this review back to the book itself though. There are plenty of interesting points to learning about being an otaku in this series. The book gives an examination to the various couples in the series, as with their character biographies. Also an in-depth look into the spin off series, Kujibiki Unbalanced, up to even trying to cosplay/tips to one of the character is given. There is a quiz what it takes to be an otaku, as well as a narrow view of looking into some Akihabara eroge game shopping. (You have to be a Japanese culture lover to know what this means, otherwise Wikipedia it!) There is also one chapter devoted to translating an interview with Ken Akamatsu, creator for Love Hina, and Negima Sensei about surviving in Comiket. I wrote an earlier review for Mao-chan on JLHLS.

I love how the book definitely defines what a fan is, with the basic Otaku Terminology, and with a chapter like the Otaku Ten Commandments (By Madarame) even as a female fan who is always questions self at being an otaku/anime fan, I can’t help but agree with what he says. “When buying…. do not look at the prices.” Or just “Buy now think later.” So that is a call to just grab grab grab! There must be a line of what is to love something, but for the love of something just buy, and no regrets! That my reader, shows sheer devotion.

What would deter readers from this reference guide is the very fact that you wouldn’t know of this series itself. But to read it, and actually get the specific Japanese culture jokes make it very worthwhile to read this book. To be able to find other fans that are like you, makes this book a gem, but I would also have to play the devils advocate, and say that the definition of an otaku in this book should not be limited to the type casts in this series. There are more passions and characterization in loving what is considered Japanese animation, and the passions discussed in this book is very Japanese oriented, because that is where otakuism began, but to try and decipher it in American fandom is opening another can of worms that should be taken with some more grain of salt. I can be on a soapbox espousing the differences of being a fan in America verse a fan in Japan. But don’t take my word for it. So my final opinion is that this is a DEFINITE must have for the Genshiken fan. This is one of the series, that I cannot recommend enough to learn about the intricacies of being an lover for anime, and graphic novels.