Jun 14, 2010
kajia (All reviews)
After the lofty standards set by Genshiken, I found the OVA's to be a big fat disappointment. The gulf in quality between the first series and the OVA was comparable to the difference between "Seikai no Senki III" and the rest of the Seikai no * franchise. I guess I should just be thankful that at least Genshiken OVA did not kill off its franchise like the way Seikai no Senki III did...

What can possibly go wrong in 3 episodes of Genshiken, which had previously shown so much consistency in the first series? Quite a lot, apparently.

The failings of the OVA's cannot be attributed to the lack of new content. In fact, the OVA contains the introduction of two new characters, both of which feature in "Genshiken 2", so skipping them isn't really an option if you intend to watch the second season.. Well, I say they introduce two new characters, but one of them is a returning character, and it's one that I would have preferred to see the back of, because he happens to be one of the most annoying characters in the first season who, thankfully, only appeared in one lone episode. His presence was fine enough in that one episodes, but having him as one of the regulars really tested my patience.

The second character, Ogiue, is the more important one, because she is one of the central characters in "Genshiken 2". Her introduction isn't exactly the greatest, as she became a member of the society through some really contrived event. I don't really get the whole otaku hating part of her character either. But other than that, Ogiue does show some promising potential, and can probably be considered one of the few successes of the OVA, albeit a rather moderate one.

The returning characters provide one of the main reasons why I found "Genshiken OVA" so disappointing - they were just all so different from the ones I knew and loved in "Genshiken". Kasukabe seem to have lost her edge and become tame. I know she was supposed to have mellowed slightly in the club, but still, the change is so large when measured against what she was like at the end of "Genshiken" that she barely feels like the same person. What Kasukabe lost, Ohno appear to have gained. In "Genshiken", she was a very timid character, only expressing enthusiasm where cosplay is involved. In the OVA however, she has become a lot more aggressive and confrontational, almost unrecognisable from the Ohno in "Genshiken". Even Madarame, while not changed too much, appear to be going back through old ground by mulling over the feelings that was already subtly hinted but dealt with during one episode in the original series. Though it was never fully resolved in that one episode, I always felt that its unresolved state was probably the best conclusion of all... but now they've gone and dug it up again needlessly just to make more of a meal of it. But some things are best left alone, especially since in the case of the OVA, this exercise of repeating what was already done doesn't exactly throw up any new conclusions. The subtlety in "Genshiken" was one of the reasons that made it so good, and it's a quality that is sorely missing from the OVA.

And it's a feeling prevalent throughout that the OVA is a completely different beast from the series. Even on surface, the differences are clear from the style of the animation. In "Genshiken", the general feel of the art is suitably mundane for a slice of life, despite the odd moment where the SD (super deformity) effect is used. In the OVA however, the colours are brighter and everything seem more cartoony, more comical, with the feeling that the characters are more prone to suddenly go into SD mode. Being someone who likes his slice of life anime to be mundane, I preferred the old style.

Just about the only point during which I felt the charm of the old "Genshiken" within this OVA is at the "that's a definite fail!" moment at end of the "makeover" episode. I'd watched the original series several years before I watched the OVA. With so much of the anime's feel modified, and most of the character consistency thrown right out of the window, it probably would have been enough to make me doubt my memory of the original series had I not rewatched it before the OVA. The worst thing is that, due to the OVA being an essential bridge between the two seasons of "Genshiken" as opposed to standalone stories, I can't even pretend it doesn't exist, so it's left as a permanent blemish on the franchise.