Genshiken - 1: Study of the Modern Visually-Oriented Culture

Episode:1: Study of the Modern Visually-Oriented Culture
At Shiiou University, the various clubs have set up booths to recruit new members. Freshman student Sasahara finds the anime and manga clubs to be uninteresting, but the "Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture" (aka "Genshiken") piques his interest. Meanwhile, freshman student Saki-chan sees a cute guy, who turns out to be none other than her childhood friend Kohsaka. A few days later Sasahara pays a visit to the Genshiken room in a run-down building. He meets Kohsaka, who has already joined, and is invited to sit in on a meeting. Sasahara listens in on a knowledgeable discussion of the latest episode of "Kujian" (Kujibiki Unbalance). For one reason or another, everyone else excuses themself and leaves the room until Sasahara finds himself alone. As he curiously examines the various manga and models on the shelves, the thought strikes him that "In a room like this, there must be perverted stuff somewhere"...
When I first loaded the DVD player, my thought was that this isn't "Genshiken", this is some weird kiddy show called "Kujibiki Unbalance". Somebody must have encoded this series under the wrong title. I switched to another DVD, which was also supposed to contain Genshiken--and it began with exactly the same sequence. It finally dawned on me that this is a sort of parody of the anime which the Genshiken members watch religiously. Once this opening sequence is over, and we return to the "real world" (at least a little bit more real) character designs become far more believable. Faces have some shape to them (probably because the club members aren't supposed to be generic "handsome" guys). You might even be able to recognize these guys with their hair shaved off! At first it seemed a little too realistic--that is, nothing particularly funny was going on. But as Sasahara finds himself seemingly ignored and alone in the club room, the thought occured to me "Is it just my imagination, or is this whole situation building into one big sight gag without much actual dialogue?". Suffice to say that by the end of the episode--actually well before the end--it was clear that Genshiken was just the sort of show I've been looking for.

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