Genshiken: Second Season Vol. 1 TP (Manga)
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Price: $10.99
Creator: Shimoku Kio
Format: 208 pgs.; Black & White
ISBN: 978-1-6126-2237-8
ICv2 Ratings: 5 Stars out of 5

Genshiken Second Season takes up pretty much where the first series ended, it's still about the lives of the dedicated science fiction/fantasy devotees that belong to the college club known as The Society of the Study of Modern Visual Culture.  But that status quo is immediately overturned by the induction of several unusual new members (unusual even by Genshiken standards, a club noted for attracting weirdoes) and suddenly females outnumber males two to one.

You'd think being a "blonde student from abroad" would get Suzanne Hopkins at least some attention but she's routinely relegated to background player by Hato, a boy who dresses like a girl.  Most club members are fairly cool with Hato, except maybe Yajima, an amateur manga artist who just got her first professional break.  Her friends rally to help her finish her assignment on time but during the all night work session Yajima can't help but feel threatened by both Hato's beauty and artistic ability.  And while Hato doesn't self-identify as transgender or gay once he starts changing clothes at the apartment of Mada, an older student, he's literally haunted by his female self who'd like to get closer to him.

Genshiken is a remarkably naturalistic manga that, like the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, makes relatable the ordinary lives of people with extraordinary interests and hobbies easily relatable.  Readers shouldn't be put off by the many obscure manga/anime references (there are copious translation notes in the back to make those clear) because ultimately this is a simple human story they shouldn't miss.

--Steve Bennett: Writer and retail services consultant.