Saturday, January 28, 2012

Genshiken (げんしけん or 現代視覺文化研究會) + Quiet: The Power of Introverts

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There's something endearing about watching a group of introverts and/or socially awkward college students united by common interests and bonding over the years...

Left: Kasukabe Saki, her boyfriend Kousaka Makoto... Center: Sasahara Kanji, Ogiue Chika... Right: Madarame Harunobu Giant head: Sue

The name of the club is a euphemistic wrapper that includes anime, mangas, video games based on aforementioned, and cosplaying. A mish-mash hodgepodge of these special interests. At the start of the series, all the members are social outcasts, mainly because the club is considered less serious, i.e. "inferior" to the anime club and the manga club. As the story progresses, the members develop a sense of identity by coming to terms with who they are and venture out of their comfort zone.

I see a part of me in all the main characters, perhaps less of Kasukabe Saki, the only one who is not an otaku. I actually don't consider myself an otaku in the purest sense because I'm not obsessive :-P I think. Saki is the counterpoint, the persuader, the challenger who pushes the characters out of their passive shells. She very reluctantly comes to the club initially because her boyfriend is a serious video game otaku, but gradually warms up and becomes good friends with the members... as she comes to accept the otaku-ness as being a part of them.

Perhaps I'm attempting to relive an idealized version of my undergrad years, during most of which I was lost in an internal maelstrom of angst and anxiety.

Ogiue's sudden wardrobe change shocks everyone

It's encouraging to see the characters grow and develop their persona and become more comfortable dealing with real-life. Granted it's fiction, but I went through a similar process which most resembles Ogiue Chika's experience... During much of the series, she exhibits self-loathing with a vengeance. And she escapes the bounded iterations in a rather similar way as I...    

I simply enjoy watching the characters interact with one another in their awkwardly adorable ways. They say "eto..." [translate: um...] a lot, or perhaps stutter, or chuckle when a wittier-type would roll out a repartee. They are pretty classic introverts from Susan Cain's newest book - Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking. If I had read it during the early phases of undergrad, perhaps I would have been happier earlier...

But man, hiding out in nooks and crannies (numerous characters), discussing specialty topics in philosophical / analytical manners (Madarame, Sasahara, Tanaka, Kugayama), speaking volumes through silence (Ogiue), are just a few manifestations of such behavior. Not surprisingly, Saki (the main extrovert) dispels their inhibitions, often with lots of kicking and screaming. C'est la vie.

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