My Genshiken is real.
It can’t replicate it in meatspace, thought it can come pretty close. But my Genshiken is indeed real. You might even be part of it.
I recently re-read Genshiken a year after I finished the manga (maybe more than a year after) and it’s a more profound experience for me the second time around. Maybe it’s because I feel more affinity with the characters, though I feel like I’m very different from them. I don’t even have a single character to identify with in particular.
Another thing, I graduated from university 13 years ago so I don’t have a circle in along the same lines. An important thing that’ll distinguish Genshiken from any club or circle I can form with my relatively many anime/manga/toy/gunpla fan friends and acquaintances, is that members of the Genshiken hung out every day. They weren’t friends for the weekend. They were friends who hung out, paired off with each other, and spent a whole lot of time with the rest anyway.
This is impossible for me. My fanboy/fangirl friends are of varying ages and live very far from each other… so we really don’t meet very often. I am married to anime and manga fan, but we don’t get to watch anime together anymore due to work, and raising our baby daughter.
I’m very lucky to work with @mechafetish who is the co-founder of We Remember Love, along with @heyitsjohn his kid brother (who is a part-time weaboo), and the girlfriend MJ who is a complete stand-in for Kasukabe Saki. We run a startup consulting firm together. However, almost all our time we spend with each other, we spend working.
This isn’t my Genshiken.
I could say the internet is my Genshiken, but this is too inaccurate.
To be precise, twitter is my Genshiken. Let me be clear, I am not prescribing twitter to be your Genshiken. I am merely reporting that it is mine. The above (horrifically ugly and mathematically wrong) graphic is how my hobby’s social universe turned out, especially the past two years.
Indulge me and I’ll break it down for you.
The Genshiken is a college club, “The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture.” I contend that very little studying gets done, but instead they indulge the pursuit of the fan behaviors that may perhaps be the thing worth academic (sociological, cultural, psychological) study.
I already disqualified my meatspace social network as a poor analogy for Genshiken. I now contend that most of the other examples: blogs (including tumblr), image boards, forums, for some reason or another – whether limited exposure, restrictions, population, or quality of interaction make for less perfect analogues.
I won’t call We Remember Love my Genshiken, nor this blog. WRL is like my online home (and this blog is a friend’s crash pad), kind of like Tanaka where he keeps his sewing machine and his cache of costumes, and his garage kits. It’s where he (and I) can specialize and be most myself. (Regular) Visitors come there to read my work or of those whom I endorse directly. They don’t go there to hang out with each other, they go there for me.
tumblr is like my basement (or attic) LOL. Arguably I’m more myself there, but more like it’s the place where I don’t have to put together my very best to face people. I can receive visitors in my basement, but only those who aren’t too finicky about what they find there.
I use MyAnimeList as a database, and very little for networking and even less for discussion.
Google Reader Shared Items (GRSI) is like study hall, where all sorts of things get shared and discussed, and things can get intimate enough (even between non-friends) so that nastiness can and does happen (far too often), but the quality of the material shared sometimes (as well as the discussion) gets to a high enough level that I don’t want to leave. It’s also like a sharing exchange of anime blog articles, more so than any other online location.
Now twitter, damned twitter. I registered way back in 2006 but didn’t know what to do with it. I only started getting active when @cinco_bajeena contacted me (sometime in late ’08-early ’09), then I purged all the contacts I had who were RL friends (who are on facebook anyway) and told myself I’ll only let anime and manga fans follow my account. It’s grown ever since and is pretty much my Genshiken.
There is no real focus on twitter, people discuss anything that comes to mind. People get involved in each other’s lives too, but nothing too serious though I’ve made good friends over there too, as much as you can call internet people whom you’ve never met friends. Due to my pruning my network to involve only people related to my hobby, the gamut of “modern (Japanese) visual culture” (and yes that includes NSFW material) get discussed on a daily basis, all the time and I mean all the time.
I can insert myself in any discussion and spin it off any which way I can as long as people are willing to go along. And being “my kind” of hobby fans, they often do, if not start discussions I happily join in. It really is a very laid back hang-out, where there’s no pressure to behave in a particular way (you really do get crazies there, sometimes it’s me), and you can always prune out accounts you don’t like to follow/to have following yours.
If it isn’t obvious enough, I really quite happy with this arrangement. I didn’t get here by design, though a big part of this hobby is making friends with people I can talk anime and manga with. Here are a few excellent posts on Genshiken from people I’m happy to know online: digiboy, pontifus, SDS (of course).
I don’t really have the time and wherewithal to maintain meatspace Genshiken activities, and frankly I am not so interested to hang out with weaboos, otaku-wannabes, and all sorts of weirdos in the meat every day. twitter lets me get to do that minus all the awkwardness, body odor, mooching, that isn’t part of what makes Genshiken realistic anyway (to presume that it is realistic in the first place).
It may sound like an exclusive circle, and there is some registration involved (though no club dues – but no club budget either), but anyone can join and you can even chat me and my friends up (without the intrusiveness of instant messaging, nor the awkwardness of video VOIP calls).
T. H. A. T. Anime Bloggers on twitter:
Do you have your own Genshiken? How is it like?