My Genshiken

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My Genshiken is real.

It exists.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

ghostlightning twitter home 19102010

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:

@PzKpfwCrusader

@ExecutiveOtaku

@Myst1ord

@chronolynx

@Hana_the_Banana

@ghostlightning

Do you have your own Genshiken? How is it like?

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21 Comments

  1. Posted October 20, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Interesting idea! I like it, even though I haven’t read Genshiken… but I understand the concept/focus. More personally, I haven’t really thought of my Genshiken as a basis of solely Japanese modern visual culture, and in fact, I don’t like limiting to that nature. Instead, I would visualize my Genshiken’s focus as inspiring art/entertainment media with a tilt towards Japanese works and themes. From here, I could go two ways in defining my Genshiken.

    The first would be #animeblogger, which having been a part more/less since 2006, works a lot like a club. The great thing about “real” chatting is the conversational fluidity; it can move fast, slow, you could get lost, and you can pay attention or idle…. and there’s no limitations on the feeling of conversation. Twitter could become this for me, but it feels highly confining when compared with IRC/Jabber chat (not IM)…. it’s all about conversation.

    The second thought about my Genshiken, and the one I find more true, is the world surrounding my associated email for all things anisphere related (altaokami). My email is used and connected across the Internet. So long as I am notified of new comments or responses (regardless of where), the conversation can continue without distinguishing where or how it should occur. Sure the digital world associated with an email address might be larger, but honestly, it all comes down to the same few hundred individuals, with some coming and going along the way.

    Either way it’s good fun!

    • Posted October 21, 2010 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      Yeah, it comes down to how comfortable we are with our digital networks. For me IRC is a hassle and moves way too fast, and dies just as quickly. Also, the messages don’t get archived. Twitter isn’t very good at archiving, but the messages last for a little bit.

      I do recommend the manga very highly.

      • Posted October 21, 2010 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        Yea, IRC is ridiculous, but I’ve been using it regularly since 1997/8, so that is likely why I’m comfortable with it. It feels more like a roundtable in the sense of speed and impermanence; if you were really at a club and conversing, nothing would be archived at all. At least with IRC, most clients do log the channels, and there are bots for searching the backlog and past convos…. but I agree that it’s still more of a hassle than twitter. Tradeoffs, etc :)

        I have it sitting on my drive! :D

        • Posted October 21, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

          Right, not a lot of archiving in meatspace.

          Once you get started on that manga man… it’s more addictive than Pringles (even the sour cream and onions ones).

  2. Fai D Fluorite
    Posted October 21, 2010 at 5:30 am | Permalink

    Hey what a nice post :)
    Nice reading about your experience!
    And you have given me a new series to see as well!
    Genshiken ^_^

  3. Posted October 21, 2010 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    My genshiken is my facebook. That’s where my anime friends are mostly. Over the years, there are some real life friends that I added but they quickly turned quiet after a few post because my facebook is always bombarded by anime references which obviously they don’t know shit about and don’t know what to make of it. Next is probably my blog.

    • Posted October 21, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Ah facebook.

      Being older, I got into fb with most of my social network already in existence. I mean fb was the way for me to find my highschool, uni, and even childhood friends and acquaintances and reconnect with them. In that mad rush when the account was new, I ended up approving many friends requests from colleagues and officemates from present and past companies I worked for, including bosses, owners, etc.

      I quickly realized that I can’t mess around too much on fb anymore, even if they do. There’s just too much at stake for me (career and business) to let it become a place to relax. I don’t even post there much, I really just use it to stay in touch with past contacts.

      That said, I got in touch with maybe a few dozen of the people I met through blogging anime on my network, though we don’t mingle there so much basically because twitter is far more convenient.

  4. Posted October 21, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    …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…

    This.

    As much as I like the idea of RL anime friends who hang out all the time, my experience with anime clubs and cons says there are too many teenaged Kuchikis at large for me to tolerate or be comfortable in the presence of. Twitter or whatever is a nice clean filter.

    • Posted October 21, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      I shuddered at the thought of more than one kuchii.

      Egads. I mean we see some real acting out on twitter, but to think to see that individual live in person do that, in a shrill voice with all his hygienic triumph…

      I remember all the very large gaming events I and/or my brothers participated in. It’s unkind to our senses.

      Let’s keep things virtual.

  5. Posted October 21, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Twitter certainly seems to be the best community for casual discussion out there. While I probably would willingly hang out with most of the people I regularly talk to on there, it is nice to have the distance from the ones you’re not too sure about. Plus it’s just more convenient, and the text format lends itself to certain forms of expression that don’t really work in speech. (Anyone who’s been to anime club/anime cons is probably mentally cringing right now, remembering the last person they heard actually speak out a meme/catchphrase/etc.)

    • Posted October 21, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, I don’t think you’d want to speak to me ever again if I shout ORE NO UTA WO KIKEEEEE at you in a room full of people.

  6. Posted October 21, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    I have no Genshiken, which is probably a good thing, seeing as how I dropped Genshiken.

    I don’t like altering my anime viewing habits for the sake of others. I don’t want to watch as soon as I can so I can be there when the discussion takes place. I don’t want to put off watching or keep silent so I can wait for everyone else to catch up. This is the kind of nonsense you have to put up with when you try to socialize the perfect anti-social hobby.

    • Posted October 21, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      LOL the perfect anti-social hobby indeed.

      Which makes me strange for wanting to socialize around it. But here in this hobby, strange isn’t unusual.

      Regarding the altering viewing habits… I find that I don’t usually wait for people to watch with me anymore, not even my wife (who watches Bleach and Naruto mostly these days). It just so happens that on twitter people start talking as soon as they finish watching a show which amounts to a near simultaneous viewing relative to time zones.

  7. Posted October 21, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    I also believe that Twitter is my Genshiken. I haven’t read the manga, but it seems to be a rather idealistic premise that people who have the same style of passion over something can find each other and come together in such a way. In reality (at least from what I’ve heard), this type of situation ranges from rare to impossible. I ended up leaving my school’s anime club because all they wanted to do was laugh at the random Shounen ai anime.

    To me at least, Twitter is one of the few places where I can actually find someone with the same passion as me. And there’s something personal, kind of, but not really that Twitter has that other things like blogs, forums, IRC, etc, don’t have. I personally feel that the community on Twitter is actually closer than like on IRC. That might just be me though.

    • Posted October 21, 2010 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      Yes, twitter is great this way because we can appreciate how rare we actually are (by rare I mean people within the fandom that have high degrees of similarity to you). In Genshiken, the club is quite small, and considering how few members they get through the years I find it not to be far-fetched relative to your concerns. Also, the members are from different years so it’s pretty heterogeneous that way.

    • Posted October 27, 2010 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      Comrade Mysty pretty much said everything I would’ve said. I’m new to twitter though, and I put off joining it for ages (got an invite to join ages ago from someone, who had just tweeted something that I reeeally wished that I hadn’t just read, so, er, that was why I swiftly thought it was the Anti-Christ and stayed away from it). However, I have Facebook for my real life chums, which I enjoy, but none of them are into anime, and I really enjoy responding to comments on the posts on here, so I set up the twitter account as an extension of those little convos, I guess. It’s purely for my ‘blogger-self’ though, but I’m already enjoying the casual, non-in-your-face, hang-out environment of it all (er, if that makes sense, lol!), so I guess that looks like it’s gona become my genshiken now too. :)

  8. Posted October 23, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Interesting post. I would say that my Genshiken is the blogsphere in all of it’s power. Even all of the people I have on Twitter are from the anime blogsphere.

    Just wondering. Where did you get that first image? Was there a live action genshiken that I was not aware of?

    • Posted October 24, 2010 at 12:25 am | Permalink

      Thanks. IIRC it’s from the anime, just before the grand sponsor or something.

      The blogosphere in all its power is difficult to characterize as a club, despite all the circle-jerk accusations. First of all, we would have to visit each others’ sites just to communicate meaningfully, or would have to establish some other meta-channel. Perhaps the anime nano forums could serve this purpose, but I don’t hang out there.

      twitter is more like a common hang-out, where people show up and just catch each other.

  9. skyhack
    Posted October 24, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Love Genshiken, and the anime inside it.
    The digs you have pictured are spot on, to the best of my unreliable memory. (Just turned 54 today)
    Great blog you guys have here.

    • Posted October 24, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Happy birthday, many happier returns! Wow how long have you been into anime?

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