Usually with anime you get the genre defining show first, followed by a heap of cash-in clones. Tenchi Muyo sparked off countless harem comedies. Evangelion unleashed an endless stream of angsty teens piloting giant robots. Sailor Moon is remembered, when all the other magical girl shows have faded from memory... But there is one genre that has started from a place of generic mediocrity. The light novel adaptation that sees an unlikely teen boy in a harem situation, which takes place in a boarding school that teaches some form of techno/magical combat for national tournaments, probably kicked off with Infinite Stratos, but that was hardly a ringing endorsement for the genre. There have been several other adaptations on that theme since, and none of them has really stood out. Most have been quite naff. Chivalry of a Failed Knight may not be a genre defining anime, but it is very much the best of the bunch so far. There’s little to differentiate it from its predecessors story-wise, but the ingredients in this show come together in a way that is pleasing to the palate.
The attention may be on the new series of Fruits Basket, currently at the final episode of its first season. This time around, the whole story will be animated, and we’ll get to see the members of the zodiac that were originally missed out. There are many reasons that the show has been remade, but for me, the original Fruits Basket is still the show that hooked me on anime to begin with. It’s got a special meaning for me, and I was quick to upgrade it to Blu-ray. That’s despite it being animated at a time, and in a means that make it a poor candidate for an HD presentation. The Blu-ray is an upscale, but it turns out that it is worth upgrading to if you’re a UK fan. Click on the review to see why this show is still as good as it ever was, even if it isn’t the whole story.
This Week I Have Been Mostly Rewatching...
Genshiken. You might think that this show is quaint now, out of touch. Certainly when it came to the show’s third season, aired some six years after the first two, it had to completely rethink its premise to cater for the new audience demographic, in the process alienating some of the original fans (and me). It’s about fandom, but it was made at a time when people still had CRT TVs, where enjoying video games, anime, manga and the like meant going to a shop, and buying physical product, or staying up late to watch a scheduled broadcast on a niche cable TV channel. The world isn’t like that anymore, but Genshiken still works. It’s because it really is about fandom, that peculiar human tendency to obsess about minor aspects of entertainment, and to share those foibles with like minded people. Genshiken is all about an extracurricular club in college, indeed catering for fans of anime, manga, and videogames, and all the activities involved, conventions, and cosplay and the like. They’re not alone, there is a dedicated manga and a dedicated anime club as well at Suioh College, but the The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture attracts fans who aren’t quite as intense, and prefer to be easygoing fans.
That’s what is special about Genshiken’s first two seasons. They reflect the fan experience in such a way that it really does ring true, despite the old fashioned technology, and the need to congregate in shops as well as conventions. These days we tend to do most of our nit-picking of minutiae online with a few dozen, or a few hundred fellow fans, instead of half a dozen sharing a physical space, but there is always something that will ring true with Genshiken’s characters and the situations they face. Here’s my review of the 2011 complete collection. The problem is finding the show now. It was originally released by Media Blasters, which would be an instant no-go now, since they’ve started to issue shows on DVD-R as burn to order. But it seems like they’ve lost the licence. You’ll have to look in the Region 1 second hand market to find Genshiken. NISA actually gave the infamous third season a release on Premium Blu-ray, but that has vanished as well. But if you can somehow find it, even if it’s just the manga, I highly recommend Genshiken.
MVM released Chivalry of a Failed Knight on Blu-ray on August 26th. They also released the Fruits Basket Blu-ray back in 2018, while the DVD is still available from them.