Review : Genshiken.

It's the first year of university for Sasahara, an average Japanese student. In Japan it's common to join a university club, or social circle. But anyway you guessed it, he wants to join an anime club and thus ends up joining Genshiken, the society for the study of modern visual culture. Basically a really long description for a club that does nothing but sit around and watch anime, play games and get into all sort of nerdy situations.

The second primary character is Saki, a beautiful, tall, bright haired woman, who's into fashion and all the normal cliche girly things. She gets stuck with the Genshiken crowd when the guy she likes turns out to be a closet anime-fanboy. Saki is a comedic character, she gets weirded out by a lot of the strange otaku related activities (cos-play, conventions, computer games, etc) and also causes a lot of conflict with Sasahara.

Genshiken is mostly filled with hardcore otakus who get into discussions about which director is better than others and quote from famous animes left, right and center. The general plot of the chapters lies in character relationships and otaku related activities. The best part of the manga lies in the constant referencing of other anime. Regular fans should be able to spot them quite easily, but if your not too knowledgeable about anime it's probably best to skip this novel, as you'll either miss or not understand nearly all the jokes.

The art of Genshiken is clean, everything is in the normal anime style, nothing strange or new. It is based on people going through university and thus would probably be best enjoyed by a 16+ audience. There's no graphical reason why, it has more to do with some of the themes covered in particular chapters of the book, including hentai video games.

Genshiken is a great graphic novel for manga/anime fans, unfortunately, if your not one of them, this is not a good place to start. The chapters are written in the short-episodic format, each have their own mini-plots and there is really no overall story, but it still remains interesting and funny enough to read on.

Review : Death Note.

What would you do if you were offered the power to kill anyone? Would you take it? Would you use it? What if you could make the world a better place, reduce crime and punish the wicked, could you bare the burden?

Death note is the name of the novel and is also the name of it's plot device, a shinigami (soul reapers) notebook. All you have to do is write a name in a notebook, envision the persons face in your mind and write a cause of death and BAM, they're dead.

Light Yagami, an grade A student is bored out of his mind and sick of the way justice is handled in the world. Light stumbles upon the death note by chance, on the grass outside his school. At first he believes it's a hoax, like anyone would, but after testing it on a criminal holding kids hostage, he confirms it's legality.

A few days later Rukk, a winged dirty looking shinigami confronts Light and explains the rules of the death note. Basically Rukk who is visible only to him intends to follow Light around watching what happens purely because he's bored. Light plans to force his sense of justice on the masses, killing the wicked and sending a message out that if you sin, you will be judged.

Unfortunately for Light, it does not take too long for L, world's greatest detective to get hot on the trail. L also remains anonymous to all, making it impossible to simply kill him with the note. L doesn't agree with Light's version of justice and sees him as nothing more than a murderer.

The art is dark and everything remains in proportion, although the theme and plot of Death Note is quite sinister, it's not very violent visually. Once again, a 13+ year old could read it, but to really enjoy and understand it's themes/messages about justice, being slightly older would be preferable.

Death Note is a great detective/crime story, with an anti-hero protagonist, but is Light really bad? I guess it's up to you and your sense of justice, should one person really judge us all by their standards?