Anime "Best of" Genre List
It’s popular for anime nerds in the U.S. to self-identify as “otaku,” the Japanese term for, well, an anime nerd, basically.
Really, the word “otaku” just means “geek,” which means it can apply to anything. Japan has high school baseball otaku just the same as it has anime and video game otaku.
But just the same as “comic book geek” is a more popular phrase than “football geek,” the anime otaku is pretty much the assumed meaning of the word. And now the term is so ubiquitous, the anime industry has started using it for themselves.
These days, anime isn’t just for otaku, it’s about otaku. Here’s the top 10 anime where otaku take center stage.
The be-all end-all of otaku shows, Genshiken is just straight-up about a college anime club. That’s it.
They talk about anime, go to conventions, work on cosplay, and just generally nerd out about otaku stuff. But much of the series conflict comes when the Genshiken (the abbreviated name of the club) members clash with people who don’t understand their interests – like Saki Kasukabe, one of the members’ girlfriends.
Saki ends up hanging out with the club members, usually while waiting for her boyfriend, Makoto Kousaka. And so much of the series turns into an explanation of what it means to be an otaku, from an outsider’s perspective – as well as the outsider’s reaction.
Saki and Kousaka aren’t the only characters in the series, but they end up being two of the most important, because Saki’s slow integration to the club and reluctant acceptance of (some, not all of) otaku culture are the main features of the series. Highly recommended, especially for those just getting their feet wet in otaku culture.
Genshiken Nidaime (“Nidaime” means “second generation”) is technically a continuation of the original Genshiken story, but it’s such a different series, it deserves a completely separate listing.
First off, creator Kio Shimoku actually ended the manga series in 2006. It wasn’t until 2010 that he resumed the series as Genshiken: Second Season, and this anime is based off that rebooted version.
Nidaime covers the time period after nearly all of the original Genshiken club members have graduated. Those who remain go to recruit new members, and they find them. The members who join, however, are drawn by the drawings of the new president, Chika Ogiue.
Ogiue draws BL (boys’ love – basically softcore gay porn), and so the new Genshiken becomes female-dominated, and full of fujoshi (female otaku, particularly those obsessed with BL stuff), including a habitual cross-dresser who struggles with his identity. They also become more productive as a group, as they start producing art books and doujinshi (independent comics) to sell.
Genshiken Nidaime definitely has the same charm as its predecessor, but the focus is different. The original cast is largely limited to secondary appearances, and romantic relationships between characters take a more central appearance.
Still, this is an all-too rare look into the world of the female otaku/fujoshi. It’s different, but equally valuable – if you’re not squeamish about how much the girls like to draw guys making out with each other.
The World God Only Knows
Keima Katsuragi is a god. Of romance. In video games.
Okay, lots of qualifiers there.
The World God Only Knows is a series about Keima, an absolute pro at dating sim games, and his attempts to use the techniques he learns in the game world in real relationships.
There is a supernatural element to this: Keima doesn’t really care about “3D girls,” but the girls have evil spirits in their hearts that can only be flushed out by – literally – the power of love. Keima wouldn’t even care about that, if not for the fact that he unwittingly agreed to a contract in which he’ll be killed if he is unsuccessful.
It’s not especially deep, but it’s a fun series if you can get past the cringeworthy use of the term “conquest” in reference to Keima’s ability to get girls to fall for him.
Technically, Lucky☆Star isn’t an otaku series, first and foremost. It’s a slice-of-life series chronicling the everyday life of the four main characters.
It has more in common with Azumanga Daioh than Genshiken. In fact, some of the topics are so esoteric, it is frequently referred to as “the Seinfeld of anime.” It’s the anime about nothing.
However, Konata Izumi, arguably the “main” girl of the four (she’s in the middle of the above picture, with the blue hair), is a huge otaku, and she is, in retrospect, the main draw of the series. She discusses the intricacies of otaku culture often enough to make this a perfect fit on the list.
A highlight of the series is a scene where Konata cosplays as Haruhi Suzumiya, the main character of an earlier series by studio Kyoto Animation. She performs the “Hare Hare Yukai” dance – the ending of Haruhi series which was a viral sensation in Japan at the time.
The scene gets even more meta when you realize not only Kyoto Animation referencing its own series, but Haruhi and Konata share a voice actress, Aya Hirano.
I can probably sum this up pretty quickly just by telling you the English title of Denpa Kyoushi is Ultimate Otaku Teacher. That isn’t exactly a direct translation, but the Japanese title has to do an idiom involving eletrical waves, and we’re not going into that right now.
Junichirou Kagami is the teacher at the core of this series, and he is basically a super genius who is amazing at everything – especially physics. But he is also easily bored and doesn’t want to work, so he recedes into watching anime, reading manga, and updating his blog. He tells people he has a condition that only allows him to do things he wants to do.
Denpa Kyoushi is the story of him taking over as a substitute teacher at his old high school, at his sister’s behest. He has no interest in teaching normal lessons, so he decides to make them more interesting – at least to himself.
If you want to see an anime about an otaku bringing his unconventional otaku methods to the real world and being basically amazing at everything as a result, this one was made for you.