Genshiken walks a dangerous line by having almost all of its members end up in romantic relationships throughout the course of its run. I have seen the occasional criticism from both English-reading and Japanese-reading people that perhaps the tale of Ogiue is too idealistic, and that at that point Genshiken moved from being a realistic portrayal of otaku to being a sort of wish fulfillment for otaku. While I think that there is a good deal of optimism within Genshiken, I don’t think it’s unrealistic for these incredibly hardcore otaku who comprise Genshiken to have boyfriends and girlfriends, for one important reason: All of them put effort either before or during their relationships.
Saki and Kohsaka are the most normal couple by far, but Saki’s acceptance of otaku has largely to do with her interaction with Kohsaka. They got together fairly simply, and largely due to physical attraction, but the fact that they stayed together through 4 years and their interactions when on-panel show that a lot of progress is made that we are not immediately aware of as readers.
Tanaka and Ohno, even disregarding the anime’s interpretation of how they got together, have a relationship that was fostered through continuous friendship and time spent together. Tanaka not only has good qualities about him, but he has shown these good qualities to Ohno.
And finally Sasahara and Ogiue. While I understand very well the difficulty of a relationship with someone who is into primarily boys’ love, I also understand that Sasahara and Ogiue make a concerted effort to understand and support each other. The entire build up to Sasahara alone with Ogiue in her room was made up of sweat and tears and painful amounts of soul-bearing. And even after that, they know that a relationship isn’t that easy, but to them it’s well worth it.
Otaku being in relationships with attractive individuals isn’t unrealistic, but being in relationships without putting forth any effort IS unrealistic. I’m not saying that romantic relationships are a must for otaku, but then again I am. Otaku are people too, after all.