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Defining “Otaku Pride”: Apparently, You Are Not An Anime Fan Unless You Are A Loser Too

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This is an autobiographical entry.

Last weekend, I went to an anime con. I did the usual: took a bunch of photos, attended a few panels, got autographs from some English voice actors. Then I went on a wild shopping spree for figurines and other useless anime-related shit.

When I got home, struggling under the weight of all my purchases, my father blinked and rubbed his eyes a couple of times. “Just how much did you spend?” he demanded.

“Only a couple hundred.”

Only a couple hundred?”

“Well, my good father,” I responded positively, “I was among good company. I could finally be myself at last.”

“You are always yourself. You are way too much of yourself.” He shook his head incredulously and pointed at the Infinite Stratos pillow, which was much too big for my bag. “What is that?” he asked flatly.

“A pillow with a picture of a half-naked anime girl on it. I intend to sleep with her tonight – and every night from now on.”

“…You’re into cartoon porn?”

“She’s also underage,” I added, with a hint of pride.

My father squinted at me. “What have you become,” he said.

That was a statement which gave me pause for thought. What have I become indeed?

Up until that day, I would not have identified myself as an ‘otaku’, at least not in the derogatory Japanese sense. I’d been to cons before and I have made anime-related purchases, but these were mostly for mainstream anime like Code Geass and Death Note. If anything, I have always thought of myself as a mainstream fan who can flit in and out of different fandoms at leisure. I can talk fluently about yaoi and shipping with a fujoshi, I can talk intellectual things with an elitist, and I am also up to date with Bleach, Naruto, One Piece etc. I could understand otaku, but I did not consider myself one of them.

Lately, though, and especially after coming up with this blog, I’ve become much more of an apologist for otaku. The thing about otaku is that no one seems to like them, even other anime fans. There’s this undercurrent in the English-speaking fandom that I don’t like, namely that anime aimed at otaku is crap and the otaku market is causing anime to get worse. To be blunt, I think the current framework most critics use to review anime with is outdated. Not understanding what makes an otaku anime is what’s causing a lot of people to assume otaku have bad taste in stories. (If you want to see my full argument about this, you can read this post.)

Little wonder, then, that otaku have come together and carry their hobby on their sleeve with this sense of defiant pride. “I am a true man because I like 2D girls.” “I am a true fan because I’m actually buying anime and figurines.” There is a kind of elitism in being an otaku, I think. In the end, that’s what Otaku Pride boils down to. You get anime; the others don’t.

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‘Otaku’ is a term many anime fans use to describe themselves, but I don’t think it’s a label that should be used lightly. In a lot of ways, it’s an insult. But even for the losers, there’s pride in it. To get a sense of the complicated picture that is, look no further than anime itself. There, otaku are often portrayed in this humorous, deprecating way – but they’re also glorified and celebrated for their hobby. “Aren’t we so funny and unique?” seems to be the ultimate message from shows like OreImo and The World God Only Knows.

It certainly is a strange feeling to be in that position. I can actually relate quite a bit to Kirino from OreImo. Like her, I’m a straight A student with a functioning social life – but I am also a real geek about anime and that’s just as much a part of who I am. And also like Kirino, I have an older brother who is not into anime. See, my brother is what you’d call a ‘riajuu’. He lives a super fulfilling life and has a girlfriend, a car, a music recording business, a bunch of friends and everything. Bastard. Unlike OreImo, however, we are not in an incestuous relationship. (Thank God for that!)

Watching more and more otaku anime, I could see more and more of myself in it. Before I knew it, I was taking pride in my loserdom, cracking jokes at my own expense but secretly thinking I was the greatest for it. Somewhere along the line, my empathy warped into submission. And I’ll admit it: somewhere, deep down, I do think that a lot of people who call themselves anime fans just don’t understand what they’re watching.

As in, how could you really be an anime fan if you don’t embrace the “moe database”? Or the ecchi stuff? Harem? Cute girls doing cute things? 4koma adaptations? Light novel tropes? It takes up a pretty huge proportion of what anime is, you know. Saying a good anime is one that doesn’t fall into one of those “pitfalls” isn’t necessarily a bad way of critiquing it, but it’s certainly limiting.

When I joined the blogsphere, I met some really nice, really intelligent people. But as you might know, bloggers seem to have this reputation for being “elitists” because it’s the intelligent anime with a lot of cool, literary ideas that get popular with this crowd. (Like Uchouten Kazoku this season. wtf I’m not even watching that.) I was afraid that I would be discriminated against for my otaku-friendly tastes. It turns out that bloggers are pretty accepting of different opinions. But still, I can’t help but wonder if I’ve sold myself out, if others think of me has having lost my standards for the sake of enjoying the so-called “generic anime”. I felt like there was this underlying choice, that one has to decide between being critical and being an otaku.

I decided I wanted to be both. I could have my cake and eat it too.

And that, I think, is my own definition of Otaku Pride. Yeah, I’m a loser; I like cute things and I collect figurines of pink-haired anime girls and I want to marry Momo from To Love-Ru. But ‘loser’ here is actually a euphemism for ‘fucking awesome reincarnation of Jesus’.

However, I also deserve to be knocked down a peg. I got into otaku culture wanting to understand how otaku related with anime. I don’t want to get caught up in their own brand of elitism – at least not too far. So I make every effort to keep in touch with all the other aspects of fandom. You definitely don’t need to be an otaku or a loser to be a true fan of anime! To all non-otakus: I would love to know what you see in anime and why it resonates with you. It is, like I’ve admitted, way too easy to fall into this idea that if you reject or close your mind to all the weird otaku aspects of anime, then you can’t really like anime that much. Perish the thought, right?

And with that, I will now go to bed. Oh yes, Char, you are mine tonight~~

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Posted on August 23, 2013, in Editorials and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 42 Comments.

  1. I have never seen a guy so passionate about defending his right to be a pedophile as you.

    To misquote South Park: “You want to have sex with 2D children! I understand gays and race and stuff like that. But seriously dude, f*ck you!” :P

  2. I wouldn’t consider myself an Otaku, but i would say that my love for anime/manga etc to be no less than most.

    I haven’t read/ watch much, but the ones i love most are those with characters i can somehow relate with. Perhaps anime (i’m gonna just use anime to broadly refer to manga and light novels as well, especially since I’m more of a manga person) is a form of escape to a different reality for me. I often like thinking about the “science” and other issues raised in anime as well.

    I realised that i take vastly different approaches to reading manga, light novels, and watching anime. Of course, the experience will be different, as the stimulus we receive from different mediums differ greatly. When i read manga, i seem to be looking for things like the story, the setting, as well as the pace of the story development. So, for manga, it seems to lean more towards an escapist approach into a more interesting world. As for when i read light novels, or play Visual novels, it causes me to think a lot more, and imagine myself in the protagonist’s position. This is probably because these forms show u the story through the experiences of the protagonist and you are privy to all his thoughts. In light novels, I also seem to be looking for emotions that i can’t find in my life. Call the emotions fake, a very skewed representation of reality if you will, but i have learnt a lot through thinking and absorbing the ideas and emotions. As for anime, i generally don’t have time to watch much anime, so i try not to start on any that will compel me to stick to it till the end of the series. I am much more picky about anime, because the viewing experience is not only controlled by the pace of the story development, but also the art, music, etc. Still, when i am satisfied with these areas, anime becomes able to engage me in a way none of the others can.

    • You bring up a good point about different mediums being able to engage you in different ways and you tend to look for different things in each. Don’t you think it’s this intangible EXPERIENCE that feels like the most appealing part of getting into an anime/manga/game/novel etc.?

  3. It’s true that Otaku is an offensive word and shouldn’t be called lightly especially in Japan itself. Also foreigners that don’t live in Japan shouldn’t call themselves an Otaku that easily either.

    One of the main reasons why it’s bad because of the news. An example is there are multiple news that an Otaku committed a crime and thus, the general public assume that they are bad overall. However I’m somewhat against this because it’s kinda similar to the video games cause violence which is scientifically proven false.

    • Otaku certainly do get a bad rep. I’m sympathetic. It was that thought of “They can’t possibly be that bad!” that got me curious about the culture. Even now I wouldn’t say I identify as one in the purest sense, but their way of thinking has definitely changed my outlook forever. Still working out whether that’s a good or bad thing.

  4. Wow, I can’ believe how open you were with your dad when you bought the pillow. Anyone else I know who has parents who don’t think well of anime would hide that stuff and certainly not flaunt the fact that they’re buying a pillow with a half-naked underage girl on it XD You must have a good relationship with your dad if you’re not afraid to be that open with him (or fear that he’s going to disown you or something =P)

    I actually wrote what I thought constitutes an otaku several months back (http://animeyume.com/blog/2013/02/01/the-true-otaku/), but going by the standard definition of it being “anyone who’s obsessed with any one thing,” I can’t deny that I am on otaku for anime and other things like Pokemon and My Little Pony. But do I take pride in it? I take pride in being who I am and liking what I like, not because I fit the label of an otaku. Western fans seem to think that the only kind of otaku is the creepy anti-social guy who likes hentai and sleeps with dakimakuras (I don’t mean you, LOL) and not that there are otaku of all tastes, like train otaku who are obsessed with the many Japanese train lines, or seiyuu otaku who are obsessed with seiyuu. I can’t deny that I have traits that befit an anime otaku or a Pokemon otaku, but I don’t like giving myself that label alone. I’m like you in that I try to get the best of both worlds out of anime, which is loving it from an otaku perspective of having my own specific tropes and cliches I like, but also from an intellectual and critical perspective in appreciating the deeper meaning of series I watch and how their flaws and narrative flow create an overall story. That’s why I can enjoy all kinds of anime, from total fluff like K-ON to something really heavy and thematic like Cowboy Bebop. There’s nothing wrong with someone being just the former or the latter, but they’ll miss out on a big portion of the anime medium and its fandom.

    And just a random thought, gender plays a role in the “prejudice” against otaku too. If a girl buys figurines of cute girls, people don’t think much beyond it being a bit childish since it’s normal in our society for girls and even women to like cute, feminine things. But if a guy buys such figurines for himself, people will make all kinds of negative assumptions about him (question his masculinity, think he’s a pedophile, etc.,) beyond just being childish.

    • Oh yeah, my father and I are very close. He doesn’t mind my quirks, even though he laughs at me.

      And I agree, restricting yourself to just one portion of the fandom limits your appreciation, so I’ve tried not to be like that. Mixing up different perspectives is what makes getting into anime always so fresh and exciting, imo.

  5. 3DPD, mang.

    I know someone who is a lot like you. In fact, he’s my best friend in college. Tomoe Mami has been his waifu for two years running by now, and he has several different pillows and even cosplayed as her in a recent con to prove his deep emotional bond. His preference is clearly anime with a lot of fanservice in it, but always keeps an eye out for anything considered legitimately good. One part of me kind of pities him because other people treat him like a freak (which he rolls with quite surprisingly well, I might add).

    On the other hand I’m kind of jealous that he’s waaaay more into anime culture than I am. I don’t have any pillows, figurines, or any of that sort of merchandise in my room aside from a few wall scrolls. I do not own any eroges, VNs, or non-localized games. I don’t even read light novels. What I do have is bookshelves filled with the manga I’ve read over the years and several TBs worth of anime that I keep on me at all times. It’s paltry compared to the potential of how far I have left to fall into the otaku rabbit hole, I admit. I can’t deny, however, that anime and manga had a major impact in shaping who I’ve become today. It’s my point of view that anime isn’t anywhere different in meaningful content than other forms of entertainment; It’s just the primary source of media I’ve grown up on. While others in my demographic have been raving over Doctor Who, Homestuck, MLP, and Game of Thrones, I’ve been busy in my own little world watching Haruhi, Bakemonogatari, Code Geass, and Clannad.

    In my friends’ eyes, I’m already deep into anime fandom, but in the otaku’s point of view what I’ve done so far is not enough. Many people come into the anime club thinking that all we ever talk about is the popular shounen anime stuff and whatever else is popular these days (last year it was SAO and this year it’s definitely Attack on Titan). And even at that point people are afraid of the general populace calling them otaku.

    • Otaku (and society) tend to define how far gone an otaku is by how much they’ve physically invested into the industry, so I’m not surprised you’d think of yourself as being less invested into anime fandom because you’ve spent less on merchandise. I personally gauge it by how you think, which is a much more quantitative measure, I admit. My room isn’t furnished with too much anime stuff because my financial situation doesn’t allow that, but the desire is there. So I think both you and I are very, very deep into anime fandom even if neither of us would identify as a “stereotypical” otaku.

      Your friend sounds like a really awesome guy, by the way.

  6. Wow, no mention of the OEG? XD

    I’m a pretty firm proponent of the idea that anyone can own the “obsessive fan/geek” title, so long as that person is, first and foremost able to sell it inward. If you think you own it, you do.

    People have never really had trouble with porn and fandom and derivative works throughout history—the matter was how society treated them. This is something you sort of touch upon. All this “post-X” stuff has really done is emphasize various axial tendencies we have. We still have to negotiate them, if we want to be productive. Now, because so damn much is usable for art (we assert) who cares if I want to write a sincere novel in the style of a hentai or ecchi or 2-D tropes? Light novels are (very clumsily) doing this, sort of. I read the blog of an American who’s trying to write a novel specifically in the style of a cheap porn novel—and this guy is super-intense about it. For otaku, to do exactly the same thing would be a sincere project requiring years upon years of meticulous work, of intense concern, sympathy, and love for the art itself. I almost think the author would necessarily have to be Japanese, fully-ingrained in Japanese otakudom.

    I think it was on Ogiue Maniax way back that an editorial was translated: about the otaku generation difference as depicted in Genshiken 1 and 2. The pride thing was always really weird from the 80’s to fairly recently, it seems to me. You took pride in the value of your specific knowledge to *someone*, even if you were just trollin’ and being delusional about who might benefit. If you obsessed over animator responsibility, you might know why exactly a single frame looked the way it did. Many weren’t ashamed, but neither were they so expansive in their right to “be” and “enjoy.” The diagram’s changed. Internetz. Matters so integrated that, yeah, you can get friggin’ dissertation-level with a hentai. And ya’ll (we all) eat that shit right up.

    While I have been a hikikimori for over half a decade and one’d expect the o-word label to have existed as long or longer, I only really consider myself to have been one for two: my freshman and sophomore years of college. I didn’t start buying figures and shit until I was a senior. Was the knowledge stuff there? In the trivia sense, sure. But I’ve always been extremely antisocial and introverted. I didn’t *want* to say X was my waifu because I hated the idea of marriage at the time—even a distorted, “clever” one. I tried to, in some dumbass way, abandon the 3D world, when it was still so immediately having its way with me.

    But why the label at that time? Physically, mentally, 2-D just was everything to me. I got up and caught up on manga for hours. I slept for half the day. I scampered downstairs like a small rodent for meals and back up. I watched current shows all day (fewer back in those years), I watched torrented shows at night. Drawbacks? Horrible years, academically, socially, emotionally. I got fired from my work-study, and only “saved” it by managing to get a probational period and working my ass of that summer. That’s what the o-word means to me. Giving me Venn diagrams doesn’t work. Too much baggage.

    I’m not ashamed of the database. It wasn’t ever a guilty pleasure. I was a poli-sci/phil major, so why the hell would I feel the need to ridicule 2-D perversions in some hierarchical sense? Eff dat. No, I was ashamed at how far I’d taken things, and upset at my lack of control.

    Which is why I get crazy “I can’t go back” eyes when people throw that term at me. Doesn’t matter that I still watch a few shows, and can blog passionately about them, and get the animalistic urges for lolis, meganekko, Touhou, boobies, etc. Doesn’t matter that I’ve gotten rants about being sick from my mother, who must *never* again see my loli dakis. At this point, I’m a professed Japanimation connoisseur and dutiful loli devotee and dabbling animal—weird, maybe, but I make it work. I can definitely own that. In the truly postmodern, equidistant sense? HELL FUCKIN NAW. But at least in a modern sense. If I can rant and break down the artistry of an animation sequence for pages and pages, than yeah, that’s love for the medium. Doing that for a show I ultimately dislike, by working with tropes? Yeah, that’s fandom. I’ll let people fill in the blanks for themselves.

  7. As someone who is new to anime scene, I have no way to know whether I am really an Otaku in a loose sense (In a strict and stereotypical sense, it is not true at all), but I am somewhat a loser in the sense that while I have a job, I have bad relationship with my colleagues and my family. Since that you asked about what I see in anime, here are my the answers:

    1. A reflection of what my life could potentially become, for better or worse, but so far I am unable to properly utilize this sort of realization yet, but at least when I use it, it is a good way to indicate what should I do in the future.

    2. An emotional outlet like no other. This depends on which anime I watch. When I watch comedy or healing anime, they do relive me of my life stress temporarily. When I watch mecha or toy anime, I wished that I can get a hold of the things used and use them by myself. But I never let the outlets overwhelm me to the point of turning anime into escapism.

    3. A trigger for intellectualism. I find it great that even the most immature of anime has some level of intellectual depth in them that leaves me thinking. However, I am still unable to transfer the result of this sort of intellectual thinking in my life.

    I think it is possible to become an otaku and a critic at the same time, but a lot of people don’t do it because it can be very mentally exhausting. I admit that I am a little bit of both, but hopefully I do not dwell too deep in anime or it will screw up other aspects of my life. As a side note, while anime does not change my life significantly, it does make me think in more philosophical ways, perhaps because anime has different facets that tends to gone unexplored by everyone else.

    Speaking of otaku pride, I think my own pride towards my anime watching hobby is that I can appreciate anime in ways that most people don’t, especially towards anime for children. Hopefully your obsession towards anime would bring the best out of you.

  8. Amazing and especially a very honest post, Froggy-kun ! In my case, I stopped trying
    to define myself: “Am I a nerd ? Am I a music freak ? Am I a HeavyMetal fan ? Am I an otaku ?
    Am I a pervert ? Or am I just a hipster who likes obscure stuff ?” I find that these kind of questions
    won’t explain a shit in my life and I feel much better without thinking about such stuff.

  9. >> And with that, I will now go to bed. Oh yes, Char, you are mine tonight~~

    http://old.mistakesofyouth.com/index2.php?id=moy_comics/166/index

    The chance was too good to pass up.

  10. Maybe it’s because i’m relatively new in the blogging crowd, but I haven’t come across otaku being used negatively. The one that people seem to get upset about is the term weeaboo, which I take to mean someone that goes way overboard in trying to appear like an otaku without actually being one (though I may be wrong; I just made that up on the spot). I think where otaku would get annoying, however, would be when they act arrogant because of the things they like and try to bring their hobbies up at every possible opportunity to display their “superiority”, though the closest to that i’ve encountered was Yamada in Dangan Ronpa.

    I would like to think i’m a pretty highly functioning geek (i’ll say geek instead of otaku, as it’s not just Japanese stuff that i’m interested in). I go to medical school, I have a girlfriend, I have friends (though I will admit the geek side of me is subdued when interacting with most of them) and for my age I have a reasonably high paying job where customer service is important.

    However, i’m not afraid or ashamed of the things I love. I’ve just started buying figures (and my girlfriend is dismayed at the sum I just spent on Weiss Schwarz cards) and I tell most of the people I know about the blog I write. The reason I act differently around some people is just because I know that they aren’t as interested in all that stuff as I am. I have a whole bunch of geeky merchandise on display at my place but I don’t show it off to people who won’t care.

    Am I proud of the things I like? Yes. Definitely. But I don’t think that makes me better than everyone else who doesn’t like those things (even if I do pity them a little…or a lot XD). I think i’ve been rambling, and I’ve probably just rehashed what others have said, but I hope i’ve managed to get my opinion across.

  11. 1: I’m an animeniac who likes to watch what HE wants to watch and not what’s hip in the “otaku hive mind” or “uptight critic” communities. I’m a “selfish prick” who only cares about what he, or sometimes, what his best friends are watching.

    My fandom only extends to the shows and little else. Yes, I would like to buy a nendoroid or two someday but there aren’t other otaku merchandise that interest me, although one of my main broskis is interested in a pretty cool looking Akeno Himejima pillow thingy. He intrigued me into picking up DXD, now I just need to find a good time to marathon the series.

  12. Inspiring post and very educational too. :) Assuming that I’m not that much of an otaku: anime is attractive to me for the same reasons one might enjoy comfort food: wanting a good story/enjoyable cast of characters without having to invest much effort, in addition to its aesthetic appeal, general atmosphere, and maybe even intellectual stimulation. The more character-driven aspect of the stories give more opportunity for involvement and introspection.

    There can be weird, unsavory things about anime I have trouble appreciating (…fan(dis)service…..), but over the years, I think they’ve helped me become much more open-minded/tolerant about things.

    As a side note, I think it’s a shame you’re not watching Uchouten Kazoku! A few .gif sets and some descriptive phrases from a blogger brought me into it: “it’s just so so beautiful. so warm. a little sad. just like summer.” Continuing with the comfort food analogy, watching UK is probably seems like eating salad compared to more interesting chocolate-y shows, but it’s a really good salad! Or more like eating a unique dessert that vaguely makes you want to cry…. OK I’LL STOP RUBBING THIS SHOW AT YOU I JUST HOPE THE “ELITIST” HYPE DOESN’T TURN YOU OFF FROM A POTENTIALLY LOVELY EXPERIENCE

    • There can be weird, unsavory things about anime I have trouble appreciating (…fan(dis)service…..), but over the years, I think they’ve helped me become much more open-minded/tolerant about things.

      This this this! Becoming an anime fan has definitely made me much more receptive about new ideas in general – I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way!

      OK I’LL STOP RUBBING THIS SHOW AT YOU I JUST HOPE THE “ELITIST” HYPE DOESN’T TURN YOU OFF FROM A POTENTIALLY LOVELY EXPERIENCE

      Okay now I need to watch UK. I have no problem with elitist hype, just need to find the time for the show what with all the other things I’m watching. Glad to hear you like it so much.

  13. To me anime is just a style of cartoon where characters tends to have big eyes and that often use cheap animations methods. I like what animation has a medium can offer and atm japan are the biggest producer of animated series worth watching. I also watch regular shows but many seems to be lacking in original ideas atm.. In the end I watch shows that I find interesting without any regards about it being an anime or not. I’m curious about you.. do you like everything this style offer? do you restrict yourself to this style? I often see anime fans hating on other styles/mediums without much reasons..

    • I don’t think anime is an inherently superior style or medium. That being said, I do stick to anime myself when it comes to visual media, mostly because of the social aspect of it. I find I get along better with people who watch the same anime as me than with people who watch the same movies or who read the same books.

      As for snobbery about anime, I think that’s so common because anime is still so niche and unique. I do like every type of anime, but a lot of it was acquired taste. I’m uncomfortable about seeing anime as “serious art” because a lot of the time, it isn’t. It’s the culture around anime that I like so much, not necessarily the quality of the shows themselves. Different is not always better, after all. Hope that answers your queries ;)

  14. Well, to be honest, people’s perspectives of what an otaku will differ individually. “Normal”, and I’m using the adjective loosely, people or people who aren’t really into anime (again another loose term that encompasses the entire media including light novels, manga, visual novels, anime) would see me as an otaku whereas “real” otaku will laugh at me if I ever call myself one. I’m not obsessed enough to be one, given how I don’t watch every single anime in vogue, don’t collect figurines, don’t play the card game, don’t have a messy room full of DVDs and manga……I don’t even read 4-koma like K-On! and Working (and that includes the anime), and while I understand the concept of moe (I have to, since I’m suposed to specialize in it academically), I don’t care much for it.

    Most of my supposedly otaku hobbies are limited to reading light novels, manga and watching anime that I like, as opposed to what is popular. And that’s about it. Rather than consuming ie. collecting, buying and owning (I only own about three series of light novels so far), I’m more interested in the creating or producing aspect. Consumption, a little, I guess, but I’m more toward creating my own light novel than consuming them. I did try drawing manga a couple of years back, it didn’t turn out well especially since I sucked at drawing. Oh well.

    So what’s an otaku? An otaku is defined by the people around him. Like Miyazaki Tsutomu, it’ll be the people who label you an otaku based on whatever perceptions they have of the term, and different people will have different perceptions. For some, it’s not enough to be a fan of anime and manga, you have to understand the concept of moe, or collect the figurines too. For some, cosplay is a necessity (and I don’t cosplay), For others, watching anime is enough to make you one. So really, what’s the real meaning behind an otaku? There isn’t one, is there?

    Personally, I don’t think an otaku is something I will call myself. If people laugh and call me an otaku (usually friends and such, in a good-natured and non-derogatory manner), I’ll just laugh and play along. If the “real” otaku says I’m not obsessive enough to be an otaku (like my brother, who purchases way more merchandise than I do – he’s the consumer, I’m the producer but he never reads any of my works, understandbly because I’m an amateur), I just agree. Everyone has a different perception of what an otaku should be. I know who I am, what I like, what my hobbies are, what I want to do (pursuing my dreams), and that’s enough for me. I don’t need a label for myself. A label, like otaku, is something someone slaps onto you, not what you brand yourself, I guess?

    Sorry for the long post.

  15. So much respect for the IS pillow. Can’t wait for S2 myself! I’ve had to content myself with a Henneko pillow for the time being until I can get my hands on some Charlotte (Best Girl BY FAR).

    Plus that conversation with your dad was perfect. I’ve had the same conversation with both my roommates and my girlfriend, and that last past also is the part I’m always proudest of roflmao.

    I’m extremely interested in the exact self-labeling and inter-fandom responses you detail here. How exactly people identify as otaku (and more broadly, as “geeks”, “nerds”, “bookworms”, etc.) seems incredibly apologist and self-deprecating in today’s society, especially as one starts coming out of adolescence where that type of thing is forgiven. The effects things like that have on the groups and the shape of the subsequent fandoms and the cliques that emerge within it, as well as on participating members psyches, would be (and, to me, are!) fascinating to study. Especially coupled with concepts like postmodernism and globalization and consumerism and escapsim and whatnot.

    Which I guess just means YES YES YES SO MUCH YES TO THIS POST.

    • Hahaha, still can’t get over how similar we are about so many things :)

      I’m extremely interested in the exact self-labeling and inter-fandom responses you detail here.

      Yes, to me, anime subculture is just as if not more involving than the stories in anime itself. It’s just so diverse and dynamic, you know? Which is why I really do appreciate it when I see anime that explore aspects of otaku culture or try to represent it in some way. I feel like I’m engaging in something special, kind of a platonic ideal of global Internet fandom and Japanese pop subculture coming together with a dash of pervertedness and manzai humour for spice? Even if the stories did nothing for me whatsoever, I’d still find them to be utterly fascinating for what they are and for what they signify.

      …Ironically enough, though, the more academically-minded I become, the more low-brow my tastes get. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?!

  16. I read your post and I have to say I truly agree with you when you say you can relate to the anime you watch. I watched all different aspects of anime from kannazuki no Miku to clannad to bleach to higuriashi when they cry to madoka magica to death note to high school of the dead to even my little sister can’t be this cute (if anything their relationship can be taken as incestial or just really close like best friends especially when he was the first person she told her secret to. I see both in that anime) but anyway… I like watching these not just because I relate to some of them but the nitty gritty emotions that each of these have in their story line and plot

    • Also, I don’t really find the pictures bad when I see that room I’m like damn I want that xD and I’ve never considered myself an otaku bc well one I’m American and we get hell for it but I rather just be myself. That’s why I love the anime and gamer community. People make fun of me bc I’m 23 and I play card games and watch anime on my free time. I used to have a job my company shut down. It doesn’t mean I’m irresponsible or immature. Of anything.. since I was younger I’ve learned alot of good lessons from anime about staying positive! I have a boyfriend who loves those things too sometimes I wish my life could be like an anime but I don’t avoid reality. I hate labels and being considered a loser. But in the “loser” crowd I’m the popular one.. go figure! Lol and that pillow.. haven’t gone thy far yet bit maybe one day :P if their your favorite character or just plain cute!! Its not the sense ur being all peso like :P

      • Like me.. I’d SO go all nuttastic if I had a Rena pillow next to me!!!! She soooo cute and ill get to take her home with me ;) just bc lesbian pedo jokes are made their well made to sound wrong!! Its like a play on words XD I wish people would stop looking down on others whether their an otaku or just an anime fan its a hobby! You find of fun and hell u know exactly what to watch when you need a good laugh like princess princess or a good cry like rumbling hearts. Its like watching a regular movie but as soon as ppl see a “cartoon” its automatically judged. And then your automatically made fun of. It’s so stupid.

    • Thanks for sharing your story! Looks like you have a lot of similar experiences to me. Being an anime fan is something more open about these days because I’m a bit more confident and outgoing than I used to be. But even so, I still get some strange looks here and there. Oh well!

  17. I doubt that I’m an Otaku but I am very much an anime Fangirl. Most don’t know I am and even among my anime watching friends I’m kind of an oddity in that I watch just about anything but its for more than just seeing animation. Since I am an artist, I look at character designs, How moment is animated. Facial expression and how music or sound effects are used. I love how stories are told, even the blah ones just to see how this studio or that creator does it. I still watch it for entertainment but I always end up having these reflecting moments afterwards lol Of course show a ton of pretty men and I will flail all over the place. I don’t care if they are 2D I admit I’m attracted to 2D guys. My parents know they are probably never going to get grandkids out of me.

    • Interesting – I have to say I watch anime more for the story and characters than for the art, so I always get a bit envious of people who are attuned to that sort of thing.

      Also, don’t worry, I like 2D guys too. They really are better than real men ;)

      • Glad I’m not alone there. I I even have body pillows >.> But yeah since none of my other artist friends actually watch anime I just wondered if I’m the only one that does that. If hair is animated good I will seriously squeal.

  18. But Charlotte Dunois is mine!!

    No seriously though, I’m not a loser, the extent of my anime merchandise is several posters in my room. You could never tell I was an otaku just by looking at me, 5 days a week I wear my school uniform, and sometimes on weekends I wear one of my two anime shirts.

    I talk normally, really the only ways to tell are:

    -seeing me wearing one of my shirts
    -seeing the wallpaper on my laptop/desktop (my phones have normal backgrounds)
    -explicitly asking me
    -seeing me watch anime at school (which I don’t do all that much)

    The Internet is different of course, you’ll see my profile image, and often I stand up against trolls and haters in comments.

    Nobody can deny that they like a certain character, but I like 3D girls more.

    Of course I do have half a terabyte of anime on my computer, and I run my school’s newly founded anime club, but I’m not the obsessive, unattractive type of otaku with no friends and no social life.

    P.S. Yes, I do have two phones.

  19. Fu*k you…..don’t say that Otaku is a loser if you don’t understand what otaku mean…..sh*t!!!!

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