Otaku is a word that seems deceptively straightforward at first glance. Adopted into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2007, it is defined as follows:
(In Japan) a young person who is obsessed with computers or particular aspects of popular culture to the detriment of their social skills.
It is notable that the dictionary definition includes the negative perceptions surrounding the word. According to the OED, the otaku is “obsessed” and lacks “social skills.” This description is essentially no different from the columnist Akio Nakamori’s use of the word “bizarre” (異様) when he defined otaku as a label in 1983. While it has become more socially acceptable to identify as an otaku these days, it still retains an air of eccentricity.
One could argue that this is very much the point of adopting it as a loan word—otaku captures a nuance that “geek” or “fan” can’t quite muster. But adopting loan words from another culture is not a simple copy-and-paste process. Otaku has transformed significantly on its Journey to the West (ahem), a sure indication that the meaning of the word was contentious to begin with.
And that’s the theme of this week’s Found in Translation column. Translation is not a simple additive or subtractive process. By its very nature it is both transformative and elusive, a constant reminder that words may not always mean what we assume they mean at first glance.
What is it with Tsukasa Fushimi and making every pairing in his stories so shippable except for the main one? After Eromanga Sensei volume 3, I’m rooting for the MC to bang anyone except his sister, but alas, not all things in life go the way you want them to.
Let’s recap the 12 Days of Anime and the whirlwind year that was 2016.
2016 was the year I finished writing my honours thesis and graduated from university. The thesis, which drew heavily from my personal observations as a light novel fan translator, was called “Exploring Foreignisation/Domestication Post-Editing Strategies in Machine-Assisted Fan Translations of Japanese Web Novels” (what a mouthful!). Later this year, I published two articles based on my research on Anime News Network, explaining the basics of the subculture.
And now, for some inexplicable reason that I can’t quite fathom, I’m known to the fandom at large as… “the light novel blogger”.
The season has only just started, but it’s never too early to pick out a favourite waifu and husbando.
You might have noticed I haven’t been posting as often lately. I could say I’ve been busy and this would be true, but the real reason is that I’ve been choosing to watch less anime. I’m more of a casual watcher these days. Could it be that I have become a riajuu???
No love life in sight, however.
I remember coming across this blog post a while back calling Fumiaki Maruto “the romance specialist you’ve (never) heard about”. White Album 2 appears to be his most critically acclaimed work, and I can see why. It’s a coming-of-age drama that deals with the darker sides of teenage insecurity. The VN even depicts the characters in their adult years, still struggling to make difficult choices. The anime adaptation only tells the first part of the story, but it’s still gut-wrenching stuff. While I remain conflicted about the ultimate purpose behind all that suffering, I can’t deny that the emotions and relationships between the characters felt very real to me.
As a general rule, English-speaking anime fans (including me) aren’t terribly knowledgeable about visual novel writers, so it’s a shame Maruto has been going under the radar for all these years. Recently, though, he has been steadily carving out a name for himself in the anime world. Earlier this year, he helped adapt his light novel series Saekano into an anime, and this season he worked on the script for Classroom Crisis, an anime-original series. So now is a fitting time to remind you all that Maruto is indeed a great romance writer, maybe among the most talented working in the otaku industry right now.
Light novels are becoming more popular among English-speaking readers these days, but many, many LNs remain untranslated. This particular title doesn’t even have a fan translation. But never fear, Doctor Froggy is here to provide you with spoilers for a trashy light novel you’ll probably never read.
About two months ago, Foxy Lady Ayame and Neko-kun started a blog carnival to talk about anime which influenced their lives. I thought it was a great idea – you should definitely check out their post as well as the list of other bloggers who have participated in the event. But personally, I found it really hard to come up with something to say about this topic. I feel like I’ve already written quite enough already about the anime titles which have influenced me personally. (Examples: 1, 2, 3)
Then it hit me. It’s not just well-written anime that has an impact on you. In fact, there are plenty of (what I would consider) relatively poor anime that have a special place in my heart. In the end, it honestly doesn’t matter how clever you are or how refined your taste is – the most important thing is what you make of what you watch.
One particular anime has had such an enormous impact on my outlook as an anime fan that I still think about it almost constantly to this day, even when so many others have deemed it trash and moved on with their lives.
This anime is called My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute!