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Introduction to Otakuology

el-expresidente-de-gainax-toshio-okada-abuchea-gundam-g-no-reconguistaWhen I think of “otaku” writers, one of the first names that comes to mind is Toshio Okada, the co-founder and former president of Gainax and self-proclaimed “Otaking”. Yet despite his enormous influence on Japanese and English-language scholarship on otaku, none of his works have been translated into English. That has only been partially fixed very recently. Excerpts from Okada’s Introduction to Otakuology (1996) were translated by Keiko Nishimura and published in the anthology Debating Otaku in Contemporary Japan: Historical Perspectives and New Horizons (2015).

Since the book is quite expensive, I thought I’d make Okada’s writing more accessible to a non-academic audience by posting a condensed version of the chapter on my blog. I highly recommend you get a copy of the anthology to read the full chapter in context, along with Patrick Galbraith’s insightful introduction. Or better yet, read Introduction to Otakuology (Japanese title: オタク学入門). Somebody please translate the whole thing one day…

As you read this post, it’s important to remember that, much like Tamaki Saito, Okada started speaking up publicly about otaku after the infamous Tsutomu Miyazaki incident. Okada’s primary intent was to fix the otaku’s negative image and present them as worthy objects of academic study. As far as English-language scholars are concerned, however, Okada is a rather controversial figure. I’ll let you make up your own mind about him.

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