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Don't Buy the Plastic

An interesting article from Mainichi Daily News about the Japanese anime and manga otaku's subculture ripped apart by consumerism. And an interesting discussion on the subject by non-Japanese self-professed fanpeople at Anime News Network's forums.

They raise interesting points, especially about the hikkomori vs. otaku argument. But you can see where the fans are trying to justify themselves as consumers vs. the shut-ins who are clearly mad that consumerism and near-paedophilia have taken over their subculture. In fact, lady arguing hikkomori is actually in the former, since, well. Hikkomori is a socio-cultural phenomenon that stems from an actual mental disorder. Hikkomori, the Japanese term for an extreme shut-in who lives in his Mom's basement and never goes out, is not restricted to people who like anime. They are a group of diverse, usually quite young, people who suffer from varying degrees of very real depression. The "otaku" on the other hand, is more akin to the Western RPG geek. They're not mentally unstable, just shy and fond of things that a large number of other people find odd. That's a generalization. Otaku as a term is a generalization.

And this is the point of the article: Not all otaku are obssessive collectors of underage plastic dolls. Although "going back into the closet" is an extreme, and in itself a mean generalization, the other meaning is that being a fan is also not equivalent to not having a life. That this subculture can be invaded by consumerism and sexualization too should remind everyone of that.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 15th, 2006 07:47 pm (UTC)
mm i read that mainichi article...it was rather interesting; i think alot of people just throw the word 'otaku' around whenever they feel like it

hikkomori seems just like agoraphobia

haha! Revolting Cocks :D

i used to listen to that album alot....luc van acker or whoever is singing that rod stewart cover has a rather charming voice
May. 16th, 2006 03:34 am (UTC)
Hikkomori is a kind of agoraphobia. Japanese parenting styles just make it worse. Though I wonder if there isn't something like that in other parts of Asia as well, as saving face is still huge in this region.

Otaku is a new catchphrase, yeah. It's still like telling someone, "I like video games," past a certain age though. :)

The song was sent to me by a friend, who thought it'd be good cheer. It's charming...but then again...

PS: Is your icon capped from a breath mint ad? (I haven't seen that ad in years!)
May. 16th, 2006 04:54 am (UTC)
there could be something in that...you kind of only hear about it in japan, but that isnt to say there isnt a similar phenomenon elsewhere

haha yeah...it is a little more chic to say 'anime otaku' or something like that

i have a soft spot for al jourgensen and many of his projects :3

ah no...its from a kdrama called ms. kim's quest for one million or something like that; the homoerotic subtext between the rather hot chauffeur/bodyguard and his loan shark boss begged for some lame photoshopping ^^
May. 16th, 2006 05:05 am (UTC)

This inspires me to go Google hikkomori elsewhere in Asia. It will be interesting to see the results...

My mother still openly sighs at people that I like cartoons. ;)
May. 16th, 2006 01:50 pm (UTC)
ive been watching alot of kdrama lately...it turns out i am a sucker for romantic comedies XD

it would...heh im sure there are legions of socially dysfunctional young adults out there; i wonder if there have been any serious studies on the matter?

heh well my parents think watching movies is something only children do...oh and going to concerts
May. 16th, 2006 02:12 pm (UTC)
I went off to Google, as I said. I'm probably not getting the keywords right, but pretty much all the hits for hikkomori were referencing the Japanese. It would seem that studies mentioned online also seem to revolve around specifically Japan. Of course, at the rate and amount that Asians stay with their parents (that includes me), it could be happening all around, and no one would know.

The kind of movies I watch, I don't think my parents could even dream of showing them to children. ;) I dare say they'd think the same about my "cartoons", if all the features I dare to play around them weren't Ghibli...
May. 16th, 2006 03:15 pm (UTC)
ill have to do some digging...i recall there is a term in korean, Yangachi, which is used for disaffected youth...those with no proper ambition, etc

although thats quite a bit different than a hikkomori shut in

my parents dont really want to know what i watch...which is good since i mainly watch horror movies :D

its mainly the idea of going to watch movies and attending concerts that they consider childish
May. 15th, 2006 10:09 pm (UTC)
Love the cover of that song. :)

Have you seen 'otaku no video'? I know back in the day, people were always surly about how in the States the word 'otaku' was turning into 'person into geeky things' while in Japan, 'otaku' usually meant something a lot harsher. I've no idea if that's true anymore.

The otaku who are interviewed in 'otaku no video' are at times fucking freaky -- like the naked guy with the home-made glasses he wore that somehow blurred out the matrixing of genitals so it looked more realisitc. *shudder*

Also (tangent):

May. 16th, 2006 04:07 am (UTC)
No! Hamsters are my friiiiiends! :)

I haven't seen "otaku no video". *jots* In recent years, there's been interest in the anime otaku culture within Japan due to things like the Train Man (Densha Otoko) stories. The stories pitch anime otaku as a kind of extreme (gamer/comic) geek, sort of remolding the stigma of being otaku in a bad way.

Your reaction to "otaku no video" sounds like my reaction to a TV Champion episode seeking the "otaku-est of them all". One of the leading participants was a guy who lived in a closet, with his pillow next to his TV set. He was obssessed with a famous voice actress, in all her incarnations, knew all her dance moves, etc. You remember that fan from Perfect Blue? He was just like that. It made me squirm. Guy with glasses on the other hand, sounds like he should be locked up. *scared*
May. 15th, 2006 10:45 pm (UTC)
Hikkomori is a socio-cultural phenomenon that stems from an actual mental disorder. Hikkomori, the Japanese term for an extreme shut-in who lives in his Mom's basement and never goes out, is not restricted to people who like anime.

That's what I thought. I'd never even made a connection between otaku and hikkomori before I read this o.o;
May. 16th, 2006 04:10 am (UTC)
*nods* Fangirls just borrowing words and misusing them, there.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )