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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.

Comments

scanner_darkly
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):

vampyrichamster
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*