otaku


Sean over at Colony Drop has an excellent write up of what Akiba and the otaku culture are really like.  While I don’t agree with his cynicism or his view about porn/sex driving the otaku subculture. But I think his view of Akiba as a hyped up shopping district in Chiyoda are dead on:

The myth of Akihabara permeates Western fandom as deeply as any other misconception revered by Western anime fandom, but rarely, if ever, is it questioned or explained. Akihabara is not the epicenter of Japan’s cool otaku subculture, nor does that subculture even exist. Akihabara is an over-merchandised shopping complex in the middle of Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward, populated by Japan’s manchildren, gawking tourists and the foreign residents who erroneously portray it as the hub of modern Japanese pop-culture.

I found Akiba to be a fun place when I finally did get to go, walking through places I had only see in pictures was a fulfilling experience, shopping in the “mecca” felt like shopping in any other place just with more moe. Ultimately I want to go back and browse the electronic stores more, look for a laptop or notebook. Akiba seems to be downplaying its former embrace of the otaku subculture although the maid cafes are not going anywhere.

VRNd1 - Imgur

Click to go to full size

Via Japansoc we find this excellent cartoon showing what an anime fanboy would be like if a Japanese found animated shows from the US and became a fanboy. Otaku wannabe in reverse. Kudos to Imgur for a deadon critique of the obsessed. Hilarious!

driftinglifeJust picked up a copy of Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s manga A Drifting Life. I have been trying to read more adult manga lately. Adult in the sense of not being aimed at the teenage market, not in the sense of being R or X rated.

A Drifting Life is the somewhat autobiographical tale of growing up wanting to be a manga artist in post war Japan. From the publisher:

A Drifting Life is his monumental memoir eleven years in the making, beginning with his experiences as a child in Osaka, growing up as part of a country burdened by the shadows of World War II.

Spanning fifteen years from August of 1945 to June of 1960, Tatsumi’s stand-in protagonist, Hiroshi, faces his father’s financial burdens and his parents’ failing marriage, his jealous brother’s deteriorating health, and the innumerable pitfalls that await him in the competitive manga market of mid-twentieth-century Japan.

Hiroshi meets manga legend Osamu Tezuka (Atom-Boy, Black Jack and many others) and becomes involved with other legends in the manga business on his way up. Lots for manga lovers to gawk at as he moves through these manga legends. Tatsumi’s artwork is simple and clean, with clean lines and a sense of proportion rooted in the Disney influenced era he comes from, rather than the BESM style so prevalent. Everyday life is important and emphasized, look elsewhere for extra-dimensional monsters and power battles. Drawn and Quarterly publishing has printed this in Americanized left-to-right format, instead of the right-to-left Japanese style which might be an easier to read format for those who are not familiar with right-to-left reading. A Drifting Life is also very large, at 840 pages in a good paper stock.

Drawn and Quarterly also has a preview pdf available to look at here, which is a good way to get a feel for Tatsumi’s writing and art style.

200907_brs2This is still the only figure that would make me break my self imposed ban on figure buying. The Black Rock Shooter. It now has an alternate version with just a sword instead of the oversize gun. So tempted ….

Via Danny Choo and  Valiantho. News was coming from the Wonder Festival convention in Tokyo. No news of a release date yet though ….

Such a fabulous figure.  I would prefer the coat on the alternate with the sword. I think the coat adds so much more movement and dynamism to that it pushes the figure over the top.

Good Smile Corp BRS page is here.


The hottest, most drooled after, figure about to be unleashed on the otaku crowds is the Black Rock Shooter, from Good Smile Corp.

This figure is simply amazing. I am not a figure collector but that thing is definitely going onto my shelf if I ever get my grubby paws anywhere near one.
The video (with English subs) that the figure is based on is below. Hatsune Miku has a horrible nasal voice but the visuals are amazing. I remember the NicoNico Douga video had much better audio than this one. Wonder if I can embed Nico Nico vids in a Blogger.com domain? maybe I can scrounge up the link…
Go here for the  embedded NicoNico video. (via Sankaku Complex)
Youtube embed:

Ok, I was thinking of doing a post like this before, but have never taken the time. Its time for some Q&A on this blog.

1. What the heck is an Otaku and why is one in the Heartland? 
A: An otaku is a japanese word for a fanatic: see this Wiki article. It has the connotation of a nerd or geek, shaded with obsessive-compulsive. It is commonly used as a slang term for fans of anime, manga, and video games. To make a long story short and not turn this into a biography I am an otaku although I would add tabletop gaming (miniature wargaming and role playing) and technology (computers/internet/photography) to the description. I live in the midwest of the USA, sometimes called the heartland. I thought the name had a ring when it came to me one night so I stuck it on my blog subtitle.
2. Aren’t people who follow anime/manga weird and creepy?
A: Heh, the extremes of vitually any hobby look odd to outsiders. Anime and manga with its extremes of sex and violence and coupled with Japan’s penchant towards fetishes (used underwear vending machines?)  will certainly generate that opinion to onlookers. The truth is that anime and manga like virtually anything else comes in all flavors. From high school love triangle dramas to ghost hunters, anime/manga covers everything and then some. I myself tend towards mecha style anime and sci-fi or fantasy oriented manga. Thats’ pretty much it at the end of the day, boring old Gundam and Neon Genesis Evangelion. The guys and girls who are into the eroge games and the doujinshi manga can have their little fetishes. I like mine.
3. All your posts lately have been about Japan. Are you obsessed? 
A: I guess its the way I operate, I bounce from one obsession to another. Its also a function of what I am into and surfing around the web, I have been reading a lot of blogs and news of Japan so most of what I post reflects that. I am planning a trip to Japan and have been diving into Japanese language and culture beyond just anime and manga and currently that is my focus. The constraints of time limit me to about a post a day. I want to get back to posting more general news and technology and stuff on tabletop gaming but will do so naturally. I do not want to force myself to do that, it will happen on its own.
4. What other stuff do you blog about? All I see is Japanese stuff.
A: I am limited both by time and resources, but my interests are diverse. And my posting will be also. I have been poking around the blogosphere for ideas and style and have a few new ideas germinating. Food, Photography, Wargaming, Technology, Gadgets, etc. etc. So I do have plans for more posts about other things. We can only see what winds up here. Stick around and hang on, its gonna be fun!
I do want to thank my readers, the few out there.  Arigato gozimasu. Stick around, the journey is just beginning, lets see whats around the next corner.

I fell in love with Takio drumming after seeing KODO perform while I was in college:

(SOYA2009 is a cosplay convention held in Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore, SOYA2009 Loads of pictures of the costumes at this site.)
Ooooohhhhh, KODO is performing locally on the North American Tour. This became a must see!

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