Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Defining "Otaku Pride": Apparently, You Are Not An Anime Fan Unless You Are A Loser Too

This is an autobiographical entry.

Last weekend, I went to an anime con. I did the usual: took a bunch of photos, attended a few panels, got autographs from some English voice actors. Then I went on a wild shopping spree for figurines and other useless anime-related shit.

When I got home, struggling under the weight of all my purchases, my father blinked and rubbed his eyes a couple of times. "Just how much did you spend?" he demanded.

"Only a couple hundred."

"Only a couple hundred?"

"Well, my good father," I responded positively, "I was among good company. I could finally be myself at last."

"You are always yourself. You are way too much of yourself." He shook his head incredulously and pointed at the Infinite Stratos pillow, which was much too big for my bag. "What is that?" he asked flatly.

"A pillow with a picture of a half-naked anime girl on it. I intend to sleep with her tonight - and every night from now on."

" You're into cartoon porn?"

"She's also underage," I added, with a hint of pride.

My father squinted at me. "What have you become," he said.

That was a statement which gave me pause for thought. What have I become indeed?

Up until that day, I would not have identified myself as an 'otaku', at least not in the derogatory Japanese sense. I'd been to cons before and I have made anime-related purchases, but these were mostly for mainstream anime like Code Geass and Death Note. If anything, I have always thought of myself as a mainstream fan who can flit in and out of different fandoms at leisure. I can talk fluently about yaoi and shipping with a fujoshi, I can talk intellectual things with an elitist, and I am also up to date with Bleach, Naruto, One Piece etc. I could understand otaku, but I did not consider myself one of them.

Lately, though, and especially after coming up with this blog, I've become much more of an apologist for otaku. The thing about otaku is that no one seems to like them, even other anime fans. There's this undercurrent in the English-speaking fandom that I don't like, namely that anime aimed at otaku is crap and the otaku market is causing anime to get worse. To be blunt, I think the current framework most critics use to review anime with is outdated. Not understanding what makes an otaku anime is what's causing a lot of people to assume otaku have bad taste in stories. (If you want to see my full argument about this, you can read .)

Little wonder, then, that otaku have come together and carry their hobby on their sleeve with this sense of defiant pride. "I am a true man because I like 2D girls." "I am a true fan because I'm actually buying anime and figurines." There is a kind of elitism in being an otaku, I think. In the end, that's what Otaku Pride boils down to. You get anime; the others don't.
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