Word of the day: Otaku

Before I left Tokyo, Gen kindly invited me along to a talk by Patrick Macias at a local campus of Temple University entitled “Otaku Power: Trivia, Desire and Transformation”.

The talk was really fascinating, and touched on a bunch of different topics:

  • on Otaku in several different forms, some very public events (mostly good, some bad) in/around Akihabara (the electronics-and-now-also-manga district here in Tokyo). Social stigmas, or sometimes pride, of being called an Otaku, and how that compared to terms like nerd or geek in the US. The public cos-play which I’ve seen quite a few times since arriving in Tokyo.
  • a discussion about how how animated games & movies were rated in the US, but how anime/manga was not, even though there’s a wide range of subject material covered, and some can be quite explicit.
  • cultural factors in the drawing of the same/similar characters. One example was how the dress code from MachGoGoGo in Japan in the 1960s was toned *down* for the remake as SpeedRacer in the US in 2009! Similarly, the dress code for AstroBoy of Japan in the 1950s had to be toned down for the AstroBoy movie in the US being released late 2009. Another example he used was Alice in Wonderland (from right to left, the “original puritanical british edition”, the squeeky-clean Disney version, and the modern-day Japanese version).

There was a lively interaction with a very well-informed audience, and I really enjoyed the whole surprise glimpse of another side of Japan. Thanks again, Gen!!

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