As I mentioned in a previous blog post I was hit with the desire to create a regular weekly feature in hopes that it would keep my blogging regularly and would also help me to organize myself a bit more. Since opening The Symposium I’ve had a few people suggest on a regular basis that I create an Anime blog where upon I could talk about anime all I want. While the theory is good and is appealing, there is the teensy weensy problem of eventually running too many blogs. If I were to create an anime blog than why not make a blog about music as well and eventually a movie blog too. Eventually it would come to the point that Nanashi-Inc’s blog becomes utterly useless since for every topic I show an interest in there is a blog for that in which I write in.
So the compromise has been struck. Every Friday, rain or shine, I will post a new edition to the FAnime Friday segment. FAnime Friday will deal with all things anime/manga related. Whether it’s a character analysis of a single character or an entire show, a review of an episode or a series, intriguing fan art and fanfiction finds, con craziness, otaku moments, or even just general ramblings – you will find an anime post on Fridays every week here at Nanashi-Inc. That’s not to say that I won’t post anime based posts any other time of the week, merely that there will always be one guaranteed post on Fridays.
Now let’s begin the first edition of FAnime Friday:
This Friday I thought to touch upon a phrase that comes up in many of my blogs that has baffled some readers – Otaku. I’ve mentioned it before in my ‘bad habits’ section of my site but since not everyone who frequents my blog visits my personal site I thought to give a bit more clarification.
The term otaku is a Japanese word that is used in a negative manner to describe people who have obsessive hobbies. It pops up in connection with anime and manga fans the most. Even though the term is meant in a derogatory manner by non-fans it is used by the fans in a different manner. To be called an otaku by fellow fans is a sort of honor badge in that it means you’re very knowledgeable about the subject or have a genuine love and deep enthusiasm for it. Otaku is the Japanese equivalent to the American term for Star Trek fans, Trekkie.
Initially otaku was an honorific term that was used as polite way to say you. The best way I’ve found to describe the politeness of the old usage of otaku is to compare it to saying usted in Spanish. To say ‘thank you’ or ‘you too’ in Spanish in a respectful and curteous manner is to say a usted. The more familiar and informal manner is tu tambien.
In 1983 Nakamori Akio wrote in his series Otaku no Kenkyuu (An Investigation of Otaku) that those who used this form of address were nerds and geeks. The reference went on to conclude that these nerds and geeks spoke unnecessarily with honorifics to distance themselves from their equals and spent at lot of time alone at home. Since then the term otaku is used more commonly in conjunction with obsessed nerds and geeks and is rarely or never used in its old function. The word otaku is also no longer spelled using kanji but is spelled in katakana, sometimes hiragana, and of course in it’s western/romaji version (otaku).
A great manga and anime to check out that gives you an idea of the otaku lifestyle and the way that otakus are truly perceived in Japan is Genshiken. The story revolves around a group of teenagers who have joined a school club called The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture or just Genshiken which is short for Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenkyuukai. The members of the club all have varying interests and hobbies and as time passes you get a chance to see them grow closer as a group and you get a great insight to Japanese pop culture as well.
While there are some anime and manga otakus in the the club it is not comprised entirely of them. There are the members who are focused on video games, plamo (plastic model kits), and even the designing and wearing of cosplay outfits. Add to that the fact that one member’s girlfriend, who despises the otaku culuture, hangs out with them because of her boyfriend and you can be guaranteed some very interesting and entertaining moments.
It’s a fun anime to watch and an even funnier manga to read. Even though it is highly comical and there is such a plethora of pop culture references that anyone but an otaku stand a small chance of catching them all the series has other great qualities. The series attempts to take a look into the culture and the stereotypes usually attributed to the ‘otaku’ and tries to view it from a different angle. The series pokes fun of the stereotypes while at the same time trying to show that otakus are just like any other person on the street. I highly recommend this series to everyone.
Read the latest FAnime Friday issues on the FAnime Friday page! ^_^
- Introducing FAnime Fridays! [now reading]