10 things every otaku should do in 2011

It’s the end of the year, so that means it’s time to set New Year’s resolutions! In this post, I’ve done you a favor and thought them all up for you! (I bet you’re so happy about that, amirite?)

These resolutions aren’t the boring ones you say you’re going to do every year, like working out every day or eating more veggies. These are the ones that, if you do them, will make you a happier otaku. And why do we make New Year’s resolutions if not to make our lives better?

So check out my list:

Photo by Trey Ratcliff.

10. Visit Japan. Or, if that isn’t an option, start planning a trip to Japan for sometime in the next five years. Open a special savings account. Research the Japanese cities and attractions you’d like to visit. Start learning (or keep practicing) your Japanese. If you’re in the Washington D.C. area, you can sign up for the Global Language Network for a chance to get free Japanese lessons at GWU — it’s a randomized lottery.

Photo by bananagranola.

9. Bring Japan to you if a trip is completely out of the question. Visit a Japanese botanical garden — here’s a list of the top 25 in America and an exhaustive list of most of the Japanese gardens all over the world. Several US and Canadian cities also have Japanese tea houses and cultural centers; Google your city plus “Japanese tea house” to find out. Go to a Japanese restaurant that has traditional seating or food other than sushi. In DC, I suggest Hama Sushi, which has a tatami mat room, or Cafe Japone, which is the only restaurant I know of that serves onigiri! Another thing to visit in DC is the Japanese Embassy. For the low budget and/or middle of nowhere otaku, try cooking your own Japanese food or check out some books on Japan at the library. There are a lot of options!

Photo by Keitii Keitii.

8. Marathon an entire series in one night. Do it with a new series or one of your old favorites. By watching everything back to back, you’ll get a better understanding of the story as a whole. Stock up on Pocky and Ramune and turn the lights off for the best atmosphere. This can be done with likeminded friends or alone as a test of willpower. The Otaku Journalist does NOT recommend you try this with One Piece or Bleach!

Photo by Alex Leavitt.

7. Attend an anime or sci-fi convention. This should especially be on your list if you’ve never attended one before! It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with not just the topic but the fandom that surrounds it. Figure out all the inside jokes! If you’re still not sure why the #animeconprotip hashtag on Twitter is so funny, attending your first (or second, or fifteenth) convention should help.

Photo by Elliot Trinidad.

6. Make friends with like-minded otaku. This is easier than ever now. Have a specific fandom? Create a forum/Yahoo group/Facebook page and advertise it. Have a specific location in mind? Try Meetup and start planning IRL activities. Keep in mind that these groups might already exist, so all you have to do is join! If you’re in DC, chances are you’ll meet a slew of otaku at DC Anime Club meetups or anything on my Geek Event Guide.

5. Try a new genre. Maybe you’ve always sworn off moe anime/first-person-shooters/playing a Blue deck/playing an elf character because you had a bad experience or just never had the chance to try it yet. This year, end that! If you don’t like it, you never have to do it again. And if you do, well that’s something you would have never known until you tried.

4. Make a J-list or Amazon wishlist. (You can view mine here and here to get started.) It’ll help you decide what sort of things interest you and then, depending on your budget, hone them down to what you like the best. You’ll be introduced to new shows, books and games that you might not have considered. It’s a great way to expand your horizons under the guise of mindless window shopping. At the very least, it’s certainly relaxing.

3. Give back to the community. The best way I can think of doing this is volunteering at your nearest local anime convention. As a convention volunteer myself, I’m continually amazed by how much work goes into running a convention and how important every volunteer is to the whole. If you’re busy, you can limit your volunteer time to just during the event. Don’t like cons? You could try participating in Child’s Play or Cosplay for a Cure, two very nerdy (and very kind) charity groups.

The Seventh Doctor (aka the best doctor) fanart by Kevin Bolk.

2. Create something. Write some fanfiction, if you like to write. Sew a cosplay if you’re crafty. Try your hand at drawing your own manga if you’re so artistically inclined. Other ideas: Photoshop spoof Magic cards, edit an AMV, create your own 8-bit game, sculpt deco jewelry for Lolita clothes. Next, join DeviantART to show off your skills!

1. Start a blog. This year, I’ve found that this is the best way to explore and enjoy my interests and to meet tons of amazing and likeminded people. If you share your interests and you’re enthusiastic, people will notice. If you need help getting started, click here for Bluehost, which is what I use for this site. You can even email me if you want me to walk you through starting a blog — I think the world needs more otaku bloggers!

How many items on the list have you already done? Which ones do you plan to do this year?

  • http://cloudculturecontent.blogspot.com Adam

    The summer after we graduated High School, two friends and I spent the money our relatives had sent us buying Anime box sets and doing #8 over and over. We did Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, and Outlaw Star that summer, just to name three that come to mind immediately.

    Does original genre fiction count for #2?

    • Lauren

      @Adam, I’d say it counts, especially if it’s inspired by a genre of fandom like sci-fi or steampunk or what have you. Also: Outlaw Star <3

  • http://cloudculturecontent.blogspot.com Adam

    Yeah Outlaw Star is one of those shows I’ve watched at least five times from beginning to end :D

    It’s one of those catch-22’s where you know the series is so great because they ended it after only a short period (so they didn’t have time to ruin it) but still wish there were more episodes to watch!

  • http://animebowl.blogspot.com Tommy

    I’ve done #1, #2, #6 and #7… although for #8 I’ve only gone as far as to watch an entire season in one night, not an entire season.

    • Lauren

      @Tommy, that’s a pretty significant chunk of the list! I marathoned Eden of the East, but I didn’t watch the movies, and I still count that.

  • http://donkangoljones.wordpress.com DonKangolJones

    Visiting Japan and going to a anime con are definitely the most daunting of those resolutions. I don’t know if I’ll ever do one of those, though the idea has come up.

    I think the main ones I’ll work on are learning Japanese style cooking and meet up with more like minded otaku. It’s a big hard though since no one in the city I live in appears to have anywhere close to my taste. Not anymore anyway.

  • John B.


    I think an Anime Convention should be high on your list. If money is a problem you can find people to room with online, and there is no better way to meet up with like minded otaku then at an anime convention. You won’t be disappointed and it’ll help you realize there are other people… many many other people that share the same passion as you.

  • http://www.animemaki.net Todd

    I would kill to go to Japan. There are so many things I want to see and I want to meet a friend there my wife and I have made over the past few years. The cost though, oh god, the cost!

  • http://theangryotaku.blogspot.com/ The Angry Otaku

    I have to unfortunately disagree with #10. 2010 has seen some of the worst Japanese Yen exchange rates against every currency out there and 2011 doesn’t look much better. Living in Tokyo two years while getting paid in US Dollars, I saw my ability to buy even the simple necessities severly curtailed. Wait until it gets back to 100 JPY to USD (or start earning $90k a year) and then it’s not problem.

    • Lauren

      @Angry Otaku,

      SO sad to hear it! 2011 is the first year that I’m making enough money to conceivably plan and make a trip to Japan. It may be a worse time than the past, but I can’t sit around forever waiting… what if the world DOES end on my birthday in 2012? X_X

      So I say… no time like the present!

  • http://alasvaginarenegade.wordpress.com/ Anji

    I’ve just started most of the things on this list, with the exception of the trip to Japan. That’s a bit pricey. But I found my city’s Japanese language school.

    I also started my own blog recently which will be covering my geeky interests and my quest to get started on voice acting professionally.

  • http://keitii-chan.blogspot.com Keitii

    Thanks for using my photograph for #9. I found your great blog because you used my photo. Also, oddly enough, I bought those Japanese snacks at an H-Mart in Fairfax. I am also currently living in the DC metro area! And I’m an anime otaku myself :)

    • Lauren

      @Keitii, that is so cool! I bet it’s the very same H-Mart I go to in Fairfax (there’s only one, right?) We’ll have to meet up sometime!

  • Gianna

    I haven’t done any yet but im really looking forward to doing all these things!^.^

  • Jeric

    What will happen if you DO marathon the Bleach/One Piece series? o.o

  • lily

    its 2013. just sayin..

  • verronica

    wow why didn’t I find this sooner this is like a guide to becoming an amazing otaku, I have done 6 but hope to try all!

  • Pingback: Things Every Otaku should do. | A Place Where An Otaku Can Dream()