Otaku Links: Let’s analyze it!

31 January 2014 | 3 comments

myneighborgamagoori

  • Looks like Montreal is going to become the first city in North America to open up a Tokyo-style cat café. Well, if they can fund it. (Crowdfunding page in French).
  • How do you cosplay Hetalia respectfully when your favorite character is literally a stereotype of a country? Tamara thoughtfully addresses the topic on the latest installment of her podcast, Anime Brains Culture.
  • Mike Toole writes about the lack of animation quality control that leads to sometimes laughably poorly drawn faces in even the highest budget anime.
  • Chuunibyou is both the name of a currently airing anime and the term for “middle school syndrome,” the embarrassing awkward mannerisms we take up as young teens. I loved redball’s editorial: Anime is my Chuunibyou.
  • Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki: The problem with the anime industry is that there are too many anime fans. Oh Miyazaki, you can’t have it both ways!

(Illustration by Tto Chan.)

  • Patrick Sheridan

    Regarding Miyazaki: I don’t think he has a problem with anime fans, because he makes anime for a living. He specifically highlights a lack of interpersonal interaction/observation as leading to deficiencies in the creation of believable characters in anime artwork. Thus, I think his problem is with a more insular subset of both fans/artists/writers in that industry.

    I’d be interested to hear more of your thoughts on Miyazaki’s comments from that interview, since he specifically labeled the negative aspects of the anime artist community that he was discussing as ‘otaku.’ Do you think the anime community has become too insular, with series catering to very specific preferences in art style and character archetypes, or do you see the specialization of anime as a good move for the industry? Maybe you don’t think it’s become specialized at all. Either way, I’d be interested to hear more of your thoughts on this.

    • http://www.otakujournalist.com Lauren Orsini

      @Patrick, thanks for sharing. As somebody who uses the label “otaku,” I’ve certainly been following this closely. I think the disconnect has mostly come from foreign fans like me, for whom “otaku” has grown to mean something more positive than Miyazaki’s use—and there are a lot of us! His comments show that beliefs about anime fans as insular shut-ins still stand in Japan.

      I think anime goes through cycles, and moe anime is just another of those cycles. We’ll always have some aspects of fanservice, but I think the most excessive examples will be replaced by another market demand. There have always been subsets in anime (it’s why when I first told friends I liked anime in 6th grade, they thought I was saying I liked porn), and anime designed for people of all ages and all interests. We can continue to show producers which kinds we want by voting with our dollars (DVDs) and with our views (Crunchyroll).

      I think this might need to be a blog post. I didn’t realize I had so many thoughts!

      • Patrick Sheridan

        Thanks for the reply, Lauren.

        I think that ‘otaku’ can be used in both overtly pejorative but also harmlessly teasing/self-deprecating senses, inside and outside of Japan. In either sense, I believe it essentially boils down to being really nerdy about something. In the negative sense it is being so nerdy about something that you become insular and lose touch with important things outside your narrow sphere of interest. In the more positive sense it is used to refer to yourself or someone you like as being really enthusiastic about a particular subject which is acknowledged to be somewhat niche. It’s clear that Miyazaki, and probably many older Japanese, subscribe to the first interpretation of the word.

        I think it’s valuable to have both connotations, because it’s great to be enthusiastic about something and celebrate that, but it’s also important to remember that when enthusiasm reaches the point of obsession it can damage your objectivity and make you a less well-rounded person. Keeping a balanced level of enthusiasm is key to being a well-rounded nerd or otaku, whichever you prefer. That’s what I think, anyway.

        I like what you said about cyclical anime trends and voting with our views and dollars. I only wish I felt like I had something to vote on these days. I grew up on Akira, Robotech/Macross, Cowboy Bebop and the various Gundam series revolving around the UC timeline. If I look at the anime page of Netflix these days I cannot find anything that I haven’t already seen that looks worthwhile. It seems like everywhere I look there are misogynistic outfits and young girls being sexually objectified. I recently saw Gurren Lagann and loved it but even that had some really uncomfortable sexualization in it that was completely unnecessary and irrelevant to the story. Aside from Shingeki no Kyojin and the occasional non-filler Naruto Shippuden episode, I can’t find anything to watch anymore. Modern anime almost always seems to fall short of the older stuff in terms of the believability and likability of the characters – but hopefully I’m just not looking in the right place.

        Sorry for the whale of a comment. I’d love to see a full post of your thoughts on either the Miyazaki comments or your hopes for the future of anime.