Paper: Otaku, Fandoms and Humor

Looking into the sources and solutions into otaku stigma alone has been multiple rabbits holes, but one thing I’ve noticed there is the ongoing reclamation of the word otaku stateside. An example of this that also ties into one of the topics covered in class is the, I think incongruity humor, that is a central part of otaku culture as it starts to take pride in the word, rather than shy away from it.

Shirt from the store Hot Topic with the definition of otaku on it.

Covering the different types of humor in class this week, which helped cement my project focus and “home”, which had gotten lost in an increasingly interconnected web of cross cultural currents within just the stateside otaku subculture. Continue reading →

Rock: What is a NEET anyways?

So one of the common stereotypes within otaku culture is known as the NEET or Not in Education, Employment or Training. While the term was first used in the United Kingdom and in a similar manner in regards to the word otaku, NEET is a loanword in Japan with a similar meaning.

What I find interesting though is that, while being a NEET, which in the otaku subculture is stigma on top of stigma, there seem to be two types of NEET that recently have been reoccurring.

The first would be the stereotypical NEET, a person who has withdrawn from society, its obligations and does not pursue any productive means to be part of society, which most otaku actually do (hence the extra stigma within an already stigmatized group). This is demonstrated in the web manga via the Comico app and now in a newer slice-of-life comedy anime that airs throughout this fall called, “Recovery of an MMO Junkie”.

Screenshot of the main character Moriko Morioka in “Recovery of an MMO Junkie”.

Continue reading →

Paper: Misused Misappropriation

In reading “Donald Duk”, there were many themes that were talked about and explored in the group discussions, from the coming of age story as a young adult novel, the concept of dreams and reality and the, often mouth watering, descriptions and roles food has to play.

To myself personally and with what my project revolves around, what stood out to me was Donald’s friend Arnold. A young white boy, invited in to celebrate the Chinese New Year and participate with Donald’s family and community. To myself, this exchange and sharing of culture is a wonderful thing to read and see. Arnold learns firsthand about Chinese American culture, to be specific, and gets to also engage in it, which fosters a deeper and richer understanding and respect for Donald’s culture, unlike their teacher (as far as I was able to read, I still need to finish the book).

But when it came to the part when Donald’s family gives Arnold a Chinese silk shirt to wear as well, I immediately thought to a photo that sparked a strong reaction in the American white community on cultural misappropriation. – Bored Panda – A Japanese Tea Party

The debate took place on Tumblr, centered on the photo of a young white girl, about nine or ten, in her home, proudly wearing the kimono her parents had gotten her while wearing geisha styled makeup for a Japanese tea party themed birthday party.

In this particular example, the subject of accusations of misappropriation being used as a form of racism is brought up (it is an internet debate on an open forum, so all things specifically claimed and assumed, are still claimed and assumed).

For myself though, this was not the first time I had come across white people using the justification of cultural misappropriation (often stated as just appropriation) to bash other white people participating in another culture, normally in a respectful and educational manner. It wasn’t the first time that kids were in the center of the debate.

More and more, this term and how it is being used in the white community, comes across as another mask of colonial based/typed racism. It very similar to the justifications that Christian missionary work was in the interest of “saving” souls, just as cultural misappropriation is being used to “save/preserve” other cultures and teaching white kids to respect other cultures via not sharing and participating in them.

Except the only thing this is accomplishing is the keeping the “purity” of white culture, teaching the next generation that it is not OK to share in other cultures and this sort of misuse of the term is only reinforcing racist barriers that more than likely will only aggravated the exclusion of all other nationalities, culture, class etc. from being included in American society.

Note – the United Nation laws on this give a much better understanding of the actual purpose of the term –

Rock: The Stigma of Anime

This entry includes content that some may find uncomfortable and may have possible triggers for some.

In my last post, I started to introduce one of the main issues that the otaku, and even general anime and manga enthusiasts face: stigma.

Since there are many sides to this particular subject that I could easily write another few thousand words on alone with the issues behind the American rating systems, video games, the specific anime genres such as “harem” and “ecchi”, my focus for this post is the American double standards and the main root of the stigma behind otaku culture.

Given how well accepted Studio Ghibili’s works, game based anime such as “Kingdom of Hearts” and even the Hasbro toys turned animation “Transformers”, stigma should seem like less of an issue. Except one thing I noticed, and keep noticing, is that most of the anime, manga and games that are not associated with the stigma are geared toward kids. Or are “family friendly”, even if they deal with more mature themes, such as Studio Ghibili films.

In contrast, much of the anime and manga that otaku watch are not what would be considered in Western culture a “cartoon”, and can be very graphic, dark and/or deal with “R” rated themes. Continue reading →

Rock: Exploring Origins

In exploring my “home”, which for me is otaku (and to that extent nerd/geek) culture, I’ve been watching anime that myself or others first watched and introduced them to this previously much more private niche. This post is more, I guess soul “surfing”, looking back into my own history with anime and manga and looking for connections to explore on how I came to find “home” in otaku culture, which I was actually scared away from by the parents and pigs scene from the first anime I watched “Spirited Away”.

For myself this was “Eureka Seven” that got me into anime and manga, past a lot of fears and actually was a very healing experience for me that is still ongoing.

“E7” is a 50 episode long original mecha anime series by studio BONES in 2005 (they also did the well-known “The Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”). Something that would be a rarity to be able to create now in 2017, given it was an original story that wasn’t based on a manga, light-novel, video game, sequel, reboot (same issues that Western entertainment currently has), is a mecha (giant robot) anime (which are more expensive to animate) and is fifty episodes long (most anime now are 12 to 26 at the most).

Artwork of the Nirvash Type Zero mecha “lifting” from the anime “Eureka Seven”.

Continue reading →

Scissors: Memoirs, Vocaloids, Daft Punk

While going through the texts and in class the theme of the “American Dream” and picking yourself up by the bootstraps, the self-made, self-reliance mentality common in America, the central focus on the “self”, applies much less to Asian Americans who became successful. There is a much greater focus, followed by actual action, for Asian Americans to seek help within their communities and work together. Generally there is less of a community effort in seeking this and more talk when I look at Western persons who have obtained it, and a lot more bragging. Continue reading →

Paper: Water and too much Milk

Japanese milk advertisement.

In the text When the Emperor was Divine, I noticed the symbolism between water and milk. Taking a geographic perspective, I like how the symbolism of water for Japan or Japanese could refer to Japan being an island nation-state that is heavily dependent on the ocean. While milk for America, aside from it being white, could refer to America’s dependency on large areas of land, ranches and cows, which produce milk. Also the general cowboy/Wild West culture and milk is largely absent from traditional Japanese cuisine and is heavily seafood based and American cuisine is heavily dependent on it.

Continue reading →

Rock: On “Otaku”

Akihabara, Japan, one of the most notable centers of otaku culture.

So while looking into various parts of Japanese anime/manga fan culture and how it has impacted the entertainment industry in America, (Eureka Seven has a lot of “pop crosscultural currents” within itself alone to explore) I decided to look up one of the less favorable terms that reoccurs both in Japan and as a loanword in the US, “otaku”.

Most have probably heard it stateside in the negative context, along with the even more demeaning “weeaboo”, from what I’ve read it applies beyond anime or manga in Japan and is slang term referring to an obsessive, not necessarily unhealthy, interest in a subject with there being twelve ranked otaku interests.

What I found interesting is that the its sub-culture origin in Japan came from school clubs where students various interests outside school work were encouraged (at least what I’ve found so far).

I also found, and expected to find, the general accusations of otaku culture, and even using it as a loanword, outside of Japan as being cultural misappropriation, on top of the already negative stereotypes.

I admit that the otaku topic and exploring into already has me out of my comfort zone, mainly because of the stigma, misappropriation issues, the “weeaboo” derogatory term (thanks 4chan…), and not wanting others to apply this to me. It became personal very quickly reading extremely negative things, whether they were true or not. Continue reading →