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Re: The Otaku Wave (Score: 1)
by byrc on Monday, December 12 @ 00:20:10 CST
I don't limit it to anime and I've never limited my fascination to Japanese culture to only animation either. I may not have much experience as older anime fans who were college students back in the early 90's, but I have tried to keep myself abreast with the current status of Otakudom. I can argue all about the level of cultural saturation that has occurred within the US, but what it all leads to is the creation of empowered subcultures and consumers. I used anime as an example since this is an anime site to begin with. As far as growth of Japanese subcultures and its transience into American subculture, I can agree that it has a level of substantial merit. The current trend in music, whose gothic punk styles strike a similarity to Japanese jrockers, current influx of Japanese Pop-Art, and the overnight sensation of Yoyomarts, whose commerical painted viynl art has created a fantastic following, all points toward growing fad within the US.

You are right to call this a wave, which will sooner or later begin to recede from the subterranean limelight. What needs to be understood is that Otakudom as a whole is very hard to define and package. You are also right that not all American otakus are anime fans, or manga fans. Some are big time jrocker fans, visual kie nuts, and gothic lolita fetishists. The list Otaku types are long, all depending on what subcultures are in-grown in Japan. Yet there are also trans-subcultural creations, things that are not completely Japanese in origin, but are infused with the home culture of the self-proclaimed Otaku.

Most people tend to see Otakudom as a Japanese creation, and I can agree with such a tendency most of the time. Yet, Otakudom does assert itself within the western world. Certain things that are American in nature can be taken into the world of material/cultural collectivism. Keep in mind that Otakudom is byproduct of a collective society, yet it does not itself only adhere to such societal limitations. The US, though independent by nature, is undoubtedly controlled and limited by the media, which in turn creates a type of synthetic collectivism known in Japan. Otakus are not loners by nature; they group up and develop well entrenched social cues that are represented through verbal, physical, and visual cues. Why are anime conventions so popular? It allows Otakus to share such social necessities. That is why otakudom is also very prominent within the online communities. Otakudom lends itself to the of creation of close knit communities, yet create a level of isolation that is usually seen within the Japanese social context.

The reason I bring this up is that Otakudom is as varied as you expressed in your last comment, but because of its variation we begin clump them into one entire community of a Japanese nature, which is in my opinion wrong to do. Otakudom is not a pre-emptive wave covering over the United States, but nothing more than a type of viral commercialism perpetrated by guerrilla marketing through use of online word of mouth sites. Perception is key. Otakudom isn't anything new; it always existed within societies that create the impression of subjugated individualism. I used the word impression, because although Americans as a whole tout about our level of American openness and Individualism, we are still stifled by our own social constructs. That is why subcultures grow so rapidly (also die rapidly). Japanese Otaku-ism is different because their societal and cultural norms are different as well, but it is not purely Japanese. Media itself creates the perception of something new. People tend see the Media having only mainstream control. Yet, it also has its tightly wrapped tentacles within our so called cultural underground.

What Japan brings to the table is the need to collect and distribute materials of fascination, whether they are physical or digital in nature. Yet, this need to dress and be like your favorite anime character or jrocker isn't a Japanese cultural invention. Americans have always admired and hero worshipped those we see. Comic book convention, sci-fi conventions are good examples of such American Otaku-ism. I know this statement will be very controversial, yet keep an open mind. Japanese Otaku-ism is much more widespread in nature. American Otaku-ism has always existed, but within limited set of subject matter. Japanese have opened a door in which Otaku-ism can be applied to numerous social fetishes, not only those of the fantasy realm.

I can agree that Japanese Otaku-ism has definitely affected the way subcultures interact and display themselves within their own communities. You are right Alexiel, even if the "Japanese flavor" is gone, American otaku-ism as it is changed will stay and develop at its own course.

*I'm not trying to disprove your article, I am just giving my 2-cents concerning the subject, most of what you said I can agree with*

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