In the 1960s, the Japanese health guru Sakurazawa Nyoiti captivated American audiences with his book called – ‘You Are all Sanpaku’, – Meaning you are all sick SOBS, so follow my program.
So in honour of Sakurazawa, I will paraphrase his title and name this article – ‘You are all Otaku‘
A meal with a friend in Yokohama
I was in a restaurant having a meal with an acupuncture friend – a guy from Osaka. Apparently Japanese from Osaka have a personality akin to Westerners. They are proud of themselves and can be quite forward or direct. They are not afraid to express their opinions. Some people derogatively refer to them as the tracksuit wearing chavs of Japan. I don’t know if that is true as I still haven’t been to Osaka, but I hope to do so in the future.
So I’ve been told that Osakans are loud and direct. This attitude is a bit different to the typical stereotype of the reserved and overly-polite Japanese, and especially people from Kanto region, who avoid standing out in public (except when drunk).
From a complimentary point of view, Osakans are also said to be very funny and have a good sense of humour. My friend Ishimaru was a good example of a funny guy from Osaka. However, the first time I met him I was a bit offended by him and I thought him a little rude. But once I got to know him, I came to like him as he seemed refreshingly more straight than a lot of other Japanese people I had encountered.
Some Japanese may act all friendly and even welcoming, but you can’t necessarily trust that because you don’t always know where you stand with them. You don’t really know what they are thinking. It’s basically too much ‘Wa’ (harmony), but that’s a different matter.
Encounters with Otaku
On a nearby table were two Otaku. Whilst this is nothing particularly special, what made them so noticeable was that they were so incredibly loud.
They were obviously having a good time and were talking enthusiastically, laughing and making a lot of noise. They were also completely oblivious to other restaurant customers as they laughed and joked.
At one point my companion from Osaka got so annoyed with having to speak above their voices that he started saying out insulting comments loudly, including the word ‘otaku’. After all, he’s from Osaka. They’re not afraid to speak out, even though it’s actually rude to call someone ‘otaku’.
But they didn’t pay any attention They were too engrossed in their conversation and having a good time. They didn’t give a damn.
I really didn’t mind being disturbed by their lively conversation. It true, they were really loud and we had to speak above their voices at times, but I found it interesting. Otaku invariably are.
What are otaku?
Otaku can be defined “people with an obsessive interests, usually towards anime or pop-idols”.
I suppose the closest translation would be “nerd” or “geek”, but these are really typical American terms. Perhaps these words don’t fully capture the meaning of the Japanese word ‘otaku’.
How to best define Otaku
There is more to otaku than ‘obsessive tendencies’.
For example, plenty of people could be said to have ‘obsessive interests’. In the UK, many people are absolutely obsessed with football. They collect all the shirts, game programmes, scarfs and other football paraphernalia. But you wouldn’t call them otaku.
Another example is sex. Some people are absolutely obsessed with sex, spending a fortune indulging in interests like bondage or domination sessions or collecting porn or toys. But neither would these people be classed as otaku.
I suppose the closest equivalent in the West to Otaku, is a person who is obsessed with Star Wars or Star Trek and collects all the toys, watches all the episodes many times and attends conventions in costume. These people could be classed as an otaku.
Also perhaps people who collect or make models of things like trains or World War II planes or ships could be classed as Otaku. Also Trainspotters (people who take pictures of trains) could be classed as Otaku. This kind of thing.
Otaku only relates to Japan
Despite this, I would say that otaku is a typically Japanese word and only really relates to people with an obsessive interest in Japanese anime, manga or pop-idols.
The Otaku Look
Otaku also have a very specific appearance that is unique only to Otaku.
Without going all David Attenborough on you, Otaku look a certain way. I don’t mean to be cruel, but it is stereotypically seen as uncool or unfashionable – or perhaps lacking a woman’s touch.
It is hard to define. They will wear new clothes, but their way of wearing it will make it unfashionable and unstylish. Their clothes will be badly-fitted or the wrong size for their body. If they wear a shirt, they will button it all the way to the top, which is universally recognised as being uncool (this doesn’t apply if it is a work-shirt with tie).
They may often carry a bag pack and carry it around both shoulders, which in itself is not a sign of dressing badly, but for some reason it comes across as uncool.
The same goes for trainers. They may wear new trainers, but something about it will come across as unfashionable. Perhaps its the choice of style, which doesn’t match with the rest of the clothes.
The Otaku factor
It is hard to pinpoint exactly what makes their look so distinguishable as Otaku. They can wear everyday brands, but their way of wearing them and combination make them incredibly uncool.
There will be other factors, bad haircuts, undeveloped physiques from lack of sports and a posture that conveys a lack of confidence e.g– stooped slumped shoulders as well as a lack of confidence in speaking with others and poor eye contact.
A main distinguishing factor is an intense interest in anime, manga or pop idols. They will collect huge amounts of paraphernalia, dolls, figurines, posters – basically anything related to their interest and decorate their rooms with it.
There is a popular Japanese book, movie and spin-off TV series about a romance between an otaku and an attractive young lady. It is called ‘Densha Ottoko”, which translates as ‘Train Man’. The picture above is from the movie. The man is an Otaku.
It is a story about a young Otaku who intervenes on a train, when a drunk salaryman passenger is being rude to a women. The story follows his awkward romance with the lady he rescues, who he calls “Hermes’, named after the gift of a Hermes Tea set she gives him as thanks.
Densha Ottako then tells his story on a website forum and gets support from the other posters who are sympathetic and want to help him. He admits on the forum that he has never had a girlfriend and asks for advice on what to wear and where to take her. He is able to build a following of online supporters who want him to succeed and who share his successes and failures along the way.
With the help of the forum members, he undergoes a huge transformation. He makes dramatic changes to his appearance and style and pushes himself to act against his fears. He makes progress in his relationship with Hermes.
What is positive about this story is that it is supposed to be based on a true story. And it is a good story of transformation and a desire to improve oneself.
The Positives of being an Otaku
Up to now in this article, I feel I have been unfairly cruel or critical of otaku. Actually, this is not my real opinion. I simply want to describe otaku as realistically as I can before I get into the body of this series of articles.
In society, otaku are looked down on. But I want to say that this is a mistaken judgement which actually reveals our own fears and weakness of character. I actually have a lot of respect for the otaku subgroup. I even recognise that I have certain otaku traits and that these are not bad things.
In fact, in these articles, I want you to consider that it is your inner otaku traits that holds the key to ‘not giving a damn’ – which is a very powerful feeling to have in this life.
Otaku are brave.
Otaku are actually much truer to themselves than most people. Also I think Otaku are cool and far braver than most people
The reason is because they are unafraid to express what they like. They don’t let society or people tell them what to wear, or what to like. They are part of a subculture.
Perhaps it is not that different to the punks in the 1970’s UK. They do what they like and don’t care. Except with the punks they had a ‘FU’ attitude and were not afraid to shove it in your face. With the Otaku, it’s more like – ‘this is what I like, and though you may look down on me, I will keep doing it because it gives me pleasure’ – kind of attitude.
And how many people dare to go through life with that attitude? Very few.
I know that I still have fears of what people may think of me. Or of being judged. But I really don’t want to care any more.
What is Normal?
“Otaku are not normal”, someone may criticise.
So, what is normal? I ask.
In my country, it is normal for young people to drink excessively and to take drugs at an early age. It is normal for young girls to wear practically nothing and then get so smashed on drink they collapse on the streets. It is normal for people to lose hours of their precious life watching TV soap-operas. That time is gone forever.
This is normal and we won’t criticise them, but how is that better than otaku? Otaku indulge their life in an interest. They are part of a community. They are also for the most part pretty passive. You won’t have arguments with otaku. They are not the kind that get into arguments or fights in a bar over nothing.
Perhaps, it’s their way of dealing with a hard world. It could be a normal response to an unbalanced world.
What we see as normal is kind-of abnormal – don’t you think?
I walk past a local pub everyday on my street. I enjoy a drink just like the next person, but moderately. Outside this pub I see the same faces, the same people almost every day. This is their hobby – drinking.
Yet society is more likely to criticise an otaku than a daily pub-goer. I suppose they are an easier target. The otaku doesn’t harm anyone and has a hobby that is quite creative. The daily pub-goer has none.
Where I’m going with these articles, is that the otaku has a lesson for us in how to stop caring about what others think of us and more specifically, to stop caring what society thinks of us. It is about expressing ourselves more naturally and enjoying life by taking it all less seriously.
So many of us go through life afraid to express our true natures. We hide or cover it up. We dare not show our interests, our loves or our hobbies openly. We hide and pretend that we are all the same as the next man or woman.
We sometimes let the young get away with it, but then as we get older we tell ourselves -its time to get serious. But perhaps, as we lose the inner otaku we lose the things that are associated with it – energy, expression and a free mind. Or in other words – youth.
Quick, put this bag over your head
Do you want to be the same as everyone else? Dress the same, act the same, go to the same places, follow the same interests, have the same conversations?
We are not all the same. Even in the same family, people will have different personalities and interests. Observe a busy street and you can see the diversity in people’s shapes and features. Same bodily structures, but different expression of it.
So if we are different, why do we try and hide that difference by trying to make out we are the same? It is fear. We are afraid to stand out.
The Nail that sticks out gets hit
The reason I call Otaku brave, is because they manifest in a culture that absolutely hates diversity and ‘standing out’. There is a Japanese expression – ‘the nail that sticks out gets hit’. It is meant as a warning not to stand out, not to draw attention to yourself.
So lots of Japanese workers wear black suits, have the same haircut, never think to dye their hair and all walk and work the same way.
Many Japanese live that expression ‘the nail that sticks out gets hit’. And conversely they have one of the highest suicide rates in the developed World. Have you ever seen Tokyo station at rush hour? It is a sea of black suits. People don’t dare to stand out in this society. Success is tied in with conformity. Tell me, how is that different to North Korea? This is where that expression – ‘The Nail that stands out, gets hit’, gets you.
It’s a dumb expression.
The Japanese used to stick out
Firstly, the Japanese that turned Japan into the powerhouse of the 60s and 70s all stood out. They had huge charismatic personalities and were different to the Japanese today. Some of them were innovators with some serious guts and would probably laugh if they heard the expression ‘the nail that sticks out gets hit’. If they didn’t stick out, there would be no industries, no great big Japanese companies, no innovations.
Only the bureaucrats and feeble-minded say ‘the nail that sticks out, gets hit’. Only they would say ‘don’t stand out otherwise others will judge us’. Well so what?
Not standing out is fine if you don’t want to stand out. But if you do want to stand out, than stand out. We are not all automatons.
Acupuncture and ‘the nail that sticks out gets hit’
Even in Acupuncture, one of the most famous acupuncturists of modern time was Kodo Fukushima. Apparently he had a bullish, loud charismatic personality. His technique was rough. Fukushima wanted to create an organisation for blind acupuncturists even though sighted acupuncturists at the time, didn’t believe he could do it. That didn’t stop him. He did it anyway. Kodo Fukushima certainly stood out and became very successful for doing so. He was a nail that definitely stuck out. I wrote about him in my book.
So how does this relate to Otaku?
The Otaku within
There is a bit of otaku in all of us, But we suppress it.
How many of us have interests in things that we keep hidden from other people. They are our little secrets. We are afraid to show them in case people think us weird or strange.
Really there’s nothing wrong with anything we like, and so what?
A cool otaku lady
I had a client, a very stylish lady, who had a quirky tastes. On a trip to Japan, she found some of those shops that sell anime figurines. And she bought several of the most ‘otaku-esque’ of them. These were anime female-figurines with huge bussoms, butts, school-girl white panties and bikinis.
I don’t know what anime they come from, but they looked very cool. She collected a few of them and displayed them on her bookshelf, which fit her general décor very well – a kind of noveua-art-type-decor. Perhaps she is deep down an otaku, though you would never tell from her appearance.
I want one
After seeing her buy these dolls, I too decided I wanted to have some of my own. So on my next occasion to Japan I did what I typically do and threw myself 100% in getting anime dolls. This is the way I tend to do things. The problem is that these dolls are very expensive – typically £30 to £70. I didn’t have that disposable income to buy them. However, I found the next best solution.
Recycle Shops in Japan
You can buy lots of these dolls second-hand. Many recycle shops in Japan sell them. Some of them are incredibly cheap – only like 200-500 yen. (£2-4) I also managed to win a couple of dolls from a shooting machine in a nearby games arcade – in a magnificent moment of glory. So I came back with a suitcase full of them.
That’s pretty Otaku.
On reflection. When my client did this, it made her apartment look cool, which in turn made her look cooler.
Unfortunately, when I put these dolls on my display case, it makes me look like a fullblown-wannebee otaku. I didn’t look cool. I just looked like otaku. Yada.
Otaku and the law of attraction
During this trip, when I actually went out of my way to find anime dolls, not only did I succeed in building up an impressive collection in a short period of time for very little money, but I was also given a Dragon ball figurine as a present by a family member even though I didn’t ask for it. I suppose its like the law of attraction again. It I ask for something, it is granted. So I got an extra anime doll.
I was glad to receive the doll, but it kind of threw my collection off-balance. All my dolls are women, whereas the dragon ball doll is the only male figure I’ve collected. If I put them all together it kind of makes him look like the master of an otaku doll-harem.
But I’m not a real otaku
The picture above is a small assembly of some of my dolls. But it doesn’t mean I am an otaku… right.
Mind you, there was the time I visited the maid café in Akihabara.
Akihabara is basically Otaku-central. And I have to admit, the last few times I’ve been to Tokyo, I can’t help stopping in there and looking around. Something about the place draws me in. I can’t help myself…
But I am not an otaku.
Accept the Otaku within
Ok, I accept there is an otaku in me, and though I don’t dress like one, it is there. And I sense that side of me has a lot to teach me.
The lessons are that it teaches me to be more accepting of others and also to embrace interests that have meaning to me if I want to enjoy my life.
Being an otaku is not just about liking anime figurines or pop idols like AKB48. It is about embracing something that makes you feel happy, it could be trains, planes, collecting obscure rock groups LPs, anything.
It makes us more interesting as people and well why not? Being an otaku is the antidote to this over-serious life
Otaku is an antidote to excess seriousness
Aren’t we already too serious in life. Striving to look good with our jobs, careers, our homes, our holidays. Even Facebook is about portraying this great version of ourselves. Facebook doesn’t sit well with the inner otaku inside of me, so I had to unplug from it.
So if you want to be happy in life, don’t be normal, Be an otaku.
I am an Otaku
Deep down, I know I am an Otaku. Although, just like Densha Otoko in the movie I talked about earlier, I have overcome most of my less-attractive otaku features and I am able to pass in society. If you meet me, you may not be able to immediately tell that I had otaku tendencies. I usually look like a regular person.
I have been able to balance my otaku traits with an awareness of style and appearance. In the past, I have lived my life according to that phrase ‘the nail that sticks out gets hit’, but I want to stop doing that now. Life is too short to care about what people or society thinks
Childhood Otaku habits
As a school kid, I collected various toys. I had a minor obsession with Michael Jackson for many years.
For school kids, something that is popular in society, is not necessarily cool. That was how it was with Michael Jackson. He was popular in society, but for school kids – majorly uncool.
Whilst all my classmate were openly talking about rap or metal depending on their groups, I was the only kid to openly say I liked Michael Jackson. I had all his albums on LP (not even CD). It had to be LP. I had videos. Also, I had a particular interest in Lego, even to an age when kids stopped playing with it and had a small collection of Lego buildings.
My otaku fashion sense
I used to have zero understanding of fashion and thought that what I was wearing was ok, but actually looking back it wasn’t. That is probably how it is with a lot of otaku. They think what they are wearing is fine, but actually it is not.
My wife still tells me she was shocked at my choice of clothes when she first met me. I bought a really cheap t-shirt from a French market. I think it was £1. It seemed like a great bargain at the time I thought it was cool and that it had a kind of retro look to it. My wife thought it looked like an ‘ojisan’ top – a shirt worn by your grandfather. I guess it was uncool, but I didn’t see it.
It was only a few years later, that I started to develop an interest in fashion and underwent a fashion rehabilitation, as mentioned in this article.
She likes to think she rehabilitated my fashion sense. But I don’t want to give her that satisfaction. I did it myself.
Getting the right otaku balance
So I probably don’t come across as otaku even though I have some interests that put me close to that camp.
For example, I like Star Trek. I’ve watched the Voyager series several times over and much preferred it to TNG. I still like to play video games (occasionally) when I have time and I used to be obsessed with zombie movies. I’ve even written a couple of zombie books.
In the last few years, I really came to like anime and quite like AKB48. I have one of their albums on my walkman, which I suppose is bordering on being a bit ‘hentai’ (Japanese word for pervert).
But I think we have to explore these other sides of us to develop our characters. I wrote about this concept in this article.
The Sono Sion movie ‘Love Exposure’ may be a good example of this.
In this movie, the main character – a teenage boy is innocent and pure. He has a good relationship with his father and mother. They have a happy family, who are all faithful Catholics. His father is a local Catholic priest and the boy happily adopts the Catholic faith.
But then tragedy comes. His mother passes away from an illness. Years later, his father embarks on a new relationship with a wild woman who dumps him. After this, his father becomes depressed and becomes mentally unstable. He then starts to take out his frustrations on his son. He believes his son is not taking his faith seriously enough and makes his son confess to him.
However, because his son is so pure and innocent, he doesn’t have anything to confess, which annoys his father even more. His father thinks his son is lying to him, because he can’t believe that no one is pure enough to have no sins to confess.
Committing Sin to get noticed
His son only wants to please his father and to do so, he starts to commit actual sins just so he has something to confess. The strange thing is that it made his father happy to hear these confessions, so he starts committing even worse sins and he gets in with a group of delinquent friends.
Eventually, he decides his needs to take his ‘sinning’ to the next level and so he decides to becomes a hentai (pervert). He learns a special technique for taking pictures of school girl panties and even becomes famous for his skill. The movie becomes progressively more crazier from this point on.
The usual-unusual Japanese storyline
It’s a strange story for sure, but perhaps the balance of the boy’s life was not right. Perhaps in the beginning, he was too pure. He needed to go to the other extreme side of becoming an absolute ‘sinner’ to balance his energies. This also made his story and character far more interesting. This path also led him to meet his true love – ‘his Maria’
Perhaps more of us should do the same in order to balance our lives. I don’t mean learning to take pictures of school-girl panties. I mean – learning to practice self-expression.
By the way, this story is about finding our true love. The boy falls in love with a girl with an equally troubled past, but he has some challenges to overcome to be with her. Check it out.
So embrace the inner otaku
Before we go to Part 2, have you thought about your inner otaku?
It is not necessarily the same as finding a love for anime or manga. Your inner otaku may manifest differently. But basically it is about expressing an enjoyment for something that may be criticised by others and may even seem threatening to them, because it sets you out as different.
So many people are terrified of standing out and will go through life ducking and weaving and making out we are the same. These people will find your interests strange and may vocally criticise you for your interests or make fun of you. Basically, it is ‘the nail that sticks out gets hit’ mindset.
Liberate yourself from ‘The nail that sticks out gets hit’ philosophy
It is extremely liberating when you indulge yourself in doing something to favor your inner otaku. To throw yourself into something unusual, lose yourself and meet like-minded people. Also to move to the fringes of society. How wonderful a feeling it can be.
Just ignore that expression – ‘the nail that sticks out gets hit’.
And those people who dare not tread into otaku territory. How much inner tension they must hold in them to resist it all? Well listen to me. That inner tension will make you sick. Really sick. Release is cathartic.
It is good to be different, original and basically to be yourself. If you like something that people look down on, that’s even better. The only person you need to impress and satisfy is yourself. If someone criticises or makes fun of you for what you like, then it reflects a problem with that person and perhaps they are not a good match for you. In which case, it is time to find people who you do energetically match with.
In this final part, I’ll discuss a bit more about anime and manga. They are typical interests of otaku, but also loved by so many people worldwide.
Anime and Otaku
Japanese anime is incredible. I gained an appreciation for it later in life and then had to play catchup. It contains a vast range of stories, genres, dramas and movies. Some of the stories may seem fantastical with imaginary characters, but the topics they deal with are pretty down to earth. As I mentioned, anime is a common interest of otaku.
People afraid of admitting their otaku tendencies
At school my best friend was a great fan of Japanese anime and manga. At the time, I didn’t know much about it or care for it. As I said, I was more interested in Micheal Jackson. Once he showed me some of his anime movies. One of them was the famous anime movie ‘Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend’.
If you don’t know this anime, it is probably one of the worst animes to show someone for the first time, unless they are a rarefied pervert. It is basically in the genre of sex/horror anime and is usually classed as X-rated as it contains scenes of demons raping women. It’s the kind of DVD they may sell in sex shops under the anime section.
To put this in perspective, I had grown up watching harmless kids animations like Dangermouse or ‘Dogtanian and the three Muskehounds’.
I watched Urotsukidoji and thought ‘what the hell is this sick stuff?’ After that I had no interest in watching any more anime if that was all it was about – demons raping women.
There are different Anime for everyone’s taste
Later on, I discovered that actually there are lots of anime genres to match different audience’s tastes and some anime is really exceptional stuff. I really enjoyed Street Fighter, Devil Man and Fist of the North Star. Some animes even have stories that tackle deeper life issues, even though they seem to be designed for children. Some animes are based on interesting subjects such as the supernatural, the universe and human emotions.
Basically there is anime for everyone. My wife really like Detective Conan, a kind of crime detective anime series about a genius police detective trapped in the body of a young boy. She loves detective dramas and crime. It doesn’t interest me though.
Hajime no Ippo
One of my favourite series was Hajime no Ippo. It is basically a story about a young kid who becomes a boxer. We follow his trials, his hard training, his clumsy attempts to date a girl he likes, and his fights that take him closer to becoming a champion It is very similar to the Rocky movies and is the complete opposite to that animated movie Urotsukidoji and the raping by demons.
I also really enjoyed Kaiji: the ultimate gambler. It is so good, I have watched it three times. I really wish they would make a season 3. This is a story about the burdensome effects of debt and about being a failure in life. However it contains the hopeful story of a young man who just wants to make a better life for himself and is prepared to risk his whole life just to do so. It is a very intense anime.
They also made a very commercially succesful movie based on it. However, the anime is hands down the best, as in the movie, some scenes had to be dramatically shortened. For example, they missed out a lot of the gambling scenes on board the ship Espoir, which had to be cut to fit into the shorter run time.
Also the last I was in Japan, I discovered a lesser well-known manga called Shamo. it is named after the Shamo chicken, which is an aggressive and big-boned chicken from Japan, sometimes used for cock fights. Shamo relates to a young man, which the manga centres around.
This anime is a story about a troubled young boy who goes to prison for killing his parents (yes – extreme, I know) and then learns how to fight from a Karate master in gaol. He gets released early as he was a minor when he committed his crime and then goes on to become a professional fighter, but is hated by everyone because of his dark past.
This is not a story about redemption. Shamo is a bad man who doesn’t care about anything except getting stronger and winning. Yet, we can’t help but sympathise with him. For me, it helps connect with some of my own darker feelings and perhaps teenage angst.
It is a very dark manga. I collected the entire comic series and brought it back to the UK. Unfortunately, I can’t read it as my Japanese is not at a high-enough level, but you can follow the story just by looking at the drawings.
Here is an image of Shamo training in the mountains. Just looking at this picture motivates me to start exercising.
Not being honest to what you like
The curious thing was that when I was a kid, I noticed a few kids seemed to really like anime and manga but never openly admitted it. At school, I often accompanied my friend to a manga comic shop in Birmingham. Whilst there, he would lose himself in the shop looking at various merchandise. For me, I honestly tried to find something I liked there, but it didn’t interest me the time, so I would just wait for him to finish. He would also buy things to sell to other kids at school.
One time he met up with a couple of kids who he was selling some manga to. These were two relatively popular kids and on both occasions, they seemed kind of embarrassed and coy when I was there, as they realised that someone else knew their ‘secret’ that they liked manga and anime.
Personally, I didn’t care whether they liked manga or anime or not. As I said, I have my own otaku interests. But I was curious why these popular kids became all embarrassed to be found out.
Then I realised that actually a lot of people like these kind of ‘otaku things’ but are ashamed to admit it. They are afraid of being judged. What a strange thing.
Why should popular kids care about such things. Could it be that popular kids are actually not so brave deep down or that they are not being true to themselves? And what happens when these kids become adults? Do they continue to lie about that they like in life and just put on a show? Food for thought.
This is the reason why I really like going to Hyper Japan festival in London, UK. When I go there, I see so many young people dressed up in the most outstanding cosplay outfits, with makeup and hairpieces, all based on certain anime characters.
They look incredible and they are not bothered at all at how they look. They are honest to themselves and it is refreshing to see people enjoy themselves and not care about how others judge them.
Exceptions to self-expression
This may seem to go against my general message, but there are times in life when you have to conform. Otherwise, it can cause you all sorts of problems or hold you back if you try to express too much. Here are some examples:
School is one of those things you have little control over in life. It’s more of a training ground for young souls. The training doesn’t last forever. You can’t always control your school, or who your classmates are. And truthfully most kids at school are going to be jackasses and can be incredibly cruel.
School is the time to conform if you want to get by. If you don’t, you may find yourself the target of bullying for the remainder of your school years. It is simply not worth the hassle or the fight. The great thing is that school doesn’t last too long. Once you get to college or university age, or you leave, than the reverse comes true. You enter an age where you can start to freely express yourself.
Hicksville or ChavsTown
If you live in a small-minded community, where people standing out can get abuse or threats, than you may have to be wary of expressing too much otaku-ness. Cities like London are great places to express yourself and find like-minded people, but smaller towns are not so.
Making a living, means to a certain extent you have to conform. Some jobs will require a certain dress-code and adherence to a certain appearance. It all depends what you choose for your work.
In your own spare time, do what you love though. Work is not your life.
Ramming it down others throats
There’s nothing more annoying than being the guy or gal who shoves their thing in some one else’s faces as a kind of message. Its kind of like the gay guy in the comedy series ‘Little Britain’, who is proud of being ‘the only gay in the village’ and just keeps repeating it to everyone to get attention.
Embrace your otaku-ness because it gives you life-satisfaction, not because you want to make a statement, get more attention or use it as a weapon to make others feel uncomfortable. If this last paragraph makes you feel uncomfortable, than it’s probably true.
How to appear less Otaku, (whilst still being an otaku)
Well to finish, here is a small bit of guidance of how to achieve two things: The coolness and bravery aspects of being an otaku, combined with a sense of conformity and style so you can be attractive to others.
1. Firstly, never give up what you love.
If it gives you please in life and doesn’t hurt anyone else, then keep doing it. No one has the right to take that away from you. Be true to yourself.
2. Embrace the style-side
Find a friend or family member you can trust, who is sensitive enough to give you fashion advice. I’m sorry, but your taste in fashion sucks.
Become more fashionable. This is not very hard to do. Just study people you admire or buy some male fashion magazines. Just do it. You can be an otaku and look cool and attract girls.
3. Build a bigger network of friends.
Otaku tend to hang out with other otaku. Naturally it is comfortable to be with people who won’t judge you and accept you. In fact you mirror each other. But the risk is that you will lock yourself into a limited world.
Sure, there are lots of assholes out there, but you don’t need to be friends with any of them. There are also plenty of decent people out there also. Give them a chance to get to meet you.
Lay off the porn. It is just a poor substitute for human relationships. It won’t give you anything other than short-term pleasure. If you go too much into it, it can suck your life away and create a muggy cloud over you, that people can pick up on. The reason is that it is addictive and low-energy.
Go to the gym, exercise, or simply walk more. Do anything that improves your body and energy. Most otaku are young males in relatively good health so it is good to work with that energy. Becoming more active really changes your energy-vibe, which makes you more positive and even more attractive. Exercise clears any negative vibes around you.
Wash every day. Some otaku do not wash. If you do not wash at least every other day, you will smell bad. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like it – just do it already! Some Otaku don’t wash as a way of pushing people away. This indicates a deeper mental or emotional problem, that they need help with.
It may be worth exploring just what is the cause behind adopting the otaku lifestyle and mindset. Perhaps it is a way of avoiding a painful situation in life. By dressing in an unfashionable way, you are effectively putting a barrier between you and the world. You are saying ‘stay away’. This is especially the case with an otaku who doesn’t wash and consequently smells.
I think it’s fine to escape for a while and throw yourself into something that give you pleasure like following the life of a pop idol or a favourite anime. But eventually, you have to face life. You may find that even though it may be very painful, once you pass through it, your life will dramatically transform for the better.
Be proud that you have your own way
Finally, be proud of yourself. It takes guts to follow a counterculture lifestyle. In the grand scheme of things, it will give your life a richness and makes you interesting. Perhaps people may not appreciate that, but so what. No one is perfect.
Side-note regarding the title of this article: ‘You are all Otaku’
The title of this article is paraphrased by Sakurazawa Nyoiti’ 1960’s classic book, ‘You Are All Sanpaku‘. This is a book promoting the Japanese Macrobiotic diet. Sakurazawa Nyoiti (also known as George Ohsawa), was one of the founders and a fervent promoter of the Macrobiotic diet in the West.
Sanpaku is a made-up term, which relates to a state of poor health, specifically chronic fatigue, low sex-drive, bad temper, poor sleep and an unclear mind.
At first glance, the word Otaku has nothing to do with Sanpaku, but perhaps some aspects of the otaku lifestyle has some similar components.
Go forth and be at one with the otaku within
This is the end of this three-part series. I think the underlying message is that otaku is just a form of self-expression and of finding your own ‘tribe’. Otaku have to be quite strong mentally to go against normal society and express and fully embrace their interests in what they like. I think it would be great if more of us could so the same. The world would be a much more interesting and colourful place.
Imagine if we all looked the same, dressed the same, listening to the same music, went to the same places, had the same experiences? Well we may as well be robots. And yet, there are some people in life who do live like this.
So I say, embrace the inner otaku however he or she manifests and bring colour to your life. And if the inner otaku is not accepted where you live, then it’s time to find the place where you do belong. Your spirit will thrive.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this series of articles. And that you are now ready to embrace your inner otaku.
My 2 years old son with my dragon ball figurine and a female doll I won in a shooting arcade in an Aeon mall in Japan. I don’t know which anime it is from. My son pulled off parts of her jetpack.
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