Friday, January 30, 2004

Domo Aragato, Mr. Otaku

The Great Otaku Debate continues, courtesy of Shawn Fumo:

Just a quick note that I wrote a lot on the subject at my blog.

As I mention, while WaiWai is definitely tabloidish, it doesn't meanthere are no cultural frictions involved...

One comment on the guy that wrote in on the definitions of Otaku. I'm fairly sure the Gainax movie came out after it was a fairly negative word. Otaku no Video is kind of a self-parody of the industry while still obviously having a love for it. The main story involves a regular kid who gets involved with a group of nerdy kids, everyone from anime fans to model builders to military enthusiasts. He gets
more and more evolved, eventually becoming the "Otaking", the greatest fan of them all.. ;) It is also interspersed with fake live-action segments that profile various kinds of fans, some of which have their faces hidden by shadows to protect their identities, many of which were done by staff members...

Gainax was actually a group of hobbiest animators that first joined together to make some videos for a sci-fi convention, sort of collages of sci-fi pop culture in Japan at the time. Eventually they started up their own company and Gainax was born, so they've always been a bit more playful and self-depricating than most.

Dreamland Japan is a really good book. It is a little outdated now, as it is from the 90s, but it looks at a lot of aspects of the market at that time, everything from issues of censorship to how the market is split up by genere and sales numbers, as well as profiles of the various anthology magazines and some individual authors.

Don't really have a lot to add to that, other than Mr. Fumo's blog is amazingly informative - its certainly worth a minute or five out of your busy day.

Looking around, I see some pretty interesting discussion about the schisms between superhero fandom and, er, everything else - discussed somewhat in this article and elaborated by Mr. Fumo. He eventually gets around to something thta might just be the most important problem facing the general domestic comics industry:

We could use more people who are just generally casual readers and might not be involved with any comic cultures, or even create their own cultures that are separate.

Is it even remotely possible to say that enough? I don't think so.

Fumo goes on to discuss the "conversion" theory of comics advocacy. Its sad but true - for some reason there seems to be this mindset in some quarters that if you can get a friend to read a comic they must be just two seconds away from becoming a stark raving comics fiend. It just aint the case, and as long as people continue to have this really insular attitude about these things, the problem isn't going to get any better. Of course, on the other hand, the fandom we're left with is pretty much the hard-care who couldn't conceive of the notion of a "casual" fan if their lives depended on it. I'm sure these days most retailers would probably ratehr take the 50-50 chance of a new reader becoming a casual/occasional customer than the 5-95 longshot that they'll become an obsessive.

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