Saturday, March 13, 2010

Becoming the Western Otaku

Being an otaku is not an easy chore. In comparison to anime fans over in Asia, I could very well be considered extremely passive. I think about a year ago I came to grips with being one, or at least being on my way to one. What I needed to understand was if I was going down an embarrassing road that I needed to steer clear from, or that I was only going down the regimented path that all anime fans eventually succumb to. What would my friends think? Is this natural? More importantly, what would females think?

Do not be afraid. Being an otaku is not that bad of a monster. Lonecow, and Critic are some of my closest friends in real life, and at least as a form of solace, they would not only understand my situation, but probably encourage it. What I had to watch out for were the friends that didn't get it. They are the friends that call everything in animation "cartoons", and couldn't tell the difference between Sailor Moon and Haruhi. They feel slightly embarrassed to like a Pixar movie. They think to themselves, "he is just going through a fad." The best thing I could do with each of them was to shove it in their faces as much as possible. That's obviously not going to work for everybody, but for me, it worked perfectly. (I probably just felt more vindicated) Sometimes my roommate (very close anime-hating friend) would wake up to my Haruhi figma "snapping" a picture of him. Other times, if he is in his bathroom, I'd have a Queen's Blade battle going on in there. It may be a little extreme, but when someone insults a hobby of yours, there is no choice but to get figma violent. I could have water-board him though…

However, with all of them things turned from insulting, to annoyance, to indifferent. I'll never sway any of my non-anime liking friends over to my side, but as long as they are indifferent to what I'm doing, I win. (I'll just convince their gullible wives that anime is a terrific creative medium for kids, and therefore make their children grow up to love and desire anime)

If all else fails, just be the adult in the situation and make fun of their hobbies. That always works too.

Probably the scariest hurdle I personally had to deal with was the female reaction. How is she going to react to the Asuka adult toy you bought on your trip to Tokyo? Is she going to get upset that after you are intimate, you are cuddling the body pillow instead of her? These are tough questions that need to be addressed. In all seriousness, there is a level we will never achieve. All of us who contribute on Zeonic Front have been to Japan, and if we had daily access to the heavenly Akibahara, maybe I'd be singing a different tune. The reality is we don't, so whatever obsession you think you may harbor, we are far off from that sort of crazy. We are western otakus. We play sports! We go on riverboat gambling trips! I've experienced some comical moments through my otaku growth while dealing with women. I've had females develop a perception of me, and once they went into my room, it changed instantly. It's best to not be embarrassed. If they see that you are a little humiliated, it'll make you feel even worse later.

What worked for me was just plain honesty. Plus, I couldn't possibly hide that many figures that fast. In the beginning I started to think that once I posed figures around my home, if I brought a girl back to my place, I'd want to hide them as quickly as possible. As Critic pointed out on in an earlier blog entry, "How to be sexier for my Boyfriend" (and yes, Critic is straight), a girl doesn't need to really be into your hobbies that much anyways. If they are into you, they'll understand that anime is an extension of you, instead of it JUST being you. Little do they really know it's the latter. Plus if you look like a fatter Kevin Smith, D.J Qualls, or Francis from Pee Wee's Big Top Adventure dressed as Cloud Strife, just give up and accept what you are.

Becoming an otaku is the same as becoming a movie buff, a wine connoisseur, bird watcher or a serial killer. Everyone obsesses over something, and for me and many other people in North America, it happens to be Japanese animation. We need to enjoy ourselves.

Peace and Love