In modern Japanese slang, otaku refers to an overly obsessed fan of any one particular theme, topic, or hobby. The term is used most commonly with anime or manga otaku, but by itself just means “fanatic.” Thus, there are many varieties of otaku in Japan, such as paso-kon otaku (personal computer geeks), game otaku, idol otaku, tetsudou otaku (metrophiles), or gunji otaku (military geeks), etc. Furthermore, while in Japanese the term otaku possesses a fairly derogatory air about it, internationally, the term has evolved to mean, simply, an obsessed fan of Japanese manga or anime (or more broadly, Japanese popular culture). Thus, outside of Japan, serious devotees of anime and/or manga proudly refer to themselves as otaku. Train Man: Densha Otoko is the allegedly true story of one otaku who posted his story on the famous internet bulletin board 2ch (http://www.2ch.net/). 2ch is the largest internet forum in the world. With over ten million visitors a day, 2ch is gaining a significant profile in Japanese society, competing for influence with traditional mass media such as television, radio, and magazines. 4-ch (http://4-ch.net/) is an English-language website, with discussion boards for English speakers, presented in the style of 2ch. It also contains a board where Japanese 2ch users can talk to each other in Japanese.
Read More about Otaku Subcultures!
Cruising the Anime City: An Otaku Guide to Neo Tokyo
By Patrick Macias and Tomohiro Machiyama
(Stone Bridge Press, 2004, ISBN 1-880656-88-4)
If you’re into anime and manga, there’s no place like Neo Tokyo. Here, otaku dress-up cosplay-style for real, more than 100,000 fans attend cons to buy and trade their favorite wares, and anime soundtracks are performed in concert halls. Neo Tokyo is where anime has become both urban fashion and cultural zeitgeist, and this is its first street-smart guide in English. Featuring interviews with tastemakers, it covers studios, toys, museums, games, film “locations,” music, plus where to hang and how to cruise. Four-color, with maps and index. www.patrickmacias.blogs.com
By Satoru Fujii, Carl Gustav Horn, Mason Jones,
Patrick Macias, and Yuji Oniki
(Cadence Books, 1999, ISBN: 1569313458)
This lively, idiosyncratic survey of Japanese film, music, animation, and comics showcases the experiences of five avid American fans: journalist Carl Gustav Horn, who writes about anime; critic and musician Mason Jones, who releases Japanese alternative music on his Charnel Music record label; Patrick Macias, a writer on Asian film for the San Francisco Bay Guardian; Matt Thorn, a translator and expert on shojo (girls’) manga; and Yuji Oniki, a student of Japanese mass media.
The opening of Train Man: Densha Otoko takes place in the central Tokyo neighborhood of Akihabara. Filled with urban noise and neon lights, this “Electric Town” provides the setting for a true love story. Akihabara (referred to by locals as akiba) is known as one of the largest shopping areas on Earth for electronic, computer, anime, and otaku goods. It’s known around the world as the mecca of otaku culture. Akiba otaku lead a unique lifestyle, based around technological interests and love for anime and manga. It’s a lifestyle that’s made them outsiders in Japanese society. However, recently, with the rapid growth of the anime and manga market in Japan, otaku culture has gained a higher profile and generated greater interest in the Japanese media. The film Train Man: Densha Otoko is based on a bestselling book, Densha Otoko, released in 2005, that generated a mass-media craze over all things otaku. >> go to Akihabara Links
Rental Showcase and Gacha Gacha
The first appearance of “Train_Man” in the movie has him shopping at a “rental showcase” shop in Akihabara. In these shops, you can rent display cases for action figures, miniatures, promotional tie-in prizes, premium trading cards, vintage gacha gacha toys, etc. Gacha gacha is a coin-driven toy dispensing machine, somewhat like what you at the entrance of supermarkets in America. In the movie, a gacha gacha machine appears in a street scene in Akihabara, where an otaku guy gets excited over his gacha gacha toy. Originally, gacha gacha were meant for children, but recently a great deal of excitement has been generated over toys for grown-ups (as distinguished from “adult toys”). These “toys for grown-ups” are usually well-crafted figurines, sold for 100-200 yen, depending on the complexity of the item. All gacha gacha toys come in a spherical plastic capsule, something that Train_Man happens to drop on the subway, though in this case the capsule doesn’t come directly from a gacha gacha, but from the rental showcase shop. >> go to Rental Showcases Links
A manga café (or manga kissa in Japanese) is a kind of café in Japan where customers can read manga. Customers pay for the time they stay in the café. They may also be offered internet access, video games, television, magazines, and beverages as part of the fee. They can order snacks for extra, and more luxurious and newer cafés may even offer massage chairs or spa rooms. The history of manga cafés is a long one. The first manga cafés opened in Nagoya in the late 1970′s. These tended to be ordinary coffee shops offering a large collection of manga available for customers to read on the premises. Nowadays the cost for a manga café is around $4-5 an hour. Some manga cafes even offer a service where customers can stay the night for only about $13, which is nice for people who missed the last subway. In April 2006, a man was arrested for living in a manga cafe for 34 days without paying. >> go to Manga Café Links