Otaku Talks: Otaku Culture

This quote from Adam Millar’s exploration of the effect of the atomic bombs on Japanese Culture has struck a chord with me.

Although these cartoons and comics may seem unimportant, they are a window into the fears felt by Japan, and the deep scar that has yet to be healed.

For the whole of summer I have not been able to steer away from the word “escapism” and every time I talked to people about escapism within Japanese culture people got confused. And now I know why. I am not talking about japanese culture as a whole I am talking about a particular type of people. Otaku.

So I wanted to get deep down into the roots of what Otaku is and where it came from. This is an interview between

Toshio Okada, Kaichiro Morikawa and Takashi Murakami. 3 leading pioneers in Otaku culture.
Here are some selected quotes from the interview. To read the full transcript please follow the link.
Takashi Murakami: Okada-san, Morikawa-san, thank you for coming. Our topic today is the culture of otaku1 [literally, “your home”]. After Japan experienced defeat in World War II, it gave birth to a distinctive phenomenon, which has gradually degenerated into a uniquely Japanese culture. Both of you are at the very center of this otaku culture.
TM: Indeed, otaku are somewhat different from the mainstream. They have a unique otaku perspective, 

Anatomical diagram of “Flaming Monster Gamera” from An Anatomical Guide to Monsters, 1967

even on natural disasters. For example, the reaction of Kaiyodo’s3 executive, Miyawaki Shuichi, to witnessing the destruction of the Great Hanshin Earthquake4 in 1995 was, “I know it’s insensitive to say this [after such terrible disaster], but I think Gamera5 got it wrong.” You know, the aftermath of a real earthquake was used as a criterion in otaku criticism.

TO: At the time of the earthquake, I raced to Kobe from Osaka, hopping on whatever trains were still running, taking lots of pictures. I agree, Gamera got it wrong. To create a realistic effect of destruction, you need to drape thin, gray noodles over a miniature set of rubble. Otherwise, you can’t even approach the reality of twisted, buckled steel frames. It was like, “If you call yourself a monster-filmmaker, get here now!”
KM: …Over time, the focus of otaku taste shifted from science fiction to anime to eroge15 [erotic games], as young boys who once embraced the bright future promised by science saw this future gradually eroded by the increasingly grim reality around them. I think they needed an alternative.
This open theory by the research leaders on otaku culture that Otaku is a way of escaping in relation to natural disasters and the effect this had on Japan is really encouraging to me that I am going down the right track.

2 thoughts on “Otaku Talks: Otaku Culture

  1. Pingback: An Otaku Project |

  2. Pingback: Final script breakdown and analysis. |

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