Otaku Diaries Part 1: Lies, damn lies, and statisticsJuly 6, 2009
So begins what is our most ambitious project so far, the Otaku Diaries. The Otaku Diaries is a peek into the minds and lives of a diverse selection of members of anime fandom. We asked for their stories of what makes them fans and how has their anime fandom effected their lives and loves. We asked what do anime and manga fans have in common and what makes them individuals. We have asked how they feel about anime and manga, their fellow fans , and themselves. I am sure anyone who has ever been a part of an anime club or gone to a convention has wonder what is up with that guy or what is that girl’s story. The people who responded to fill out the survey come from a wide of variety of backgrounds from all over the world. We had participants of all ages, genders, ethnicities, professions, and backgrounds. The only requirement that was a necessity was a love of anime and manga.
This idea came up quite suddenly and almost as suddenly it became a reality. Maybe we are just a curious duo, and since we paint ourselves as sleuths maybe this is no surprise, but we just plain wanted to know about the growing hordes of otaku out there. People involved heavily in a hobby have something that bonds them to their fellow connoisseurs. However, it becomes increasingly clear the more people you meet that there is no one story that is the same and many don’t seem to deem their peers as equals. But maybe, just maybe, there are more things to relate to than previously thought. In fact, one of the reasons I was curious to do this is the sweeping diversity and sometimes fracturing of anime fandom.
We asked 40 anime fans for a brief self-description along with 125 questions broken into in three categories. Questions asked about the user’s relationships, self-image, and views of otakudom. We tried to pick questions that gave us a detailed look into the lives of each of our participants. Through these answers we hopped to gain a better understanding of how each participant dealt with their friends, families, lovers, fellow anime fans, and themselves.
Any good research should start with some basic statistics of your group! So before diving in to the more telling answers in coming posts we wanted you to have any idea of just who our participants are:
Our goal was never to view fandom as a whole because our sample size is just too small. It would be nice to do so but we just don’t have the man power and time for that sort of experiment. We would need at least 1,000 participants to make any sort solid conclusions. Instead we focused on getting a more intimate look at a smaller sample size. So when we makes observations it is important to remember that we are only basing our observations on the people included in our survey. We are not as foolish as to assume that a sample of 40 people necessarily fully represent of all of anime fandom. If we were to do that, just by our statistics only we would conclude that there are no gays or lesbians in anime and manga fandom. Which is clearly crazy talk. Such a small sample size will also lead to some amount of skewed results due to the roulette of chance. This does not mean that there is nothing to be gained other than entertainment for the experiment. There are truths and revelations in our participants answers. They are just more likely to be personal answers rather than universal ones.
I don’t think we have aspired so high as to make any concrete observations here. Heck, we are missing the entire non-English speaking world of anime fans! But there is something to be learned from any one person, let alone having 40 telling you their stories. I was looking forward to seeing the varying degrees by which all fans live but also to see how their stories relate to my own. Perhaps that sounds incredibly self-serving but I think everyone, us included, will walk away from this venture with a bit of a better understanding of their fellow anime neighbors.