Otaku Diaries Part 5: Recipe for an Otaku.

The further we dig into these surveys the more obvious it becomes that our sample group is a diverse bunch that surprises me more and more. As we say in the previous post about attractiveness, you might have gotten the same results by polling random passersby on the street. I think the same could be said for many of the answers in this section as well. Okay, so maybe the majority of respondents being students isn’t surprising. But as you’ll see there seems to be specific areas that really define the otaku group.

What are little otaku made of?
Action and mecha
And cat girl tails,
That’s what little otaku are made of.

What are little fujoshi made of?
Doujinshi and fanfiction
And everything BL,
That’s what little fujoshi are made of.

-The Great Poet, Hisui

That silliness aside what does go into making an otaku? What factors say that someone becomes an otaku rather than a video game player or a sport fanatic? Are these mutually exclusive? Do any any hobbies or interests foster otakudom or hamper it? Our recent review of the second Mechademia reminds of an article in the first by Susan Napier. She states that early anime fandom was made up of mostly of Asian male Computer Science students. If that was ever true this is clearly not the case anymore? But is there a dominant theme in what sets one down the path of hardcore anime fandom? Lets try and find out.

Once again esteem seemed to be a pretty good affair in these questions with many people linking what sets them apart to their intelligence. This has plenty of cross-over from our last look at attractiveness versus smarts. However, most people didn’t consider themselves overachievers in school. In fact, a few even mentioned being lazy but intelligent which allowed them to stay in the average zone without much work. Also, more than a few people mentioned writing as a special ability, in fact it was the only answer that stood out as being often said.

In school a majority of the applicants stated that they were average students. We had a good bell curve if a bit skewed toward being academic. Almost everyone said they had participated in some type of club or school activity. Also almost everyone claimed to have some sort of skill that made them standout. The participant’s school life tended toward normal if a bit nerdy. On the career path we saw that there was no clear dominant answer. A majority of the participants were students but this is unsurprising considering that anime fandom has started to skew younger than it used to. Although computer related jobs were the most common after the overwhelming number of students there were almost as many librarians and graphic designers are there were computer scientists. We had everything from acupuncturists to financial experts. While CS majors are hardly adverse to watching anime and reading manga they are also not pushing out people from all other professions as well.

. . . in fact people seem to say I don’t stand up for myself very often. . . . I’m always avoiding conflict.

I’m probably too forgiving actually – it tends to be a long time until I’m able to extricate myself out of a bad situation . . .

I’m a terrible procrastinator. . . . I really can’t work without the pressure of imminent deadlines.

With so many results in this survey likening the otaku crowd to the average joe, the pieces that pull them away are these ones about their temperaments. I found it especially true in the question about forgiveness. Many participants frequently used the phrase “too forgiving” within their answers. This may have a lot to do with a desire for acceptance among other things. This is also reflected by so few stepping up to be leaders, having doubt that anyone would follow them or believing they have the ability to move people as a whole.

From our results I would would gather that the average otaku tend towards being introverted and passive but not to an extreme. With 3/4 of the participants not having a temper and 78 percent being forgiving it seems that otkau tends words more mild mannered. We also see that 88 percent of the participants were prone to procrastination and only 38 percent considered themselves leaders. This further reinforces a feeling that otaku tend to be on the passive side. While there are always gregarious members of any group I think the result confirm the stereotype of the shy and quiet otaku being the majority. On the other hand 73 percent of the participants did not watch anime to escape reality. Then might be quieter people but they mostly do not run from their life. Or atleast that is how they perceive themselves.

Next to none intentionally. Although, sometimes, I do change what anime I watch depending on the mood . . .

People like me all too often gladly turn to moe or harem shows to provide a respite from the grim nature of existence, but I can’t believe the illusion.

I mostly watch it to have a good time and to talk about it with fellow fans.

One of the great things about the escapism question was the variety and thought so many people seemed to put into it. More often than not people came to the conclusion that they don’t use it in that manner. However, quite a few went on to talk about how all entertainment contains some level of escapism. This I find to be quite true, though the whole debate people have about realism in entertainment sort of throws a wench into such things. How often have the words “that is so unrealistic” been hurled at a show to which one might reply “who wants it to be realistic?” Different people like different levels of true to life in their fiction. And still many more participants expressed an old desire to escape but having since moved past that part of their life.

Unsurprisingly we did not get a huge punch of athletic fitness fanatics answering the survey. Most people talking the survey did not regularly exercise or watch what they ate. We had one or two participants they played sports or did some amount of light exercise but for the most part most participants did not seem overly concerned with fitness. Most people ate what they wanted when they wanted. They might do a little towards eating better by buying slightly healthier food when they could but it was hardly a lifestyle decision. I do wonder how much this has to do with the fact that they are otaku or the overall more sedentary lifestyle of people in modern times.

On the physical side of things, it comes off as a fairly standard affair in my eyes. Though there were more people than I expected who said they exercise regularly but still wasn’t so overwhelming to seem like anything but the average group of people. As for the medical conditions question, I don’t think it reflects much. Plenty of people have at least some small problem such as allergies which which we saw here all the way up to major medical concerns.

Hobbies on the other hand were just as varied as careers but we saw some distinct stand outs. Without a doubt the most common past time of anime fans was playing video games. There were almost twice as many people who played video games as participating as any other type of hobby. The next most common hobby was music. I think these reason for these two hobbies is two fold. The first is they both intersect with anime repeatedly. You can listen to anime music and play anime based video games as well as listen and play non anime related works. Also both hobbies are just extremely mainstream and enjoyed by most everyone now a days. We do see the more academic/geeky hobbies in the survey as well with good numbers of otaku into reading, writing, computers, and art. I also left dozen of hobbies including puzzles, motorcycles, and cooking as well as many others because they only had 1 participant who was active in that hobby. There was no one who participated in the survey who have at least two other hobbies other than anime and manga.

Some people have one hobby they subscribe to, but I’ve always found more often than not many hobbyists get embroiled in many different ones possibly due to the obsessive nature of it all. If we didn’t already know anime and video games had huge crossover audiences, we would now. But we did already know that so this just goes to confirm it. And a look at further results proves geeks are geeks in more ways than one.

The results of this section mostly reinforce the idea that it is nerds tend towards being otaku but that it is not a hard and fast rule. Even the the more introverted of the otaku tended to have outside interest and lives beyond the scope of their devotion to Japanese animation. I do wonder how different the answers would be if we took the same poll at a con. Is the number of introverts to extroverts in anime fandom a good representation or did the Internet nature of the project skew towards the introverted? No matter what I think we can conclude while there are certain types that are drawn to being an otaku but it is a lifestyle that draws people from all walks of life. Anime and manga may be more seductive to the geeky and the shy but they are not the only people who answer the call.

There is no straight road to becoming an otaku but there are certainly some lines that can be drawn to correlate the two. There are exceptions to every rule but it’s hard to deny there are some big similarities between many anime fans seen here and I think it would be further seen with a larger group. But really draw your own conclusions. This is all about realizing how much we fans differ and how much we are clearly joined by other than our fandom.

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