Otaku Diaries Part 6: The Otaku post for people who hate Otaku.

You cannot set foot in a convention without being ashamed of fandom.

This is sort of a follow up post to the Otaku! Threat or Menace? article. However, this time around we delve a little deeper into those little pieces of fandom make you just that much more otaku. And still another post will follow this one soon about that question of just what do otaku think of fandom past and present and where is it all headed. But here you will see that anime is this creature that affects people in different ways and has a draw for people that runs both shallow and deep. And amidst all that is the wonder how the community gets along at all!

I see more and more a very disturbing attitude among anime and manga fans. This idea that they are “too good to be anime and manga fans.” The idea that them and maybe a few other people are above the hoi polloi with their horrible taste, bad manners, and overall immaturity that makes people have a bad impression of the fandom. The problem is that so many fans now a days have this feeling it means at least some of them are wrong. Either the majority of anime fans are not as bad as they think or some of the people are that part of the problem see themselves above. We are going to try to see how prevalent and pervasive this feeling is in our participants.

I don’t really feel disgust towards fellow fans because I did the same things they’re doing. I can just hope that they try to turn themselves around as I’m slowly doing.

It generally goes along with adding ‘-chan’ to everyone’s name and asking boys to kiss each other.

Sports fans can be just as sad as anime fans. I just happen to be an anime fan so shitty anime fans piss me off more. I mean there are a laundry list of reasons to be proud of anime fandom and to be ashamed.

So, the sexy statistics. You might assume that anime fandom is made up of horrible people with sickly fetishes seeing how some people talk on the Internet. But overall most people had rather mundane tastes. Guys were unsurprisingly into large breasts and oral sex. In fact that was so mundane and ubiquitous we did not bother tracking it. The most common fetishes were uniforms and glasses which were popular with both sexes. We did have 4 self confessed lolicons, 2 people into futanari, and 2 people who said they preferred 2-D girls to real ones. But they were mostly the same people. So while there were people that get much negative attention they were in the minority. I was surprised that women went into very little detail about their fetishes in anime. Also there were only 2 women who said that she was into yaoi in the fetishes question despite the fact that several women said they were fujoshi. I had always assumed that we reached the point were women were just as comfortable talking about what turns them on as much as men but that might not be as true as I thought.

Okay, can I just say that large chests and oral sex are not fetishes. They mean you are a dude. It would be a fetish if you DIDN’T like those things, thus why we listed flat chests. The only real knowledge gained from this question was that most people are still run of the mill when it comes to their fetishes. Anime otaku aren’t just made up of a bunch of sexual deviants. But just the same with only a sampling for 40 people, prominent tastes like lolicon stand out with about a 10% cut. I, too, was blown away by the lack of yaoi mentions. I am not even sure why it happened because plenty of people mentioned yuri, so it’s not as if people just overlooked these things. However, with our sample of females being very low (only 11 participants) perhaps it just wasn’t large enough to show a more open manner with regards to sexual proclivities.

. . . being a yaoi fan I often feel quite ashamed of my fandom. I know that yaoi isn’t exactly high art, it’s a pandering genre meant to be instantly gratifying, and so it’s not surprising that it doesn’t attract the most intelligent people. Still, I wish that most young yaoi fans weren’t quite so loud and obnoxious, it really makes the rest of us look bad.

If I’m ashamed of any sort of fan, it’s the fans who hate what they don’t like with a passion equal to how they like what they like.

The behavior of other fans tends to irritate me . . . and it’s only recently that I realized that the “at least I’m not a fucking loser like THOSE PEOPLE!” defense is just a defense mechanism that redraws the line a lot. I’m so far over the line of normalcy without ever having crossed the line and become “one of those people” that the line I drew may as well have been meaningless.

Almost everyone who took the survey felt that other people in fandom disgusted them at some point but only a third of the people surveyed ever felt any disgust with themselves. These results can be used to paint two different pictures. The first is there is this small group of anime fandom that gives everyone else a bad name. The second is that there is circular finger pointing at everyone else who they think is the problem. The fact of the matter is both are true. There are people who are just outright embarrassing fans. Only the most lenient in the survey did not bring up people behaving badly at cons. The other problem is best summed up with “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?” There are lots of fans who are overall good fans but have distinctly nasty habits. They see the bad habits of their peers but gloss over or ignore their own faults.

I’m a crusader against 4-chan culture. It’s disgustingly base and I’m a slave to the good and beautiful.

Most telling is that almost all fans were ashamed of other fans, but most not of themselves. So either most participants were upholding their high ideals of fandom or people don’t always see themselves as they actually are. The “it’s not me, it’s them” defense is what us and most other people probably think off the bat. However, that idea contrasts with much of the other answers we’ve gotten for other questions in the survey. People have been rather open about a myriad of personal things. Is it possible there is a disconnect when it comes to their fandom? Are people so caught up in it (otaku afterall) that they can’t really take a step back to evaluate that part of their lives? Or is it that other common happening of a few ruining this for the many?

Helped me be a better person? Find solace in a shared experience? Provided a comforting, reassuring presence when all around is chaos? . . . Been an inspiration helping me to discover new ways of seeing and thinking? Absolutely.

I don’t think there are too many good life lessons in anime. Sure, shooting a woman after sleeping with her may work for Golgo 13 but I’m thinking I just can’t pull it off in quite the same way.

Both the internet and cons have similar situations that become out of hand and can cast a shadow on anime fandom as a whole, and have cast a shadow as the opinions here express, which has many people fed-up. Biggest problem, as I see it, it too much information syndrome. And screaming it at the top of your lungs to anyone and everyone who is even remotely involved in your hobby. In a day and age where everyone is comfortable talking about anything, people just wish you wouldn’t. This coupled with, how many participants put it, the younger fans running wild in any anime meet up setting is making fellow fans cringe. But at the very same time, the internet and conventions is what has brought so many fans together. It even made doing this survey possible and as many people mentioned it allowed them to finally connect with others. More than a few people met friends and significant others through this very hobby. And as much as everyone complained about the anime community, almost everyone on the survey wants to continue to be apart of it. Just look at how many fans go one step further and create fan works or write about anime.

Overall I think this trend of anime and manga fans who hate anime and manga partially comes from this idea that people are surrounded by nothing but vile idiots. They enjoy anime and manga but see it as a fandom filled with people everyone should avoid. They get this attitude that they are above such things so they are thereby separated from what they dislike in fandom. But the answer is not to separate yourself from the community. It is to see the value it what makes anime and manga fandom great and and trying to encourage what is wonderful and productive anime being an otaku.

. . . it has provided a way for people in high school to stereotype me, which makes it hard for me to break through barriers and befriend new people. Pretty much I am know as the “anime kid,” so it takes some effort to convince other kids that I’m a normal, rather friendly person, and not some sort of bumbling social reject.

I wouldn’t be friends with nearly as many people and it kind of gives me a sense of belonging.

Despite what people said about hating their fellow fans I think the evidence points to people not being a hostile as they might let on at times. 80% of the participants had tried to learn Japanese at some point. There seemed to be a genuine interest in learning about Japanese culture and the Japanese language. A good deal of the people had contributed to some sort of activity for the anime community to enjoy be it a blog, podcast, fanzine, AMV, fan fiction, or fan art. And most everyone else who did not do one of those at least partook in the efforts of someone else who did.

What I really took away from this part of the survey is a desire that everyone wants to be a better fan. Everyone recognizes bad behavior so it is only another step to seeing it, and correcting it, within ourselves. And more positively is that people want to be apart of their hobby, anime fans maybe more than others. With few means to actually communicate with or becoming involves in the creative process of anime, fans are looking to connect themselves in different ways, some fun and some thoughtful (some a little of both). Anime fandom has a huge, and vocal, community and people want to be apart of it even if there are deterrents to it.

As much as they complained about hating other fans they usually had kind words about the people they had connected to. Anime fans want to make connections to their fellow fans and often do. There was rumbling of displeasure with their fellows in most peoples surveys but they were also able to talk about what they liked and who they felt exemplify what had drawn them and kept them in the fandom. The people who took the time to fill out this massive survey obviously cared enough about anime fandom to make their voices heard and that if nothing else is a good sign of people who still care.


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.

Continue reading

Otaku Diaries Part 4: Mirror, mirror on the wall who's the fairest of them all?

People never seem to pay attention to me so I take that as a sign that I am average looking.

This part of the survey is really about how otaku see themselves, not how the outside world sees them. Though of course our own opinions, whether we like it or not, are largely based on what we have experienced in the world around us. Here, more than ever, honesty is about taking away any facade you may have in the presence of others and telling it how you really see it. And in this way the results may not be the “truth” but they are a way to gauge confidence, self-esteem, and to understand how we measure up to our fellow otaku.

Over the years I have learned one simple fact: Everyone views events through their own unique filter. You can have 100 different people experience the same event and get 100 different interpretations. The simplest example is asking someone if a glass is half-empty or half-full. But each person paints their view of the world from their own individual paint set. Some colors come from birth and upbringing and some colors come from experiences in life. But the pictures each person creates have a style that come from our interpenetration of events as well. This goes for internal perception as well as external. The next few Otaku Diary posts will look at the self portraits that a participants drew of themselves. How does the otaku surveyed view themselves? Do otaku see themselves as half empty or half full?

I know I have the potential to fit my own views, but unfortunately I got dealt a hand that hasn’t made my appearance easy.

I don’t think it would surprise anyone to hear that many otaku don’t have much confidence when it comes to themselves, in this case their outward appearance. This is a long discussed issue for many adolescents but it can come down harder on the geek/nerd/dork variety leading into an adulthood plagued by putting no stock in their appearance. Looks can be a major factor in bullying or isolation as well, two things that in our previous survey showed to be very prevalent in the group. This can have varying results between being able to value others beyond them not being (or being) conventionally good looking or becoming bitter to the point of rejecting anything that has to do with outward looks. However, those resulting characteristics weren’t apparent. But looking at the overall reaction to this question, I have to say I’m rather impressed with the positive results. It seems quite natural and possibly the reaction you would get should you ask 40 random people on the street the same thing.

I wouldn’t, but I must be with all the girls that I attract. Somedays I see it, others I don’t.

No, something is always out of place. Either my skin, or I have put on some weight and have a disproportional gut, or my hair looks awful-even if it all was fine, I’ m not really a looker.

Simply put the pretty people of the world as less inclined to get into geeky hobbies. That does not mean that everyone who is a geek is average looking or unattractive. Especially after more women have entered into anime and manga fandom, the overall attractiveness of the average con goer and anime club member has slightly increased. But our results seem to indicate overall otakudom is filled with those people who are not so good-looking that everyone gathers around them. But they also indicate it is not just made up of the dregs. We see a decent bell curve of attractiveness in our participants. This more honest self-evaluation of appearance is what I expected. I think people are better able to judge how attractive they are because it is easy to gauge other people’s reactions to them. Individual prejudices will cause some people to be overly harsh on themselves and others overly generous but overall it is easier to see if people think your are appealing than if they think you are smart.

In short, yes. I’ve seen such insane amounts of stupidity both in person and via news sources and such that the average person is clearly not very intelligent.

On the other hand, if there is one thing that a majority of otaku seem to agree on, it’s that they have a higher intelligence level than the everyday person. This isn’t surprising, but setting the results of perceived intelligence against perceived attractiveness shows where and what the confidence levels are. Being smart sets them apart, this explains why other people don’t understand them, and this can be how they take pride. For a lot of people, being smart was who they are, it came somewhat naturally to them from an early age. In an extreme case it could be even used as something to hold over people, to exert strength in lieu of say popularity or charisma. It’s almost as if aren’t good-looking you have to be smart, or atleast you have to think you are. Being a fan of anime and manga may not make you automatically smarter, obviously we have all seen conversations that would blow that theory out of the water, however geeky hobbies to tend lead its participants to theorize, debate, and converse on a different level.

I consider myself worlds beyond the average person.

Work in any job that interacts with the general public on a daily basis and you’ll soon discover that the average human being is pretty damn dumb.

Yes, and I have the IQ scores to prove it.

I’d usually prefer not to come out and say it directly like that, but at least if you’re talking about “book smarts” the answer would probably have to be yes.

Where as the we had a nice bell curve with attractiveness we had no such phenomenon with intelligence. People were much more willing to brag how much smarter they were than the average person. I think that comes from two major factors. The first being that like many geeky hobbies, it draws people who tend to be smarter. Clearly not everyone who is intelligent is drawn to doing geeky things and not everyone doing geeky things will be smart. But I want to believe that animeĀ  attracts a more intelligent crowd than more mass media materials. The other reason for the higher numbers is your evaluation of your intelligence is so much more internal therefore easier to paint yourself as smart. Unless your self-esteem is broken or experience has shown you be to utterly outclassed by your peers, you tend to think of yourself as intelligent because intelligence is all in your head. It is much easier to assume everyone is wrong about you not be so smart than it is to assume that everyone is wrong about you actually being hot.

One word questions are difficult but also telling. What is the word that people would walk away with after meeting you for the first time? Some people cheated and gave more than one word, so for them I had to just pick from the list of options. Only one person flat out refused to answer it. We had a couple of overlaps, but for the most part everyone came up with something all their own. While I think this type of question is very difficult, it is also very telling. Some said things along the lines of “I hope it would be . . .” or others answered with just the word, as if they knew it without any doubt.

Creative, Arrogant, Grumpy, Insane, Otaku, Strange, Eccentric, Intellectual, Enigma, Anxious, Interesting, Unique, Pragmatic, Funny, Energetic, Nice, There, Unpredictable, Villain, Lazy, Hidden, Awesome, Asshole, Sincere, Thoughtful, Roadrunner, Social, Unforgettable, Excited, Shy, Even-keel, Quiet, Opinionated, Verbose, Passionate, Nice, Inward, Eccentric, Weird

I was impressed that we had few overlaps in the words. The question seems to ask what other people think of you. But in all actuality it mostly shows what you think your most prominent feature is. Everything from extremely positive to extremely negative. There was a tendency to go for the more unusual, off kilter, or inwards words but I think that is the tenancy of most nerds. Please note that even words that seem similar have very important distinctions. “Shy,” “quiet,” and “there” might all seem the same but they imply very different things. In my opinion shy implies a positive connotation. Someone who has a lot to offer but is not able to easily show that to others. Quiet is much more neutral. It implies nothing other than the person is not quick to open up to others. The word there on the other hand is quite negative. It implies people have gone out of their way not to connect to the person and perhaps have reason to. It is amazing to me how much of a person you can get from a single word. Also people tend to be slightly more unguarded with such questions.

I don’t have much of a presence or personality, so I’m not that memorable. The best one could probably say years later was that I was just there.

An interesting question that arises in my mind is whether or not looks has anything to do with people becoming engrossed in their chosen hobbies. Does one influence the other? Obviously not everyone who is attractive avoids geeky hobbies like the plague and likewise not every intelligent person has participated in a game of “Who would win in a fight?” I also find it telling that almost everyone found themselves to be smarter than the average person, I wonder how that would stack up if we changed to the question to “Are you smarter than the average anime fan?” In any case, people seem to take much pride and perhaps just a little bit of devilish joy in saying they are brighter than most bulbs.

If it is a a school, a job, a hobby, or anything else there is a certain type of person that is more likely to be drawn to it. How much attractiveness has to do with this is a good question. Another question that pops into my head due to our results is if otakudom and the world in general is mostly made of average looking people who just think they are much smarter than they actually are? I mean I think we have all had conversations with members of anime community that have proven 75% of anime fandom is not made of the world’s greatest think tanks. On the other hand, I have had conversations with people in fandom that have proven to me that some very intelligent people are members of the community who can dissect trends, analyze information, and create works of amazing genius. This leads me to think that while there is some delusion of the overall intelligence of anime fans it is not without a grain of truth.