What do you find yourself talking about when in the presence of friends or family? If the subject is usually games, film, anime or manga you may indeed be an otaku. A common criticism of the otaku is that they spend vast amounts of time and energy immersing themselves in a world of fictional characters that have no real bearing on the ‘real’ world, but is that true?
The fictional characters and worlds are created by real people and as such, both the characters and the fantasy locations occupy reality as they are present in everyday life. Does one have to talk about the weather, stock market or sports? I fail to see the difference, sports are played by people and anime/manga is created by people and both are aimed to entertain so what’s the difference between cheering for David Beckham during a soccer match, or for L in Deathnote?
Both David Beckham and L can be seen as role models, role models are there to inspire people so it shouldn’t make a difference that one occupies a field while the other is in the pages of a book. The same can be said for hentai, people may mock someone for finding a drawing arousing but a pornographic photo and an erotic piece of artwork are both designed to stimulate the viewer, what is the difference exactly? Otaku are seen as introverted, anti-social people who generally confine themselves in their rooms or houses spending all their time watching TV or playing video-games. Sometimes that is the case, such with hikikomori who usually consist of people who seldom venture from the confines of their houses (save for food) and when they do it’s often at night. Many otaku (myself included) have like-minded friends and as a result there will be social gatherings, just like any other group. There are many conventions around the world that facilitate the needs of the otaku and they are places where like-minded people can meet and greet. Be it the Tokyo Game Show or various Comic Cons (I assure you there are a myriad) strewn throughout the world.
The other thing that many people fail to understand is that the world of otaku/geeks is invariably connected via cyberspace. The internet is literally bringing people closer together as more and more people are becoming involved in MMO games, forums, blogs and social networking sites and these number in the millions.
I don’t think the word ‘geek’ can be seen as a derogatory term anymore, the word ‘nerd’ was popular in the ’80s and was a term used by dumb people to describe smart people and in modern times geek is just another ‘character class’ like jock. I think people fall into different social groups for different reasons and that if something does interest you then you should pursue it. Besides, otaku have the most fun IMO, I mean; cartoons, cosplay, comics, and movies, what’s not to like? The aforementioned are designed to allow one to escape reality, real life can be pretty mundane so why not create something superior?
The realm of fiction is all about immersion, I don’t limit myself to fictional stories, though oftentimes they are far more entertaining than their non-fiction counterparts. I choose to live my life the way I do. A life of fiction is a fantastic and unpredictable one as the possibilities of what the human mind can come up with are endless. There’s a finite amount of things one can do in ‘the real world’, but in the realm of fiction and cyberspace, the possibilities are limitless.