Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Two words from Japan: otaku and tsunami

Just a round up of some aspects of otaku culture and the tsunami in Japan – it seems these reports in the Asahi could be coordinated. First an arts group called Chaos Lounge bemoans the fact that otaku culture (from which the group spring) hasn't responded appropriately to the quake and disaster.

It could be argued that the core otaku culture doesn't respond well to much outside itself – that's partly what defines it as otaku/geek. The name suggests a certain self-centredness. But perhaps the claim of inappropriate response is belied by the mainstream, otaku-connected like Takashi Murakami donating work to an auction to raise money for those who have been hit by the disaster. Or two reports of manga (not necessarily otaku-created themselves of course – but manga in general is part of both otaku and a wider culture) that take as their theme the response to the quake – here the story of a tsunami-hit railway, and here about the human response as a woman considers the effects of giving birth in the post-disaster area (pictured below).

So, I'm not sure how true the original questioning is. Except, of course, the currently big news for those seriously obsessed with one meeting point between popular and otaku culture – the all-girl pop group AKB48 – can visit a new website which allows you to wonder what your baby would look like if you had it with a group and a member. Not a great response to world events in general.

Meanwhile, the top illustration is the cover of a book released in the summer, which features images from a manga of 32 years ago – about the fear of Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

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