Otaku: Nerd; geek or fanboy. Originates from a polite second-person pronoun meaning "your home" in Japanese. Since the 1980s it's been used to refer to people who are really into Japanese pop-culture, such as anime, manga, and videogames. A whole generation, previously marginalized with labels such as geek and nerd, are now calling themselves otaku with pride.
The Otaku Encyclopedia offers fascinating insight into the subculture of Cool Japan. With over 600 entries, including common expressions, people, places, and moments of otaku history, this is the essential A to Z of facts every Japanese pop-culture fan needs to know. Author Patrick W. Galbraith has spent several years researching deep into the otaku heartland and his intimate knowledge of the subject gives the reader an insider's guide to words such as moé, doujinshi, cosplay and maid cafés. In-depth interviews with such key players as Takashi Murakami, otaku expert Okada Toshio, and J-pop idol Shoko Nakagawa are interspersed with the entries, offering an even more penetrating look into the often misunderstood world of otaku. Dozens of lively, colorful images--from portraits of the interview subjects to manga illustrations, film stills and photos of places mentioned in the text--pop up throughout the book, making The Otaku Encyclopedia as entertaining to read as it is informative.
Patrick W. Galbraith
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Back in the '90s, a lot of us would learn Japanese slang from Todd & Erika Geers "Making Out in Japanese" or purchasing Kodansha's awesome Romanized Japanese-English Dictionary.
For those of us into Japanese culture, we had issues of "Mangajin" to help us learn Japanese and translating manga, anime and even Japanese music was a common thing for us into Japanese pop culture.
Fast forward to 2011 and times have changed a lot. Manga and anime are easily available through legit and non-legit means, you can find Japanese translated lyrics quite easily and with the Internet, people are even more closely connected to Japan. To the point where Akihabara and forums like 2Chan are easily integrating slang to not just otaku's regular day lexicon but also many fans abroad.
Talk to fans today, may it be going to a convention and them saying I want to "glomp" that cosplayer or interviewing the Queen of Akihabara Haruko Momoi and she keeps dropping words like "moe"...
The first time I ever heard the word Otaku, or paid attention to it, was around 1999 or 2000, when there a were a series of muggings in the Akihabara area and the victims were all "otaku". The young punks picking on them called it "Otaku-gari" or Hunting Otaku. Apparently, teenagers and younger, would come to the area loaded with cash to buy dolls, games, and comic books and since they tended to be a little wimpy--they were easy pickings. Words like "moe" (affection for fantasy characters and 2-D objects etc) were things I never understood very well. This book does a fantastic job of explaining the mind of the Otaku, the various influential anime (Japanese animation) films and there are a number of stand alone pieces on Japanese authors and creators that are outstanding. I also enjoyed Patrick's personal stories and his explanation of his own experiences with the subculture. More than a reference book, it's a joy to read and eye-opening.
Although I found this book interesting and useful, for both relative noobs and studied foreign otaku, it had a number of flaws which prevent it from being truly perfect.
My biggest annoyance was the occasionally completely unneeded value judgements, referring to things as "creepy," "pathetic," or "disturbing." Galbraith calls himself an otaku, so I don't see why he feels the need to put down other parts of otaku culture. This only occurs occasionally, but to hardcore otaku, it might leave a bad taste in their mouth.
It also has a number of small oddities, like: - Even though he slavishly sticks to Japanese titles and pronunciations, like "idoru," in the back of the book he uses a few English title translations that were never used in the official English release. For example, in North America, "Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-Chan" was officially released as "Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan," but he calls it "Club to Death Angel, Dokoro-chan." And he uses "Red-Eyed...
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