Proud To Be A Pinoy Otaku

The title says it all, people.

I’ve announced to the world what I am, and I’m not a single bit ashamed of saying so. I am an otaku. Given my age, my upbringing, and what I have humbly accomplished in life, I’m probably your prototypical non-typical choice to be dubbed one. But I’ll accept the title of “otaku” over everything else people I know would call me.

You’re probably wondering why Kuya UC is ranting like this again. This is basically my reaction to the following video, from the GMA7 show Kablog (tama ba title?):
]Otalus on Kablog

To be clear, I have nothing against the two (of the three) persons interviewed in the segment. They’ve tried their best to clearly state why they call themselves otakus and the good points of being one. What I don’t like about the segment is the way the segment was edited. There seems to be a predominate bias against otakus and otaku culture.

It was stupid the way the production was made, giving over-emphasis that a true otaku is someone who overly obsessed with Japanese pop culture at the expense of reality. Any sense of taste in the segment went out of the window by the way they portrayed Otaku No. 3. It left the impression that otakus are weird, obessive people that shouldn’t be seen as role models for the younger generation, but as a bad influence from whom nothing good can be learned from.

Well screw the producer of that segment. He or she doesn’t know what being a true otaku is. An otaku can’t just be stereotyped just because the word otaku was described in dictionary that way – being a person obsessed anime, manga, cosplay and similar interests. A lot of otakus are normal persons who just happen to have interests in Japanese pop culture.

Take me for example: I’m 35 years old, coming from a very traditional family, and I’m into politics and can humbly say that I have run for local government positions several times and won each and everytime. I’m active in Roman Catholic civic organizations and charities, and love serving the public good. I’m into sports that most people won’t associate with being an otaku. But I am an otaku and no one can take me away from my otaku interests.

That being said, I don’t see myself as a obsessive otaku.

I don’t cosplay, and while SO sacred_essence does, I never heard her once forcing me to cosplay like she does. But I happy that the youth of today can find an outlet like cosplay for them to express themselves. It would be a little hypocritical to say that cosplaying is non-mainstream – heck, a lot of the corporate Christmas parties I’ve seen or heard about in 2008 are costume-themed, making them technically cosplay parties.

I’m a toy collector, and most of the toys I collect are anime genre ones. But I’m not the one to impulse buy everything I see just because it came from the anime I watched or liked. I just love to collect them since when I was young, and the collection bug has never left me. Again it would be slightly hypocritical to say otaku toy collectors are obsessive – what do you call older men (even older than I am) who collect more toys than your average otaku could purchase, just because they enjoy that particular toyline in their youth, or the cartoon it came from.

Also, watching anime is NOT a realm restricted to the current youth generation. What do you call those of us (of my generation) who watched shows like Voltes V, Daimos, Mazinger Z, UFO Grandizer and Mekanda Robot during the Marcos years of the mid and late ’70s? Aren’t we otakus then? It would be hypocritical for folks of my ageframe to tell their kids that watching anime is useless and not good, when back in their own childhood they watched giant super robot shows or literary classics-turned anime after school.

Do you know that I use Japanese traditions and thinking that I’ve learned from watching anime or the toys I’ve collected by the way I try to live my life? I hold my hat off for the way the Japanese would present themselves professionally, and how they value their personal honor and integrity when dealing with others. I marvel on how they simplify their products – be it cares, electronics, groceries and foodstuffs, even anime and toys – to make them easy to use but of excellent quality. I always try to integrate what I’ve learned of the beauty of Japanese culture via the otaku lifestyle in my work and public service, and they’ve proven a very valuable help to me.

So there you go folks. I hope you see what I mean. And I hope people like those who made such a demeaning segment will understand that they probably went thru a phase of their lives that they got interested in Japanese pop culture in some way or another, making them a part-otaku.

Let our bias against Japanese stuff end with the end of World War II – the Japanese are not our enemy now but our friends and the same goes with their culture. Just because they are influencing how some of the youth are living today doesn’t mean it’s totally useless and wrong. Heck we are surrounded by things Japanese that are beneficial to our lives – our cars are predominantly Japanese and same goes with our electronics.

I do advice moderation though. As we can see from Otaku No. 3, being totally obsessed with otaku culture can be harmful to one’s health. I suggest to the youth of today to approach the otaku lifestyle the same way a person should approach such things as smoking or drinking – be an otaku moderately. Use what you learn about being an otaku to benefit your life and future, and don’t use being an otaku as an escape from reality and its responsibilities. I approach my otakuness as an inspiration and a way to keep myself youthful in mind, if not body.

Again, I hope mainstream people would understand what I am trying to say, and look at otakus – be it people they know or their relatives or kids – as normal folks who just love the otaku lifestyle, and don’t discriminate and prejudge them for that. Hopefully the media will be fair in their description of otakus – we are a part of the Filipino way of life now, if not the way of life of a good portion of the worldwide village.

And for those otakus who think they can live in reality but still be happy with their otaku interests, be proud of who we are.