This post is a reaction post to the Otaku post on Tofugu. I know this post mostly covers anime otaku, but I thought it was a good article to describe Otaku culture in general.
A few months back, I was invited out to lunch by a co-worker at the last minute. We mostly talked about happenings in the office and somehow the subject of me going to a concert in Tokyo dome recently came up. I told her “Yes, I am a huge fan of Johnny’s” and I explained how I go to many concerts in the same tour, especially for NEWS. The topic of my MBA thesis also came up from this, which was the business of Johnnys and if/how they could go overseas. I was proud to tell her all of this and at the end she told me “You really do not look like the type that would be into something like Johnny’s”
If you had asked me about this a few years back, I would not have had the same opinion at all. In fact, I used to hate the word “Otaku”, especially “Johnny’s Otaku”. In America, the word “Otaku” comes from being a huge anime fan or loving Japan, and to me it was on the same level as “Weaboo”…. basically “crazy Japan lover”. So, Johnny’s Otaku basically meant “Crazy Johnny’s fan” to me. I don’t dress up for Johnny’s concerts (I prefer to go in regular clothes…. I already stand out being foreign) , I don’t go out to the store and buy the CD’s anymore (once I began my career I began to order the CD’s online because they got to you just as fast as if you went to the store here in Japan and I don’t have to rush out of work), I don’t want to marry any Johnnys guys or even be in a romantic relationship with any of them, and my whole life does not revolve around a concert tour. What I DO do though is I buy all of NEWS’s CD and DVD releases religiously, I follow all of the information online of all of the Johnnys groups and know basically what is going on in the agency as a whole, I watch the TV shows when I am home, and I go to many different Johnny’s concerts. Even with just simply “Otaku” tacked on as a title, I am not anti-social and I do not just have Johnny’s as my only interest. I also consider myself a part of the fandom, though I support my favorites and the agency as a whole in my own way. I balance my fandom life with my career and my other interests, such as traveling and fashion.
So, why would I still be considered a “Johnny’s Otaku” if I don’t do a lot of the conventional things that I consider being a “Crazy Johnny’s fan?” or “Otaku” in general? Well, I am still involved in the fandom. I might dip my feet in on my own terms, but I still interact with other fans and some of my best friends I have made out of our mutual love for Johnny’s. I also know a lot more information than the conventional person would about the groups and the inter-working of the agency because I am naturally curious about the things that interest me and it was my research/thesis topic for my MBA program. I get told quite a lot “Wow! You know more information about Johnnys than me and I am even Japanese!”. This knowledge of information and interaction in the fandom is what I believe makes me a “Johnny’s Otaku”. You don’t even have to be in the fandom to be an Otaku because fundamentally you can just know a lot of information and still be a fan. There is nothing that says you have to interact with other fans and buy the goods to be an Otaku. In fact, I have heard stories of people actually hiding that they are a Johnny’s fan and do not buy goods or items at all, but still follow everything religiously and go to concerts….They still take possession of what they love and make it into their own.
In the post by Tofugu, they say “Otaku take possession of what they love and make it their own…..this possession is the result of remixing the source material and contributing it to the community” I love Johnny’s and I take possession of that and make it my own by writing an MBA thesis on it, and by choosing what I want to consume. To someone else, this could mean fan fiction, creating cosplay for concerts, making Uchiwas, creating a copy group and more. The post by Tofugu continues on to say, with a quote from Tamaki Saitou“(Otaku are) not just fans, but connoisseurs, critics, and authors themselves. This blurring of the distinction between producer and consumer is another characteristic of the otaku.” I love Johnny’s, but I am also very critical about the agency and it is a reason I chose to research it and made it into my MBA thesis and why I dabble in fandom on my own terms. Everyone has their own way that they do this in and no way is wrong, as long as it is considerate of the unspoken and spoken fan concert manners, as these types of manners all fandoms have.
I suppose to sum it up: To me, being an Otaku means supporting your interest (wether it be anime, video games, boybands etc.) in whatever way suits YOU and YOUR lifestyle best. I am a proud Johnny’s Otaku and I do not see that changing anytime soon.