I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, lately. Big news, right? I mean, I never do that! Usually I just careen… ah well. Sarcasm is lost in this medium.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking. I sure do care far too much about how I’m perceived in some ways, don’t I? And mostly, even how I’m perceived by myself.
So look at what I’ve been doing lately. I’ve been learning and studying Japanese. I’ve opened two blogs about Japan and Japanese, and one of them is specifically oriented towards otaku (though it has barely even attracted one yet, and that should not be a surprise to me). I’ve started collecting manga. I have a whole bookcase full of Japanese books, and it’s full now. I have some anime-inspired figures sitting on my dresser. I watch Japanese variety shows on YouTube. By all regards, I’m behaving exactly as if I were an otaku, or even a weeaboo, but I’m stubbornly insisting that I’m not one.
Why is that?
Well, I suppose one could make the argument that I don’t consider myself an otaku or weeaboo because my internal motivations are different. That class of people seem to be “Japanophiles”, loving all things Japanese, and I consider myself to have a more healthy attitude about them – enjoying what they have to offer pop-culture wise, but understanding that that isn’t actually their culture. And that’s a fair observation to make. If I were to stop there, I think I could make a convincing case that even though I act like them, I’m really not.
But that’s not good enough. My external behaviors are otaku-like enough to be called “weeb” by bullies, which has happened recently. Not like I care, but still. So that doesn’t matter. I can justify not calling myself one, but that doesn’t matter to others.
Okay. I could make the argument, I guess, that I don’t exhibit the obsessive behaviors that I’ve begun to associate with otaku. You know, things like having pillows with anime girls on them, shrines to my favorite anime character (I don’t have one), waifu, etc. Perhaps I have associated the worst of otaku behavior with that word, and thus, I’ve decided that I don’t want to be associated with that word for that reason. Perhaps that’s not entirely fair, but it’s reasonable and defensible. Those kinds of people do exist, they’re cringy, and it’s in my best interest to have as little do with them as possible.
But that’s not really good enough either. Every community has its unhinged element, and allowing the worst of a community to define that community is really an unfair thing to do, and arguably I shouldn’t do it. So that’s not a particularly good argument. It’s defensible, but not particularly good.
Okay, let’s cut to the chase. There’s a real reason why I don’t identify as “otaku”, or accept when others call me that, and it’s neither of those reasons.
The real reason is this: I do not want to be a part of a community. Not Otaku, not weeaboo, not Japanophile, not a community of Japanese learners. But moreso, not a church, not a internet group, not a forum. Not a comment section. Nothing. I simply do not want to be a member of any community. And the otaku community is a community. It has nothing at all to do with whether or not they’re otaku or not. It’s a community, and that’s enough.
I don’t mind facilitating community. That’s something I like to do. That’s why I created Texihabara. I created it because I would like for those who consider themselves otaku, etc., to have a place to hang out if they so choose. And maybe someday it’ll actually succeed. I’m pretty good at running communities – because I don’t like to be a part of them, I tend to keep hands off and just interfere when something threatens the well being of the community. But I’m just not interested in participating, really. I just want to go off, do my own thing, and not care what other members of a community who think they have some kind of social control over me want or think.
So why am I so hell-bent against being called otaku? Against going to anime conventions? Against even hanging out on the wanikani forums? It’s simple. They’re communities, and I want nothing to do with it. I mean really, absolutely, 100%, nothing to do with it. It has nothing to do with the fact that they’re otaku, but everything to do with the fact that they’re a community.
So, let’s go back to the question I’ve been asking. Am I otaku? Y’know, maybe. Maybe I am. But it doesn’t matter, because no matter how otaku I might be, I’m just not interested in hanging out with other otaku. So maybe that makes me not otaku after all. But maybe not. I don’t know. I don’t care. I just want to go to bed. I’m tired and this train of thought is depressing me.