by Punch Rockgroin
TokyoPop wants a few good otaku
My ass cheeks clenched upon reading that Stu Levy of TokyoPop had made a show that claimed to be in search of “America’s Greatest Otaku.” Why in the nine circles of hell would they want to make a show about that? If just mentioning to normal people that you watch anime isn’t awkward enough, it’s even more off-putting when all you can talk about is anime. Not to mention, the typical otaku is a social retard that is the best consumerist capitalism can get.
Fear not, for aged and creepy otaku Stu Levy is here to show that otaku are not as we see them. Nay, the otaku that Levy sees is that of an educated, refined and well-informed citizen who is not only fun but also gets out of the house and does stuff for their community. For this task, Levy has assembled the politically-correct Otaku Six to tour America in search of the otaku that best defines what it means to be an otaku. Unfortunately for Levy and his underlings, no such otaku fits that definition.
Since I’m a terrible person with nothing better to do, I have decided to watch the show as my next awful undertaking. (The one before this was OreImo.) The Otaku Six were chosen because they go above and beyond the call of duty (or something) when it comes to their chosen faith I MEAN HOBBY. There’s the white guy from Seattle, the white chick from Alaska, the guy who looks Korean, the Asian chick who’s probably Chinese (who emitted a hilarious “EEEEEEE!” upon being “selected”), the legitimately attractive Indian girl, and everybody’s favourite, the token black guy. Together they cannot form Voltron, so they ride an obnoxiously-painted bus around the US and travel from city to city in search of otaku culture and nearly anything that’s remotely Asian-related.
In each city they visit, in addition to locating otaku hangouts, they locate a few individuals who best define the otaku. I could choose to go into detail about each one, but most of them fit into one category: A Goddamn weeaboo, what else would they be? They share many common traits, such as aspiring artist or voice actor. Some dance (read: the Haruhi dance), some sing, but for the most part, they either want to draw anime or voice anime. There are really only two that deserve any mention. One’s a purple-haired Southerner whose entire family are otaku, even her dad. The other is… Ryan Tumaliuan, come on down, you’ve won America’s Greatest Otaku! No really, this guy has already won this show. He lines the walls of his room with plastic boobs, he has a Haruhi body pillow, he draws manga, and he was one of the designers for the Bratz line of dolls. Most importantly, he searched his name on Google and found an article on AGO that puts him is a somewhat negative light, and turned into an internet tough guy. He is the definition of otaku: overweight, socially inept, and blows his cash on fake girls so he can blow his load.
My beef with the show is not so much that it’s boring (because good God it is), but that Levy and crew are showing all the worst possible traits of otaku. I would argue that there is no such thing as a good otaku, because if you are an otaku, it means that your life is defined by anime and Japanese culture, and only the latter would be acceptable if you lived in Japan. But let’s assume for the sake of argument that being an otaku is okay. What is so exemplary about drawing figures with huge eyes and wonky anatomy? What does that do for a community? Who cares whether or not you can sing a song in broken Japanese? None of the contestants so far really have anything that makes them remarkable. They are the entire stereotype that Levy is trying to eliminate. Instead of being treated to people who are truly unique among the anime fandom, we get more of the same that we’ve come to expect from every Internet forum and convention that we’ve attended. Besides, Levy has already succeeded in finding America’s Greatest Otaku. Ryan: If you ever read this, I want you to know that you are America’s Greatest Otaku, and please defend it to the death with fiery breath and hammered keystroke that any criticism of you is unjustified, because that’s how you keep your “hard earned” title. A woman’s touch is overrated, anyway.
Don’t look it up:
America’s Greatest Otaku original net series
Produced by Stuart Levy and Daisuke Kinouchi
Created by Tokyopop, available on hulu