[MA-SOC] Article: "The path of the otaku wife is strewn with thorns"

erin at pop.netculture.org erin at pop.netculture.org
Thu Apr 21 16:49:05 EDT 2005


This article from the Japan Times Online makes some very interesting 
points, right near the end, so be sure to read the whole thing.

I think as background to this article it's useful to know that in general, 
Japanese youth typically live with their parents until they get married.  
The price of living alone in an apartment is generally prohibitively 
expensive.  I've heard from my friends who've lived there that in Japan 
young people don't live together before they get married for a long period 
of time like Americans have taken to doing.

The article is of particular interest to me, as I'm quite fannish and have 
dressed as Nausicaa (like the woman in the article) and so's my boyfriend, 
whom I've lived with for several years now.  Knowing other long-term but 
as-yet-unmarried fannish couples, it seems weird that the Japanese wife in 
the article wouldn't have known ahead of time about her future husband's 
extensive collection of anime figures.  (There are several staring back 
from my coffee table, too.)

This article is repasted from:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?ek20050421ks.htm

The Japan Times Online

For a life less ordinary, try marrying an otaku

By KAORI SHOJI

Wedding bells rang for my friend Yoshika six months ago and last night a 
bunch of us got together over drinks to hear all about it -- her new life 
as a wife to a genuine, full-fledged ota-yome (wife of an otaku or 
"nerd").

The ota-yome's life of course, isn't easy -- Yoshika's take on it is: 
sugoku henna kotoga oi (there are many very strange things). And it should 
be noted that Yoshika went into this with her eyes wide open, since she 
herself was a puchi-otaku (petit otaku, or fledgling otaku) to begin with. 
She had publicly declared that she loved her i-Book more than her fiance, 
had watched "Eba (Evangelion)," the definitive otaku anime movie directed 
by otaku kingpin Hideaki Anno) three times, was a devoted fan of Studio 
Ghibli and had once shown up at a kasoo pati (costume party) dressed as 
Naushica. Still, she wasn't quite prepared for the onslaught of unfettered 
otaku behavior that defined the couple's newlywed life.

Her husband: a smart, gentle gijutsu-kei sarariman (corporate computer 
engineer) in his mid-30s, is an avid collector of figya (figures) of 
various animation and action heroes with a special penchant for Star Wars 
and Gundam. He knew seven of the great classic ani-son (animation theme 
songs) by heart, and liked to sing them out loud, at the top of his lungs 
while driving. He never failed to get up at 7:30 on Sunday mornings to 
watch a cult '70s anime rerun on TV and seriously considered dressing up 
as Kamen Raidaa (The Masked Rider) for his wedding until his mother wept 
and begged him not to.

Suffice to say, the whole of his private life was dedicated to the perusal 
of otaku pleasures and typical of the true otaku, he innocently and 
sincerely believed that his bride would share the same joys. For Yoshika, 
this meant certain drastic modifications in what she had envisioned her 
shinkon seikatsu (newly married life) to be like.

Having lived at her jikka (parent's house) all her life, she had many 
plans about decorating her own home -- and armed with copies of Elle Deco, 
she had aspired to a tasteful, artistic ribingu (living room) in which the 
red sofa from Idee (the young, professional Tokyoite's favored vendor of 
designer household products and furnishings) would quietly but masterfully 
dominate the ambience. But the sofa was obscured by the rows and rows of 
figya lined up on the shelves -- Luke Skywalker and Gocha-man and 
Ultra-man, standing like sentries, glowered at the coffee table.

Since Yoshika's mother had spent most her life in the kitchen, Yoshika had 
grown up swearing she would not make the same mistake and laid down a rule 
that as a married couple they must dine out together twice a week. She 
hadn't expected that in the restaurant, her husband's conversations will 
consist mainly of references to obscure anime directors from the '60s; a 
topic of interest only to other hardcore otaku.

In addition her husband adheres to a strict otaku diet of cappu nudoru 
(cup noodles), kan-inryou (canned soft drinks), bananas, hamburgers and 
convenience store onigiri (rice balls). And being an enthusiastic fan of 
shoku-gan (the small toy prizes that come attached to snack boxes), he has 
taken to consuming three or four junk snacks daily, and has cleared a 
whole shelf to display the prizes. Says Yoshika: "Ota-yome no michi wa 
ibarano michi (the path of the otaku wife is strewn with thorns)."

Elsewhere in the world such men are bypassed as totally non-eligible for 
relationships or marriage (and the first definition of an otaku is that he 
cannot, or prefers not to communicate with other human beings) and indeed, 
in Japan the otaku was long shunned as social outcasts.

Not that the otaku cared very much. Who needed to date when Rei Ayanami 
(heroine of "Evangelion") beckoned from the DVD?

But as the years went by the otaku, once a minor and underground species, 
increased their numbers to become very-nearly-mainstream. Yoshika says her 
decision to marry had much to do with the fact that in modern Japan, it's 
hard to find a man who's NOT an otaku in one way or another. "Otakuga 
iyada nante yuttara kekkon dekinai shi, otaku wa uwaki shinai kara ne (if 
one refused to marry an otaku, one can't get married and besides, otaku 
will never have affairs with other women)."

The Japan Times: April 21, 2005



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