Since I began writing for IgniteMe.co I’ve gone under the name “The Glass Otaku”. I chose this pen name partly because I enjoyed the Japanese culture and I wanted to incorporate it somehow into IgniteMe’s style. Almost one year later I’ve done just that… I’ve got to smear my site with luscious anime babes, cherry blossoms, and of course lot’s and lot’s of delicious ramen. But one day it dawned on me, as I was trying to find a good name for a “glass enthusiast” I quickly came to conclusion that we are all really “Glass Otaku”. Let me explain…
While most people here in not-Japan are under the pretense that being an Otaku merely implies that one is an enthusiast of Japanese culture and anime. In Japan the word takes on a more literal slang-type meaning. Roughly translating to “geek” the term is used to label individuals who are avid fans of any particular theme, topic, hobby or any form of entertainment. Hell even former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso claimed that he was an Otaku himself during his election campaign. Through my research and observations both here and abroad I’ve found the functional glass art culture here in the U.S. shares many similarities with Japan’s Otaku culture, here are some interesting parallels.
First Parallel: Tight-knit Online Community
Just like we have great online communities like GrassCity, BoroMarket, Rollitup, and the Glass Awareness group on Facebook (just to name a few) the Anime-Otaku of Japan are spread out across the world just like us. By harnessing the internet as it was intended to both we and the anime community use it to keep on top of the latest trends, industry events, as well as the daily trials and tribulations other like-minded otaku experience.
In the Japanese feature film Densha Otoko or “Train Man” all based on the purportedly true story of a 23-year-old otaku who intervened when a drunk man started to harass several women on a train. The otaku ultimately begins dating one of the women. During the course of the film the overly-shy otaku ends up getting the girl he saved that night, but not without the help of his fellow otaku he talked to every night online for dating advice.
Now I’m not saying you all don’t know how to properly court a member of the opposite sex, but in other ways the glass community always finds an over the top way to help any boro-minded individuals that are in need. From raising money to just giving friendly advice about proper glass cleaning methods it seems that anytime someone in the glass community needs a question answered there is always a sage group of glass otaku waiting to help.
Second Parallel: The Coolest Industry Events
Trade shows serve as an effective way for business and artisans alike to get there products in front of a general audience on a level playing field. With the major difference being that most anime conventions are open to the public the anime and functional glass industry share the same knack for putting on some of the most awesome industry events.
Much like the American Glass Expo gives artists and businesses both new and veteran an opportunity to host their wares the Comic Market Expo in Tokyo acts in the same vain. One of Japan’s largest indoor public gatherings of the year the show emphasizes the exhibition and sales of self-published publications or “Doujinshis” centered around manga, anime, video games, and related genres.
The event takes place at Tokyo Big Sight, an international exhibition complex in Tokyo for three days twice a year… sounds a lot like our trade show scheduling doesn’t it?
Third Parallel: Collections, Collections, Collections
Just like we glass otaku enjoy spending our hard earned paper on scrumptious glass Japan’s otaku also like to go all out when it comes to their obsessions… I mean, ALL out. While the most nerdiest of glass otaku adorn their rooms in Glass Alchemy posters, glass trinkets, pipes of all shapes and sizes, and sometimes even scrap glass from favorite artists the traditional otaku literally covers his/her room head to toe in their obsessions
As Japan’s otaku culture may seem odd and all too nerdy at first please do not take my parallels as offensive. For it is the spirit and one-ness of Japan’s otaku which has elevated their previously outsider culture to the main stage. As I look to the future of our industry I hope that our culture of degenerate art will one day transcend all mediums finally achieving success on the main stage. So the next time you refer to one of your friends who happens to a fellow enthusiast, don’t hesitate to call him an Otaku.