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   Now in our tenth calendar year
    PCR #498  (Vol. 10, No. 41)  This edition is for the week of October 5--11, 2009.

"Couples Retreat" †by Mike Smith
Retroween: A Collection of Characters †by ED Tucker
Memoirs of an Otaku Part 2: Life in Japan †by Jason Fetters
Kill The Dollar .... Taxing The Benefits .... Running To Stand Still .... Harry Makes Me Uncomforable Too .... Ftc: Fine The Bloggers .... Internet Filtering? .... .... by Brandon Jones
Braylon Edwards A Jet .... Rush Limbaugh Wants To Buy The Rams .... 0-4. Walk The Plank .... D-nabb Good To Go .... Kickoff! .... .... .... by Chris Munger
My Trip Up North .... Don't Say I Didn't Warn You .... Told You It Wasn't About Drugs .... Big Apple Bound .... Catching Up .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2... by Mike Smith
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Memoirs of an Otaku Part 2: Life in Japan

Before leaving for Japan to be an exchange student for Kansai Gaidai University, I was told by several Japanese people to not mention my love of anime and manga due to the otaku connection.

In Japan, the otaku label has strong negative connotations with local papers running stories of some loner weirdo killing people in Akihabara, the electronics district, who has a manga and anime DVD collection at home. For every fringed fan there are those who accepted fandom in good humor and refrain from physical assaults. My favorite example of a good otaku is someone like Shoko Nakagawa. Shoko is a Jpop singer who has a vast knowledge of past and present anime and manga. She is a huge fan of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Currently, she can be seen on several Japanese TV shows as a goodwill ambassador for otaku culture. I saw a video clip of her on YouTube teaching Japanese celebrities how to be otaku. So the culture has come a long way and hopefully the media will lighten up.

When I first got to Japan, I met people from the US, who were part of various manga and anime clubs that they either started or were a part of back at their American universities. This was a small percentage of Americans going to Japan to study Japanese. Most students wanted to learn International Business or become translators. I never really identified with the business students, although I understand why they are needed.

Anyway, in Japan it was so easy to meet Japanese girls because language schools are predominantly female. Most males would study business or engineering. This made it easy to meet Japanese women.

In the beginning I really tried to take my friendís advice and bury all my fan boy passions. Eventually it just came out. You would be walking in a shopping district in Umeda and see an ad on TV for One Piece and start to watch it. One day, the girl I was with asked me directly if I was interested in anime to which I replied yes.

She told me that her younger brother was into anime too and that he was only eight and I should grow up.

So I stopped talking to that one.

A month later a met a very attractive Japanese girl who was obsessed with Final Fantasy games. This was someone I could identify with and talk to. We had a good time playing Final Fantasy in Japanese at the schoolís dorm.

The whole incident taught me that no matter how strange or weird your passions and hobbies are, you have to be true to who you are regardless if social acceptance is there or not.

It's your choice if you wish to suppress what you like. One day it will come out so I believe in just telling people right from the beginning. If they stop talking to you then move on.

I still like all the otaku fan boy stuff but after going to college, I developed an interest in other aspects of Japanese culture.

At the university we all took Japanese language classes and electives. I studied Japanese history, Zen Buddhism, and a class called Youth Culture and Consumption.

I developed a love of history from the Introduction to Japanese History class. I learned about philosophy in the Zen Class. However, my favorite class was Youth Culture and Consumption where the entire class talked about anime, manga, baseball, video games, dating, sex, and all aspects of Japanese popular culture. It was interesting to me to see anime and manga discussed at the college level.

Around this time I started going to the campus library to read works from the masters of Japanese literature. I didnít take a class because I already had a BA in English and I didnít want another literature class so I learned on my own. I was reading Tanizaki, Mishima Yukio, and Nagai Kafu.

Most people would probably switch over to serious art and literature at this point. I didnít. Everything I learned about history, Zen, and literature helped me to see things in anime and manga that the average fan probably doesnít see. After reading the two oldest historical documents of Japanese history, the Nihon Shoki and Kojiki, I discovered that both books contain wonderful stories of myths and legends. These legends are still around and presented to each new generation in current manga and anime.

I am still the same way today. Instead of letting go of past hobbies, I follow new hobbies that support the old one in ways I never imagined possible until I opened up to it and tried.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2009 by Jason Fetters. †Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova. †All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.