Libmonster ID: JP-1210


Doctor of Historical Sciences

Japan Keywords:otaku, subculture, anime

In recent years, the word "otaku" has literally become international. For all fans of modern Japanese pop culture, it no longer requires translation, but is perceived as an integral attribute of the world of manga, anime, computer games, special effects in movies, Japanese pop and rock music, which today have formed a new subculture "otaku", which has become a way of life for a significant part of young people in many countries, not excluding And Russia, of course.

In modern Japanese, the word "otaku" refers to a passionate fan of something, a person who is literally obsessed with some kind of hobby, hobby. But first of all, the word "otaku" is associated today with fans of modern Japanese pop culture or one of its trends-anime-otaku (anime lovers), manga-otaku (manga lovers), etc.

These fans spontaneously unite in socio-cultural communities with their own vowel and unspoken rules of communication, behavior, pastime features, specific slang, etc. This is a closed and incomprehensible socio-cultural space, psychology and philosophy of life, which are quite ambiguously perceived in Japanese society, and now in the international community, where unfavorable stereotypes about otaku are gradually beginning to form.


In the English-speaking world, in the West, the term "otaku" came from the Japanese language. Even today, it is usually used to refer mainly to fans of anime, Japanese computer and video games - intelligent young people. In general, they are quite reasonable, especially outside the sphere of their hobbies, but from time to time they have friction with society.

In Russia, they invented their own neologism - "animeshniki", which has already firmly entered the modern youth lexicon, although still the word" otaku " sounds much more euphonious for Russian fans of Japanese pop culture and does not carry any negative semantic load. In most cases, this is the name of numerous fans of Japanese animation, for whom viewing a new tape or exchanging opinions with their own kind in virtual space or in live communication is one of the ways to have a pleasant and interesting time, and at the same time learn about Japan. They have their own numerous websites on the Internet, their own clubs and "hangouts", an indispensable element of which are costume performances or role - playing games - the so - called" cosplays " -based on their favorite tapes and images of their popular characters, the performance of Japanese pop and rock music, and a kind of slang are often russified Japanese words. In general, anime for animeshniki is a hobby, a means of entertainment, self-development, but not an end in itself.

The situation is much more complicated and problematic with another less numerous category of animeshnikov, or rather, otaku-extreme fans of this subculture, for whom anime, manga, computer games are the goal, and the main goal in life, its whole essence. They live in their parallel worlds outside of time, space and connection with the surrounding reality, and in this obsession they resemble their Japanese associates in many ways.

A typical Japanese anime otaku image is a single person between 14 and 40 years old, modestly and casually dressed, who prefers a rather secluded and closed lifestyle, often

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not working anywhere and living in the care of parents or on casual earnings, and spending all their free time on the Internet watching animated films, comics-manga, playing computer games or communicating with their own kind. His real life has been completely replaced by the vast expanse of his wildest fantasies, his friends are drawn characters, and live human communication is limited to only a few acquaintances or relatives, mostly not connected with the world of his hobbies. His audience is the same obsessive Internet users.

The mecca of all Japanese anime otaku is Tokyo's famous Akihabara district, known worldwide as the"electronic paradise". But for young Japanese otaku, called akiba-otaku (akiba-from the word Akihabara), it is also an animation paradise with many specialized shops littered to the ceiling with anime pictures, magazines, figures of favorite heroes of films, etc. In the neighborhood - book ruins with manga for every taste and in any design: in the form of thick books, thin magazines, mountains of music discs, computer games, etc. Here is also the famous "meido cafe", where waitresses appear in the guise of pretty maids in the style of "kawaii", beloved by all otaku. And most recently, the Tokyo Anime Center opened here - Tokyo Anime Center in the Akibahara UDX building. This is a huge complex institution that combines under its roof the game, animation, music and other components of the anime industry, which may soon become the main source of information about anime in Japan.

About the subculture of "otaku" and its carriers-the Otaku themselves-today much is written, spoken, argued, and not only in Japan itself, but also abroad, approaching the assessment of this cultural phenomenon both from the point of view of its artistic and moral content, is very ambiguous. And discontent and all sorts of concerns about this, perhaps, much more than positive responses. It is enough to mention the recently published book "Hating the Otaku Wave" ("Hatred of the influx of Otaku") by a writer writing under the pseudonym Ken Otaku Ryu. A rare exception in defense of the positive image of otaku was the acclaimed novel "The Boy from the Train" ("Denxia Otoko") and its film adaptation in 2005. This romantic love story of an otaku boy and a girl who was saved by him on the train from the attacks of a drunken hooligan, to some extent helped rehabilitate otaku in the eyes of their eternal opponents. But such arguments for rejecting the existing negative stereotypes are clearly not enough yet.

What only do not blame the otaku and their subculture! And in moral degradation due to the abundance of explicit sexual scenes, cruelty and violence, traditional for Japanese art and almost unacceptable in many countries. And in its rather naive and haberdashery-cloying aesthetics - "kawaii", the highest criterion of which is everything infantile, charming, doll-like, etc.

Only what's cute is good. And this need to search for beauty, adapted to the similarly unassuming tastes of modern otaku from an aesthetic point of view, is now developing into an even more bizarre form - "moe". The new symbolism literally means "igniting fiery feelings" in relation to certain pretty anime heroines, who often replace a real lover in the otaku's imagination. The otaku is also accused of living a dependent lifestyle, where concern for daily bread, work, family and their future is completely forgotten and replaced by other priorities and values, or rather, their absence. And in the sharp decline of the very level of modern art, where manga and anime and their derivatives confidently pushed into the background and classics, and tradition, and other highly artistic foundations.

And yet, this subculture continues to develop, making its victorious march around the world. And perhaps the main reason for its worldwide success is that it meets the spirit and needs of our time. This is a new culture focused primarily on new electronic media, figuratively speaking, mainly "Internet" culture, built according to all the laws of this new genre and designed primarily for distribution in the World Wide Web. In terms of its content, it meets the most diverse needs and tastes of almost all ages and nationalities of its users, and all its bright moral flaws are also a reflection of the vices and problems of our time and modern society.

As for the artistic assessment, the "otaku"subculture

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It is sometimes referred to as a product of postmodernism, and its origins are seen in the pre-modern era-the Edo era (1600-1868), to which we owe the emergence of the Kabuki theater, the birth of the Japanese ukiyo-e printmaking, the emergence of the kibyoshi literary genre, the publication of the first newspapers, and the development of the Japanese culture. publishing, and many other things that form the basis of modern Japanese pop culture.


"When I think about what Japanese culture is, I come to the conclusion that it all belongs to the subculture," says Takashi Murakami, the leader of Japanese neo - pop art, referring, like many in Japan, primarily to the "otaku" subculture and expanding its boundaries to the level of almost all major trends and genres of modern Japanese pop culture.

The fact is that the concept of "subculture "(abr. in Japanese, sabukaru) is interpreted somewhat differently in Japan than in other countries. If in the West subculture is understood as a counterculture or as an alternative to high culture, here this peculiar dichtomy has not been expressed. In Japan, as in many other countries of the East, from time immemorial there was no strict division of art into high and low genres. And even if we try to draw a conditional watershed between them, it is impossible not to recognize that high culture has always been less widespread and authoritarian than popular culture, and therefore subculture today is not considered in direct opposition to it or secondary in nature. Moreover, the so-called subculture is much more widespread today in various strata of society than the so-called high culture, which traditionally includes painting and literature. However, these areas of high culture in recent years are also undergoing a serious transformation in the direction of mass genres.

It is enough to turn to modern Japanese painting, the face of which today is largely determined by representatives of Japanese neo-pop art-a trend that gained popularity back in the 1990s.It is considered to be a subcategory of pop art in its Far Eastern version. However, there is another interpretation that leads the artistic pedigree of this art from the "otaku" subculture. And the validity of this point of view is proved by the work of the leader of this artistic movement, Takashi Murakami, who openly considers himself to be the first generation of otaku and calls for finally removing the prejudices that exist in Japanese society against both this new subculture and its carriers. A completely natural question arises: why, with such seemingly universally recognized popularity, does the "otaku subculture" still need to approve its official status?

To answer this question about-

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Let's go back to the history of a new cultural phenomenon and fast forward to the happy and successful 1960s for Japan. The Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964 were a vivid confirmation not only of the country's increased economic power and prestige in the international arena, but also the embodiment of the long-standing ambitious aspirations of the Japanese to become the hosts of the Olympic Games, the opportunity to hold which they missed in 1940 due to the war previously unleashed by Japan against China.

The 1960s were a time of dramatic changes in the life of Japanese society, and one of them was the accelerated development of transport communications. A memorable gift for the Olympics - a high-speed train that connected the three largest cities of Japan-Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, and then continued its journey, blurring the differences between the city and the countryside, between the center and the periphery.

But to an even greater extent, the country was linked together by a telecommunications network during these years. Television has come to literally every home. And now the whole country was united and controlled by a single information flow, under the influence of which the patriarchal foundations of life, as well as the old local customs and traditions cultivated from generation to generation, gave way to modern popular images and new mores imposed through the media by the entertainment industry that was gaining power over the minds and souls of millions of Japanese.

It is not surprising that the younger generation of Japanese - the most dynamic and acutely responsive part of society-turned out to be the most receptive to these new trends of the time. For them, television not only opened a window into a completely new, unknown and extremely attractive world, but also united them into a single subcultural group, whose interests and tastes increasingly diverged from the traditional values and artistic guidelines of their parents.

A generational conflict was brewing, compounded by new economic and social conditions, which were rapidly disintegrating the old family foundations. The country's rapidly changing economic development needs forced millions of Japanese people to leave their homes and move quickly to large industrial centers, where work was waiting for them. And the new living conditions in the cities, material and other problems, which were rather cramped, forced the migrants to limit the circle of their household members only to their wife and children, thus breaking the old family traditions with their patriarchal way of life, when numerous relatives lived under one roof.

Thus, a new nuclear type of family was born for Japan, although it was a priori devoid of a stable basis for maintaining close personal contacts between its already small members. The husband is the head of the family and, as a rule, the only breadwinner in the house, spent almost all his time at work. And the wife devoted herself entirely to the house, limiting the sphere of her interests exclusively to domestic problems, and the circle of her communication only to her friends-housewives who live nearby.

In these conditions, children, not being able to have constant spiritual and intellectual communication with their parents, preferred school and the street to the family. It was outside of their own homes that they felt most comfortable, especially among their peers, with whom they could communicate not only in a language that only they understood, but also freely discuss all the topics that concerned them, artfully thrown into the minds of young people by television and youth magazines. And when he came home, the teenager tried to keep this spiritual world closed from his parents, retreating to his small room, the walls of which were hung with posters with cartoon characters and comics. This style and spirit of the new youth subculture, as a rule, caused sharp resistance from parents. And this generational conflict became more acute every year.

By the mid-1970s, these boys and girls - the children of the post-war baby boom generation - had matured and occupied key positions in Japanese society. And then all the sharp criticism from the mass media, which once fueled their new hobbies in these young people, turned in their direction. The epicenter of public discussion and condemnation included their appearance, behavior, and spiritual values, which were sharply different from the cultural and moral patterns that still dominated in a fairly conservative Japanese society at that time. And then the concept of the otaku subculture appeared, which was designed to outwardly disguise this social conflict, attributing the passion of young people to the category of subculture,and the carriers of this subculture themselves to the number of representatives of a kind of underground.


The very etymology of the word "otaku" comes from the polite form of address "You", "Your home", and, according to one version, the famous animators Haruhiko Mikimoto and Shoji Kawamori introduced this word.-

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It was introduced into everyday vocabulary sometime in the late 1970s. [2] Even earlier, in the 1960s, it became a widespread household slang among newly minted urban housewives, who often used the word" ataku "with the courtesy suffix" o "for neighbors and simply "taku" in everyday conversations."in conversations about yourself and your family.

However, most often this word is associated with the environment of fans of science fiction (SF), who began to use it to communicate with the same fans of this fashionable literary genre in those years. And the fashion for this use of words allegedly went from the science fiction writer Motoko Arai. The close connection between the ataku subculture and SF can be traced literally in everything, starting with such popular anime genres as cyberpunk, and ending with takusatsu-special effects, which also owe their appearance to this literature.

Over time, fans of space series and science fiction have come together, finding each other through their shared passion, as well as through the first anime magazines "Animage", and then"Ncwtype". Some of the first atacus became directors and animators themselves. The most striking example of such a creative transformation is the Daikoi company, whose members began their creative career with a passion for SF, and then moved on to creating short animes for annual SF conferences, later becoming masters of Japanese animation.

SF conferences were a kind of mass festival of young fans of this genre, held annually in Osaka by the Ataku themselves for the same ataku since 1962. A group of aspiring amateur artists led by Takami Akai, Haroyuki Yamada and others soon joined the organizers. In 1981, at the opening ceremony of the next SF festival, they already made their debut with their five-minute animated video, the success of which ensured that novice animators participated in the creation of the famous TV series "Hyperspace Fortress Macrose" in 1982 (it is interesting that it was in this tape that the word "attack" was first used in anime, however, in its original meaning).. And in 1983, having organized the campaign "Daikon film", the members of this young creative team presented on 8-mm film their next 5-minute masterpiece "Daikon-IV", which became a kind of aesthetic manifesto of the Otaku subculture.

A group of aspiring amateur artists who performed under the name "Daikon", which also included Toshio Okada, Yasuhiro Takeda, Hideaki Anno and other well-known animators today, later created the legendary Gainax studio, the hallmark of which was the New Generation Evangelion anime.

The plot of the presentation film "Daikon-IV", shown at the regular 22nd meeting of SF fans, was quite simple, but very symbolic. A beautiful elf girl flutters across the sky, but suddenly the sound of a powerful explosion, presumably an atomic bomb, is heard, and this gentle creature quickly falls down and disappears into oblivion. Then there is a new picture: in the air, under a light breeze, myriads of pink sakura petals, apparently representing Japan, are scattered and floating, as if in a slow dance, and showering themselves on the ground. And suddenly this romantic idyll is interrupted by flames and a fire that burns bright green to black.-

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green grass and flowering trees, leaving nothing alive behind. All living things die on earth. But at this time, the Daikon spacecraft appears in the sky, symbolizing the younger generation of otaku, and again the dark colors of death and devastation turn green, the whole planet comes to life and blooms again with bright colors.

In a rather allegorical narrative, where there is no direct reference to the atomic bombings of Japan and other historical cataclysms, the main idea of the destruction and regeneration of life is laid, which has become a kind of ideology of the otaku subculture. And the authorship of the term "otaku" in its current sense is attributed to the writer-humorist and essayist Akio Nakamori, who in a series of articles published under the general title "Otaku Research "in the magazine" Manga Burikko" (1983), first used it to refer to a new cultural community of young people formed in 1970-It also included enthusiasts who were passionate about various post-war subcultures.


Over the years, the Otaku subculture has rapidly and aggressively expanded its boundaries, and is now considered one of the most important factors in the analysis of modern Japanese culture. The reason lies not only in the global popularity of these genres of modern mass culture. The main thing is different: the image and thinking of otaku have had a great influence on the current state of Japanese society. However, intellectuals and art critics ignored this cultural phenomenon for more than a decade, while in public circles the new hobby of young people began to acquire an increasingly negative assessment for a number of reasons.

First, otaku are often considered antisocial, perverted, and selfish people who are chained to their computers, comics, and anime reality and don't need any social interaction or activity. 3 This prejudice was born among Japanese people in the late 1970s, but it gained its real basis in the 1990s, when society from time to time began to be shocked by anti-social actions, and sometimes just criminal actions of people from the ranks of these informal youth, which was widely reported in the press.

So, in 1989. The whole of Japan was literally shocked by the brutal murder of children on sexual grounds by the maniac Dutomu Miyazaki, as it later turned out, a typical representative of the Japanese otaku. After his arrest in 1989, many newspapers published photos of his room filled with thousands of anime videos and stacks of comic magazines. Since then, otaku culture has been portrayed as "a symbol of the pathological problems of a young high-tech generation that is passionate about sexual and aggressive activities."

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Secondly, the otaku themselves are hostile to those who do not share their lifestyle. Reading sci-fi novels, watching TV anime series, constantly visiting shops in the Akihabara area, collecting subcultural accessories-figurines depicting anime characters and participating in a Comiket (comic book fair) - these actions characterize this group and outline its social boundaries. Of course, it should be borne in mind that " their introversion and tendency to defend this group may be an unavoidable reaction to social pressure."5. This closeness in advance made otaku a kind of outcast in modern Japanese society.

Times of crisis for otaku came in 1995 in connection with the gas attack on the Tokyo subway, organized by the religious organization "Aum Shinrikyo". As it soon became clear, among the members of Aum Shinrikyo there were many children from respectable families, immigrants from prestigious universities - adherents of the "otaku" subculture of the 1960s generation. Brought up on the fantastic plots of manga and anime, they and their favorite characters lived in anticipation of the end of the world - Armageddon, which, according to the teachings of their leader Shoko Asahara, was supposed to come in 1999. They sincerely believed in the purifying mission of this universal catastrophe and their own miraculous salvation, believing that only by following the precepts of their spiritual mentor would they be able to survive these trials and enter a new happy era.

In the conditions of Japan, these moods were aggravated by a number of circumstances explained by the peculiarities of the group consciousness of the Japanese. If a Japanese person, especially a young person, has identified himself with a certain group, has perceived himself as one of its elements, then even without understanding all the subtleties and ultimate goals of the group, he will act like everyone else in it, will unquestioningly obey the will of the leader.

This was the first terrorist attack in the history of Japan, which had a pronounced religious connotation. At the initial stage, Asahara's teaching largely echoed Buddhist tenets and was based on strict spiritual discipline, the teachings and practice of "yoga" (although later Asahara felt the need to reinforce these Buddhist dogmas with new types of weapons and deadly gases). It is no coincidence that the very name " Aum "translates as" teaching of truth", and numerous structures belonging to "Aum Shinrikyo" and located near Mount Fuji, where not only religious cults were held and meditations were held, but also deadly gases were produced and cadres of future terrorists were trained, were called such as "sataya", "Sataya", "sataya", "Sataya", "Sataya", "Sataya", "Sataya", "Sataya", "sataya", "sataya", "sataya", "sataya", "sataya", "sataya", "sataya", "sataya", "sataya", which means "faith"in Sanskrit.

However, paradoxically it may seem at first glance, the religious fanaticism that Asahara so skillfully fueled and cultivated was based not only on the Buddhist dogmas revered in Japan, but also on the fascination of adherents of this new religion with a youth subculture, most of whose works are characterized by tragic foresight of a world catastrophe and apocalyptic moods.

It is symptomatic that in the year of this terrible tragedy in the Japanese subway, which shocked the whole world, the film "Evangelion of the new generation", created by director Hideaki Anno, is released on the screens of the country. And direct parallels with this tragic event suggest themselves immediately.

The film takes place in 2015 - 15 years after a mysterious catastrophe that put humanity on the brink of survival: under mysterious circumstances, there was a general warming, or a Second blow (after the First blow, the dinosaurs died). The ice of Antarctica melted, three-quarters of humanity died, and most of the land was under water. Earth is being attacked by "angels", mysterious giant creatures that have appeared from nowhere. The only weapons on the planet that can resist them are the robots of the "Evangelion" series. They are created with the help of advanced biotechnologies. True, only teenagers can fight with the help of these huge machines, who can fully "synchronize" themselves with the robot and control the "Evangelist" as their own body. These unique fighters are trained and live in the secret city of Tokyo-3, the headquarters of the organization "Nerv", leading the defense of the Earth from invasion. They have a difficult relationship. However, neither the adult employees of Nerv nor the young pilots even realize that their high-ranking superiors are hiding from them the true meaning of the angels ' plan - to achieve the final end of the World...

Where do the reasons for this morbid attitude among Japanese otaku originate, and how are the fantastic ideas of Armageddon so firmly rooted in Japanese soil?

(The ending follows)

1 http://www/


3 http: //

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.


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E. L. KATASONOVA, OTAKU: THE PROS AND CONS OF A NEW GENERATION OF PEOPLE IN THE COMPUTER AGE // Tokyo: Japan (ELIB.JP). Updated: 15.08.2023. URL: (date of access: 19.07.2024).

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