Remember in The 40 Year Old Virgin where we see Steve Carell’s bedroom for the first time and it’s full of action figures? Well, the Japanese have a name for people like that… They’re called otaku, and the term applies specifically to any adult male who still plays with dollies and knows his favourite animé series inside-out.
In Japan, otaku are both shunned and catered to at the same time. At least one bar in Akihabara features waitresses dressed up as animé characters for their otaku clientele.
I of course knew all about this before my recent Tokyo trip, and wanted to pick up a DVD of the hit Japanese TV soap opera Densha Otoko (“Train Man”), based on a true otaku love story from an online chat group (!)
The only local copies I could find had no English subtitles, but back home I managed to track down an official Hong Kong release. I watched the first episode last night, and from the first power chords of the opening credits’ Mr. Roboto the show had me laughing out loud—a pretty rare occurrence for anyone who knows me!
Of course, to love this show like I do you have to be willing to accept the very broad Japanese definition of comedic acting—big faces, and lots of ‘em—something I’ll allow for this example only. For those who won’t go that far, perhaps, like The Office, a westernized version of this show is in order.
Hmmm… Anybody wanna go in with me on a pitch to get the English rights from Fuji Television?