Anime / Otaku no Video

"Hey... are we really that depressing? Are we really that weird? Is it a crime to love anime or SFX movies? Why should it be a reason to set us apart? If you're into playing tennis, that's just fine and dandy, but if you watch anime, you're weird? Why?! I quit! No more job-hunting for me! If otaku are going to be discriminated against, then so be it. I'm gonna become a total otaku! I'm gonna be not just an Otaku but the Otaku of otaku... Otaking!"

Legendary early Studio Gainax feature telling the story of Kubo, a college student in 1982 who is drawn into a group of rabid, obssessed anime fans ("otaku") by his old high school buddy Tanaka. He eventually becomes just as obsessed as the others, and sets his sights on becoming the ultimate fan of all — the OtaKing!

Despite the rather warped-sounding premise, this is actually a youth drama, which ends with what is either a world-changing epiphany or an uplifting Dream Sequence. Interspersed among the animated footage is a live-action "documentary", Portrait of an Otaku, which showcases several extreme examples of the type in excruciating detail.

The show itself has been dubbed by many as the "Bible of Otaku", explaining many strange concepts to anime fans who are just starting to test the waters while entertaining dedicated otaku with many Shout Outs. The animation is high-quality, and the sharp-eyed fan can spot literally dozens, maybe hundreds, of references to almost every pre-1980s anime, with a handful of early 80s shows. Despite the occasional tongue-in-cheek approach, the story is surprisingly serious, and many believe that it is a fictionalized autobiography of the key members of Gainax.

As an aside here, American anime fans call themselves "otaku" as a perverse mark of pride, and many of them are under the impression that it means "enthusiast". Not quite. Because of the obsessive nature of otaku and some heavily publicized news reports, in Japan, the word is often used in an extremely insulting way (bordering on obscenity). Many think of "otaku" as someone who's not simply so obsessed with something that he refuses to leave his home, but someone who's mentally ill. By contrast, the American usage is little more than a synonym for "geek", a word that is itself also being heavily criticized for a similar appropriation amongst the mainstream American population.

However, this has been reversing itself in the past few years (see here). Otaku No Video shows both sides, but in the end, comes down on the side of otaku pride.

Either way, be advised that calling yourself an "otaku" in front of Japanese people is likely to result in spit takes or worse.

This is the OVA from which Otakon, a prolific North American anime convention, takes its name. By con tradition, it is both the first and last video shown every year.

This show provides examples of:

  • Tomato Surprise:
    • With a bit of a Take That!. The "historical" scenes are separated from the "interviews" by text cards listing a "real world" date and event (usually not Otaku related). The last one (before the "future sequence"), lists a "future date" (the 2nd show was made in 1991).
    September 13 1999. A nuclear waste dump on the far side of the moon explodes.
    • If you got this congrats, you're an Otaku, just like the guys you've been laughing at (or you probably were admiring them?). Note this date might have a special "impact" for 21st century viewers. Gainax are just that geeky.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: The Iron Curtain still exists and Gorbachev is still in power in 1997.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Satou pulls a Captain Harlock sticker from hers in in the first scenes.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair
  • Zettai Ryouiki (Misty May)