Q&A Session: Your Questions Answered

For those awaiting Round 5, it will be here soon.

The Q&A was late, we remembered it at the last minute and decided to just let it run until the end of the week. The Q&A section was much more sparse than we imagined, but it was plain that not many people could individually stand up to us outside of their blogs or our comments.

We saw someone say on twitter shortly after we announced the Q&A that it made them lose faith/respect in us or something to that effect. At the time, we couldn’t help but slowly nod in approval. It was never meant as a gimmick, but it sure did come across that way, we saw that just as well as you did.

Anyway, there are questions to be answered, so let’s get to it.

Q: “The people behind the OEG confuse me more every day, so first off, well played on that. I should hope that you guys aren’t a flash-in-the-pan troll and that you have some sense of sincerity, and it feels like the amount of effort and the spontaneous shifts of tone you have in your writing, matches that analysis.

It makes things more interesting to believe that, anyway. Something like this seems almost like you’re trying to encourage some level of development with this sort of direct contact, which shouldn’t even merit any sort of troll response (at least, not where it is visible, anyway). So it seems honest, in a sense, reflecting back on how it seems like you’re set fire to the English anime-blog world, only to offer a rescue line out to what you consider the real world of otaku. For those who grab it.

Heh, what kind of game am I imagining this is here … ? That sort of thing is the most fun.

Anyway, a few curiosities, since you have given this opportunity:

You said the OEG was composed of a group of people (all with myriad and varied experience, etc). Is it just one of you that does the writing, and do all members agree on a post before it is published, or is it that members of the group have the abillity to post independently of the others?”

A: The OEG Staff is basically made up of 6 people, with 4 others that kind of drift around the edges and ocassionally contribute ideas/opinions and join in the fun. I’m the person who translates and writes most of the opinions down. We mentioned a guy from singapore in the staff and he speaks english as his first language too so he does some writing and I put it into a nice single document that joins all our opinions together (Which we check among each other).

The two guys with most of the opinions and the real burning passion are a few friends who are native Japanese. Generally I do a good job in translating, but me and ‘Mr. Singapore’ give the final traslation a dangerous edge in english, seeing as an exact translation of words isn’t always as hard hitting when it’s straight from Japanese. Basically, we check all our ideals are fine with each other, I translate and it goes through, We all trust each other and most of us have met face to face, real life in the flesh so there’s no misinterpreting going on.

There’s been a few mistakes when we started, which ended up with a few post edits being done in engrish for a few minutes where we weren’t sure who was doing what. I’m PR as well, I’m basically the person in charge of the Q&A seeing as I’m used to all the ideals and I only need to verify them if necessary.

Q: “I’m not sure if you’ve discussed this in your posts on the word ‘otaku’, but it seems that such a word bears the brunt of your ‘genocide’, as it were. Are you as concerned with other ‘offenses’ committed by anime fans? Surely you are familiar with the stereotypical fanboy, who only likes show X or genre Y and skews a biased view of the anime fandom.”

A: We’re familiar with the other stereotypes, but it’s the Danny Choo “I’m so otaku look at my drossel figma” types that we really don’t like. Generally we don’t find narutards and the people that love shounen that irritating but with that said they’re not really active bloggers so we don’t deal with them much. They’re alright though, they love their series to death which is fine by us.

The danny choo followers also fawn over Fate/Stay Night too much. We loved it, we loved the game but there’s ridiculous amounts of overkill of the series in the Danny Choo circles. It’s the same for Nanoha too and a bunch of series. What makes it worse is that the overkill isn’t the good type, it’s the boring “Everyone-buys-the-same-saber-figures” kind. Some stereotypes we like, some we don’t, but we try not to waver away from the otaku message because we’d just end up being dictators otherwise.

Q: “The raging people on both fronts of the war over ‘moe’ (perhaps you could drop a comment on that whole debate also, on that abstraction which so many people consider a ‘cancer’), that take viewpoints blind enough to resemble a politician who refuses to acknowledge the other side … even if they never use the word ‘otaku’, would you also consider them to be dragging down the classification of anime fans (no matter what you call them) and the scene in general? Or is that not a concern?”

A: Well, the western use of Moe annoys us a bit, but as a term it is really abstract so it’s forgivable that it gets interpreted wrongly. Otaku is something you can point out or see traces of, but moe is a feeling really so you can’t pin it down. There’s a blog by a guy called bangin who was originally on the list (bangin.wordpress.com) who really covers the moe term a lot and does it pretty well. Some of his otaku posts were slightly off, but he’s a cosplayer and from a different playing field really. I wouldn’t say they’re dragging the scene down. But if a so called ‘otaku’ is gonna use moe then as otaku they should get it right, so in the OEG we’d rip any ‘otaku’ for misuse, but not for those who don’t claim to be otaku.

Q: “You said there would be further elimination round after the current batch. Assuming that the current round of eliminations is to get rid of the DC suck ups who claim to be Otaku but aren’t, what is the elimination criteria in the later rounds?”

A: We sort of wanted to keep this a secret, but seeing as this is a Q&A we’ll answer anyway. The first round gets rid of all the posers who don’t deserve to call themselves otaku and have abused the word to such a level that they’re not important anymore. The second round will be all those who haven’t abused the word and basically the game will change from The ‘Otaku’ Elimination Game, to The Otaku Elimination Game. IE we’re rid of the posers and now we’re finding out who the real fans are out there, who the real otaku are and we’re judging on more ‘Otaku’ topics.

The current round hasn’t had much to do with anime and so on because people like kodomut are about a million miles from that anyway, while the unsung heroes have been blogging about it all this time. So we’re judging them on how creative they are with their fandom and just generally trying to liven the scene up and make it really unique and an interesting place. There’s probably going to be a lot less harsh words in the second round seeing as those guys don’t deserve it. Who knows, maybe we’ll crown the biggest REAL otaku in the blogosphere. But we’re still thinking things through about that idea.

Q: “Having collectively attended every single Comiket since the late ’80s, could you comment on the overall change in diversity of the goods offered there?

(I am under the impression that Touhou-related merchandise will be taking over Big Sight within the next few years.)”

A: One thing I have noticed is that company booths are really growing a lot. I feel like I’m going to come across as if I’m pushing some sort of anti-corporation thing by saying this but it’s just an observation. These past few years have seen a lot of poorly made eroge weighing down on the good titles, and while we don’t really have a problem with that (It’s take it or leave it as far as we’re concerned) each and every one of them seem to have their own ‘company’ booth with it’s own dedicated goods.

Comiket is quickly becoming much less about the circles and what they’ve created and much more about who is going to be there and what goods are on sale. We see some ‘otaku’ bloggers who are rich enough to go off to Comiket from whichever country they come from and then they post about their ‘loot’ which has a total of about 5 doujins and the rest is all company booth merchandise, it seems pointless and it’s not otaku at all.

We think a lot of these so called ‘otaku’ are still very cheap people. Despite however many figures and other merch they buy, music is almost entirely downloaded (illegally), anime is downloaded online and DVDs/Blu-ray are never brought and manga and doujinshi are brought by one person who scans it and uploads it, eroge is downloaded illegally and so on. Not everyone can get hold of doujinshi, and as far as currently airing series are concerned fansubs are the only way to watch (seeing as up-to-date anime doesn’t air on western TV, we think) so those two aren’t much of a concern, but the rest are shameful. As ‘otaku’ you should want to have the complete product.

As for touhou…maybe not. It’s already really spiked in popularity, but seems to have fizzled out at the moment. Unless another game is released or similar, then it’ll probably stay the same as it currently is. One thing we can say in conjunction with the above is that touhou has certainly boosted the amount of doujin music sold at comiket.

Q: “Are you fine with Haruka’s lolicon antics in Kanamemo or do you find it too obtrusive?”

A: It was funny for a while, then we got jealous.

Q: “First of all (regarding your tweet with that picture of the “otaku” crowd):
That sort of thing seems to be rather common over there in… where was it, Singapore? Anyway, I just started to wonder how it looks in Japan then. I think that even there are people who claim themselves to be otaku, but in reality, they aren’t. You guys can judge better over this, can’t you? Tell me something about it, if you don’t mind.”

A: In Japan there are wannabe otaku all the same, but it’s rarer. Still having negative connotation outside of the internet most people won’t call it out proudly though. We come across Japanese blogs by people that call themselves otaku but just don’t fit the bill. We get the typical shounen fans who wear Rukia’s Red Glove and oversized leather jackets and so on. In fact, just after we mentioned Narutards for the first, the next day someone from the OEG staff got off a train (at Akihabara station) and saw a (Japanese) older-teen kitted out with a bunch of Naruto accessories and clothing. So we’re not free of them either it seems.

The reason we single out singapore is because they see pictures of Japanese otaku and they see the stereotypes in anime and try to emulate that (Which is probably where cosplay snobbery originates from) and go on to become further wannabes without even realising it. It’s copycatting, one way or another.

Q: “How would it look if the OEG guys start running their own Anime/Otaku/whatsoever blog? – A rather spontaneous thought of mine… how would you “express” yourselves then?”

A: here aren’t any particulars really. You’d be hard pressed to find a real otaku starting a blog ‘about otaku life’. For people outside of Japan (Or Japanese wannabes) the scene is for some reason exotic and cool, but for us it’s just the stuff we do, there’s no glamour to it.

What defines a true otaku blog is a blog written by an otaku, nothing more nothing less. If people like Danny Choo, Kodomut etc. were actually otaku we wouldn’t have a problem, but they label themselves wrongly. An anime blog is fine, but either call yourself otaku and be one, or don’t use the word at all. It’s as simple as that.

Q: “Is it possible that THE solution of this issue just lies beyond not starting a blog with the sole purpose to talk about Anime series, figures, and the other topics just to claim themselves an otaku? And as a cheesy Swiss outside of the USA (where most of the victims come from), I honestly have to say that exactly the above is my impression from most of the English blogs you nominated.”

A: Once again, the simple rule is don’t call yourself otaku when it doesn’t apply to you. Apart from that you can make a blog about whatever you like, we’re not bothered. The way to solve the problem would be to stop using the word otaku where it does not apply. We’re not trying to dictate people and we don’t want people to think they’re losing face if they do eliminate the word. If anything it shows consideration for the culture that they love.

Q: “You wrote that diversity is a key to being a step closer being an otaku, it would be nice if you could share your views on what does that actually stand for. Is it different genre of anime, date of production or maybe something else?”

A: It applies to all things really. We realise that not everybody can blog about different things all the time, but we look at Kodomut and we see him reviewing some nendoroids or something, we click to another of his affiliates who is reviewing the exact same one, we click one of their affiliates and once again the same nendoroid review.

Look at the drossel figma; just about everyone in the blogosphere has one. Do you really mean to tell us there were that many fans of Fireball? To be honest, most people probably have not even watched it and just bought it because everybody else did.

It’s just copycatting and it’s all over the blogosphere. Every blogger seems to be watching the same series, interested in the same characters and buying the same figures. These people do not have an otaku nature at all because they pidgeonhole themselves in the same interests as everyone else and never dare to step out and find something new.

We like the eroge blogging crowd marginally more than the others because it’s good to see some diversity. If you’re going to really get into figures, start buying figures that not many people know of; attend WonFes and queue up incredibly early to buy a rare, expensive Garage Kit and so on. If you’re gonna call yourself ‘otaku’, you have to show extreme dedication.

Q: “Let’s say somehow you guys actually manage to go through every blog, therefore going on to ‘Round 2’. What would happen to any new blogs added to the list afterwards? Would they have to go through Round 1 as well? I’d imagine that if you were say, at Round 4, it would be rather tedious to judge them four times.

Of course, this is assuming you ever get through Round 1.”
A: No, unless they give a good reason why they should skip round 1 then no, sorry. Our deadline has been overly flexible and that’s about as kind as we’re going to be really.
Q: Which nationality are you people? Is one of you darkmirage since you guys did not post his website. Thanks.”
A: Many different nationalities. Japanese, British, Singaporean. Japanese being the predominant with 3 of us being Japanese (We mentioned 2 above) 1 Singaporean and 1 Brit. We have a few outsiders who aren’t quite in the group, but still come along to talk, ranging from USA to Japan to Finland. No we are not darkmirage, none of us are as far as we know.
Q: Once you’ve expended your backlog of blogs to review, I imagine that the pace of the OEG will slow. Do you have any other projects you plan to pursue?
A: We’re trying to regulate what we add really. That’s all that can be said, we’re picking up the pace anyway. Other projects? Not really, but the second phase will be much more fun.
Q: Without any authority behind the OEG,  there is no guarantee that anything will change based on your decisions. What would you like to occur after you’ve made your judgement on a blog? Additionally, how effective do you think the project has been so far?
A: Change takes a long time, everyone is screaming at us that we’ll never change anything, but it takes a long time. We don’t just wake up one day and suddenly ‘Otaku’ has vanished from the blogosphere. We think the project has been pretty effective so far, a number of people have gotten rid of ‘Otaku’ and others have just enjoyed the criticism and learned something from it. Eventually in time, things will change, the word will drop and something new will come to take it’s place.
Well, that concludes the incredibly short Q&A. It’s getting late now, so we want to get on with Round 5. It should be up in a few minutes.



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4 responses to “Q&A Session: Your Questions Answered

  1. You’ve definitely hit the nail over the head with the whole issue about diversity. Maybe I have some sort of confirmation bias, but when I glance through the anime blog aggregators that I frequent, a large majority of them (I’m willing to say it’s as high as 33%, maybe even more than that) rehash the same old things and once you read one, your eyes just glaze over the copycats. Or if you’re me, you just don’t bother reading them.

    Oftentimes, I wonder what demographic these writers fall under because the expenses they incur purchasing the number of figurines they do (and the photography equipment to take those pictures) isn’t something I could feasibly do unless I live with my parents while earning a salary of 50K USD. Maybe I’m just too conservative with my guesstimates.

    • That’s how I feel about most episodic blogs too. My main subscription folder right now is pretty good, but the moment I open the “extra” folder or check out Anime Nano…

  2. >>Finland
    Brb, hunting down whoever that is.

    You can’t hide forever.

  3. > attend WonFes and queue up incredibly early to buy a rare, expensive Garage Kit and so on

    This certainly reads as a challenge toward connoisseurship. Get a few really, good, really rare things you actually like over everyone getting the same GSC/Max stuff.

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