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Revenge of the (Japanese) Nerds

Newsweek reports on the sudden popularity of otaku -- essentially the Japanese equivalent of The Simpsons' Comic Book Guy:

The hip lit magazine, Da Vinci, features a big article in its February issue entitled "Love of Otaku," with comments by former otaku and the women who date them. "Once the most unlikely love interest, otaku are now the center of attention," it declares. Even businessmen are bullish on otaku, it seems, according to a survey by Tokyo's Nomura Research Institute. Japan's 2.8 million otaku spend $2.7 billion a year on DVDs, comics and fantasy figures modeled after anime characters. Their Internet literacy and networking habits make them hugely influential, beyond mere purchasing power. "Their passion and creativity will be a driving force for industrial innovation," reports Nomura.
Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse notes that otaku culture is catching on in America, too:
ARLINGTON, Virginia (AFP) - Judging from the colorful crowds at the "anime-con" event here, the Japanese pop cultural invasion of the United States is in full swing.

...Many Americans are attracted to Japanese pop culture "because we look at Japan as a place where it's OK to like comic books and cartoons past the socially approved expiration date," said Macias, who is also the author of "Cruising the Anime City: An Otaku Guide to Neo-Tokyo."
Speaking as a kid who got Mattel's giant "Mazinga" robot with launching missiles (based on the Japanese anime Mazinger Z) for my fifth birthday, I can confidently state that I was way ahead of my time on this one.




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