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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Interview with a Saiyan warrior pt.2

Here's part 2 with my extremely Otaku interview with Patrick W. Galbraith. He wrote The Otaku Encylopedia :An insiders's guide to the subculture of Cool Japan.

Do you think you left out anything in The Otaku Encyclopedia?

Absolutely! You could easily write a series of encyclopedias with fat and detailed descriptions of each and every subcultural group in Japan. At the very least, I’d like to do an expanded edition, hopefully in collaboration with various otaku experts from inside and outside Japan. At present, however, I have to wonder whether a publisher would take on this project. If the book is big and bulky, it has to cost more and can be sold in fewer stores due to issues of shelf space. This is one reason why Kodansha International wanted to do a smaller, abridged volume. In many ways I am very happy that it went this way, as it meant more people can have access to it, both physically and economically. Due to the expected audience, I wanted to present Japanese otaku culture today, with historical and cross-cultural information to put it into context. Something very distant and oblique ideally becomes accessible and understandable. But this is only the first step to get the dialogue going. Now that we are developing a common vocabulary, we can begin to debate issues and learn and grow. Then a new book of cultural literacy would emerge. That is my hope for the international otaku movement.

Were you inspired to do a book by Patrick Macias works such as Cruising The Anime City: An Otaku Guide To Neo Tokyo and Tokyoscope: The Japanese Cult Film Companion? I see you thanked him at the back of your book and have him listed in the back of the book as well. I also find it funny you both have the name Patrick as Internet searches about you wielded him as a result.

Patrick Macias is an inspiration for every fan of Japanese popular culture that wants to pursue and share knowledge. In the book, I acknowledged him as a pioneer. I am honored to call him a friend.

It also seems like a very tight community of writers about Japan. I see you also thanked Brian Ashcraft (Senior Contributing Editor of Kotaku ) and Danny Choo (possibly the most famous Otaku online) is there a bar you all got to or do you meet up somewhere?

There is a list of people who shape the discussion of Japanese popular culture in the United States. Those names include, but are not limited to, Patrick Macias, Matt Alt, Brian Ashcraft, Fred Schodt, Fred Patten, Gilles Poitras, Roland Kelts and Danny Choo. On the more academic spectrum, we have Susan Napier, Sharon Kinsella ,Thomas LaMarre, and Anne Allison in addition to a growing community. Each of these men and women contributes to our knowledge and understanding of Japan and its popular culture in unique ways. I respect them all, and hope my own efforts will someday be of half the assistance theirs has been. I try to meet with them whenever they are in Tokyo and learn all that I can from their vast body of collective experience.
On some lighter questions, not so much about the book. What are your favorite haunts in Akihabara? Do you have a favorite maid cafe? I can tell you they have one in LA now called Royal-T and many of the maids are tsundere, making it not as fun as I had hoped.
You aren’t a fan of tsundere? I have to confess that I love it! It’s an acquired taste, but after five years of frequenting Akihabara maid cafes, I now call ahead to reserve the worst possible treatment I can. Literally, I order it – 500 yen. Maybe I just have this image in my mind of Asuka not able to express her feelings for Shinji and so getting all belligerent with him. Anyway, I have a few places in Akihabara that I always stop by. Kamifuusen, which is a great store for figures, and the Volk’s rental showcases on the 7th floor of the Radio Kaikan, which is a treasure trove. I like Japanese curry, so I always stop by Go Go Curry. I go to Melon Books, Toranoana and K-Books for doujinshi and bishoujo games. I also spend an unhealthy amount of time lined up waiting to get into @home cafĂ© or see AKB 48. It’s like this compulsion…
Other than your obvious love of Dragon Ball (which I'm currently re-watching, the recently released uncut version) what Anime or manga are your favorites and why?
I actually am not that into Dragon Ball, which is counter intuitive given my conspicuous cosplay antics. I really liked the original story, and the first arc of Dragon Ball Z, but not much after the first showdown with Vegeta. I only wear my Goku costume when I do my weekly tour in Akihabara or go to cosplay events in the area. My favorite anime is Neon Genesis Evangelion, just because it pushed the limits of genre, character and even animation itself. You can watch that show 100 times and still not fully grasp all the different levels of address. I also think that the director, Anno Hideaki, really ripped out his heart and showed it to the audience. He put it all on the line and spoke his doubts, even his anxieties about anime and its fans. I admire his courage and unwavering conviction. For other series, I constantly watch and rewatch Key, the Metal Idol, Video Girl Ai and Otaku no Video. They always make me laugh and cry, or simply remind me that I am human. Right now I am into Toaru Kagaku no Railgun. I can’t wait for more Strike Witches and Sora no Otoshimono. My dream sequel? Kannagi. I need to see Nagi-sama again for closure. Please, Yama-kan!!

When do you think your website will be fully up? Will it have a little flash Moe- pon going around?

It should be soon. I am working with some friends in the United States to try to get it up, but it is time consuming and we are all doing it without pay and in our free time. Kodansha International is kind of mired in this old-school paper publishing mode, so they will not pay for online PR, which includes websites. It is a really weird thing. Please be patient and bear with us!
The Otaku Encyclopedia website can be found here
The book is available at Amazon here for only $13.57
Finally if your in Tokyo why not take a tour with Patrick here