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Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide: Otaku Spaces Book Review

Otaku Spaces

This holiday season I'll be putting out some great gifts ideas that stand out for those into anime or just want to show something off to friends. Otaku Spaces is the perfect gift for well, the Otaku. What's an Otaku? Jeez, haven't you been reading the site? If you don't know, it's a huge fan of something. The closes connection in English might be fan boy or nerd. There are very specific types of Otaku, some might like film, other a certain anime. Otaku Spaces captures them in their environment, their rooms. The photos and interviews in this book make it an instant coffee table book. If you put this somewhere in your house a friend will pick it up and start reading it.

The fandom capturing comes from old time interviewee Patrick W Galbraith, one of the earliest interviews for the site. You may remember his Otaku Encyclopedia from years back, too. Patrick, who use to go around Japan giving tours dressed as Goku from Dragon Ball has kept the same fun style from his earlier book.

What you or your friends will find when the crack it open are some great photos by Androniki Christodoulou of people surrounded by piles of what they love. It's a more compelling version of today's terrible hoarders based TV shows. These photos show off the oddity of owning way too many action figures, dolls, toys, electronics and collectibles. There's even odder things to own, if you go further into the book.

When Patrick interviews these  Otaku  you'll learn about why the obsess about certain parts of culture. Patrick at times can be very direct and ask something like, "How much do you spend?" or "Do you see getting a girlfriend?", which will flat out make you cringe with laughter. Much of time you learn that the Otaku do understand that it is odd, but they feel compelled to collect. Many of them are successful people who seem to have their hobbies take over their life. Yet, if the enjoy it so much isn't there life complete?

The start of book breaks down who Otaku are and. examines  the multiple sub-types of them. Not all collect figures or dolls. Some collect cosplay uniforms, some collect underground paraphernalia like stuff from the KKK and Nazis. Surprisingly, some are girls. What I though would be a male dominated book does have some female geeky attendance. The end of the book explores where the Otaku get there goods and where the like to hang out. If you haven't heard of Akihabra you suddenly will and of course maid cafes.

Fun interviews and photography aside the books design understands to entertain, but also have content. If you've read some past reviews of Japanese culture book on the site, some miss this. Those books either become dumb picture books or go into way to much explanation. This is the perfect balance. Interviews can go on for pages and each seems like it belongs in a magazine for a pleasurable read. One repeat of the book that got me was that each interview has some explanation of how much one Otaku has attained with simplistic images/ icons and numbers. For example an outline of money and a number underneath it sort of give an instant explanation of how much one Otaku delves into their hobby. You just like seeing a icon for sailor scout uniforms representing how many cosplay outfits someone has.

If you followOtaku culture you might get a kick out of Danny Choo being in the book, he might be considered one of the most well known Otaku in USA for his constanly updated blog about Japanese culture.

Ring in the holidays with a book about people collecting too many items, that way if you don't give out many presents it will seem like more.