Sat, 3 November 2007
Manga Review for I, Otaku: Struggle in Akihabara Volume 1 by Jiro Suzuki. Translated by Nan Rymer and adapted by Ed Chavez. Published by Seven Seas for $9.99. Originally published in Japan 2003 by Square Enix. Rated Teen.
When you hear about someone "coming out of the closet", if you're like me, you're automatically thinking about Tom Cruise. But maybe that's just me. 18-year-old high schooler Enatsu Sota is a closet Otaku and he's always afraid of someone at school finding out about his secret obsession with the dog eared little girl anime character Papico. You see, Sota is the opposite of the stereotyped otaku we all know and love. He's not fat and smelly or bespectacled. Sota is popular at school, athletic, and he even has a girlfriend named Eri! And no, even she doesn't know his secret. His closely guarded secret life begins to unravel when he visits a store in Akihabara named Otakudo Headquarters, whose slogan is "A store where only TRUE otaku are allowed to shop." Unfortunately for Sota, its owner, Mano Takuro, has appointed himself president of imaginary organization called the Closet Otaku Extermination Committee and right off the bat he has a problem with Sota because after purchasing some merchandise, Sota tries to put the shop bag into a normal brown bag so noone will know where he was shopping. Mano proceeds to close all the safety doors in the shop and plans to hold Sota prisoner until he admits that he is an otaku. When Sota finally does, he is tricked into yelling it very loudly.....right in front of his girlfriend Eri!
I, Otaku was an enjoyable read but after reading and watching the anime and manga versions of Comic Party and Genshiken and reading the manga series Maniac Road and its sequel Pretty Maniacs, my enjoyment of a series about otaku tends to be a bit muted. For my money Genshiken and Maniac Road did better with the comedy and the educational side of introducing new manga readers to the world of anime and manga fandom in Japan. While I, Otaku did a pretty good job with its comedy bits, I didn't feel drawn into the world of Akihabara with a sense of wonder like I did with some of the other series. The characters didn't have much emotional connect either. I do think that Suzuki's art was very pretty and never became cluttered even during the zaniest moments. This book is better suited to readers that are new to the otaku concept and will not be as enjoyable to those who have read similar works before. Includes two color pages.
My Grade: B
Check out Ed Chavez's EXCELLENT manga website:
Also, you can pick up all 3 volumes of Maniac Road and Pretty Maniacs for $2.00 each at:
Just click on the manga outlet key on the main page. The two dollar sale also includes volumes of Now, Tomie, Junk Force, Dark Edge,Crayon Shinchan, High School Girls, and volumes of Iron Wok Jan at half off. This is just a smattering of the titles being offered.