Article by: Curry Zawa Kaoru
For all of you who haven't seen it yet, the movie rendition of "Wotakoi" is all about coming out as an otaku.
It has to be said though, that the public image of otaku has changed substantially lately, and many people definitely stopped self-deprecating themselves for being one.
And with that also came the long-waited curtain fall on that moral-harassment show that was either distancing yourself from your partner after finding out they're an otaku, or trying to pray the otaku away before your loved one found out.
All of the above feels just appropriate in this fresh Reiwa era, right?
Well, it isn't.
I think that nowadays everybody should share the idea that one's interests should be free of judgment as long as they don't interfere with the law or harm anybody.
Sadly, reality is different and people feel free to get judgy when it comes to their family or loved ones' interests.
Look at me, I walk these streets preaching free love for one's fetish and weird tastes, but come and tell me that my husband likes to roam at night dressed as a gothic lolita, with the usual old man's face but nails and hair on fleek...
I'm not sure I'd be fine with that.
Well, I might, if I was into the gothic lolita thing as well.
The point I'm trying to make here is: I think I kind of get that weird feeling that one may get when finding out their partner is an otaku.
Coming to terms with that might take some time and perseverance.
So when is the right timing to come out as an otaku, knowing that it might end the relationship? Does it happen naturally if you just... wait?
Even if you decide to tell them, the thought of having "the conversation" is just...
I mean, how can you explain your reasons behind being one?
How do you put into words those primary feelings you get every time you see a new drawing of your favorite couple?
How do you justify your incapability of expressing yourself, like a robot that was just uploaded with human emotions, every time that happens?
OK, I could try, but I'd want my interlocutor to know they're about to waste the day ahead of them.
That is why I never went through the fuss of coming out as an otaku to my partners,
It's not like I was hiding it, though. I like to have them realize it "on their own".
What I understood after all these years, is that it doesn't matter if family or partners, as long as they don't waste all their money, get absorbed in their hobbies too much or harm their loved ones, no one really cares that much.
Some kind of explanation is needed, of course. Like: "Hey, this new anime just came out, I'll be virtually gone for three days but I'm fine!".
There are limits to it, though: you can't just walk up to people yelling "This is me, I like a strong female lead, better if there's a dom-sub storyline with anal in there!!!"
And that is also because, on a personal note, I don't like the idea of having to share my favorite pairings, so I don't want people walking up to me being like: "Hey, me too!!"
So most of my otaku-ing is done over laptop or smartphone, that's why I could always get away without saying anything to my partners.
I don't want anyone to yell at me to stop googling for hentai situations of my favorite couple. As if that would stop me.
So, yeah, I never really thought of coming out as an otaku as something scary per se, but I had my own experience teaching me it can be quite hard.
"I found your website."
I was in my late twenties and dating. The person I was dating kind of understood I was an otaku, so this one time as I was speaking, I let slip of the fact that I have a website.
All of you kids born in the pixiv era might not understand what that means, but back in the day when pixiv didn't exist, one had to go through the fuss of getting their own domain in order to upload drawings and novels for others to see.
And so when searching for your favorite couple's material, you had to know your ways around the internet and how to get links to those websites.
However, sometimes you could get derailed by the "Associated Links" page on those websites. Since you're on a site giving you exactly what you want, you'd assume clicking on any link listed on the site would lead you to another motherlode, but actually you'd end up getting sent to some totally unrelated crafting website.
Anyhow, a hag like me could go on and on about these ancient-times stories, but let me cut the chase and resume from the fact that yes, I had a website where I was uploading my own drawings and manga.
The day after I told my date I had a website, he greeted me with "I found your website".
Imagine my shock.
I had been dating this guy only for a short while, only mentioned once that I had a website and that was it. Literally.
He didn't have access to my laptop or mobile phone, nor would I speak a word of my beloved "Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side"; not even under torture.
I would have never imagined he could find it with that little information, let alone hearing him saying the name of my website.
But there I was, my identity as the Habataki High berserker was exposed, and I felt upset.
I am fine with being outed as an otaku, with people knowing what my favorite titles are, or that I love BL, the Yume genre, even that I watch NTR video letters in my alone time. I can cope with that. I think...
What I can't cope with is my partner seeing the fan-art I made.
All that came out of my mouth was: "Don't look at that ever again". But deep inside of me I knew that I couldn't stop him from looking at it like I wouldn't stop searching for adult material of my favorite couple even if begged to.
I felt like a kid whose parents find out they were doing something illicit and has to admit it, willing or not.
To this day I still do not know how he found out; it's like getting someone's address by the building reflected in their eyes in an old and out-of-focus picture.
If you have the skills and will to do something, there's nothing that can stop you.
Also, I said I was upset but that doesn't quite explain it.
Because even if I wanted to cover that up, imagine me trying to make excuses and all. Wouldn't that guy feel grossed out by how hard I'm trying to hide this side of mine from him? Wouldn't that lead to me reinforcing the stereotype?
Funny enough, no sort of effort in hiding your otaku nature might even end up in no one finding out about it!
Like when your opponent's fist is so fast you can't even see it moving.
There was this other guy I was dating that had a huge poster of this adult game on his wall, welcoming me as I triumphantly stepped into his room for the first time.
Some people would feel offended, like they were better than that, but the fact that he didn't flinch at that felt so natural to me that I thought that that poster on the wall was nothing weird, just like a cloud in the sky.
Only after we broke up did I starting thinking he should have taken that off the wall when I was visited for the first time.
What really counts in the end is being proud of your hobbies.
The reason for people reacting the way they do when they find out you're an otaku lies in the fact that they feel betrayed for you not telling them.
So when outed, keep your head up high and reinforce the fact asking them back "Yes, I do like that stuff, so what?"
"Wotakoi", a story of otaku love, is now playing in theaters in Japan!
Momose Narumi is a 26 years-old office worker. At her new workplace she reconciles with her childhood friend Hirotaka Nifuji. While very handsome and a hard-worker, Hirotaka is really a heavy gamer. On the other hand, Momose is hiding her being a fujoshi otaku, too afraid of what her colleagues might think of her.
The two find a precious confidant in each other, as they start hanging out for drinks after work, talking about their otaku lifestyles. As Momose is lamenting her lack of interest in men, Hirotaka suggests they should start dating, as fellow otakus should have a better understanding.
After the initial excitement, the two must come to terms with a not-so-easy reality. The couple will have to face many daily challenges that come with dating and sharing your life with someone.