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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to a slightly dodgy subculture, 29 Oct 2009
By 
R. G. Milner "Kilkrazy" (UK/Japan) - See all my reviews
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The Otaku Encyclopedia is an encyclopaedic dictionary of about 600 Japanese terms mainly from the Otaku subculture. It includes slang, jargon, characters, creative people and companies, and the like.

The main areas covered are manga, anime, cosplay, figures and dolls. Associated areas such as video and tabletop games, or airsoft guns, are also briefly mentioned.

Each term is fully explained with its original Japanese katakana and/or kana.

There are also frequent mini essays or interviews on some of the main personalities of the subculture, such as maid cafe idols, big name otaku, and figure sculptors.

As far as my knowledge goes this is all accurately explained. The author is an otaku-journalist, who having lived in Japan for about five years, is pursuing a PhD in otaku culture at the University of Tokyo. While I can't claim his depth of knowledge, my association with Japan goes back over 15 years. Although not an otaku myself I have been following Japanese and anime/manga culture since the early 1980s.

So I recommend it. If you want to know what "tsundere", "moe" or "gokko asobi" means, this book will tell you. It will also work as a general overview of the otaku scene.

If I have an argument with this book, it is the presentation of otaku as a part of Cool Japan. Good anime is cool. I don't think otaku is cool. Although otaku love anime, otaku itself is mainly a mode of consumption rather than self-expression or creativity. It does not have a cool image in the west, and much less in Japan itself. While the 2005 movie "Train Man" started to rehabilitate the image of otaku, it still remains a slightly weird subculture, especially on the outer fringes.

Some aspects of otaku -- cosplay, maid cafes, "dollpla" and "doujinshi" -- undeniably have a camp charm and demonstrate creativity and active fun.

The fetishisation of pubescent girls as sex objects, nude printed dakimakura (hug pillows,) and various kinds of sex dolls and figurines, will never be cool. It feels a bit creepy. It seems a small step from that to the pervy sarariman, groping schoolgirls on rush-hour trains and stealing housewives' panties off the washing line.

A major area of genuine cool is the Harajuku based street fashion scene, portrayed in magazines and books such as Fruits. This is only peripherally part of the otaku culture, via photography and fetishisation, for example, of schoolgirls' loose socks. It isn't covered here, which isn't a criticism as you can easily get other material covering it.

The book is an excellent introduction to the otaku subculture. I am left with the feeling that it is as much an attempt to claim public space and validate the author's personal interests, as it is a celebration of a successful cultural movement.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you have been to Japan or are going, then buy, 26 Mar 2012
By 
M. Fairman - See all my reviews
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Ok, it's not something you might even have heard of, but once there you can't fail to miss it. Teenage girls, and more recently boys walking around in the most amazing outfits, Tokyo or Osaka or most City really in Japan. You start to wonder and this book answers all the questions you could have.

This is the sub culture that most guide books barely touch on, if at all, but it is massive and you will see it. It's part of what makes Japan Japan.

Laid out in a simple A-Z format, I am reading it page by page as opposed to dipping in here and there. It's funny, well written and always interesting. A book like this could easily have been an excuse for fetish pictures, cheap sexual text and basically concentrating on the more sexual side of this culture. Instead the author has treated it seriously but with humour. The A-Z style is interlaced with various short articles on people or parts of the culture, one soon understands that Galbraith is passionate about the subject. He hasn't simply clawed together some views and explantions littered with pictures, but rather has lovingly constructed what must be the most comprehensive study of this amazing underground culture that is as much Japan as sushe is.

A very worth while additional to my book shelf.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Japanese pop-culture in a nut shell., 9 Aug 2010
Another great book from Kodansha completely stuffed to bursting with facts, figures and interesting information. The spin on this one is that it is written by a `Gaijin', albeit one who really-really knows his stuff. I bought this book a while ago and keep referring to it on a regular basis, it is absolutely fascinating and very well designed, which makes it a real pleasure to flick through. If you have an interest in modern Japanese pop culture this book is invaluable! Superb.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun book about a strange subculture, 31 Oct 2010
By 
Jackal (New Hampshire) - See all my reviews
This is a fun a-z about a special Japanese subculture. It is full of information. Some of it seems a bit dated in the fast moving world of youth culture, but that is always a risk when writing about this subject. One weakness with the book is that you do not get any information about how this subculture fits with the rest of Japanese culture. Overall I can still recommend if you want to understand more.
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The Otaku Encyclopedia: An Insider's Guide to the Subculture of Cool Japan
The Otaku Encyclopedia: An Insider's Guide to the Subculture of Cool Japan by Patrick W. Galbraith (Paperback - 14 Feb 2014)
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