Manga review: I, Otaku
Status: read first issue
There’s nothing wrong with Sota Enatsu, right? He’s a popular 18 year old who’s good in school and has lot of friends. Even a cute girlfriend. But the secret he keeps from them all is that he is a closet otaku!
Sato regularly sneaks off to Akihabara to buy everything he can find with super-moe character Papico on it. But as the manga begins, Sota makes a choice that will change his life forever – he enters “Otakudo Headquarters” a shop run by Tencho, self-proclaimed president of the Closet Otaku Extermination Committee. Soon, everyone in Sato’s life will know he is an otaku, but will he find the freedom of expression promised by Tencho, or lose his friends and slip into an hikikomori life?
I, Otaku is unabashedly manga for the manga fan. It is so full of anime and manga references that most of the humor and allusions might be lost on the casual reader. In fact, it comes uncomfortably close to being too niche for an already niche market.
But that aside, I had a great time reading I, Otaku. It doesn’t have the kinds of characters you fall in love with like Genshiken, but it does a similar job of both celebrating and deriding the otaku lifestyle. There’s a scene early on in the manga, after Sato arrives in Akihabara, where he smiles deeply and sighs “The atmosphere… it just soothes the soul.” Disturbing as that may sound to some, I can totally relate.
And much like how Yakitate!! Japan turns breadmaking into a life or death affair, I love how I, Otaku applies the almost stereotypical high-powered, action-driven, shounen manga style to toy collecting.
Recommended for all out and closeted otaku. The hardcore kind.