Although he’s one of the most respected figures of all time in the manga industry, Kazuo Koike isn’t typically associated with the otaku subculture. When his most popular creation, Lone Wolf and Cub, was translated into English it attracted as many international fans from among Western comic readers as from those who favored Japanese manga, and in general his works have a gritty, somber tone to them, unlike the brightly colored daydreams and self-insert power fantasies that are often associated with otaku-pandering fare.

There’s also the fact that Koike was born in 1936, and being old enough and of the corresponding gender to fill two-thirds of a “grumpy old man” bingo card, you might expect him to have harsh words for Japan’s legions of hobby-obsessed individuals, like those that often sputter forth from Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki.

But it turns out that not only is Koike accepting of the otaku life, but he thinks that being an otaku from the cradle to the grave makes for a beautiful life.

In another twist, it turns out Koike is quite the social media master, with a massive Twitter following of over 140,000 fans. Recently he shared his thoughts on the otaku condition, and whether or not it’s something that people ever really grow out of.

“I’m 80 years old, so I’m just going to come out and tell you guys. People who are born as otaku are otaku for life. You can’t quit it! Natural Born OTAKU!!!” (Kazuo Koike)

There’s something quant about the way Koike makes a point of signing his tweets, and it’s also odd that he calls himself an 80-year-old, while online biographies say he won’t join the octogenarian club until next May. Still, when you’re showing that much passion, you can be forgiven for minor arithmetic errors, especially when you go on to show even more zest for life.

“I’m always saying ‘I am the greatest otaku,’ but when you take a look around, senior citizens who are enjoying their lives are generally some sort of otaku. Truly, being an otaku until the end of your days is a wonderful thing. Live as an otaku, die as an otaku. It’s the greatest.” (Kazuo Koike)

So there you have it. Feel like being an otaku is a stage of your past? According to Koike, you still are one.

But while this might, at first glance, seem like the chest-thumping of a fanboy crossed with the freedom to say whatever you want that comes from being an elderly man with a cemented legacy, Koike actually makes a pretty valid point about happy seniors being otaku. He doesn’t specify what kind, and is probably using the term in a much broader sense than the typical “anime/video games/idol singers” otaku holy trinity, but there’s plenty of medical data that suggests having interests and being involved in them keeps the mind sharp and the psyche healthy as we age.

So the next time you’re taking a moment to indulge in your favorite pastime and someone says, “Aren’t you a little old to be getting so into that?” just remember, there’s one manga legend who’s got your back.

Source: Jin