Popular light novel author shares his skepticism about the ploy.

Aside from all the food and shelter, I really do have to thank my parents for taking their son’s burgeoning interest in Japanese animation in stride. When teenage Casey said, “Hey guys, I want to go to this anime convention that’s an eight-hour drive away and watch the premiere of Macross Plus,” they said “Sure.” They didn’t bat an eye when the percentage of my wardrobe that was made up of anime T-shirts moved past 50. Once, my dad even credited my quick recovery from a nasty cold to the protective eyes of the Slayers cast watching over me from the poster hung on the wall above my sickbed.

But I realize not everyone is blessed with such accepting parents, as recently observed by Kenji Inoue, writer of the light novels which serve as the basis for the magical high school anime and manga Baka and Test. Due to the nature of his profession, Inoue doesn’t necessarily have to commute to an office, and earlier this week he decided to get some work done at a coffee shop.

However, he was distracted by the conversation some of the other customers were having, which he later related through his Twitter account.

“A woman was saying ‘I don’t want my daughter to become an otaku, so I let her watch absolutely no anime!’ When I heard that, I thought to myself ‘That kid has a high probability of becoming an otaku.’ I mean, on top of the latent fun-factor, now she’s adding the appeal of getting away with something you’re not supposed to do.”

Online commenters were quick to voice their agreement.

“Classic Caligula effect.”
“She’s going to raise a fine otaku.”
“She sounds just like my mom. I also turned out to be a total otaku.”
“As long as it doesn’t hinder her daughter’s ability to have social interactions, what’s wrong with her becoming an otaku?”

In the mom’s defense, in Japan the word “otaku” has long carried with it the connotation of  being incapable of having fulfilling life experiences unless they’re somehow connected to the individual’s chosen hobby. Classic anime Otaku no Video aside, it’s still a relatively recent phenomenon for people in Japan to proudly self-identify as otaku (using “otaku” simply to mean “passionate anime fan” caught on earlier in the West than in its native Japan), so it’s likely the concerned mother was using the term in its older, much more pejorative and worrisome sense.

Nonetheless, Inoue is pretty sure the parenting plan he overheard is going to backfire in a big way. To keep kids from becoming otaku, he offered the following advice:

“If you don’t want your kids to become otaku, instead of forbidding them from watching anime, I think it’s more effective to spend time enjoying some other fun activity with them. You can only smother kids’ interests until about the time they hit junior high school.”

And hey, even if your child does end up loving anime, manga, or video games, that doesn’t mean he’s destined to become a lazy shut-in. As one commenter chimed in:

“When I was a kid, my parents wouldn’t let me play video games, so I played a bunch at my friend’s house. Then I got more into them, and eventually ended up working for a game company.”

See? For some people, indulging in otaku tendencies in their youth ends up being vital training for their future line of work.

Source: Jin
Top image: RocketNews24

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s thinking he really should give his parents a call.