Cool artwork shows how little otaku have to say to non-otaku, or even each other.

According to Japanese media and many social media users, otaku are like a different species, homo otakus, which bears only a superficial resemblance to the rest of humanity, with their fanaticism for nerdy things and their supposed inability to engage in conversation. You’d think they would at least be able to talk to each other without any problems, but as Twitter users @tamayan22 and @tonaricar explain through the medium of art, it’s not all as simple as that.

▼ ‘The otaku communication disorder mechanism’

The two people on the top row of the picture are depicted as ‘normals’, who have a long list of topics they can talk about in the conversational Ven diagram, ranging from fashion, to relationships, to sports and travel, alongside their own personal interests of gambling and mountain climbing. While the otaku has plenty of things he can talk about, he doesn’t have much he can contribute to the chat, and the only overlapping subject the three of them have in common is manga, even if their comics of choice might differ wildly. Certainly from this cartoon it seems obvious why many people believe otaku have a ‘communication disorder’, unable to effectively interact with homo sapiens. It turns out that even within the otaku species there are several sub-species, meaning you can’t just lump them all together.

In @tonaricar’s illustration, four otaku have gathered together but they have equally little to talk to each other about. The otaku on the top left likes subjects like trains and travel; the one on the top right likes robot anime and fishing; bottom left likes card games and doujin self-published manga; while the bottom right favours going to game centres and erotic games. Even amongst these four members of the otaku sub-culture there’s only one common interest – in this case social games.

Other Twitter users seemed to verify the accuracy of the images, warning of the dangers of tarring all otaku with the same brush as a uniform group when really there as many types of otaku as there are Pokémon, while others weren’t so sure.

‘My club at uni was just like that, everyone was really into one type of anime so we never had anything to talk about.’
‘This is also what Twitter is like, everyone talking about their own thing without any common ground.’
‘I can’t talk about social games but I can about all the others, what does that make me?’
‘You do realise otaku have normal interests like clothes and music and stuff as well?’
‘Ah, that’s why I can’t talk to anyone.’
‘The first image is just perpetuating the idea of us and them with otaku and “norms”.’

When I was a child, I used to really like the I-Spy books that Michelin produced, full of checklists for things you could spot and tick off, often with points attached according to rarity, on topics ranging from animals or birds, to cars, bridges or sports. If only they produced one for all the otaku sub-species from Pokémon fans (1 point, common as anything) to train-loving densha otaku (5 points) to the pallid-skinned, reclusive hikikomori (30 points, 50 if spotted outdoors). On another note, is it worrying that I (and many of our readers) too can talk far more about the items on the otaku list than that of the normals? Well, at least that might gain us entry to some of the many otakuorientated services available in Japan!

Source: Twitter/@tamayan22 and Twitter/@tonaricar via jin115
Featured image: Twitter/@tonaricar