Anthony CaraSeptember 25, 2010
- Otaku no Video (literally translated Otaku’s Video or Otaku Video) can be summed up in one word: Natsukashii. That one Japanese frame is at once an exclamation of a bittersweet melancholy feeling brought up by memories of one’s halcyon days and simply the word “nostalgic.” This OVA is at once a parody and tribute to the budding Otaku subculture of the 1980’s.
When viewed in the context of a modern anime world, it provides a fascinating insight to “the good ol’ days” of anime. It also reminds us how lucky we are today. Anyone of my generation, those twenty-something American nerds, will also enjoy this because we were lucky enough to catch the tail end of this magnificent generation while still getting to fully enjoy the anime revolution in the late 90’s and early turn of the century. Finally, with the somewhat recent international successes of FLCL and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, this fictionalized version of the great Gainax’s history seems even more relevant today than at the time of its original release.
In terms of plot and story structure, Otaku no Video is best described as an experience rather than a series, ova or movie. It is comprised of 2 animated episodes interspersed with “real” interviews of otaku –which are separated by actual (at first) historic events or news items that coincide with the story’s timeline. In this DVD release, you can actually choose to watch just the anime, just the interviews (titled A Portrait of an Otaku) or the intended presentation of watching both interweaved.
The animated story chronicles the rise (or decline depending on how you view it) of the young Kubo as a great Otaku. He is at first, thin, athletic, and attractive- with a promising future and beautiful girlfriend. When he runs into his old friend Tanaka, his life is turned completely upside down as he begins his journey to the vile and perverse world of otaku culture. As the first episode displays his descent into madness, the second shows his rise to power as he and Tanaka take the monumental leap from mere Otaku, to media giants as they take the anime world by storm.
The live action interviews are admittedly faked, but they do provide some insight into the mind of real otaku. They appear strategically during the main anime story and offer some explanation of the cultural phenomenon that our hero is experiencing at the moment. For example, in the beginning our hero is introduced to the concept of cosplay, and at that moment they cut to a live action interview of a man who was apparently once a closet cosplayer himself.
In terms of technical quality, Otaku no Video is right on par with other anime of the 1980’s. I must remind you- animation is expensive, and this particular OVA uses it sparingly. Due to the limitations of the era, one can expect such anime trademarks as static background characters, dynamic still shots with lines whizzing by to create the illusion of kinetic energy, and camera movement in favor of character movement. The presentation is only available in Japanese spoken language with English subtitles and captions which is just perfect for most anime fans. As with any translation work done by the great Trish Ledoux one can expect a great deal of effort spent in translating not only the meaning, but the feelings and context behind the words. As usual, this is most evident in characters with strange speech tendencies- an abnormally formal speaker, in true Ledoux fashion, will be using thee’s and thou’s in the English subtitles.
As with all of Gainax’s outrageous and unique titles, Otaku no Video is a fantastic addition to any anime collection, but is clearly not for everyone. If you are a budding anime fan just getting into the scene and enjoying the hip stuff you see on TV and stream online, this video will mean little to you. This is for the true otaku, the real anime fans who have lived this personally. It locks in time a glorious period of our history and is a must have for any diehard fan.7.5/
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