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Otaku: Japan's Database Animals

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  280 ratings  ·  34 reviews
In Japan, obsessive adult fans and collectors of manga and anime are known as otaku. Hiroki Azuma's 'Otaku' offers a critical, philosophical, and historical inquiry into the characteristics and consequences of this consumer subculture.
Paperback, 200 pages
Published March 25th 2009 by Univ Of Minnesota Press (first published November 20th 2001)
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3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  280 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
La cultura otaku es un gran ejemplo de lo que caracteriza a la posmodernidad. En este libro se analizan sus orígenes y su relación con la cultura del siglo XX. Se habla de cómo la cultura otaku está marcada por el consumismo y cómo no puede separarse de las nuevas tecnologías. Se habla de animes de gran influencia como Gundam, Martian Successor Nadesico y Evangelion, de las tres generaciones de otakus que los vieron nacer y sus diferentes visiones de la subcultura otaku. También se para a analiz ...more
Sep 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Hiroki Azuma is quite schematic in applying the principles of postmodern theory to narrative consumption, which he argues has now become 'database' consumption in contemporary [otaku] culture. Two trojan horses are at play here. "Japan" stands as a place that can either lead the way to an advanced, post-modern consumerist society or an exception that bends, but confirms, the rule, while "otaku" stands a fizzling subculture that has already been supplying the mainstream its vocabulary for a long ...more
Tim Pendry
Azuma’s theoretical analysis of Japanese ‘Otaku’ culture provides some useful insights into Japanese intellectual life, ‘applied’ post-modernism and a phenomenon which, like rap from the other side of the world, has spread with globalisation. The footnotes are as valuable as the text.

It is perhaps a sign of that spread that my daughter (English) was able to point out quite quickly that two illustrations (of images of girls from Urusei Yatsura and Sailor Moon) had been transposed. It seems that t
Aung Sett Kyaw Min
May 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Otaku Database Animals ဆိုတဲ႕ စာအုပက အိုတာကုၿဖစအငအေပၚ ဒသန နဲ႕ လူမေဒဗေလ႕လာခကပါ။ ၂၀၀၂ မွာ မူရငးဂပနဘာသာနဲ႕ထြကရိွခဲ႕ၿပီး ေနာက ၅ ွစႀကာမွ အဂလိပဘာသာၿပနထြကရိွခဲ႕ပါတယ။

otaku ဆိုတဲ႕ ေဝါဟရကို ႀကားဖူးႀကမွာပါ။ အိုတာကုဆိုတာ ဂပနိုငငံရဲ႕ေပၚၿပဴလာ ေဖာၿဖညမထုတကုနေတြ (အထူးသၿဖင႕anime၊ manga နဲ႕ပတသကတဲ႕ေရာငးကုနေတြ) ကို စိတအားထကသနစြာ ဝယသူအားေပးသူေတြပဲၿဖစတယ။ otaku ၿဖစအငရဲ႕သမိုငးကို အကဥးခဳပၿပီးေရးမယဆိုရင မွတေကာကတငရေလာကတဲ႕ တိုးတကမတစခုၿဖစတဲ႕ Neon Genesis Evangelion အေႀကာငးထည႕ ေၿပာမွရပါမယ။ ၁၉၉၅ မွာ ထြကရိွခဲ႕ၿပီး ဇီဝစကရုပေတြကိ
Marija S.
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book needs some serious editing, structuring and explaining of presumptions it utilises (e.g. not everyone is familiar with works of mentioned philosophers). It presented some concepts that I honestly did not grasp at all but this does not necessarily make them less plausible - the author just generally lacks in the field of coherent, argumented discourse.

I do not recommend this book to readers who are completely unfamiliar with Japan and anime subculture. I got through it solely on my deep
Nov 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Baudrillard... scelgo te!!!

Traduzione in inglese del celebre(?) Dōbutsuka suru posutomodan (動物化するポストモダン), di Azuma Hiroki.

I pro.
Azuma offre una brevissima cronistoria critica dell'approccio otaku all'animazione giapponese, e dei legami tra i due, cronistoria ben più sensata di quanto si legge di solito sull'argomento; difatti prende una decisa posizione contro il punto di vista continuista, cioè quello che vede l'animazione e il fumetto giappi eredi diretti (di solito non viene neanche spiegato

Nick Tramdack
Apr 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"As a result, instead of narratives creating characters, it became a general strategy to create character settings first, followed by works and projects, including the stories..."

I'm a lapsed anime fan. I spent 2002-2006 wondering why all the series out were so terrible. As Azuma puts it: "from the beginning the sense of realism in otaku genres has been weak; in many cases, even original works create worlds through citation and imitation of previous works." I could not agree more...

According t
Gabriel Avocado
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
I gave it to stars because frankly, I quite loved the insight and history on otaku culture but I'm not going to be nice here. I really did not enjoy this book at all and it's entirely for ideological reasons, and also because the translators should've probably stuck with the simple present rather than the present continuous for a lot of sentences ("Creators are analyzing and recombining" vs "creators analyze and recombine").

first of all I'll start off by saying that I don't buy into post moderni
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
The database model of character traits resonates with my experiences watching anime and observing anime fans. I've noticed that anime tends to produce really out-there and interesting characters, which I often find inspiration in when creating NPC's in tabletop RPG's I am DM'ing. So this explains where that comes from. How the "moe-elements" build on each other and evolve reminds me of W. Brian Arthur's argument about technology evolution, which supposedly piggybacks off of Kuhn's "The Structure ...more
Feb 15, 2019 rated it liked it
A decent analysis of otaku culture as a whole, but in places misreads shows, lacks proper material evidence, and is totally off-base in taking postmodernity's "incredulity towards metanarratives" to mean literal narratives of shows. The most important idea, and the one that I don't see any problems with at all except maybe that Azuma goes a little too far in assuming it's absolute prevalence in otaku culture, is that of the database reading itself, so if you want to understand that without havin ...more
Stephanie A.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Had to read this for class so I’m not as into it as I would be other books. However, aside from the dryness in language there were several mistakes, mislabeling of Sailor Mars and Sakura from Urusei Yatsura for one and several spelling mistakes made it hard to get through.
Wilde Luo
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Hard to understand, but pretty enlightening.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first two chapters are superb. Sadly the third chapter where Azuma theorising 'hyperflatness' is quite unnecessary, otherwise it would have been my favourite Anime-based theory book.
D.M. Dutcher
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Profound examination of how japanese otaku culture illustrates a post-modern way of life. You'll get a lot out of it if you are an otaku or obsessive fan of any type.

There's two types of ways to relate to the world. The Tree method involves a central narrative that shapes people's individual experiences by an inner core of truth. But the Database method has no narrative at all, and people relate to it in a way that's hard for me to sum up.

It's easier to use examples. If you are familiar with Neo
Sean O'Hara
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really think the translators could've found a better title for this. I don't know about anyone else, but to me the phrase "database animals" conjures images of monkeys in cubicles pounding out TPS reports, whereas Azuma is using both terms in a very specialized manner.

By "animal" he means that people in a Hegelian post-historical society as explicated by Kojeve are free to live in harmony with "nature," which in a modern consumerist society like the United States means that we live to consume
Jekaterina Bjalt
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
For someone not well-versed in philosophy (myself, in this case), this might prove a challenging read. I picked up the book expecting to read about Japanese popular culture, and I was unpleasantly surprised when instead I was confronted with endless stream of postmodernist theory and had to grapple with ideas such as "rhizome model", "decline of the grand narratives", "rise of the simulacra" etc. I wasn't very thrilled about this onslaught of terminology I have never encountered before and didn' ...more
Sean Han Tani
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Other reviews get the point across pretty well. Some arguments are overly-represented or fuzzy, but the writing is a deliberate attempt to be clear.

I'd be interested to see more contemporary writings. This is from 2001, and while it has very interesting analyses of novel games from that era, since then we've seen a huge boom in public visibility of video games, formation of 'classic gamers' and 'contemporary gamer' subgroups, etc. I was too young in 2001 to really know how those groups compare t
Vanessa G.
Mar 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Ever since attending a speech about Hiroki Azuma and his work, I've wanted to read this book. Now that I got around to it, I have to say I understand the content of his philosophy much better than after the short speech. It was an enlightening and interesting read, especially for an aspiring scholar of Japanese culture.

While the table of content doesn't give away what kind of style awaits, I found each chapter written in an easy to read and precise style. Azuma manages to communicate his ideas a
Jan 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: theory, nonfiction
The book was enjoyable and a good stepping stone for those who are unfamiliar with theory (like I was). It started off strong, but by the end I found myself frustrated by how repetitive it became. Azuma makes a lot of good points and says a lot of interesting things, but he remains a bit inconsistent with how he says it -- one day i would feel he would miss the big picture, only to feel the next day like he was being too obtuse, too general, making too many abstractions. The book is about the ma ...more
Seb Choe
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
highly influential text for my research. azuma's expansion of takashi murakami's concepts of the superflat, his development of the double-layer structure as a post-modern analysis of the loss of the "grand narrative" in capitalistic postwar culture, and a nuanced observation of "novel games" and moe structures result in the development of the databasing concept which is highly useful in both an anthropological understanding of the contemporary otaku, in addition to being a charged inspiration fo ...more
Mar 15, 2015 rated it liked it
I mentioned to someone how I was reading this book about how Japanese pop culture fans like to "remix" what they're reading into parodies and spinoffs.

My friend said to me, "Oh, you mean like how the Tale of Genji was read in the Edo period?"

I wish I could remember which of my friends said this, but they cut right through Azuma's BS for me. Indeed, a well-researched book was just published on the Genji subject: The Tale of Genji: Translation, Canonization, and World Literature

"Otaku" is a pretty
Guan van Zoggel
Jul 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: academia
Hiroki Azuma not only manages to clearly explain complex postmodern theories from French philosophers, but also apply these to the Japanese subculture of the otaku by providing concrete examples, such as specific anime series or films. Halfway through the book gets exceedingly abstract while I did not regard these theories as relevant to Azuma's argument, per se.

Although Azuma offers an interesting viewpoint and theoretical framework, I agree with other reviews and find Azuma's vision on the ani
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
His tale of the grand narrative being replaced by the database and the return to animality seemed quite like a grand narrative in its own right, but barring this contradiction, his theories seem quite insightful, even if their accuracy isn't perfect.

You don't have to be an otaku to understand this book, it is basically just Azuma picking a specific subculture that he felt predicted our transition to a truly postmodern state. That said, those familiar with otaku culture may gain additional insig
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a challenging book to read. It is certainly an academic work and one belonging to a field I've never studied.

That said, it is not an unapproachable book. It is fairly short and Hiroki explains himself well while providing plenty of broader context for his views.

And I think his core arguments are compelling and fairly easy to follow. The book focuses on otaku culture but his database model of consumption can clearly be seen in many other contexts including in the West, many driven by the
Jessie B.
Apr 08, 2011 rated it liked it
While I don't agree with all the arguements this book makes about the culture of Otaku and anime/manga culture, it did make a lot of complicated post-modern theories comprehensible. I found it really interesting.
Feb 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Mostly remember the Evangelion-centrism to all anime culture this book highlights.
Patrick Lum
Mar 28, 2013 rated it liked it
I need to read it a couple more times to really parse the argument, but the fundamentals seem relatively sound.
Apr 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Read for a research paper... didn't quite have what I was looking for, but it made some interesting points about contemporary narratives.
Robert Fenner
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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東 浩紀 in Japanese.
An influential Japanese literary critic and philosopher.
“Between the otaku and Japan lies the United States.” 2 likes
“The history of otaku culture is one of adaptation, of how to domesticate American culture.” 1 likes
More quotes…