The word otaku is a tricky one to define. Over the years, it has slowly made its way into western culture– usually used to describe a person who is excessively fond of Japanese animation or comics— and is often listed in modern English dictionaries as something along the lines of “a person obsessed with computers or particular aspects of popular culture”.
In its native Japan, however, the word is used far more broadly, describing a person who is fanatical about or devotes large amounts of time to something. That “something” could be anything from videogame culture to pop idols to hardcore ear-cleaning, and once a person reaches a certain level of obsession with their hobby, it’s far from unusual for them to be labelled as “otaku” by their friends and family. But whatever the object of an otaku’s affection, wade through the stacks of comic books, unplug that goliath gaming rig, put away the Train-Spotter’s Manual and you will discover a regular guy; a regular guy who sometimes thinks about deep things. Even marriage…
Women’s website and experts in all things “relationship” Otome Sugoren conducted a survey in which a number of men with “otaku hobbies” were asked- taking into account their dedication to their pastime- what kind of woman they’d consider settling down with. On the whole, their responses were fairly mature and reasonable, with most stating that they are simply looking for an understanding, patient woman. One thing, however, was clear across the board: the hobby stays.
- “Hate my hobby and you hate me”
These guys are passionate about their hobbies, alright. One twenty-something responded to the survey with a single request of any would-be brides:
“I’m not asking you to love my hobby like I do, but at least don’t hate on it.”
As a life-long gamer married to a woman who couldn’t care less if videogames had never been invented, I know all too well the feeling of having my better half stare disdainfully at the screen when I play videogames. Thankfully, she’s usually more than happy to leave me to it. Unless I’m playing Uncharted; she can’t get enough of that gun-slinging action movie stuff…
- “Leave me now. I would be alone…”
Next up comes a request for a little privacy, which, to this writer’s eyes, seems perfectly normal- otaku or otherwise.
“I need a woman who will understand that, sometimes, I just want a bit of time to myself to enjoy my hobby. Take away that time and I feel choked.”
So accompanying you to the bathroom is out, then…?
- “I have two controllers, you know…”
And then there are the hobbyists who would like nothing more than for their loved one to join in.
“It’s very important for me that my other half takes an interest,” responded one young man. “Why don’t we play together sometimes?”
It’s at this point that Otome Sugoren suggests to its female readers that they respond to such invitations with a smile and phrases like “Maybe I’ll give it a try.” And it’s at this point that this writer suggests that they don’t. Open-mindedness is great, but the only thing worse than your girlfriend hating your hobby is having your girlfriend feigning interest in something that’s clearly about as fun to her as memorising a phonebook.
- “It’s not a contest”
And then comes my favourite response of the bunch, if not just for the telltale signs of trauma in some past relationship.
“The love I have for my hobby and the love I have for my girlfriend are different; so please don’t ask which one is more important to me,” said one respondent, clearly still carrying a little emotional baggage from his previous relationship.
Someone get this man a drink.
Not all of the responses were quite so balanced, however. While most of the replies seem more than reasonable, there were, as tends to be the case when taking a random sample of opinions from the public, a number of genuinely questionable responses to the survey. Although we’d prefer that no-one come away from this article with the impression that we otaku types are any less of a catch, in the interest of fairness, it’s important to show the other side of the coin.
May we present: “The Ones That Got Away”
“If she can’t soothe me and make me feel better, there’s no point in getting married” said one chap, possibly sobbing at the time.
“Even if she’s not interested in my hobby, I’d still want her to smile and pretend to be,” chimed another strapping young man.
Finally, in a display of worrying frankness, comes this heart-warming nugget of security and peace of mind:
“The kind of woman I’m looking for is one who’ll stop me pouring all of my money into my hobby.”
That’s right, girls; there are men out there who are both massively dedicated to their hobby and openly bad at managing their finances. So, if you’re the kind of person who likes to say ‘no’ in a firm voice and can keep your partner’s spending under strict control, you’re in with a very good chance.
And they say romance is dead…
Source: Otome Sugoren (Japanese)