As cultural attitudes continue to evolve in Japan, some groups that have spent decades being socially ostracized are finally seeing the tides turn in their favor. For example, while the covers of most men’s fashion magazines are still plastered with photos of incredibly slender guys, the country has recently been showing some love for heavyset males as well.
One demographic that still tends to have a hard time landing a date, though, are the otaku, Japan’s catch-all term for obsessive fans of anime, video games, computers, and anything traditionally geeky. But could the popular image of otaku as the bottom feeders of the dating pool be a case of women overlooking their hidden merits as boyfriend material?
Of course, if the charms of otaku are indeed hidden, the only way to uncover them is to ask the otaku themselves, which is just what Japan’s Niconico News recently did. A group of 30 male otaku in their 20s came together to offer the following five secret upsides to dating a nerd.
1. Free PC maintenance
We mentioned above that being a fan of computers is a common characteristic among otaku, which is an important distinction from being simply a user of computers. Just like in other countries, in modern Japanese society just about everyone spends at least some time on a computer every day, including the young women that male otaku have their eyes on.
As with any machine, it’s only a matter of time until something on your PC breaks, at which point these gallant otaku are ready to come to the rescue. “Not every otaku is into PCs, but a lot of them are, and somewhere along the way they tend to get good at fixing them,” explained one 28-year-old otaku who works a variety of odd jobs. “We can get your PC running again faster and cheaper than the repair shop.”
2. Protection from Internet stalkers
Japan’s embracing of blogging and social media is often at odds with the particularly high value the country puts on online privacy. Combine this with Japan’s well-known devotion to young women who’ve gained even a tiny bit of fame, and occasionally they form the unpleasant chimera of Internet stalking.
Unfortunately, guys who lack the PC skills of a true geek are often at a loss when it comes to fighting off Internet stalkers, since trying to deal with them in the most direct method (repeated blows to the face) usually just results in breaking their girlfriend’s monitor.
▼ “Dammit, this guy can really take a punch!”
Once again, though, the otaku are there to save their damsels in technological distress. “There used to be a guy who was stalking my girlfriend online,” recalls a 25-year-old otaku who works at a bakery, who adds that he solved the problem when he “hacked him.”
▼ We’re assuming he means “hacked with a computer,” because otherwise he’s not so much an otaku as just a straight-up murderer.
3. They have high-tech homes
Along with tinkering with computers, watching anime is a popular pastime amongst otaku, and if your boyfriend is the kind of person who’s willing to buy DVDs and Blu-rays in a country where they regularly sell for 5,000 yen (US$48.50) or more, he’s probably not going to settle for watching them on a small, grainy TV.
“Our homes are amazing,” gushes one 26-year-old website administrator. He says that not only do otaku apartments boast home theatre setups with superior sound quality, they’re filled with enough cool gadgets that you’d almost think you wandered into an electronics store. “If we’re in a good mood, we might even let you take some of it home.”
▼ Whether he’ll use that sweet speaker setup to play some make-out music when you come over, or the opening theme from Evangelion, though, is anybody’s guess.
4. They call their girlfriends “yome (bride)”
Now we come to the point where it becomes debatable whether or not the items on the list are actually positives or not. For example, one 24-year-old respondent said one of the great things about having an otaku boyfriend is that he’ll refer to you as his yome, literally “bride.”
On the one hand, over the years Japanese men have earned a not entirely unjustified reputation as being unable to put their romantic feeling into words. Like in many other countries, a common complaint from Japanese women is that the men in their life aren’t communicative enough about the workings of their hearts, so on the surface, a guy who’s willing to step up and put his feelings out in the open seems like something a lot of single females would really appreciate.
On the other hand, even in Japan, where many women start fretting over the possibility of ending up an old maid if they reach their late 20s before they walk down the aisle, most people like going through an intermediary title between being “just a friend” and “somebody’s spouse.” The sudden jump to nominal matrimony seems like a sure sign that the guy is lacking in dating experience at least, if not common sense about how society and maybe even language works.
5. He won’t cheat on you…with a real girl
While all couples develop their own rules about what is and isn’t acceptable in the relationship, we can safely say that in most of them infidelity is a deal-breaker. And there’s good news if you’re dating an otaku: apparently the chance of this problem cropping up is greatly reduced.
“Otaku, fundamentally, aren’t interested in relationships with other human beings,” explains a 23-year-old respondent. While that might make it hard for your romantic relationship with an otaku to build momentum in the first place, once you break through that initial wall of indifference, your geeky guy is unlikely to run off with his hot female coworker or classmate.
“We absolutely never cheat on our girlfriends! Not with a real girl, you know,” asserts the same man quoted above.
Much like the popular player justification that “it isn’t cheating if she’s in another state,” the concealed qualifier to this hidden advantage to dating an otaku is that apparently it doesn’t count as cheating if the other girl is an anime character. So while you can count on otaku boyfriends to stay faithful in the physical world, for some of them, the 2-D realm is a wide-open playing field, so be prepared for that possibility. Just make sure he doesn’t spend too long alone in his bedroom with an Oculus Rift dev kit…
▼ Whether this is better or worse than finding an actual woman sleeping in your boyfriend’s bed is something you’ll have to judge for yourself.