Being open about your otaku status has an economic upside this month.
My interest in anime and otaku-oriented hobbies started before I was old enough to go out shopping by myself, so when I’d saved up enough cash to buy something, my parents would take me to the store so I could exchange cash for my latest Japanese pop culture fix. Looking back, they were incredibly supportive of the whole thing, maybe they predicted it was laying the groundwork for a broader interest in Japanese society as a whole, or perhaps because they wisely understood that kids, just like adults, need some leisure time.
In any case, I can honestly say my life is better for being open about my interests with my parents. It helped me pursue those interests in constructive ways, and probably also helped soften the blow when Mr. and Mrs. Baseel’s son said “I’m moving to Japan.” So in a way it’s kind of heart-warming to see that Animate, Japan’s largest chain of anime specialty stores, is running a promotion that also encourages otaku to come shopping with their moms.
Between January 20 and February 12, customers who come in and buy one of four novels will receive a free 16-page illustrated art booklet…as long as their moms are with them at the register when they make their purchase.
The unique event is being held in conjunction with Fantasia Bunko, a publisher of light novels, Japan’s equivalent to young adult fiction and currently the most fertile ground for anime adaptation source material. Like many light novel publishers, Fantasia Bunko regularly gives out awards in recognition of up-and-coming writers, and it recently gave its highest prize to Do You Like Moms Whose Regular Attacks Hit the Entire Enemy Party Twice?, written by Dachima Inaka.
The lengthy (as is the norm for light novels) title refers to the situation the book’s protagonist finds himself in. Ordinary high school student Masato is suddenly sucked into the world of a fantasy role-playing video game, as is his doting mother, Mamako (who appears on the book’s front cover, pictured above). It turns out that in this alternate realm, Mamako is an extremely powerful swordswoman, who’s also capable of using her maternal aura to make vicious monsters fall asleep. She also takes it upon herself to personally interview any young ladies wanting to become Masato’s adventuring companion, as she’s savvy enough to suspect that such a relationship might blossom into a romance with her teenage son.
If Do You Like Moms Whose Regular Attacks Hit the Entire Enemy Party Twice? doesn’t strike your fancy, you can also obtain the illustrated booklet by going with you mom to purchase one of the other Fantasia Bunko award winners: Yashiki Tanabe’s P.S. To You Who Smiled at the Made-Up Story, Eko Nagi’s Sacrificing my Youth, I Parted her Bangs, or Taehito Kato’s Berserker of the Magical Academy Territory–Secret Pact of the Black Flame Princess, none of which have the motherly narrative elements of Inaka’s book.
Shoppers who show up at Animate without their mother will have to buy three of the four novels in order to get the art book. With light novels generally selling for about 650 yen (US$5.60), that means you can save a pretty good chunk of change if Mom comes with you, so consider buying her a cup of coffee afterwards to say thanks.