Higurashi doujin opera

The Nerima culture center was hosting a pretty unusual event today: a performance of the Secondary-work Opera “Higurashi no naku koro ni”, a two-act operatic adaptation of 07th Expansion's sound novel. It was quite an interesting experience, and I'd like to jot down some quick thoughts about it, bullet-point-style.

This loser is you: the appeal of netorare

A previous post suggested that otaku (moe otaku in particular) tend to have a very righteous approach to romantic relationships, in the sense that they value pure, sincere, genuine commitment to a romantic interest, both during a relationship and as a prerequisite to forming it (it's a trivial but significant observation that the genre overwhelmingly favors “confessing” over “asking out,” for instance). Since their ethos makes the commitment precede the relationship, otaku are prone to unrequited feelings and infatuation. And turning to 2D doesn't really help here for now: usually, your dakimakura won't talk back.

Of course, not all otaku are romantically challenged. Some are even rumored to be married with kids. Nevertheless, anecdotal observation and secondary evidence do suggest a strong connection between otakudom and a specific perception of romantic relationships (not a very successful one). It is a bit of a cliché, but one that has enough basis in reality that the medium itself can play with it in interesting ways—particularly by teasing the audience with a surrogate character modeled around that cliché.

Should otaku come out of the closet?

There is an interesting comment by relentlessflame over at Major Arcana about how criticizing outgoing fans like Danny Choo is tantamount to refusing progress towards social acceptance of our hobby. He argues that some of us cling onto marginality out of some immature sense of rebellion against mainstream culture, and that we should be open about things. That, as respectable human beings, we should not be ashamed of our idiosyncracies.

I have several issues with this line of reasoning.

The confusion about moe

Pondering the meaning of moe 「萌え」 sounds a bit 2005, back when the word qualified as a popular phrase in the Japanese media. Nowadays, it's become pretty uncommon among otaku to say that you're moe for such and such, as the term has been somewhat bastardized by mainstream exposure, or has simply fallen out of fashion (angry rants of English-speaking bloggers notwithstanding).

Still, there are no convenient replacements for at least some uses of the word moe. For example, the most concise answer I can give when somebody asks what kind of manga or anime I like is moe-kei. It's quite precise and widely understood (well, not in the general public of course, but the right answer if a Japanese person that isn't an otaku asks about your tastes in anime is more along the lines of “I've heard about that Studio Ghibli thing and what they do looks pretty cool”).

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