Anime: Otaku Unite! Enter the Fandom

Katie “Hawkeye” Connell

imageOtaku Unite takes the viewer into the world of the American anime fan. It covers what an anime fan is in America verses Japan, how the genre entered the US, what goes into running a convention, and just what exactly is this Yaoi we’ve heard so much about. It even covers anime on the Internet and what a huge boom it’s had. Of course, I knew this documentary was going to be good when it started off with interviews with guys who run their own live show of Japanese monster pro-wrestling.

I, myself, am a fan, and so when this DVD appeared on my doorstep, it was understandable that I was a bit hesitant to watch it. Of course, I was worried that the documentary would look only at the negative aspects, or play up the stranger customs of the anime fan. However, I was pleased to see that it portrayed the good and bad evenly. For example, they did show the dreaded cosplaying men dressed as school girls and trying to giggle like Japanese school girls, but they also showed the cosplay that would make Hollywood costume designers green with envy. Something else I found interesting was the interviews with the producers that first brought over anime. It went into the scrutiny they faced for bringing over such controversial and mature-themed material, and also the complaints of translation differences form the fans.

The interviews were also an interesting mix of famous and “random guy who goes to conventions”. They had the producer of Speed Racer and some voice actors from popular series, but they also had a guy who just enjoyed cosplaying at conventions and went into his life. Although, I wish they’d focus on fans that were less creepy. Not everyone who runs conventions is anal and stand-offish, and not everyone who enters cosplay contests throws hissy fits when they lose. They could have looked into a fan’s life that, yes, is a fanatic, but still fits in the realm of “normal” in society. In fact, I was embarrassed watching some of the fans, because they were the ones you see at the convention and pretend you don’t know, not that ones you display proudly on your arm and say “I know this guy”. While yes, most anime fans are shameless, most of us know where to draw the line, and this documentary focused a bit too much on the black sheep at times.

imageHowever, this documentary has one fatal flaw (two if you count the bad 70’s green and orange cover). Anime fans will already know just about everything they covered. This seemed targeted at an audience that was curious about the world of Japanese anime and the kids in the crazy costumes they saw in the car on the freeway. However, with outrageous packaging and only a brief description on the back, anyone who isn’t already hooked will avoid it like the plague. Anime fans could use this DVD to give their unconverted friends an introduction into their hobby, though you might scare them away for good.

From the history of Speed Racer to the conventions with cosplay this documentary gives a thorough yet brief introduction of what the fandom’s really all about. This DVD defiantly has fun while explaining the facts without being too over the top or cramming to much fluff and filler. I certainly give it applause for being accurate and interesting, however, it may bore the experienced fan.

Entertainment: 8
It was fairly well-paced and kept my attention, and the music was absolutely fitting for the convention scenes. Plus how can you not love guys in foam rubber monster suits wrestling each other? However, it was lacking in its appeal to the common person.

Technical: 6
Sure director’s commentary is great and all, but the cosplay gallery could have been put together better. I was disappointed that there wasn’t any additional interviews or deleted scenes of the fans being fans.

Overall: 7

DVD Features: Director’s Commentary, News Coverage, Kaiju Big Battle Commercials, Premiere Coverage, Previews, Colossal Photo Gallery

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