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An Otaku Love Guide

By Janet Houck     May 03, 2007


"Comic Party"
© The Right Stuf International
One is such a lonely number...and it can be hard, trying to find someone who isn’t weirded out by your anime and manga collection and the wallscrolls in the bedroom. Today’s column is for you, the anime/manga hobbyist looking for love.
 
Happily, the further mainstreaming of anime has made our hobby a little easier to understand and accept by people in general. At least we don’t have to deal too much today with accusations of perverted cartoon pornography. (Unless it’s hentai, which in that case, you’re on your own. And anyway, why didn’t you hide that stuff? You know girls most girls don’t dig porn liberally displayed, and most guys tend to be intimidated by a proud hentai girl. Take this road gently; first the anime and manga, then casually drop into the pile your mature titles.)
 
First off, use your interests to your advantage! Anime clubs are a great way of meeting local people interested in the same stuff. Many colleges have clubs, and community websites such as Meetup.com often host non-school affiliated clubs. Another resource is your local friendly comic or RPG or anime store, which often has wall space for people looking to pursue geeky interests with others. At the very least, you’re make a few friends and have a fun time; at the most, you find that someone special who shares a common interest.
 
Anime conventions are also good at finding romance, as the male to female ratio is much closer to fifty percent. However, the escapism atmosphere at cons tends to lead to...uncharacteristic behavior. Sure, it’s fun at the moment having casual touching and feeling, and commitment-free sex, but when the con ends, you have to live on. This isn’t to say that all con hook-ups are loose flings, but the huge dorm party vibe at con hotels tends to encourage fast and furious playtime.
 
The con weekend isn’t a good time to find your inner wild child, although letting down your hair a little is what you should be doing. Just remember to play safe, kiddos.
 
And there is always the Internet for dating! OtakuBooty is one of the best-known websites, focusing on creating a community of anime and gaming fans...while exposing a little booty and information about yourself. Members (who do pay a membership fee) must use photos for their avatars, and if you do like someone, you can make them your friends...and show them a little more than what’s on your public profile. Sure, you can use generic dating websites, but why bother when you can already pre-sort people who share one of your interests?
 
For the younger and more friend-orientated crowd, there’s AnimeTribe, which has many of the same features as OtakuBooty, but focuses more on social networking and sharing media.
 
Of course, you shouldn’t restrict your love hunting to only one subset of humanity, but people often underestimate how important it is to have a supportive someone special. Money is the root of many arguments in relationships, and when you’re seemingly spending a lot of money on DVDs and “comic books” (I’m not even going to include figures or statues), and spending time away from them in your imaginary world, well, you’re going to be walking a hard path. It’s important to make it clear early on that this is your hobby, and a key part of who you are, the person that they like. If the person can’t accept that, or wants you to “grow up,” well, at least you have more time to watch and read, and to get out of the house and hang out other otaku. (Am I insensitive? I just don’t believe in mourning a relationship when you’re not connecting on a fundamental level.)
 
Now by supportive, I don’t mean that they have to love the same titles are you do, but they have to be willing to accept that this is an important aspect of your life, and like buying purses or car toys, this is what you do with your extra dollars. Other couples may order in pizza and watch the latest move on DVD at night, while you two order in Chinese food and watch the latest Inu-Yasha movie, with Pocky as dessert. Different people just have different ways of saying “I love you.”
 
Don’t shut off people who aren’t into anime; they could be a fan and just not realize it yet. Share some of your favorite shows (take advantage of the willingness of new boy/girlfriends to try new things!), but don’t force them to watch it bug-eyed. Tell them about the characters on your wallscrolls and your figures, and why you think they’re cool. Watch Naruto or any Adult Swim show while cuddling in bed. Give them Pocky. Just like any hobby, a little gentle sharing can go a long way. Don’t be like Taishi from Comic Party; be more like Kazuki in enticing Mizuki to the doujinshi dark side.
 
Next time you go shopping, offer to buy them their first manga, if they seem to like something, but don’t want to be seen buying a comic or “wasting money.” A little social sensitivity can go a long way, and this isn’t an insult at your interest; it’s just a reflection of how uncomfortable it feels to stand on the line dividing popular culture from a closed social community with unique language and practices. Even if anime isn’t their interest, all that extra time spent together will make them feel special and loved. However, let them choose to go and do something different if they want. This isn’t a shotgun wedding to your interests.
 
Anime crosses over into other hobbies and interests, so you can find anime-friendly people in comic stores, video game forums, sci-fi and fantasy websites, and at art schools (especially animation majors), just to name a few places. There’s a wide ocean of fandom out there, so put on your goggles and flippers, and take the plunge! Find the love you seek, young hero!

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