The Otakus Who Walk Among Us (Abridged)


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A shortened version of the original undergraduate thesis submitted to the Communication Department of Miriam College as a requirement for NCRC.

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The Otakus Who Walk Among Us (Abridged)

  2. 2. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 1 About the Authors This paper is the result of the combined effort of April Joy D. Cruz, Larize G. Lee andGina Margarita D.L. Cabildo. All three are students under Miriam College‘s flagship course,Bachelor of Arts Major in Communication. April Joy D. Cruz has foreign language (Japanese) as her minor, a choice made frombeing an avid anime fan since childhood. Her chosen career path is influenced and inspired byJapanese popular culture. She is a self-proclaimed otaku. Larize G. Lee has taken an interest in Japanese popular culture from her exposure to twowell-known cosplay events. Her natural inquisitive nature has drawn her to investigate otaku-ism, a topic alien to her. Gina Margarita D.L. Cabildo also has a minor in digital media. She has a history ofbeing a teenage reader and collector of manga. She took part in writing this paper to furtherunderstand why she likes foreign popular culture.
  3. 3. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 2 Acknowledgement Many thanks to the researchers‘ adviser, Mrs. Lynda C. Garcia, M.A., for giving her time,sharing her knowledge on the subject matter of this paper, her counsel and understanding, andfor recommending various references and sources amply used in this paper. The researchers alsoappreciate their thesis coordinator, Mrs. Michelle C. Gadja, M.A., for her relentless and constantguidance from the conceptualization of the focus of this paper until its conclusion. Theresearchers are likewise grateful for the corrections, opinions and points to ponder on shared bytheir panelist, Mrs. Ma. Margarita Alvina-Acosta, Ph.D. Also, the researchers extend theirgratitude for the proofreading of their paper as accomplished by Atty. Jorge L. Cabildo. In addition, the researchers wish to acknowledge their indebtedness to the organizers ofOtaku Expo Reload and UP AME Track 10: Rhapsody in the Rain, for granting them permissionto conduct their survey during their event and for making their representatives, namely Midge Uyand Ana Madridano respectively, available for the interview. Also, special thanks to NolaineJoanne O. Puig for being the middle[wo]man between the researchers and organizers of OtakuExpo Reload. The researchers are also grateful for Miriam College‟s Library and Ateneo deManila„s New Rizal Library for allowing them to make use of the facilities and resources housedin both establishments. Likewise, the researchers are beholden to the office of the Department ofCommunication of Miriam College for providing them the schedules and other paraphernaliaused in fulfilling the requirements of the thesis. Finally, the researchers thank the respondentsand participants who willingly took part in this study. To all of you and to the countless others who assisted and supported the researchers fromstart to finish, again, thanks so much!
  4. 4. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 3 Abstract Japanese popular culture and its proponents have begotten the interest of the youthallowing it to achieve global heights. This has led to the rise of the otaku subculture and thecreation of diverse events aimed at the propagation of the popular culture movement. Exploring the personal side of the young Filipino otaku‘s experience of anime and mangaby attending two recognized cosplay conventions is what this paper is all about. This studyhighlights how young Filipinos interpret their experience of proponents of Japanese popularculture from their first impression, contact and assigning significance, until the practice andcommunication of their predilection. A specially designed survey which extracts thedemographics, degree of fanaticism, frequency and mode of exposure, and self-rating of youngFilipinos vis-à-vis Japanese popular culture was used as an introductory tool to demarcate otakulevels. The employment of a focus group discussion to get in-depth responses from the surveyfollowed suit. Correlating perspectives of young Filipino otakus and organizers of Japanese popculture-related events was accomplished via interview. It was thought that foreign pop culture may have negative effects on nationalistic health;however as the study progressed, it was discovered that adverse effects to the Filipino identityformation is extraneous and the ―Japanophile‖ concept is an extreme deviating behavior. Anime and manga can serve as benchmarks for social and intrapersonal growth amongyoung Filipino otakus. Such features of the otaku experience and its assortment of channels anddistinct makeup comprise its mass appeal and ground it to further expand.
  5. 5. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 4 Table of ContentsAbout the Authors ....................................................................................................................... 1Acknowledgement ....................................................................................................................... 2Abstract ...................................................................................................................................... 3Table of Contents ........................................................................................................................ 4Chapter I: Introduction ............................................................................................................... 5 Statement of the Problem ................................................................................................ 7 General and Specific Objectives of the Study ................................................................... 7 Significance of the Study .................................................................................................. 7Chapter II: Review of Related Literature ..................................................................................... 8Chapter III: Study Framework .................................................................................................. 13Chapter IV: Study Design .......................................................................................................... 15Chapter V: Results and Discussions .......................................................................................... 18Chapter VI: Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations ...................................................... 22References................................................................................................................................. 26Appendices ................................................................................................................................ 31 Appendix A: Survey Questionnaire ................................................................................ 31 Appendix B: Focus Group Discussion Guide ................................................................. 32 Appendix C: Interview Guide ......................................................................................... 33 Appendix D: Diffusion of Innovations Model by Everett Rogers ..................................... 34 Appendix E: Modified Diffusion of Innovations Model ................................................... 35
  6. 6. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 5 CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION Contemporarily, a good number of young Filipinos have started indulging in popularculture or pop culture. Pop culture is the collection of ideas or concepts, perspectives, attitudesand values coming from a variety of media forms which carry with it influences distributedamongst members of the society (Storey, 2006, pp. 1-12). However, Philippine pop culture is aculture of imitation (Cordero-Fernando & Chavez, 2001, p. 7) which suggests that the popculture referred to here does not limit itself to ideologies, objects and identities rooted fromFilipino practices; it is basically built on foreign elements with a tinge of Filipino applied to it—as mentioned in Soledad Reyes‘ paper entitled Narratives of Culture: Managing the Past,Engaging the Present (as cited in Lontoc, 2003). One of the many ―foreign elements‖ present in Philippine pop culture, other than thosefrom the West, comes from the Japanese. Some components of Japanese pop culture that gainedits place within Filipino pop culture are anime (Japanese cartoons), manga (Japanese comics),cosplay (short for costume play), Jmusic (Japanese music which includes pop and rock), fashionand Nihon riyori (Japanese cuisine). Among these factors, anime, manga and cosplay have thestrongest following not only within the Philippines but also to several countries in variouscontinents like the US, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. The anime, manga and cosplaymovement has spawned fan groups that have given rise to a subculture of otakus who are slowlyintroducing themselves to the rest of the world (Brender, 2006). With technological advancement, information accumulation and dissemination hasbecome as easy and fast as the click of a mouse. As such, media has developed new channels ofinformation. These avenues therefore are able to reach far and wide—from one country to the
  7. 7. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 6next, from one culture to another—leading to an almost instant breakdown of barriers betweennations. (―Advantages and Disadvantages of I.T.‖, n.d.; Ahliya, n.d.) An acculturation of established and modern kinds of media is what Japan has resorted toin spreading their influences outside their country (Kelts, 2006, pp. 222). Take manga or theJapanese graphic novel for example, it is Japan‗s adaptation of the American-style comics.Anime, on the other hand, is the Japanese version of Western cartoons [except for the larger andmore diverse audience it can cater to]. As for cosplay or the act of dressing up as your favoriteanime or game character, though not yet generally accepted and practiced within Japan, hasturned into the latest occupation for many young individuals in several territories like US (Kelts,2006), Indonesia (Kong, 2009) and even from ―Thailand to Brazil‖ (Zeller, 2009) including thePhilippines. This then, makes Japanese pop culture especially its components anime, manga andcosplay to become renowned and accepted worldwide. Several bodies or varying magnitude andprestige organize events aimed at proponents of the Japanese pop culture. Many youngindividuals—especially young Filipinos—have thus been exposed and later on, engaged in suchactivities and then consequently hooked into the culture. The researchers developed a curiosity as to how young Filipinos are experiencing theemergence of anime, manga and cosplay in the Philippines. As Communication students, theresearchers wish to know more about how these media are able to gain approval across culturesand nations and what gives it a distinct appeal. Likewise, the researchers are conscious of thegravity of the use of media, the assortment of data it contains and the manner these mediapenetrate and affect different sectors of the society—the youth in particular.
  8. 8. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 7Statement of the problem―How do young Filipino otakus experience Japanese pop culture such as anime and manga?‖General Objectives: To determine the manner with which young Filipino otakus experience anime and manga ascomponents of Japanese pop cultureSpecific Objectives:1. To find out the average demographics and profiles of Filipino youth [otaku] who are into the Japanese pop culture2. To discover how much media contribute in terms of spreading the foreign culture3. To discern other influences of anime and manga to young Filipinos by identifying the messages it contains4. To know if Japanese pop culture impacts the youth in the sense that they want to change certain aspects of their lifestyle, personality and interactions with other people (e.g. ways of dressing or their fashion statement, manner of talking and interest in learning the Japanese language, relationships, and worldview)5. To determine the factors that influence the Filipino youth into being interested in Japanese pop culture6. To classify the Filipino youth under one of the types of adopters of Japanese pop cultureSignificance of the Study This study is intended to take a look at the things that interests many young Filipinos andto find out the activities they are most likely to be drawn to. This study also paves the way forunderstanding young Filipino otakus per se and for young Filipino otakus to review their waysand interests to include the effects of growing fond of foreign pop culture in contrast to beingsupportive of Filipino pop culture.
  9. 9. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 8 CHAPTER II: REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATUREWhat is Popular Culture for the Philippines and Japan? “Few subjects range as far and vary as frequently as does popular culture. It seems toembrace all and to discard much. Its consistency is change… Contemporary popular culture isall about movement, about seeing things, about buying and having, about being distracted andentertained…” (Betts, 2004, p. ix) Popular culture can be illustrated as a commodity meant to satisfy the need forentertainment of a certain population. It leans toward being something commercial (Betts, 2004)rather than being an event or period. One simple way to put it according to Richard Hamilton isthat “it is transient, expendable, mass-produced, young, witty, sexy, gimmicky, glamorous, big-business.” (as cited in Betts, 2004, p. 2) However, as there is a common ground with how popular culture is outlined, there is akind of factor that differentiates popular cultures per nation and culture; an example would becontrasting Philippine from Japanese popular culture. The Philippine popular culture scene isoften tagged as Pinoy—a nickname that brands what is to be Filipino. Its very essence isimitation. It is mainly rooted on Western ideals and exhibits a subconscious desire to be that ofthe ways of the West. It mimics then labels itself as uniquely Pinoy though lacking acomprehensive investigation of the material or idea in question. (Cordero-Fernando & Chavez,2001) On the contrary, the popular culture emanating from Japan is larger in scope due to itsalmost indefinite boundary. Under its wing is art, literature, sports and gei (Napier, 2008).Japan Zone‘s website expands it further to cover entertainment and various industries such asfilm [including animated movies], music, show business, gaming, fashion, theatrical
  10. 10. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 9performances and manga. More serious aspects of the country such as business and politics canalso be considered Japanese popular culture (University of Minnesota Press, n.d.). Reflective of past and present trends is a suitable description to Japanese popular cultureand yet among its many components, anime, manga and cosplay serves as most popular andencompassing of its nature.Three Major Proponents of Japanese Popular Culture: Manga, Anime and Cosplay Manga would be considered the oldest of this three and may as well be considered thepredecessor of most anime titles. It adopts a subjective and dramatic approach originating fromits distinctive use of various comic elements (Toku, n.d.) as compared to American comicswhich is its forefather. Bryce, Barber, Kelly, Kunwar, & Plumb (2010) say it is a ―fusion ofJapanese and Western comic art‖. These authors also consider many interlaced genres andsubgenres of manga as “a new, diversified and hybrid work”. While retaining the more subtle and theatrical means that manga is expressed through,anime serves to be its moving frame adaptation. Like manga, anime also has quite thediversified list of genres, majority of which, also intertwined—to a point it is almost indefinable(Levesque, 2010). More feeling is generated through the movements present in anime; however,it is factual that the manifestation of characters and their characteristics are anything butunrealism (Talem, n.d.). Also, the anime is in itself a product of various media capable of beingpublished through many forms, depending on its length and format (―Anime‖, n.d.). Being anaudio-visual channel too grants it access to musical elements and the rise of the voice acting ordubbing industry (―Guide to Anime‖, n.d.). Beyond the tangible channels of manga and anime is the proliferation of the intangiblemedia dubbed as cosplay. Cosplay is the contraction of the words costume and play and the ter
  11. 11. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 10is actually coined in 1984 by Nobuyuki Takahashi, now known as the ―Father of Cosplay‖(Zeller, 2009). Uy (2010) gives meaning to the practice by associating it with actorsinternalizing their roles in a performance. But other than taking on a personality far from that ofthe cosplayer‘s is the agenda of self expression (Caruncho, 2007). All these three proponents are considerably media able to expand on a global scale. It hasgarnered much recognition and acceptance to a point that various popular cultures of varyingterritories have adopted it. How then was this possible?The Contributions of Globalization Migration, tourism, importation and exportation are some events that opened the gates forJapanese popular culture to move outside its country. Above anything else, media has to be thefastest and most influential means for the distribution of the Japanese popular culture saysAllison as cited by Manzenreiter (2002). Like medicine and the many sciences, interest in thestudy of the popular culture itself instigated and gave rise to scholarly research and publicationas well as the establishment of academic institutions on national and international scales(Manzenreiter, 2002; Otmazgin, 2007). Globalization then is best defined by Funtecha (2009) as “to unify the peoples of theworld into a single society and function together in a harmonious manner”. This, in effect,traces the Western influence that Japan has acculturated to produce an inimitable media whichshe [Japan] returns to the Westerners as a commodity and influence of their popular culture(Kelts, 2006).Japanese Pop Culture Facts and Statistics There has been a mention of Japanese popular culture reaching into the economic,political and social aspects of the nation. Economic contributions of the popular culture and the
  12. 12. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 11industries it created [publication of manga, production of film, etc.] comprises a considerablebooster. According to statistics (as cited in ―Manga Industry in Japan‖, n.d., p.3) in Japan,manga comprises 27% for book sales and 20% for magazines sales. The production of doujinshior amateur manga created by coteries of otakus make about 10% of books and magazines sold inbookstores in Japan. The export of manga on the other hand, is able to generate sales to anapproximate 12 billion yen (―Manga Industry in Japan‖, n.d., p. 2). Anime, on the other hand,begets about 60% of the production of cartoon programs on a global scale according to theJanuary 2004 report of METI (as cited in ―Japan Animation Industry Trends‖, 2005, p. 7).The New Subculture: Otaku vs. the Japanophile Otaku pertains to individuals who “communicates with their equals with the[unnecessarily] distant and formal pronoun, and spends most of their time at home” (Shinta,2007). The otaku is also stereotyped as the loner, stay-only-at-home types because they “haveno friends and have trouble relating with the outside world” (Caruncho, 2007). Outside Japan, however, otaku is better associated with anime and manga. According toBrender (2006), the otakus represent an enormous subculture in Japan and hundreds of thousandsin other countries, including the United States. To date, the otaku movement is still spreadingoverseas. There is also the classification now dubbed as Japanophile. According to, aJapanhophile is described as an individual with a strong interest in Japan ranging from anunusual curiosity towards the country not only in the intellectual level, but it can also point out tootakus possessing and professing a great deal of knowledge on Japanese culture. The wordJapanophile is actually offensive and it stereotypes those belonging to this group as nerdy and
  13. 13. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 12one who has “a warped perception of Japan or revere it for the lack of identity or success withintheir own native country or culture” ( An assortment of academic and scholarly reviews, news articles, journals and books hasbeen written to tackle the many facets of Japanese popular culture as well as the globalphenomenon which is known as the otaku subculture. Various authors of different nationalitiesfrom within and outside Japan and the Philippines have broken down many discussions aboutJapan‗s cultural, historical and modern characterizations in order to arrive at grasping the secretbehind anime, manga and even cosplay‘s universal appeal. By taking out and digging deep intothe makeup of these proponents, the very essence of Japanese popular culture is shed light uponand a deeper understanding of which is revealed. In like manner, such endeavors provide foropportunities to also identify with if not welcome the existence of its enthusiasts. Tantamount toearlier studies and researches presented in the preceding pages, through this study, anime andmanga or Japanese pop culture‗s popularity and appeal can be traced and at the same timeexplore the factors that sets it apart from other popular cultures that has penetrated thePhilippines. Going over to the side of its fanatics or the young Filipino ―otakus‖, their personaland interlaced experiences can divulge several truths about Japanese popular culture‘s allure aswell as serve as learning points for those who are not or do not want to have any involvementwith it. Further, studying the individuals who are termed ―Otaku‖ may also serve to clarify themisconceptions and stereotyped branding of society against them. Hence, a better understandingof the otaku against its extreme, the ―Japanophile‖, and perhaps, clearing the ―otaku‗s name‖may be realized with the efforts of this study.
  14. 14. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 13 CHAPTER III: STUDY FRAMEWORKTheoretical Framework Everett Rogers, a professor of communication at the University of New Mexico,developed the Diffusion of Innovations theory (see Appendix A) in 1955. The Diffusion of Innovations theory predicts that media and communication can providedetails and information that will later influence members of a culture to adopt a certain idea,practice, or object (innovation) over a period of time. With this theory, the prowess of massmedia is portrayed well in its effects in terms of the spread or the diffusion process received by alarge audience. The theory consists of four stages: invention, diffusion or communication, time andconsequences. This simply states that something new is created [invention] for the purpose ofdissemination and/or distribution to the public [diffusion] that will eventually result in either therecipient‗s acceptance or dismissal [consequences] of the innovation over a period of time. Adopters are classified into five types: (1) innovators, (2) early adopters, (3) earlymajority, (4) late majority, and (5) laggards. This only entails that not everyone adopts or rejectssome innovation at the same pace as the rest. Variables that vary from person-to-person must betaken into consideration when making use of this theory. Further explanation is as follows: Eachmember of the social system or culture encounters his own innovation—decision. Innovation—decision is when a member of society is introduced to a new idea, object or practice and later,decides whether or not to accept the innovation. Innovation—decision follows five prongedprocesses: (1) Knowledge: a person becomes aware of the innovation, (2) Persuasion: where theformation of attitudes on a particular innovation occurs, (3) Decision: a person makes a choice of
  15. 15. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 14either adopting or rejecting the innovation, (4) Implementation or application of the innovation,and (5) Confirmation or the evaluation of results.Conceptual Framework According to the Diffusion of Innovations Theory, innovation is any new idea, practice orobject. In this study, the innovation will be referred to as the Japanese pop culture componentsanime and manga. Metro Manila, Philippines will stand as the overall social system where thestudy is set. Those individuals who will be part of this study will be assessed on the level of theirresponse to anime and manga. In terms of Knowledge, when people are in some way exposed tothe existence of anime and manga through TV, print and the internet, as well as interpersonalcommunication, as with peers, they will have a general understanding of manga and anime. Stillwith the aid of media and other forms of communication, these people might get convinced intobeing exposed to more Japanese pop culture materials. This in turn may lead into the possibilityof wanting to learn more about them. When these people have already formed an attitudetowards anime and manga and its messages, the Persuasion or the second stage has taken place.Their attitude will be largely influenced by how they perceive anime and manga‗s characteristics.The third stage which is Decision will likely depend on the attitude formed. This is whereadopting or rejecting the idea of being like the Japanese comes in due to the influencesincorporated within anime and manga. This decision may not at all be final for they can latercontinue or discontinue the adoption, or they may reject it outright or even change their mindsabout it. At the fourth stage or Confirmation, evaluation of the previous decision occurs. Thisdoes not, in any way, say that whatever has been chosen is final. In other words, the theory notesthe importance of an ongoing process and that everything is subject to change relative to time.
  16. 16. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 15 CHAPTER IV: STUDY DESIGN This study is basically a multi-method research that has employed the triangulationapproach in its data gathering procedure and research methodologies. In this manner,methodological triangulation or the use of both quantitative and qualitative research processeswere applied to verify and ensure the objectivity of the information collected and resultsproduced. Also, this study is of the exploratory type of research design since the angle withwhich this study has looked at Japanese popular culture vis-à-vis its followers‘ [young Filipinootakus] experience the spread thereof integrates the discovery and clarification of certain ideas,standpoints and the underlying condition of the topic at hand.Methods and Procedures In order to achieve the researchers‘ objectives for this study, they applied the followingresearch methods in the duration of their data gathering: (1) conduct a survey through thedistribution of questionnaires, (2) facilitate a focus group discussion (FGD), and (3) manage aninterview [for the organizers].Participants Sample. The researchers concentrated on 108 respondents in the cosplay event with9.26% of which or ten participants for FGD were chosen and an organizer represented eachcosplay convention event they attended. Sampling Technique. The researchers employed the purposive sampling technique sincethey know who their target respondents were. The respondents they sought for are the typicalcosplay convention-going otaku whose age ranges from 16 to 21. These otakus are characterizedby animated feats or conducts caused by being at the cosplay convention, and were observed asbeing able to enjoy it.
  17. 17. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 16 Locale. All the methods used in this study‗s data gathering took place within MetroManila from the last few weeks of October 2010 until the first few weeks of November of thesame year or approximately during the semestral break for most schools. The survey wasconducted at Otaku Expo Reload held in Mandaluyong City‗s SM Megamall on October 8-10and UP AME‗s annual convention themed: Now Playing: AME Track 10: Rhapsody in the Rainheld in Pasay City‗s SMX Convention Center on November 6] while the rest of the methodswere subject to a change of place.Instruments Survey Questionnaire. The survey questionnaire was strictly designed as the startingpoint of an even thorough data gathering procedure. The questionnaire is composed mainly ofyes/no and multiple choice types of questions, with only one number asking for an enumeration.It contains12 questions that sought to describe the level of fondness of the respondents towardanime and manga by way of estimating the frequency with which they have been and areexposed to them, determining which genres appeal to them more, identifying the elements orfinding out certain criteria to aid them in handpicking titles, outlining how much of the popularculture has had an involvement in their lives and assessing their fanaticism by self-rating througha set rubric. Focus Group Discussion Guide. The FGD proper was divided into four main segmentsranging from a general series of questions centered on the participants‘ degree of interest towardJapan, anime and manga, two groups of questions were meant to segregate the specific types ofadopters and look into their concerns respectively and finally, a three-numbered concluding setof questions concentrated on the definition of certain terms recurrently used in this study. Interview Questionnaire. The interview contains seven questions that are directed at
  18. 18. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 17explaining the cosplay convention organizers‘ opinions regarding the proliferation of Japanesepopular culture and otaku-ism in the Philippine setting.Presentation and Data Analysis The researchers analyzed the data they gathered by tallying the answers they got from thesurveys into their respective tables under their respective questions. Two sets of files for the twoevents were made in order to differentiate the results coming from the different cosplayconventions. The numerical representations acquired were verified or re-counted three to fourtimes by the researchers in order to assure the accuracy of the outcome. Both FGD sessions, onthe other hand, were recorded via cellular phone and/or audio recorder. While the FGD wastaking place, the researchers also took down notes. These notes were exchanged to verify theinformation written to ensure that audio recorded was transcribed accordingly and matched thewritten data. Classifying the respondents and participants were made in accordance with the Diffusionof Innovations theory by Everett Rogers. However, the researchers only used the first four kindsin their categorization, i.e. Innovators (more than five years exposure), Early Adopters (a year tofive years exposure), Early Majority (three months to a year of exposure) and Late Majority (justrecently exposed). This was to set aside [but not to completely ignore] the involvement of thosewho do not have any interest in Japanese pop culture or those who have lost interest in it [theLaggards]. This was undertaken because the researchers found no such category among thosewho answered the survey questionnaires in both the Otaku Expo Reload and UP AME Track 10cosplay conventions.
  19. 19. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 18 CHAPTER V: RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS Compiled results drawn and analyzed from data gathered through survey (quantitative),focus group discussions and interviews (qualitative) undertaken by the researchers are presentedin this chapter. These carefully interpreted quantitative and qualitative results helped theresearchers navigate their way into answering the main question this study is basically foundedon: knowing how young Filipinos experience Japanese popular culture such as anime and manga.The approach with which the interpretations were made are all based on meeting the objectivesof this study, comparing and contrasting yielded results from one another, and correlatingprevious studies collected in the second chapter with the results and ascertaining the possibilityof cause and effect relationships between them.Results Mean Age. The leading ages [in terms of number] are the 16, 17 and 18 year olds whichare consecutive years of the first half of the qualifying age bracket for this study. Almost bothconventions equated that after the legal age and as one gets older, the lesser in number the otakusattending and/or participating in such cosplay events become. But this does not isolate anime andmanga fanaticism to the younger market; this study does not provide evidence for such claims.Yet the variation in age presented by the data stated above can stand for some support as to howanime and manga can appeal to a wide range of audiences. Female to Male Ratio. According to data analysis, males still do, by far, dominate [interms of attendance] cosplay conventions but they do not necessarily dominate the populace ofotakus whether within the Philippines or outside of it. Status. More private-schooled students, whether in secondary or tertiary level, are thekind who have the capacity to frequent cosplay conventions. They are possibly the ones who
  20. 20. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 19have more funds to afford hobbies such as cosplaying or collecting anime and manga orattending events. But money is not the only basis for the outcome exposed, it is but a factor andmay not be the main or leading factor at that. Area Proximity. The participants whom the researchers aimed for all came from MetroManila, but it is also true that it is still too large an area for the purpose of delineating theboundary for the study. Identifying in the survey questionnaire where in Metro Manila did theylive made things easier. While identifying the places or cities, the researchers gave considerationand attention to the locations where the cosplay conventions were held. Work Experience. As for the representatives of the organizing bodies who made OtakuExpo and UP AME Track 10 possible, it was necessary to determine the nature of their work,position, length of employment in the organization, involvement in a number of projects andflexibility in the tasks given to them to determine the depth of their involvement and and theirexperience. What is certain about the representatives is that they did not become part of theorganizing/sponsoring body to satisfy any other need except for becoming part of the Japanesepopular culture extant in the country. Media, the Bandwagon of Pop Culture. Results pertaining to the contribution of media tothe spread of Japanese popular culture proponents such as anime and manga are due to the (1)existence [of media] and its use as a vehicle which transports the popular culture from one placeto another (Manzenreiter, 2002), (2) the accessibility of the popular culture through its primaryforms internet or new media (―Anime”, n.d.), television (McClure et. al., 2000; ―Anime”, n.d.)and CDs or DVDs (―Anime”, n.d.) to be exact, (3) for anime and manga as being media inthemselves characterized by the blend of Western and Asian techniques (Bryce, Barber, Kelly,Kunwar, & Plumb, 2010; Cruz, 2008), (4) for anime and manga as being open media which
  21. 21. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 20allows for freedom of choice regarding the array of genres (, Levesque, 2010) andreinvented use for literary elements (Toku, n.d.; University of Michigan Japanese AnimationGroup, 2001; Talem, n.d.; Kelts, 2006) and finally, (5) as being equated to art and literature,anime and manga allow for the opportunity of personal interpretation. Pop Culture Messages of Influence. Through the scholarly discussion and articles of theUniversity of Michigan Japanese Animation Group (2001), Garcia and Saplala (2007), Marson(2009) and Surovec (2009), the truth of Japanese popular culture such as anime and manga asbeing the carriers of various aspects of Japan usually that of its history and culture [and religiousfacets] has been verified. These aspects of Japan presented or told in a manner that blurs realismwith fantasy are picked up by anime and manga enthusiasts (Garcia & Saplala, 2007). Also, therise (Norris, 2010) and proliferation of the otaku subculture has earned recognition as a globalphenomenon (Manzenreiter, 2002; Shinta, 2007; Brender, 2006) which emanates a sort ofthought that is in essence goes like this, it‟s not so bad to like the [pop] culture because everyonealready does; since that is the case, if you cannot stop the spread, might as well join it”. Impacts of Japanese Pop Culture. So far as the interpretation and analysis of datagathered from all the instruments utilized in this study, the effects of Japanese popular culture,especially anime and manga, are only present in these human features: (1) lifestyle of the otakuswhich should never part with the act of saving up money to support the fandom, (2) socialinteractions [with non-otakus and fellow otakus] improved by the application of life lessonsgenerated by anime and manga (Garcia & Saplala, 2007; Dolores, 2006), (3) tendencies of theotaku to learn more about Japan through its language among others aspects (Lanuza, 2003), and(4) the appeal and preference for the Japanese pop culture fashion statement which is in manyrespects equivalent to otaku-ism leading to a desire to cosplay.
  22. 22. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 21 Other Factors for Young Filipinos‟ Interest in Japanese Pop Culture. The recurrentmention of the (1) manipulation pieces of factual or real historical and cultural events withinanime and manga (Japanese Animation Group, 2001; Garcia & Saplala, 2007; Marson, 2009;Surovec, 2009), (2) the creative display of expression and the unique manner of how charactersare portrayed (Toku, n.d.; Bryce, Barber, Kelly, Kunwar, & Plumb, 2010; University ofMichigan Japanese Animation Group, 2001; Talem, n.d.), (3) the reader, viewer or otaku‗sopportunity for empathy or putting oneself in the shoes of the character, (4) the life lessons onecan pick up from the proponents (Garcia & Saplala, 2007), and (5) the capacity for a wider rangeof audiences to enjoy Japanese popular culture (, Levesque, 2010, Bryce, Barber,Kelly, Kunwar, & Plumb, 2010) are some of the additional magnetic appeal radiated by animeand manga as means of capturing audiences. The Types of Adopters. Determined bases to differentiate the degree of otaku-ism of thefocus group discussion participants are as follows: (1) length and frequency of exposure toJapanese popular culture and its various proponents, (2) conviction displayed by the otaku forbeing proudly part of the subculture, and (3) the self-rating of the otaku as to the assessment ofhis or her degree of fanaticism toward anime and manga.
  23. 23. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 22 CHAPTER VI: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONSSummary This study delved into the ways with which young Filipinos experience Japanese popularculture such as anime and manga. In order to discover the truths behind their experiences, theresearchers chose and attended two cosplay conventions namely, Otaku Expo Reload [October10, 2010] and University of the Philippines Anime and Manga Enthusiasts‘ Now Playing AMETrack 10: Rhapsody in the Rain [November 6, 2010] to conduct a survey. The survey was aimedat gauging the degree of interest of otakus toward Japan, anime, manga and other Japanese popculture-related activities. From the data gathered in the survey, the researchers took out theparticipants for batch I and II of the focus group discussion. The FGD was aimed at gaining morein-depth knowledge behind the otakus‘ fandom toward Japanese pop culture proponents. Toattain a balance of interests between the young Filipinos and the professionals who are at theforefront of otakus and Japanese popular culture in the Philippines, the researchers conducted aninterview with representatives from both cosplay events. The gathered data from thesediscussions were analyzed, tabulated and interpreted to arrive at points essential in the formationof a conclusion that sought to answer the researchers‘ main inquiry.Below are the most valuable findings of this study: The researchers‘ data reflected a positive imprint upon the young Filipinos‘ experience ofJapanese popular culture. Anime and manga has its unique appeal that earned it the attention ofnumerous followers across the world. Japanese pop culture proponents such as anime and mangaare not simply for children because when one looks at the content of these art forms, they includemany cultural and societal aspects not viewed in other children‘s programs. The stories and plotscould be made for an older or for that matter, more mature target audience. One can also get a
  24. 24. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 23glimpse of traditional and modern Japan through these channels. Not only that, fans think ofanime and manga as part of the vision that allows them to see what comprises Japan and theexposure offers them a peek into the kind of life that thrives in the country. In a sense, there is afusion of reality and fiction in the Japanese popular culture proponent‘s message which hasgenerated interest from fans of all ages. Powered by advanced technology, various forms of media contribute greatly to themanner with which people are able to access anime and manga. Through internet, television andprint, these fans are updated and in the know about their favorite series or are kept posted withrecent happenings [as in new releases and appearances] from the anime or manga they arecurrently watching or reading. The sheer power of media as source of influence is potent becausethrough anime and manga, it has piqued the interest of the youth and has gotten them curious andinterested about many aspects of Japan. Young Filipinos consider anime and manga not only as a form of entertainment or a hubfor their hobbies, but as part of their lives in which they think as not affecting how they viewtheir nationality and their value for it. For these individuals, anime and manga has given thempositive experiences and these experiences have allowed them to grow and branch out. Theydeem that anime and manga has opened for them new opportunities to make friends, learn newthings (i.e. learning the Japanese language) and engage in more activities (going to conventionsand participating in cosplay competitions). They also feel that being with other people who sharethe same interests gives them a sense of belongingness and fulfillment. While there are many fans of anime and manga, not all of them consider themselves asotakus or ultimate fans of anime and manga. Despite this, they find Japanese pop culture assomething that they cannot easily let go of. They have a sort of attachment to it but are not
  25. 25. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 24completely addicted to it. They point out that while being fans of anime and manga, they canalso maintain other interests and hobbies.Conclusions Young Filipinos experience Japanese popular culture by exposing themselves to animeand manga using various media forms (internet, TV, CDs / DVDs, etc.), attending cosplayconventions and gatherings of fellow otakus, involving themselves in Japanese pop culture-related activities (writing online fan fiction or doujinshi, playing role playing games, etc.), andreflecting on the messages and applying some situations depicted through anime and manga intheir personal and life encounters. These young Filipinos / otakus first gained their exposure tothe art forms [anime and manga] and have perceived them with a positive appeal. Havingcharacters from these proponents as their role models and idols and taking out life lessons theylearned from anime and manga has allowed them to grow and mature. They get ideas, values andways on how they can live life from anime. Other conclusions include the realization that no present problem or danger with youngFilipinos growing more interested in anime and manga can result into their losing a sense ofidentity or nationality. They believe that while they do like anime and manga and have aprofound attraction to Japan and other aspects of it, they have not lost their attachment to theirown country and its ideals. They want to learn the language, they like listening to Japanese musicand follow Japanese fashion trends but they do not want to become Japanese. They do not regardtheir love for anime and manga (and the Japanese‗s traditional and modern culture in general) asa threat to their sense of nationalism and patriotism. They still view themselves as Filipinos.
  26. 26. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 25Recommendations In light of these conclusions, the researchers suggest that other forms of popular culturefrom other countries and the nature of popular culture itself should be studied to investigate ifthey have the same effect as those found in this study. Further studies on the impacts and effectsof other popular culture trends and its main means of transport, globalization, to the Filipinoyouth should also be done to determine if there is an even greater threat to nationalism and theyouth‘s sense of identity than Japanese popular culture. Popular culture coming from othercountries can also be compared to the different elements of Filipino popular culture to find outexactly what it is in that particular popular culture that attracts the Filipino youth. Moreover, the researchers would also suggest conducting more studies on how theinfluences of other popular culture, its appeal, mode of transport, styles, etc., can be applied tovarious Philippine endeavors such as the promotion of Filipino comics and the improvement oftheir educational materials. This also suggests that the nature of Filipino popular culture shouldalso be studied thoroughly in order to identify the best way to improve the Philippines‘ and itspeople‘s reputation. Likewise, studying Filipino preferences regarding their acceptance andincorporation of foreign influences could also be conducted. In addition, content analysis of some prevalent titles of anime and manga could be donein future studies to see how much of its content and message can be reflective of Japan, what ofits elements can represent the essence of the nation and how much of it can affect its viewers. Aresearch focusing more on the content of anime and manga could give a deeper understanding ofhow this works and how it affects its target audience.
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  32. 32. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 31Appendices
  33. 33. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 32
  34. 34. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 33
  35. 35. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 34Appendix D
  36. 36. The Otakus Who Walk among Us 35Appendix E