Chennai: If the names Naruto, Bleach, Death Note, Samurais get you excited, your favourite TV Channel is Animax and if you are eager to dress up like your favourite character from a Japanese comic, then you are probably one of the many hardcore Otakus in the city.
“In Japan, ‘Otaku’ is actually a derogatory word, referring to someone who is obsessed over something. But we confer the title on anyone who enjoys watching Japanese animated features (anime) or reading manga (Japanese comics) with pride,” points out Niranjan Srinivas, a Japanese language student and one of the core members of the Anime Realm Club: Chennai. Like ARC: Chennai, there are many other Anime clubs in the city. Niranjan and most other club members are in their mid-20s. But aren’t comics and cartoons for kids? “Anime is different from cartoons,” corrects Sadhana, an ardent anime fan.
“It has a distinctive art style and is geared toward all demographics. Anyone can enjoy anime. In fact, there are different genres of anime aiming at different audiences. Some of them are very mature, with in-depth plot lines. So whether one is 12 or 22, there’s an anime for everyone,” she points out.
While most of their activities are online through forums and Facebook groups, Sadhana and other members of ARC often meet to keep the club active.
“We gather to meet people with similar interests, exchange anime and have anime related events and contests conducted within the club. We also attempt amateur cosplays sometimes,” says Daniel Vijay, another active member. Rhea Chowdhury, one of the admins of the club, explains the term. “Cosplaying is when somebody recreates a fictional character and brings it to life by making the costumes and doing their best to look and act like them,” she says.
“I recently cosplayed Mikasa from Attack on Titan, where I put together a simple costume made of a white shirt, white pants, a pair of brown shorts, some belts and a jacket that I sewed myself.” Cosplaying is pretty big in Mumbai and Delhi, where they have contests based on it, but Chennai has recently picked up the hobby as well.
What’s also an Otaku preoccupation is collecting figurines of various anime characters. Aravind, another enthusiast, says he started watching anime when he was 14, his first being Dragonball Z (DBZ). A few years later his brother (also a DBZ fan) gifted him a Goku figurine. “I started collecting figurines since then. Currently, I have Sayian Saga figurines (first season of DBZ). The last figurine I collected was an SSJ Goku,” says an excited Aravind, whose dream is to “have the largest figurine collection in the world”.