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volume 3 issue 5

In This Issue

Contents 2
Features 3
Chasing Otakuism 8
Anime Briefs 9
Reviews 10
Web Showcase 19
14 home / may 2002 / reviews Turn Page BackwardBack to HomeTurn Page Forward

Otaku no Video DVD
2 Episodes
100 Minutes
Toshiba EMI
All anime fans owe it to themselves to see this OVA series.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Otaku no Video DVD
By Adam Arnold

Love it or hate it. Otaku no Video is symbolization of all things otaku. It is the dramatization of the lost way of the Otaku and is one of the few anime shows of its kind. Sure, Martian Successor Nadesico carters to the anime fan's every whim, but Otaku no Video shows exactly what it means to be an otaku in the first place.

The story revolves around Kubo as he goes from a normal college student with a cute girlfriend and a normal life, to one that is obsessed with becoming a jack-of-all-trades who is fluent in every aspect of fandom. He is striving to become the otaking, the ultimate king of all otaku.

To accomplish his goals he joins up with his old high school friend, Tanaka, who pushes him to new otaku heights. They form a garage kit company and soon make a killing in that field before disaster strikes... and that's only part of the story.

All that you really need to know is that the OVA is comprised mainly of a semi-biographical look at Gainax's creation and possible future. The show has a ton of obvious and obscure anime and manga references put in for good measure. Scattered throughout the two parts are mocumentary interviews with real otaku from all genres. These parts are called "Portrait of an Otaku," and they focus on explaining what makes each type of otaku different.

Some of the "Portrait of an Otaku" segments have a Saturday Night Live "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy" kind of feel to them. Just like the SNL sketches, they start out making sense and end up totally whacked. The very first portrait had me laughing through the entire thing. It's kind of weird, being able to see myself in some of these. I'm just glad I haven't had the urge to make any censorship reducing mosaic glasses like one of the porn-crazed otaku in the first episode.

Personally, the funniest portrait is of the American guy named Shon Hernandez who moved to Japan just to be closer to the source. It's side splittingly hilarious, because the guy is speaking English; he's been dubbed over in Japanese and then subtitled in English. What's even crazier are the things that the guy is saying aren't what they are being translated as.

For all Otaku No Video shows, there is a lot it doesn't even touch on. The biggest thing is that the animation is really sparse and really just flies by if watched by itself. The show really only covers the life and times of otaku in the 1980s and early 1990s (and a revelation showing an Evangelion-esque view of 2035). So, this leaves the later generation of otaku that were weaned on Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and Pokemon without any real classification. It makes me wonder if anyone will ever dare to truly do something this out there any time soon.

In terms of extras, there aren't many. Sadly there is only a still gallery and paper liner notes, which are, file card-sized versions of those found in the old VHS release. Though the DVD seriously lacks in the extras department, there are some nice and original special movie features included. By going to the playback options menu, the movie's subtitles can be set to subtitle everything, including a full English version of the charts in the Portrait segments, subtitle only part of the movie and leave the charts alone, or have no subtitles at all.

That's pretty standard, but the next option allows the two episodes to be played in three different ways. The OVA's can be watched in their original form with anime and live action segments breaking up the action, or they can be watched as one continuous anime show. Heck, there is even an option to just watch all the Portrait segments by themselves. Strangely, I watched the show with only the anime parts and a lot of main punch of the show is lost because half the fun is getting to see the crime scene style interviews.

To say I've waited for this series to be released on DVD is an understatement. I bought Otaku no Video for $40 on VHS long, long ago and have wanted it on Laserdisc for years now so I could re-watch certain scenes without killing my tape. Now that it's on DVD, I couldn't be more thrilled. Otaku no Video is one of those shows that made me rethink who I was and even try some new things. I personally think that any show that can do that is good in my book, and I'd recommend anyone who hasn't seen it to run right out and pick up the DVD. Heck, I even would recommend that they show it to people who don't understand them, because this show will not only keep you entertained, but it will also helps people understand some of the rather unique hobbies that we as otaku share.

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