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review 2020-03-07 11:26
Otaku
Otaku - Chris Kluwe

According to the Cambridge Dictionaire an Otaku is “a young person who is very interested in and knows a lot about computers, computer games, anime (= animated films), etc., but may find it difficult to talk to people in real life”. My kindle dictionaire also mentioned that an Otaku might have problems separating the real from the computer world. In Otaku, the real and the virtual world are heavily intertwined and combined with a standard dystopian setting.

I think that was what disappointed me most in the novel. There are evil corporations and some fractions but other than a bit of info dump right at the beginning, I didn’t learn anything about the different fractions and they all seemed about as bad to me. Because I thought the world was rather bland, even though it was apparently on water and there had been something that was called The Water Wars, I had a hard time connecting to the story or the characters.

There’s a lot of tech-talk and I got lost in it sometimes, making that I couldn’t really get into it or enjoy it. I think it’s safe to say this wasn’t for me, unfortunately.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2019-08-31 20:00
Outbreak Company: The Power of Moe, Vol. 1 (book) by Ichiro Sakaki, illustrated by Yuugen, translated by Kevin Steinbach
Outbreak Company: Volume 1 - Ichirou Sakaki

Shinichi has spent the past year holed up in his room in his parents' place, doing nothing but playing games and reading manga. His parents are otaku themselves (his dad writes light novels and his mom used to be an artist for erotic games), but even they've had enough. They tell him he either needs to go back to school or get a job, or they'll wipe all his game accounts and his hard drive. Shinichi opts to go job hunting and stumbles across something that seems tailor made for him: a position at a company called Amutech. The job pays well, and the only requirement seems to be that applicants must be otaku.

When Shinichi suddenly wakes up in another world, he learns that there may be more to this job than he thought. A year ago, the Japanese government learned of a portal that had opened up in Aokigahara Forest. It led to another world, one with magic, elves, lizardpeople, and dragons. The Japanese government sees an opportunity to establish a foothold in this new world before any other governments in our world are even aware of it. It's initially difficult to find something in our world that's small enough to be brought through the portal and that the Eldant Empire would even want or understand, but it turns out that otaku culture may be the answer the government is looking for. They want Shinichi to spread otaku culture throughout the Eldant Empire. (Why didn't the hire someone who's actually in the business of marketing and distributing manga and anime, you ask? Well, supposedly they'd prefer someone like Shinichi, who's less likely to be missed, although I personally didn't buy that his parents wouldn't go looking for him after a while.)

Right, so this wasn't initially on my list of J-Novel Club titles to try while my membership is still active. The cover and description made it seem particularly geared towards a male audience, the sort that loves adorable maids who cutely stumble their way through their jobs, flashing their panties. I gave it a shot after seeing it mentioned in a forum post written by someone looking for light novel recommendations that would be more appealing to female audiences, or at least not actively unappealing to them. Supposedly, this was a surprisingly appealing series that got better as it became more serious.

The bulk of this book did not fill me with confidence. Shinichi was a stereotypical "nice guy" socially awkward otaku. There were lots of scenes that showed that he could act like a decent, non-slimy guy, but then something would happen and it was like a switch was flipped. He'd practically vibrate with excitement over being in the presence of an actual flesh-and-blood maid, or completely lose it because he was in the same room as a pair of large breasts (Shinichi kept saying they were Japanese F cup, US DD, but confusingly Minori's breasts in the illustrations were nowhere near that size).

The scene that irked me the most was when Shinichi was introduced to Empress Petralka an Eldant III. He'd been told to be as quiet and respectful as possible, but when he saw her this is what happened: "'IS THAT REALLY AN ARCHETYPAL LITTLE-GIRL CHARACTER?!' I shouted, jumping up and clenching both my fists." (63) The guy was an idiot who kept treating the world around him as though it were some kind of otaku paradise he'd been dropped into and could go all fanboy over without any consequences. He even viewed his interactions with others in terms of manga/anime tropes. The cute female characters wanted to be with him, so clearly some sort of love triangle/harem situation was brewing. When they started to be nicer and friendlier towards each other it was a possible sign of a yuri (f/f) relationship. When Counselor Garius, a handsome man with silver hair that went to his waist, showed signs of beginning to respect and maybe even like Shinichi, Shinichi's mind immediately jumped to "oh no, is he falling for me? because I don't swing that way."

I wouldn't mind all of this quite so much if there was more evidence that the author planned to subvert Shinichi's expectations and set him up as an unreliable narrator. Unfortunately, Petralka and Myusel's behavior around Shinichi really did look like the beginnings of a possible love triangle, and even Minori, Shinichi's bodyguard, seemed to think that it was possible that Garius was developing romantic feelings for him (although if Minori was really a fujoshi, her opinion couldn't necessarily be trusted either).

Things did take a more interesting turn in the last 15 or so pages, though. Shinichi viewed Petralka's apparent jealousy of Myusel (man, I hate that name, it makes me think of Mucinex) as something not really worth worrying too much about, and only started to become more concerned when Minori forced him to look at the situation as it actually was: Myusel, a half-elf, was discriminated against by the Eldant Empire's more dominant group, humans, and Petralka, the Eldant Empire's human Empress, very openly disliked her and was about to fire her. The likelihood that this would turn out well for Myusel was very low, no matter how much Shinichi liked her (in fact, him liking her seemed to make things worse). His inability to see the seriousness of the situation until it was almost too late could have left Myusel a homeless outcast, or even dead.

On the one hand, I had issues with the protagonist, and the stereotypical love triangle apparently brewing between him, the loli Empress Petralka, and the adorably clumsy and submissive Myusel irked me. And I really could have done without the passages on the appeal of breasts/chests of various sizes - the part where Shinichi tried to pacify Petralka, who was sensitive about her childlike appearance (she was actually 16), by going on and on about the appeal of flat chests/small breasts made my skin crawl. Petralka was an actual person Shinichi was talking to, not a character in one of his games, and he basically told her that her small chest was perfectly fine and attractive because, hey, lots of people are into lolicon. Man, I feel gross even just typing that.

On the other hand, I liked the author's focus on the practical aspects of spreading Japanese pop culture in a completely different world. Shinichi had to consider the issue of electricity - since the Eldant Empire didn't have any, his best bet was to put off anime and games for now and focus on print media. Language differences were also an issue. Special magic rings helped Shinichi understand spoken words and be understood, but those rings couldn't translate words on a page. Also, only nobles possessed them, and Shinichi wanted otaku culture to be available to all, not just the Eldant Empire nobility. Which then brought him up against the issue of this world's class system, and what the task the Japanese government had given him might accomplish on a wider scale, beyond getting a few real fantasy world humans and elves to love Spice & Wolf or whatever. The sociological aspects of this series could be really interesting.

But I'm going to need more than 20 or so pages of content directly focused on the practical aspects of Shinichi's job and a lot less "look at those boobs! look at that elf! wow, that girl over there is so moe!" for this series to really work for me. It also bugged me that most of the on-page action was devoted to the stuff I didn't like, while most of the more serious/practical issues stuff was relegated to the narrative (which gave the unfortunate impression that Shinichi was basing most of what he knew about the Eldant Empire on conjecture, overlaid upon what his vast knowledge of anime and manga told him about how a world like this should function).

Reviews for the second volume indicate that it's an improvement upon the first, and continues on with some of the series' more serious aspects. There's a possibility that I'll read on, but for now I think I'll check out another title on my list of J-Novel Club works to try.

Extras:

Black and white illustrations, a few color illustrations, and a fairly lengthy translator's notes section. I really liked the translator's notes, which included a few Japanese cultural details I hadn't known about but realized I'd noticed in various anime and manga series over the years.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2019-01-14 20:26
Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku 1 - Maki Fujita

Un manga divertentissimo, ricco di riferimenti al mondo gamer, otaku e fujoshi, perfetto per staccare la spina e farsi un sacco di risate. I personaggi sono simpatici ed irresistibili, Narumi e Hirotaka sono i classici dork in amore, i dolcettini innamorati pazzi l'uno dell'altra ma ovviamente... troppo tonti per diventare una coppia "ufficiale" limitandosi ai gesti più che alle parole. Mi ha divertito un sacco vedere il povero otaku Hirotaka innamorato cotto della collega e disposto a tutto pur di sostenere la sua "follia" da Fujoshi/Gamer/Otaku, un ragazzo dolcissimo e un fidanzato adorabile che con i suoi gesti riesce ad esprimere tutto il suo amore e i suoi sentimenti più profondi per la ragazza. Le interazioni tra i due colleghi/piccioncini mi hanno strappato non poche risate, ho adorato il modo in cui la mangaka è riuscita ad inserire elementi e omaggi che solo i più nerd potranno cogliere. La storia non è ben definita ed è un po' una pecca dell'opera, il manga è più un insieme di frammenti di vita dei ragazzi, delle loro avventure e disavventure fuori e dentro l'ufficio, una scelta nata probabilmente per venire incontro alla prima versione dell'opera, pensata inizialmente come pubblicazione di Pixiv e solo successivamente portata su carta, un'unica pecca che toglie un po' la continuità della storia non portando avanti una trama vera e propria da seguire e a cui aggrapparsi ma che riesce comunque vista la follia è comicità a non far perdere la magia. Tutto è curato alla perfezione e ho amato l'atmosfera così semplice eppure geniale che si respira in ogni pagina e i personaggi, non solo i protagonisti ma anche i secondari, presenti e importanti più che mai! In questo primo volume conosciamo i due pazzi colleghi otaku che non esitano a dare manforte agli amici intromettendosi nelle loro questioni e rischiando spesso di portare più casini che mai. Kabakura e Hanako sono i due migliori amici dei protagonisti e anche... due pazzi scatenati, una coppietta che si conosce fin dai tempi delle scuole e pronta a battibeccare su tutto, persino su chi dei due si sia dichiarato per primo al partner, due adorabili tsundere nell'anima che con i loro siparietti comici e discussioni da pazzi ti fanno innamorare e ridere a crepapelle, nonostante i litigi è chiarissimo come i due dork si amano davvero ed è dolcissima la scena in cui Kaba cerca di consolare goffamente la sua bella dopo aver elogiato le sue tette, considerate uno dei motivi principali per cui i due escono assieme. Una storia adorabile e simpatica che non vedo l'ora di poter vedere sotto forma di anime ad aprile. Consigliato a chi è alla ricerca di una storia senza troppi pensieri, divertente e spumeggiante e a chi è appassionato di videogame, anime e manga, in tal caso rimarrete sorpresi da tutti i riferimenti e omaggi presenti alla cultura più nerd e la cura con cui è stata realizzata questa dolce storiella 

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text 2019-01-01 02:44
Favorite books of 2018 part 2
Dear Aaron - Mariana Zapata
Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku 1 - Maki Fujita
Shacking Up - Helena Hunting
Final Girls - Riley Sager
Chasing him - Kennedy Fox
The Prince and the Dressmaker - Jen Wang
The King of Bourbon Street - Thea de Salle
Far from the Tree - Robin Benway
One of Us Is Lying - Karen M. McManus
Keeping him - Kennedy Fox

Lots of awesome  books 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-12-08 01:19
Book Review : wotakoi vol 3
wotakoi love is hard for otaku 3 - Maki Fujita

 Nov 27-29

A tall, quiet gamer boy and a geeky girl whose life revolves around yaoi manga are old friends, but when they start working in the same office, they decide to date. It's a relationship of convenience at first, but could it become something more? This manga comedy is now a hit streaming anime!

Extra-long book includes 2 Japanese volumes!

Narumi and Hirotaka are, by all appearances, a power couple. They're young, good-looking professionals. But they have secrets from everyone but each other: They're serious geeks! Narumi is a fujoshi, and Hirotaka's a hardcore gamer. Their sweet, awkward love story started life as a webcomic before becoming a full-blown manga series by popular demand, and is about to become a major anime series! 



Review : Loved this volume so cute this is one of my favorite manga series . ugh the cliffhanger from the last vol with Ko and Naoya that Ko is a girl but they end up talking it out and still hang out Nayoa is so adorable I ship them . Narumi finally cosplays . they all go on a work trip Kabakura ends up getting put in charge of that . I can't wait for the next volume . I love Narumi and Hirotaka's relationship so cute .

 

 

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