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Culture spot: Geek fashion guide

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Every few months or so, some magazine or other declares otaku "in". But for those who want out, at least imagewise, help is at hand in the form of mysterious author Kuxe's Datsu Otaku Fasshon Gaido ("Escape From Otaku Fashion: A Guide").

DOFG follows the adventures of prototypical otaku Kazuki and his childhood friend Nana as she patiently teaches him how to dress and behave like a normal person. This cartoon story, and a slightly more forgiving tone, is the main difference between the book and its contents' original incarnation as Oxiare.net. That, and the fact that you can fish for pity and/or encouragement by reading it on the train. ("Hey, that shirt and those pants hardly clash at all. Way to go, man.")

Nana assumes very little knowledge on Kazuki or the reader's part, beginning with a list of henceforth forbidden otaku items such as bandannas, skintight acid-wash jeans and utility vests ("You don't need that many pockets" is in bold). After these ground rules have been laid down, Nana covers everything from shirt-layering and accessorizing to ensuring that your laundry doesn't smell. There's even a step-by-step guide to getting your hair cut; uneasy first-timers are advised to start with Moesham, a "maid hair salon" in Akihabara.

Which sums up the book's philosophy, really: you can love video games, cartoons and maids and dress respectably. The next generation of otaku will walk undetectably among us like Gundam-savvy T1000s. Japan's fingerless glove industry may never recover.

Matt T.

Posted by J Mark Lytle on November 14, 2005 12:50 PM