Monday, February 20, 2006

Nerd culture: A boy and his toys

What has Japan's manga culture wrought? The Associated Press reports on 30-something male manga/anime fans who have taken to collecting near-life-size dolls of their favorite cartoon females:
A grown man living in his apartment with two nearly 5-foot-tall dolls--and dozens of smaller figurines--would seem bizarre anywhere. And indeed, Masa keeps his full identity hidden and his curtains drawn to avoid ridicule by outsiders.

But he also is on the cutting edge of a billion-dollar "nerd culture" that has grown so enormous it has taken over an entire neighborhood in Tokyo and is making inroads into the mainstream.

The culture is firmly rooted in Japan's enduring fascination with manga comic books and animation that have won fans and critical acclaim worldwide.

But Masa and others like him--known as otaku--have taken that trend to another level by collecting dolls like Konoha or flocking to cafes staffed by waitresses dressed as comic book maids. They stock Web pages with photos of their dolls posing along country roads or taking a dip in hot-spring baths.

There but for the grace of God....

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