Otaku no Video
Gainax's history is very thinly disguised in this mock documentary which follows a group of otaku (super-fans) who rise through the industry in the quest to "Otakunize" the world and become the greatest of all otaku - the "Otakings". Along the way, business deals are made, products are distributed, much anime is consumed, and even live-action "interviews" with otaku and detailed surveys portray the otaku as they are, whether they are anime otaku, manga otaku, military otaku ... Will our heroes succumb to the pressures of the "real world", or succeed in living the Lost Way of Otaku?
This is a true treat for the religious anime fan, no matter the genre. Otaku no Video, with its anime in-jokes that require pages of liner notes (or roomfuls of seasoned fans) to completely catch, and its in-depth insights (no matter how parodying) into the life of the otaku, is at once hilarious and almost touching. (If definitely touched, so to speak.) This is a title that almost begged to be done ... and who better to do it than the ultimate fanboys themselves - Gainax.
And what a job they do. Between the truly laugh-inducing interviews (watch as the staid computer programmer slips on a Char Aznable mask and quotes him ...) and the characters of the animated sequences themselves (if this circle doesn't remind you of any anime club you've ever been in, you must be blind), Otaku no Video can only relate itself closer and closer to the viewer. How many of us have huddled in front of televisions, watching who-knows-what-generation tapes of anime, and bonded? (Okay, now that the 90s are here and anime is relatively plentiful, not all of us have seen those fuzzy bootlegs of Yamato anymore, but still, the bonding is there!) How many of us have at least -seen- the cosplay experience, if not partaken in it? Let's face it, I'd certainly like to live the life of Kubo - not bothering with the so-called "real world" and going on the quest to become the Otaking!
Okay, I'm done ranting now.
The technical and storyline aspects of the animation itself are well-done, with character designs by Sonoda Kenichi (famous for Bubblegum Crisis and, more recently, Gunsmith Cats), and the animation is pretty much up to snuff for 1991 (this IS Gainax, y'know). Even the music is very funny (with the cheesy J-Rock opening and the parody enka duet ending with, again, loads of anime references). But they're really not as important as the very spirit with which this feature is imbued...the spirit of the obsessive fan, who will make what most consider a "hobby" his life, with all the benefits and downfalls that entails. (Otaku no Video makes rather biting comments on the otaku's love life, for example.)
Otaku no Video is something I can only recommend to the seasoned anime watcher, especially one who will get the references to late 70s-early 80s animation. However, if you grew up watching Yamato and Macross, Gatchaman and Minky Momo - or even if you're like me and surround yourself with people who have despite being a relative newbie - Otaku no Video is a laugh-filled hour-and-a-half that is an anime must-see.
An entertaining series for the serious anime fan. Newbies may want to wait on this one, though. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: There is no violence to speak of (unless you count Kubo and Tanaka falling into a fountain at the end of the first OAV as violence). There is a bit of nudity, as the interviews briefly touch upon (now-antiquated looking) ecchi computer games, and there are some adult subjects mentioned or implied in the dialogue. Best for teens and above. (Kids wouldn't get it anyway.)
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Otaku no Video © 1991 Gainax / Toshiba EMI
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