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There’s two new shows this season where the apparent premise is that the main characters do not strive to be the very best, like no one ever was. One of these is the moe-powered 25-minute mahjong commercial Saki, and the other is the latest Kyoto Animation cute girls fest about a high school band K-ON! While the titular Miyanaga Saki is simply a mahjong genius who has found a way to merely seem mediocre, and K-ON!‘s Hirasawa Yui is simply a no-talent clumsy girl who’s trying to find something she can sort-of kind-of do, both girls are clearly going for the same goal, which is to be okay.

While both shows are clearly aimed at otaku with their ensembles of adorable girls with relatively harmless personalities, I don’t think it’s necessarily a case of “otaku are afraid to succeed and that’s why these girls aren’t striving to be the very best!” How I personally feel about it is that it’s actually kind of refreshing to not have characters who are entirely about toppling their opposition in a given field. Even if the story turns out that way eventually (a likely scenario for Saki), the fact that it started out that way is pretty nice.

Also, Saki is basically Takumi from Initial D only with mahjong tiles instead of a AE-86 Sprinter Trueno.

Dave Merrill recently posted a survey and history of the seedy, unwashed, giant underbelly of anime fandom in the US. In it, he gives examples, taken from various anonymous contributers, of the people who are often referred to as “that person.” Each anecdote leads me to be grateful that I did not turn out to be the one to take others down through ill personality or whatever, but at the same time I find myself reflecting upon each description. I can see a bit of myself in pretty much every person described, but I also realize that it’s because of the fact that I can only see “a bit” of myself in them that makes all of the difference.

I can relate to the guy who carries his video game consoles with him to every meeting. I can see a person bringing his precious consoles along constantly, hoping for someone to say, “Wow, is that a Neo-Geo?” And then the person would gladly pull it out and a good time would be had by all, and they’d think that console-carrying guy is pretty swell. But then if console carrier never has the initiative to simply propose that they play some of his games, then he’ll still be waiting passively. When presented with someone like this, we’d probably say something like, “Get some confidence, chum.” Lack of confidence and drive is a hallmark of dorks everywhere, after all. It’s dangerous advice, however, when you consider the example of the guy who gives out his own Inspector Gadget porn to everyone.

Inspector Gadget Porn Distributor is what can happen when you tell someone with deep shame that it’s okay to be shameless, that it’s okay to be confident in what they do. The problem isn’t that he draws the images, it’s that it becomes the singular focus of his interaction with fellow anime fans. I believe that not only fans but people in general should not be defined by a singular purpose, as no person is that devoid of depth. And yet, are fans not defined by their obsessions, their ability to take things further than others? How far is too far? It’s a strange dilemma in that we have to learn to constantly set and then break our own limits.

I know that it sounds weird for the person who writes Ogiue Maniax, a blog with obsession in its very title, to be talking about things like tact and reservation, but I think it’s the combination of obsession/devotion and desire for variety in me that has brought me to this place. And while I don’t have the confidence to say that I have the patience or ability to help those fans who are truly in need of an awakening, what I can say is that I hope we can all help to moderate each other.

Otaku obsess over characters, and I am certainly no different. Hell, I named my blog after obsession #1. I’ve often been asked though, how is it I could maintain what is now an almost 3-year-long interest in the character of Ogiue, especially in this age of constant fansubs where the viewers are witness to new characters every season. I really don’t know if I have a complete answer to that, and this post is going to be about trying to find a reason.  Warning: meandering ahead.

First, I think Ogiue is totally deserving of it. I believe her to be one of the most unbelievably complete and well-rounded characters in anime and manga. Actually, this applies to pretty much every other Genshiken character as well. What puts her above the rest is that she’s attractive to me.

Aside from that, however, is the fact that I have a tendency to carry long-term obsessions with characters in general, and it just manifests itself most strongly with Ogiue. Maetel, Tomoyo, Eureka, Cagalli, Hinata, in many, many cases once a character manages to catch my eye, they never quite leave. Some have faded a bit over time (Filia from Slayers TRY for example), but for the most part the strong presences of my past are not overridden by the strong characters of the present.

The real question, then, is why exactly am I able to obsess over characters for significantly longer periods of time compared to some of my peers? One possibility is that I form what feels like an emotional bond with the characters such that even if the quality of the character is not as great as I imagine, even if they turn out to be fairly big cliches, my memories of fondness for the characters are much stronger than objective reasoning. If they are indeed strong characters with strong emotions, such as Eureka, then that connection becomes much stronger and much longer-lasting. That said, I don’t think I’m all that susceptible to pandering fanservice characters (no matter what type of fanservice it may be), but there are always a few. I don’t call them guilty pleasures because they never really are.

I don’t think all that many people actually just cast their preferred characters aside when a new season starts, and the primary difference between me and some friends becomes how we display our passion for anime and its characters. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve stuck with the Ogiue paraphernalia (avatars, name tags, this blog) for quite a while. It’s the public display that is more important. New, strong characters appear every season, but I stick with Ogiue.

Maybe it’s just how I want people to think of me, but I feel more like I’m compelled to do so, because she is that strong of a character.

While this blog is indeed called Ogiue Maniax, I thought I’d talk about two of the girls of anime who I called and still call my favorites, particularly the ones prior to my discovering Genshiken.

Daidouji Tomoyo from Cardcaptor Sakura has, in terms of favorite characters, been #1 for a very long time. Her devotion to Sakura, her desire to help those she cares for, and just the strength of her compassion makes watching her in Cardcaptor Sakura simply a joy every time. In fact, to give you an idea of how highly I think of Tomoyo (or maybe how highly I think of Ogiue), I am going to have to rewatch some Cardcaptor Sakura so I can determine to myself which is currently #1 to me.

Maetel from Galaxy Express 999. Prior to Ogiue, she was the most beautiful character I had ever seen. I remember seeing the GE999 movie in a theater about 8 years ago, and it changed my life. Galaxy Express 999 is the best anime I’ve ever seen, and the timelessness of Maetel’s character contributes to that feeling immensely. Watching 999 leaves me very emotional, so it’s no wonder I consider Maetel not only one of my favorite characters, but one of the best characters in fiction, period.

There are of course more, but we’ll save those for another day.

Official sources for Genshiken Second Season

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