BlogTV Japan: Otaku Syndrome

One of the great reasons for studying foreign languages is to see and hear new things from new lands and new people that you could never have encountered before. Once in a while you see something positively amazing. And once in a while you see something that makes you want to gouge your eyes out with red hot pokers.
When I first saw what I am about to show you, I told people about it and nobody believed me. I don’t blame them, I wouldn’t have believed it. Now, almost a year later, I have captured a followup show, and am providing the video online. So now you can see it. And you still won’t believe it.

Of all the series running on FujiTV News, one of the most astonishing (and certainly the most revolting) is the series “katazukerarenai onnatachi,” literally “women who can’t clean up.” The show offers these women a deal, in exchange for the utter humiliation of subjecting their disgustingly sloppy lifestyle to intense scrutiny on national TV, they will clean your house. I don’t know why any woman would ever agree to appear on the show, but they all seem quite cheerful when admitting the announcer and camera crew into their repulsive homes. Most of the women are disguised with mosaic and voice distortion, but some women have no problem showing their faces or even using their real names. The male announcer always appears in an impeccable grey Armani suit, shin-high rubber boots, and heavy white cotton work gloves. He comes to the door, is greeted at the genkan and admitted to the space, and plunges into these astonishingly untidy places with his camera crew.
Now I’m not talking about your average slobs here. In one segment that does not appear in my online excerpt, the announcer (wearing a mask and goggles) starts scattering a pile of garbage bags piled 4 feet high, and when he gets to the bottom, he finds a discarded, moldy food container with a sell-by date on it: 1997. The room is stacked everywhere with plastic bags full of garbage, the only clear spot is around the futon, it looks like a nest with white trash bags surrounding it like a crater. The announcer presses forward to the kitchen. Now it is getting really sickening. He opens the refrigerator, which has been turned off and not opened for years. Then.. no I really cannot go on. It is too repulsive. I could not even watch it myself, and it takes a LOT to shock me. But anyway, the cleaning crew arrives behind the announcer, and removes everything disposable and cleans the entire house until it is just as obsessively clean as it previously was obsessively dirty. It must take days to finish the job. When the room is finally cleaned, it is immediately obvious that this woman is a Snoopy otaku. Everywhere you look there are Snoopy rugs, wall hangings and posters, figurines, stuffed toys, etc, none of this was visible until the mountain of trash was removed.

But let us move on to the star of our show. “B-san” is a 36 year old female otaku. She is obsessed with collecting manga. She lives in a tiny 6-mat apartment. A year ago, the FujiTV crew visited and found her 6jo room entirely filled from top to bottom, wall to wall with stacks of manga, there was only a tiny tunnel near the door where she slept. There is nothing for the camera to explore, the announcer cannot even get in the door. The cleanup crew comes and observes the walls of the room are bulging, good thing this is a ground floor apartment or it would have collapsed under the weight. A brave workman wearing a hard hat and breathing mask enters the passageway and lies down to demonstrate where B-san slept, there is hardly any room for the camera. He can not lie down, the cavity is formed around the shape of the short skinny woman. A larger crew will be necessary to clear this rubbish pile, several heavy trucks are summoned, and eventually they haul away several tons of manga. First the entryway is cleared, the camera scans over the top of the pile, the entire room is filled to the ceiling. Household furnishings like a bed are gradually unburied. Eventually the house is cleaned, right down to the lowest layer where the camera lingers on the mouse droppings and bugs underneath the mouldering stacks. But everything is restored to squeaky clean, there’s even a nice TV and some furniture under all this crap, although the building owner will have to take care of those dangerously damaged walls. Oh dear, how will she ever explain this to the landlord?
Now it is a year later, and the same announcer revisits B-san. We get a quick review of the situation last year, and even in some photographs taken at 6 months out, the camera shows the room mostly clear and empty. But there is a troubling sign, stacks of boxes neatly lining two walls. Now fast forward another 6 months. Today her room is once again stacked floor to ceiling with piles of manga, just like before. As the segment closes, B-san bemoans her inability to change her habits. Even the humiliation of showing her year-long descent into disorder on national TV could not motivate her to change her ways. But perhaps she can serve as an example to others. The video ended with a discussion of obsessive-compulsive disorders, like the people you hear about who are raided by the SPCA for having 200 cats in their house. That otaku with the obsessive Pokemon or Transformers collection on his shelf is only different in quantity, not quality.

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