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Otaku Spaces: When Collecting Becomes An Obsession

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Some say that once you acquire three of any one thing, its a collection. But what if that collection consumes an entire room? In Japan, such a voracious collector might be referred to as an otaku, a person who obsesses over particular forms of pop culture, like anime, manga (Japanese comic books) and video games. These collectors are often dismissed as geeks who need an intervention. While studying for his PhD at the University of Tokyo, Patrick Galbraith deviated from the standard academic fare to study otaku and their perceived reputation. His recent book, Otaku Spaces, features collectors in situ, presenting their lairs of ultimate fandom.

Mass media has shaped the image of otaku, drawing a distinct line between what’s acceptable and what pushes past the brink of obsession. While young female otaku are admired as fervent collectors, men are often portrayed as fetishist deviants. With his book, Galbraith wanted to go beyond the stereotypes to reveal relatable people. “I felt that the best way to intervene in the otaku discourse was to focus on individuals,” says Galbraith in an interview with Neopjaponisme. “The more you get to know the people in the book, the less you see them as weird ‘others’ who are unknowable and unapproachable.”

For the non-otaku, Galbraith’s photographs might be unsettling.  The images in his book show adults surrounded by shelves of trinkets and stuffed animals, mixed with figurines and endless stacks of comic books. Otaku appear to suffer from a Peter Pan-like syndrome, adults indulging a childlike, collect-them-all attitude. “They take their engagements beyond the limits of common sense, acceptability or normativity, to what is considered the extreme or excessive,” says Galbraith. “Otaku are unable or unwilling to relate to others as a result of indulgences in certain consumption and play activities.”

But are otaku really outsiders? As pop culture junkies, they are experts on the most pervasive forms of entertainment. Galbraith feels that otaku are a sort of hybrid: “Lawrence Eng has argued that otaku are ‘reluctant insiders,’ or those who are part of the majority, mainstream, or middle class but feel alienated by their very inclusion in that larger group.” To break away from accepted societal behavior, otaku consume pop culture in an unexpected, obsessive manner.

Despite being marginalized, Japan’s super-collectors aren’t just a lonely few; Galbraith’s book claims that otaku spend $2.5 billion a year on their collections, making them highly valued consumers. But the connotations of otaku are constantly in flux, changing over time through media portrayals. “There are not enough pages in the world to get through the complexity,” Galbraith says. “And unfortunately there is still a lingering polarization of the otaku image into good and bad.”

As adults, many of us have collections, whether its hardback books or glass figurines. When does a collection push past the boundaries of what we consider “normal”?

Shop Local: Japan | Geekery Category

Chappell Ellison is a designer, writer and design writer. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York where she serves as a contributor for The Etsy Blog and design columnist for GOOD.

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  • tonytiggert

    Erica Taggart from tonytiggert says: Featured

    Interesting article--especially about the social perceptions. It's intriguing that in America, it's socially acceptable, and even encouraged in the media, for women to "collect" purses and shoes. It's expected. For men, it's sports memorabilia or sometimes trains. My thoughts... Surround yourself with what makes you happy! However, don't expect others will necessarily value your collection the same as you do, especially when the pop culture is replaced by the next fad. (Such has been the case with Poke'mon cards.)

    2 years ago

  • sshoko

    Shoko from SwallowJewellery says: Featured

    As a person who grew up in Japan, I appreciate the article that describes Otaku in very precise manner. I agree that they are part of the majority, mainstream, or middle class but feel alienated by their very inclusion in that larger group. I think it may be because everyone HAS TO fit in with the majority in Japan. Especially recently the media has made them somewhat "trendy", making them even more part of the majority. We all collect and obsess to certain extent, so what is the difference?

    2 years ago

  • CafePrimrose

    Amanda Gynther from CafePrimrose says:

    Fun article!

    2 years ago

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie says:

    Love this post! Its hard to know when enough is enough when you have a collection. Maybe once you start running out of room? There are also collectors out there who need to have every piece in the collection to make it complete no matter how much space it may take. I guess it just depends on what kind of collector you are and how much of the collection will make you happy :)

    2 years ago

  • EmiliaFaith

    Edie Ann from OhHoneyHush says:

    Hee,hee...I love it! Great article.

    2 years ago

  • LittleWrenPottery

    Victoria Baker from LittleWrenPottery says:

    I tend to think a collection has gotten too much if it takes up an entire room rather than a little corner, maybe something like this would be too much for me! I often have to tell my boyfriend to curb his collecting habits to stop filling the house with stuff!

    2 years ago

  • jgaido

    Josie from JosiesBoutique says:

    Interesting article!

    2 years ago

  • VoleedeMoineaux
  • SyntheticInnocence

    Lauren Sugrue from SyntheticInnocence says:

    normal is boring

    2 years ago

  • StringBeardCraftery

    Stephanie from StringBeardCraftery says:

    Cool topic. I used to work at a record store that sold this kind of 'trinkety' stuff, like action figures and anime merchandise. People like what they like, and everyone collects something or other.

    2 years ago

  • WingedPony

    Siegret Chappell from WingedPony says:

    do shoes and clothing count?

    2 years ago

  • FireIslandSoap

    Billy Bubbles from FireIslandSoap says:

    growing up, many of my friends had rooms that looked like that - my mom would have a nervous breakdown if I designed my room similarly. I really like it, very individualistic - fun, and nostalgic!

    2 years ago

  • bhangtiez

    Jana from bhangtiez says:

    Great post! I didn't know there was a name for this type of collection!

    2 years ago

  • reddropdrop

    Alicia Alfred from Reddropdrop says:

    Nice Article...so fun to read! Now, time for me to check out that book.

    2 years ago

  • RetrofitBecky

    Becky from RetrofitStyle says:

    As a long time buyer and seller of antiques, vintage, and collectibles, I find this book and the article a little amusing...in a good way. These people are getting their inner Geek on! I love them! This just confirms that major consumerism is not limited to the USA. And it means more customers for the vintage sellers! Yea!

    2 years ago

  • ErikaPrice

    Erika from ErikaPrice says:

    Oh boy, $2.5 billion a year in Japan alone?! Hooray for otaku and every other kind of voracious collector!!!

    2 years ago

  • jguilddesigns

    Jenny Davis from JGuildDesigns says:

    Ha, very interesting!

    2 years ago

  • WhisperingOak

    Quality Handmade Items from WhisperingOak says:

    Love the pictures of the organized chaos in those rooms. Collectors are surrounded by the things they love and make them happy. That is really cool. Wouldn't like to dust that room.......

    2 years ago

  • Iammie

    iammie from iammie says:

    Interesting!

    2 years ago

  • grandmamarievintage

    Aly Barohn from vauxvintage says:

    So interesting. I find these rooms to be so beautiful in the way they're organized with such a pattern of repetitiveness.

    2 years ago

  • happybdaytome

    happybdaytome from happybdaytome says:

    Great article !!!

    2 years ago

  • teedle

    Tasha Kaye from teedle says:

    When I was a teen still living with my parents, I had a room similar. I wouldn't collect anything in particular but I would have every inch of my walls covered. I really enjoyed it at the time. It's funny because now I would go crazy - stimulant overload. lol Very fun article! Thanks for bringing back some memories!

    2 years ago

  • mattyhandmadecrafts
  • MyHomemadeHome

    Susannah from HandmadeBySusannah says:

    love seeing collectors spaces, I think when you find an object that speaks to you or you identify with, acquiring it is the only solution to that obsession , like a girl that a man is obsessed with, his only solution is to marry her and soon he will be cured!

    2 years ago

  • maggiesraggedyinn

    Mary Robertson from MaggiesInn says:

    Oh my... and here I am trying to simplify my life....

    2 years ago

  • FawningInLove

    Fawning Inlove from FawningInLove says:

    Great article!

    2 years ago

  • YamikoMichi

    YamikoMichi from YamikoMichi says:

    thats what my room looked like when I was a teen lol many of my friends had similar or worse so looks normal to me. Now that I'm older though most of that stuff was sold or put in boxes and I prefer more open spaces but still have a couple things I keep with me. I don't think I can agree about the person claiming people are reluctant insiders who feel alienated. Most fans with rooms like that are teens and rebelling in their own way but also incredibly social to others like them. To a point I feel after I packed my youth away I feel alot less social now then I did was when I was crazy anime otaku.

    2 years ago

  • PennyBirchWilliams

    Penny Birch-Williams from PennyBirchWilliams says:

    Seems like a form of hoarding, perhaps, to obsessively collect anything. I've been to a number of anime conventions with my daughter, and it is a whole other world. It seems to be a way for teens & adults to play again, dress up as a character, interact with like-minded others, buy more things for their collections....it's fun, but still there is a serious side to it. Many go to great lengths to perfect costumes & props & makeup. It's a very interesting part of our culture. ( I collected model horses and Star Wars figures when I was younger, so I do get the impulse!)

    2 years ago

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage says:

    Very interesting!

    2 years ago

  • LoveButtons

    Julia K Walton from FireHorseVintageHQ says:

    I love the minimalist idea of a 'collection of one' - one perfect example of something you admire. It's always interesting to see what obsesses people, though! Collections are fascinating - in someone else's house ;o)

    2 years ago

  • FancyFeetBoutique

    Bee Boutique from FancyFeetBoutique says:

    Wow, that is a lot to pack if you have to move, hee hee! Great article! :)

    2 years ago

  • tadaboutique

    tadaboutique from tadaboutique says:

    Great article. My daughter collected not as much as this..but I have gone to many anime and other genre conventions.(I recognize many of the items in this room...and I see no problem with them collecting these things or trinkets and spending their money on what they like...Most of these kind of collectors are not spending their money on $250 handbags or shoes...those collectors hide those collections in their closets. Or sports enthusiast proudly display their expensive items in expensive display holders...while I think it would be over stimulating to sleep in a room like that I think it brings comfort to those who love what they collect..

    2 years ago

  • doremi7893

    GABIE says:

    So interesting and SOOO TRUE. Good article. ^-^

    2 years ago

  • goatandkettle

    Justin and Lauren Marsh from GoatandKettle says:

    I collected pigs when I was a kid...bought anything pig I could find...thank goodness I grew out of that one. I can see how collecting can get crazy though - just buying antique keys for our rings can get addicting because they're all so cool and different - we're always on the look-out.

    2 years ago

  • thevicagirl

    VaLon Frandsen from thevicagirl says:

    All true collections have reached what is past 'normal'. You can have a bunch of things, but to be a true collection you need bunches of a bunch. I have a collection of dolls, that never felt like a true collection until I had a display case made for them. I have 70 dolls, 43 bears, and 36 chevron cars (all that there was when I got the collection.) Yet, I don't feel like it is that big. People are always impressed by it and can never see how I could fit a new doll in. However, I am always able to fit another doll in, no matter how big it is. To truely be a collection it needs to have a theme with quality things in it. If not it just becomes junk and obsessive.

    2 years ago

  • fieldtrip

    Amy from fieldtrip says:

    i definitely see this is an attempt to become part of a different world. the collector might just wish that things were as simple as they are in anime. either way - i think creating and making are great ways to keep one's consumption in check! there's just something about it that's very freeing.

    2 years ago

  • SomedayClay

    Christina Musser says:

    I think some of the acceptability is in what you collect and the age at which you collect it. My father has three rooms full of Lionel trains, all beautifully displayed and cataloged. If he was an anime collector, that might be a little weird, but because trains are "acceptable" and he has been doing it for a lifetime, it isn't considered strange at all.

    2 years ago

  • annais

    Ann Huskey from annais says:

    I have some people who I think may qualify in this category and yet they do not live in Japan. What would Americans with the same obsessions be considered? Ones with an obsession to Japanese pop culture, and ones with an obsession with American pop culture. I know both types.

    2 years ago

  • tonytiggert

    Erica Taggart from tonytiggert says: Featured

    Interesting article--especially about the social perceptions. It's intriguing that in America, it's socially acceptable, and even encouraged in the media, for women to "collect" purses and shoes. It's expected. For men, it's sports memorabilia or sometimes trains. My thoughts... Surround yourself with what makes you happy! However, don't expect others will necessarily value your collection the same as you do, especially when the pop culture is replaced by the next fad. (Such has been the case with Poke'mon cards.)

    2 years ago

  • LaMeowVintage

    Regan from LaMeowVintage says:

    I think If you have the extra space and it is neatly organized, I see nothing wrong with it. I think it could be fantastic. But if it is all chaotic and in large random piles on the floor, mixed with trash then I would call it hoarding.

    2 years ago

  • sshoko

    Shoko from SwallowJewellery says: Featured

    As a person who grew up in Japan, I appreciate the article that describes Otaku in very precise manner. I agree that they are part of the majority, mainstream, or middle class but feel alienated by their very inclusion in that larger group. I think it may be because everyone HAS TO fit in with the majority in Japan. Especially recently the media has made them somewhat "trendy", making them even more part of the majority. We all collect and obsess to certain extent, so what is the difference?

    2 years ago

  • NaviWing

    NaviWing from NaviWing says:

    Great article! An observation on the childish mentality, though: In Japan, cute (or kawaii, as its known there) is a staple in their culture, much like "cool" is in the United States. Girls and women acting years younger than they are is sort of... a trend? My friend spent a semester in Osaka, and she explained it to me like this: the older generation in Japan took the time to save their money. There's an influx of retiring people, too. It seems that the younger generation in Japan now has the spending power, and refuses to take on a more mature role that they feel is being pressed upon them. In a sort of retaliation, they cling to ideas of cuteness and childhood. Though, she more saw this more in girls and women than the boys and men, which could explain why this sort of collecting is more acceptable for females rather than males. It's an interesting occurrence in Japanese culture.

    2 years ago

  • EmmieE

    Emmie from EmmieE says:

    My Dad was an Antique Dealer and love of stuff. Their entire basement had tables lined up with antiques and stuff neatly covering every table. Drove my Mother nuts. But I understand the need to collect. I'm turning into my Dad!

    2 years ago

  • piecesofelises

    Elise from piecesofelises says:

    Very interesting article! I see some similarities to myself. Except I made the things I collected.

    2 years ago

  • RavensCrafts

    Jane from RavensCrafts says:

    To each their own. I see the beauty in the collection of mass items. These people are speeding their money, decorating theirs spaces and are hurting no one. It's too bad they are marginalized because they go against what people think they should be doing. On the flip side, I'm glad I don't have to clean and dust the collections. But as long as someone else is I can enjoy looking at it :)

    2 years ago

  • mountainvintage

    Alexis E. from mountainvintage says:

    The article was very interesting but that room is truly frightening.

    2 years ago

  • juicylucydanger

    juicylucydanger says:

    That which is "normal" is purely subjective. Why the need to analyze? Why not simply accept? On ne discute ni des goûts, ni des couleurs.

    2 years ago

  • WindsorSix

    WindsorSix says:

    When I saw the headline, my immediate thought was 'Oh no, here's another person ranting about how bizarre, childish and crazy otaku are.' But I was really surprised when I read the article, and found out that there was none of that! As an otaku, I just want to thank you so much for not belittling us collectors.

    2 years ago

  • bedouin

    Nicole from bedouin says:

    I appreciate the individuality and the imagery is as unique as the person ~ fun all around!!!

    2 years ago

  • jackierodriguez3

    Jackie Rodriguez from ArtisticKeepsakes says:

    I think in America they call them hoarders, but then again that would be the very messy kind of collector, and way more obsessed.

    2 years ago

  • btaylorquilts

    Briana Taylor from btaylorquilts says:

    I love looking at these collections! So colorful and fun. thanks for sharing, I'll check out the book :)

    2 years ago

  • rebeckahinton

    Rebecka Hinton from CalicoGryphon says:

    That is a really neat article. It's interesting to see what other cultures consider collections vs. obsessions. I don't think it's odd to see those items being owned by adults. The anime I've had experience with has been mostly meant for older audiences and have dark, sophisticated plots. It reminds me of the collectors over here who enjoy collecting porcelain dolls, model cars, trains, etc. I love looking at various collections, which I probably why I adore antique malls, and watching shows like American Pickers.

    2 years ago

  • sandragesler

    Sandra Gesler says:

    Thrill of the Hunt, finding the Object you desire. All the more forefilling, when, it costs much less than it's true sale Value. Heady excitement to go home, to look for the Special place for the Object to be Displayed. To sit back, enjoy holding, then viewing. It is filling a space inside of me. I myself believe, that, the Object fits into an Emotional space within ourselves, that is lacking. In saying this, as Children we collect all manner of Objects. Growing up we become more diserning with the direction of our collecting. Do we continue or become more socially acceptable, Grown up & stop? Or are we so emotionally traumatised that we continue on collecting to become Socially unacceptable,Hoarders. I choose to collect & always able to find a place. I am in the middle of the collecting, where they fill the edges of my space. Never going over the edge of loosing direction. In saying that, I have had ppl comment that they see my space as full of stuff. Others have asked if they can look more closely, touch, hold, admire my collection pieces. This type of visitor gives me an extremely high, pleasureable experience. On the whole, my collecting, no harm done to myself or others.

    2 years ago

  • meowstachio

    Samantha Villa from meowstachio says:

    Each dollar is worth all of this beauty! (づ ̄ ³ ̄)づ

    2 years ago

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 from Parachute425 says:

    I'm evidently a dust bunny collector. I have more than three.

    2 years ago

  • BRANDED

    Jennifer and jeN from BRANDED says:

    there is a room filled with the Beatles in my home. Filled...and I didn't do it. Everyone that sees it, loves it. I am a 'less is more' kind of decorator.

    2 years ago

  • pinksnakejewelry

    pinksnakejewelry from pinksnakejewelry says:

    Interesting article! I too am a collector...

    2 years ago

  • outtamygourd

    Sheryle Bruno from outtamygourd says:

    OK...I collect one of everything!

    2 years ago

  • pinksnakejewelry

    pinksnakejewelry from pinksnakejewelry says:

    Interesting Article! I too am a collector...

    2 years ago

  • accidentalcharm

    Sandra Park-Callaghan from accidentalcharm says:

    i'm feeling way better about my ridiculous pyrex collection now. ^_^

    2 years ago

  • goblinprince

    Ken Cory from goblinprince says:

    I think the impulse to collect is born from the our hunter/gatherer instincts. We who live in cities and towns obtain our food in markets and from restaurants so that drive has to be expressed somehow. I think this is different from "hoarding" in that it is not compelled by the fear of losing something, but rather, of bringing something into your life. And I think usually the object(s) collected have an emotional resonance for the collector. A comic/manga/anime might spark happy memories and feelings, remind you of someone, or might be a safe way to explore feelings that make one uncomfortable yet excited. "Normal" is subjective, and often a societal control mechanism--I applaud those who simply ignore the constraints others would force on them and simply live their hearts. I believe the only time behavior becomes problematic is when you start to hurt others. I've yet to hear of otaku rampages in Walmart during Christmas.

    2 years ago

  • anitasantiquities

    Anita Ibison from anitasantiquities says:

    kinda' like a hoarder with a purpose.

    2 years ago

  • xfictionprincess

    xfictionprincess says:

    at least the collection is neat and orderly! <3

    2 years ago

  • PatternsAndPlans

    PatternsAndPlans from PatternsAndPlans says:

    Yes, they are very neat----not like the ones featured on the Hoarder show.

    2 years ago

  • lionfish53

    Carolyn from Lionfishvintage says:

    I used to collect , then i opened my shop to sell it all!

    2 years ago

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage from accentonvintage says:

    Amazing collectors!

    2 years ago

  • HappyKnookCreations

    Danielle Pasley from HappyKnookCreations says:

    I use to collect bugs. I actually wanted to have my own little building and have a personal mini bug museum for my friends. Dream never came true.....and my shadow box broke and lots of my long hours of bug hunting treasures came to an end. : (

    2 years ago

  • kawaiiinterest

    Claudine Yana Hsueh from TheKawaiiFable says:

    cute article <3 love collecting >o

    2 years ago

  • VandLee

    VandLee from VandLee says:

    Kawaii

    2 years ago

  • peshka

    Peshka from Peshka says:

    Great article!

    2 years ago

  • yimmekedesign

    Diana from yimmekedesign says:

    If you value your collection more than your friends and loved ones, I think it is time to get the trash bags out....! Collecting genuine friends is the most valuable thing imaginable.

    2 years ago

  • CozyMoments

    Michelle from CozyMomentsLLC says:

    LOVED this article! My Dad collected antiques and used a spare room in his home for his collection. I used to love going over and looking in that room. He had so much but he had it so neat and organized.=)

    2 years ago

  • CozyMoments

    Michelle from CozyMomentsLLC says:

    LOVED this article! My Dad collected antiques and he had his collection in a spare room in his home. I used to love going over and looking around that room! He had SO much but boy did he keep it neat, clean, and organized. =)

    2 years ago

  • laurabeaty1

    Laura Beaty says:

    What an interesting article! I don't have that many items from shows/comics/etc. that I like, but it's always interesting to see the other point of the spectrum, not to mention a more refreshing, open point of view. Also, did anyone besides me notice the seemingly Dirk Strider-related glasses hanging above the bed? U v U

    2 years ago

  • PaganMomma

    Jeanine Westerman from PaganMomma says:

    I used to collect Anime stuff...never thought of myself as an Otaku, though I did qualify. Now most of my anime stuff is either packed away or sold. I only have to deal with my husbands obsessive collecting of My Little Pony.....we are starting to run out of room. O_o

    2 years ago

  • ckarigan

    claudia karigan from YourFinalTouch says:

    Great article!

    2 years ago

  • VictoryBags

    Victoria Gray from VictoryBags says:

    Wow, I never realized it before, but I think I maybe literally obsessed. I'm in the process of moving, and one of the things I was looking for in my new home was a room to keep my collection in. I love hunting and finding fabric so much that I started Victory Bags as a way to do something with it all. I'm really looking forward to housing it all in my new studio. So far I have 30 to 40 bankers boxes of fabric packed and ready to move. I have many shelves of fabric left to pack up. I'm not really sure how to move the fabric hanging in my walk in closet, it takes up four feet of hanger space. Maybe I should look into a program to help people with hording. . . ;-)

    2 years ago

  • sunkissedhighways

    Noel Tambour from sunkissedhighways says:

    it's the complete opposite of the zen-style but, even with all the stuff, the room still looks surprisingly organized

    2 years ago

  • LilysShop

    Lilys Graveyard from LilysShop says:

    so I guess I'm a Cyndi Lauper otaku?! lol

    2 years ago

  • kalyxcraftopia

    kalyxcraftopia from kalyxcraftopia says:

    uh oh. so what do you call it when your crafty materials collection takes over the entire house as it is in mine? great article :)

    2 years ago

  • Aya1gou

    Aya from Aya1gou says:

    Real otaku room doesn't look like that... Trust me, I'm Japanese.

    2 years ago

  • Retrospectshop

    Retrospect from Retrospectshop says:

    I guess I was a "Buffy" otaku when I was younger. 3 entire walls covered in pics of the cast and screenshots from the show. :)

    2 years ago

  • squibbles76

    Valerie from squibbles76 says:

    Otaku, fangirls(and guys) unite!!!! I am a .hack otaku! my hubby is crazy for the Incredible Hulk! We used to be Star Wars collectors. That is a major undertaking! Or rather overtaking since Star Wars continually makes new SW toys in every brand and now branching out to clothing and apparel in a big way. The next step for George Lucas would be to build a skyscraper in the form of a light saber or R2 or even "THE DEATHSTAR!"

    2 years ago

  • elleestpetite

    Donna Thai from PetiteCuisine says:

    If collecting cute anime stuff makes me an otaku then I guess I'm an otaku. My sisters don't really understand the obsession. They think it's childish and unnecessarily expensive. But honestly, I think there are way more expensive things that people could be collecting.

    2 years ago

  • GeekAmour

    Vic from GeekAmour says:

    What a fabulous article, I just love it & will have to get the book... to add to my collection....? Otaku in Japan, Hoarders everywhere else. ;)

    2 years ago

  • missfitclothing

    missfitclothing from missfitclothing says:

    My room looks very similar to that right now... And I STILL don't have enough action figures!

    2 years ago

  • sarahdonnell

    Sarah Donnell from sarahdonnell says:

    Good read!

    2 years ago

  • 2mwt

    Sweet Vintage Goods from SweetVintageGoods says:

    Waooooooooooooooo

    2 years ago

  • Zaheroux

    Megan Weber from Zaheroux says:

    I agree with so many others, this is a great article! Such a fascinating topic, I may have to research more. Thank you for sharing!

    2 years ago

  • nickiefrye

    Nickie Noel from SpunkVintage says:

    I was hoping for more shocking photos. I do a lot of estate sales & I see rooms like this all the time. People in my area really seem to like collecting dolls. I've seen entire homes full of them! There was one house in Napa- a BIG Victorian- where an elderly woman lived alone. Literally every room & every closet was filled with every kind of doll you could think of. I don't normally buy dolls, but even I got caught up in it & ended up with two Monchhichis. My husband was like ??? I recently went to a sale where the person collected carnival glass. Again, not my thing, but the amount of pieces was pretty staggering. It's definitely interesting to see what people collect!!

    2 years ago

  • Judalon

    Jessica says:

    Good article! Much of what is collected when you collect "pop culture items" doesn't come off the shelve at any given store. Most often they're limited edition collector's items. Adorable dolls you have to fork out a fortune for (for ex., look up Pullip, Urban Vita or Real Puki dolls. I collect as well but I do pace myself for when there's not enough room.

    2 years ago

  • CougarTShirtCompany

    Cougar T-Shirt Company from CougarTShirtCompany says:

    My attitude - If they are not hurting anyone, not spending rent money on their obsession, why would anyone care? Some people turn into adults, others keep a big part of their child selves and never make the complete transformation. Again, as long as no one is being hurt, why would one care if someone's room has stuffed animals all over it?

    2 years ago

  • barbiej1

    Barbie Brundige from KnitsBellissimo says:

    Who wants to be "Normal"?

    2 years ago

  • OliCreations

    Francesca from OliCreations says:

    Interesting article! Drawing a line between normal/non normal, passion/obsession is never easy...what an interesting matter to study...

    2 years ago

  • luvdalia

    Dalia from ThePinkDalia says:

    Sounds like my shoe obsession!

    2 years ago

  • skyejuice

    skyejuice from skyejuice says:

    I would consider otaku being obsessive fanboys and fangirls instead of hoarders. It's most of the time limited to one or a few anime/movie/game series, a fandom. Much like the fans of the Star Wars series who must have every collectible they can get their hands on. That's why the price for the rare collectibles skyrocket, they are very high in demand. I am very much involved in the otaku world, having quite a few otaku friends myself. I don't consider myself as an otaku simply because I do not obsessively collect figurines and posters, but I do have a few of these items. To anyone interested, you should check out "Densha Otoko", either the movie or the TV series. It's a pretty authentic portrayal of otaku in real life. :)

    2 years ago

  • skyejuice

    skyejuice from skyejuice says:

    I still want a figurine from the Portrait of Pirates series of One Piece, a Japanese comic that I love. (this is my fandom) One day, I'll have one.

    2 years ago

  • AlphaSoupPhotography

    Laura Bauer from WordJumblePhotos says:

    great article

    2 years ago

  • ArtsyFartsyFarm

    ArtsyFartsyFarm from ArtsyFartsyFarm says:

    If people didn't collect things how boring life would be in my eyes. I certainly appreciate the minimalist life style but I'm a collector and I love to see what other people collect, how they display it. Show us more collectors !

    2 years ago

  • audreykerchner

    Audrey Kerchner from photographyaudreyk says:

    I would be an otaku, I love the idea of collecting glass in all forms, I just can't justify the spend. Plus I don't like clutter lol! Guess that's why I take pictures of so much stuff.....

    2 years ago

  • wheatleypaperworks

    M Wheatley from wheatleypaperworks says:

    I don't know to what further purpose this frenetic collecting aims. What's it all about? I must admit I read the post and then carefully reread it and I'm still not entirely sure. This said, the writing, as always was enjoyable.

    2 years ago

  • afterglowretro

    robin parfitt from afterglowretro says:

    I think its just a natural human trait to collect and to have obsessions The great thing is it means there is no 'normal' as everyone has their own individual way of expressing themselves through these collections.

    2 years ago

  • UniversalLemurCo

    Rebecca Barry-Kent from UniversalLemurCo says:

    I'm not sure if this means I'm abnormal or not because I've had an obsession with Hello Kitty since 1981...

    2 years ago

  • JulesShiloh

    Jules from TeaandSensibility says:

    Wow. Pretty insteresting. Collecting something you are passionate it about it fun as long as you have the space for it.

    2 years ago

  • KelseaEchoStudio

    Kelsea Echo from KelseaEchoStudio says:

    It becomes a problem when it IS a problem. That sounds a little dumb and uninspired, but what I mean to say is this: It's great to see people collect what they love. It is a problem when collecting is all someone can think about, to the point that they neglect other important aspects of or people in their life, or they spend money on collectors items instead of food for themselves or their families, or they steal or hurt or kill to add things to their collection, or if they truly begin to 'hoard' things to the point where it becomes a physical safety hazard, etc. Otherwise, I see nothing wrong with collecting! It is a hobby that can bring a sense of joy and fulfillment, just like any other kind.

    2 years ago

  • DragonWhisper76

    DragonWhisper76 from TheSereneDragon says:

    I only wish I had the time, money and space to collect all those awesome figurines!! Great article and Thanks for sharing!

    2 years ago

  • tsubasafan

    Ashton Johnson from tsubasafan says:

    While my room isn't overflowing with collectibles, I have to say as an otaku I have a mountain of books and dvds and more than a few posters and plushes. Glad to see an article that doesn't make otaku out to be some weird and taboo subculture.

    2 years ago

  • silviaberrios1

    Silvia Berrios from DesignsbySilvia says:

    Fascinating story. I guess you never stop learning until the end. Nice collection!!

    2 years ago

  • cherylcotter1

    Cheryl Cotter says:

    I actually see nothing obsessive about the picture at all, looks like a well- organized room of someone who definite specific tastes. Where is the problem?

    2 years ago

  • artdp

    Denise Payne from artdp says:

    WOW My studio is choco block with with just about everything that inspires me,should I be worried that i've become a Hoarder,well know im not life's to short!!!

    2 years ago

  • Demoriam

    Debra Gordon from DGordonDesigns says:

    My studio space looks similar. There is nothing wrong in collecting items that inspire you.

    2 years ago

  • demonkitty101

    Sally Kelland from demonkitty101 says:

    Pah!! Amateurs.I had a friend many years ago who collected toys and figurines.When he ran out of room on his walls,he slung fishing nets from his ceiling and put more toys there.Now that's a collector!!

    2 years ago

  • PaleMoonDarkNight

    Rachel Bradley from PaleMoonDarkNight says:

    What an interesting topic! If that room was full of vintage glass I would be all about it :)

    2 years ago

  • silverbranchhome

    Shannon O'Shaughnessy from silverbranchhome says:

    Oh... the dusting alone, it makes me dizzy just thinking about it.

    2 years ago

  • honeycup

    honeycup from honeycup says:

    Well at least it is neat! I may not be a hoarder, but I am pretty messy. What's better?

    2 years ago

  • CBlomsDesign

    Carin Blom from CBlomsDesign says:

    Interesting article and beautiful photos!

    2 years ago

  • WarriorsOfCulture

    Lindsey Barbie from WarriorsOfCulture says:

    Totally love this and kawaii culture!

    2 years ago

  • zelas

    zelas from zelas says:

    if I had more money and space, my anime and manga collection will take up the whole house. currently its about 2 rooms (not entirely full).

    2 years ago

  • uramichi

    Mikako Takai from uramichi says:

    It's funny how otaku tends to be categorized as a manga/anime culture only, especially in English-speaking countries. I don't think most people know that the meaning of the word changes when you add an extra word to the front, because otaku usually just means you're really into something. (Japanese is my first language, not English) So my brothers are computer-otakus that love anything tech, and I have plenty of friends who are railway-otakus (love of trains, railways, etc). Without any descriptive word in the front, otaku means anime and manga culture, but anyone can be an "otaku" if you have a love for some specific thing. I think it's a perfectly fine thing to indulge in! :)

    2 years ago

  • christyscrafts

    christyscrafts from christyscrafts says:

    Love the and bright colors !

    2 years ago

  • RetroRevivalBoutique

    RetroRevivalBoutique from RetroRevivalBoutique says:

    Normal schmormal....I'd rather be me. :3

    2 years ago

  • taterrounds

    Tater Rounds from TaterRoundsBeauty says:

    Super COOL !!!!!!!

    2 years ago

  • flamingfuchsia

    flamingfuchsia from flamingfuchsia says:

    I like this blog. There seems to be a thin line between collecting and hoarding. As long as there is enough space for you to move around, the items you collect are organised/accessible,you can see your collection and most importantly you don't get too obsessive I think that is when you fall into the collector category rather than hoarder. I collect a few things but I know my limits and it is never to the point where I have little or no space. The rooms in the pictures are what I call large collections in comparison to mine, but they are orderly and nice to look at.

    2 years ago

  • AlpineGypsy

    Heidi from AlpineGypsy says:

    What a fascinating article. So many perspectives to enjoy. For myself, I am enjoying having less right now. At least less than I've had in years past. I truly enjoy looking at beautiful/interesting objects, and could be considered a 'data/image hoarder' right now with my Pinterest account, LOL........but I've taken a personal challenge recently, to try and enjoy seeing things, and admiring them but not acquiring them just because I can. I'm not convinced that my enjoyment of those things is diminished because I don't possess it myself. I know this is a bit strange, but so far it is working! A strange thing has started to happen since I embarked on this personal challenge: I get stressed out if I start to accumulate too many things. I start to feel crowded. Well, enough about me. The other thought I had about this article; we live in a society rich enough to have the luxury of collecting, or obsessing about aesthetic objects/things. Many people do not have this luxury. So in a way, I do view collecting objects as this hunter-gatherer instinct gone weird in a culture that is comparatively rich. It doesn't mean it's bad or good. But I do think it's healthy to know when your obsession starts to own you, and not the other way around. If it presses in on your psyche, and 'demands' more and more of you, then it is perhaps time to sit back and re-assess why you might be collecting. Just some of my thoughts - thanks for an awesome article!

    2 years ago

  • styleforlife

    Emily from styleforlife says:

    Sooo cool! XOXOXO EL Vintage

    2 years ago

  • Attractive1

    Elena Fom from Attractive1 says:

    Strange not bad...

    2 years ago

  • timegemstone

    timegemstone from timegemstone says:

    it looks amazing!!!

    2 years ago

  • TheBeautyofBoredom

    Gracie from TheBeautyofBoredom says:

    I never knew that that is what an otaku was...heard the term a lot but for some reason I thought it meant something else. Interesting article, I think that would be a fun book to pick up. Everyone has a few collections, some people just want to collect everything, whether it is reasonable or not.

    2 years ago

  • wendyogilvie1

    Wendy Ogilvie from TheTinyTreeShop says:

    Great article! My daughter would qualify as an otaku, although not at the extreme end. She has no room left in her bedroom; she occasionally has to take old posters down and pack away figures to make room for new ones. The thing is, their tastes change along the way as they get older. Manga/anime are geared to different age groups, so what you loved at age 10 may not be what you love at 18, but you still don't want to get rid of anything! Usually, otaku are into card collecting and trading as well - oh lord, I don't even want to go there! But the one thing that keeps her from being an extreme otaku is the lack of money - collecting these things is unbelievably expensive. Her friends have spent outrageous amounts of money on a figure, an accessory or a plushie - I definitely can see how otaku spend 2.5 billion dollars a year!

    2 years ago

  • tranifer

    Tranifer Lovely from WonkyCritters says:

    Hmmmm.... looks like my little sister's room...

    2 years ago

  • xZOUix

    Zoui from XZOUIX says:

    Well, there are some interesting weirdos out there in the world :)

    2 years ago

  • funnydays

    funnydays from funnydays says:

    Very interesting!

    2 years ago

  • DewyMorningVintage

    DewyMorningVintage from DewyMorningVintage says:

    Very interesting...I think all people are collectors in some way...be it shoes...figurines...music..I even used to have 20 different flavors of gum to choose from at one time. Some people are just more extreme about it, taking up their whole room or house. It does seem the more extreme you are in collecting the less social you are with people. They must relate more to things than to people or just can't relate to people at all. So interesting...I love to pick people's brains...to see how they tick.

    2 years ago

  • 1Kitai

    1Kitai from 1Kitai says:

    Looks kinda like my dorm room when I was in college.

    2 years ago

  • TinsAndThings

    TinsAndThings from TinsAndThings says:

    "I don't think most people know that the meaning of the word changes when you add an extra word to the front, because otaku usually just means you're really into something." Does that mean I can call myself a Pyrex-otaku? ;)

    2 years ago

  • CrossExtreme

    Lindsay Niles from CrossExtreme says:

    Really no different than any other collection. No more or less destructive. Just because they see value in objects that others do not doesn't mean they're delusional or social outsiders. How would your average crafter appear if viewed with the same amount of scrutiny? They would likely look equally strange with their boxes of beads and vintage lace, wouldn't they? But we don't single them out and criticize their lifestyles. Rather, we applaud them for seeing the value in things that others often overlook. Double standards are dangerous. I would have thought by now that the obsession with the otaku subculture would have burnt out.

    2 years ago

  • YoungMamaBoutique

    Shannon from StyleSupplies says:

    I love these pics!! I love anything Kawaii so I would have a field day looking at all of their stuff haha.

    2 years ago

  • KWYAtelier

    Au-chan from KWYAtelier says:

    When I lived with my parents my room used to look like that, now that I'm married and my hubby is an Anime fan too.... It got worst. ^_^ fun and interesting article

    2 years ago

  • rikkicondon

    Rikki from Riksride says:

    The art of display is what can turn incomprehensible piles of objects into a "respectable" collection. Museums have professionals to design and install exhibitions..an individual can do the same with their collections. We may not have the same appreciation of the objects but I see nothing shocking about the photographs.They show sensitive placement and mounting of the material with compelling results. Texture indeed.

    2 years ago

  • PangieArt

    PangieArt from AngelasIllustrations says:

    whoa that looks like my room lol

    2 years ago

  • katlantis

    Marta from StellaLeeVintage says:

    I think it's swell that people have the ability to collect objects they find beautiful or that bring them joy, but I find that once you accumulate objects with no special meaning or background (I'm looking at you, my 35+ plastic model horses!) they seem empty. I wonder if the sheer amount of stuff eventually eclipses its intent- once you collect for the sake of collecting, where can you stop?

    2 years ago

  • Ombutterfly77
  • DOTTO

    NICOLE Dotto from DOTTO says:

    w h o a I've studied the hikikomori phenomenon but not otaku. faaasssscinating, thank ya!

    2 years ago

  • CollectibleEclectics

    Karen L. Albl from CollectibleEclectics says:

    Once a collector, always a collector

    2 years ago

  • CollectibleEclectics

    Karen L. Albl from CollectibleEclectics says:

    This comment is to Marta.. For me I have stopped when it no longer fits in my household, enviroment, or my space. Then I just eliminate according to least favorites ( which is hard). But I love the freedom of creating free space... narrowing it down.. A place to breathe

    2 years ago

  • iskerss

    zed star from retrolovesupplies says:

    Great article I may by the book as I think I am bordering on obsessive collecting of vintage fabric, though I am reluctantly selling some on etsy. Much of what I collect is on trend, although it is a thrill to find something rare!

    2 years ago

  • stinnovation

    ST Innovation from stinnovation says:

    This is very interesting story and it will be happend with each after 80‘s peoples,anyway I think that wiil be become a beautiful memory for each fans.

    2 years ago

  • SamiChan8

    Sami Sal from SamiChan8 says:

    Finally a stoplight on Otaku it nice to see more people like me with a passion for a different take on cartoons.

    2 years ago

  • StarTribe

    Penelope Neil from StarTribe says:

    Maybe I live in a special world, but aren't these photos showing your average teenage bedroom? My room looked like that in the mid 80s, and it would've continued to do so into the 90s only I moved out and had a whole house to spread out in (don't worry I filled it up quick, god bless thrifts in towns where the 1930s were unfashionable). Nowadays my collection is stripped back as I tend to weed out the filler stuff when quality is scored, but compared to my friends I'm a minimalist- most of them live in environments similar to the photos above. I was hoping for the shock mentioned in the article, I didn't get it! Also 'Otaku are unable or unwilling to relate to others as a result of indulgences in certain consumption and play activities' sounds more like people who have escapist/reality issues rather than passionate collectors. Most people I know who I would classify as Otaku are actually more able to relate to people than the non-fandom types, because they are often exposed to complex storylines and characters.

    2 years ago

  • TheMillineryShop

    Marcia Lacher from TheMillineryShop says:

    Neurotics build castles in the sky but psychotics live in them. There is a fine but distinct line between what is normal and what is not. And thus collectors and hoarders are not the same even if they do get lumped together.

    2 years ago

  • HappyAccidents10

    Stephani Schwartz from HappyAccidentCandles says:

    Great article...I collect many things and even here in Long Island some consider me "Obsessed" because what I collect isn't mainstream items likee shoes and purses.

    2 years ago

  • CityToLove

    Marchelle from CityToLove says:

    Very interesting. I think that everyone collects something to a certain extent though. Sometimes it's more obvious like these people in this article, but sometimes it can be something that may seem normal, such as pictures or books or shoes, like someone said earlier. Sometimes I wonder if my Record collection can be considered hoarding. It's hard to say, I guess. I think that as long as it isn't taking anything away from your health (mentally, spiritually, or even physically), or taking too much from your wallet, then it's probably okay. Obsession can certainly be dangerous though.

    2 years ago

  • TreasuresByJacki

    Jacki Johnson King from TreasuresByJacki says:

    Interesting but this looks like a fan and/or a collector that has a great collection. It's well organized and displayed very nice. Now if the whole house looked like this it might truely be weird but hording, no... too organized... This person knows what they have.....

    2 years ago

  • SakkyCrafts

    SakkyCrafts from SakkyCrafts says:

    I have over 500 licensed Sailormoon products and I can confidently say it's an obsession. But thankfully it doesn't come at the cost of other important aspects in my life like work, friends, family and fun. It is possible to be an obsessive collector and still have a pretty ordinary life. :3

    2 years ago

  • auntydonut

    auntydonut from auntydonut says:

    i am a collector or monster toys and i think the collections featured here are fantastic. the collections are well displayed and organized. I support any collector out there, as long as it makes you happy and you love it then why not collect as much as you want. I will be showing my collections on my blog very soon. http://auntydonut.blogspot.com/

    2 years ago

  • auntydonut

    auntydonut from auntydonut says:

    i have now posted pics of my collection of my blog here is the link: http://auntydonut.blogspot.com/2012/07/wolfman-werewolf-collection-room.html

    2 years ago

  • BrittneyWest

    Brittney West from BrittneyWest says:

    What a great read! Thanks :-) "Let the beauty of what you love be what you do." --Rumi

    2 years ago

  • Blinkett

    Blinkett says:

    Collecting is fine as long as you can maintain your collection properly. If the collection starts owning you and controlling your life then it has become obsessive.

    2 years ago

  • QuirkMuseum

    Michael Quirk from QuirkMuseum says:

    All these years I thought that I was building a few collections for the museum. Turns out that I am OTAKU!! I better go lie down for a while.

    2 years ago

  • StrawberryRaine

    StrawberrySunshine from StrawberryAnime says:

    a fellow otaku!!

    2 years ago

  • RetroGamingShirts

    Evan from RetroGamingShirts says:

    Great article. I don't think there's anything wrong with collecting unless it is negatively affecting other aspects of your life. If you have the money to spend on merchandise from something you love, how is that any stranger than spending on jewelry or electronics?

    1 year ago

  • missychick1712 says:

    I like the fact this blog pointed out that being an otaku has no gender, It clearly illistrates that being an otaku is not a man dominated obesseion. I see mostly women defending the obsessive collecting of anime pop culture on this blog . The items being collected are more based for a male fandom being that the women shown are normally well endowed, dressed quite scandalously, with a strong demeanor. This being said women are more accepted being an otaku rather than a man because its more acceptable for a woman to see a sensuous women with strength as an empowering figure. Where as a man with the same obessive otaku behavior is considered creepy, or disgusting for viewing women in this manner.

    1 year ago