- 関西学院大学社会学部紀要 (ISSN:04529456)
- vol.99, pp.131-153, 2005-11-08
In 1983, a writer called young people 'otaku' (later, he used the word 'otaku-zoku'). They were absorbed in animation, manga, idols, personal computers, sci-fi, and so on. They and their companions called each other 'otaku' as well. They were only interested in others' knowledge about their common hobbies. Their communication style was mutually one-way and their life-style was like a hermit because of their commitment to favorite objects or subject matter. In 1989, one of them, a young man named 'Tsutomu Miyazaki', committed serial murders of little girls. So, otaku-zoku caused moral panic in Japanese society and they were labeled as sexual perverts. At first, there were many female-otaku. However, after the murder case, otaku (-zoku) began to mean young men who were withdrawn in their room, absorbed in various media, uninteresting in their appearance, and disconnected with other people, especially adult women. The word 'otaku' had negative image. But, in the 1990s, the sales of some subject matter which had been loved by otaku (-zoku) began to increase exponentially all over the world. Such otaku-related business became the most promising industry in Japan. So the implication of otaku changed. In the first half of the 1990s, a genre of music called 'Shibuya-kei' was born. In those days, in the Shibuya area, several mega record stores were launched, and many imported record stores, clubs, offices of independent record labels and editorial rooms of free papers or magazines about music began to be concentrated there. One of the mega record stores set up a corner of 'Shibuya-kei' CDs. By definition, Shibuya-kei means a type of music which was popular in Shibuya. Shibuya-kei musicians went to the Shibuya area to collect records, to play as DJs, or to spend time with companions at clubs. They composed music extracting elements from old and rare music sources and newly arranging them at will. In a sense, they can be called 'Ongaku-otakus (music freaks)'. Those musicians were also leaders of fashion, visual culture, and life style taste for their adoring fans, who usually dressed in French casuals. At the same time, otaku began to be called 'Akiba-kei', named after the Akihabara area, where many shops for otaku people, e.g. personal computer, video game, fanzine, female figures, and animation video, could be found. Akiba-kei (a.k.a otaku-zoku or otakukei) and Shibuya-kei had some common characteristics. They had media-oriented lifestyles, relatively wealthy backgrounds, and uni-sex feelings. These points suggest that the focus of youth subcultures from the 1980s to the 1990s was gradually centered on the media and the taste for them.