New York Times: 2D love is an obsessive phenomenon in Japan

I've been reading this article (and it's recurring wake in the anime / Japanese blogosphere) about this new "phenomenon" that's hitting Japan: 2D love.  I'm having some mixed feelings about it.  Here's some samples of what people are saying:

…an example of why traditional journalism is sinking…Hobby Blog

...it might be time for Katayama to deliver a more serious response to her readers.Japan Probe

…if I didn’t notice the potentially groundbreaking statistics, I don’t think I would have bothered to write about this story.Mutant Frog

I like Lisa Katayama.  I like her website, tokyomango, too.  When she appeared on Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, I was like, "Hell yeah! I know that person, she's pretty cool!"  But after reading some of the stuff in her New York Times article, I'm a bit miffed about what to think.  There's a lot of points where I scratch my head and think, "Really?  Is that what they're saying about Japan now?"

There's a huge amount of backlash over some of the facts Lisa claims.  Like the one about 25% of males aged 30~34 being virgins (which isn't exactly true).  And the claim about her lifting the statistic from a now defunct article from Mainichi's notorious WaiWai column (the sentence appears nearly exactly verbatim, which could or could not have been an honest mistake).  Or the fact that the story they featured in the article is 6 years old.

Personally, I do enjoy 2-D anime.  I like looking at statues and artwork of anime characters (hell, I even own some).  Sometimes I wish they existed in real life, but that's just part of believing the fantasy — I can still separate it from the on goings of my real life. 

I'm not 30 yet, so I can't…safely say that I might turn into an obsessive fan who's proud to wear his otaku badge on his shirt someday.  God help me if I do.  But what worries me is the misrepresentation of a whole subset of anime fans and otaku culture that is being put on display toward the world.  It was bad enough with the Rapelay backlash that it affected an entire industry of doujin / eroge companies in Japan, painting otaku alike with another wide stroke of shame and embarassment, but now the New York Times of all people are labeling the stereotype onto just about everyone who loves 2D.

If you want to see what I mean, just look up the comments on BoingBoing's article.  Just be wary of the knee-jerk jingoists who might smack you in the face while you browse around.

It's starting…

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3 Responses to “New York Times: 2D love is an obsessive phenomenon in Japan”


  1. 2 Hangaku Gozen July 29, 2009 at 9:11 am

    I also saw the article in the NY Times and wondered if the writer wasn't the victim of a practical joke. The guy she used as an example of the "2D love" phenomenon was already known in Japan as a shameless publicity whore. I haven't seen any other evidence that Japanese guys are actually taking their pillows out on dates. (lol, I just cracked up writing that!)

  2. 3 patapete July 29, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    No, Lisa Katayama knows her stuff and has written many an article on the weird and wacky parts of Japan. She's done pieces for Wired, Studio 360, and has her own piece on the cloud at Tokyomango, so I wouldn't think she'd be a victim in that regard.I've seen Nisan in person before, last year on the train out from Akihabara…I just didn't recognize him as the Nisan I've seen on the internet.I hope it's not slander, but the one thing I've learned about journalism is that it is never objective. Objectivity is just nigh impossible.


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