Otaku no Video
1982 Graffiti of Otaku Generation
Otaku no Bideo
Directed by: Mori Takeshi
Produced by: Inomata Kazuhiko, Kanda Yoshimi
Written by: Okada Toshio, Yamaga Hiroyuki
Storyboards by: Higuchi Shinji
Music by: Tanaka Kōhei
(See extended staff credits)
Production company: GAINAX
Original release date: September 27, 1991
Running time: 50 minutes

Kubo Takeshi is, by all definitions, an average college student. He plays tennis, gets his groove on at the bars, and even spends some tender time with his sweetheart Yoshiko. To many, it would be a perfect picture of college life.

Kubo's life is forever changed, though, after a chance meeting. After a night on the town with a few friends, Kubo runs into Tanaka, an old friend from high school who devoted his life to all things otaku. Like a fly caught in a trap, Kubo is slowly pulled into this wonderland of geeky bliss. Admission to the otaku life comes at a cost, though. Kubo finds that he's drifting away from Yoshiko.

Rather than give up, Kubo makes the ultimate decision. He musters the iron will of the otaku to push forward, and become the king of all otaku. Yes, he will become the Otaking!

Liner Notes


The opening segment (1991) is set in Kichijōji, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Tōkyō's West Side. Gainax, the makers of Otaku no Video, used to have their main office in Kichijōji.

Numerous anime companies are based in the neighboring area of Nerima, including AIC (Bubblegum Crisis, Gall Force) and Tōei Animation (Fist of the North Star, Sailor Moon).

When Kubo is answering the office phone, two audio tapes and a red can are seen on the table. Far left, the red-labeled tape is a recording of Hidaka Noriko performing live. Hidaka Noriko (stage name) is a Japanese voice actress. Over the years, she has performed many major roles in anime and video games, including Asakura Minami in Touch, Takaya Noriko in Aim for the Top! Gunbuster, Tendō Akane in Ranma ½and Jean Raltique in Nadia: Secret of Blue Water. The blue-labeled tape is just a TDK-branded cassette. On the right, there is a can of Suntory West Coffee, a canned coffee brand. During the summer season, canned coffee is sold chilled, and hot in the winter from vending machines.

“M.J.” is an abbreviation for Mighty Jack: a sci-fi action-adventure series by Tsuburaya Productions. The series revolved around the crew of a super high-tech ship known as the Mighty as they battled the evil organization “Q,” which sought to use the power of science to conquer the world. Mighty Jack ran for 13 episodes, which aired from 1968 through 1969. As of writing, it is currently available in its entirety on DVD in Japan. The series was also available in the US for a few years.

Tsuburaya Productions is a Japanese special-effects studio based in Hachimanyama, Setagaya, Tōkyō. The studio, which is best known for its work on the original Godzilla (Gojira) films and the iconic “Ultra” series of shows, was founded in 1963 by Tsuburaya Eiji.

In addition to the phone call, references in the Grand Prix office include:

TelePal TV & Video Aircheck Magazine (Television Pal) is a publication started in 1982. It is a TV program guide featuring daily schedules for major Japanese TV networks and celebrity interviews. In the early years of the magazine, the cover featured photographs of celebrity faces pasted on tiny bodies.

The character in white clothes is a reference to Tsunoda Jirō's 1971 manga Karate Baka Ichidai (A Karate-Crazy Life) . Inspired by the real martial artist Ōyama Masutatsu, the series tells the story of a kamikaze soldier in post-World War II Japan who didn’t actually become one because Japan had surrendered. All he knew was karate from his childhood. After a brief hand-to-hand encounter with US soldiers, he eventually decides to start his own Karate dōjō.

The shining light from above, an elder male figure and the Japanese katakana writing “Oh Goddo!1) in the black poster is a nod to Oh, God!, a 1977 comedy film starring George Burns and John Denver.

Bayerische Magazin Woche

When Kubo’s tennis player friend Yōko calls him, the first photo in the calendar in Kubo’s room is a view of Nymphenburg Palace from behind. A major tourist spot, the Bavarian monarchs of the House of Wittelsbach used to stay there during the summer.

The two Japanese magazines next to Kubo’s bed are men’s magazines Hot-Dog Press and Weekly Heibon Punch. Hot-Dog Press was founded in 1979 and marketed to singles, featuring usual topics like dating tips, car and gadget reviews and photos of glamor models. Weekly Heibon Punch was another similar magazine, founded in 1964.

As Kubo leaves his bed, the poster behind him is an upside down photo of the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany.

The Fool and the Crow

When Yamaguchi tells a lame joke at the tennis court, a crow can be heard cawing. This originates from manzai acts.

Manzai is a traditional form of stand-up comedy in Japan. It's a two-man show, in which one performer acts as the boke (joker), while the other plays the straight man, or tsukkomi. The shows are typically delivered in the Kansai dialect, and involve rapid-fire exchanges of jokes between the two players. The majority of gags tend to involve puns, mutual misunderstandings, double-talk, and verbal quips.

The word “aho” is an onomatopoeia for a crow's call in Japanese. In the Kansai dialect, the term has a secondary meaning as “fool,” creating a delightful pun — an “idiot crow”.

My Sweeper City

My City is a famous Japanese department store in Shinjuku, Tōkyō. In 2006, the store was renamed Lumine Est.

Hōjō Tsukasa's City Hunter, which began publication in Weekly Shōnen Jump in 1985, has close ties to Shinjuku. In the series, people can hire the services of sweeper Saeba Ryō (and his assistant Makimura Kaori) by writing the letters “XYZ” onto My City’s bulletin board at Shinjuku Station.

In the underworld, Saeba is an infamous gun for hire, known as the City Hunter. His skill with .357 Magnum pistols is a stuff of legend, as he's able to hit the same spot on a target multiple times in succession. Saeba uses his skills to handle jobs that are often beyond the reach of the law.

The XYZ signal can also be served as a cocktail at a shady restaurant in Shinjuku's Kabukichō. Kabukichō is a red-light district, known for its theaters and abilities to satisfy… “other” appetites.

At the bar, a bottle of Suntory Whisky is on the table.

Porsche is a German high-performance car brand, and Saab is a premium car manufacturer in Sweden. In 1982, Saab 900 was the most common model. Boathouse is a sports clothing brand.

Elevator Music

When the Kubo and his friends exit Pub Tropical, various establishments are listed in the elevator floor table:

  • Floor 1: Sushi Tsubohachi
  • Floor 2: Rendezvous
  • Floor 3: Pachinko
  • Floor 4: Ganko Sushi
  • Floor 5: Pub Tropical

Tsubohachi is a chain of izakaya drinking establishments, which serve alcoholic drinks, grilled food, and fresh fish. The term “izakaya” is a compound phrase, which combines “i” (to stay) and “sakaya” (sake shop). Typically, izakaya are casual locations where people can have a few drinks after work. Izakaya are also called “akachōchin” (“red lantern”), because of the red lanterns that are typically hung out front of the establishment.

Rendezvous, which debuted in 1977 following the wave of Space Battleship Yamato's success, was the companion magazine to OUT. The publication had an emphasis on anime science fiction and special effects.

Pachinko parlors have pachislot machines, which are a combination of pinball and slot machines played with steel balls.

Pachinko parlors are gambling establishments that feature pachinko, slot, and pachislot machines. Pachinko is a mechanical game of chance resembling a vertical pinball machine and played with steel balls. Pachislot machines combine elements from both slot machines and pachinko to create an experience that’s similar, yet different from the two.

Modern pachislot machines combine kinetic gameplay with flashing lights, sound effects, and video clips to maximize the addictiveness of playing pachinko. They’re generally programmed in a specific way to encourage players to spend more money. Pachinko parlors have been found to have ties to mafia organizations such as the yakuza, and the concept of redeeming silver balls for prizes was developed to skirt around Japan's anti-gambling laws.

Ganko is a restaurant located in My City, which serves traditional Japanese three-course meals.

“Gundam Parody” refers to any kind of parody of Mobile Suit Gundam (Kidō Senshi Gundam), whether it be cosplay, dōjinshi, and so on.

Miyoshi's haircut and shirt match those worn by Science Officer Sanada from Space Battleship Yamato.

The 1974 sci-fi anime Space Battleship Yamato (Uchū Senkan Yamato) was created by Nishizaki Yoshinobu. Ishiguro Noboru directed the series, which featured character designs by Matsumoto Leiji. Nadia and Gunbuster director Anno Hideaki credits Yamato as one of the influences that sparked his interest in Japanese animation.

Outside of Japan, the series is also known under the titles of Star Blazers, and Space Cruiser Yamato. Star Blazers was the title given to the edited and dubbed version of Space Battleship Yamato when it aired on American and Australian television. Space Cruiser Yamato was a short-lived effort by Nishizaki to sell the first movie to Western markets.

One of the banners seen through the window of the elevator where Kubo has his first run-in with otaku is for the “Kitaguni Saburō Show,” a parody of Kitajima Saburō, a popular singer. Another sign seen outside is for Cinema Piccadilly, a movie theater in Shinjuku.

Hino's line (also quoted by the subject of the second “Portrait of an Otaku”), “One does not care to acknowledge the mistakes of one's youth,” is a famous quotation by charismatic Gundam archvillain Char Aznable.

Magical Princess Minky Momo (Mahō no Princess Minky Momo) is a pair of long-running anime series aimed at children, especially little girls. In both versions, Minky Momo is a princess from a magical kingdom who is sent to Earth to help people regain their hopes and dreams. To accomplish this, Momo turns into an older version of herself in an occupation suited to the situation at hand. The two versions (released in 1982 and 1991), while not technically connected, are similar for the most part with only a few thematic differences. The series also happened to be very popular with a group of Japanese university students.

Komika is Nagoya's spot-sale dōjinshi market, the Kansai equivalent of Comiket. Spot sales are just that, sales made on the spot.

The Date

When Kubo and Ueno Yoshiko first meet in this video they meet at Ueno Park Zoo, a well-known tourist attraction in Tōkyō. Whether the similarity in names with the park and Yoshiko’s family name is intentional is unclear. Soon after, the scenery shown briefly is the Japanese gallery building of Tōkyō National Museum located inside Ueno Park.

May Festival

May Festival (gogatsusai) is a common event at Japanese universities, wherein various student organizations operate booths and displays. A club’s booth is often (but not always) intended to show off the group’s area of interest. The university shown here is Waseda, one of Japan's most prestigious campuses; it would be roughly equivalent to an Ivy-League school in the US.

Idols at May Festival

The sign at the school's entrance is for the Idol Club, devoted to various pop stars, and says that Matsumoto Iyo, an idol-star who was famous at the time, is coming. Just before Kubo’s stall is shown, the camera pans up, stopping at one of the Idol Club’s banners. It reads:

Ishikawa Hitomi Is Coming!
Hall 105, 3F

Pop idol Ishikawa Hitomi started her career in 1976 when she won an audition at Fuji TV and finally made a breakthrough hit in 1981 with her cover of Machibuse.

Other signs include: “Ultra Don vs. Giant Baba,” the latter being a famous wrestler; and “Fortune Teller”.

Get Your Snacks Here!

Kubo is trying to sell 250 yen yakisoba for his tennis team, the Wood Peckers. The drawn woodpecker mascot in the sign proclaims that they are delicious.

Yakisoba is a Japanese noodle dish. In the traditional preparation, Rāmen-style noodles are fried with bite-sized pieces of pork and vegetables. The ingredients are flavored with a spicy-sweet sauce, salt and pepper. Though the name implies that yakisoba uses soba noodles, which are made of buckwheat, typical yakisoba dishes use noodles made from wheat flour.

While the exact origins of the dish are unknown, yakisoba first appeared in Japanese food stalls in the early 20th century.

The more popular stalls are: Ski Circle Mont Blanc, which sells chilled drinks; others sell used books and okonomiyaki, respectively.

Tanaka's dōjinshi stall is named after White Base, a spaceship in the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime series. White Base is a Pegasus-class mobile suit carrier that was deployed by the Earth Federation. In the early stages of the One Year War, White base's name was unknown to the Zeon forces, who referred to her by the code name “Trojan Horse.”

The stall to the left of White Base is named Loop Rāmen, which is placed nearby to a stall that sells takoyaki.

  • Rāmen is a Japanese noodle soup dish that uses Chinese-style wheat noodles. The noodles are served in a meat (or fish) broth, which is typically flavored with miso or soy sauce. The soup is usually topped with meat like sliced pork, dried seaweed, kamaboko (processed fish meat), and green onions. Rāmen varieties vary widely by region, from Kyūshū’s tonkotsu rāmen to Sapporo’s miso-seafood rāmen.
  • Takoyaki is a ball-shaped snack, which is made of a wheat flour-based batter, and filled with minced octopus. The dish is most commonly associated with Japan’s Kansai region.
  • Okonomiyaki is a grilled savory pancake that incorporates a variety of ingredients. The name combined the Japanese terms okonomi, which means “whatever you want”, and yaki, which translates to “grilled.” The dish first originated in Japan’s Kansai region, though it has since spread across the nation. Toppings and batters typically vary by region.

The Show Must Go On

The wood clapping sound effect that plays when Satō appears is produced by a hyōshigi. The hyōshigi is a traditional Japanese instrument that is made of two wood or bamboo blocks connected by an ornamental rope. The two blocks are struck together (or against the floor) to produce the instrument's distinctive sound. The instrument made a home for itself in traditional kabuki and bunraku theater, where it's used to announce the start of a performance.

The dōjinshi that Tanaka is selling at the May Festival event is titled Matilda Ajan. Matilda was a short-lived supporting character in Mobile Suit Gundam who was tasked with supporting the White Base with supplies and repair services. She was regarded as a guardian angel for the vessel, and quickly became a figure of affection for Amuro Ray. Matilda was killed in action, when Zeon pilot trio the Black Tri-Stars destroyed her transporter in the midst of a conflict.

Satō's dōjinshi, Artesia, is named for another Gundam character: Artesia Som Deikun. Artesia, who was also known as Sayla Mass, served as a crew member on White Base. She is the younger sister of Casval Rem Deikun, who is better known as “The Red Comet” Char Aznable.

In this scene, Tanaka is dressed up as Char Aznable. Satō is cosplaying as Lum from Urusei Yatsura.

Invincible Super Man Zambot 3 is one of a number of series which Tomino Yoshiyuki created before Gundam, and shares some style elements in common with the latter.

Zambot 3 is a 1977 mecha series, which was created by the team of Gundam creator Tomino Yoshiyuki and Suzuki Yoshitake. The series features character designs by Yasuhiko Yoshikazu, who would later reprise his role in Mobile Suit Gundam. Tomino directed the show at Sunrise.

Zambot 3 features several stylistic elements from Mobile Suit Gundam, and is regarded as as the most important forerunner to the “Real Robot” subgenre. It's also the show that gave Tomino Yoshiyuki the nickname “Kill 'em all Tomino.”

Iiyama's line, “Ah, what a delightful youth,” is apparently taken from Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro). When Lupin & Co. go riding off into the sunset, the gardener says it in reference to the departing figures, most notably Lupin himself.

References in this sequence include:

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People cosplaying at school
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Katō Saburō, Space Adventure Cobra, Ken the Eagle, Doraemon, GeGeGe no Kitarō, Takada Gan, Future Boy Conan, Lum Invader, Char Aznable, Gihren Zabi, Richter, Hiroshi and Sazae Fuguta also appear.

The final line of this scene, “During the next 30 minutes your soul will leave your body and will enter this mysterious dimension,” is the opening narration to Ultra Q, the first of Tsuburaya Productions’ many installments of the Ultra Series. Like this line suggests, the 28-episode 1965-66 black-and-white series was essentially a Japanese Twilight Zone, with the addition of the giant monsters for which Tsuburaya is justly famous. Its popularity would lead to some 25 years of similar series when Tsuburaya Eiji decided to try adding a giant alien superhero to fight these giant monsters. The result was Ultraman, who would be followed, in relatively short order, by Captain Ultra (1967) and Ultra Seven (1967-68), the last Ultra Series Tsuburaya would work on himself before he died in 1970.

Big Box of Surprises

A large neon sign is visible near the top of the frame in the scene where Kubo calls Ueno from a telephone booth. The sign, which is used to indicate a taxi stand, is erected atop a building with several cars parked in front.

The camera pans over a large commercial building before it finally stops on Kubo in the phone booth. The structure Big Box is a nine-story commercial center that's often seen as a symbol of the region. The location hosts numerous facilities, including a swimming pool, a fitness center, and several shops and restaurants.

Construction of Big Box wrapped up in 1974. Initially, the building's facade was red. In 2007, though, Big Box was renovated, and it adopted a blue color scheme.

The location is a popular meeting place for Waseda university students due to its relative proximity to the campus in Shinjuku's Takadanobaba neighborhood.

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Ueno telling Kubo that he's in “the Freshman Slump” is actually a localization. In the original line, Ueno uses the term “gogatsubyō“ (“May Sickness”). The term is used to describe freshmen, who seem to burn out within the first few months of the Japanese school year, which starts in April.

Geeking Out

Two army jeeps are parked outside Tanaka’s apartment. During the production of the first animated adaption of Shirow Masamune’s Appleseed, Gainax released an extensive digital art and information compilation of Willys Jeeps.

Tanaka is sitting under a kotatsu. Kotatsu are electrically or burner-heated low tables covered by a blanket, and are a relatively inexpensive way of keeping warm during the winter season. Traditional Japanese houses rarely have central heating or any insulation to speak of. To mention a few things on Tanaka’s kotatsu table, there is a 1978 Sony Jackal FX-300 mini component system which comes with radio, cassette recorder and even a black-and-white 3 inch CRT screen for watching television. It had a strap for carrying it around and could operate on battery power. The system retailed for ¥61,800 (~$315 at the historical rate).

Continuing on, there is also a cup of instant rāmen and a magazine featuring Ultraman and Alien Baltan. Next to the kotatsu, items include a magazine titled “Angle”, a tissue box and a boys’ manga book named “Sunday”. Monthly Angle was an local information publication with Tōkyō area maps, area services, train timetables and routes, movie reviews, and interviews. The manga book is a reference to Weekly Shōnen Sunday, a weekly manga magazine published by Shōgakukan since 1959. The character on the cover is Asakura Minami from the 1981 manga Touch by Adachi Mitsuru.

The manga titles on Tanaka's shelves are: Rose of Versailles (Versailles no Bara), a popular historical fiction series set during the reign of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette; Ashita no Joe (Tomorrow's Joe), a very popular sports manga series about a professional boxer; Moto Hagio no Zenshū (The Collected Works of Moto Hagio); Black Jack, one of the many works of the legendary “God of Manga”, Tezuka Osamu; and Ōshima Yumiko Zenshū (The Collected Works of Ōshima Yumiko).

Video tapes include Great Mazinger vs. Getter Robo, Kamen Rider, Miyuki, Lupin III, and Mirai Shōnen Conan (Future Boy Conan). Also note the Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro poster on his wall, and the Takatoku Toys Macross Valkyrie in front of it. Takatoku, a well-known Japanese toy maker, produced the original Macross toys before Bandai took over.

Kubo and Tanaka discuss how the school Culture Festival (bunkasai) is similar to the May Festival at universities across Japan. Both events involve school activity groups coming together to show off their specialties. But, really, they're just big big parties.

The lines, “Target scope open! Raise video targeting sight twenty degrees! Disengage safety lock!” are the commands which Kodai Susumu gives for firing the Wave-Motion Gun (hadō hō) in Space Battleship Yamato.

References seen in the “homeland”:

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Figures at apartment
Plastic model kits at apartment
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Thunderbird 2, Space Pirateship Queen Emeraldas and Lensman also appear. Costumes include a full sailor fuku (pictured above) and Cyborg 009's suit.

Posters include: Adieu Galaxy Express 999, Space Battleship Yamato the Movie, Lupin III: The Mystery of Mamo, Mobile Suit Gundam II: Soldiers of Sorrow, Japan Sinks, and Arcadia of My Youth.

Iiyama’s collection of military memorabilia and model guns include: A German Wehrmacht uniform and helmet, UZI submachine gun, Walther GSP pistol, Remington M31 riot shotgun, and related hobbyist publications.

Honda's interest in “pretty boys” is a reference to an entire subgenre of manga and anime (if not all of Japanese art) called “bishōnen.” Bishōnen are unbelievably beautiful boys and young men, who tend to be almost feminine in appearance.

Sign of the times: Tanaka is using a Sony Betamax video recorder (with a wired remote) to show anime videos to Kubo. Specifically, he’s showing off the action scenes from both the opening animation to DAICON IV and anime classic Super Dimension Fortress Macross. DAICON IV was the 22nd annual Japan Science-Fiction Convention (Nihon SF Taikai), which was held in Osaka in 1983. DAICON Film staff (before they incorporated as Gainax) animated the opening animation to the event.

During the Macross footage, Tanaka praises the key animator, who is able to draw outstanding mecha sequences. The animator Tanaka is referring to is Anno Hideaki, who later became a key member of Gainax. Anno also designed the Giant God Warriors for Miyazaki Hayao's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

In this scene, Hino hands Kubo a mug. This is one of the first products made and sold by General Products, and is now considered a collector’s item.

The “NHK Shōnen Drama Series” to which Hino refers was a science-fiction anthology series that aired in the 1970's. The series ran on NHK (Nihon Hōsōkyōkai, or Japan Broadcasting Company), Japan’s national public broadcasting system.

The string of gestures — “Eagle! Shark! Panther!”, which Miyoshi makes for Kubo is a parody of Taiyō Sentai Sun Vulcan. Taiyō Sentai Sun Vulcan is the fifth entry into Tōei's Super Sentai franchise, which made its debut in 1975 with Himitsu Sentai Gorenger (Secret Team Gorenger). As of this writing, the franchise spans 40 TV series, 72 theatrical films, and 22 specials. In North America, the franchise is localized and adapted for Western audiences as the Power Rangers.

The Super Sentai franchise is a long-running series of tokusatsu (special effects) shows, which are known for their over-the-top antics. Particularly, heroes and villains alike tend to perform overly complicated gestures and stunts for transformation sequences, stunts, and the like in an attempt to build excitement among the audience.

Just once, though, we'd love to see the bad guy wait for the hero to kick into the big transformation sequence, pull out a gun, and shoot him. Sadly, it seems like most tokusatsu villains never bothered to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark

As for the answers to Hino’s “basic-level” questions? Triffids were first cultivated in the USSR; the Enterprise had 428-strong crew when Kirk took command (203 under Pike in the pilot); the premiere issue of SF Magazine featured art by Nakajima Seikan; Captain Future’s mother was Elaine Newton; and Super Giant hails from the Emerald Planet.

The sketch Satō is making is of Garma Zabi, the youngest member of the Zabi family (and the first to die) in the first Mobile Suit Gundam. Her being able to imitate character designer Yasuhiko Yoshikazu's style so closely seems ample proof of Tanaka's earlier claim about her being a “genius illustrator.” The cel Kubo is painting is of none other than Lynn Minmei, the singing sweetheart of Macross.

The characters “Cobra” and “Dominique” to whom Satō refers are from the manga/anime series Space Adventure Cobra. Cobra, the title character, was a notorious pirate who had his features redone and his memory altered so he could escape his enemies and lie low for awhile. It wasn't long before they caught up with him, though. Only the Psychogun, the mysterious energy weapon that makes up the lower half of his arm, and which can shoot energy beams in curves and at angles, saved him from certain death. Dominique Royal was one of the three Royal sisters who, in the movie version of the anime and the first arc of the manga series, had tattoos on their backs that, when put together and read properly, revealed the location of the Ultimate Weapon. When her two sisters died loving Cobra, Dominique carried on where they left off, to keep safe her sisters' memory.


In order by scene, these are some of the references in the Comic Market scenes:

  1. Rose of Versailles, Lupin III, Lalah Sune, Char Aznable (Gundam)
  2. Ultra Squad (from Ultra Seven), Kycillia Zabi (Gundam), Kamen Rider 1, Shocker Combatman (Kamen Rider)
  3. Darth Vader, Stormtrooper (Star Wars)
  4. Olga (Phoenix by Tezuka Osamu) Ken the Eagle (Gatchaman)
  5. Apollo Geist (Kamen Rider X), Captain Harlock, Lum Invader (Urusei Yatsura)
  6. Eleking (Ultra Seven)
  7. Space Sheriff Gavan, Shampoo (Ranma ½).

The Date, Part II

Combat Mecha Xabungle is one of the many giant-robot series which Tomino Yoshiyuki would create after his success with the original Gundam. It essentially pokes fun at the whole concept of giant robots as war machines, while still managing to create the complex character interactions which are another of Tomino's hallmarks.

Note also the various table cabinet arcade games such as Taito's Space Invaders in the foreground of each of the coffee-shop scenes between Kubo and Ueno Yoshiko.

Animage is one of the four or five major Japanese anime magazines. Published by Tokuma Shoten, it is perhaps best known for carrying Miyazaki Hayao's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind manga serial, which ran on and off between 1982 and 1994.

At the Movies

The Lockheed-Marubeni scandal is yet another in a string of influence-peddling/bribery scandals that continue to plague Japan’s ruling Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP). This particular case involved American aerospace company Lockheed paying bribes to then-Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei by way of Marubeni Trading Company, in order to avoid the appearance of any direct connection. Tanaka Kakuei's sentence was suspended (surprise, surprise). He continued to be re-elected to the National Diet in spite of poor health, because of all the pork-barreling he did for his home constituency of Niigata Prefecture. Kakuei announced his retirement from politics in 1989, and died of pneumonia in 1993.

A potential plot hole happens here: After the otaku gather outside for Nausicaä's premiere, Miss Honda simply disappears from the plot, only to appear briefly again in the 1985 ending scene where her name is not said out loud, unlike everyone else. Satō ends up taking her role for much of the series.

Every shopping bag at the line has Lum from Urusei Yatsura on them. The drunk man’s call girl companion resembles Grandis Granva from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. The drunk man himself looks vaguely like Sanson, one of Grandis’ henchmen. The main difference between him and Sanson is his black hair color.

Ichijō Hikaru, Hayase Misa, and Lynn Minmei were the central characters, and the central relationship, in Super Dimension Fortress Macross.

In Kubo's post-otaku apartment, the following videotapes can be found: Mirai Shōnen Conan (Future Boy Conan), Ashita no Joe and Ashita no Joe 2, Battle Fever J (the third entry in Tōei’s live action Super Sentai tokusatsu series, of which Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger would later become known to American fans as the first source material for the Power Rangers franchise), Getter Robo, Vessel of Sand (Suna no Utsuwa — not an anime feature), Bodon, and Blue Xmas. Movie posters include Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? and Gauche the Cellist (Sero Hiki no Gōshu).

The final scene with Kubo and Tanaka, wherein Kubo decides to go for broke and become the Otaking, takes place in Kabukichō, at the front of Milanoza cinema complex. Around the same time, Macross: Do You Remember Love? was making its debut in theaters. The film, which was distributed by Tōhō, premiered on July 7, 1984 in Ōsaka and Nagoya. It opened elsewhere in Japan on July 21st.

Shinjuku Koma Theater was also close to the Milanoza cinema, though both locations ceased operations before 2015.

July 7th is also the usual date for the Tanabata festival, a custom originating from China. On this day, people celebrate the memory of Orihime and Hikoboshi; a pair of celestial lovers. In the legend, Orihime and Hikoboshi are separated by the Milky Way, their paths only destined to meet on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar. The occasion is celebrated by dancing, playing traditional music, decorating, and hanging paper strips with wishes written on them to bamboo poles. These wishes are then floated down a river or burned by the end of the festival.

Portrait of an Otaku 1982

In the first “Portrait of an Otaku” segment, it is notable that Tamatani Jun'ichi is a college dropout, mirroring the fate of numerous DAICON Film members who dropped out of college, including Gainax co-founders Takeda Yasuhiro and Okada Toshio.

When Ikuta Yūdai, subject of the second “Portrait of an Otaku,” says, in the subtitles, “…these days, I have a life,” he uses the Japanese word “katagi,” which is sort-of slang for a yakuza (member of one of Japan's organized-crime syndicates) who's “gotten out of the business.” Later, when he mentions the name “Diatone,” he is referring to Mitsubishi Electric's Audio Division.

In the third “Portrait of an Otaku” segment, Harold Shioda makes a reference to Rokushin Gattai Godmars (Six God Combination Godmars), which he simply calls “Godmars.”

It was originally a manga by Yokoyama Mitsuteru, who is known for Tetsujin 28-gō (released edited in the US as Gigantor), Giant Robo (the live-action original, not the animated remake), and Yokoyama Mitsuteru Sangokushi (Romance of Three Kingdoms), about the period of ancient Chinese history when it was divided into three kingdoms. Contemporary with the original Gundam, the animation turned out very different from the original manga, using the aforementioned bishōnen character types. It was very popular (especially with women), ran 64 episodes with an hour-long OVA, and is currently available in Japan on Blu-ray and streaming services outside Japan.

Posters in Harold's room include: Cutie Honey, Dirty Pair, Urusei Yatsura/Maison Ikkoku Summer Carnival '88 (a promotional crossover), Stray Dog: Kerberos Panzer Cops (Kerberos: Jigoku no Banken, a live-action film by Oshii Mamoru), and Dominion. Videotapes include Gerry Anderson's UFO, Sukeban Deka (Delinquent Girl Detective, which revolves around a gang of high school girls in long dresses who are recruited to fight crimes in school, where regular police cannot), and Space Sheriff Sharivan (Uchū Keiji Sharivan). Also, Harold is wearing a Silent Möbius T-shirt, with two unpainted plastic models beside him and a dress-up doll behind him in the shelf.


Divine Party

Murahama is trying to remember Inoue Kikuko’s “Hi-mi-tsu” catchphrase, but instead remembers “O-mo-te-na-shi”, which was a catchphrase used by French-Japanese Takigawa Christel when she held the Japan 2020 Olympics bid speech in September 8, 2013. Except for that word, the entire speech was delivered in French. The word omotenashi refers to the Japanese concept of hospitality.

When Inoue Kikuko mentions divinity-themed anime becoming popular, she is to referring to shows as such as the 1982 anime Warrior of Love Rainbowman, which has Buddhist and ancient Chinese philosophy motifs for its story.

The Gainax party Gilles Poitras attended was, to be more specific, one of the Gainax Cosplay Bōnenkai parties held at the end of the year. According to the website Hamadayama Life2), the celebrations weren’t regular drinking parties — they were focused on cosplay. Gainax continued to hold parties in Kichijōji each year until 2010, when the final party was held Shinjuku. During the final party, people wore the costumes of the Demon Sisters from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, the titular Gurren Lagann robot, Dororo (Sgt. Frog), Hatsune Miku and Kaito; to mention a few.

Extreme Otaku

Taku Hachirō is the stage name of a self-proclaimed otaku critic and television personality. He used the then-controversial image of otaku as way for drawing attention to himself, the creepy kind of otaku (kimo-ota). Taku’s antics included going to talent shows and licking figurines of his favorite stars, or performing unusual acts with telescopic grabber toys that would likely weird out people.

Rise and Fall

The Japanese bubble economy was a period of skyrocketing growth and excess spending in the mid 1980s that lasted roughly for five years. Strong yen, a lack of bank lending regulation, and the resulting land overvaluation were among the causes of the bursting of the Bubble, leading up to the Lost Decade of stagnant economic growth. The bubble's origins trace back to 1950s, where familial business conglomerates known as keiretsu had a firm grasp over the Japanese market and a close relationship with the government.

Spaceship Mercenaries

Directed by Takahashi Ryōsuke, Armored Trooper VOTOMS is a 1983 science fiction anime featuring intergalactic conspiracies and realistic robot battles. Three decades later, it inspired the creation of Kuratas, a real pilotable robot.

Bakumatsu Time Travelers (Bakumatsu Miraijin) is a 1977 science fiction TV series where two students are sent back in time to Bakumatsu: the eclipse of the Edo period in Japan. It was based on the novel A Memorable Summer (Omoi Agari no Natsu) by Mayumura Taku.

The TV series Murahama remembers is Space Sheriff Sharivan, second in the Space Sheriff trilogy of Tōei's Metal Hero Series of tokusatsu shows. By shouting “Sekisha!” (“Switch!”) while making dramatic poses, Iga Den could transform into the titular cybernetic police Sharivan.

Made by DAICON Film, Yamata no Orochi no Gyakushū (Eight-Headed Giant Serpent's Counterattack) is a parody fan film of Japanese movie monsters (kaijū). It was directed by Akai Takami, who would go on to form Gainax with other DAICON staff members.

Portrait of an Industry

Much like Otaku no Video, Aoi Honō (Blue Blazes) features a dramatized retelling of Gainax's origins. It is a manga by Shimamoto Kazuhiko about the time he attended university together with Akai Takami, Anno Hideaki and Yamaga Hiroyuki. The manga was adapted as a TV drama in 2014.

Manga Michi (The Way of Manga) is an autobiographical manga from the mangaka duo Fujimoto Hiroshi and Abiko Motoo, working under the name of Fujiko Fujio, the creators of Doraemon.

Henshū-Ō (The King of Editors) is a manga by Tsuchida Seiki about Momoi Kanpachi, a fan of the Ashita no Joe manga who is inspired to start his own boxing career, but is forced to back down because of a serious eye injury. He instead enters the grueling world of publishing as a manga editor.

Shima Kōsaku is a long-running manga series by Hirokane Kenshi about a Japanese white-collar worker — a salaryman climbing up the corporate ladder of a multinational electronics company. The first part of the series, Kachō Shima Kōsaku (Section-chief Shima Kōsaku) is set in the early-mid 1980's where Shima lives through the bubble economy dream.

Will He Notice Me?

In Japanese, senpai refers to a person who is of senior status than the speaker, not necessarily in age.

Conversely, kōhai is someone of junior status, who is expected to respect the senpai. In return for kōhai's respectful behavior, senpai will give mentoring to the kōhai.

The respect goes both ways. If kōhai causes an embarrassment, the senpai feels equally responsible for failing to mentor the kōhai.

The senpai-kōhai relationship is an integral element of hierarchy in Japanese society.

Due to differences with English and Japanese phonology, senpai is occasionally transliterated as “sempai.”

This is because of the Japanese language syllabic (moraic) N, which has no direct English equivalent. It sounds like a cross between “M” and “N” in English, but can change according to what sounds surround it.

There are regional differences that can alter the pronunciation as well, potentially making things even more confusing for English speakers.

The spelling can also vary according to the system used to write the Japanese word in Latin letters.

When N is followed by a syllable beginning with B, M, or P, the pronunciation is closer to English M, which is the case with senpai.

In romantic comedy manga for girls, the senpai is usually the protagonist's main affection.


The trailer contains several differences from the finished work, such as incomplete backgrounds and variations on designs. The title card announcing 1982 Otaku no Video's availability reads “The acclaimed video is now available!”, whereas 1985 boasts “The truly acclaimed video is now available!” and an over the top statement of how awesome the episode is.