Anime and Manga: The Fan Culture
Anime and manga comes with their own unique fan culture that, today, is spread worldwide with the popularity of anime and manga. These fans of Japanese pop culture are commonly referred to as otaku. These people, in mainstream society, have often been associated with the losers, nerds, strange, unusual, eccentric, people with no lives, or people practically OBSESSED with manga and anime. So, they're like the comic book fans of the United States.
As many know, manga and anime are respectively comics and animated cartoons that originate from Japan, or Japanese culture, with their own unique art form, and can, possibly, reflect some aspect of Japanese culture. Some manga and anime series have an educational side to their stories. Anime and manga are a major export for Japan and, as mentioned before, taken in by numerous people all over the world. All over the world, rarely do you hear of someone who hasn't heard of Naruto, or Bleach, or etc. There are shows and comics translated into many different languages like Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and, of course, English.
While the otaku subculture can seem very simlar to the comic book nerd, it is a culture of fandom that focuses on and is associated with mostly on Japanese pop culture. Like with any other kind of fandom, there are conventions where people can dress up as their favorite characters, something called 'cosplay', meet with artists or professionals in the business of manga and anime, buy products related to popular shows, movies, and comics, and where the otaku subculture is promoted. Some products include books, posters, erasers, pillows, blankets, CDs, and small figurines of popular characters. There are also conventions in Japan that promote indie creations of manga, anime, and even video games and visual novels (video games that act more as story tellers than as an actual game, though there is some interaction). Millions of people, young and old, go to these conventions.
Conventions aren't the only the only part of the subculture that brings otaku together. With the internet, there are numerous blogs and chat-rooms, and forums, where the central topics are manga and anime. There are also a large number of websites with news and articles focusing on things that relate or are significant to otaku.
Like with the regular comic book fan, otaku are often seen in negative light. This is evident in the manga and anime, themselves, as well as other forms of entertainment like television dramas. In these forms of entertainment, an otaku is usually unattractive, out of shape in some way, and normally has with him/her products related to the fandom. They are portrayed in exaggerations as huge losers with no life. Sadly, some times, they hit right on the mark. Practically uncanny with how comic book nerds are viewed in United States media.
But that doesn't represent the majority of people all over the world who take an interest in manga and anime. Of course, such views are stereotypical and oftentimes untrue. Just because a person has interest in something considered childish or a waste of time, it doesn't necessarily mean he/she have no life, friends, or social relationships outside of fandom. There are people who enjoy a comic or a cartoon who have productive lives.