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A fun overview of traveling to Japan, but where’s the focus on otaku?
What They Say
Anime and manga fans (otaku) dream of entering the magical world of Japanese animation and graphic novels. This book is a guide to visiting Japan for the otaku who wants to live that dream! Learn how to plan your trip and as well as tips and tricks for keeping your costs under control. College students can learn the possibilities of studying abroad in Japan. Move around the country with confidence and enjoy all the amazing experiences Japan has to offer. Explore temples, visit theme parks, eat up at ramen stands, live in luxury at ryokan, relax in onsen, take in Kabuki theater, learn the ways of samurai, ninja and geisha, shop at Akihabara, and so much more!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
An Otaku Abroad is a travel book; aimed at anime and manga fans, it gives a lot of great information on what you need to plan for before a trip to Japan, where you should go while there, and things to keep in mind in the unfortunate inevitability of your return home. There is a ton of great information in here.
The book is split into five parts: Preparation (it delves into every aspect that you need to consider before your trip, from something as simple as getting your passport, to things to watch out for once you land at Narita Airport); Travel, Lodging, and Food (a look at every type of transportation, hotel, and restaurant you will come across while there); Studying Abroad (looks at many ways to take classes there); Locations (overviews of many popular regions and destinations throughout the country, as well as things to look out for); and Final Notes (all that final stuff that didn’t fit in any of the previous sections).
The book is “only” a little over 200 pages long, but it is crammed full of information on all of these topics; it’s hard to imagine that there is anything I could want to know that she hasn’t at least touched upon. Almost as importantly, the book is also logically laid out. There’s no index, but it isn’t hard to jump straight to the section you want if you want to use it as an on-the-fly reference book, though at 8.5”x8.5”, it isn’t exactly a portable book. There is a Kindle version, though, so you have that option if you want to carry it with you.
Even if you don’t plan to travel to Japan anytime soon, this book is a fun read for the Locations section, as it gives a really nice primer for local culture and customs throughout the country, as well as plenty of things to see. It doesn’t go into any real depth into any area, but it’s still a fascinating overview of the entire country. And as a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World, I appreciated (and found hilarious) the fact that she included a section on Tokyo Disneyland.
To be honest, the only thing that I didn’t like about the book was its title: An Otaku Abroad. That suggests (and the introduction corroborates) that it would be an overview of things anime and manga fans should do while in Japan, but that focus really isn’t there. It’s really a broader view of Japan, one with a wider audience. For an “otaku’s” guide, I was hoping to for it to tell me things like visiting Lake Kizaki because not only is it a popular tourist destination, but it’s also the setting for both Please Teacher and Ano Natsu de Matteru (Waiting in the Summer), or if you go to Osaka, it’s worth a short trip to the north to Takarazuka to check out the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum. These are the sorts of things that would make this book an otaku’s guide rather than just a guide. To be fair, the Osaka section does have a small bit on “Anime Osaka,” and a few others do as well, but I would have liked it to be more prevelant.
But really, that’s just an issue of marketing rather than an actual issue with the book. I can’t decide if it’s poor marketing (since it automatically excludes anybody wanting to go to Japan but isn’t into manga/anime) or really clever marketing (since an otaku would likely automatically buy it “just because”); all I know is that it is misleading marketing.
An Otaku Abroad is really good look at just about everything you could ever want to know in planning a trip to Japan. Sarah Rothman really has touched on virtually everything you could want to know about what to expect over there, and so it is a great primer if you are planning a trip or just wishing you were. Don’t bother with it if you are hoping for insight on things to see as an anime fan, but do bother with it for everything else on your trip. Recommended.
Content Grade: A-
Published By: Rozfire Productions
Release Date: January 8, 2013