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梅本佑利 2023/05/16

Me and Otaku

(Yuri Umemoto in Akihabara, 2023, Photo by Dylan Richards)
Yuri Umemoto in Akihabara, 2023, Photo by Dylan Richards

Looking back…I lived in Kanda, Tokyo from the 2000s to the 2010s. It was roughly the same district as Akihabara. My father would often take me to computer, radio, and electronic component shops located in Akihabara’s electric town, and maybe he was the type of otaku who was annoyed by the adjacent moe otaku types.

I vividly remember the 2000s. “Meido”(maid) cafes with maids endlessly promoting from the balcony and extremely obscene Dempa-songs from ero-games playing non-stop at computer shops. As a young child, I felt a strong sense of shame being forced to listen to it all next to my parents.

With “meido”s tempting my father with their moe voices, there were long lines at computer shops waiting for eroge to be released. Right next to my small “sekai”(world) with my father, the “SEKAI” of moe and ero were being expanded on a global scale.

Early memories are too intense. Now, I often listen to music from creators like MOSAIC.WAV and IOSYS, but melodies that I distinctly heard (and stuck in my ears) in the electric town often resurface like archaeological ruins in my mind. I never learned to play an instrument as a child and didn’t learn how to read sheet music until I was in junior high school, but my experiences in Akihabara were like a gifted education in otaku music.

As a child and early teenager, I loathed the culture of “moe-otaku”, but in high school, I inevitably re-evaluated it as a strong part of my identity and it became an object of love.

Now, as a 21-year-old, I am tracing my own landscape of emotions as if I am being magnetically attracted to it. Why did I spend most of my spring holiday playing eroge from the 2000s?

Yuri Umemoto, 2023/05/16