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Story and art: Jiro Suzuki
Publisher: Seven Seas; 200 pages
(ISBN: 978-1933164762)
For all ages

THERE seems to be no end to the series of stories poking fun at otaku-dom. There is Comic Party, Genshiken and now, I, Otaku, which takes an over-the-top approach to presenting the struggles of an otaku.

The main character is Enatsu Sota – a seemingly normal high school kid in all aspects; he even has a girlfriend. But Enatsu hides a secret from his friends and girlfriend: he is actually a closet otaku who is obsessed with a manga meta-series (series within a series) called Papico.

Despite him not being the stereotypical otaku socially awkward and with no chance of getting a girlfriend – Enatsu remains highly conscious of his image, and thus, carefully guards his otaku side. It all changes when he visits a mysterious shop named Otakudo and meets its boss Mano Takuro.

Mano, the self-proclaimed “Chairman of the Closet Otaku Extermination Committee”, forces Enatsu to “come out of the closet” (so to speak).

As he awakens the true otaku in him, Enatsu struggles against his devotion towards Papico, his feelings for his girlfriend Eri, and the madness of Mano, who makes him help out at his shop as well.

I, Otaku takes a dig at otaku culture; it’s light, enjoyable and very funny, yet, at the same time, it manages to subtly criticise certain aspects of the culture, such as the divide between an otaku’s attention towards 2D and 3D.

The art by Jiro Suzuki is detailed and flowery – a mix of shoujo and shounen styles that gear towards moĆ© (endearingly cute) as well. The first volume also comes with a number of extras including character concept art and a one-shot manga, Sweet Fairies.

I, Otaku is entertaining and will most definitely provoke a few laughs. It may make fun of otaku-dom but it does not demean. A worthwhile buy if you’re into this genre.