Higher Idol Fandom by Learning ‘Otaku’ Idioms in English

Lately, phrases comparable to toutomi ga sugoi (“An excessive amount of preciousness”) or numa ni hamatta (“I fell right into a swamp”) have develop into popular inside Japanese fandom communities. But how do you say those in English? 

As fandom propelled by Japanese otaku culture stays as energetic and vibrant as ever, several books studying fandom culture have been published in 2022. Books on fandom English  help fans expand their circle of fandom friends worldwide, while books on fandom and the law help prevent the fan psyches from becoming reckless and nurture behaviors which are well-loved by their favorite idols. 

These books allow readers to learn while having fun with their fandom, killing two birds with one stone. Even individuals who lose interest in things in a matter of days will find a way to maintain at it!

Even the Police Bought This Book About The right way to Be Loved by Your Favorites

Johnny’s male idols, Sakamichi female idols, musicians, theater actors, athletes, anime characters, even the Imperial Family… So many various people and characters will be the goal of idolization. But then again, fandom-related issues have increased.

In September 2021, a 60-year-old woman was arrested for intimidation after she sent a knife to the leader of Junretsu, a male pop group especially popular with middle-aged and senior women. The girl was a member of the group’s fan club. She was enraged at jokes the leader made on stage about her favorite member, which caused her fan psyche to develop into distorted and go wild.

“For higher or worse, we feel closer to the targets of our idolization than ever before. So we feel more empathy toward them, and this results in fandom troubles. We will now connect with them directly on social media. But on the flip side, this has brought on flaming and abuse,” says lawyer Mayumi Matsushita, who’s 33.

She authored the book Kiyoku Tanoshiku Utsukushii Oshikatsu (“Clean, Fun, Beautiful Fandom” in Japanese) alongside a senior lawyer, published in February by Tokyo Horei Publishing. The young lawyer can be a fervent fan of a female idol group and a concert-goer, and says, “Having a favourite gives us a stunning likelihood to release stress.”

Matsushita says she wrote the book because ”Being in a fandom is presupposed to be fun. But some people occur to do things without ailing intentions that cause issues or find yourself getting them in trouble. Greater than anything,” she adds, “they’ll hurt their beloved favorite. I need fans to learn in regards to the law and ethics in order that their favorite can love them.” 

Sekai Ga Hirogaru Oshikatsu Eigo (“Fandom English Expands Your World”, published by Gakken Plus, helps expand communication with foreign fans.

Providing Perspective from Idol Clients

Leveraging her experience with idol clients, Matsushita explains how those that are idolized feel about fans’ actions.

The examples described within the book are very similar to those who occur inside relationships or in on a regular basis life: stalking, defamation, intimidation, obstruction of business, copyright and publicity right infringement, unauthorized reselling, and so forth. Perhaps due to that, the publisher says, “We now have received large-sized orders from educational facilities, comparable to university cooperatives, libraries, and the police.” 

Toutomi ga sugoi means “so rattling precious” in English. Adding the curse word “rattling” in front of “precious” emphasizes it. Automated translations cannot replicate these nuances.

The book Sekai Ga Hirogaru Oshikatsu Eigo (“Fandom English Expands Your World”, published by Gakken Plus, March 2022) introduces 330 words and 477 useful phrases. It also features a guide on the best way to write longer texts, comparable to fan letters. 

The book’s editor, Miku Sawada, says, “We received many messages that made us completely satisfied, by which Japanese fans tell us that after they mustered their courage and emailed foreign fans of their favorite idol, they received a solution.”

This project originated from her own feelings of frustration every time she tried to let foreigners find out about what she loved about her favorite idol. “I used to be frustrated because all I could consider were trite phrases like ‘I really like…’. I desired to compile otaku words in a book in order that I could express my passionate feelings to the person I used to be addressing, and understand their very own passion. And in consequence, we’d feel closer.”


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Creating the First Book of Fandom English

Sawada commissioned a gaggle of female otaku, Gekidan Mesuneko, to take charge of supervising the project. 

They created a poll asking fans what phrases they would really like translated into English and extracted peculiar related terms from English fandom on social media. It took two years of labor, but they found the common meanings behind the Japanese and English phrases. 

During that point, an English dictionary editor and Americans aware of otaku slang joined the team, and the primary book about fandom English was born. The team also made it possible to download audio versions of the words and phrases.  

Sekai Ga Hirogaru Oshikatsu Eigo (“Fandom English Expands Your World”) went into reprinting inside its first week of publishing in March. Available in paperback and digital formats, it had sold 23,000 copies in its first month and gone into further reprints.

As of June 10, the book continues to be ranked as a best seller, and is #1 in sales within the category of English Conversation for Travel of online retailer Amazon, for instance. 

Sawada says, “Even in the course of the pandemic, otaku know no boundaries. I hope people will get connected because of our book.” Her words appear to echo the famous quote from the NHK asadora that ended a short time ago: “Studying English will take you to places you’ll be able to’t even imagine.” 


Writer: Akiko Shigematsu

(Click here to read the article in Japanese.)

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