What defines America's Greatest Otaku?


What makes a great otaku, actions or possessions? 

Tokyopop's search for America's Greatest Otaku is coming to a close. The manga publisher had announced in May that the search would continue until August. Now, about 30 finalists will be featured on the "America's Greatest Otaku" reality TV show.

However, how will they choose who the lucky winner will be? Judging by the finalists' video submissions, it's clear that being America's Greatest Otaku means different things to different people. To one otaku it might mean participation in clubs, to another it could mean learning Japanese, and to a third it might be all about having the largest collection of all things moe. 

To investigate further, I spoke to Chris Wanamaker and Ryan Tumaliuan, two finalists that each represent a very different side of Otakudom.

Chris's Video


Ryan's Video

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 In Chris's video, the AGO hopeful discusses his rise to the presidency of DC Anime Club, "the largest anime club on the East Coast," and his many volunteer positions at East Coast conventions, including Katsucon, Otakon, and Anime USA.

"I feel that [America's Greatest Otaku] should be what you do for the anime community," said Chris.

On the other hand, Ryan uses his video to show off his "floor to ceiling" figure collection. The toy designer and manga artist's home is packed with his collection. Between collected toys and toys he designed himself, Ryan has a collection that would make any otaku jealous.

"For me, collecting is a huge part of being America's Greatest Otaku. I don't know anybody with a collection as huge as mine," said Ryan.

Ryan actually has two collections, one at his apartment in Southern California, and one at his parent's house in Northern California, which he was unable to bring with him when he moved out.

 "A huge collection shows dedication," he said.

Both Ryan and Chris participated in filming for Tokyopop's "America's Greatest Otaku" reality show.

Chris, whose part filming took place on July 31 at Otakon, said the show will consist of interviews with the around 30 AGO hopefuls.

"I got to hang out in the tour bus for a bit," he said. "It looked just like a motor home."

Chris said they interviewed him with questions about his positions as club president and convention volunteer.

Ryan's turn filming took place during Anime Expo, but he said the Tokyopop people were far more interested in his collection.

"They even drove me back from the con to my apartment to film my collection," he said.

Ryan noted that it wasn't about how much Tokyopop merchandise he owned.

"They noticed my Tokyopop stuff but they didnt say, "Oh you have a lot of our stuff; you're a finalist.' To them, sheer amount mattered," he said.

What's amazing about Tokyopop's contest is that, for the first time, we'll see what the manga distribution giant itself thinks defines a top otaku. Voting will take place once the contest airs. The reality show, which will be hosted on Hulu, is scheduled to begin near the end of this year. 

Readers, who do you think should win? What does being America's Greatest Otaku mean to you?

(Photo header taken with permission from part of Ryan's figure collection on Facebook.)

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Lauren Rae Orsini
Lauren Rae OrsiniAlumni   gamer profile



Filed under... #contests #otaku culture #otaku debate #Tokyopop



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