I can’t believe I’m writing a post on style and fashion. You can probably blame Azure for this.
As I realized from a quick trip to Uniqlo earlier this week, anime fans’ tastes and preferences have been gradually changing over the years. I must admit, I’ve only been watching anime for about a couple of years now, but when you look at photos of say, T-shirts, you see the change from this:
to shirts like these:
Why? What do you think when you see someone wearing the first shirt? A bit tacky, isn’t it? Sure, the design is fine, but the style ? Ugh. Completely unreserved, screaming ‘anime fan’. I doubt much people might buy the first shirt , and wear it often. Moving on to the second and third shirts. These are a far cry from the old anime-faces-plastering-shirt pre-2010 days. The Hellsing shirt is a move from mere plastering to making a graphic tee, while still advertising the anime. The last shirt is a pure graphic tee – sure, there are names, but it’s also subtle – there’s no way to see what anime it comes from, unless you rip the shirt off and look for the tag, which I doubt will help either.
Then we move on to rooms. Compare these two images:
Which is more likely to be a recent photo?
Horrid, isn’t it? Well, then, since we’ve reached this point, have you noticed any trends in the images yet? No? The less subtle it is, the worse it looks. See that first T-shirt? It’s so blatant that you’re an anime fan that it isn’t even funny. The rooms? One extreme compared to the reserved, quiet-looking room on the right. That wallpaper? A computer would be one of the most subtle places to show off your fandom and this simply doesn’t cut it. It’s gawdy, it’s ugly, and it’s nothing more than a bad way to show off your fandom.
The thing about otaku style is that subtlety is key. The more subtle you can get your anime references and style on the better you look. Why? I wonder. Is it because the less subtle you are, the more you are linked to the traditional image of otaku : fat, ugly and anti-social? It probably is. As the saying goes, ‘dress to impress’. After all, how you style yourself is a way of giving others impressions of what kind of a person you are. As much as it seems unfair to say this, it’s true that anime fandom isn’t any bit mainstream, or is it treated as a regular hobby. People look at you with stares and looks of bemusement. Especially if you collect figurines. Trust me on this one.
Subtlety goes two ways: one, the subtle style looks nice to the uninitiated. For instance, read this article by radiant. The idea of wearing t-shirts with jackets looks good, and it isn’t unexplainable either – you’re making the shirt even more subtle. In this way it becomes less of a statement than regular clothing, that simply looks pretty damn good. I realized this as well when I was in Beijing, when we had to wear their jackets for school uniforms. Being the only Sec 4 who brought otaku shirts there and came back with more ( I think.) , I realized that you could make a shirt as bizarre as this:
…look perfectly fine with a jacket, something you probably had to wear any time you went outside during that time. Only part of the shirt is revealed, notably from her waists or shoulders up. Then I realized why: the cutting of the jackets would hide her name from view. It would look like a regular ,cheap shirt adorned with an anime-like character, not a shirt that screams ‘Clannad fandom’ or ‘I heart starfishes’.
So this is how it goes: the more subtle the style is, the more people like it. Even the clothing companies realized this, seeing as how all their shirts are getting more and more subtle, with the element of advertising giving way to pure design.