It’s natural for many of us to wear a “mask” during certain events in our lives.
On a first date, being nervous and wishing to make a good first-impression, we may behave a certain way that’s not completely natural to our character. But to the otaku, this metaphor of “wearing a mask” has become quite literal.
The small town of Washinomiya, in Saitama Prefecture, has become a pilgrimage site for otaku fans of the manga Rakkii Staa (Lucky Star) where the story is set. The local chamber of commerce took notice of the otaku‘s spending power, and decided – why not hook these people up? Two incomes are better than one. The problem, however, is that otaku are generally shy by nature.
So, what if they wore masks?
And so, the local government organized a large goukon – rougly translated as a “single’s party.” Fifteen male otaku and fifteen females with similar manga and anime interests were invited, each adorning a halloween mask of Mickey Mouse, Pikachu, Doraemon, and various other characters, hoping to meet that lucky someone.
“I feel this is an easier way to talk to people,” said one 27-year-old woman in a bunny mask. When asked one young male – wearing a samurai master mask – if he planned to go on a real date, he answered, “I hope so…maybe.”
And the result?
Seven couples left the event together. That’s a 47% success rate! Way to go, otaku!