The first thing I did when I picked up Otaku Unite was to see how many characters I could name that the cosplayers were posing as on the cover. A cosplayer is someone who dresses up to look like a character from a show. I am pleased to say I could name the majority of them.
The DVD starts out with a short film about Kaiju Big Battel. Battel can only be described as wrestling meets foam rubber, rampage-style monsters. This event really draws in the crowds and shows the creativity of independent entertainers.
The documentary then begins by answering the question “What does ‘Otaku’ mean?” This leads into the why’s, what’s, and how’s of Japanese animation reception and growth in the United States. This is explored through interviews with voice actors, company execs, convention security personnel, and anime fans, to name a few. The flow between these interviews runs smoothly and the questions are answered thoroughly. I found the discussions with the executives, book writers and people in the business, though, more interesting than those with the average convention-goers, but it is nice to see their enthusiasm.
The DVD is full of extras that include a director’s commentary track, an interview with Eric Bressler on Philly Live, commercials, and a quite large cosplayer gallery from Otakon 2005. I particularly liked the interview as Mr. Bressler shares the behind the scenes making of his documentary. The cosplayer gallery is also fun — it’s interesting to see what lengths people go to for the characters they love. Lastly, the lively music nicely reflects the chaotic convention scenes.
This DVD is a good addition to your collection if you are new to anime and want to know more or are just plain curious about the genre. Questions such as what makes Japanese animation appealing to the U.S. viewer, how was anime treated when it first showed up on the market and the growth of conventions are among those answered, thus establishing some the history behind anime. With a limited amount of time for the interviews, it makes the viewers curious about exploring further into the growth of this medium. With plenty of authors and books being used for the discussion and as examples, it is easy to look up more information. In the end this is a good resource to begin exploration of the anime genre.