The Rise of Philippine Otaku
FILWOTA48（AKB48グループファンサイト: Co-Founder／Mr. Youko
Here in the Philippines, the so called Otaku culture that has come all the way from Japan has been catching up in some parts, while still being left out in others. I believe the key to the adaption lies in the availability of materials that people in the country can actually work with.
Times have changed, and the availability of Japanese media is at an all-time high for those who are interested. TV stations providing round-the-clock anime shows, the ability to legally stream content through the internet, the ease of terms when it comes to importing goods from Japan—all of these have contributed so much to the increasing interest in the Japanese culture that began noticeably around a decade ago.
Perhaps the most visible proof that we have of the increase in interest in these cultures are the events being held all throughout the year. Anime events, cosplay events, anime singing contests, and other events which once were home exclusively to enthusiasts and didn’t really have that much activities going on, are now home to thousands of con-goers (those who go to conventions), and are treated to activities such as meeting the actual Japanese actors of shows from their childhood who have flown all the way from Japan to meet their Filipino fans. Honestly speaking, these activities that were deemed impossible just a few years ago are now common to events that people are actually expecting them to happen.
Now, aside from these readily seen events, other otaku sub-cultures are also making their way into the mainstream, although at a much slower pace. The Japanese idol subculture has slowly began gathering fans over the years, and in turn has slowly attracted idols from Japan to perform in anime or cosplay events. Most of the idol loving subculture in the Philippines are still anchored to the genre that has the most material to work with, the anime-idol fans which follow the likes of Love Live. Slowly, though, since around 2012, people who are interested in actual Japanese idol groups have seen their numbers rise. It was also during this time that idol groups from Japan such as StarMarie have began tapping into the rising fandom in the country. This eventually led to idols coming over from Japan, and the formation of smaller Japanese-type idol groups in the country.
And just this year, what could be the biggest catalyst for the idol subculture to take-off has finally made its move. MNL48, which not only aims to bring idols from Japan to the Philippines but also to establish our very own Japanese-style idol group and hit mainstream, has been doing everything to gain traction in the industry. Skipping the indie-idol stage, MNL48 has accomplished so much in terms of tying up with the big players in the Philippine Industry.
Japanese Idol fans here in the Philippines are now excited for the outcome of MNL48. Not only will give the world an idea of what the country can do, but will also serve as a milestone marking Japanese Idol culture as finally hitting mainstream. More exposure, more fans, more love for the idol-cuture will hopefully result in the subculture growing more and having an decent presence in the country.