“I have six months to live,” exclaims Danny Choo.
The audience at his Sunday Anime Expo panel, shaken from their early-morning bleariness, gasps. Someone screams, “No, Danny!”
“Wait,” Choo explains, “I live life as if I only have six months to live.” He grins. As readers of his site know, this kind of inspirational, live-your-dream rhetoric is standard Choo fare. And he certainly seems to be taking his own advice.
Choo, son of shoe designer Jimmy Choo, became best known for a series of YouTube videos in which he dances on the streets of Akihabara, Tokyo’s otaku mecca, dressed as a Stormtrooper. Choo has parlayed his Internet celebrity into a kind of mini-media empire with a series of books, a TV show about Japanese culture, and an upcoming moe anime series called Chinka.
It was his TV series, Culture:Japan, that Choo was on-hand to promote Sunday, previewing the first episode which aired last month in Tokyo. The hour-long show is comprised of a series of segments revolving around Choo’s explorations of Japanese and otaku culture. The segments are bookended by an interview with voice actress Satomi Sato, known for her turn on Ritsu on K-ON!
The first segment is basically an extension of Choo’s book series, Otacool, in which fans submit photos of their figurine collections and otherwise otakuized bedrooms. Here they’ve done the same thing, but with video.
In another segment, Choo visits a Japanese high school. He’s ostensibly there to compare real school life to shows like K-ON! (an overexcited fan next to me gasped, “they’re the same in anime and real life!”), though for most of the time Choo simply performs antics in his Stormstooper uniform.
Finally, Choo visits Good Smile Company, a figurine manufacturer and distributor who produced a figurine of Choo’s own mascot, as well as the figurine-turned-anime Black Rock Shooter. With a look at what goes into creating one of these figurines, this was by far the most interesting piece.
If it isn’t yet clear, Culture:Japan is essentially an extended commercial for Danny Choo’s business ventures. For over an hour, he plugs his website, Chinka (Satomi Sato did the voices for the preview version), his friends at Good Smile, and everything else Choo-related.
Bits and pieces are interesting, but at one hour, Culture:Japan really drags; wisely, Tokyo MX aired a 30-minute cut. And with a tour of a Japanese high school and segments largely in English, it’s also unclear how this is supposed to appeal to a Japanese audience (likely Choo is using the Tokyo airing a springboard for selling the show internationally). It’s also troubling that an entire segment is made up of fan-submitted (i.e. free labor) content.
But the oddest part of Culture:Japan is the feeling one gets from watching Choo himself.
It’s easy to understand the appeal of Danny Choo among American fans. He’s got the British accent, the hipster glasses, the boyish grin. He’s good on stage. In a world of introverts, he’s an extrovert. And, ostensibly, he’s living the dream. But something about him, both on stage and on screen, feels off-putting.
For one thing, there are the dolls. Choo collects a series of ball-jointed, anatomically correct female dolls called Dollfies. He had one such doll on display at his panel, referring to it as his “lovely daughter.”
There’s also the fact that everyone Choo interviews in Culture:Japan seems uneasy in his presence. Even Satomi Sato, professionally-trained voice actress, can’t hide an occasional grimace, to say nothing of the high school girls, who look downright uncomfortable next to the man in the Star Wars costume.
No such problem at Anime Expo, though, where a throng of worshippers, male and female alike, clamored for a chance to sit next to their idol as he descended, Christ-like, into the crowd after the end of his panel. These are the true faithful, whose adoration (and wallets) ensure that Danny Choo is a brand that isn’t going away any time soon.
Important detail your readers will need to remember while trying to emulate Danny's lifestyle.
Here is the digest of the second season of Culture$Japan ;-)
stop lurking around the shitotakusay site, and crank out more. I missed you guy's writing
keep up the good work!
It's because dolfies are realistic, right? And a grown man with dolls is wrong in this society, right? But a grown man who collects $12,000.00 vintage toys is normal? Or million dollar sports cars? Or people buy Banksy artwork?
Danny's an eccentric alright, and an entrepreneurial one at that. Probably on the same level as say... Nigo of Bathing Ape and Teriyaki Boyz fame. Or every other weird rich guy with a quirky habit.
I dunno about all this. Is Danny Choo bad compared to every other hipsters, wannabe street artists, limited edition clothing designers out there?
Don't get me wrong, I love Colony Drop, and your previous criticisms are funny, witty and bloody brilliant. But sometimes, I sit back, and do a double take with posts like this...
The Dolfie issue isn't about money, it's about creep factor. They're detailed dolls made for adults that look like little girls.
Key difference, CNNGo pays good money for its main content, whereas Colony Drop is a blog. I think that gives CD more of a license to ramble (although all the CNNGo writers I know are model professionals, I assure you). I certainly pay less attention to providing sharply focussed content when blogging compared to when writing professionally, and I don't think my readers are in any particular position to demand otherwise. No idea if Sean feels the same way, but just putting the idea out there.
As for factual errors, I'd love to hear them, but considering the sniveling manchild the complaint originated from:
So could you call the above a factual error, then?
Danny Choo is, like his father, first and foremost a businessman. He saw an opportunity to exploit a bizarre subculture that has had a long and depressing history.
How he exploited it is not the issue.
Sure, we can cite the creepy doll fetish, the fake "glamorous" image of "otaku lifestyle" as the reasons why he must go down in flames. Is it dishonest? Yes. Creepy and bizarre? You wrote about it. All part of his brand/image?
Wouldn't doubt it for a second.
How is that different from the likes of the Kardashians, the Hiltons? Do you think rappers turn their teeth to gold because its good for their health?
You expect him to run his little empire by stating the bizarre Japanese otaku-related crimes of recent history and the past? That's just stupid.
Chalk it up to sign of the times. The decline of civilization as we know it. Whatever you want to call it.
Whether his enterprise survives or not is anyone's guess. At this point, I don't doubt he's a fucking good businessman.
I doubt that readers of the blog think that his story wasn't an AMERICAN DREAM meteoric rise, but I'd like to think that a good amount of his readers are aware that it wasn't. Some readers of Danny Choo's blog aren't exactly sheep, you know.
And besides, the "live your dream" rhetoric isn't something that takes social class and standing into account, it's just easier for privileged people.
But I didn't find what I was looking for, wich is the reason that lead me to search this website. Danny always says he wishes to have a "clone" to "help" him with all of his hard work, and I said: Why don't he pay for help?
He actually has "employees" at his service the first of them was this "Hector" (actually an associate in Dannys's own words) both share the same dreams and worked a lot togheter, suddenly we never heard of him again, remember: Mirai Gaia was their Dream. Now Danny runs Mirai Gaia with his wife and the guy who was in the beggining building the dream is gone. He "hired" up to two or three guys already to "help" him, then they dessapeared. I wonder, way someone who dreamed to "make a living" with a "job" involved around Anime, games, figurines, side to side with the "otaku god" Would quit their dreams just like that?
I don't want to think that those guys had to quit their dreams because they couldn't make a living out of a bussiness that allows Choo to BUY a millions dollar three stories tall house in Tokyo, a nice Car, to have a TV show, make trips around the world, produce his own anime series, figma dolls and other merchandises.
He says he wants clones better, I can't blame him, I wish I could have a clone too! An slave to work for me, and don't have to pay him a fucking dime for his hard labour! That would be fucking awesome.
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