Animation and Anime

A Bit of Prose on How to Lose Weight the Geek Way in "Sayonara, Mr. Fatty!"

Published at: July 10, 2009, 10:42 a.m. CST

Logo handmade by Bannister Column by Scott Green

Sayonara, Mr. Fatty! A Geek's Diet Memoir by Toshio Okada Released by Vertical Inc.

It's faded from North American consciousness, but in the years before "otaku" became a dirt common phrase in the geek lexicon, there was "Otaku no Video." The parody documentary, produced by Evangelion home studio Gainax, followed a normal, well adjusted college student - a guy with a girlfriend and in interest in tennis - who is indoctrinated into the world of hard core geeks. After leaving the girl in favor of a life of opening model shops and producing anime, he too is striving to be the otaku who other otaku bow before, the geek of geeks, the "OtaKing."
In reality, the "OtaKing" is/was co-founder and former president of Gainax Toshio Okada. As Matt Alt translates in his review of "You Otaku are Already Dead" Okada was the model "Otaku 1.0" from the Eighties: "individuals who chose to pursue childish hobbies as a means to intellectually and emotionally isolate themselves from society." And, he found success within that world of ubergeeks. In addition to scripting Otaku no Video, and contributing to anime's spectacular love letter to anime: Gunbuster, he literally wrote the book on otaku, Introduction to Otakuology. After leaving the anime business Okada became a cultural critic, even serving as lecturer of Otakuology at Tokyo University.
Then, in recent years, Okada found religion (figuratively). He dropped a hundred pounds. He began describing the current generation of otaku as "a growing ghetto of weak individuals who blame society when others fail to understand their personal interests." From Carl Horn's response to an anecdote about Naohito Tanobe, editor in chief of Eiga Hi-Ho, Japan’s Movie Treasures magazine, visiting Burger King to collect a Star Wars Episode III figure from a BK Kid’s Meal. At the notorious Otakon 1995 (notorious, for its odd early venue--at a student center deep in Pennsylvania's farm country) Toshio Okada boasted of his journeys to the America of James Earl Carter, returning to Japan in a great many-pocketed trench coat full of four-inch Kenners for resale ("How'd you get that scar? Eatin' Pocky?"). At Anime Weekend Atlanta 2003 it was a different story. Much of Okada's storied bulk was gone, and his personal separation in time from the underground base of Daicon Film and Gainax, into the realm of writing and academia (he was in fact at AWA on his way to lecture at MIT) was much more evident in his manner. It was instead the director, Hiroyuki Kitakubo, who talked all night, bouncing fast-thinking film ideas around, carried through the great courtesy of Taka's interpretation.
Lawrence Eng on Okada's 2003 MIT visit When I asked Okada whether or not he kept in contact with his former Gainax colleagues, he replied that he hadn't spoken to any of them in three years. When I asked him his opinion of the recent Gainax releases, he said they were boring, and that (Hideaki) Anno should direct anime again (as opposed to Hiroyuki Yamaga, I presume). Also see Toshio Okada on the Otaku and Anime Toshio Okada on the Otaku, Anime History, and Japanese Culture
Okada in 2007 via Otaku Unite Sayonara, Mr Fatty doesn't spell out Okada's evolving perspective on otaku, in fact, there is little in the book that explicitly concerns anime or its devotees. What the book does capture is the mindset and process by which Okada dropped over 100 pounds in a year. He speaks about the transformation with the zealousness of a convert. It's a clear, cogent argument, expressed with complete conviction. I'm a successful dieter who lost 100 pounds in a year. My weight went from 260 pounds to 150 pounds. Who expected such a change a year ago? I certainly didn't - but I guarantee it's true. Everyone asks me: "What kind of extreme diet did you go on?: and "What's the secret?" I didn't do anything special, or use any secret technique. I didn't spend extra money. I didn't suffer. I didn't limit myself to particular foods. I didn't have liposuction. I didn't go to a gym. I didn't take any special supplements. I didn't buy a fitness machine or a sweat suit. I never visited a heath spa or a weight-loss clinic. I didn't eat any diet food. I'm not going to buck the standard of framing the diet review book with a bit about my personal weight and physique. I am by no means athletic, but I would call myself physically fit. I wrestled in high school. I've been going to the gym multiple times a week for about a decade and have been practicing jiu jitsu recently. If I have a weight issued, it's that I can't put much muscle. As such, the diet scaffolding of Sayonara, Mr Fatty! did not interest me as much as the philosophy and mental process behind it. The label "otaku" has adhered to some expansive definitions in recent years. There's "otaku" as a label for anyone who watches anime. There's "otaku" as a label for a dedicated pursuer (or consumer) of any interest.. "Fashion Otaku" "Hiking Otaku." Then, there's a definition of "otaku" that pins the concept to obsessive dedication... the person who'll take time off work to ensure that they get the ticket to a movie premiere, who'll passionately argue about the minutia of a fictional world, who'll compulsively poll eBay auctions to make sure they land the sought after action figure, who'll skip sleeping to write an online column. In Japan, the term's connotations have oscillating over the years, highlighted by the figures with which it is identified, from "The Otaku Murderer" Tsutomu Miyazaki in the early 90's to the early 00's supposedly true romantic fable of "Densha Otoko" or "Train Man." However, even in the mildest judgment: the person who knows too much about a useless interest and consumes to much in pursuit of that interest, devoting excessive time, money and energy to non-socially productive pursuits, there's an unhealthy quality to the otaku life. Okada's diet innovation is to take that otaku obsessiveness, and channel it towards personal betterment. If you're going to compulsively record something, record what you're eating. Start with a note pad, physical and/or digital and begin writing down what you're eating. Make sure you inscribe all of it. Then, you begin noticing patterns. What was unthinking habit and false assumptions can be intellectualized. Okada describes how he was able to observe, interrupt and then end his snacking routines; how he was eating food that he didn't really enjoy; how there were healthy, satisfying elements of his diet buried in an avalanche of food he could do without. Then, Okada develops strategies for being able to eat what he wants without disrupting his weight loss aims. Craving potato chips, he buys a bag, selects the best five chips from the package (obsessive much?), eats those five, runs water over the rest, and tosses it out. He hasn't overcosumed. No one is worse off for having rendered the rest inedible. Sayonara, Mr. Fatty strikes me as the diet book of the Obama era, marked by faith in the ability of disciplined intelligence to outsmart a challenge. Pessimism and concern about intractable problems aside, in this case, I buy it. I'm not a dietician, a nutritionist or even someone remotely knowledgeable about the subject, but as a geek/otaku, I am conditionally convinced. I think if you're an otaku personality type like Okada, if you can adhere to a process, he's outline a sustainable strategy for losing weight and keeping it off. Conversely, if the premise sounds like irritating office work, if you have no desire to plan your diet like a World of Warcraft raid, Okada's strategy is probably a non-starter. Okada appears to be a creature of extreme dedication and organization. I don't think you can produce amateur animation like the Daicon III and IV convention openings or launch a commercial animation venture with Wings of Honneamise - The Royal Space Force without being at last borderline obsessive. Having tendencies in that direction seems to be a perquisite for finding success with Okada's "recording diet." Early on, Okada notes that if you diet and achieve results you'll provoke reactions. Inevitably among those acknowledgments will be offers of advice and disagreement with you're dieting methodology. Throughout Sayonara, Mr. Fatty!, Okada goes back and rationalizes the steps towards thinness: the decision to change how people perceive you, the decision to approach this through weight loss, the decision to achieve weight loss through the recording diet. The process of building these arguments is a fascinating exercise in otaku-think, erected with risk/reward, cost/benefit analyses. At the same time, you can see the gears of "You Otaku are Already Dead" beginning to turn. In what seems to me to be characteristically otaku fashion, Okada works through his dieting narrative alternating between enthusiasm and dispassionate analysis, meanwhile masking argumentativeness. Personally, as someone who is kindof thin and kindof fit, I think that working towards being fitter is a better idea than working toward being thinner, but as a student of otaku-dom, I can certainly appreciate the chart in which Okada evaluates five models of exercise and ranks them against ten other weight loss strategies. The geek might shrink by 40%, and in doing so, he might reevaluate his former, chubby self, but dammit, you're not going to stop that geek from expressing his suppositions in a 140 cell matrix. From diet methods to Otaku 1.0 versus 2.0, Okada certainly has not exorcised the geek mania for categorization and evaluation. In terms of usefulness, if you share a bit of Okada's geek mindset, I can see Sayonara, Mr. Fatty! being a valuable tool. Shrunken girth or not, Okada is a big personality, and as translated by Mizuho Toyoshima, his words form a brisk, persuasive read. Okada is/was an alpha geek; the kind who's sure to be the subject of a nerd cult of personality. As such, it's difficult to entirely avoid getting caught up in the excited reasoning. Going into the book with no plans to change anything in my own eating, I came away strongly considering Okada's observations. For those who had heard of Okada and were looking forward to reading the Otaking in English, Sayonara, Mr. Fatty! is less explicitly about the topics for which he's known than might have been hoped. It is both rewarding and revealing. I do feel that it is a valuable illustration of otaku think and otaku problem solving. Yet, it's like Alice Cooper talking golf: interesting, but not the main attraction and a bit dissonant. As the only Toshio Okada book available in English, definitely add a copy to your nerd library. Just make sure to adjust your expectations for a book that is focused on dieting (there's a late note about how the recording method could be used to correct other troubles, such as personal finance), and not geek subject matter.

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  • July 10, 2009, 10:59 a.m. CST

    I thought this would be an update from Harry about his weight

    by YackBacker

    Harry, how goes the weight loss program thus far? I hope all is well.

  • July 10, 2009, 11:06 a.m. CST

    harry died?

    by ironic_name

  • July 10, 2009, 11:38 a.m. CST

    "Diet of the Obama era"? My God, that's funny!

    by Snake Foreskin

    The reviewer says, "Sayonara, Mr. Fatty strikes me as the diet book of the Obama era, marked by faith in the ability of disciplined intelligence to outsmart a challenge."<p> Though he sounded somewhat equivocal, I am sure many visitors to this site actually believe it to be true. So my question is: Is that what you think the Obama administration and its minions are really all about?<p> "Disciplined intelligence to outsmart a challenge." So what is the challenge? Democracy? Free Market Capitalism? A society that has been historically full of pesky self-reliant citizens with an enduring sense of national pride? Yes, by all means, let's come up with an intelligent and disciplined program in order to confront and overcome those obstacles to the tenets of modern Liberalism: Morally Ambiguous Societal Engineering and Parental Control where the government is the parent and the citizens are the children.<p> The fanciful ideas you guys have about the current administration would be amusing if they weren't so detrimental to our very existence as a nation. Yes, even as a nation filled with "Citizens of the World" like our esteemed leader.

  • July 10, 2009, 11:41 a.m. CST

    And the author of the book is a weirdo.

    by Snake Foreskin

    Who runs water over perfectly good potato chips and then throws them out? Give 'em to a fat friend, you OCD fruitcake!

  • July 10, 2009, 11:49 a.m. CST

    re: "Diet of the Obama Era"

    by ScottGreen

    Hopefully I don't ignite something TOO political. It seems to be that the attitude of the moment is that if you throw sufficient number of sufficiently smart people at problem, it can be solved. My similarly reductionist characterization of the Bush era would be that there is a right way to achieve an an, and that you push that path to get were you need to be

  • July 10, 2009, 11:53 a.m. CST

    Yawn

    by Tell_Your_Mom_I_Said_Hi

    TLDR. What the fuck is this shit? Aintitcrap.com should post this garbage.

  • July 10, 2009, 12:04 p.m. CST

    Daicon IV opening is a very underrated piece of art

    by ricarleite2

    And very unknown too. I'll pop my VHS copy of Otaku no Video vol 1 and 2 tonight...

  • July 10, 2009, 12:26 p.m. CST

    Daicon? As in Daikon Radish?

    by The Dark Shite

    That's so bizarre & mundane if you live in Japan...as to be amazingly cool!<p> Scott Green, I understand. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I have no such reason to reserve myself. <p> I believe Obama does have faith & besides that, as someone who isn't American, frankly Obama's a breath of fresh air. <p> He's the only American President elected in my lifetime that I can remember (I'm 30 yrs old) who doesn't wanna bomb the shit out of everyone else, or threaten to do so, in the name of nothing but big business. <p> Some people even say he's bad for your image as a big man country. Being nice to the Iranians & the Koreans etc. That's what a leader should do! <p> If there's even a chance to make everything ok, without sending young people to die, it's worth it. <p> I don't believe that if things went bad he would even hesitate for a second to send the troops in. He just won't send them in when there's no reason. <p> Hell, he's a Star Trek fan! Gotta be good news.<p> Anyway, not here to talk politics. Just saying my bit, because Scott Green maybe can't, but I can.

  • July 10, 2009, 12:46 p.m. CST

    Just to clarify, Dark Shite, he did threaten to bomb...

    by Snake Foreskin

    Pakistan. And Scott, I agree with you to a certain extent that the admin's solution is to throw things at a problem in order to find a solution. One of the things was mentioned already: supposed "Intelligence". The one that you failed to mention is "Money"! More specifically, money we don't have. Anyway, I couldn't help myself. The Obama diet will make us all very thin indeed, I'm afraid.

  • July 10, 2009, 12:46 p.m. CST

    Or go gastric bypass and wheelchair,

    by V'Shael

    and continue to stuff your face. You know, what ever.

  • July 10, 2009, 12:56 p.m. CST

    Snake Foreskin..

    by The Dark Shite

    If that's true, ok. <p> I don't care much right now. It's the weekend, I've been out. Not up for a political discussion. I just think he's a good guy. Maybe he isn't, time will tell. But right now, he's doing a good job for your image.

  • July 10, 2009, 1:08 p.m. CST

    Nutri system

    by vic twenty

    My uncle John lost a ton of weight using that, I think, and the first thng they told him is to write down EVERYTHING you eat. I tried it while shedding a few for a wedding I was in. You'll be surprised how much you snack - even if you think you don't. I don't need to do it anymore, but if you are trying to shed some weight, give it a go - it helps.

  • July 10, 2009, 1:13 p.m. CST

    It's comforting..

    by The Dark Shite

    As a foreigner. It's comforting to know (or hope) he's a good guy. <p> A good example is the recent CIA news. I don't know if you saw it, I assume you did. <p> I once dated an American girl in England who was amazed that she saw more news about her own country in England than she did at home.<p> Anyway, the recent CIA, publicly released news, is that Saddam Hussein confessed before he was killed, that he had no weapons of mass destruction. No missiles that could reach us. They knew that before he died. Why not tell us then? <p> The CIA story is, he felt he had to say nothing because he was scared of Iran. He was scared of looking weak. They killed him anyway. Good guy? No. So what?<p> The thing that got me worried, as a non-American, was why are they making this public now? At a time of civil unrest in Iran? I'm hoping my natural conclusion isn't what it seems like. <p> & that's why we want to believe in Obama. As a Brit, I have a brother & a best friend in Iraq & Afghanistan. The costs are too high for bullshit.

  • July 10, 2009, 1:32 p.m. CST

    idonotseekabanning

    by DennisMM

    Exactly. Or if you have an emotional problem, such as compulsive behavior, though the latter can be treated sometimes. But eat less and exercise more is the core of all weight loss.

  • July 10, 2009, 1:32 p.m. CST

    Tofu!!!

    by The Dark Shite

    Seriously. I grew up thinking tofu was shit. Raw tofu with other stuff on it, is the key.<p> I've been working out, I eat Tofu for lunch, just raw & cut in blocks but covered in Tuna salad.<p> It works becaue it's 100% protein or almost. No fat. You can eat that shit & actually get fit AND bigger. It's like protein shakes, but cheaper because no fucker will eat it. But you've gotta exercise.

  • July 10, 2009, 1:40 p.m. CST

    Who the hell is ScottGreen?

    by We_Are_Trapper_Keeper

  • July 10, 2009, 1:43 p.m. CST

    re: Who the hell is ScottGreen?

    by ScottGreen

    AICN's anime/manga columnist

  • July 10, 2009, 1:54 p.m. CST

    The guy with the black box..

    by The Dark Shite

    That we don't have. Fair enough really.<p> Personally, I'm on a quest to learn about Anime. It ain't easy! Too much crap to sift out. But so far he's been pretty cool. Good stuff. <p>

  • July 10, 2009, 1:56 p.m. CST

    Apologies ScottGreen

    by We_Are_Trapper_Keeper

    I don't make it to the anime articles that often.

  • July 10, 2009, 2:01 p.m. CST

    Smart people

    by Toonol

    Throwing smart people at a political problem will often result in massive loss of freedom, as the first step they take is often to eliminate that pesky ability of the dumb plebes to choose for themselves.<p> We should throw WISE people at a problem. There's a lot of difference between wise and smart; go look at any random sampling of academia to drive that point home.

  • July 10, 2009, 2:07 p.m. CST

    Socrates said..

    by The Dark Shite

    "I am wise, because I know that I know nothing."<p> Or variations of that. The quote varies (because truly nobody knows what he said). A man who considers himself wise is an egotist the same as any other Toonol. <p> Lets's face it, we're fucked.

  • July 10, 2009, 2:37 p.m. CST

    you lost me at "LOGO HANDMADE BY BANNISTER"

    by 35MinutesAgo

    fucking what?<p>A) 'handmade' really isn't the right word here, is it?<br>B) who the fuck cares?<p> Post handmade by 35MinutesAgo

  • July 10, 2009, 2:54 p.m. CST

    That is the one thing we can be sure of..

    by gotilk

    .. that we are most likely at least a little bit wrong. Then again, wisdom sometimes comes with long grey beards and not a whole heck of a lot else going on in that immediate region. Experience is not wisdom and the wisest decision is neither instantly brave or the best one. But if you pick the smart guy as opposed to the guy who considers himself wise, I'm in your court. Wisdom makes me think of gurus, and gurus make me think of scam artists/confidence men. I think the "smart" money is on the smart PERSON. And this concept that intelligence equals instant hatred of those less intelligent OR "elitism" is one of the stupid concepts that have helped us arrive where we are right now. In the midst of a financial crisis that most smart people (the real ones, not those "PROFFESUR TYPES in dem big UNIVERSITEEZE") saw coming a decade or more away. We saw what happened when we chose "common sense" and "wisdom" over intelligence. DEREGULATED us into CRISIS. De-regulation is a wonderful thing, in the right place, at the right time and applied in a fair and equal fashion. Problem is, we de-regulated in a way that made really, really rich people substantially richer in the short term (USING dumb people instead of just insulting them.. which do YOU prefer??) with no eye to the future while leaving the REAL "Joe the Plumber" types still regulated and taxed disproportionately UP THE ASS. A conservative with the ability to see the big picture is a plus, something our society needs to balance the frivolity of liberal good intentions. But an uninformed conservative who listens to talk radio and buys into sound bite talking points is this country's WORST ENEMY. Especially right about NOW. One of the things these people constantly miss is that those people you worship who yap on about de-regulation always seem to approach it from the top down. Every wonder why? What is that shit? Trickle down rights? Trickle down freedom? Trickle down "hands-off" government? The second I actually OWN property and can build the house I want, where I want, when I want, using materials I want to use without coming up against so many "departments" and "regulations" and "FEES" it'd make a pharmaceutical company's legal team commit mass suicide, then we'll talk about de-regulation and taxation. Trickle THAT down your mutherfucking CHIN.

  • July 10, 2009, 2:57 p.m. CST

    Oh, and nice review.

    by gotilk

    Those youtube clips blew me away, too. Especially when you consider when they were made.

  • July 10, 2009, 3:30 p.m. CST

    tofu in slices with a good simple teriyaki/soy dipping is great

    by ironic_name

    and I too, used to hate tofu.

  • July 10, 2009, 3:35 p.m. CST

    Diet of the Obama Era

    by kevinwillis.net

    Your taxes go up so you have less money for food, sugars and transfate are outlawed, and a government nutritionist decides what and when you're going to eat. And the government takes over Nabisco, saying that it's "too fattening to fail".<br><br> That doesn't sound like the book.

  • July 10, 2009, 3:37 p.m. CST

    "Transfats", not "transfate".

    by kevinwillis.net

    Transfate is something totally different.

  • July 10, 2009, 4:15 p.m. CST

    ScottGreen, a suggestion:

    by ricarleite2

    It always seems the majority of the talkbackers here have no idea what anime (or GOOD anime is), and are limited by the "sex tentacles" cliche joke. Why don't you start a One Anime/Manga a week (or month) kinda like the Quint's Movie a Day (later Movie a Week)?

  • July 10, 2009, 4:32 p.m. CST

    Middle class

    by gotilk

    "AH EARNED MAH 280,000 a year through HARD WERK.. I be damned if dem DEMONCRATS gonna take MAH 2800 BUCKS to buy dem needles fer JUNKIES" <br><br>Everyone thinks they're middle class, almost no-one truly is. Anyone who has trouble buying FOOD because the taxes they pay are too high either IS high, should stop breeding out of his or her budget, is living WAY beyond his or her means or needs to stop eating so damned much. Last time I checked, most of the people I know pay taxes CONSTANTLY but still do not pay income tax. Know why? Because they don't make enough, yet are taxed CONSTANTLY with sales tax, gas tax, etc etc. When some douche comes along who "werked herd to get where I am today" and makes over 300 grand a year, it makes my head explode when they start quoting Limbaugh. Especially when "where I am today" was at times made from government loans and decades of paying shitty wages while taking advantage of every tax break they could get their accountant's grubby paws on. Where's the loopholes for the rest of the huddle masses? That's right. It's all FAIR, isn't it? People who make a shit-ton of money every year pay as few taxes as possible while Jo Schmo pays daily AND supports right wing programming through advertising dollars that drill it into the heads of every podunk shithead that the man is trying to take food out of their mouths by forcing the top 10 percent to pay anything even CLOSE to the percentage the rest of us pay. But that's cool I guess. Just keep believing that the next big "conservative" hero is going to LIFT that burden of yours by letting companies that move manufacturing offshore pay less in taxes. I hope it works out for you as well as it did that last time. I think I'll go buy a McMansion now made of WISHES and Balloons.

  • July 10, 2009, 4:47 p.m. CST

    re: ricarleite2

    by ScottGreen

    Good idea. I don't have the bandwidth to put together something like that on a weekly basis, but I should try to do some sort of regular feature.

  • July 10, 2009, 7:44 p.m. CST

    Diet of the Obama Era

    by marcspector

    So I can get someone else to sweat for me? Right on.

  • July 10, 2009, 7:47 p.m. CST

    I like the idea

    by marcspector

    There really should be a diet directly marketed to geeks. I bet it would sell.

  • July 10, 2009, 7:54 p.m. CST

    So basically he became a "Weightloss Otaku"?

    by Geomancer21

    Or maybe "Fitness Otaku", though that might better describe the obsessive gym-goers.<BR><BR>and to bad about the bandwidth. I like the idea of an anime a week thing too. it wouldn't have to be big and elaborate.

  • July 11, 2009, 8:14 a.m. CST

    Oh, of anime interest Robotech and Kite are on Hulu

    by Geomancer21

    The Robotech:The shadow chronicles and Kite: Liberator that is. <BR><BR> http://www.hulu.com/robotech-the-shadow-chronicles <BR><BR> http://www.hulu.com/kite-liberator <BR><BR> heh maybe one day we'll see an uncut version of the original kite come to this country. Legally I mean.

  • July 11, 2009, 10:47 p.m. CST

    Tsutomu Miyazaki..

    by The Dark Shite

    was one guy you wouldn't wanna meet.<p> I couldn't click the link, because my pc doesn't work well, but if I've got the right guy, he was a serial killer over here. <p> He was executed last year for kidnapping young girls, killing them & then sending their body parts to the parents. When the police tracked him down, his home was wall to wall videotapes. Fucked up doesn't even begin to describe him. <p> It happens a lot here though. You can walk down the street counting your money, safe in the knowledge that you won't be mugged. In normal terms it's a virtually crime-free country.But then out of the blue, there'll be a really messed up crime. <p> Like a kid killed his entire family last year becuase he "wanted to know what it feels like to kill". <p> Something to do with being over-worked, bowing all the time & keeping your true feelings inside. It's bizarre.