Troubled otaku urged to get out more

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 May, 2009, 12:00am

Otaku is a Japanese word describing people who are addicted to cartoons and comics. They stay at home to read comics and watch cartoons all the time and dislike interacting with others.

Orchid Huang Zihui, a college student at South China University of Technology, is an otaku. When she is not at lectures, she watches cartoons or films in her dormitory, and she can stay in the room for up to three or four days. She gets her roommate to buy food for her and she sits in front of her computer screen until 4am or 5am before going to sleep. She resumes her marathon cartoon and movie viewing routine when she wakes up.

'It's normal to me,' Ms Huang said. 'But sometimes my eyes feel dry and painful after looking at the computer screen for a long time.'

Ms Huang says she can't help it even though she is worried that such a lifestyle might damage her health. She says staying in the dormitory gives her more freedom and safety than going out to communicate with others.

Otaku such as Ms Huang are becoming increasingly common on college campuses as students stay in their dormitories to avoid interacting with the outside world.

Zhang Meng, deputy professor of the psychological school at South China University of Technology, said: 'There are many reasons for this way of life becoming more common among students. When facing frustration and failure, some students choose to avoid them, and the dormitories are a safe place for them. Some students lack the confidence to communicate with others so they just choose to be on their own in their dormitories.'

Professor Zhang has advised otaku to change their lifestyle and try to lead regular lives. They should try to go to bed before midnight and dine at regular times in the cafeteria. She said many otaku saw doing well at school as a way to boost their confidence and communicate with others in a positive manner.

If their problem become too much to handle, she advised them to turn to psychologists.