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The Best Anime About Nerds


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Engineering Nerd



Joined: 24 Apr 2008
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Location: Southern California
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:08 am Reply with quote
I do think there is a common characteristic among these shows that made them genuinely enjoyable and standout from the pile of other similar ones:

They know the appeal AND hardship of being a "nerd" (the social pressure, passion, etc) and fully embraced them, instead of just portraying them as "superior" than others just for the hard-core otaku appeal, or should I say, shameless pandering.


There is absolutely no shame being a nerd or "odd-ball", but good "nerdy" anime makes you appreciate them even without being a "nerd" to begin with.
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invalidname
Get off my lawn!Get off my lawn!


Joined: 11 Aug 2004
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Location: Grand Rapids, MI
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:05 am Reply with quote
Quote:
My family used to run an online store selling scale models of tanks and other military vehicles, and I picked up an interest in that subject as a result.

That sounds pretty great, TBH. When I was in middle school, my nerd friend group had a brief dalliance with hex-grid tank wargames like Panzer Blitz, which probably helped my enjoyment of Girls und Panzer.
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BodaciousSpacePirate
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:41 am Reply with quote
My favorite anime/manga about nerds is still D-Frag, because - as far as I know - it's the first franchise to really focus in on tabletop gaming nerds while still treating their hobbies as just one of many character defining attributes. (...and speaking of "character defining attributes", it's also one of the few recent shows to return to the days when anime used sexual fanservice for comedic purposes rather than titillation, which makes the whole thing feel vaguely nostalgic to me.)
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Blackiris_



Joined: 06 Sep 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 2:19 pm Reply with quote
To this point, there are very few titles about nerds or otaku that I truly like. Sure, there are some fun comedies. But I'd love to have more titles with serious drama. I love Shirobako, but it's a very light show with high educational value, but despite its portrayal of the hardships of working in the anime industry, it's generally very idealistic.

I very much love the second season of Genshiken (and the OVA) as well as some parts of Nidaime for this. Genshiken didn't click right away with me, but there very some really, really good and honest and relatable and slightly depressing moments that really resonated with me. I'm mostly talking about everything related to Madarame, one of my favorite anime characters – I think he's one of the more realistic otaku characters and the drama surrounding him feels very real.

I'm also a big fan about Welcome to the NHK! – fantastic show, though the nerd aspect is slightly less developed than in other show.

I loved Kuragehime, though I don't remember it as vividly. Maybe I should check out the manga – after the fantastic Kakukaku Shikajika I feel like I need to read more of Higashimura's works.

As for Watamote, I found it funny at first and a pain to watch after a couple of episodes. I really dislike shows like these nowadays that feast on the awkardness or incompetence of a character in a comedic way without any sort of development and I only found Tomoko somewhat relatable. Definitely not my cup of tea – not anymore, anyway.
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meruru



Joined: 16 Jun 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:00 pm Reply with quote
No one mentioned Steins;Gate, the show so accurate about nerds it's obvious they researched heavily into nerd pop culture (even moreso in the visual novel that the anime is based on, it even has an extensive dictionary in the game explaining all the various references.) It has contemporary Japanese nerd culture memes lifted from 2chan (known as @channel in the show), and even accurate depictions of hacking, or at least as far as they ever bother to show it.
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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:22 pm Reply with quote
Engineering Nerd wrote:
I do think there is a common characteristic among these shows that made them genuinely enjoyable and standout from the pile of other similar ones:
They know the appeal AND hardship of being a "nerd" (the social pressure, passion, etc) and fully embraced them, instead of just portraying them as "superior" than others just for the hard-core otaku appeal, or should I say, shameless pandering.


Well, that brings up the whole "Nerd" vs. "Geek" debate, that's so often thrown about by people who believe they were popular in high school, without ever having been one or the other from experience:

A "Nerd" is the kid who wants social acceptance, and tries to get it, or thinks he has it, in the most publicly annoying or facepalm-worthy way possible in the eyes of his peers. A nerd is classically associated with bad fashion, enthusiasm for unappealing things creating social faux pas, an inexperienced immaturity at his peers' interests, and trying to get friends (or, more accurately, strangers he thinks are friends) interested in his private life with the same club passion.
A "Geek" is the classic Japanese otaku, someone who devotes himself to his arcane field of study even if he has to drop out of popular society to do it, because his first love is elsewhere. And since the field is usually so arcane (computer tech, gaming, specific fantasy/anime lore) that it would baffle most average people on the street, the geek is happy to share company only with those similarly dedicated folk, in a small field of dedicated peers, and only those worthy enough to have shown the same true love and dedication--The Nerd wants company and fails in getting it, the Geek holds company up to an impossible standard before he can associate with it.

Which is why, in Western culture, one is considered an insult, and one is considered a tech/pop-culture mark of pride and guru-ship.
In anime terms, Ranma 1/2's creepy Akane-stumbling, voodoo enthusiast Gosunkugi was a "nerd"; Urusei Yatsura's hysterical hobby-speechifying Megane, with a hundred private obsessions and one in particular, was a "geek".
In computer-tech terms, Bill Gates was a "nerd", Steve Wozniak was a "geek".
In presidential candidates, Mitt Romney was a "nerd", Al Gore was a "geek"...Everyone clear now? Cool

Blackiris_ wrote:
I'm also a big fan about Welcome to the NHK! – fantastic show, though the nerd aspect is slightly less developed than in other show.

meruru wrote:
No one mentioned Steins;Gate, the show so accurate about nerds it's obvious they researched heavily into nerd pop culture


WttNHK and Steins aren't shows about "nerds" for the above reasons, they're from that particular confusion that the current Japanese otaku-bashing creates, by trying to find the mythical scapegoat for hikkikomori by sweeping any display of ONE associated symptom with the one big wide brush.
In Japan, if you use a desktop computer in your home, it is automatically assumed to mean you have dropped out of society, crave your darkened room with snacks and MMORPG games, are a genius computer hacker who can bring down entire governments from your keyboard, but refuse to return to society because you just can't face that one traumatic rejection that originally sent you out of it. Also, that you have a habit of using video-game terms in your average everyday conversation ("Gotta power-up, that's so totally boss-level"), believing anime and video games to be reflective of the real world
Most of which public perceptions would dictionary-qualify for the definition of "Geek", but not in the more positive sense it's used in the west.

Let's just get this clear, folks: Being a genius programmer, is a computer geek, bending everyone's ear off in public about why it's a "conspiracy" that they're not using Linux, is a computer nerd.
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Melicans



Joined: 01 Feb 2012
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:45 pm Reply with quote
D-Frag is probably my favourite. I'm not even a tabletop gamer and yet I return to watching it every other season.

Watamote on the other hand is probably one of the most mean-spirited and nasty series I have ever seen. I know that some people found the cringe moments humourous, but for me it was the farthest thing from enjoyable. That kind of show only works when the character gets some measure of growth from their hardships. Watamote had no interest in doing that; it was just plain cruel.
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Afkar Aulia



Joined: 20 Sep 2017
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:09 pm Reply with quote
It's pretty surprising that Yahari ore no love comedy doesn't make it to the list. It's one of my most bittersweet series, as it repeatedly mentions that helping a lonely kid is not equal to simply shoving them friends. It has pretty gloomy and mature message despite it's goofiness.
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HeeroTX



Joined: 15 Jul 2002
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:47 pm Reply with quote
The article writer is too young. Where is "Otaku no Video"?
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H. Guderian



Joined: 29 Jan 2014
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:09 pm Reply with quote
Just giving a Live Action shout out to Aoi Honou
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BodaciousSpacePirate
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Joined: 17 Apr 2015
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:49 pm Reply with quote
HeeroTX wrote:
The article writer is too young. Where is "Otaku no Video"?


The article wrote:
Let's take a closer look at some shows that understand what it means to be an otaku of some kind.


Maybe article's author doesn't count two-episode OVAs as "shows"?
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Sakagami Tomoyo



Joined: 06 Dec 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:11 pm Reply with quote
Most of what people have already mentioned are great shows that I love - exceptions being Watamote and Kuragehime, which just didn't click with me for some reason. As for what I think is the best of them... that's kinda tricky. Gamers stands out and I'm thoroughly enjoying it, but how much of that is because it's currently airing is uncertain. One of the things I do find massively in its favour compared not just to other anime about otaku but other anime in general, is that it does its romantic misunderstandings and tangled web of love interests really well. (In fact, that it does the tangled web at all; too many harems these days.)

New Game also stands out for me, partly because it's set in a workplace rather than a school, and probably also a bit because the second season is currently airing.

Blackiris_ wrote:
But I'd love to have more titles with serious drama. I love Shirobako, but it's a very light show with high educational value, but despite its portrayal of the hardships of working in the anime industry, it's generally very idealistic.

Personally, I thought Shirobako was a pretty good mix of humour and drama, but fair enough. You might want to check out the manga Complex Age; it's pretty good and more on the dramatic/harsh reality area of the spectrum.
Afkar Aulia wrote:
It's pretty surprising that Yahari ore no love comedy doesn't make it to the list.

Debatable if it counts; while it does have otaku characters, it's more about being a misfit for other reasons rather than being a misfit for being otaku.
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CorneredAngel



Joined: 17 Jun 2002
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Location: New York, NY
PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:38 pm Reply with quote
Another one to throw in there - the really under-rated Stella Women's Academy, High School Division Class C3.

Again, define "nerd".
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Codeanime93



Joined: 28 Jul 2017
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:50 am Reply with quote
BodaciousSpacePirate wrote:
My favorite anime/manga about nerds is still D-Frag, because - as far as I know - it's the first franchise to really focus in on tabletop gaming nerds while still treating their hobbies as just one of many character defining attributes. (...and speaking of "character defining attributes", it's also one of the few recent shows to return to the days when anime used sexual fanservice for comedic purposes rather than titillation, which makes the whole thing feel vaguely nostalgic to me.)

I liked D Frag a lot, wonder why it's not mentioned on this article. Also yes, it actually doesn't OD itself on fanservice which is a big plus for it. In fact that was the problem I had with Ben-To which I watched right after that was that Ben-To seemed like it overdosed on fanservice part way through.
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EmperorBrandon
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Joined: 04 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:50 am Reply with quote
Watamote really stood out to me as it may have well been the first time I watched an anime in which there were so many little situations that felt deeply relatable to me (there are obviously been plenty of anime character, before and since, that are relatable in social awkwardness, but it brought things to a different level). It really felt like the author had such a genuine understanding of these little things that challenge someone who's socially awkward. I felt that initially from the anime adaptation, but it's certainly something, when I got around to checking the manga, that's there in the original source and I continue to feel all the way to more recent volumes. I don't really feel like the series was excessively mean to Tomoko. She has her highs (as simple as they may be in some cases) and lows. And her character growth is very slow, and not really as noticeable over the course of just the anime series, but it's there. The pace of that growth is another thing that feels much more realistic to me too.

I came across Welcome to the NHK and Genshiken later than I should have. The latter I really should have gotten to early since I had seen it recommended so much, and only finally did after backtracking from seeing Nidaime first. Both those I also got to feeling rather deeply about in some places. Genshiken has such a fun, fascinating variety of characters.
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