On the face of it, Hiroki Azuma calling otaku "Database Animals" seems self explanatory; you only have to look as far as sites like MyAnimeList or AniDB to understand the near feral desire to categorise and analyse and verify. Were that the whole story, Otaku: Japan's Database Animals would be an unfulfilling read which thankfully is far from the reality.
If that sounds a little like an otaku Escher painting you're not far wrong
Coming from Minnesota Press, the same publishing house house as Beautiful Fighting Girl, Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams as well as the Mechademia series, the book is in good company with its academically targetted, psychological study of otaku as a recent cultural phenomenom. Indeed core to the book's central theory is that otaku are very modern, only coalescing in the early 1970's.
I would strongly suggest not attempting to read this all at once, madness is sure to follow. It is meant as a coherent brain-dump: my take on different aspects of the film rather than fluid prose. Intrinsic knowledge of the original series, Death:Rebirth, End of Evangelion, the first Rebuild film You Are (Not) Alone and ancillary materials surrounding franchise is assumed. Because this is the last one I'll write, it has to be epic. Epic enough for sub-navigation:
A lot of anime deal with identity, but in different ways: whether it is the all-encompassing, driving force behind the movie and series extravaganzas that are Ghost in the Shell and Evangelion or as an undercurrent to more prevalent themes like with Guts in Berserk or Faye in Cowboy Bebop, it is fair to say that many different anime use identity as at least part of their narrative thrust. Even looking at disparate, popular shows like Bleach and Naruto reveals a simplistic version of the theme with the push to become strong and protect - a topic that is an essay in itself. It's only when investigating beyond the obvious that it becomes apparent identity is prevalent in so many different genres of anime that it begins to reflect how they were conceived and upon the creators themselves.
how flippantly cyborgs view gender when the possibility of reproduction is removed
Identity is a wide and multitudinous topic that has been researched by psychologists and philosophers alike for centuries so it's no surprise it is present in a culturally reflective medium as anime. Perhaps the most subversive and comedic is gender identity and the question of what defines gender. The earliest anime I can recall that toyed with this is Ranma ½ which had the titular protagonist switch from one gender to the other with the application of cold and hot water - it is played for laughs more than as a thoughtful treatment on the subject but the enforced gender switching is in so many other series from Kashimashi to Kämpfer that it can hardly be ignored. This is without mentioning the less extreme sex swapping with cross-dressing which has of course birthed one of the most cherished anime cultural staples: the trap.
I wasn't expecting the Evangelion 2.22 BluRay to land on my doorstep for another few days but CDJapan surprised me once again with a swift and superbly packaged delivery. Dropping everything I was holding at the time and making noises akin to a monkey crossed with a teenage girl, I tore open the parcel, slit the cellophane and gingerly picked apart the glorious packaging. The textured case and CDJapan extra were the first things to stand out, however only when I disassembled the fold-away casing was it that I remembered the first press film strip extra that had been included. In my ardour the strip looked under-exposed, but I had no patience for the overly complex, jauntily folding holder, there were disks to be put in drives.
Asuka still looks like a stick figure that someone has added comedy breasts to
Powering up the receiver and cranking up the volume to levels which would no doubt raise my neighbours' ire, I dropped the disk into the Playstation 3 and prayed that the "Region Free" label on the product page held true and I didn't have to furiously assemble a media centre PC with a different region player. As everything spun up I dashed around the house frantically stripping myself of my work clothes, closing curtains and doors as I went, ensconcing myself in a compartmentalised environment for the film's nearly two hour duration. Soda on standby and Studio Khara logo on screen, I begun what I had waited almost an entire year for.