Gamertell Review: Otacool 3 – Worldwide Workspaces

October 20, 2010 - 2:00 am No Comments

Gamertell Review: Otacool 3 – Worldwide Workspaces

Section: Reviews, Originals, Features, Japanese Imports, Opinions, Gear, Books

Otacool 3 Worldwide Workspaces book cover

Title: Otacool 3 (aka Otacool 3: Worldwide Workspaces)
Publisher: Kotobukiya
Release Date: October 2010
Price: $29.99
Rating: One thumb up, one thumb down; 75; C; * *  1/2 out of five.
Pros: Impressive photography and some interesting desk setups. Very unique and potentially additive. (128 pages).
Cons: Poor readability due to text-to-color choices, desktops are only interesting to look at for a few minutes..
Overall: This is not nearly as interesting or cool as the previous Otacool books. It’s not nearly as fun to browse through as you might think although a few will find this hard to put down (assuming they are interested past the first few pages).

Kotobukiya’s latest book, titled Otacool 3: Worldwide Workspaces may seem especially odd to American readers as it features photos of people’s workspace, ie their desk and surrounding office space. It’s basically a lookie-lou, peaky-peak into other people’s work surfaces and homes. It’s a little weird yet almost additively engrossing.

Boo, I See You(r Desk)

Otacool 3 is a voyeuristic peek into the private workspaces of pretty much anyone who submitted a decent photo essay of their office. Offering images of 184 desks from more than 30 countries, this is the strangest of the Otacool series so farm being far less about Japanese culture and curiosity than, well, simple voyeurism.

This is not a posed arrangement of desks featuring shelf after shelf of anime creations, fan art, Kotobukiya statues and boobie mouse pads but more normal workspaces. OK, so there are a couple that do feature stuff on that list (those are more the exceptions than the rule) but, by in large, these are desks, chairs and the stuff in, on and around them.

Otacool 3 Worldwide Workspaces book photo

It is presented in the highest quality, with harder stick cover pages, glossy and high resolution inner pages with photos galore. There is a two-page spread of desk-i-ness from each representative region. Each desk featured in the book was submitted by the inhabitant of the workspace and most often photographed by them as well.

It’s quite a curiosity and quite interesting but it’s not nearly as otacool as the predecessor, Otacool 2: Worldwide Cosplayers. Simply, it lacks pizzaz that might make this appealing to more readers. Instead, it’s may appeal most to a student of ergonomics or those looking to recreate an artist’s office for their own artistic aspirations. Or those who want to own the entire Otacool library.

There is a section by Japanese culture aficionado and entrepreneur Danny Choo that offers suggestions for creating your own Otaku workspace. The Otacool 3 page on Choo’s site sometimes offers more information about the pages in the book than is on the pages in the book.

Otacool 3 Worldwide Workspaces book photo

Who Are Otayou?

Otacool 3 has similar issues to the previous Otacools (see my Otacool 2 book review) with not quite enough information included for each workspace. For example, many professional illustrators are in the book yet it is often hard to tell what they’ve illustrated from the photos or the descriptions. A few of the sculptors have the benefit of their work lying around. I’m not certain whether or not the editor wanted to avoid gratuitous self promotion but only a true, hard core otaku will recognize some of the more notable names without an online search.

The text is presented both in English and Japanese (my friend who translated a few pages for me said they did a pretty accurate job going from Japanese to English), which is nice, but there is the presentation issue that makes some of the text difficult, if not impossible, to read. The book’s designer likely wanted to keep the imagery at the forefront but, unfortunately, sometimes sacrificed readability.

OtaOK

What the book could really use are a few celebrity desks as in big-name game designers, sculptors, animators and maybe even actors (although their desks would certainly be less for utility than fun). By not including much background for each entrant, the editor lost some of the potential “wow” factor and, instead, makes this book feel more like a furniture catalog than the book of coolness it could be.

Otacool 3 Worldwide Workspaces book photo

Still, as strange and limited scope this may be, Otacool 3 can be a bit difficult to put down once you start thumbing through it. Curiosity will eventually kick in and you may find yourself thumbing through, hoping the next desk setup will be more interesting.

I can’t quite recommend you import this one to everyone but, if you happen across it in a store at least give it a looksie. Of course, if you to see it in a second-hand shop or discounted at some odd book store, give it a buy simply so you can set it on your coffee table and see which of your friends will thumb through it the longest.

Site [Otacool 3] Site [Danny Choo] Read [Gamertell]

Full Story » | Written by PJ Hruschak for Gamertell. | Comment on this Article »


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