Let­ter from the Ed­i­tor

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My Korean friend Suzie told me ev­ery­thing I know about otaku. “They’re so­cially in­ept uber-nerds. The only thing they ever do is play video games.” I never doubted Suzie’s author­ity on th­ese mat­ters. I came to know her as wise and well­trav­eled. She was born in Bel­gium, went to univer­sity and in­terned in Lon­don (Vivi­enne West­wood adores her), and her job—the pre­cise na­ture of which I never at­tempted to understand—takes her on fre­quent trav­el­ing sprees. On one such of­fi­cial busi­ness trip she flew to Manila al­most weekly for two months, checked in at the In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal, and even­tu­ally ap­plied for an SM Ad­van­tage card. We would eat full slabs of baby back ribs at Chelsea in Seren­dra. Suzie isn’t flu­ent in Ja­panese, but dur­ing th­ese din­ners, she would make what seemed to me an au­then­tic im­pres­sion of a shy Ja­panese girl, mut­ter­ing a tiny some­thing in Ja­panese while si­mul­ta­ne­ously bow­ing. Then we’re back to the topic: “And otaku— the men, they’re crazy—get mar­ried to anime girls printed on pil­lows. Pil­lows!”

You can per­haps imag­ine how baf­fled I was when, be­fore meet­ing Paulo Avelino, I find out that on his Twit­ter bio, he de­scribes him­self as “Ac­tor, cinephile, rock climber, otaku, ca­sual gamer.” I don’t re­call if I was more shocked to re­al­ize Suzie’s false in­fal­li­bil­ity or the pos­si­bil­ity of Paulo want­ing to get mar­ried to a pil­low. (Af­ter much over­due re­search, I learned that otaku is a gen­eral term for peo­ple with ob­ses­sive in­ter­ests, com­monly anime and manga. There are fe­male

otaku, too.) For the record, Paulo showed no signs of man­i­fest creepi­ness. He was, in fact, pretty chill. On the makeup ta­ble he played Breeze­blocks by alt-J, and Do

I Wanna Know by Arc­tic Mon­keys. That he is a le­git cinephile can’t be con­tested. He talked about se­ri­ous ac­tors and es­sen­tial art house, and a de­sire to cul­ti­vate a ca­reer of sig­nif­i­cant fil­mog­ra­phy. It’s refreshing, isn’t it? If more ac­tors—who are, af­ter all, some of the most pop­u­lar and in­flu­en­tial peo­ple of our gen­er­a­tion—cared less about im­age and buzz, maybe we’d have more rea­son to rush to the cine­mas, not for Si­cario or The Last Witch Hunter, but for some­thing proudly home­grown, orig­i­nal, and new.

Cin­ema and pho­tog­ra­phy hap­pen to be big chunks of this is­sue’s con­tent. Some of JL Javier’s snap­shots of land­scapes from a Cal­i­for­nia road trip re­sem­ble beau­ti­ful agate cores. San Francisco na­tive Jess dela Merced’s films are a must­watch (she tack­les themes such as youth and racism to­ward Asian Amer­i­cans); I’m be­yond ex­cited for her new work. Sarker Protick’s body of work, from his doc­u­men­ta­tion of the Bangladeshi film in­dus­try to his por­traits of grand­par­ents, is haunt­ing and sur­real. And Geloy Con­cep­cion’s pho­tos of graf­fiti and un­sung char­ac­ters will in­tro­duce you to a com­plex side of Manila. Their vi­sions are to­tally dif­fer­ent, but I’m proud to re­port that they can share a com­mon plat­form of ex­po­sure and dis­cus­sion here in Scout.

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