TOKYO For a GR8 opportunity to brush up your
Moeng, visit Japan's first Cosplish course.
A Japanese entrepreneur has set up a language school
targeting fans of "cos-play", or "costume-play", which involves
dressing up as a favourite character from "manga" comic books
or animation movie characters.
Teachers at the school wear fantasy costumes and give
lessons in "Cosplish" -- a mix of English and "cos-play" slang.
This month, Cosplish's schedule includes a "Broken English"
course and an "Otaku Eiken" ("Geeks' English") class, centred
on the comic books loved by geeks, who are known in Japan as
There is also "Moeng" -- a combination of "moe", which is
geeky Japanese slang for "cute", and "English".
"Otaku culture is taking over the world. Everybody reads
manga now. So I thought Otaku people in Japan might be
interested in Otaku culture outside Japan," Yohei Suzuki, who
founded the school with his brother Tomohiro, told Reuters.
Japan's geek market, which covers comics as well as "anime"
animation movies, computer games and role-play cafes, has been
estimated at some $1.7 billion in 2007. Since Otaku are
generally enthusiastic spenders, a multitude of businesses has
sprung up to feed the growing market.
Suzuki said Japanese geeks, known for being shy and
socially awkward, might hesitate to sign up for a normal
English course where they would have to talk to glamorous young
"They don't get along with normal people. Otaku only get
along with Otaku people," the 31-year-old said in a telephone
"I wanted to create a space for Otaku. Everyone at my
school is a geek, so you don't have to worry about what
everyone else is thinking."
Students at the school discuss their favourite comic books
and films, and learn slang used in English online chatrooms and
mobile phone messages, including popular abbreviations such as
"GR8" ("great") and "B4" ("before").
Suzuki's brother and business partner used to work as a
manager at a maid bar in Tokyo where waitresses dress as French
maids, a popular Otaku hang-out.
Suzuki also describes himself as a geek. The brothers
invented Cosplish because they wanted to add a fun twist to
language courses, but Suzuki says there's a serious side to his
"If you go to an English school in Japan, they only teach
you one set expression or conversation," he said. "We teach
many different ways. It's informal, practical, everyday
(Editing by Michael Watson)