Have you ever heard of the expression otaku? Do you know its true meaning? How did this term come about? In this article, we are going to take a deep look at the word Otaku and the people who have earned this nickname both in the West and in Japan. Let's also see the influence of the community otaku in Japan and the West.
The word Otaku [オタク] is a Japanese term used to refer to people who are addicted to something. Over time, this word began to be used frequently to refer to fans of anime, manga, novels and games. Get ready to delve into the true meaning of otaku, to help let's leave a summary below:
What about those addicted to Japanese or Korean culture? Those cracked in Japan are called Weeaboo. Already addicts in Korea and K-POP are called the Hallyu phenomenon.
We recommend reading:
- What does weeaboo mean? Don't be a weeaboo!
- Hallyu – The Korean Wave Phenomenon
- 450 Anime character names with meanings
The meaning of the word Otaku
originally the word otaku (お宅) was a respectful address (sonkeigo) used in the second person, to refer to your home, home, person or family. This word has also been used to refer to the husband and organizations.
Example: I'll call your house tomorrow
明日お宅に伺います Ashita otaku ni ukagaimasu
The ideogram of the original word is Taku [宅] which literally means house. Over time, this word began to be used in a negative way to refer to people who live at home watching anime, playing games, browsing the internet, etc.
Otaku is one of the main Japanese alternatives to the words Geek and Nerd, but more pejorative. In the dictionary, he is described as a person with a deep interest in certain hobbies, but lacks knowledge and sociability in other fields.
Otaku can also be used as a suffix for people who like a certain hobby for example: Tetsudou-otaku [鉄道オタク] meaning something like train junkie (railway) or Mekaotaku [メカオタク] meaning Meka junkie.
The Origin of the Word Otaku
In the 1980s Akio Nakamori and other prominent authors began to use the honorific otaku to refer to criminals and serial killers, anime junkies, hentai and the like. And since the Japanese are superstitious, they stopped using that word in everyday life, and it became a bad word.
Over time this word began to be used to refer to people with obsessions about something. Not just anime and manga, but anything, cars, football/soccer, games, computers, etc.
Suppose someone likes football/soccer, has team shirts, idolizes the team, attends every game, puts football/soccer first in life. She can be called an otaku.
In Japan you can find thousands of people addicted to anime and games, who are considered otaku, and they take this lifestyle seriously, doing cosplays, spending money on products, living a normal and fun life, doing what they like.
Why are Otakus excluded from society?
In 1989, the murder of a young girl in the Saitama region was sensationalized, as the criminal was a video collector, every case was expanded, distorted and publicized in the media, placing the name otaku as a dangerous person who commits crimes.
The negative campaign was done in style. To this day people play otakus because of the media's influence on that incident. Of course, that's not the only reason some otakus are despised both in Japan and in the West.
The media blames otakus for Japan's birth rate. Japanese TV often claims that otakus don't want real relationships, and are quite antisocial and Hikikomori.
- Birth rate in Japan – How many children do the Japanese usually have?
- Do you know what a Hikikomori or NEET is?
- Meanings and differences between Lolita, Loli and Lolicon
Another criticism against otaku is the huge consumption of erotic content in comics, games and animations, where tentacles, loli and others can be found. Yes, I have already found several articles on Brazilian websites that talk about this subject. Japan is one of the countries that consumes the most material of this type, and more than half are animations.
People in the West also tend to blame anime and games for various problems in Japan and the Western Otaku community. Few realize that the problem is not in animations and games but in addiction.
A person can be addicted to anything like movies, series and books. Otaku itself is used to refer to any type of person addicted to something like cars, toys, trains, computers, etc.
Why is this thinking wrong?
The problem is that not all Otaku are antisocial, they tend to relate, live a normal life, work and have other dreams. The fact that a person was addicted to something was not necessarily a bad thing.
In Brazil, many are addicted to something, some live at the gym, others live drinking, many choose different priorities in their life and have fun with what they like. The fact that a person likes something does not determine their behavior.
Japanese are shy and antisocial by nature, the country's culture puts a lot of pressure on society to follow strict rules. Many end up becoming not just otakus but hikikomori NEETs who are isolated youths who live trapped indoors.
Otaku in the West
In the West the word does not have the same connotation as in Japan. Here it is usually used only to identify people who like anime. The Otaku of Brazil also often use the expression Otome to refer to women who are fans of anime, but it is worth remembering that otaku is not a masculine word, but unisex.
The number of otakus outside of Japan is increasing a lot. The western population is not prepared or used to these types of people who call themselves otaku, they do not understand why they dress up and enjoy this type of animation. Something understandable, since to this day comic book fans are branded as nerds, and criticized for dressing up.
Otaku are criticized in the West for the prejudice of thinking that animations are for children or are childish. They don't know the depth of a story written by Japanese and they don't realize that animation is just an art style like manga.
Others think that anime is crazy, full of powers, macumba, bitching, clichés, etc. They forget that there are genres and that anime is created on top of Japanese culture, made for Japanese people who think and lead a different lifestyle than Westerners. Western Otaku also tend to admire and enjoy the culture of Japan.
What does being an Otaku involve?
For a person to become an Otaku, just get addicted to something and put it as a priority in your life. It is clear that both in the West and in Japan the term Otaku began to be used for people who have similar tastes. 99% by Otaku will probably like at least 5 things from the list below:
- Anime – Japanese animations;
- sleeves – Japanese comics;
- light novels - Romance books;
- Visual Novels – Relationship, romance and conversation games;
- RPGs – Role-playing games;
- cosplay – Character costumes;
- japanese songs – Mainly from anime;
- OST – anime background music;
- Action Figures – Action figures of the characters;
- games – All kinds of games in general;
- Japan – Foreign otaku appreciate Japanese culture;
- Series – Otaku also watches series;
- Computers – Most live on computers;
- Maid Café – Maid's cafe;
- cosplay cafe – Themed cafes;
- Cats – It is rare for someone not to like cats, some even dress up;
- moe – Cute things, cuteness of anime and characters;
- Cute things – Plush toys, caps, character toys;
- weapons and accessories - shuriken, Katana and etc;
- eroge – erotic games and visual novels;
- Hentai/Yaoi/Yuri (erotic animations);
- dramas – Japanese Dramas/Series/Novels;
- dakimakura – Body pillows with prints;
- Itasha – Cars with prints;
- cards – Collect anime cards;
- Nico Nico – Otaku's Youtube;
- akihabara – The otaku center in Japan;
- waifu – Most Otakus have a waifu;
This list even shows some things considered questionable. The point we want to make is that watching anime doesn't make you an otaku. There are crazy otakus, and they have problems, but it's a subject that must be understood and respected.
Getting to know otaku life
I recommend some animations and mangas, which depict the life of a otaku or something related, I'll leave a list here:
- Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai
- Renai Shimasen ka? (Manga)
- Seitokai no Ichizon
- Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken
- Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu
Watching the anime or manga mentioned above, you can understand a little more about the life of an otaku, and how interesting it can be. Of course there are crazy people obsessed with hobby like in the video below. Be careful not to become one of these.
What do I think about Otakus?
We came to the conclusion that otaku can't be called idle, anti social, or a virgin, for spending time buying products, cosplaying and watching anime. There are many people who do that, and they have their jobs, their responsibilities, and their social lives.
There are crazy otakus in the extreme, but we can't base our criticisms on them alone. Otaku is a word that refers to people who are very fond of something. Everyone has a passion, that's normal, just have control, something Japs don't usually have.
Personal opinion: Well, I'm Kevin, and in a way, I don't consider myself an otaku. I like anime, I have figures, manga and I go to events. I already stayed in Akihabara, and I went to a Maid Café.
I appreciate some Japanese otakus, but I also question most of them, I think they go too far. But if I had money, my room would be full of figures, posters, video games, etc. That's not why I'm going to stop having a social life.
Otome – The Feminine of Otaku?
Many Otaku mistakenly associate the term Otome with a female version of otaku. In Japan the word Otome [乙女] actually means “maiden”, in the context of a pure and virgin girl, nothing related to the word otaku.
Some Western Otakus claim that this term originated due to a street called "Otome Road" in Tokyo where there were several stores of products destined for Otaku, but it was predominated by girls.
Although Otome refers to female anime fans in the West, it is worth remembering that in Japan the word Otaku is unisex. To understand more, read our article below:
We recommend reading: Otome is not Otaku's female! How did the term come about?
Videos about Otaku
To end the article I will leave some videos talking more about this meaning. Hope you enjoyed the article. If you liked it, share it with your friends and leave your comments. In your opinion, what is it like to be an Otaku?