Post Top Ad

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Otaku Meaning: Where Did The Word Otaku Come From?

Otaku Fantasy has been around for a long time. Yet, we haven't discussed much about the word otaku, its meanings, and its origins. While most people who frequently visit our website or those who have been led here once by our social media posts already know the definition of the word, we thought of writing this material to feed the curious minds.

Yellow bubble with the word otaku

When Did You First Hear About The Word Otaku?

Before we get down to the etymology behind the term otaku, let us take a few steps back in time and recall how we got introduced to the word.

Otaku Fantasy Owner: 

I fell in love with anime as a kid, and that was a long time ago. In my childhood days (the 1990s), I enjoyed Time Quest, Yaiba, and Voltron, which are the first anime series I've watched. Please don't ask me about the story as I can barely remember. The Tokusatsu group is also a thing back then, and my favorites were Space Sheriff Shaider, Bioman, and Kamen Rider Black.

Back in primary and secondary school, no one mentioned Otaku. The truth is, everyone called anime "cartoons," and we all watched the same thing because there are only a few TV channels with decent coverage in my time.

Despite my deep interest in Japanese culture for a while, it was just recently that I learned thoroughly about the word "Otaku" and its meaning. Thanks to social media, particularly Facebook, and the virtual friends I met there, I was able to learn more about otaku culture.

Otaku Fantasy Writer 1:

I started watching anime when Detective Conan, Lupin III, Dragonball, and Yuyu Hakusho are the authority anime series here in the Philippines. I thought these are the only ones out there, and when I found out that there is a massive library of Japanese anime shows I missed back in my childhood, it felt like I need to race with time. But like our boss, we just learned about the Japanese word Otaku recently through social media.

Fan Submission 1:

As a follower of the otaku niche and anime culture, the term "otaku" is now perceived better than it was. Back in the 90s, I remember a media channel showing a documentary of a hardcore fan who spent so much on "worthless" figurines (it's how they see the value of anime stuff) and didn't have a social life. They reported it in a scary way that even casual anime fans would be very secretive about their hobby. It's like when you reach more than the age of 20 and are still buying otaku stuff, people will stare at you like you're some kind of a criminal. 

That's a bad way to start. I can't remember the show I watched though.

A few years later and with the help of social media, many people, including celebrities, came out as otakus. This is what turned the world of otakus around. Thank you for publishing my story!

Help us lengthen this part. Share in the comments below or email us about the first time you heard the word otaku.

A Brief History About The Word Otaku

The term Otaku is a popular term among anime fandom. Some people are proud to be part of the growing otaku communities. Even casual anime viewers won't mind the tagging as they don't see the word as a degrading remark.

Otaku refers to a person who has reached a certain level of obsession with anime, manga, games, and other forms of media related to Japanese culture. You can be a self proclaimed otaku even if you're not a Japanese person.

However, the actual meaning evolved from the Japanese term for a person’s house or family. It is an honorific word for “you,” which means “your house.” This origin, however, gives off an anti-social feel with the impression that otakus would rather stay home with their anime than get up and mingle with people of the outside world.

The term otaku has changed meaning several times in Japan. And as mentioned above, there was a time when many folks perceived the term as extremely negative, referring to a person who doesn't have a social life.

At some point, it was previously used to call out nerds or jerks. Thankfully, this is not the case today.

Furthermore, people refrained from using the word shortly after the case of Miyazaki Tsutomu, who went on a toddler murdering spree in the ‘80s, broke out.

Today, the meaning of the word otaku is now slowly reverting to its non-offensive usage in Japan because of economic trends. Some online and local shops related to anime, Japanese culture, and gaming, have used the word for their business name to attract patrons further.

How Did The Anime Fandom Use The Term “Otaku”?

The manga and anime industry began its constant growth in the 1980s. It was during this time that conventions, college clubs, and the overall consumer base started booming. The fictional universe of manga and anime is what fueled these events and gave otaku people of different histories a common ground for their shared interests.

These events gathered many unacquainted anime fans to come together, and unfortunately, the Japanese language offered no concrete way for these strangers to refer to each other casually. The problem is that there is no proper word for “you” in a situation where a person wants to speak passionately about something with another person whose name they do not know.

While there are second-person pronouns in the Japanese language such as “Anata” or “Kimi,” these terms would not sound appropriate. The word Anata sounds strange as it is a word generally used between married couples, while the term Kimi suggests an intimate relationship between the speakers. Otaku, on the other hand, gave an honorific and slightly ambiguous second-person pronoun. For this reason, Otaku became a favorable term for anime and manga fans, and the otaku encyclopedia has grown ever since.

How Did Miyazaki Tsutomu Give The Term Otaku A Negative Connotation?

otaku gamer sitting alone in front of his pc displaying anime wallpaper

During the late 1980s, Tsutomu Miyazaki, also known as the Otaku murderer, abducted and killed four young girls. The strange nature of his killings included necrophilia, cannibalism, and vampirism. Miyazaki Tsutomu went as far as keeping trophies made from the body parts of his victims.

While his crimes were unquestionably bizarre, the media focused more on his personal life as an otaku. The press described him not just as a serial killer but also as an Otaku, hence the name Otaku murderer. News reports featured Tsutomu Miyazaki’s vast collection of manga and anime. Additionally, Tsutomu Miyazaki’s participation in fanzines and conventions further justified the label of “Otaku murderer” and warranted the media’s conclusions.

The media continued to imply that the crimes were committed because Miyazaki couldn't tell the difference between reality and fiction. While the disturbing details of the crime separate Miyazaki from other murder cases and suggest his mental health played a huge role, the media failed to see it this way, and they went on to turn the murder case into a social issue.

Due to this media frenzy surrounding the murder case, the term Otaku reached the public with a negative connotation. Including the people who have never heard of the word came to know and perceived it negatively. Even after the fervor of the murder case has ceased, the negative impressions remained.

How Did Otaku Antisocial Stereotypes Begin

Unfortunately, Mizaki’s shut-in lifestyle came to embody the otaku stereotypes. Miyazaki's dark man cave, antisocial tendencies, and disturbing obsessions are what made people perceive Otakus as creepy loaners. Additionally, our reliance on television, video games, and computers further fueled the antisocial stereotype.

For the longest time in Japan, being labeled as an otaku is considered an insult. The Japanese would brand the term with the staple of being awkward, a social outcast, and having the potential to become a sexual predator. People continued to stereotype by describing a person obsessed with Japanese popular culture as someone who has nothing better to do in life and pass the time by reading manga, watching anime, and surfing the internet.

Additionally, the assumed physical appearance of otakus significantly increased the antisocial stereotype. We are generally perceived to be either fat or skinny, which means we do not have ideal health. They are also presumed to wear jeans or chino pants and T-shirts with anime characters printed on them. This suggests that we also didn’t have a sense of fashion.

Luckily, the stereotypes are starting to fade. While the Japanese still moderately associate the term with constant stigma, outside of Japan, many fans call themselves otaku with its meaning being a hardcore anime and manga fans. And we didn't give a damn whether people would perceive it as crazy or not.

Breaking The Otaku Stereotypes

two anime cosplayer girls making a heart sign

Contrary to the stereotypes, in reality, social interaction is exceptionally dominant in the culture. Anime fan communities are highly friendly, with an extensive network of online and offline connections. Being an Otaku not only means being knowledgeable about the art but also requires you to immerse yourself in social exchanges about topics of interest.

As opposed to the stereotypical image of otaku as socially isolated, Otakus gather online and offline through social media pages, online anime forums, groups of friends, college clubs, and huge anime conventions. Moreover, Anime has proved to be a compelling topic for interaction in the workplace, especially when coworkers discover that they have a common interest in manga or anime. The friendship between Otaku coworkers continues to grow as their conversations regarding shared interests deepen.

Additionally, cosplay events showcase the need for cosplayers to show off, which further diminishes the shut-in stereotype of otakus or what others call weeb. Cosplaying is a hobby that became more common in recent years. Moreover, these conventions are fundamental to cosplayers as there are occasions where otakus can meet up and gather with their fellows and make new friends.

Anime About Otaku

We recommend these anime shows and manga that would set you deeper into the otaku world. These titles encourage great self-realization to understand better what it feels like to be an otaku.

Why Otaku Fantasy?

We called our page Otaku Fantasy after we realized that it's a more catchy brand, compared to our previous name. Although we know about the history of the word, we chose this name as we're proud and ready to become a stalwart in the near future. Hopefully, we would soon become an authority in the niche. If not, at least we made some friends and followers along the way to whom we can share our stories.

What do you think about the history of the word Otaku? If you're proud to call yourself one, like our Otaku Fantasy Facebook page or join our group!

Did our article teach you enough about the origin and meaning of the word otaku? We appreciate a cup of coffee. Buy me a coffee!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad