Hellloooo, I decided to post a new post since I am so close to payday, I can use up my remaining memory! So today I am going to talk about a term that many Japanese fans seem to cringe at – WEEABOO. What a weird term/word! And the fact that I actually had to check out its actual meaning and do some research on it can only mean one of two things:
- I don’t know enough about Japan to understand the term therefore cannot be considered a Weeaboo since most Weeaboos are mega Japanese fans who are aware of popular Japanese terms.
- Because I don’t know what it means, it means that I AM one because my interest in the Japanese culture isn’t nearly as authentic enough for someone not to be considered a Weeaboo.
Weeaboo derives from the word ‘Wapanese’ which originally derives from an old Japanese insult of Gaijin (a Japanese word for foreigner). It is a label for someone who is obsessed with Japan/Japanese culture/Anime and attempts to act Japanese even though they are not; they usually use Japanese words even though they cannot speak the language and often pronounce them incorrectly, or do not actually know what they mean. They will think of themselves as Japanese and think they can fit in with Japanese people.
Does this sound like you? Let’s make a list of what people consider will make you a Weeaboo:
- Likes Anime/Manga a lot
- Says random Japanese words (often broken or mispronounced)
- Attempts to dress Japanese
- Likes to do Asian posing such as the peace sign
- Sometimes fat/ugly and doesn’t have normal friends
- Has Anime related items in their home
- Goes to Anime conventions/does Cosplay
- Doesn’t like to be called a Weeaboo
- Eats Japanese orientated treats such as ‘Pocky’
- Are not Asian
- Will try to act/look Japanese
- Anything Japanese is instantly better resulting in hate for their own culture/country
- Thinks they know how to read/write Japanese
- Spends a lot of money on Anime stuff
So I stopped here because we could be entering the Otaku description which I might write about in another post but this one is my main focus simply because it can easily be applied to me since it is focusing on foreigners with a large interest in Japan. I recently got attacked for being a Weeaboo on my post about the X-Factor, so I decided to do some research on whether I really am one or not; let’s take a look at these points individually (as well as looking at these points in general, I will also be applying them to myself).
1) Likes Anime/Manga a lot:
Okay, I have enjoyed Anime since I was a child (7-8 years old); like most people, I started watching Pokemon but because it was rather americanised and in a fantasy world (a world that had little relation to Japan) I didn’t see it as a true Anime. I always consider my first real Anime to be Cardcaptors/Cardcaptor Sakura which I used to rush home from school every day to watch on CiTV; after the Pokemon boom, many Animes started launching on Western television especially on Cartoon Network and Fox Kids. As a young child, I was frequently watching Cardcaptors, Pokemon, Digimon, Shaman King, Naruto, Tenchi Muyo, Monster Rancher, Yu-Gi-Ho!, Sailor Moon, Beyblade, Flint the Time Detective, Dragonball Z, Medabots, Hamtaro, Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, Zoids, and probably a few others including Crayon Shin-Chan; all of these were dubbed of course but were Anime nonetheless. So from a young age I’ve been watching Anime; I was obsessed with the cartoon style which I practiced a lot of my drawing from, I would run around pretending to be the characters, and I would always prefer to watch Anime over Western cartoons. I was a child with no knowledge of Japan whatsoever; the Anime boom was so big when I was a child that a couple of American Anime-inspired cartoons were created such as ‘Totally Spies’ and ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ (which although cannot technically be called an Anime since it is American, was a massive hit and has a large fan base, and uses heavy Anime references).
It’s not like I discovered Anime recently and loved it overnight or loved it purely because it originated in Japan, I have been watching Anime for the majority of my life and so I think that my love for it is justified; with access to the internet, I was able to rediscover Anime and watch series such as Tokyo Mew Mew, Elfen Lied, Fruits Basket, Samurai Champloo and Ah! My Goddess. My boyfriend introduced me to Studio Ghibli (which btw I wasn’t keen on at first because I didn’t like the drawing style, I have no idea why I was so biased at first but then I realised they were not only good, but AWESOME) and now I have a decent collection of them. Despite this I don’t often watch Anime, in fact I’m more inclined to watch K-Dramas as you know; I haven’t even watched any of the main-stream Animes such as Naruto (I never got into it), InuYasha, Chobits, Death Note or Sailor Moon (again saw a bit but never got into it).
2) Says random Japanese words:
I am guilty of using the one word ‘kawaii’; a lot of the other words such as ‘desu’, ‘sensei’, ‘senpai’, ‘Baka’ or ‘Onee-chan’ are considered to be used by Weeaboos and are words that I have never used. I use the word ‘kawaii’ because I know it translates to ‘cute, adorable, lovely’ etc. and within the Western culture has actually become its own term inspired by the Japanese word, rather than just being considered a Japanese word. Kawaii is associated with cuteness such as loveable characters, innocent/child-like themes, pastel colours, girlishness and yes, Japanese themed things; many girls who aren’t Japanese (like me) like to live our lives with a kawaii theme, Chrissa Sparkles is an example of someone living a kawaii-themed life who isn’t Japanese. Of course kawaii is a Japanese word, and of course a kawaii lifestyle is heavily influenced by Japanese culture but I wouldn’t approach a Japanese person and use the word kawaii, I would say cute; whereas a Japanese person would call anything they considered cute as being ‘kawaii’ because that is their word for it. It’s hard to explain but if I saw something Hello Kitty, it would come under kawaii because it is associated with ‘Japanese-type cute’, but if I saw something that was not Japanese-type cute, I would just call it cute. Does that make any sense? It’s hard to explain…basically, I haven’t and won’t be switching out the English word ‘cute’ for ‘kawaii’.
The name ‘Kanae’ is a Japanese name that I picked from the Anime ‘Elfen Lied’ and that I really liked (although this was the dubbed version so I am not sure if that is the character’s original name); I did not choose it to replace my own name (although it is my alias just like many bloggers have), I chose it to co-ord with the word ‘kawaii’ in my blog name since my blog revolves heavily around my girly, ‘kawaii’ lifestyle and love for Japan and other East-Asian cultures. I do not, by any means, speak or use Japanese words (kawaii is the only exception and even then it is only used in writing) because I do not know any Japanese and it would prove pointless to use them in everyday life (especially since I could use them wrong – how embarrassing would that be!?); I actually prefer to learn Korean, and I only speak the words to family to practice pronunciation, I don’t even use any Korean words I know on my blog. As I said in my Avril Lavigne post, I do not know any Japanese and I’m not going to learn any time soon and therefore will not be using any Japanese words; but saying that, don’t the Japanese and Koreans use many English words, especially in their music and on clothing? Especially word print on clothing, it hardly makes any sense; does this make them Westaboos?
3) Attempting to dress Japanese:
What is dressing Japanese? Fashion is constantly moving and rotating around the world; people look to all sorts of countries for fashion inspiration. Top designers hop the globe for inspiration to bring to different countries, so what is dressing Japanese? Does it refer to the many themed styles such as Lolita and ‘Kei’ styles? Or to the styles referring to different areas of Japan such as Harajuku and Shibuya? People dressing in the themed styles such as Lolita, has been happening for so long now I don’t think it can really be considered ‘Weeaboo’ to do so, especially if the person takes it seriously in dressing up that way in everyday life. With regional styles such as Harajuku, that’s a little more understandable but again, fashion is constantly rotating across the world, and the little details that Japanese people use when dressing such as wearing socks pulled up, socks and tights or wearing platform sneakers, can no longer be limited to just the Japanese (that and Harajuku is known for having hundreds of different fashion styles ranging from 80s, American and French to name a few). People can have a French fashion idol and be inspired to dress their fashion, so why can’t someone have a Japanese fashion idol and also be inspired to dress the same? Two of my fashion idols are Kim Hyuna from South Korea and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (casual fashion) from Japan; I use them to inspire my outfit co-ordinations and clothing purchases. My every day wear since I work full-time is a pair of jeans, a top and a sweater; nothing special, no special little accessories or details, but I do make more of an effort to dress up when I go out which is usually influenced by either Korean or Japanese fashion. Even then my clothing isn’t that outlandish to the UK, not like if someone from Harajuku actually stepped in, but more that it will contain some unique pieces that are different or unavailable to Western fashion (I also consider the fact that I am 22, cannot get away with having an outlandish style as easily even if I do look younger than 16 lol). There have been times when I have seen something from China/Japan/Korea on the internet that I wanted, and then a few weeks later the same style was here in UK stores, so as I said fashion circulates constantly and quickly; also many Japanese outfits are inspired from the British past (Victorian style especially), again does that mean that they are trying to copy Westerners? Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is also inspired by French fashion but it is not okay for a Westerner to be inspired by Japanese fashion?
4) Likes to do Asian posing such as the peace sign:
Firstly this sign is a global sign for peace, but it also includes meanings such as the number 2 and V for ‘victory’; there is a story, that appears to be false, that English bowman would use it as an act of defiance to their enemies (who were said to be chopping off English bowmen’s fingers) to boast that they still had their fingers. It is used as an insult (very popular here in the UK) when the back of the hand is facing the observer, and this was first recorded in 1901 when a worker made this gesture when he didn’t want to be filmed (although today it can be posed both ways without giving offence, offence is only taken when it is meant to be given). The peace sign was popularised by many peace movements, especially in America, and during WW1 was spread across the world; although it is popular amongst young Japanese people, it actually developed a long time ago before Weeaboos were even born and didn’t even originate in Japan, and therefore as a global gesture, it is fine for anyone to use this pose (1960’s was a very popular time in the West to use this gesture). There are other Asian poses, but I can’t say that I myself have used many other poses other than the peace sign.
5) Sometimes fat/ugly and doesn’t have normal friends:
I don’t know what this has to do with being a Weeaboo? I wouldn’t consider myself to be ugly and I’m definitely not fat, but I don’t think that should be a reason to label someone, even if they fit that description to you, a Weeaboo (or label them anything for that matter). It doesn’t make much sense to me why that should even be a factor; can only skinny and pretty girls be interested in the Japanese culture? And what has their friends got to do with them being a Weeaboo…? Does that mean if they have odd friends then they are a Weeaboo regardless?
6) Has Anime related items in their home:
Guilty! I own some Japanese/Anime related plushies, posters, figures, books, DVDS, playing cards, cosplay pieces and more; I have a shelf where I keep all of these things, and the majority of them which include Cardcaptor dolls, Pokemon figures, Hamtaro figures, Anime plushies, Cardcaptor Clow Book etc. were presents when I was that young age during the Western Anime boom. So, things that I have had for a very long time, and yes I would love to get more, why not? Someone who loves music buys a lot of CDs and music merchandise, someone who loves a certain animal may own a lot of things related to it, so why can’t someone who loves Anime (even to the small extent that I do) own Anime merchandise? Again, not sure why this would factor towards someone being a Weeaboo if they are just collecting things related to what they enjoy.
7) Goes to Anime conventions:
Okay, so I have only been to one of these conventions before and although I loved it because it was a brilliant experience, I don’t think I would ever go out of my way to attend every single Anime/Japanese related convention available. You guys know that I attended my first convention in July called ‘Hyper Japan’, purely because I wanted the experience to learn more on a culture that I am fond of and to meet new people; I wouldn’t see myself going to these conventions year after year, but perhaps experience them and attend my favourite more than once. Again, people my age and older are happy to dress up for Halloween every year so why can’t someone dress up as their favourite Anime character a few times a year? Especially a convention which is created purposely for that, I don’t see anything wrong with it; it brings people with a similar interest together and creates some wonderful, unique memories about something they love. Hyper Japan is also an event where people from Japan come to the UK specially to share their culture, fashion, music, food, gaming, technology and more! So if Japanese people are willing to share and encourage this passion in Westerners then why do so many consider it to be a Weeaboo trait?
8) Doesn’t like to be called a Weeaboo:
Some people can take this to heart because it’s basically calling someone fake, especially when they believe that they are putting all their effort into their interest. At the end of the day, call me what you like; if you want to call me a Weeaboo then by all means go ahead. It doesn’t bother me as long as I enjoy what I’m doing and I can make new friends. I’m not out to impress people or fish for compliments, and I never understand why people must bash others from behind a screen anyway; I choose to act and look how I want because it makes me happy, not to live up to other people’s expectations – others should also learn not to take it to heart.
9) Eats Japanese orientated treats such as Pocky:
I have only recently started purchasing Asian treats purely to see what they are like and to blog about them since they are a part of my biggest interest; however, if you have read my blog posts on Japanese candy then you will read that so far I have been rather unimpressed. I won’t go out of my way and force myself to like something for the sake of being a part of the ‘in crowd’; I have never bowed to peer pressure or ‘jumped on the bandwagon’ for anything, I do something because I genuinely enjoy it. So far I am not a massive fan of Asian sweets, Pocky being one of them; I have tried strawberry, original and Matcha, all tasted too artificial for me and so I would much prefer to eat the Western version of Pocky called Mikado. I do enjoy eating Ramen (and not that cheap packet stuff, I’m talking about proper dishes from restaurants like Tampopo or Wagamama’s), but I’m not a fan of seafood and although I have never tried it, I can’t see myself being a fan of the popular sushi; from my head to my toes, I will always be a meat and 2 veg kind of girl, and I am yet to find an Asian treat that I am truly fond of – besides Matcha Kitkat and Matcha icecream.
10) Are not Asian:
No I am not Asian; there is nothing I can do about that. *shrugs*
11) Will try to act/look Japanese:
I am going to assume this is more of your physical and mental appearance, rather than your dress code; what do they mean by looking Japanese? Am I to assume that having a full fringe, wearing twin tails and applying make-up in a Gyaru-ish style is someone trying to look Japanese? I had a full fringe and wore twin tails when I was 5; it’s not that hard to come up with that hairstyle, but just because it is popular with young Japanese girls that it must mean we are copying them? I had my fringe cut in purposely for the Kyary Pamyu Pamyu concert because the wig I purchased was heavier than I thought; I had the intention of letting it grow out into my signature side fringe but got so many compliments that I decided to keep it in. Phoebe from the American TV show ‘Friends’ also wore this hairstyle often.
With regards to your actual features, I follow A LOT of Asian celebrities (many are from Singapore/Malaysia) who undergo cosmetic surgery in order to have the ‘high Western’ nose bridge; Korea is famous for its cosmetic surgery for transforming girls to have high nose bridges and double eyelids, something the majority of Western girls have. It is no secret, that Asia has been inspired by Western beauty when it comes to cosmetic surgery, and many girls will go out of their way (even as extreme as having their parents buy it for a graduation present) to achieve such features. There are also many Japanese girls who dye their hair to colours that are common for Westerners such as Blondes and reds, and also wear contact lenses to change their eye colour; does this mean they are copying the look of Westerners? Many will say that they are trying to look like their Anime characters but these are still traits common in the Western race; I am yet to see a Western girl undergo cosmetic surgery, hair dying and contact lenses in order to look like a true Japanese girl.
So surely this must just mean hair and make-up styles in order to look Japanese? Well apart from my hairstyle, I do not wear Japanese-style make-up (especially not false lashes except on occasion or dressing up) and I don’t wear twin tails regularly. Note – Please be aware that I am not, in anyway, trying to intentionally insult anyone; I just wanted to explain the controversy behind the idea that Weeaboos try to look Japanese when so many Japanese girls undergo make-overs (whether cosmetically or semi-permanent) to achieve looks that closely resemble that of a Western girl (hair colour/contact lenses etc). I have clearly stated that I follow many Asian bloggers/celebrities and have pulled my evidence regarding their dissatisfaction when it comes to their features directly from them (please see Xiaxue and QuiQui as examples), and have done intensive research into Korean cosmetic surgery which often states that they are inspired by Western beauty. I believe that everyone should be able to dress and look how they want without being judged.
As for the ‘acting Japanese’, I assume this is again to do with using Japanese words and poses; I have already explained that I do not do this, I don’t even use any Japanese writing stamps on my Purikura photos because I have no idea what they mean, even if they look cool.
12) Anything Japanese is instantly better resulting in hate for your own culture/country:
It is quite clear that I don’t believe this from everything I have written so far; I am not going to hate anything about my own culture just because it is not Japanese. I enjoy the food, the weather system, my location is safe, the NHS, the fashion etc. but of course there are things that could vastly be improved such as public transport, schools, general respect and politeness between people, just like there are things in Japan that could be improved upon. I am not going to start wishing that I lived in Japan, speaking Japanese with a Japanese family, when I have no clear understanding of their customs and expectations; plus schooling is really hard, I would hate to go to cram school!!
13) Thinks they know how to read/write Japanese:
No and no, I have no idea. Moving on…
14) Spends a lot of money on Anime stuff:
I’ll admit that I purchased a lot of Studio Ghibli DVDs for a period, and I would like to have some Mangas but only own a few (the first copy of ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’ and a couple of Doraemon Mangas that I was given as part of a gift). I don’t go out of my way to purchase Anime stuff, as I said before a lot of it was bought for me when I was a child; my money mostly goes on blogging equipment or clothes, but occasionally I may purchase a cheap plush or figure though would never spend extortionate amounts on such items.
So that is everything! There are only 2 things left for me to do before concluding this blog post, and that is to take a Weeaboo quiz and play Weeaboo Bingo! These will have help me to see if I really am a Weeaboo or not!
So there we have it! I think it is safe to say that whilst I may have a large interest in Japan and Anime, I am NOT a Weeaboo. I like to experience the culture and one day the language, but I am not some obsessed fan who must own everything that has been made in Japan. I like learning about China and Korea too, as well as many other cultures. I think people shouldn’t be so quick to judge others and throw the term Weeaboo around; half of those points are invalid or pointless to use as evidence for someone passing as a Weeaboo.
I hope you enjoyed this post and that you learnt something new; I already had this post written up before I was attacked for being a Weeaboo, it was really fun to research what the ‘Weeaboo traits’ are, haha makes me laugh! Why not take some of the quizzes for yourself? Are you a Weeaboo?