Hello everyone! A couple of years back I blogged about Weeaboos, what they are and an attempt to argue why I think the term and its traits are absurd lol. Today I am going to discuss a term that I also mentioned in that post, and that term is ‘Otaku’.
Otaku is a Japanese term for those with obsessive interests and within recent times transformed into its own sub-culture; it is most commonly connected with those who hold an interest in Anime and Manga. Some people can get Otaku and Weeaboo confused; a Weeaboo is a non-Japanese person with an obsession with Japan whereas Otaku is anyone with an interest in Anime and Manga (at least how I am focusing on Otaku today). It is equivalent to the terms ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’ that we use in the West, and has many different classifications depending on the type of interest it is referring to. For example, ‘Densha Otaku’ refers to those with an interest in trains. It can relate to any fan of any particular theme, topic, hobby or form of entertainment, but when someone uses the term ‘Otaku’, they are usually referring to the interest of Anime or Manga.
The term gained English exposure with the release of Gunbuster in 1988, which referred to Anime fans as ‘Otaku’; Westerners have since then picked up the term to refer to anything related to Anime, Manga and Japanese video games, as well as an identification label. Whilst many Westerners are happy to label themselves Otaku because of their love for Anime and Manga, it was once (and to some extent, still) used as an insulting label amongst the Japanese (especially amongst older generations) for people with unhealthy obsessions.The term gained a negative reputation from the stereotypical view and the reporting on the ‘Otaku Murderer’ in 1989; the negativity festered after the reports on Tsutomu Miyazaki’s murder case was released (known as the ‘Otaku Murderer’ and ‘The Little Girl Murderer’) when his home was searched and around 5,763 video tapes were found including some Anime, and some slasher and horror films (later used as reasoning for his crimes). The media branded him the ‘Otaku Murderer’ and portrayed Otaku as being inspiration for his crimes which caused a moral panic, and led people to believe that Anime and Manga caused people to become perverted, murderous criminals. Some people say that he was inspired by Anime, apparently he had a severe porn addiction and he claimed that he had Schizophrenia (the other half of him being ‘Rat Man’), so it is clear that his twisted, paedophilic intentions extended much further than his interest in Anime.In 2004 another man, Kaoru Kobayashi, was put on trial for the kidnapping and murdering of an Elementary school girl; a journalist had suspected that the person behind the crime was a member of the figurine collector sub-culture before the man’s arrest. Kobayashi was not an Otaku nor did he own any figurines but word spread and law enforcement began looking to Otaku for possible suspects of sex crimes, whilst members of the public argued that there should be stricter laws with regards to erotic material which can cater to some Otaku (for example Eroge – Erotic games).Miyazaki was hung on June 28th 2008, shortly after the Akihabara Massacre which took place on June 8th 2008, and the two events were so close that it prompted questions regarding the two incidents. There appears to be no connection between the two events, and the chosen place of the tragedy being Akihabara (the most popular place for Otaku) appears to be coincidence, but people still believe that Otaku were the cause of these events because it can cause compulsive, anti-social behaviour which is popular amongst those who are socially unpopular or those suffering depression who are thought to often turn to Anime and Manga.Still, these 3 events have influenced the negativity behind the term ‘Otaku’ and are the reasons why it is considered an insult today. For a while people were afraid to express their interests, especially in Anime and Manga, and would keep it hidden or risk becoming an outcast. These days the term has become less negative; many people self-identify themselves as Otaku, with a Japanese study of 137,734 people found that 42.2% self-identify themselves as some form of Otaku.Whilst many have embraced the term, there are still vast amounts who believe that Anime and Manga will turn people into criminals! Many still believe that the content of Anime and Manga is dangerous and inappropriate, and capable of inspiring criminal minds. People have been asking that stricter laws are made with regards to the content of Anime and Manga, especially with regards to erotic material; there has been a backlash against this, as others claim that to create stricter laws would be ‘restricting artistic freedom’. I personally believe that Manga isn’t hurting anyone, and if we must have porn/erotic media in the world then I would prefer it to be drawn than using real people to prevent corrupt pornography organisations, however Manga artists should take into consideration that their material may be fuelling unhealthy fantasies. Regardless, I don’t think that anyone should be drawing girls that are under the age of 16 (even then I would prefer them to be 18+ but that’s difficult considering the legal age for sex in Japan is 13 =_=) or draw things that could fuel dangerous obsessions (such as injuring/killing others). It is understandable that violence would be drawn in an action Manga, but for this type of material to be produced only for entertainment purposes and not for sexual or pleasure purposes.Wow, no wonder people don’t like the term! It’s understandable that people would strive to avoid the Otaku label when it has been connected with such awful tragedies. Luckily, many no longer see the term as being negative or connected to the criminal cases especially since the Anime boom, Otaku interests in Anime and Manga are mostly being accepted as safe and fun, and not brainwashing material to create criminals. I have still read that some youngsters are forbidden to watch anything Anime or Manga by their parents, who would’ve been young around the time of the Miyazaki incident, who are asking for advice on getting their parents’ acceptance of their interest in Anime and Manga.I think the fact that Akihabara is a dedicated hotspot for Otaku, and that Anime, Manga and Cosplay have become worldwide interests, just proves that it does not turn people into criminals and many have realised that as the years go by. Akihabara is a place where you can find maid cafes featuring waitresses who dress up as maids or characters from games and Anime, and there are dozens of stores selling all sorts of merchandise from popular Anime, Manga and games, as well as from other interests.
I have read that some people have been called Otaku just for liking Anime and Manga, the same as a foreigner to Japan being called a Weeaboo just because they like Japan. I think the term is thrown around too lightly, that it should be saved for someone with an extreme involvement in their interest and not just that they like it to a normal extent. Would I call myself an Otaku? No, I don’t think I would. I do enjoy Anime, I have watched it here and there and I own a lot of Studio Ghibli films but I don’t watch or read it every day or buy something Anime related every time I have money. As I said in my Weeaboo post, everything I own is mostly what I got as a child. I’m yet to cosplay, everything I own doesn’t have to be Anime-related and my bedroom isn’t a top-to-bottom expression of my love for Anime. Just to be sure, let’s take some online Otaku quizzes to see just how Otaku I am!So clearly I am not Otaku either! I might like Anime and I may even prefer watching Anime to Western cartoons but I am not obsessed with it that I have a crush on ‘cute’ Anime guys, wish to act or be like an Anime character, have a ‘waifu’ or ‘husbando’ (I have seen more Otaku people using these words) or spend all my money on Anime. It’s not a bad thing if you are Otaku or even if you are obsessed with some other interest, if you really like something and it makes you happy then I say go for it (as long as it is not hurting anyone else obviously lol)!
I hope you enjoyed learning about the term Otaku with me today! Are you Otaku? Why not take some quizzes to find out just how ‘Otaku’ or ‘Pure’ you are!! Bye for now~♥