Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The O-Word

Something about it just bothers me and it appears that I am not alone. I have yet to meet a single person even use this word; something about it just seems weird. In case you didn't know, an "otaku" is a person that is obsessed with anime, manga, and Japanese stuff to the point where they would give up years of vaginal intercourse for just a peek at the box art to the next Naruto DVD. You might have met someone like this in High School, they were usually overweight, looked goth but probably not goth (it was hard to tell), and obnoxiously unfunny.

Do you hate them now?
I have nothing against anime or manga or whatever. In fact, I play Japanese video games all the time and I really like the anime flair that some of them have (Shin Megami Tensei and Tales series to name a couple big ones). That being said, I do see that although games with the anime theme look cool, story and dialogue seem to be a hit or a (extrutiatingly painful) miss. Maybe I'm the crazy one, but I just think that the plotlines in anime and occasionally in video games just seem to be less thought out than the plot and dialogue in English-language movies, TV shows, and literature. And don't get me started on music. I've been exposed to J-Pop before (by an otaku no less), and to put it nicely, its not as good as English/American music. A few shows, I can understand (Akira is one of my favourite films and one of my favourite actors of all time happens to be Toshiro Mifune), but sometimes I just wonder why devour every single thing that looks remotely Japanese when half it of it is utter shit (sometimes even worse than American shit!)

I wonder if the Japanese are just as obsessive over our crap
So what does this have to do with the word "otaku"? All over the internet and in real life, the word seems to be falling out of use, and instead I hear people say "anime fans" (but referring to otaku). I too say sort of the same thing. Why the Japanese people I've met tend not to say "otaku" is something I'm not going to get into right now, but for Americans that are into Japanese stuff, I have a theory.

Could it be that we that take things in moderate quantities try to dissociate ourselves with those that take things to an extreme? We all might be interested in Japanese culture, but we have other interests as well. Its shows like America's Greatest Otaku and people like that weird kid that does a powerpoint presentation on Inuyasha that make us all look crazy. Attacking them head on with a word like "otaku" kind of makes it look like we're one of them in a way since we know what that word means, instead we just simply don't use it. I think the very word itself just conjures up a sort of embarrassment. Well, that is sort of the case for me at least. Something about the word just makes me shake my head.

Cosplayin' in the lunchroom? That's a paddlin'.
Well, to wrap things up, I'm not dissing anime or anything like that, I was interested in the word "otaku" from a sociolinguistic perspective. I got the idea from stumbling upon a rant on a different blog and wanted to share my thoughts on the issue, but I didn't feel like flooding the comments section lol. Anyway, feel free to express your opinion as well.


  1. I'm personally not a manga/anime fan at all. But I know a lot of people who are.

  2. i never hear anyone use otaku ether, but that probably because i dont know anyone else whos into anime like me.

  3. Don't worry too much... Japan won't be a concern any longer

  4. glad I don't associate with anyone into this lol

  5. I don't think that the word otaku does much. I mean, people assign it way to often.

  6. Please don't tell me America's Greatest Otaku is real... Please..

  7. That's a nice point of view you've got there.
    True, otaku has a bad name in japan an probably also everywhere else, but it's not ebcause you like anime or are into japanese culture that you automatically become an otaku... I guess there can also be a "light version" of otakus...