Although we’re all united in our shared love of anime and related categories of sub-culture today, each of us took a different route to our final destination as fans. I asked J-List customers “How did you become an otaku?” and was interested to see the responses they offered!
What Does It Mean to Be an Otaku?
The word otaku, of course, started out as a formal way of saying “you and/or your family” and is a word I might use when talking with a neighbor, praising her son for being so studious and passing his university entrance exams. The idea seems to be that because the word is slightly quirky and overly formal, it was used by “quirky” fans of anime, and the word otaku became associated with these obsessive fans.
The word otaku entered its current unique usage in the late 80s when a comedian named Taku Hachiro started appearing in Japanese variety programs, creating the persona of a stereotypical anime fan with poor social skills. If you comb through enough episodes of Takeshi’s Castle, I’m positive he’s made a few appearances on the program. The word entered general usage in English with Gainax’s Otaku no Video, an anime that followed a wholesome university student’s fall into the dark world of anime, cosplay, and doujinshi.
One thing I’ve noticed is that, whenever a negative label is applied to a group, it’s only a matter of time before that group adopts the term as a badge of honor and turns into a positive thing. In the same way “nerd” and “geek” were once unkind labels to apply to a person, most of us have embraced our inner nerds over the past 20 years, and couldn’t imagine why anyone would mock us for being into Star Trek or superhero comics or manga.
Being an otaku isn’t about being an aficionado of anime, manga, visual novels, hentai, or any other Japan-related pop culture. By any measure, people who obsess about their favorite sports teams to extreme levels are “sports otakus,” and guys who are addicted to going to the gym five times a week are “gym otakus,” or perhaps “brotakus.” Besides loving anime, manga, and doujinshi, I’m a huge language nerd, listening to podcasts on the history of English grammar. We’re all an otaku about something.
How Did You Become an Otaku?
Let’s see how some J-List customers become part of our awesome otaku family!
“I definitely started with anime. I got hooked after watching Death Note and Chobits.”
“Anime then hentai. Everything else just fell into place.”
“TBH it was probably gunpla. Saw a couple of really well-done kits when I was a kid and instantly fell in love. Got into Gundam and the rest is history.”
“Anime being much better quality than any other animation on TV growing up.”
“Tenchi Muyo was my first anime. That started me down the trail. No regrets.”
“Definitely anime. Inuyasha led to Please Teacher and the rest is history.”
“A little from column A, a little from column B.”
“What about visual novels and JPRGs? Don’t leave out those!”
“I watched Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh when I was in middle school, but I think the biggest contributor to my current weebdom was the old ‘adult games’ section on Newgrounds.”
“The very first anime I watched all the way through was Kämpfer, then Highschool of the Dead. I’d seen a few episodes of DBZ on TV and thought, there has to be more than just this. Boi was I not disappointed.”
“If we want to go to the actual source, it’s a long story, but tl;dr is I wouldn’t be a weeb if not for Harry Potter, of all things.”
“What made me an otaku? Everything!”
Thanks for reading this post about how you became an otaku? What was your personal experience “falling” into otaku-dom like? Tell us below, or on Twitter!
One thing we love to post to the J-List site is gorgeous artbooks, which are wonderful for fans to buy and collect. We generally have two types of artbooks: thick books by professional artists celebrating their works, and “doujin” artbooks by up-and-coming artists. Browse the new artbooks J-List has for you this weekend!