And kanji with manga
Sunday, July 31, 2016

otaku オタク

In Japanese, otaku オタク means a hardcore "anime fan," or, more generally, a "nerd," a "hobbyist." It's abbreviated ota オタ. Sometimes, otaku お宅 means "your house" instead, and may also mean "you," used as a second person pronoun.

イチゴの悪魔でてきてにょりん ピロリロリロリーン イチゴたんのターンキターー イチゴたんはオレのヨメーー カタカタカタタ
Manga: Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san. よんでますよ、アザゼルさん。 (Chapter 27, 苺の戦士)

Anime Fan

Typically, an otaku refers to someone who enjoys:

  • manga
    漫画
    Comics.
  • anime
    アニメ
    Cartoons.
  • moe
    萌え
    An euphoric feeling toward cuteness.

A whole lot of Japanese fiction and entertainment is built upon a cutesy aesthetic to elicit this so-called moe feeling, sometimes called a "manga" style. Pretty much everything that has "cute anime girls" in it is enjoyed by the otaku, even if it's not an anime.

Japanese games often feature artwork in manga style, like JRPGs (Japanese Role-Playing Games) and VNs (visual novels). Dating simulation games obviously have cute anime girls in it.

Books, too, LNs (light novels) and WNs (web novels), have illustrations of characters that will be in manga style.

Figurines of manga characters, in spite of being 3D, will be in manga style.

Besides these things, the otaku also enjoy maid cafés, establishments in which the staff is dressed as french maids, like some cute anime girl, and cosplayers, who dress up as cute anime girls, and idols, who are cute like cute anime girls.

In summary: someone who likes anime is an otaku, and anime has cute anime girls in it, which means the otaku likes cute anime girls, which means he'll like anything that has cute anime girls in it, even if it isn't anime.

Stereotype

Typically, when a character in anime is an otaku, they're design as a certain stereotype.

The stereotypical otaku is a smelly, fat, nerd guy, an anti-social creep who's into anime, who's "gross," kimoi キモイ, who lives with his parents, in the basement, never leaves his room, is a "shut-in," hikikomori 引きこもり, "doesn't have a job," mushoku 無職, and doesn't go to "school," gakkou 学校, thus is a "NEET," niito ニート, survives on potato-chips, instant rāmen ラーメン, and carbonated drinks, has no "GF," kanojo 彼女, can't talk to girls, soushokukei 草食系, claims "2D" girls, nijigen 二次元, are better than "3D" girls, sanjigen 三次元, except maybe for cosplayers, because they're 3D girls with 2D hearts, is a "wizard," mahou-tsukai 魔法使い, for being over 30 years old and a "virgin," doutei 童貞, has a lot of merchandise of his favorite shows, purchases expensive anime DVDs, BDs, is whom fanservice is made for, likes panchira パンチラ, has book cases full of weekly or monthly manga magazines, anthologies, tankoubon 単行本, light novels, dolls, "figures" of characters, figyua フィギュア, wallpapers, "anime pillows," dakimakura 抱きまくら, has enshrined a particular female character he likes and says she's his "wife," waifu ワイフ, who's probably a tsundere loli or JK oneesan お姉さん with big oppai おっぱい from a CGDCT "slice of life," nichijoukei 日常, "four panel," yonkoma 4コマ, comic, sporadically references "lines," serifu 台詞, of random series, obscure memes, tropes and slangs like zokusei 属性, zettai ryouiki 絶対領域, haitenai はいてない, has chuunibyou 中二病, uses degozaru でござる, which is basically samurai lingo by now, is a regular customer at a maid cafe, likes being called "master," goshujinsama ご主人様, thinks he's a "super sadist," do-S ドS, buys doujinshi 同人誌, goes to conventions, dreams of becoming a mangaka 漫画家 or game developer, is a game addict, playing a lot of dating sims, spends most of his time on the computer talking in anonymous boards and forums on the internet, says "lol," (笑), , wwww, has a snark, cynic attitude toward everything, thinks nothing matters, has a self-depreciating personality due to being overly conscious he's a "failure of a son," dame na musuko ダメな息子, and a disappointing to his "family," kazoku 家族, is "irresponsible" for his actions, musekinin 無責任, has social anxiety, projects his insecurities onto others, thinks any good guy is just pretending to be a good guy and all people are rotten inside like him, thinks all girls are "sluts," bitch ビッチ, for being interested in "normies," riajuu リア充, and not in him, calling them "females," mesu メス, as if they were animals.

In other words, an otaku is:

  • saitei
    最低
    The worst.

And when girls look at them, you'll find their eyes can be described as:

Example of disgusted faces, gomi wo miru you na me ゴミを見るような目. Characters: Darkness ダクネス, Aqua アクア, Megumin めぐみん, Yunyun ゆんゆん, and Wiz ウィズ.
Anime: Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! この素晴らしい世界に祝福を! (Episode 11, OVA)

Of course, the above was a rather extreme example of the stereotype. Most of the time an stereotypical otaku character only features some of the things above, but generally they're written like they're very bad people, or, in some cases, very sick people.

At best, they're just anti-social or obnoxious with all their anime references.

In any case, whenever an anime is targeted at an audience of hardcore fans (otaku), there's a very high chance one of its characters is going to be an otaku, or a mangaka 漫画家, or a cosplayer, or something of sort.

イチゴの悪魔でてきてにょりん ピロリロリロリーン イチゴたんのターンキターー イチゴたんはオレのヨメーー カタカタカタタ
Manga: Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san. よんでますよ、アザゼルさん。 (Chapter 27, 苺の戦士)
  • Context: a bunch of otaku watch a mahou-shoujo 魔法少女 TV anime.
  • ichigo no akuma dete-kite nyorin
    イチゴの悪魔でてきてにょりん
    Come out strawberry demon nyorin.
    • nyorin - doesn't mean anything, used here because it's a cute way to end the sentence, a gobi 語尾.
  • piroriroriroriin
    ピロリロリロリーン
    *weird magical sound effects*
  • Ichigo-tan no taan kita
    イチゴたんのターンキターー
    Ichigo-tan's turn came~~
  • Ichigo-tan wa ore no yome
    イチゴたんはオレのヨメーー
    Ichigo-tan is my waifu~~
  • katakatakatata
    カタカタカタタ
    *typing furiously*

Such series is probably also going to feature at least one convention such as "Comiket," Komiketto コミケット, and a visit to Akihabara アキハバラ, which originally was place where electronics such as radio, TV and computers could be bought, but then became a center for otaku products.

Some series feature an otaku protagonist who feels like a loser in real life, an anti-social shut-in game-addict who does nothing but watch anime all the time, and who ends up dying, or something like that, and ending up in another world which looks like a JRPG, with girls with elf ears, and the sort.

See also: isekai 異世界.

Rimuru リムル imagining elves.
Elves: unnamed
Slime: Rimuru リムル
Anime: Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken, 転生したらスライムだった件 (Episode 4)
  • Context: an otaku reincarnates in an isekai as a slime, fantasizes about meeting elves.

Some anime made entirely about otaku and otaku culture, such as:

  • Akiba's Trip, in which pretty much every episode shows a different sort of a otaku.
  • Outbreak Company, in which modern Japan hired an otaku to spread the otaku culture to the medieval fantasy residents of an isekai.

Hobbyist

Although originally the term otaku オタク only referred to anime hobbyists, people who have a mania for anime, the term also began being used to refer to any sort of hobbyist that has a mania for any sort of thing.

Thus you now have a lot of different types of otaku.

The type that likes anime would be an anime otaku アニメオタク, abbreviated aniota アニオタ.

いわゆるオタク(アニオタ)という部類でアニメを見ないと死ぬ生物らしい
Manga: Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken 旦那が何を言っているかわからない件
  • Context: a wife talks about her husband.
  • {iwayuru otaku (aniota) toiu} burui de {anime wo minai to shinu} seibutsu rashii
    いわゆるオタク(アニオタ)という部類でアニメを見ないと死ぬ生物らしい
    The so-called {otaku (anime otaku)} type, an organism [that] {dies if [it] doesn't watch anime}, [or so I heard].

In the anime Sabagebu'! さばげぶっ! there are a lot of "gun hobbyists," with a mania for "guns," juu 銃. This type is called a juu-otaku 銃オタク.

Example of cute girls doing cute things. Kyoudou Maya 経堂麻耶 example of paisura パイスラ.
Anime: Sabage-bu'! さばげぶっ! (Episode 2)

In the isekai Knight's & Magic, the protagonist has a mania for "mechas," or meka メカ, which are the giant robots, like Gundam, etc. So he's a meka-otaku メカオタク.

In the manga and anime Prison School, one of the characters is a sangokushi otaku 三国志オタク, who has a mania for the Three Kingdoms, a piece of Chinese history when China was divided into three.

Another interesting type you may find sometimes in anime is a a tetsudou otaku 鉄道オタク, abbreviated tetsu-ota 鉄オタ, which has a mania for trains. Japan has a lot of trains, and "railways," tetsudou 鉄道, which means some people enjoy staring at the trains a lot, know a lot about them, and end up having such mania.

Because otaku have a lot of bad stereotypes associated with them, some people would rather not be associated with the term otaku, even if they are an otaku. They don't anybody to know, so they don't anyone, they hide, they're a kakure-otaku 隠れオタク, a "hidden otaku."

As the term otaku became mainstream, hardcore anime fans started using the spelling wotaku ヲタク to refer to themselves instead.

Weeaboo

In English, someone a maniac for Japanese culture is called a weeaboo, or a weeb. This means basically the same thing as otaku in Japanese.

Ironically, to say "weeb" in Japanese, you would say nihon-otaku 日本オタク, "Japanese otaku," because it's a sort of otaku with a mania for "Japan."

Female Otaku

Although most otaku characters are guys, girls can be otaku too. The term for a girl who's an otaku is still just otaku. There's no special term for it.

If you really need to specify gender:

  • otaku joshi
    オタク女子
    Otaku girl.
  • otaku danshi
    オタク男子
    Otaku guy.

vs. Otome

Some people think otome 乙女," maiden," means an otaku girl. That's not true. I'm not really sure why this happens, but I have two theories.

First, there are a lot of dating simulation games that are targeted at otaku. In such games the player self-inserts into a male protagonist and goes around dating "beautiful girls," bishoujo 美少女, until you confess to your chosen one, or create a harem, or something like that.

The counterpart targeted at girls, where the protagonist is female, the romantic interests you choose from are "beautiful boys," bishounen 美少年, the harem is a reverse harem, and so on, is called an "otome game," or otome geemu 乙女ゲーム, abbreviated otome-gee 乙女ゲー.

Such stuff is also said to be "targeted at maidens," otome-muke 乙女向け.

Maybe because an otome game is the female-focused variant of the average otaku game the word otome came to be thought as the female variant of otaku.

The second possible reason is the "otome road," or otome roodo 乙女ロード, which is a nickname given to the Ikebukuro 池袋 district of Japan, because it sells a lot of anime stuff targeted at female otaku.

vs. Fujoshi

Some people think fujoshi 腐女子, "rotten girl," means an otaku girl. This isn't true either. A fujoshi is a girl who fantasizes about guy-x-guy ships: gay romance.

Konoe Subaru 近衛スバル and Sakamachi Kinjirou 坂町近次郎 looking at each other romantically, as fantasized by a fujoshi 腐女子.
Left: Konoe Subaru 近衛スバル
Right: Sakamachi Kinjirou 坂町近次郎
Anime: Mayo Chiki! まよチキ! (Episode 2)
  • Context: a fujoshi doing fujoshi things.

A fujoshi doesn't even need to be into anime at all, if she only ships real people, or only band members, but lots of fujoshi are also into anime, so lots of fujoshi are also otaku. The two terms end up overlapping.

Products, anime, manga, stories, etc. "targeted at fujoshi," are called fumuke 腐向け, e.g. BL, gay fiction.

"Your House"

The original meaning of otaku お宅 is "your house." The morpheme ~taku ~宅 means "house," and the honorific prefix o~ お~ is normally used when referring to things belonging to other people. Together, they can mean "your house." For example:

何でしたら入り次第お宅へお届けいたしましょうか そうしてくれる? 代金はその場で払うようにしとくから
Manga: Historie, ヒストリエ (Chapter 6, 図書室・2)
  • Context: a boy wants to buy a book, but it's out of stock.
  • nandeshitara hairi shidai otaku e otodoke itashimashou ka
    何でしたら入り次第お宅お届けいたしましょうか
    [If you want] [I] will deliver [it] to [your] house [as soon as] [it] enters [stock].
    • shidai
      次第
      Depending on. In this case, when he delivers the book depends on when it enters stock. As soon as.
  • sou shite kureru?
    そうしてくれる
    [You] will do so for [me]?
  • daikin wa {{sono ba de harau} you ni} shitoku kara
    代金はその場で払うようにしとくから
    As for the payment, [I] will make [it] {so [that] {[it] is paid there}}.
    • i.e. the payment will be ready at his home for when it arrives.

Second Person Pronoun

The word otaku お宅 can also be used as a second person pronoun, meaning "you."

なんにせよ自分の体に触れられたのは褒めてやるが いい加減不快だ 言い残しておくことはあるか? “武器を捨てて手を上げろ” おたくは刀だがオレぁ銃を突きつけてる 勝ち目はないぜ
Manga: Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism, 武装少女マキャヴェリズム (Chapter 1, 素晴らしき刃「鬼瓦輪」)
  • Context: Nomura Fudou 納村不道, who uses otaku as second person pronoun, fights Onigawara Rin 鬼瓦輪
  • nanni se yo, {jibun no karada ni furerareta} nowa homete yaru ga
    なんにせよ自分の体触れられたのは褒めてやる
    [In any case], [I] will praise [you] for {having been able to touch [my] body}.
  • ii-kagen fukai da
    いい加減不快だ
    [It] is unpleasant [already, stop it].
  • {ii-nokoshite-oku} koto wa aru ka?
    言い残しておくことある
    Do [you] have anything {to leave said}? (literally.)
    Any last words?
  • "buki wo sutete te wo agero"
    “武器捨て手を上げろ”
    "Drop [your] weapon and raise [your] hands."
  • otaku wa katana daga ore a juu wo tsukitsuketeru
    おたくは刀だがオレ銃を突きつけてる
    You [have] a sword but I [have] a gun.
    • tsuki-tsukeru
      突きつける
      To thrust [a weapon] at [someone].
  • kachi-me wa nai ze
    勝ち目はない
    [You] have no chance of winning.
    Give up.

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