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Synonyms: geek, nerd
See also: fan, weeaboo, fanboy, fangirl, fanboi
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Otaku (オタク) is a Japanese term for obsessive fans. Otaku, in Japan, in general means a social outcast with an obsessive hobby. These hobbies aren't limited to anime and manga, but can be idol singers, AV stars, trains, swords, etc. "Otaku" can be used as an insult or as a neutral descriptor.

A newspaper columnist, Nakamori Akio, is credited with popularizing this meaning of "otaku" in a 1983 article. The original meaning of "otaku" (お宅) was a formal way to say "you" or "your house".[1][2] One theory is that fans of Super Dimensional Fortress Macross used this form of address as homage, since the the show's creators and one of the characters (Hikaru Ichijoe) use it.[3]

It started to be used internationally when anime and manga became more popular. In English and other languages it is used to refer to fans of manga, anime and other Japanese media, usually without the negative connotations it has in Japanese.[4]

In 1991, the OVA Otaku no Video was released, and became a must-see for many anime fans; it has been called "an excellent example of sincere otaku pride combined with otaku making fun of themselves."[3]

In certain circles, calling yourself "otaku" is seen in a negative light, and sometimes even as cultural appropriation.[5]


  1. ^ "The Incredibly Strange Mutant Creatures who Rule the Universe of Alienated Japanese Zombie Computer Nerds (Otaku to You)"
  2. ^ Matthew Alt (April 2, 2008). "» What Kind of Otaku Are You?:: Néojaponisme » Blog Archive". neojaponisme.com. Retrieved February 12, 2019. 
  3. ^ a b The Origins of "Otaku", Lawrence Eng, 2003
  4. ^ Wikipedia on the international usage
  5. ^ people who still call themselves otaku in 2018 really are beyond help, May 22 2018 (archive)