The Word ‘Otaku’

Okay, so a lot of people kept asking us for a definition of the word ‘Otaku’ and giving a bunch of crap about how we don’t have a leg to stand on. We intended to give a definition before the project actually started, but we did also mention we’d do it in the previous post. Come on, how do you expect us to take your dramatic comments and opinions seriously when you can’t even read properly? This also applies to a whole wealth of subjects we’ve already discussed but still get questioned about. Thankfully a few others saw it; props to you.

As you probably know, the word ‘otaku’ in popular culture has been flying about since the 80s, we’re not entirely sure what wikipedia or any other so called ‘expert’ has to say on the matter of it’s origins, but allowing for a fallacy here, and incorrect information over there, everyone can come to the same conclusion that the term ‘otaku’ (in the context we know it) is a psuedo-offensive word used to describe someone who has such an obsessive interest in a particular subject that they don’t leave their house because they are too engrossed in it. Of course we’re always referring to anime otaku when we use it here. It would be unfair of us to comment on any other type because we simply don’t know enough about their field.

We saw someone reference 中森明夫 and his 「おたく」の研究 ‘essay’ he wrote in 1983 for 漫画ブリッコ magazine. It was interesting they brought it up; like a few others at the time you could probably credit him for spreading the term, but much like a lot of these other so-called social scientists, they’ve not actually lived the life, they just sat on the fence and wrote articles about what they thought was happening. If you want to know what the scene is about, look towards the writers etc. that have been right in the center of the culture and experienced the life, such as 宅八郎 or 本田透. 宅八郎 actually went on to write a slightly pretentious book about the subject later on down the line, but he did know what he was talking about, so it’s forgivable.

Speaking of which, we used to laugh at 本田透 when one day it seemed he decided he’d start preaching the word “otaku” and try to make it something cool, it was never going to happen. By it’s very nature there really is nothing ‘cool’ about the otaku scene at all. However, by some strange twist of fate, he developed a small following who were proud to call themselves otaku and it became something that was strangely cool, yet perverse about being otaku (And to be otaku was to really be otaku). Logically it was quite the insult, but you couldn’t help but feel as if you belonged to something special.

After all the Trainman/電車男 crap, the scene seemed to get global recognition, the word was being splashed around like gasoline and EVERYONE was ‘otaku’ as long as they were interested in anime, there was a real love/hate thing going on. Now with foreigners flooding Japan, game companies getting negative attention from western activist groups, the word ‘otaku’ is degenerating into not just an insult, but an insult that we can’t even take pride in anymore. In other words, these so called ‘otaku’ blogs that are spreading all kinds of crap are ruining the scene and the corporate giants are moving in and using it as a marketing technique to earn some quick cash (See: Danny Choo’s relationship with GSC). Books like ‘Otacool’ and ‘The otaku encylopedia’ are not just bullshit, they’re also ruining the original Akiba spirit by compartmentalising fans and encouraging the big cash-cows to overtake the smaller, more unique shops in Akihabara with their wallet-milking, soulless merchandise.

So there’s some history and a bit of a rant. But where does that leave you? Well, there are no strict guidelines. I think there was a comment somebody made asking what the ‘Figure-per-week’ limit was before you become otaku. That’s the completely wrong approach and it’s one people take all the time. While the comment probably wasn’t 100% serious, the point does still stand.

A lot of you complain that we haven’t given you any guidelines on what is otaku, and that’s where you’re going wrong, there are no real set guidelines, although if you’re at the point where you can honestly say that it dominates 90% of your waking thoughts, you’re halfway there.

> Oh and calm down Commix, it was funny to read, but we’d hate for someone to have a stress-induced cardiac arrest and die all over our blog (but we’d get some serious hits). Their roles were ‘Administration’ and project planning respectively. You should know all about the latter. But hey, it beats being a civil servant.

Danny choo will subtly sell you the idea through his blog that ‘otaku’ is buying x, playing y and watching z but he would, he’s a good businessman (business otaku maybe?) so it’s natural. We’re selling you the idea that otaku is just 100% pure concentrated passion. And we are otaku, we’ve been on the real scene for years; we know what’s up and we see what does and doesn’t get reported.

Logically, who are you going to trust? Next time you meet Danny Choo and he ever starts to use the word ‘otaku’ to describe himself or his peers, get up and ask him what position he is in to stand infront of you and insult your intellect by using that word as if he is the raging authority on it, when most, if not all of the figures he owns were given to him as gifts for his business.

You’ve got two options really:

You can stop using the word ‘otaku’, stop harming the real otaku scene, stop the destruction of the good, original Akihabara and think up some other word, or just refer to yourself as a fan or something (Nothing wrong with just being a fan. We’re not elitists, we just care about what’s relevant).

Or you can become otaku. Colour, creed, nationality, gender is all irrelevant as long as you have a burning passion that doesn’t succumb to mindless fandom (And it’s our job to distinguish that with the elimination game itself). Everyone loves the classics, but when your anime interests are limited to the same old same old, then there’s no way you can call yourself anything more than a fan of the mainstream, and that’s not the otaku spirit at all. Not at all. As we mentioned before, otaku can be sick, twisted and totally perverted at times, many times. But as a label, you have to run with it and hold on, you can’t be a part timer when it suits you.

To be a real otaku you have to be completely obsessive beyond simply collecting merchandise. Live it, breathe it and love it. Don’t let some moron with more cameras than posters on his wall tell you what to buy or what is or isn’t ‘otaku’. Get it from the underground and get it while it’s fresh. Most western fans seem to be limited to watching whatever chartfag puts on his latest charts. We respect the guy because he works hard on them and they are both eye-pleasing and informative (That’s a real skill) but inevitably some slip through the net, look for them yourself and don’t use wikipedia as a base.

>We love narutards, they’re about a million miles from otaku, but the passion is real and sometimes borderline psychotic, what more could we ask for?

Well, we’ve really rattled on here but we hope we made our point clear. Those who think we are simply trolling do so because they cannot accept ideals aside from their own. We didn’t want to have to waste our time on something like this in the first place, but because of this polluted scene we decided we’d do it if nobody else would.

So, to finalise: The fact of the matter is that the blog/site ripping is simply a means to an end, you know just as well as we do that if we were to drop a small comment in a blog about the use of the word, a tiny internet drama would erupt and nobody would be any the wiser. This blog is one big attempt to reclaim the true meaning of the word and stop the scene from degenerating altogether, and it seems like endless debate isn’t the way to do it. If you wrongly call yourself ‘otaku’ of course we’re going to verbally bash your blog/site, if you don’t then you’ll get away with a few jabs and an ‘approved’ rating. Every case is different and we acknowledge that.

Moving away from the subject and heading elsewhere; we’ve seen a few comments complaining that we’re anonymous (And quite a few saying that we should remain anonymous). Flashy internet names? That’s an idea, but what difference would it really make? This argument just seems like a weak attempt at trying to divide us and single each one of us out when our ideas are collective anyway. United we stand, divided we fall; and we’re not about to let anyone use that against us.

Oh yeah, lolikitsune made an interesting point about language constantly changing, and he is totally right; about 5-10 years ago you guys (the bloggers) wouldn’t have been using the word ‘Otaku’ much, if at all, so there’s a demonstration of that right there. However, it’s the same here and because all of the above genuinely means something to us, so it’s our crusade to take back to word and keep it for those who gave it a small dosage of pride (as opposed to it being a throwaway fashion label, because that’s basically what it has become).

One way or another, the project will continue. We do 4 blogs a week and we select them on the day/day before. We have a bunch of documents of near complete posts for the majority of the blogs that we did before the project even started; then we finalise and tweak for any updates/changes and add a few screencaps and so on. It’s friday most of the time, but sometimes saturday if we’re busy.

People are waiting for this to die, but as long as people are submitting their blog, it’ll keep going. Right now we predict it’ll take about two thirds of a year to finish. We’re more of a volcano than a flame; who knows when we could lash out and destroy bloggers with burning lava? Who knows when we’ll erupt and block out the sun with a black cloud? Who knows when we’ll stop using ridiculous metaphors to describe ourselves? Until next time.



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50 responses to “The Word ‘Otaku’

  1. The part about DC is so true, and has been since the start of his days. But I guess people still cannot see that.

    • Agree with this. I’ve been a part of the community back on his Ver4 (with the cool hexagonal banner) but the site just isn’t what it was!
      But most people in the community over there won’t see it because they jumped on after the “boom” in users, after dancing trooper and all that stuff!

  2. CC

    A bit off topic but if you don’t mind me asking, once this project is done and over with, will you (all) still be around? I can’t help but wonder if we’ll see more after this.

    I, like many others, find Otaku Elimination to be quite delightful. I honestly resent how the word “otaku” has been thrown around these days (I won’t ever claim to be an otaku, for what it’s worth). I won’t lie and sit here jerking myself off all over this blog; I find some parts of OE to be pretty pretentious but I still agree with the idea and I feel as though it needed to be said/done. However, that leads to me another question. What do you aspire to obtain from this? It’s very likely that no matter what you or anyone else does, people will still endlessly bastardise the word — such is the internet.

    P.S. lolikitsune is a dong.

  3. aaaaah text overload! *feints*

  4. Let me see if I’m understanding you guys correctly…
    So you guys are basically trying your damnedest to separate the difference between an “anime fan” and an “otaku”, because that line has been blurred by large businesses trying to cash in, and use the term “Otaku” akin to a “cool anime lifestyle” which by true definition it is not.

    You’re trying to undo what corporate branding has done.

    I applaud you guys for that!

    I have to admit, that I feel guilty now for feeding in and fueling this branding with my small “otaku pride” section. I should re-label that. ^_^

  5. I love you guys, and CC is a cunt.

  6. Also, a comment about “biblical proportions” needs to be made at some point.

  7. Pingback: I endorse the Otaku Elimination Game « notdotq

  8. You cleared some of the points from my post. Now when I know your purpose, and what is more important, the backgrounds behind it, I sympathise with you more.

    For me, a name of yours would have the sole purpose of defining. But since you already got ‘OEG’ stuck to you I’m content. I don’t exactly know why, but for me it’s important that things have names. (And the original Otaku Elimination Game is just too long)

    So your goal is honourable, but you must understand that ‘eliminating’ and ‘getting off the scene’ won’t work. You can motivate people to improve, to change, in your case to begin using the term the right way, but I doubt even a single blogger would blush, apologize, and hide in a corner. Perhaps it’s not your true picture of a success, but maybe changing the way of expressing it would change the attitude of the blogosphere towards you.

    Also, your list covers an unbelievably small piece of the aniblogosphere, there are just a few of the bloggers I know there. I recommend looking into AnimeNano.

    • This is actually a reply to everyone saying “needs more animu blarghs” … note that an anime blog does not make the blogger an Otaku. If the world worked like that, my photo blog would make me a professional photographer.

      • But the idea is specifically to purge “otaku” from the aniblogosphere.

      • That’s true. But they already have blogs in their list that have not a single mention of the word ‘otaku’. So, I suppose they want to review all aniblogosphere blogs, despite the otaku-(fake-)ness of their bloggers.

  9. You know, when I go to a blog and see something that pisses me off, I just ignore it (if it pisses me off enough I just don’t go back to the blog… ever).

    But to each his own.

  10. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Word ‘Otaku’ « The 'Otaku' Elimination Game --

  11. w00t, so it sounds like I’ve completely got this bagged.

  12. mefloraine

    I like hearing your reasoning–it gives you a purpose that you seemed to be somewhat lacking in before.

    I would like to point out as a very small blogger and someone who does not particularly care about this project one way or the other, however, that languages are only alive because they change and grow. If people were averse to any word taking on new meaning, the language would stand still and, like Latin, become a “dead” language.

    Development is key in any language, and trying to force a revert through “elimination” of bloggers not only defeats the purpose of a living language but isn’t really going to do much.

    Just mentioning: people on the internet don’t generally tend to care. It’s all a big “lol” and they shrug it off.

    I admire your effort though, personally, if not your means.

    • I’m completely agree with you on the subject about living language!

      I respect OE’s ideals, really. But eventually the word will change or disappear whether you like it or not. The best that OE can hope for is to remind everyone what ‘otaku’ once was.

  13. I remember the days when Danny Choo’s blog was actually readable because it was written in coherent English…

    Guess this is the symptom of being too successful in that one loses their focus entirely. Why yes, there is a tinge of envy in this comment.

  14. blackholeheart

    First Off I’ll state that that I find the idea behind your project interesting and occasionally insightful, however I think you have some logical blindspots I’d like to go over.

    Firstly the idea that some poorly written blogs are ruining the collective(I get to why I use this word in a moment) fandom is so melodramatic that I can’t help but think that the level of hyperbole is meant to point out this exercise as a joke.

    Second, the word “otaku” in this subculture at least, is a Japanese loan-word into English and much like any number of English loan-words in Japan(I understand how you feel, it sometimes sets my teeth on edge to hear my language mangled by non-native speakers but I deal), does not mean quite the same thing on the other side of the language divide.

    Lastly(for the moment), aren’t you aiming this at the wrong folks? Do the English Anibloggers really any impact on the Akihabara/Japanese fandom(other than Danny Choo and its not like he talks to us anyway)? You see, English language fandom and Japanese Otaku very different beasts, we (here in the USA anyway) never had the crippling level of social stigmata tied to our hobby that you(I’m assuming that you are Japanese Otaku given your stated credentials, that or the biggest, oldest, weeaboos going) had tied to your hobby and that alone was enough to ensure that we are a separate fandom from yours(not to mention a ocean and a language barrier). So shouldn’t you be going after the new type fans in the Japanese bloggosphere, or at least Danny Choo(since it is readily apparent you take exception to him)?

    That is all for the moment, looking forward to reading more from you all.

  15. CitationsPlease

    “Danny choo will subtly sell you the idea through his blog that ‘otaku’ is buying x, playing y and watching z”

    In what way? Can you cover this with more depth once you review his site?

    “We’re selling you the idea that otaku is just 100% pure concentrated passion.”
    I wouldn’t use this as an argument against Danny Choo being a true otaku. He really does love Japan/anime/figures/etc. And he has a passion for it. I would find a stronger counterpoint to use. I am not saying you are incorrect about Danny Choo, it’s just that this quote can appear to be contradictory.

    • It could be understood by the quoted statement, that Danny’s promoted otaku “connoisseurship” is a matter of zombie consumerism.

      • CitationsPlease

        That’s quite a valid point. Thank you for the simple yet concise response.

        Aside from that –
        It makes me sad to see that most of Danny Choo’s current blog posts have almost nothing to do with Japan or its culture. Mostly just random toys/happenings. His oldest posts were his best.

  16. the part about Danny Choo made me chuckled. Thank you. I’m holding on to my seat and can’t wait for this ride to start moving again.

  17. Interesting. I always cringe when people use the word “Otaku”, I’ve never liked it and it’s too awkward to explain to friends why. I’ve never called myself one, though I have been a narutard at one point (not anymore though, thankfully?).

    I hope you have fun with this project (it’s rare to have a blog with something so original).

  18. Unless someone ripped my shit, that figurines-per-week-line refers to my post – and indeed, it was not a serious statement. Anyone who claims that otaku-ness can be measured simply by such means as how many figurines one buys is an idiot and you bet I’m glad your answer was not “well, we’d say it’s around 52”.
    I agree with blackholeheart on the load-words, it’s rather unrealistic to expect a loaned word to maintain its exact original meaning. You guys probably spotted my short ramble about the global use of the Finnish term sauna and how most sauna adaptations worldwide seem mostly like cheap ripoffs to us Finns (I’ve heard some traveling acquaintances complaining about Japanese ‘Finnish’ saunas). The local perception on the sauna customs and etiquette have huge variance and it’d be futile to expect everyone to do it the same way as we do here (some don’t even have snow to jump into afterwards, poor bastards).
    Also, I agree with the statement about English part of the fandom having little effect on Akihabara. We don’t see Japs much at all in the English ‘sphere. Hell, I can remember maybe two occasions when a Japanese person has appeared on a channel where me and my fellow bloggers hang out (and that was a Finnish channel, I don’t know if #animeblogger has ever witnessed Japanese users). Thus that leads me to believe that Japs don’t have all that much interest in whatever we write or do. I mean, it’s not like we could ever know. Danny Choo may have an impact but that’s DC for you, as far as I know he’s an exception in the English ‘sphere. I don’t really know all that much about him; I’ve never read his blog (just the layout gives me shivers) and I’m too much of a newfag in the ‘sphere to know about his history. Out of curiosity I’d really like to see some evidence on how the English scene has actually had an impact on Akihabara. Not that I’m demanding it but to me this whole ordeal seems very interesting.

    • Good point on the term otaku having been “loaned” to those outside of Japan. Same goes for the term “sauna” being used outside of Finland.Use it often enough like any other thing that becomes popular outside of its country of origin and lines bordering its terminology or use will definitely get grayed out.

      This definitely appears to be an exercise in identifying those who are “otaku” in the truest sense of the word.

      I admit I’m nowhere near as hardcore as those who claim to be truly “otaku”.

      • Orcinus

        That’s right Frost. If you’re honest enough about your claim, then one shouldn’t claim at all, like avoiding the word entirely (in a way that kind of word avoidance is a statement, right?).

  19. aren’t you just propagating the use of the word by driving traffic to the sites that you cover?

  20. percent20

    If I recall correctly otaku was never a negative thing until there was a murder, by one. And otaku that you talk about is actually hikikimori so I would really suggest working your terms.

    The concept of your site is interesting, but _will_ get no where. Take the world “Hacker” not a lot of people know the difference between a hacker and a cracker and it will continue to stay that way. I still explain the difference, but because, as mentioned before, language evolving and growing I now am not bothered by the mis-use of the word Hacker by 99% of people.

    Same thing with Otaku if you get down to it you should rip anyone that uses the word otaku if they are not Japanese. Because in a technical since, according to your definition, only a Japanese person can really be an otaku.

    In the United States the term Otaku has no negative connotation and is almost synonymous with a japanophile so depending on the region a word is used determines whether it truly is being used correctly or not. I am sure if i talked to you i could come up with a list of at least 10 words that you are using improperly from its original meaning.

    I do have one question though you talk about if someone thinks about “it” 90% of the time then they are half way there. What is it? you never specified. Inferring from your paragraph I would have to imagine that if someone is thinking about begin an otaku for 90% of the day then they are an otaku. that kind of seems a bit to recursive.

    anyway good luck.

    • Since when did Hikikomori have anything to do with this? Otaku choose to stay indoors because it’s where the majority of our interests reside (Even the non-otaku don’t need to be explained that one). Hikikomori cannot go outside for their own reasons , it is most definitely a social problem and debatably a psychological one too. Do not ever get the two confused, they are completely different. What credibility do you even hold yourself? You’re working with ideas you’ve drawn from anime and the news. There is no way we can take a comment like that with any kind of integrity; if it wasn’t for the fact we give everyone the right to an opinion (stupid or not), we would have just removed that comment for sheer misinformation and what can only be phrased as an uneducated viewpoint that even children with mental disabilities would scoff at. Next time, we might not be forgiving enough to approve it.

      • “Otaku choose to stay indoors” hmmm… now that I think about it, I haven’t left my house in quite a number of days, since I sit in front of this computer all day, and play video games, and watch anime…

        I should go out… and buy some video games.

  21. The Mighty Commix

    Ha. Your ability to google IP addresses and sense of justice has impressed me mildly. Now you’ve stopped with the “WAAAAHHH LOTS OF NEW PEOPLE LIKE OUR HOBBY BUT WE LIKED OUR HOBBY FIRST YEARS AGO ITS OUR HOBBY” style bitch-whining and started making some fucking sense, you might get somewhere.

    In fact, despite the still ever present whiff of man-hymen, there might still be some hope for you cunts yet.

  22. I’m interested in what’s going to come out of this project. The response so far has been surprising, and I hope it continues.

    On a side note, now I’m also interested to know what the group’s definition of moé is and what they think of how others use the term. :P

  23. d'

    MORE elimination pls kay thanks :3
    nice wall of text ..

    you guys evil for good i guess
    otaku is really being overused by some low tier fan ~

    >_> ”

  24. abdul

    So is it possible for a non japanese or for somebody not living in japan to be “otaku”?
    I don’t claim to be one but if I lived in Japan, I can easily see myself becoming otaku.

    I also want to know how the non-japanese anime fandom influences japanese companies and japanese otaku. Personally I think they don’t give a damn about us. Maybe they do so a little for USA and southeastern asia fans, but not for fans from the rest of the world.

    • Yes, it’s perfectly possible for someone with no links to japan other than the merchandise and whatnot to become Otaku.
      It’s just important to truly understand what it means. One thing which erked me for the longest time was how many in the western community treat the term like some sort of badge of pride and try to publically announce it to everyone as loud as they can!!!
      By this time, the original meaning of the word has pretty much been destorted beyond comprehension!

      Personally, I would never tell someone that I am otaku but if someone asked me if I was, I wouldn’t outright deny it.

  25. Pingback: Every blog can have its little own O.E.G.

  26. Hey guys, I’m making a new blog called The ‘Linguist’ Elimination Game. I’m going to be picking out sites run by douchebags who act like they have the final say on the meanings of words, even though those words are constantly being changed by the contexts in which people use them.

    Guess who’s first on the list?

  27. Pingback: How did we get here – An introductory post, at best « On the fence

  28. Pingback: The controversy around the word otaku « Nandeyanen!

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  30. Pingback: A (Hopefully) Comprehensive Primer on the Sexual Psychology of Otaku « Fuzakenna!

  31. Fell

    Just for the record, I and my contemporaries were calling ourselves Otaku with the full knowledge of its epithet quality back in 1992.

  32. Pingback: Nopy's Blog

  33. Pingback: Nopy's Blog

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