Otaku can be described as a hardcore nerd, geek or fanboy/fangirl.  It originates from a polite second-person pronoun meaning "your home" in Japanese, allowing the speaker to refer to the listener indirectly.  In the US the word Otaku means "geek" a person who's into Anime, Manga, video games, the internet and/or technology.

An Otaku is a person who spends much of their time at home cultivating hobbies of the most diverse kinds.  At first, in the nineties, Otaku was distinctly pejorative, implying the person didn't have a real life beyond the hobby.  But when word got out overseas, it took on the meaning of "a fan of Japanese culture" and "a fan of anime and manga."  The meaning it acquired overseas gave the word slightly more positive connotation in Japan and at present most people simply joked with their friends as to say "You are a computer otaku", "you are a Gundam otaku", etc... 

There are 7 types of common and well defined Otaku types in Japan.

  1. Manga otaku:  They not only read manga but collect all types of material of their favorite series.
  2. Anime otaku:  Similar to Manga but more focused on collecting DVD's of their favorite anime series.
  3. Figure otaku:  They collect figures based on series.  There's a whole world of different figurines some for Gundam, video games and some for the persons favorite anime.  For example, I have a few of Final Fantasy the video game and some Star Wars.
  4. Pasokon otaku:  Obsessed with computers, they keep servers at home to host otaku communities and always have the latest thing, buying and selling.  Many of these Pasokon otaku's like building and collecting robots and electronic montages.
  5. Wota: Idol Otaku:  They are fans of idols and singers whose music, DVDs and photos they collect.
  6. Gemu otaku:  Video game otaku they own every game console on the market and usually focus on role-playing games, for which they buy ever single guide available in bookstores.
  7. Densha otaku:  Guys love trains these otaku fans collect figurines of all the trains and keep up to date on hobbyist magazines that have specs on the latest model.

Do you consider yourself an Otaku?  What kind would you call yourself?


Photo: Androniki Christodoulou

Photo: Androniki Christodoulou