Because the anime virus hasn't spread far enough....
Friday, April 8, 2011
Otaku: What's True and What Isn't
Ok, last time I talked about something in need of clarification, I talked about the concept of Moe and how it's not as bad as it seems. Today I want to look at a term that can mean a few different things. The term Otaku can be considered a derogatory word in Japan. If you walk up to someone there and say "Hi there! I'm an otaku!" They'll probably give you a weird or dirty look, mouth off to you and avoid you like the plague. Why would they do that? well let's take a look....
In Japan the word Otaku is used to describe someone who is obsessed with technology or someone obsessed with things like anime, manga and games which also takes a toll on their social life. So think of someone who's pretty much a shut-in with no physical friends or a significant other and only cares about geeky stuff. That's what a stereotypical otaku is. Yes, I said stereotypical, because just like different races, otaku end up on the receiving end of prejudice a good amount of the time. As I stated earlier, it's usually used in Japan as a derogatory term. Kinda like a racial slur, only not as bad. Otaku are pretty much shunned from regular society as freaks of nature. The sad part is that there ARE otaku out there that fit the stereotype. They have bad hygiene, they spend most of their time indoors, their social skills are horrendous and they tend to make really noticeable, questionable choices like having a body pillow, life-sized doll or even a girl in a dating sim be their real-life girlfriend or stalk and take pictures of girls who resemble anime characters. These guys give all otaku a bad name because they don't know how to separate fantasy from reality. If I played a dating sim for an entire month I wouldn't all of a sudden become smitten with the character I'm "dating" because I'm smart enough to know what is real and what isn't. Not all otaku are anti-social weirdos, but it's hard to make people realize that when there are things like a man marrying his Nintendo DS out there they can use to just beat us back down.
The otaku lifestyle, the normal type that is, is really no different from your typical geeky collector lifestyle, which is pretty common nowadays. I see myself as a typical otaku. I absolutely adore anime, manga and Japanese music, I love video games, I use a computer for everything, my room is filled with action figures and collectibles, etc. I'm not in the best of shape, but I'm not a total slob. I spend a lot of time by myself, but that's cause I'm used to it due to being an only child. I have a really good group of friends who like me for who I am, I don't go around online social sites or games hitting on virtual girl avatars and I'm not in a relationship with an inanimate object. I'm a normal dude. There are plenty of other otaku out there just like me, but we all just get lumped in with the crazies and wackos that we have to share the word otaku with. To put it in simple terms; Not all otaku are sex-crazed lunatics. So stop assuming we all are.
While that's how the word is interpreted in most of Japan as well as a bit of the US, the rest of the US see the use of the word otaku as an elitist way to make someone stand out. Kind of like a hipster who's trying to stand out and be original among the masses. As a result we end up getting hate not cause we're "weirdos" but because we're "weeabo", or people in the US who obsess over Japan to the point where they replace everyday words with Japanese terms or use them improperly. I'm pretty sure anyone in the US who considers themselves an otaku KNOWS what the term means as opposed to these fans that run around calling everything "kawaii" or slapping "desu" on the end of every sentence. At the end of the day it's just a word. In my opinion it's no different from ghetto people using slang. If you don't like us using the word, that's fine, but don't act like it's a crime against the anime community or act offended, because you aren't being called that. We're calling ourselves that.
So to wrap everything up, I hope I enlightened at least some of you about what an otaku is and why you shouldn't fall for the stereotypes. If you're an otaku, be proud of it. Don't act shameful, but don't act stupid either. For a better example of what I'm talking about, I suggest watching the series "Ore no Imoto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai" ("My Little Sister Can't Be This Cute" in English), which actually deals with being an otaku in a society that looks down upon and shuns them without question. Remember, everyone is different, but that's no reason to treat them like freaks.