What is an Otaku?

What is an Otaku? That has been debated for some time now. Let’s delve into the topic.

The term Otaku (written in both hiragana as おたく and katakana as オタク) has been used in Japan for decades as a negative term. It’s basically the English equivalent of a nerd or a geek. Someone who doesn’t have much of a social or love life, and spends their time with either anime, manga, cosplay, video games, the internet, and other activities. Most people who use the word would say the activities Otaku spend their life on must originate in Japan. Simply playing Call of Duty all day won’t make you an Otaku, but playing Final Fantasy all day would.

Do not confuse Otaku with Weeabo. An Otaku is someone who appreciates Japanese culture and activities. A Weaboo is someone who loves Japanese culture and activities, but hates their original heritage. They usually make fools of themselves by pretending to be Japanese in an annoying fashion.


Over the years, people who have been considered Otaku have embraced the term. Just like nerd and geek culture has become popular in the west, even though it still has the same negative meaning down to its definition, people around the world gladly take on the title and no longer hide the hobbies they love.


Similar to nerd and geek culture, those who self-identify as Otaku have criticized others who are coming out as Otaku now that it is “popular.” Otaku, have taken criticism for years because of what they enjoy, and are now coming face to face with the popular crowd who want to join in on the fun.

And that’s the basic explanation to “What is an Otaku?” You can find more information on subculture terms just like this in my growing Otaku Encyclopedia.