Otaku – Concept, origin, ambiguity, comics and animation

We explain what an otaku is, the origin of the term and its original meaning. Also, how Japanese animation became popular.

The otaku culture has an economic impact of two million yen.

What is an otaku?

The Japanese term otaku has been adopted in the West to refer to fans of the world of Japanese comics and illustration, in their respective variants of the sleeve, anime and, to a lesser extent, drama. This use of the term comes from a 1983 essay by Akio Nakamori, published in Manga Burikko magazine, but throughout the 1980s and 1990s it has become popular as this particular subculture has grown.

The massification of the otaku world and its followers in the West It arose with the “boom” of Japanese animation that occurred in the last two decades of the 20th century, and that especially attracted the youth and children audience.

This subculture enjoyed an ambiguous social valuation. It was commercially popular, but at the same time there was some negativity in Japan, as a result of media reports of the so-called Japanese “Otaku assassin”, Tsutomu Miyazaki (1962-2008), who between 1988 and 1989 kidnapped and murdered four girls out of four and seven years old.

In general terms, individuals obsessively interested in the Japanese imaginary of comics and animation are classified as otaku: their narratives, their characters, their iconic language and their echoes in other commercial formats, such as video games or role-playing games.

Among their usual practices are the japapophilia (adoption of the Japanese culture), the disguise (cosplay), the impersonation of popular characters, and the massive concentration in specialized conventions.

Nevertheless, the otaku world can be very diverse and have many ramifications, depending on the styles of animations and comics consumed, or their association with artists and musicians from the pop scene. The total economic impact of otaku culture is estimated at two million yen.

In its original context, the Japanese term otaku refers to someone else’s home., and by extension, it is used as a formal or honorary second person personal pronoun, more or less equivalent to “you” in Spanish. This use of the word differs from its use in the colloquial and commercial sphere in that the latter is written only in hiragana (お た く) or katakana (オ タ ク).