Q2# Should ‘otaku’ be used as a positive, negative, or neutral label?

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15 Responses to “Q2# Should ‘otaku’ be used as a positive, negative, or neutral label?”

  1. Li Julia Says:

    I think Otaku should be used as neutral lable. Otaku simiply means being obssessed about something. It does not necessarily means that it has to be bad. Another word for obssessed is passionate. People can be passionate about a certain band, computer games, mangas, animes and shoes (for women :D). However, if these obessions affect the other things in life, for example, only playing games at home, not doing anything and turn into a hikikomori, then the word Otaku turns into a negative word.

    It really depends on people’s view and the situation.

  2. gaijinalways Says:

    But is ‘otaku’ viewed as a neutral word in Japan? How about Australia or China?

  3. Panya Says:

    It seems to me like when most people in Japan talk about “Otaku”, they always ended up insulting the person they’re talking about, one way or another. The problem seems to be coming from the fact that, “Otaku” was classified as a “minority group” in Japanese society. And in most society, minority got ruled, and most of their action are being disapproved by the majority in the society.
    In my opinion, the word “Otaku” should not be a negative label. Like us, these people too, are just trying to do what they like. It’s their choice, to choose the way they live. I also agree with Julia, that we should see the way these people stick to something they like as passion, not as an act of pervert.
    In Thailand, now that the Japanese culture has had so much influences on the youngs, most kids seems to think that Japanese Otaku(s) are cool. Probably because of all their toys and all. Even befor I came to Japan ( that was about 4 years ago) people who collect cards, figures, or spend all days on computers, weren’t viewed as a bad influence, when compared to those who spend their time outside, hurting each other and all.

  4. gaijinalways Says:

    Often minorities get labeled, and certainly the ‘otaku’ are a minority group. I suppose it depends on how the actions of a group affect other groups.

    In Thailand, is it common to call people Otaku? What kind of people are called ‘otaku’? Is it all ages or particular age groups that are labeled as ‘otaku’?

  5. Panya Says:

    I believe that the term “Otaku” is being use to call people who are obsess in Japanese Maga(Anime) culture. And since the word “Otaku” is Japanese, the word itself was used among the otakus themselves. I’m not sure about the age, but I think there are no clear borders on the age line.

  6. ayamo Says:

    It is true that the word “OTAKU” was used as a negative label to dispect people who are fond of Manga, Anime or Computer Games in Japan. But though my experience in the U.S. I realized that this negative label wasn’t used only in Japan but also the U.S. as words like “nurd ” or “geek”.
    However in Japan, the image of OTAKU became better step by step after the release of a book and a drame series

  7. ayamo Says:

    ・・・of “DENSHA OTOKO”- the story of OTAKU who success to change himself to get a girlfriend. This story gave a stereo type that being “nomal” is better than being OTAKU and the view that minority people are looked down by majority people. The difference between these two groups are their ability to communicate with other people in the society, I guess. When there’s person who’s really into Manga and has an ability to get along with major people, I think that person won’t be called as “OTAKU” in bad way

  8. Rikko Says:

    I think that we should use the word “Otaku” as a neutral one. By nature, Otaku has been used as the word which means “YOU” and has some respect for the person in Japan. So, I think, the word has meaning like communication and relationship between people, becase we cannot say “Otaku” without the other person. Even if an Otaku in Akihabara says “I am the Otaku,” he is never like a social misfit, but he has some friends and may be living in a regular life.
    In fact, we use this word as a bad one for those who are engaged in animation or cartoon, but we all may have what we love very much. Maybe, much of the students like “mixi” or karaoke or sports or music, and they are spending time doing such a thing. And when we are talking about these with friends, we are very excited. I think all of us are like a “Otaku.” So, I am sure the word “Otaku” is a neutral one.

  9. Chihiro Says:

    As everyone has mentioned, people who are called Otaku are just spending longer time for doing what they like so much and I don’t think it is a bad thing to be passionate about what they like. But as for the term Otaku, it has already somehow included a negative image when we use, I think. If the things they are devoting for were not manga or anime, people would never be called as otaku. For example, famous scholars or professional sports players would be as passionate as Otaku or more about what they’re doing but they never be called Otaku. As Ayamo said, I think some reasons to be called Otaku has to do with if they can get along well with other people or not. Since the word Otaku includes a negative image itself, I think the thing we can do is just to be careful when we use this term so that we would not hurt somebody.

  10. gaijinalways Says:

    The way someone is labeled may have something to do with it, as well as the way a speaker intends its meaning to be. As an example, there is a long running difference of opinions about the word ‘gaijin’ and what its connotations are. Even amongst the people it is directed at, there are differences of opinion over whether it always has a certain meaning, or whether is it only when it is used in certain ways. I am wondering if ‘otaku’ is similar in that people who think they are ‘otaku’ don’t necessarily see the meaning of the word the same as others who use it.

    Finally, perhaps there is a difference in the sense of the meaning depending on the speaker’s age as well. My wife for example, usually uses it in a negative sense, and not just for people who are crazy about manga, animation, and related goods. She uses ‘otaku’ to describe anyone who has a ‘hobby’ that she thinks is taking up too much time.

  11. Yuka Says:

    I think the meaning of ‘otaku’ is depend on the age in Japan too. However, most people who are under about 40 yaers old, know the double meaning of ‘otaku’ because some medias picked up the TV show “Densya-Otoko” and other media like news23 had told the globality and sociality of ‘otaku’ .
    In my opinion, ‘otaku’ is positive, because Japanese new cultures have being spreded by ‘otaku’. Certainly ‘otaku’ is not only nomal people, but also sometimes become a thereat for our life.However, all of those are a stereotype, i think. (Basically, it is bottle neck that there is no common difinition of ‘otaku’ among us. ) I pass over Akihabara station every day since high school age, and I have not meet happening related with ‘otaku’.
    ‘otaku’ is a just passionable for their hobby and they may do not make a trouble among our society. Rather than this negative image, I think we should have some interests to ‘otaku’ because global people recognize ‘otaku’ is one of the cultures in japan.

  12. gaijinalways Says:

    I agree, and in truth, some young Americans don’t see being an ‘otaku’ as a shame, rather as a badge of pride. Some young Japanese that met these people were taken aback when the young Americans excitedly said, “We are otaku!” when meeting the young Japanese in a cultural exchange program.

    But often to my mind, when people say the word otaku, it often has connotations of Akihabara, maido and animae cafes, etc.. I suppose it depends on the extent to which people delve in their hobbies. Related to that, are most otaku married?

  13. Minkyung Lee Says:

    I think the word ‘otaku’ is mostly used in negative meaning NOW. We cannot deny that many people who hear that word think it’s bad image first. Even though i know there is some opinion on it’s positive aspect, whenever i hear that word bad image comes to me first anyway. Because their impression always go too far! (such as the boy with blackrimmed glasses wearing backpack and cross-striped shirt and who goes to Akihabara several times a week to buy some figures or mangas, etc. or a girl with big hats, flowery dress and prilled socks with pink shoes holding a western style fan in one hand and picnic bag with lace in another hand and so on.. )
    Of course i can see them as the people who really like to enjoy their hobbies with passion but to me, people usually use the word ‘mania’ instead of ‘otaku’ and the word ‘otaku’ makes me feel it has quite limitted range of use because it’s usually used for some specific japanese culture only.

  14. kanty Says:

    In Japan it is obvious that being otaku is regarded as kind of negative thing. However since being otaku simply means to be obssesed about something, I suppose each of us can be otaku of something like music or some cereblities. People usually imagine otaku as anime otaku, but it doesn’t have to be.
    I heard a story about otaku recently. My dad’s coworker is anime otaku and he’s collecting many action figures. He always drops by anime shops even during bussiness trips so others have been amazed. Actually he is married to a woman who is also otaku and they both enjoy collecting figures at their place.

  15. gaijinalways Says:

    A shared hobby is not necessarily a bad thing. Some people are Disney freaks who like to visit all the amusement parks and snap up new items as they become available.

    So why do ‘otakus’ have a bad image with many people in Japan? Is it their poor social skills or something else?

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