Otaku is a Japanese term used to refer to people with obsessive interests, particularly anime (animation) and  manga (graphic novels). The term is derived from a Japanese word for another’s house or family. It appears to have been coined by the humorist and essayist Akio Nakamori in 1983. Common uses are anime otaku, manga otaku, pasokon otaku (personal computers enthusiasts), gēmu otaku (video game players), and wota otaku (extreme fans of idols, heavily promoted singing girls). There are also tetsudō otaku or denshamania (railfans) or gunji otaku (military geeks).

While these are the most common uses, the word can be applied to anything (music otaku, martial arts otaku, cooking otaku, etc.). Some of Japan’s otaku use the term to describe themselves and their friends semi-humorously, accepting their position as fans, and some even use the term proudly, attempting to reclaim it from its negative connotations. In general colloquial usage however, most Japanese would consider it undesirable to be described in a serious fashion as ‘otaku’; many even consider it to be an offensive term.


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