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Otaku is one of the most prominent Japanese subcultures. It leaves observers puzzled, although people might think it is not a substantial part of the Japanese culture; however, it is seen as a huge part of the Japanese subcultures. This essay will discuss the emergence of the Otaku, how it classifies as a subculture, types of otakus and the stereotypes associated with them.
To begin with, subculture is a group of people who reject the mainstream culture and decide to adopt a lifestyle which is, in a sense, rebellious against the mainstream. Usually large cultures involve multiple smaller subcultures that have values and norms that are distinct from the main culture which makes it also known as deviant subculture. To understand otaku we need to take a step back and analyze its historical emergence.
The term found its way to the public in the 80s and is said to have different meanings according to the context. Before becoming a subculture, the word otaku was used to indicate an honorific second-person. In other ways, it is used to refer to “nerds”, “geeks” or persons with high obsession for anime and manga. The contemporary usage of the word originated with Akio Nakamori’s essay in a magazine called Manga Burikko.
What is the stereotypic image of otakus? Well, it is not that easy to locate them in a crowd, but some people say that otakus usually tend to have not styled hair and wear out of fashion clothes. On the other hand, an image some people perceive is that otakus usually wear handmade outfits of their favorite characters that give the vibe that they have been done with huge passion and precision. These pictures, alongside with many others, show that the otakus are just like any other people, and it is not that easy to pinpoint an otaku.
The media was never really fair to otakus and the word was, and remains to be, used in an offensive way. Even though that happens a lot more people self-identify as otakus, and the word is starting to become less offensive. There was first stigma around them when Miyazaki Tsotomu , who was labeled as an otaku, murdered 4 girls. Other crimes have been used in media to portrait otakus in a negative way. Another crime in 2004 that seemed to destroy the image of otakus even further, when Kaoru Kobayashi was guilty of sexually assaulting and murdering a 7 year old. Although he was not an otaku a journalist, named Akihiro Otani, suspected this crime to be related being an otaku. Akihiro said “Although I don’t intend to blame otakus but they are potential criminals.”
There are more than 12 types of otakus only one of which is related to anime and manga. One of the interesting types is the train otakus , also known as Tetsudou Otaku. They are obsessed photographing trains and riding trains. They may also be interested in train uniforms and model trains. Even the anime and Manga otakus have differences when it comes to interests. Some people just read manga or watch anime others play games, usually known as gamer otakus. They tend to play massively multiplayer online roleplaying games in which players set off on a very competitive virtual adventure. Gamer otakus usually make this virtual character as a picture of what they want to be, or they do things that bring joy, usually harder to do otherwise in the real world. Moreover, games have been known to help people with things like autism and many other social and psychological problems. It is known to create a simulated world for the patient and helps him gain more confidence by progressing through the game.
Another type is cosplay otaku. People are enthusiastic about wearing costumes and are usually more sociably open and make friends through cosplay activities. The similar aspect between otakus of varied interests is that they are always seen as people with very high obsession, this obsession usually affects their life negatively starting from spending too much time and money on their hobby or being rejected by the society.
The anime and manga industry is a huge business mostly aimed to satisfy customers. The main consumers of the anime and manga products are otakus. The industry remains to increase in size and ideas. It varies all the way from having a full region in Tokyo called Akihabara aimed to provide otakus with everything they can ever dream of and also sponsoring trains and areas with anime characters. These details show how the multibillion dollar industry benefits from the interest of otakus in their consumable products.
Just like any subculture, otaku, has spread to many countries abroad. The USA and Philippines are some of the countries that are known for having high number of anime and manga fans. I see it as something advantageous used to shed the light over Japan as a free country where everybody can express their interests and beliefs.
In my humble opinion I believe the biggest moral or subcultures remains to be accepting people’s differences. By acknowledging people’s differences and learning to accept, no matter how different people are, earth would be a much better place.
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