Reality Check: Are Otaku Really as Bad as People See Them?

As you may know, I am just new here at AOIA. I have only started to become active in the internet last October. I started with a humble blog and started replying to blog posts using my handle name, afkeroge (now @fkeroge). During this short period, I have seen quite a few websites and blogs about anime and net culture. I have seen episodic anime blogs, fanblogs, imageboards, Sankaku Complex and many other sites and had changing opinions about what I saw back then.

I thought of writing this article when I saw some people confessing at a certain site that they can’t get to enjoy their hobbies openly because of possible criticism, and most of these people claim to be from America.

I’ll share with you my own story. About a few months before I became active in the blogosphere, I always thought that anime and visual novels were the best things ever created by the hands of men. I was an outgoing otaku who would spread the word about the last anime series he last watched among his friends, even though only a few really cared back then. I would fanboy over the Negi x Nodoka pairing and tell my classmates and roommates how great they were together, even though they don’t really know much about Negima. I have tried and failed many times to learn Japanese, even taking amateur Nihongo classes, just because I loved everything about the Land of the Rising Sun. I would watch three year-old Japan Video Topics on local TV even though I have seen them ten times before. I would use random Japanese words in my daily conversation just so I would seem knowledgeable about the language, even though I was not. I would do Japanese karaoke back then (I still listen to them now, but not as frequent as I did back then). Point is, I was really obsessed about anime and good ol’ Japan.

If I was in America, or any other country that shuns otaku, I might have been bullied and/or ignored my whole high school life. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but it seems that a minority of people in America, the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, have problems expressing their love for eastern modern visual culture, and those who do express their interest often become outcasts. Based on what I’ve seen, many Americans tend to not like people who obsess over things that are not part of their culture, like anime, and the hate is slowly spreading in other countries as well. I have heard stories of people getting depressed and locking themselves in their rooms when word came out that they like anime or manga. And the worst part of it is, most of them are not even close to being as extreme as I was back in my high school years. I lived through a rather normal high school life, had many friends and people I didn’t get along with, but I was NEVER, EVER criticized for being an anime fan and obsessing over Japan.

Though I really shouldn’t be speaking highly about myself, I don’t think I’m a bad guy, not back then, not now. And if someone like me isn’t a bad guy, then those people who got cast out by society because they like anime and manga as a hobby are most certainly not, either. Some argue that the ones who are usually addicted to anime and manga are often perverts, nerds and social rejects, especially if the person in question is a guy. But the question is, are they really?

Tsutomu Miyazaki

There are may criminals in this small world we live in, and I’m sure that not even 1% of them are regular anime watchers. I mean, we all know about Tsutomu Miyazaki, the one often blamed for giving otakus the bad reputation they had in the 90’s due to him murdering four very young girls and defiling their bodies. But is he the only criminal who has done this kind of thing? Are otakus the only kind of people capable of commiting these atrocities? No. What I’m trying to say is that not all people who watch anime are bad, not the regular viewers, not the die-hard fans, not the weeaboos; and there are people who are far worse, if we go by moral standards.

Let’s take the Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris case back in 1979. I doubt these guys have even watched anime. They were convicted for the kidnapping, torture, rape and murder of five women. And even today, they are still in jail, with one sentenced to life imprisonment and the other still in death row, as of 2008. These are pretty despicable people, if we go by moral standards. But somehow, otakus get all the hate for things that the are not even doing. Most otakus and weeaboos are nice, even if they are quite weird and annoying at times. In fact, they are quite worthy of praise for standing up for what they like.

Let’s face it. People are not hostile to otaku because they are addicted to anime or manga. They are bullied, taunted and ignored because they are different, as with almost any other case of extreme bullying. People judge others because of what they do and their interests. People hate those who do not follow the social norm. They hate people who prefer 2D over 3D. they think they’re creepy and crazy. The same goes for fans of other kinds of fiction, like American comic books. Extreme fans are often cast away by society. WHY!? Really, I just want someone to give me a straight, reasonable answer. Here in the Philippines, we don’t really hold anything against people who do what they like, as long as it’s not bad. As one saying goes: “Kanya-kanya tayo ng trip. Walang basagan, pre.” (“We all have our obsessions. To each his own, buddy.”). Why can’t people just do this?

As real life references, I have quite a few friends who are really addicted to Naruto, Bleach and Fairy Tail. I also have friends who like the less mainstream stuff. But what they have in common is that they are all good people. Some of them are lolicons, some of them like the cute 2D girls and guys, some are certified fujoshi, some like yuri like me, and some of them just like anime in general, all besides my friends who don’t even touch anime. They can be weird at times (like me), but they are pretty much like any other person, hyping up the things that he/she likes, be it anime, Justin Bieber or Twilight.

I wont stand by the “haters gonna hate” reasoning. It’s stupid, in my opinion. It goes below any rational thinking. I feel that it’s a sign of giving up on searching for understanding, and I hate that. No offense to the other people.

Now, dear Reader, now that you’ve gone through this article, what do you think about otaku now? If you have anything to say, anything at all, be it insults directed at me or comments about otaku, feel free to leave comments. I won’t censor anything; save for ad hominem arguments directed at Valence, Anima, Carillus or other users. I will try with everything I have to convince people to have respect for every human being. I once acted like a hater and spouted useless insults towards extreme anime fans, but I take all of those back. Call me a hypocrite, but I just want people to not go through the same mistakes as I did back then.

About Lucas Magnus

Trying to change for the better.
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30 Responses to Reality Check: Are Otaku Really as Bad as People See Them?

  1. kluxorious says:

    It’s irony that the land of the free and home of the brave isn’t really that free or brave for that matter. They pretended to be but in reality they are just hypocrite. I am blessed to be born in the Asia region where we aren’t harshly judge by our appearances, hobbies, etc.

    Maybe the misunderstanding comes from the word otaku itself. It was degrading but really it is all depends on the context of the whole situation. That being said, to judge/shunt people just because of their hobbies are moronic, and perhaps kind of inhuman if you think about it.

    We like what we like so tell those fuckers to deal with it. Those who are still a closet animetard, time to get the fuck out of that moldy space. You should pat yourselves at the back because you are free and brave indeed. Why? Because anime/manga and anything related to it are just that fucking awesome.

    p/s: it’s funny that SC gets it own category.

    • @fkeroge says:

      Here, calling someone an otaku is like calling someone “a god of anime.” It has a good ring to it. Otaku related magazines have otaku in their titles, Facebook groups have otaku in their names and some even have otaku in their username. If you try that in America, I don’t think you’ll get a positive response.

      And yes, I agree with you on letting their hobbies known. Start slow, like introducing your hobby to the person you trust the most and show him/her that the fandom is not bad at all. Anime is awesome, Hollywood movies are awesome. They just need to show people an anime worth the praise, and I’m sure that they’ll understand eventually. That’s how I got most of my friends to watch anime in the first place.

      P.S. What’s SC?

      • kluxorious says:

        same over here. People are excepting the word otaku as something cool/good. I try to educate them of the real term of that word though but it likes talking to a wall. People call me an otaku all the time and I have to correct them over and over again. I don’t feel like I deserved that title yet. Not because it’s degrading but because i know my limit an I am definitely not an otaku. An anime tard maybe, but not an otaku.

        You’re right. They have to take that first step or they’ll be discriminate upon forever. Educating them is one way to do it.

        p/s: SC is Sankaku Complex

        • @fkeroge says:

          Oh, I see. I usually abbreviate it as SanCom.

          Over here, people rarely call me an otaku. For some reason, they call me master or something similar. They think I have transcended all anime watchers in the world when I obviously haven’t. Like you, I do try to correct them, but somehow, they don’t learn. Well, I’m still fine with it either way.

  2. Valence says:

    Deja vu, man. I was feeling the vibes.

    I can’t really understand how’s life over there in the west, but in the parts of Asia I’m visiting, like Singapore or Beijing, where I’m currently at, there isn’t really much bullying per se. Perhaps some teasing, but most of the time it’s not mean-spirited. And why is this so? It is because we’ve cleared the misconception on such fandoms – it is actually a perfectly fine fandom, no more deserving any praise than it deserves scorn. It’s a regular, perfectly normal hobby, methinks. But people can’t look beyond what they see and immediately, they skip to conclusions.

    • @fkeroge says:

      The problem is, and is still a problem today, even though Asia already accepts Japanese culture now, it’s still having a hard time in the west, especially when the news about Rapelay and other H-games were heavily criticized even though there’s not really much issue on it. The media stretched the truth too much. And it led to people thinking that otakus are introverted, geeky perverts. Here in my country, we are open to foreign culture; you can speak any language you want and nobody will laugh at you (most of the time) even though your grammar is completely wrong.

  3. TRazor says:

    Since you’ve already covered the part about why otaku aren’t really as “bad” as they seem, I’ll try to shed some light on why people think so.

    1. I really don’t think people ever concieve otaku as violent people. Rather, they look at them as geeks/tad docile. This is my opinon and based on what I have read and seen on the electronic media.

    2. In the West, most are exposed to only 2 anime: Pokemon and Hentai. My friend in Europe tells me that people over there look at otaku as fetish-crazy perverts. This is because (honestly, this is undisputable) hentai is is the most common form of porn animation. So, you go to a porn site and 1 in 10 videos is likely to be a hentai. Many forget that just like there are decent movies, there are erotic movies as well.

    3. Otaku are childish – Because of the mainstream anime (and Ghibli movies), which were the most popular anime globally, they think otaku haven’t grown up and are immature because of their addiction to “cartoons”.

    THere are more reasons, but I think Valence got the other key ones in the post above. It all depends on how you precieve the difference between “otaku” and “anime fan”.

    • @fkeroge says:

      One more thing I don’t get is why people think docility or being a nerd is bad. Sure, they may be socially inept, but is it their fault? No.

      You can also have the mix of both. Anyway, I agree with you on this one, but seriously, I don’t even think that there’s a lot of adult anime going around compared to 3D.

      I have just attended an anime convention last week and I see your point there. But still, these people are not bad at all. I don’t get how being addicted to cartoons can make you a social reject. And most anime fans or otaku are not even like this.

      • TRazor says:

        Well, it depends on what you’re looking for, really. You can’t blame the (non-anime fan) ladies to dig your liking to this medium, because it’s sort of un-manly in their book (one of my lady friends said that. But I’m a football player, so I escape XD).

        While it’s not exactly “bad” to be docile, people will think you lack energy and will hesitate to approach you if they want a fun time.

        I honestly don’t know where people get thsese misconceptions from… Oh well, they’re human and they have opinions and feelings as well ^^

        • @fkeroge says:

          Well, I guess so. It’s depressing how prejudice dominates the world, yes?

          I tend to like quiet people more, though I like spontaneous people too. Maybe it’s because deep inside they have many interesting things to say.

          It’s fine to have opinions and feelings, but I do wish people would factor in reason sometimes…

    • kluxorious says:

      I face problem no.2 a lot. They all assumed I watched hentai all the time. If only they know how hard it is to find a good quality hentai (I just don’t watch crap) then maybe their assumption is correct. But yeah, they don’t have a fucking clue that anime come out by seasons. They thought that it was limited to either hentai or shounen jump anime. Orz

      • @fkeroge says:

        Well, I don’t really watch H-anime. Only saw one, and it was yuri. But then people start to assume that I watch lots of it. I definitely do not.

        And it’s sad to see that people consider only shounen jump series to be anime. It’s slowly starting to change here with the addition of shows like Haruhi and Clannad, so that may be a good sign.

  4. moichispa says:

    I think the main problem is the misconception of what otaku means. People here (Europe) use to think anime is Naruto Dragon ball and as mentioned before Ghibli. Giving us the “not adult” feeling to the mainstream people.

    I myself don’t like to be very hardcore fan while I’m with no-otakus cause they will not understand me and I’m lazy to try to make them understand something they wouldn’t understand at all.

    Visual novel stuff here is hopefully almost Unknown (unless you live in UK because of the Rapelay scandal) so it is quite a safe fandom right now.

    But yes, some people look strange at you, but in my case it got better when I started studying Japanese because anime became “usefull” for the mainstream cause seeing anime is good to learn Japanese.

    • @fkeroge says:

      Good to know that there’s not really much issue in the most part of Europe.

      “Visual novel stuff here is hopefully almost Unknown (unless you live in UK because of the Rapelay scandal) so it is quite a safe fandom right now.”

      Really? I thought Manga Gamer, Inc. is based on the Netherlands.

      Yes, anime is useful in learning Japanese. Aside from sitting through lectures, anime gives you entertaining immersion. I learned how to translate from anime too.

  5. Amerowolf says:

    Pretty much Americans think anime is like watching cartoons when you were a kid, you’re supposed to grow out of it. I remember my high school years fondly when the teachers made you tell the class about yourself. The times I mentioned liking anime (opposed to liking web design since apparently that is the more normal thing to say now) it was always followed by either “you mean cartoons?” or “do you speak japanese?”

    It grew tiring and after awhile I just stopped trying to educate those people.

    • @fkeroge says:

      I understand the feeling. Even though some people would praise you for it, some still get repulsed or alienated by anime. It’s exasperating to always try and correct them. Nevertheless, I won’t give up.

  6. Justin says:

    What’s weird is that once upon a time ago, the name Otaku wasn’t even meant to be degrading or even up for questioning–in America. Some companies (like Tokyopop) used it a lot a few years ago, and I’ve seen it in books that was written in a casual way. I think now that as more anime has made itself more pronounced (or just everyone being able to see more anime), more of Japanese culture has become revealed to us. And in Japan, Otaku’s are frowned upon. Sure, most Otaku’s are probably not bad people, but there are those who are obsessed to the point where you wonder if they can live properly in the real world.

    • @fkeroge says:

      I don’t think not being able to live properly in the real world is a cause for one to be bullied and ignored. They need to be helped, not hurt. That would make us all happy.

      I’ve seen outcasts in my high school days. I am one of the few people to actually talk to them. And you know what, they are actually pretty cool if you get to know them. Sticking to the norm is overrated.

  7. CainHyde says:

    Let see…
    I personally already know the meaning of the word otaku itself in Japan from a long time ago, so I try to not use it or give people chance to use it.
    The definition is a bit too loose to be used correctly to me and the common misuse in english speaking community.
    So generally if someone use otaku to describe themselves or someone else, I tend to get annoyed.
    Bonus point if they don’t know the original meaning in Japan.
    And double point if they use it to describe me.
    So yeah… I’m not really “otaku” friendly maybe.
    Introducing yourself as anime/manga/games/(put my interest list here) aficionado doesn’t give you any easy friendship point from me.
    Although showing yourself as a hater or dolt that think anime = porn/child is a fast and easy way to earn negative point from me.

    Oh… and just for the record.
    No, I am not hiding any of my hobby in public.
    Those who knew me or at least genuinely try ask me, will know what are my hobby and how much time I spent on these hobby of mine.
    Hell… I think all of my classmates already knew my hobby and also flat breast preference.
    Of course I am forced to show some moderation when explaining sometimes, but it’s not like I’m shamed or anything.

    • @fkeroge says:

      That’s the problem. Even today, the term is being used negatively in some places. People just need to man up and do what they want. True friends won’t shun you for your interests. Only self-serving idiots would.

  8. Sebz says:

    ironic how most of the shunners are Americans, and most of our higher-notch anime bloggers are Americans.

    • @fkeroge says:

      Maybe it’s because America is more exposed to anime than any other country. Here, we only have the usual shounen shows if you don’t have cable.

  9. abscissa says:

    Pretty much other people already covered anime being perceived as hentai, childish, and geeky–as TRazor mentioned.

    In addition to that and to tackle why otakus are being bullied, in every culture there’s always “us” and “them”. The process of the “othering” creates boundaries and membership. For instance, in the environment where I grew up, otakus are, not entirely but in general, associated with “FOB”, being “too Asian”, childish, and pervert–you can imagine how much more stigma are associated to those who enjoy yaoi and yuri. For some people, even though they are born and raised in the west, they still find it hard to fit their own customs and hobbies to the general culture. Because of that inner conflict, it segregates people and creates the “others” of the society. Hence, this is where the bullies come into play, because there will be no bully unless somebody will allow the bullying. That’s why for some, they choose to hide their fandom because they’re afraid to be labeled and to face the harsh consequences.

    But I guess, time is evolving sooner or later everything will be normalized.

    • @fkeroge says:

      The issue of “othering” is childish in and of itself too. Though it’s hard to just accept what is foreign, we have to live with it.

      And yeah, time will fix everything, I hope.

  10. Yi says:

    I don’t think America is especially harsh on anime fans or otaku compare to the rest of the world. I’m pretty sure high school is mean everywhere. After all, there’s always going to be the popular crowd and the not so popular crowd. Being obsessed with anime, geek culture, or anything that doesn’t help get one get boys/ girls usually puts one in the not-so-cool group.

    • @fkeroge says:

      Still, otaku here in the Phillipines get almost none, if any, of the discrimination and spite that some American otaku do. People just… get along easier here, I guess. Crowds and popularity are pretty much trivial, too.

  11. Nopy says:

    I can’t speak for Americans, but in Canada, it’s not the murder cases involving otaku that make the public shun them. It’s when they see anime characters with giant boobs fondling each other, panty shots, and little girls with barely any clothing that they turn hostile. All of the fanservice gives them the impression that anime is just softcore porn for people with a 2D fetish, which most people consider to be wrong or gross.

  12. Nadja says:

    Where I live in America, being an anime fan really isn’t a big deal. I’ve never been bullied for liking anime, but then again, it all depends on how you express your passion.

    I know a few anime fans who can be really obnoxious. They’ll talk loudly and proclaim their favorite shows at random times, even in the middle of class. They tend to only talk about anime and don’t hold many conversations outside of their hobby. These people kind of turn into outcasts.

    However there are many people, myself included, who tend to keep more to themselves about anime unless they’re talking to someone who shares their interest or someone simply asks.

    I figure that as long as you’re kind, considerate of others, and you add variety to your conversations, you can earn people’s respect.

  13. Pingback: Now Even more Otaku than before « Detested

  14. Celene Cielazure says:

    I’ve never had problems with my fondness of anime in school. Then again, I go to a Canadian school where every other classroom has a sign saying ‘Homophobia is just as hurtful as racism’, and has a sci-fi club for the sole purpose of watching old sci-fi films and other media, so I think my anime is the least interesting of the lot.

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