Understanding Otaku Culture オタク

The all-consuming passion for Japanese culture

When we start talking about Japan and those who are passionate about this country, a word comes up very quickly in the conversation, "Otaku". Often associated with people who love animation and J Pop, this term has a more nuanced meaning that has changed over time on the Japanese archipelago.

In current Japanese, the expression has for primary meaning a simple "your house". It was taken up in 1983 by the journalist Akio Nakamori to forge a neologism corresponding to a new phenomenon.

In the 80s, we see an increase in the number of Japanese cloistering at home to satisfy their passion for contemporary Japanese culture (manga, anime, video games, idols...), rejecting the competitive and stressful culture of their elders. At that time, this associability, seen as an ungrateful rebellion, was quite frowned upon in Japanese society.


Tokyo Big Sight

The Tokyo Big Sight has become the temple of otakus (geeks) and the heart of most major events.


A new image in the 2000s

The otaku phenomenon has, at the turn of the current century, begun to take on a new meaning. With the awareness in particular that the young generation who lived through the lost decade of the 1990s did not have the same opportunities as their parents, how they are viewed has exchanged.

The multiplication of works such as the very popular Densha Otoko where a young woman, rescued on the train by an otaku, tries to find him while the latter asks for advice on the internet on how to react, have also influenced Japanese perception.




The otaku in France


The term otaku crossed the sea to spread abroad... 

In the West, the different meanings of the term (carried in particular by the use of the kanji for the meaning of "house" and of the katakana to designate the phenomenon) and their historical evolution have not been transcribed, otaku taking on a generic meaning.

We then designate manga lovers, anime fans, or video game pros by the same term, not very pejorative, and often even taken up by the individuals in question to qualify.

Japan Expo stand in France


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