Otaku culture is sweeping the nation. But with all of the crazy looks some of the cosplayers were getting from the older hotel patrons, it’s become clear to me that there are still many who don’t know what an otaku is.
According to the Oxford Online Dictionary, “otaku,” as translated and then defined is, “a young person who is obsessed with computers or particular aspects of popular culture to the detriment of their social skills.”
In Japan, the word has a negative connotation that is the equivalent of the American shut in “geek.” However, in America, the word has taken on a new connotation. In America, Otaku is a compliment. The traditional definition of a great obsession or fascination with something still holds; the biggest difference is that in the states, being an otaku is a good thing.
Otaku culture is characterized by a love of Japanese culture – especially anime, video games and cosplay. Anime is short for “animeshon” which is the Japanese word for animation. Anime is often the television show or movie version of a manga – Japanese style comic books read from right to left – of the same name. Anime is set apart from cartoons by its often mature themes, coarse language, and artistic style.
Anime tends to circulate in fads, with the popular one or few of the year receiving the most attention. This year’s most popular manga is Shingeki no Kyojin by Hajime Isayama. Known as “Attack on Titan” by most, fans are anxiously awaiting Funimation’s release of the English language dub in June of this year. A live action adaptation is staked for release in 2015 and will be written by Yusuak Watanabe and directed by Shinji Hiyachi.
Other big hits this year are Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto and One Piece by Eiichiro Oda
Cosplay is a fusion of the words costume and play. At its core, cosplay is simply dressing as your favorite fictional characters. Many cosplayers will have professional photoshoots, enter contests, and in some rare cases make a career out of it similar to that of a professional model.