It is common knowledge that people who love anime and other “Otaku” things are seen as obsessive, social outcasts by some people or simply just seen as freaks. In fact, “Otaku” is a derogatory term. In Japan, the country that came up with anime and such Otakus are seen in the same negative light as in Western countries….This poses the question of why? I mean, it’s just a hobby right? If the complaint is that we’re escaping from reality, then people who draw, write or read are all doing the same thing. The truth is that the stigma against “Otakus” in Japan stems from a horrific incident, and it’s quite similar in the western world as well. However, before talking about these horrific events, let’s start by understanding just what the heck an “Otaku” is.
Contrary to popular beliefs, the term “Otaku” doesn’t only refer to people interested in anime, manga etc… The term simply refers to anyone who is extremely into a certain hobby or an interest that it can be seen as obsessive sometimes. For instance, I love makeup so much I keep up with the trends, watch videos, spend a lot of money on it, etc… So I can be classified as a “Make-up Otaku”. However, these types of Otakus (although they get their own stigmas) have a completely separate stereotype (they also don’t typically call themselves Otakus in Western culture/ my understanding is that they do get called that in Japan). Basically, the Otakus that get the most shit because of a dark past are the anime/manga/gaming types but the term “Otaku” does not equal anime fan.
The Otaku Murderer
In 1988-1989 a man named Tsutomu Miyazaki decided to Target little girls to kill, cannibalize and commit Necrophilia acts with. This man would also send letters to the victims’ families with details of the murder and calls where he would just breathe into the mic (a very despicable man as you can see). The reason he was called the Otaku Murderer is because when the police searched his house they found a crap ton of anime and horror shows amongst other things; thus people concluded that due to his extreme infatuation with horror and anime he began to develop a craving for these detestable murders. From what I have read, these murders sparked many negative thoughts against Otakus and people began to fear that by being an Otaku or getting into anime/horror people would become as despicable as this man. Nowadays, there have been cases of Otakus (not just anime) commiting assault or other crime….although their crimes were not to the extent of Miyazaki’s, they are still criminals.
While I’m not a fan of narratives similar to “video games cause violence”, which seems to be the narrative with Miyazaki…I can understand the reasoning behind it. If you watched some animes like Higurashi, and you already had that “seed” or the small speck of wanting to commit a murder, then watching a show like that may in fact inspire you. However, we have to note that these people already have a knack for it somewhere deep inside so when it comes down to it, it’s not the hobby it’s the person. Unfortunately, it’s tougher to judge by personality because oftentimes killers act normal enough that no one can tell which was the case with Miyazaki. On the other hand, it’s much easier to just avoid everyone who seems to be really into these hobbies.
Current thoughts about Otakus
Although nowadays people aren’t as wary of Otakus they’re still seen as losers. It’s as simple as that, so oftentimes Otakus do tend to keep their hobbies private to avoid social isolation. Another reason Otakus aren’t exactly respected could possibly be due to the rising cases of “Shut-ins” or “Neets” in Japan, as they tend to spend most of their time on their Otaku hobbies while not being productive members of society (the Japanese tend to value hard work in their culture so you can see why they aren’t fans of these people). However, I do recommend watching videos about shut-ins because it seems that their social reclusions is due to mental health issue (ie…Depression, social anxiety etc…).
On the bright side, there are a ton of conventions and places where Otakus can meet other Otakusand interact where they won’t be judged. In Japan, they have a whole district for these hobbies (Akihabara) and people are becoming a little less against these hobbies. If you watch interviews of Japanese people reacting to foreigners who are really into anime you will find that they mostly feel proud and that they are being appreciated. On the other hand in America (and I believe other parts of the west), more people are open to this and won’t really care about it but mostly the ones that aren’t judged are the outgoing Otaku hobby fans.
Thoughts from me
The reason I don’t call myself an Otaku and just say I like Otaku shit is because I know it’s an insult. I don’t really tell people that I love anime and the like, but if they ask about it or if they like it as well I don’t really care about telling them. Personally, I’m in the stage of my life where I don’t care what people think of me but I find it annoying to keep talking about the same interest 24/7 and out of context…Anime isn’t the only thing I’m into so why should I only talk about it? It’s that kind of mindset.
I think we should definitely realize that no matter what you’re into someone out there is close minded and will probably judge you for it, so when it comes down to it you’ve gotta stop caring. However, we do in fact live in a society (hehe) and there are societal rules and expectation like maybe not being annoying and talking about on single topic every single time or watching hentai in the middle of class (yes, I have seen both).