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What is an Otaku in today's world?

How do we redefine the "New Age Otaku"?.  Otaku as we know of refers to someone so obsessed with something and for those who really knew the term, it means obsession with anime, manga or anything like it.  I know that I am not adept when it comes to the term and probably someone out there reading this right now would say that I am pretending to be all-knowing about this.

I would like to tell you first and foremost that I am not all-knowing and I am not adept with the term, the culture and everything about being an Otaku.  Worst, I might not be even be credible to write something like this.  However, would the age of technology, internet and social media present, would someone like me be stripped of saying what I feel deep inside my heart?

I am an Otaku!  I believe I am.  I was born in an age where Astroboy known as Tetsuwan Atomi was playing on RPN Channel 9 in black and white on an encased television.  The theme of that show was almost an instant hit to the kids those days and then it was followed by Macross and Robotech afterwards.

Will the Golden Age of Otaku shows on TV be back?

Way back when I was younger, I would remember that those were the days when Voltes V was being seen as a show for primetime television and where anime in English was known to be understood by everyone.  There is no need to Tagalize it in order for it to be understood because it is common for it to be understood.  If you want to love the show you should learn to understand it.

I have my own collection of items from that era including a 6-foot tall Voltes V robot which can be disassembled and then re-assembled again.  A toy which might have earned me so much these days but sadly it was burned in a fire incident way back 1986.

In the late 90s anime became a hit that it was the main menu of primetime television.  There were no telenovelas on primetime only anime or cartoons and of course US TV series.  Little did people know perhaps that it played some role in Erap’s ouster for when GMA 7 replaced Dragonball Z and Hunter X Hunter with the impeachment trial live telecast many people grew weary about it and hope that it ends soon… and so it did.

Slowly as time passed by TV shows on primetime were replaced with dramas, love story and comedies.  Anime shows were placed in the morning when those who love them have work or at school.

Cosplaying and Being an Otaku

If you are a cosplayer does it mean you are also an Otaku?

I am a witness to how cosplay started and bloomed.  Back when cosplayers were just a handful and that conventions were attended by those who were considered as truly an Otaku or a geek for some.  They were the weird ones who would dress up and act like their favorite characters.  It was all something special until it became so mainstream today that everyone wants to be an Otaku and wants to be a cosplayer.

There are cosplayers who just dresses up and have no idea of the character that they are cosplaying.  Some would just put on the costume on the stage to compete in a competition and then remove it afterwards.  Cosplaying has become more competitive and the haven for various intrigues and politics.  Gone were the days when you are supposed to just have fun but I am seeing that in some way it will soon be back. (Read more about the topic on the cosplay community problems or  about the history of cosplay in the Philippines)

So what is the “New Age Otaku”?

Does this term still apply to those who would watch anime continuously depriving themselves of sleep for days until they watch the final episode?  Does this term apply to those who knew every single detail about mostly every single anime?

The answer is it does and it will continue to apply to them, however, these term nowadays refers to a broader sense and a broader audience.  The term “Otaku” itself refers to dedication and focus.  A firm dedication and focus to someone who truly is into something.

An anime fan who watches anime, is abreast of its episode and can relate the lesson and the connection of what he watches to real life and share it with others is for me a real Otaku.

A cosplayer who puts time in ensuring that his costume is accurate, that he acts out the character and gives justice to it and who cosplays not just to win competition but more importantly to entertain and express, is for me a real Otaku.

Someone who reads manga and shares it, someone who draws manga and teaches others the skills, someone who organizes various things to let others know of the culture is for me a real Otaku.

Otaku in the new age, for me at least is no longer an exclusive term for dedication to something Japanese, moreover, it is a term to show genuine focus and dedication to something that you are passionate about. This dedication can relate to your work, your family or something you do.  The new age Otaku is a very passionate, dedicated and focus oriented person.

I know that upon reading this article some would react and would not agree and I would accept that.  I am writing this not to ask for anyone to agree but honestly, I am writing this in order to express something which I believe is true in every sense.  It is a belief that I hope will perhaps lessen the name calling within the anime and cosplay community.

It is sad to hear some being called as beggars, or jeje cosplayers or sometimes to hear “Team Labas” and “Team Loob.”  Branding and segregating people is not something a new age Otaku does.  What a new age Otaku does is to promote the passion of a community and ensures that everyone is welcome to embrace it.

This is the main reason why I also wrote this article for for Forezine.  I believe that the people behind this magazine, at their very young age wants to share their talents, knowledge, and entertain the community.  Without thinking of the trials, the bad feedback and even the hardships they have to endure they continue to do what they love to do not for themselves but for everyone.

Of course being a new age Otaku is for everyone to become and I believe we have it in each and every one of us.

Are you a new age Otaku or are you left in the old notion of what an Otaku is?  The answer is within you.

Thanks for reading!  Don't be shy to add your comments and experience to this article.

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  1. I appreciate the fact that you see otakus in a broader perspective rather than a strict one. An anime fan or cosplayer, whether hardcore or not, is still an otaku. For me, as long as they appreciate the characters, story and the whole art form - they have every right to call themselves an otaku. I have experienced being bullied because of my hobbies. I don't like seeing bullying from people who appreciate the same things as I do. Nobody needs to be superior. We like the same thing. That's that.

    1. Thanks for that. For me the Weebo vs Otaku thing is a lot of nonsense. Why create such boundaries instead of just appreciating the things we love?


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