Imagine you’re a young buck at a singles’ party at a swanky Tokyo restaurant. As you regale the ladies with your testosterone-dripping tales of regular shark wrestling, frequent motorcycle racing, and occasional motor-shark racing, you mentally calculate whether or not you have enough protein powder in the kitchen cupboard to make two breakfast shakes, because you know there’s no way you’re going home alone tonight.
Unless, of course, the guy next to you starts talking about his collection of Sword Art Online Blu-rays.
The Japanese word otaku originally meant nothing more than just “you.” It had a bit of a wishy-washy tone to it, but for the early stage of its existence the word wasn’t anything more than a pronoun. Somewhere along the line it caught on as a way to refer to young men with an intense interest in animation, comics, video games, or any other form of technology or escapist entertainment.
In other words, it became the Japanese word for “geek.”
But much like its English equivalent, the word otaku went from being a cutting insult to a defiant mark of pride with people identifying themselves by it, and now carries a certain level of geek-chic.
As part of its ongoing series of surveys on love and relationships, Sankei Living Newspaper asked 94 women if they could bring themselves to be in a relationship with a guy who’s an otaku. An overwhelming 77 percent said they’d have no problem doing just that.
▼ Would you date an otaku? Red: Yes Blue: No
The researchers credited this to the growing number of women who are “light otaku.” Anime, video games, and manga comics have seeped so deeply into Japanese pop culture, with top-tier musicians singing their theme songs and hit TV dramas and movies made from their stories, that it’s becoming harder and harder to find someone under the age of 30 who’s not at least a little into them.
“It’s easier for a couple to understand each other if they share a hobby, and being into the same thing makes it more fun to experience together,” explained one women who said she could see herself with a fan-boyfriend.
There is one tiny cloud obscuring this ray of hope for lonely otaku, however. While the women surveyed said they’re fine with a guy who loves manga and computers, a number of them qualified that by saying if he looks or dresses like an otaku, he’d better get used to spending the night with his anime huggie pillow. So otaku men, consider yourselves warned. You’ve got a chance with the girls at the club this weekend, so long as you leave the Naruto headband at home.