Since the late 1970s, the Japanese word otaku has gradually spread to become known the world over. The term generally refers to a person so obsessed with their hobby—usually anime, manga, or video games—that it adversely affects their health and/or social skills, though it carries different connotations in different parts of the world.
Among those outside of Japan who are well-versed in otaku culture, there are many who proudly admit to being otaku themselves; like a cooler spin on the Japanese otaku, shipped abroad.
On the other hand, the word caries a more sad, perverse tone here in Japan, something that lends itself to the image of a “creepy geeky guy”, with “guy” being the key word. While there are no comparative figures on gender ratios, you could probably say overseas otaku women are much more forthcoming about their self-imposed label than their Japanese counterparts.
But the female Japanese otaku does exist. There are Japanese women who forsake sleep and, with bloodshot eyes, play erotic PC games deep into the night, oblivious to their own deteriorating health. In fact, there might even be more women otaku than men—maybe they’re just better at hiding it.
Numbers aside, what are some of the behavioral differences between Japanese otaku of different sexes? Is there any discrepancy between how deeply a male and female can obsess over anime, manga, or video games?
Wakako Takou over at Excite! Japan spoke with an otaku merchandise industry representative to tackle these questions.