The term "otaku" seems to have been introduced to anime fans in the US and other countries via Studio Gainax's "Otaku no Video 1985," a self-parody film.
Otaku, meaning probably "venerable house," refers to someone who has a devotion to a subject or hobby (not necessarily anime) to the point of not leaving home. For instance, an otaku fan of a particular movie star could quite possibly know all of the films s/he has been in, their birth date, time of birth, shoe size, favorite toothpaste, etc. Generally speaking, calling someone an otaku in Japan is an insult, implying that their social skills have atrophied or never even developed, due to their manic involvement in their chosen fandom.

In America, the term is used to denote a zealous fan, usually of anime and/or manga. Due to its introduction to most people's vocabulary through its tongue-in-cheek use in Gainax's film, "otaku" tends to have a much less dire definition overseas.

When dealing with Japanese people, however, it may be best to keep in mind the modern Japanese image of an otaku -- Someone who only leaves their home to eat or shop, if at all, with an overwhelming and unhealthy obsession about something. It can as easily refer to a stalker or sociopath as it can to a harmless anime buff.

Best to avoid the word altogether if one is not sure of the context in which it will be received.
Positive: "Oh, wow! Check it out: Neck-through, Floyd Rose locking tremolo and an optional push/pull coil tap!" (slaps forehead and laughs) "Man, I am such a guitar otaku, aren't I?"

Negative: "Stay clear of Toshi, man. He's such a RQ otaku, always online. Bet he's never actually even talked to a real-live girl before... You never know when he's gonna' snap, right?"
by Cobweb February 23, 2005
Otaku = EPIC!!!
totally, i mean really. Otaku is the best thing ever. so, as such, it is EPIC
Like, OTAKU IS TOTALLY EPIC, Man!
by wildsparky886 March 18, 2009
The word 'Otaku' is first of all an insulting and degrading Japanese term; Something that most of otaku don't seem to comprehend and take as a compliment,

They are also annoyingly obsessive anime fans that base their lives entirely on the anime that they watch and have this wild notion that Japan is some kind of Anime Wonderland with giant Robots, pocket monsters, and mystical wells that lead to the past and they go there thinking that Japanese people look and act like the anime characters that they see on celuloid. They also seem to think that speaking "otaku-ese" is equivalent to speaking fluent Japanese and think that Japanese people are going to be impressed with their lacking progress.

They also stalk Japanese natives in their own country and if you have a Japanese boy/girlfriend ladies and gentleman, hold on to them tight because these freaks are determined to snag a Japanese love at all costs and they're not known to leave natives alone until they get a yes from them after they've heard a hundred noes.
Otaku: Do you like Naruto?
Japanese Native: *walks away*

Otaku: Excuse me, do you speak English? Can translate this manga for me? *bubbly eyes*
Japanese Native: *walks away annoyed*

Otaku: Excuse me, hi I saw you from over there, I just want to say you're really cute and I love Japanese guys/girls. Do you have a boy/girlfriend?
Japanese Native: Umm...how about you choke on a fat lard and die?
by Diane S. February 28, 2006
Japanese: Someone who is an excessive fanatic on any subject or person, becoming experts on everything about. Otaku comes from the word to mean home, someone who's so obessesed that they never leave home.

English: An anime fan who has apparently never been to Japan. They have no idea what the word means but use it because of it's popularity in a retarded attempt to try to become Japanese. They feel anime is the only thing that makes Japan unique or special, and feel that anime as given them the "Japanese Aura of Enlightenment." They role-play as anime characters and dress up like anime characters because they are in such despair of their lives that they have to pass themselves off as anime characters. People with no self-esteem.
Japanese: That lolita otaku murdered a bunch of school girls, and apparently was stalking them well before he did it.

English: Hey Joe, there's that fucktard cartoon nerd, what did he call himself again? Oh yeah, an otaku. Let's kick his ass.
by harajuku September 25, 2005
Otaku is what some hardcore anime fans call themselves.

Anyone who calls themself an "Otaku" is a complete prick and should be shot in the face over and over again.
I'm an otaku, an absolute twat with no social life , oh, and I'm better than you because I have a bigger anime collection.
by Pix^ June 20, 2004
in western culture, a person whos obsessed with some form of japanese culture (usually anime-related) (correct me if im wrong)
ANIME OTAKUS KNOW THAT ITS NEGATIVE IN JAPANESE! >.<* its like saying to someone i have no life...hahaha...
by FREAK February 03, 2004
They are people whore are obsessed in one thing, and not neccesary to anime otakus.
Otaku's are people who are obsessed on anything, including anime, cars, etc

For some unknown reason, it's not used against sports fanatics
Aitu wa mokei otaku nandatte- (I heard that he's a model otaku)
by Kohei November 25, 2003
An anime nerd.
dj_gs68 is a very light version of an otaku. He watches anime, looks at hentai, yet is able to have friends.
by dj_gs68 November 02, 2003

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