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
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
a person who will starv for manga. he will live a nother day just to see his beloved anime, he will even give up girls and life in general so he can read the latest manga.otaku is like some one who has an obsession with anime and maybe like hentai and stuff.i dont really wanna say too much bad stuff about otaku....because i am one.........
"sally is a goddamn otaku!''
by Anonymous June 16, 2003
teh deliciously amazing and kick ass wife of nero
wha? otaku and nero are married? theys gonna have some awesome children
by Brandon Whitman June 18, 2008
A person who is maniacal about anime, manga, hentai, and various other related paraphernalia such as toys, figures, etc. Include but not limited to Kapil and Suban.
"No one knows why otakus exist, since it is clear they do not mate."
by Golimar December 28, 2007
Rediculous 50 bigots in the universe who say that everything from Japan is superior JUST because it's from Japan, and everything elsewhere (mainly American) is horrible. They tend to bash America in every way possible, and blame America for 'ruining' things such as anime and videogames with minor things such as poor voice-acting skills. There is a big difference between otakus, hermits, and people that are actually interested in the country of Japan for it's cultural value. The difference is that all otakus do is complain about how Japan does not rule the world and how they believe that everything Japanese is perfect. People, usually otakus, however, tend to get these words confused, unfortunately. They act as Japanese as possible when they really aren't, but it really just makes them look even more retarded. Idiots.
Perfect example of something you'd hear from an otaku: "lol im an otaku and i preffer subbed anime than dubbed anime bcause itz more japaneeese and america ruinz everything even tho i phail 2 understand japanese"
by Dr. BaconStein August 04, 2006

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