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Otakus and Weeaboos: where is the fine line?
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こ ~ じ ~ か
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Posted 7/19/14
The terms are distinct and the definitions are pretty clear. IMO, the weeaboo is a subset of otaku. I'd be very surprised to find a weeaboo who is not also otaku, but in general most otaku are not weeaboos.

As used outside of Japan "otaku" generally just refers to fans of a certain level. Think Trekkie. You can cosplay, you can sing anime OPs at karaoke, you can go to conventions and even cross-play all without being a weeaboo. You're just a bigger and bigger nerd.

When you start holding Japan and Japanese Culture above all others, when you start wanting to be Japanese and even trying to act like you were, that's when you become a weeaboo.

In short, basically weebs are chunibyo.
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31 / M / WA, USA
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Posted 7/19/14 , edited 7/19/14

baofu wrote:
Actually, the origin of "weeaboo" is a Perry Bible Fellowship strip, which pretty accurately describes how people react when you out yourself as an anime fan to non-fans. [...]



Is there really a negative reaction when people who aren't fans find out you are one? Pretty much everyone at work knows I like anime and so far the only thing I've run into is mild bewilderment, and they like that I share Japanese snacks. (Of course, anyone who brings in any kind of food gets social credibility.) Is the work/school world outside of newspapers like one giant middle school?

More directly on topic:
As for where the fine line is: an objective "fine line" cannot exist. The definitions I've read for what defines "weeaboo" describe a general premise, and only list examples of behavior the definer does not condone or cannot tolerate. The threshold determining tolerable enthusiasm is drawn by the one using the term: entirely subjective.

To illustrate: I apparently lost weeaboo bingo posted in the spoiler above. However, there is 1 person who describes me as one, three more I would expect to do so. One person explicitly excludes me from the label, and five I'd expect not to ascribe the label to me. (The expect-group is determined by how comfortable I am discussing hobbies with them.)

I think it's safe to say that most people are over-enthusiastic about something in their lifetime. This is really no different. If you've not found something to be overly enthusiastic about, go out and find something to get overly excited about. Live a little. It's a lot healthier than fretting over other people having done so.
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36 / M / Planet Sanno
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Posted 7/19/14
(Why do we even use the term 'weeaboo' when we know it's a bullshit word created on a web site that exists to make trouble?)
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31 / M / WA, USA
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Posted 7/19/14
@rcsatcrunchyroll, I like how you put the line of thought I had into words so much more directly than I am capable of. I got lost in over-analysis there and missed the point I started out trying to make. The word itself is indeed useless. I myself have never called anybody one, nor described myself in such a way. It's too malleable to even be a good insult.
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Posted 7/19/14

evilpuffball wrote:


baofu wrote:
Actually, the origin of "weeaboo" is a Perry Bible Fellowship strip, which pretty accurately describes how people react when you out yourself as an anime fan to non-fans. [...]



Is there really a negative reaction when people who aren't fans find out you are one? Pretty much everyone at work knows I like anime and so far the only thing I've run into is mild bewilderment, and they like that I share Japanese snacks. (Of course, anyone who brings in any kind of food gets social credibility.) Is the work/school world outside of newspapers like one giant middle school?

More directly on topic:
As for where the fine line is: an objective "fine line" cannot exist. The definitions I've read for what defines "weeaboo" describe a general premise, and only list examples of behavior the definer does not condone or cannot tolerate. The threshold determining tolerable enthusiasm is drawn by the one using the term: entirely subjective.

To illustrate: I apparently lost weeaboo bingo posted in the spoiler above. However, there is 1 person who describes me as one, three more I would expect to do so. One person explicitly excludes me from the label, and five I'd expect not to ascribe the label to me. (The expect-group is determined by how comfortable I am discussing hobbies with them.)

I think it's safe to say that most people are over-enthusiastic about something in their lifetime. This is really no different. If you've not found something to be overly enthusiastic about, go out and find something to get overly excited about. Live a little. It's a lot healthier than fretting over other people having done so.


Oh yeah, its scary. If you admit to liking anime in the outside world you are marked as a redshirt. It is a tough life. Jokes aside, it is much like admitting to any other hobby. Some people will run into dicks that will make fun of or ridicule them for said hobby, while others will not. It really just depends on the town you grew up in and what is perceived as a normal hobby and how anything outside of that is looked at.
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Posted 7/20/14
I really dislike the term weeaboo, for the fact that I have seen individuals using it (online) alongside racial slurs. Oh well, maybe I can't blame them.. their parents probably voted for Mitt Romney (whatever happened to that guy?! :D). Other than that I have absolutely no problem with people describing themselves as anything, if it doesn't hurt anyone else.

Those are funny stories though Shiroppu. People either take it too far or try and make it all about them and it becomes uncomfortable for everyone.
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Posted 8/2/14

wrote:

I think the 2 heavily overlap but I don't necessarily know if you can be both.

I see weaboos as people who obsess over anime and manga like otakus but they also absorb parts of Japanese culture like a Japanophile. Weeaboos will be the ones who sprinkle their everyday speech with random Japanese they pick up from watching anime. They may own a kimono or yutaka and wear it out in public. They also probably cosplay a lot. They've tried to learn Japanese and probably try to show off their "knowledge" to others. Maybe they're also really into J-pop or Visual Kei. I think fashion can also be included like lolita.

As for (anime and manga) otakus, I remember reading a definition a LONG time ago that said it's a borrowed term from Japan. But when it was borrowed it was used for a term of endearment but in Japan, (anime and manga) otakus are deeply looked down upon and the term isn't used for self-identification. I think it also said it meant obsessive fan and seemed to be associated with hikkikomoris. From my perspective, (anime and manga) otakus seem to be the ones who live in anime and manga. They take it too seriously and may prefer it over dealing with real life.

Japanophiles obsess with ALL aspects of Japanese culture and they put it on a platform. They'll be the ones to not only visit but live in Japan like most weeaboos try to do. They'll probably fetishize Japanese people in every way possible and will try to marry someone who is Japanese especially if they're from Japan. They ridicule other cultures, even their own sometimes, while fantasizing Japan. Everything is amazing/perfect/better in Japan because it's Japan.

All three tend to be very misinformed about Japan and Japanese culture, occasionally or blatantly cultural appropriate, think they're ("basically") Japanese, have a racialized fetish for Japanese people, and tend to be racist for obvious reasons. And when this is corrected or pointed out to them, even by actual Japanese people, they tend to talk over them and get defensive.

Like weeaboos and otakus, Japanophiles also overlap with the formers.

That's just how I see it all, but after seeing this definition:


I did mention earlier that the defining features of a Weeaboo overlaps those of an otaku – or at least, the popular interpretation for otaku. The reason why is simple: every Weeaboo is an otaku, but not every otaku is a Weeaboo. Mind = blown yet?

An otaku, strictly speaking, is someone who has an obsessive interest in something. That “something” could be anything from planes, trains, and automobiles (google itasha, guys), to, most commonly, anime and manga. So I guess its fair to say that Weeaboos are simply the more fanatic otakus of the anime-loving variety. Still, it’s not exactly easy to tell them apart, I reckon. http://www.tofugu.com/2012/11/29/weeaboo/

I think this is pretty accurate.

Here's some random pictures:



I lost bingo, could only get 3 or 4 per row
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24 / M / USA
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Posted 8/3/14
I don't understand why we have to use both terms against members of a hobby that we both enjoy.
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26 / M / Leanbox, Gameindu...
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Posted 8/3/14
I guess regular anime fanatics are trying to not get grouped with the same people who claim to know everything about Japan and in reality are quite ignorant about it, and that reject all culture outside of Japan. Personally I could care less.
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Posted 8/5/14
Being a weeaboo isn't about really about the actually media being consumed but the attitude.You can have a whole house filled with anime and japanese stuff and still not be a weeaboo. It's kind of hard to define because everyone acts just a little different from one another.

Weeaboo is used as a word to bully people though and in my opinion people who express extremely negative attitudes towards people they deem weeaboo are coming dangerously close to exactly the thing they chastise.
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23 / M / Los Angeles
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Posted 8/7/14
Both words are applied to people as an identifier of aberrant behavior or lack of moderation. That does not make it absolute, but even if one is socially functional, the title of otaku or weeaboo is still unavoidable. I can be considered an otaku, not for anime or manga, but guns. Clearly there is a misconception of synonymity, but an otaku is similar to a hobbyist without the proselytizing of Japanese culture.

At my college, there is a splinter group of people with a strong affinity for anime and Japanese culture that are unfamiliar to the word moderation. Whether in the botanical garden or the library, it is this group that I tend to notice, often by their disruptive conduct. Some observations:

-Seeing them create posters bespattered with randomly drawn symbols made to resemble characters in kanji, when closely observed is incoherent and gibberish.
-Hearing their renditions of anime and JRPG themes and openings on a pan flute is an auditory catastrophe. Often thinking this will attract mates.
-Unnecessarily vocal with their conversations including and exceeding, sudden outbursts, intermixing of Japanese phrases and words, and other behavior that can be deemed normal... if life were an anime.
-Pocky, Yan-Yan, and Ramune... They must have more money than common sense, I mean that stuff is delicious, but getting them for such a mark-up is absurd.
-Staring at people of Asian ethnicity, being within 100 feet alerts them to your presence, walking to the next class, in the same class, or on opposite ends of the library or college mall.

All in all, I suppose they stimulate the college environment, but I would not call them otaku or weeaboo, just very far gone people.
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Posted 8/17/14 , edited 8/17/14
Both of those terms bother me a lot and I don't like to use either of them.

It's a real pet peeve of mine how people are so quick to put labels on things and each other. You can't just be an individual; you have to be part of "this" particular category or part of "that" particular group. It reduces people into easy to understand words or phrases which don't fully represent the person as a whole.

I like Japanese animation, comic books, and live-action TV shows. I enjoy the food, the tea, the traditional clothing, the shrine culture and the attention to aesthetics of Japan. I have been to Japan and would love to go again. I enjoy the language and find sometimes it fits certain situations and expressions better than in English.

Does that make me an "otaku"? Does that make me a "weeaboo"? Perhaps both. I don't know and frankly don't care. I'm just me: someone who has a wide range of interests and likes. That's it. *shrug*
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Posted 8/18/14
Basically, Weenaboos are just wannabe Japanese...

Otakus are nothing like that...
Otaku is just a person who have a hobby of watching / reading / collecting stuff about animes / mangas...
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Posted 8/18/14
Otaku like the word anime varies in definition by language.

Otaku (English): Anime fanatic, different from Weeaboos that they don't want to be Japanese and think everyone but Japan sucks.
Otaku (Japanese): Someone with a very unhealthy obsession with something.

Anime (Engish): Japanese Animation
Anime (Japanese): Animation in general
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F / Alabama gulf coast
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Posted 8/19/14
I've always felt the 'otaku' label to be pretty derogatory, and 'weeaboo' even more so. I don't under stand why people want to be perceived as such. But to answer the OP: to me, an otaku is a big fan of something, be it anime or whatever, and they obsess over it and maybe spend a ton of $$ on it. But they can also look and act 'normal' (whatever that is) on the outside and no one will guess they are an anime fan or whatever. For example, a straight laced bank manager who lives his public life dry as toast might be a raging Sailor Moon fan and have a room full of figures, posters, plushies etc at home. His co workers & clients would never guess.

A weeaboo on the other hand is blatantly, over the top, in your face crazy about their love for Japan, anime, manga, Harajuku fashion etc. There is no doubt about it and yet it also appears they have very little real understanding of Japanese or any eastern culture. They'll be soooo obsessed with, say, shrine maidens without knowing squat about their role in the Shinto religion. It's like the love of Japanese pop culture is just a fad or a phase because it seems cool and different. Enter the "special snowflake" effect. "I want to be unique and different and unlike anyone else in the whole world! See how weird and different I am, desu?"

This is just my opinion based on people I know that apply the otaku/ weeaboo labels to themselves or their peers.
Is one label better than the other?
One could argue that the weeaboo is at least true to themselves while the otaku hides his or her obsession from non otaku. But the hidden otaku is much more likely to be able to fit in to a conservative society that frowns on adults having perceived unusual hobbies rather than, say, golf or cross stitching. Though I suppose it's entirely possible to be a golf otaku!

Personally I feel that if a label you apply to yourself makes you feel good, go for it. Labeling others to put them down or to make yourself feel superior is clearly uncool. This post is pre coffee so I hope it makes some sense!
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