For those of you who hear the word “onna otaku” in English it means she geek or nerd. Here’s a little history of the “otaku” word. Otaku (おたく/オタク) means nerd, geek or fan. The word originates from a polite second-person pronoun meaning “your home” in Japanese, allowing the speaker to refer to the listener indirectly.
Since the 1980s it’s been used, much like the term “geek” in the US, to refer to people who are really into technology, video games, ANIME, MANGA and extensions of these such as COSPLAY, FIGURES and IDORU.
The etymology of the word is complex, but there are several possibilities. The explanation preferred by cultural commentators is that because young nerds stayed home a lot, they were unable to manage social interactions and referred to one another indirectly as “otaku”.
Example, some of the founders of the anime studio GAINAX were among the first hardcore anime aficionados where “otaku” is commonly used as “you”. It’s possible fans who encountered the Gainax crew may have adopted the dialect as slang. The word “otaku” was used by the characters in Studio Nue’s seminal anime MACROSS in 1982.
In the US “otaku” entered the English vocabulary and gradually gained traction at anime conventions in the early 1990s and spread like wildfire with AnimEigo’s translation of Otaku no Video in 1993. That same year the word was established enough and appeared on the cover of the premiere issue of Wired magazine. In 1994, the annual convention Otakon was formed, referencing otaku in its very name. This spread to sci-fi with mention in William Gibson’s 1996 novel Idoru, then a slew of news articles on anime fandom in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
What does an Onna Otaku look like?
Hair: No chestnut dyes, no colored highlights, minimal brushing.
Wardrobe: Generic jeans, shirts, and sneakers (with price tag left on, Minnie Pearl-style). Jacket from store at train station. For more formal occasions: school uniform, kimono, or Dhoulmagus costume. (He’s the mysterious jester from Dragon Quest VIII. Duh!)
Pets: Six virtual pups on her Nintendo DS. (She feeds and walks them hourly.)
Phone: Worn clipped on pocket to look “technical.” It’s got a 3-megapixel camera, built-in smartcard purchasing, TV tuner, MP3 player, and browser.
Storage: Cute bags are OK for jaunts, but she prefers wheeled luggage for comic cons and epic shopping trips.
Magazines: Four different anime monthlies, Cosmode (for cosplayers), and Dolly Dolly (for figurine fans).
Diet: Why cook when 7-Eleven has beef bowls and habanero snack chips?
Recent Purchases: Action figures and manga galore. Spool of DVD-Rs for, uh, “backup” copies of her fave shows.
On her laptop: Script for Sailor Moon/Anakin Skywalker doujinshi (fan comic), links to manga release schedules and 2ch.net (think Slashdot).
Under her mattress: Boy’s Love comics, which depict romantic, tragic, and hot pretty boy-on-pretty boy action.
Now that you know what an Onna Otaku looks like have you meet one?