On Otaku, On Kotaku

Kotaku. What the hell does that mean? "Kotaku" is a made up word. "Ko" means small in Japanese (小), and otaku means, well, we'll get to that. Over at the always brainy Néojaponisme, they've got a look at what the word "otaku" means. While the word originally is a polite way to say "you" (something like "thou"), its nerd connotations first debuted in print back in 1983 when writer Akio Nakamori defined the subculture in his essay "The City is Full of Otaku". Prior to this, otaku were referred to as mania (maniacs), nekura-zoku (the gloomy tribe) and byouki ("sick"). It wasn't until 1989 that the term became widespread when Nakamori used the word in his biography of serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki and Tomohiro Machiyama's best seller The Otaku Book. As author and game translator Matt Alt explains, "From humble roots, 'otaku' flowered to become the de facto term for individuals who pursue their hobbies with a single-minded passion bordering on obsession." (Like game otaku, for instance!) Alt has even translated the Nakamori's 1983 essay — apparently the first time its ever appeared in English! Swing over to Néojaponisme. It's worth a read. Tell 'em Kotaku sent cha.
Read The Essay [Néojaponisme via AltJapan][Pic]


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