Japanese Media Seems To Want Otaku To Be More 'Otaku-ish'

For the longest time in Japan, to be an otaku was to be an outcast. To be labelled an "otaku" was to be branded with the staple of being an awkward, obsessive social outcast, and/or potential sexual predator/criminal. While the times have changed, it appears that Japanese mass media's preconception of the "otaku stereotype" has not.

Japanese subculture blog, Otakuma Economic Newspaper (おたくま経済新聞) writes how every now and then they are approached by large media outlets, including TV studios, to introduce individuals who are self-designated otaku of a particular subject that the outlets can interview. According to this site, very often, the interviewees are turned down because they don't fit with the desired "otaku image".

By asking the people who were eventually turned down what sort of "otaku image" the media outlets were looking for, a bizarrely specific "typical otaku" profile can be constructed. The following list for the "typical" male otaku was compiled based on the various reasons that male nerds did not make the cut.

Body type

Preferably fat or extremely skinny.


Pants- Jeans or Chino pants. Suit pants are also possible. Preferably with the hems folded back.

Shirts- T-shirts of button-down shirts. Generally tucked into the pants. T-shirts with characters printed on them are preferable.

Belt- GI belts.

Head- Preferably have a bandana wrapped around.

Baggage- Backpacks. Preferably with posters and other merchandise sticking out.

Glasses- Thick lenses and plain frames. Preferably showing wear from prolonged use.

Fashion sense- Preferably behind the times. The worse the fashion sense, the better.

Daily Routine

-Regularly checks figure stores and anime stores.

-Watches all currently airing anime. Preferably anime aimed towards young girls or anime with lots of Moe characters.

-Lives poorly so that all money can be spent on their hobby.


-No expensive or fancy meals.

-Generally eats fast food or cheap chain restaurant food. Self-made meals are preferably restricted to simple foods like pasta or noodles.

Sexual Preference

-Young girls or pop idols


-Uses "Otaku-specific" lingo.


-Inside-joke based tricks

-Can sing any anime theme song



-Talks to self

-Unable to make eye contact

-Unable to relate to "normal" people


-Filled with figures, hug pillows and other items


-Preferably single

-Introduces anime characters as girlfriend/wife

Basically, large media outlets want people who would pass the Creepy Geek Test.

Now it could be argued that generally, the media outlets are trying to convey an extreme sort of image and require specimens that fit with their agenda. Also, many of these "stereotypical" otaku are selected for variety shows and not necessarily news programs. Even so, the agenda itself seems outdated and wrong. Currently, there is an increase of singers, comedians and celebrities in Japan who claim to be otaku, and in many cases use this fact in a positive light as a selling point.

Indeed many self-identifying otaku look, act and dress like your average Japanese citizen (so, totally normal!), and such prehistoric stereotypes serve no purpose other than to ridicule and pander to a mean-spirited sense of shadenfreude.

I guess showing "real otaku" just doesn't bring in the ratings.

大手メディアが求める「オタク像」には違和感を覚える [おたくま経済新聞]

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    Not really a shocker. I've seen a little MXC and it's obvious that Japanese media has a pretty low bar in terms of what's acceptable or not

      Actually MXC is a completely utterly bastardised *westernised* dubbed version of Takeshi's Castle. =P

      The original show was actually a lot longer w/ more obstacles xD

    Gee, this sounds like every other mainstream media outlet in the world... Or the casting producer for Beauty & the Geek

    Interesting that the media is so blatant about it. Not that I've watched that Beauty and the Geek show to see how ours fares...

    Common perception issue though. Went out for drinks after work with a client and their crew, and a couple of the guys were trying to talk to me about sports, figuring out my team and code and opinions on line-ups etc... I had to smile and tell them that I wasn't really up to speed with the latest picks as I'm actually a hardcore geek, really into video gaming instead of sports.

    They were puzzled and taken aback. "But you, uh... you don't look like a nerd. At all."
    "Mm? What do geeks look like?"
    General confusion, uneasiness. Apparently geeks aren't supposed to be physically fit, attractive, well-groomed, or have an eye for fashion and a taste for single-malt scotch on ice.

    To their credit, they then started trying to talk about their experiences with modern gaming consoles that friends or relatives own, and how that call of duty has some pretty amazing graphics these days, hey? That was kind of painful so we managed to find some common ground elsewhere.

    It's easy to forget geek culture - while spreading - still isn't as pervasive as my fairly self-contained social circles make it seem.

    Last edited 25/05/13 9:44 am

      cool story bro +1

    i'm well versed in the many iterations of evangelion as well as the latest louis vuitton spring/summer 2013 collection. my closet consists of marc jacob jeans and MGS tees - i identify myself as an otaku but never had problem making friends of both gender. it's like saying all gamers are into CoD and prone to go on shooting sprees - also, don't judge japanese society's views from their variety programs - there r there for laughs and a bit of fun.

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