7 junio, 2024

Otakus (Urban Tribe): Characteristics, Origin and Types

The otaku They are an urban tribe normally made up of young people between the ages of 13 and 25 who live with great passion certain particular hobbies. Among the most popular are anime, a style of graphic design associated with comics or comics, and manga, a type of animation made for television.

Etymologically, the word otaku means honor to one’s own house, a definition that reflects the asocial behavior of young people who prefer to shut themselves up in their own world rather than face the one that is presented in reality.

Another positive reading of their behavior indicates that this way of being is beneficial because young people achieve maximum concentration on a hobby until they become experts. Both perspectives worry the Japanese government in the sense of losing the intellectual and labor capacity required by its current capitalist system.

Although previously the otakus were identified as people who were always at home, did not go out, and with few social skills, today it is an accepted urban tribe and it makes special reference to fans of anime and related topics.

In addition to anime and manga, 20 topics that otaku focus on have been identified; among them, video games, music groups, television celebrities, cooking, movies, series, computers, cars and photography.

It is believed that this subculture was born in Japan, specifically in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, known for being a major center of electronic commerce. Young people exchanged information about manga or anime and it became a kind of cultural exchange center.


Characteristics of otaku

Young people known as otaku spend their time in their hobby, usually at home with little contact with the real material world. They identify with characters that only exist in fiction.

They make up a subculture in which representatives of various urban tribes coincide. Subcultures are characterized by the fact that there is a shared vision of the world, which in this case is a hobby.

The members interact with each other and are united by the feeling of inability to belong to the culture of their country. They are between adolescence and the beginning of youth; The need to create their own world that gives them autonomy and control over their lives leads them to feed their hobby.

They don’t wear a specific costume, but some of them mark their clothes with figures of manga characters, and some dye their hair in colors, although this is not such a widespread characteristic. They celebrate otaku day on December 15 globally.

They are collectors by nature, they feel proud to know and have everything that exists about their hobby, and they manage to dominate a subject in such a profound way, even earning the respect of society, although this does not interest them.

They really like to draw and some of them do it professionally. A large majority is a lover of Japanese rock music, but tastes vary according to the urban tribe to which they belong. In the following video you can see several members of the otakus:


The otaku subculture was created in the 1980s in Japan. The rapid economic growth of the country put pressure on young people to be rich or at least have an important social position and thus the possibility of getting married.

Together with the economic position, the young people had to have a good physical presence; Those who couldn’t make it decided to concentrate on their hobbies, creating a kind of counterculture made up of individuals who resigned themselves to being social outcasts.

Unpopular students turned to anime as a hobby. Beginning in 1988, the amateur manga movement expanded so rapidly that in 1992 the amateur manga conventions in Tokyo were attended by over 250,000 young people.

Between 1982 and 1985, the manga magazine Burikko became famous in Japan, which contained comic-like stories and animations.

The manga movement originally had sexual content and this caused many sectors to associate the animation technique with an unapproved practice.

In a conference to present the publication, its creator Akio Nakamori popularized the term otaku by giving this name to characters who responded to characteristics of what is known as a fan or a nerd.

With his work, anime and manga were well received and his characteristics were seen in an artistic sense.

Fu in the Akihabara sector, an area of ​​Tokyo, with a huge number of electronic stores where products related to the video game industry are distributed, where the otaku subculture began to form.

There manga fans from all over the world converge to exchange information about techniques and new audiovisual products or the video game industry.

types of otaku

Within the otaku subculture, there are various types according to their hobby. The main ones are the Anime Otaku, fans of anime and manga Otaku, who have collected almost the entire series of a specific comic.

Other otakus, mainly women, follow idols or Wotas, young women who have become famous in Japan.

It is also possible to find:

The fujoshi, women who like sexual content in animations
The Reki-jo, women who are interested in the history of their country
The Akiba-kei, individuals fond of electronic culture
The Pasokon Otaku, computer fans, gēmu otaku or Otaku Gamers, video game fans,
The Hikkikomoris, who suffer from a kind of agoraphobia and only leave their house for what is strictly necessary.

It is important to highlight the so-called Cosplayers who are fond of imitating important characters from manga or anime series. Contests are held around the world to reward the best imitations.

Where are the otaku?

Although the Otakus originate from Japan, this subculture has spread throughout the world. During the last decade the number of young Latin Americans that make up the otaku subculture has grown especially in Mexico, Spain, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Colombia.

In Europe it has followers in France and Spain mainly, where world Otaku conventions have been held.


Rivera, R. (2009). The otaku in transition. Journal of Kyoto Seika University, 35193-205.
Niu, HJ, Chiang, YS, & Tsai, HT (2012). An exploratory study of the otaku adolescent consumer. Psychology & Marketing, 29(10), 712-725.
Galbraith, PW, & Lamarre, T. (2010). Otakuology: A dialogue. Mechademia, 5(1), 360-374.
Chang, CC (2013, October). What Otaku consumers care about: The influential factors to online purchase intention. In AIP Conference Proceedings (Vol. 1558, No. 1, pp. 450-454). AIP.
Vargas-Barraza, JA, Gaytan-Cortez, J., & Gutierrez-Zepeda, IC (2013, July). Is Marketing Influencing the Otaku Subculture? A First Step to Developing a Model. In Competition Forum (Vol. 11, No. 2, p. 228). American Society for Competitiveness.

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