What Flavor of Otaku are You? A Quick Guide to Anime Fandom

Posted by Linda Yau on Mar 7, 2011 in Animation, Fandom |


For hobby enthusiasts, developing a passion and devotion to an industry takes time, and while it can be visually measured with how much you own (thus bringing in the materialism and consumerism aspect). There is more to the limited examples for what was presented in Tokyopop’s search for the Greatest Otaku. Otaku can be defined as being loving all things Japanese anime, or obsessive introverts, but to be a devoted fan really is have the knowledge and sincere passion for it. Similar to uncovering the layers of an onion are identities and fandoms of this niche cultures that is worth exploring and considering. Before getting to the list, I have to mention that some of the labels I have used is an approximation of how a certain fandom treats aspects of the anime hobby.

Living Ichigo, a cosplayer with the body to embody Bleach’s male lead!

Cosplayer: You see them at any anime event or conventions. People who put together an outfit and dress up as character. They are people who would be flagged down in hallways or in public spaces for a picture, or photo shoot. No matter how intricately designed, simple or how revealing a costume is done. Stepping into the shoes of a character and proving to the world that they are the embodiment of that character is what a cosplayer strives for.

Ejen Chuang actually published a book, Cosplay in America that showcases various cosplayers in the United States. The amount and time that a person can spend creating the costume, improving upon it, practicing personality and mannerisms in front of the mirror can be pretty time consuming. But with practice, emulating characters can be seen as a form of love. Becoming a serious cosplayer may be on another level, but a dream can be realized. There is an annual World Cosplay Summit held in Nagoya, that showcases the cosplay abilities of international selected contenders.

Gamer: For an anime fandom gamers encompasses PC games, console system games or table top gaming. In electronics, playing either imported or domestic games is a sign of how ingrained the gamer is into the anime hobby. The possibilities for encompassing this still growing and rapidly developing industry doesn’t seem to be ending. Companies like Sony or Microsoft or Nintendo try to release games that can dominate a consumer market. Sony, and Nintendo are both Japanese companies that have successfully branded their products to the masses with signature series like Mario, Final Fantasy, or Kingdom Hearts.

Fans that are gamers are pretty devout and would spend hours, upon hours practicing and playing. For people who live in Japan, there is the knowledge that with a successful anime series there is always going to be the release of a video game to ride the market. Does any Disney Games or Lego Star Wars ring a bell with anyone? Now to turn to PC gaming is another form of playing out there. There are the action adventure, or the rpgs, but what I want to turn the attention to are visual novels. This is a choose your own adventure type of gaming, that has its fans among those who want a story gaming style. Some anime do get their beginning from popular PC video games: Clannad or Fate/stay night are examples. Anime series have been influenced by those titles. Another gaming system is the table top way of trading cards, and playing with them. Yu Gi Oh, and Pokemon are examples of successful series that have table top gaming, that does appeal to some fan.


Loli Goths: Not to be confused with cosplayers or even anime fans in general. Loli goth are people’s intention to be a fashion statement. In Japan, if you ask around Harujuku there are clear distinctions. Loli are the people adapting a dress style, with chosen colors, lace and possibly a 19th Century inspired clothing line. Goth are people possibly with dark makeup, possible grunge look and chains. They may be fans of J-rock or visual kei which is a subset of J-rock, characterized by make up usage, elaborate wigs, and costumes. You can treat them as individual characteristics or also meld them how Rozen Maiden has done. Getting the youthful loli’s with the gothic romantic image.

Loli Goths has also been associated with kawaii characteristics, if you noticed Sanrio with their introduction of Kuromi, or even Yoshiki Kitty, then you’ll see a cute portrayal of how these fandoms meshed. To clearly see any media that deal with lolitas, there is Kamikaze Girls by Novala Takemoto, a novel that has been translated by Viz Media as a film, and manga, otherwise on a collector’s front, there is the Dollfie that Danny Choo has popularized.


Figure collectors/Model Makers: Collecting figures or putting together model kits. Originally I was going to label this group as just the mecha group, but I realized that model makers and figure collectors have a similar objective. That objective is to display. Now models are popularized with the endless series of Gundun or other Sci-fic series. In American culture, the series of Transformers or assembling model transportation is a similar. Bit by bit, glue or attachments, like jigsaw puzzles are models assembled. Now figures are not action figures that children play with. Mostly adult collect this, so considering it to be a just a toy is underestimating the worth of these objects. Similarly treated like an expensive painting, figures hold a position of awe with the figure collector themselves.

Shippers: There is a passion for any hobbyist. Being a shipper is a majority of what all fans are in labeling what qualities are about a particular series or title that has them compelled them to be enthusiasts, so this category encompasses the other roles mentioned in this article. Reading, writing, drawing, artistic creation, or participation in communities and socializing with other people of similar interest, then that is qualities of being a shipper.

You don’t happen to need to be particularly talented with what other people are doing , but to be a participant, practice, generate and realizing that this is a hobby of yours. There are areas to explore and express in then it is pretty enough to be a shipper for. Moe, Fujoshi, Mecha or any other themed genres you can imagine are explored, and anything that is generated from these loves, is within the realm of being a shipper.


Collectors: This is a fandom that is similar to a Shipper, it can encompass most of the qualities mentioned on this list. Collectors are people who have make it a goal to obtain items of fan worth, or trophy status. From obtaining this item, they may or may not use it to decorate or to have it as a possession is really enough. Obtaining goods, limited edition items or autographs are possessions of what collectors would go for. To obtain an item is what the goal of some collectors would have, to have that euphoric feeling of succeeding over others to have it. On a comparison, how is the feeling of collecting a set of McDonald toys or obtaining limited run stamps. How about collecting a minted coin set? Something to be proud about? After all collections can end up looking like the collection above.

Consumer: They are people that may not have to be collectors, but they experience and learn about a series, either by watching, listening, and reading. From the point of consuming the series, then this is normally the starting point of what entails a gateway to the the existing fandom and qualities that is mentioned. There must be a starting point, so either an introduction by family, friends, peers. What do you consider are qualities of fandom, and what is there to be experienced?

Linda Yau is a fan of Japanese culture, and various anime/manga titles. She writes for other online publications under animemiz. Her main blog is here and she has Twitter.

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