It's been a while since I sat down and wrote out an article, and while I've had several different thoughts about several different things that I could have written about, I figured we could use a little introspective every once in a while.
Now, before I dive in and start pointing fingers at the lot of us, or start formulating "labels" for everybody, I want to make it clear from the get-go, that I am no exception to any rule. I am not above or better than anyone, and I make no qualms about my status as a fan of anime, or being an Otaku for that matter.
Now then, the question is, "Which type of Otaku are you?"
(not in any particular order by the way, I just like numbering things)
Type 1: The Carefree
Well, in truth I imagine when people think of the word "Otaku", they automatically imagine a somewhat overweight dude sporting a weeks growth of stubble, or a half-assed goatee. Maybe a scraggly ponytail, glasses, and an expression that betrays the probability that at any moment, he may begin drooling uncontrollably.
If this is your interpretation of an Otaku, then sadly you are not far off the mark, at least by the East's definition of the word. And to be quite honest, I have encountered a few of those types myself. I'm unsure if it's a simple absence of reality, or a total immersion in the sub-culture, but the first type of Otaku on this list, the Carefree Otaku, is no doubt the most predominant that we may have encountered, or may have even become in the early days of the arrival of the anime phenomenon to Western shores.
The Carefree Otaku is no different than the rest of us fans, except for the fact that they are more or less a nerd that has embraced their nerd-dom to the neglect of their public appearance, possibly their hygiene, and most certainly their lifestyle. Granted, like many nerds that gather and accumulate the items of their nerdy interest, the Carefree Otaku will most likely have stacks and stacks of manga, comics, and VHS and DVDs of their favorite shows crammed into their dwelling, damn near making it impossible to navigate their living space, except to turn and walk sideways down the narrow trails amongst the clutter.
The Carefree Otaku is not exactly what one would call a poster-child for the anime community, but do not be fooled by their ramblings and rantings, for in their collective sum they have bought, and purchased and cried and raved for some of the better eras of past anime and manga to see license on the US soil.
Type 2: The Hyperbole
Lots of times in our anime encounters, we will meet with a fellow Otaku that is so overly enthusiastic about their fandom that it seems they have taken some sort of pop-culture injection, or are eating some weird form of wheat cereal fortified with "nerd".
These are the fans that go above and beyond in their eccentricities, and grab and grab merchandise as fast as they can, not because they really like that half naked PVC of one of the Queen's Blade characters; but because they just have to take their fandom to excess.
This is what I like to refer to as the Hyperbole Otaku. The fan that is so extreme, they get phisically ill if and when a show gets canceled or dropped, cries when a favorite manga has ended, and sustains themselves on high-speed flashy and loud conversations.
It's been my observation that a great many of these classes of Otaku are usually the ones that auto-brand themselves with the label of Otaku, and are also devout to the dubbing industry. Moving from one supreme favorite anime to the next in rapid-fire succession, and helping to keep the trend of titles in the public light.
If it isn't Hyperbole worthy, then it's usually obscure by other standards. Titles like, Soul Eater, Panty & Stocking w/Garterbelt and Index/Railgun are among the types of shows that have seen a huge amount of awareness generated at the hands of this class of otaku.
Additionally, the Hyperbole Otaku is also a master Cosplayer, and can be seen at conventions sporting the guises of characters such as Haruhi Suzumiya, Vash the Stampede, and or Sora from Kingdom Hearts.
Type 3: The Hidden
I've read a lot of topics over the years about Otaku, and Otaku-ism, and one thing that I always encounter are those fans of anime and manga that are repressed by their peers to the point of maintaining their fandom in a secret part of their life.
Either through opinion, or family disapproval, the Hidden Otaku is one that I both admire and offer sympathy.
We've all been there at one point or another; buying our anime and manga in secret, away from the watchful eyes of parents or family and friends. Keeping it hidden under beds, under floor boards in closets, and in the bottom box under other boxes. Posters that we can't display, and games we can't play... ah yes, the life of a Hidden Otaku is wrought with paranoia and fear. But therein is the heart of a true devout fan of anime and manga, and like other subjugated individuals over the centuries has managed to remain a fan of that which is dear to their hearts, despite the setbacks, and the trials.
Given enough time, however, the Hidden Otaku will find a time and place to come out of the shadows, and be the publicly viewed fan they were always meant to be, but often it requires several years to accomplish.
Type 4: The Persnickety
In every fandom, and in all groups of individuals, there is the one fan that is pious to the point of absurdity. That one fan whose tastes are so refined by the years of chewing on their favorite past-time that they seem above almost all forms of it, and hold only a few select instances of it, in unobtainable precedence.
Such is the behavior of the Persnickety Otaku.
Often times an elitist of monumental proportions, these extra-select few debutantes of the anime movement are the self-proclaimed keepers of the code of good anime titles, and shun almost all but the most excellent; deeming anything with cliché and stereotypical plots to be beneath their noble palette.
Many times, the Persnickety is a purist that will only either watch fan-subbed anime, believing that it's superior to anime translated by a paid professional of the industry with a masters degree in Japanese, or will stubbornly watch it in its raw un-subbed state, to achieve maximum immersion.
The persnickety has little patience with the industry, little regard for other fans, and keeps newer initiates at bay, by means of their air of pomp and self-imposed refinement.
Type 5: The Professional
Sometimes in the course of the fandom, there comes an otaku whose existence is so intertwined with that of their otaku-ism, that it's become seamlessly blended in between work, family, friends, and hobby.
The extra-special otaku, who maintains a vast working knowledge of all things anime, and still expertly functions in society without being debilitated or handicapped by their otaku lifestyle.
The Professional Otaku is one whose goal in life is a harmonous balance of anime and career, and uses each to counterpoint and balance the other. Wearing casual-corporate, and often having a high paying job, and public or community involvment, this otaku is the master of anime, and real life. Able to wear the face of the entire fandom, and still maintain the much needed detachment of social interaction with others.
While not overly vocal about the industry, these giants of anime pop-culture in America are the back-bone of all things anime and fan-based, lending their wisdom and money to the companies that provide, and the fans that demand. It is these fans that are not easily swayed by anime DVD cancellations, or ignorant disputes about sub translation; choosing instead to walk a path of indifference about the lower forms of the fandom, and stepping in only every so often to put the Persnicketies in their rightful place.
The Professional Otaku is the one to take his/her wealth of anime, knowledge and money, and either found a company, or start a business with anime as its theme. The pioneers of the industry are key to the future of the industry, the fandom and are often the least likely to be readily identified by their peers, due to their ability to blend in to humanity.
Type 6: The Encyclopedic
If you've thought you've encountered one, then chances are you have not. The encyclopedic otaku is one that will make their presence known with a river's torrent of vast anime and manga knowledge. Their brain is a veritable living database of names of voice actors, authors, mangaka, illustrators, and concept artists.
Like the hyperbole, the encyclopedic otaku is frenetic about their fandom, but usually with regard to their memorization of names, titles, and cast. Capable of leveling another fan's self-esteem with one sentence, the encyclopedic knows no limitations to the amount of superfluous information about anime and manga they can amass.
While they are less imposing than the hyperbole, and the persnickety, they do often come in very handy as singular go-to guides for chronological viewing orders, cross-reference checks, and production time-lines.
Type 7: The Legendary
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