If you’re reading this article then you are either a complete newbie to anime or a very concerned parent who saw their kid talking about waifus. I mean, face it, we all know how big the anime and manga fandom is now. And just like every fandom, we have special terms and titles that make us stand out as anime lovers.
Anime is just one facet of geekdom. Being a geek encompasses a host of different mediums. You have comic book nerds, you have video game enthusiasts, and then there are the book worms. Or, if you’re like me, you’re all the above, with fandoms spanning through different forms. One day I’m invested in a WebToon like Lore Olympus, the other I’m obsessed with a game like Yakuza 0.
But in all honesty, I think my first love was anime. Thanks to the Toonami block on Cartoon Network, we got shows like Pokemon, Digimon, Beyblade and, well, you know how it goes from there.
From Otakus to Weeaboos, we go by so many names. So, what is the difference between the numerous titles and names given to fans? And is the distinction even important? Let’s break everything about anime lovers down!
The Big Three (Anime Enthusiasts VS Otakus VS Weeaboos)
Okay, so seasoned fans might think I’m talking about the Shonen trifecta that is Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece when I use the term ‘Big Three’. If so, let me rephrase. There are three main terms used for anime lovers in the community.
First, you have the ‘Anime Enthusiasts’. Those who may be watched DragonBall Z or Attack On Titan for the vibes, but aren’t actively following any anime releases or anything. They are casual fans of the genre and will not be as invested or hyper about it. Sure, they might watch a Studio Ghibli movie once, but they aren’t exactly running to the nearest store to buy a Totoro plushie. Oh, and they won’t be purists when it comes to the Subbed vs Dubbed debate, which is always nice. (Face it, there are good, dubbed anime out there!)
Then, there are the ‘Otakus’. They are the middle ground, the balancing act of anime enjoyers. An Otaku is certainly more devoted to anime when compared to the Anime Enthusiast. They’re the kind of fans that have definitely read the manga or light novel for whatever anime is coming out. They know their stuff, being able to do things like discerning what animation studio did what work based on the art style alone. They probably own some anime merchandise or even cosplay in conventions. They enjoy anime and aren’t afraid to show it!
Lastly, meet the ‘Weeaboos’. Or ‘Weeb’ for short, they are considered cringier than the previous two because of how obsessive they get with their love for all things Japanese. That’s why it tends to be a more derogatory term as well. A Weeb constantly romanticizes everything about Japan despite their only exposure to the culture being anime or manga, not real people. They’ll sprinkle in Japanese words like Kawaii unnecessarily, often going too far. They are often considered to be so single-minded in their pursuit of anime, they come off as anti-social shut-ins.
Otaku VS Weeb: What’s Better?
Obviously, from the descriptions I gave above, it’s clear which term is considered ‘better’. But that’s the thing about language and words: Sometimes, meanings change.
For example, Otaku originally referred to someone passionate about their hobby. In Japan, that can be anything, from gamers to tech buffs. It doesn’t mean they enjoy anime specifically.
It gained some bad press thanks to the gruesome Otaku Murderer case back in Japan during the 80s. But the word has been reclaimed when it became a sub-culture, thanks to nearly half the youth in Japan identifying as Otakus.
Weeaboo, however, is still pretty frowned upon in Japan. It originated as an insult towards manic anime fans that’d go as far as to add Japanese to their speech or fetishize 2D waifus. Japanese see weebs as delusional obnoxious foreign fans that ruin the community.
Of course, some tried reclaiming it as a positive moniker, but it’s considered highly offensive. Because it makes a mockery of the very culture they claim to respect, disregarding any consideration for the creators.
What’s In A Name?
In reality, these titles and terms only hold so much power over a collective community. In recent years, we’ve seen anime lovers refer to themselves as weebs in a self-deprecating manner. Which, in a way, is certainly better than wearing it as a badge of honor.
With how commonplace anime has become, names don’t matter as much anymore. It isn’t some niche hobby for basement dwellers. I know people, who would never call themselves outright fans of the genre, but they love stuff like Spirited Away or Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Anime has transcended its limitations so whether you’re a casual lover or otaku, it doesn’t matter anymore. What’s important is that you enjoy what you love without judgment! But try not to be too crass about it. Binge responsibly, anime lovers!