Otaku has become a word that is synonymous with Japanese geek culture, particularly having a devout interest in anime, manga, video games or all three combined. While this is the modern meaning of the word and the most common connotation found in the west, the true meaning of this word is a little different. Otaku is a colloquialism relating to people who are obsessed with one particular subject. In Japan there are many types of otaku including railway otaku, idol otaku and ramen otaku. While often used as a pejorative term in Japan, many westerners have adopted the title of otaku as a positive aspect of nerd culture.
Anime is often most effective when the characters and situations are fully relatable to the audience. Having anime characters exhibit otaku personality traits is incredibly meta, when considering the medium itself is a haven for real life hobbyists and otaku. It is a great source primarily for comedy, poking fun at our own hilarious habits and quirks when it comes to our favourite methods of pass time. A good otaku character should have a hobby or interest that is their core reason for existing, forsaking other aspects of life in the process. Perhaps they themselves are an anime fan, gamer or suffer from chuunibyou tendencies. These characteristics help to make the best otaku characters in anime.
10. Takeyama ‘Christ’ from Angel Beats!
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr 2010 - Jun 2010
Angel Beats! takes place in the world of purgatory between the afterlife and the real world, where the spirits of those who have unfinished business or can’t accept their fate must reside. This takes on the façade of a high school in Angel Beats!, where Yuri’s Afterlife Battlefront group fight against the mysterious young girl, Angel, who they believe has been sent by god to obliterate them and send them to the afterlife. There are many members of the Afterlife Battlefront, including the master computer hacker, Takeyama.
Takeyama excels at two important key attributes to be considered a true otaku. Firstly his computer programming and hacking skills are the best within the whole afterlife school. Due to his obsession to detail and belief in his own intelligence, his hacking skills are enough to crack the codes to Angel’s mysterious powers. Takeyama also suffers from an acute case of having read far too many sci-fi manga, continually chastising his comrades for failing to him by his rather chuunibyou self created nickname of ‘Christ’.
9. Yutaka Itazu from Higashi no Eden (Eden of the East)
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: Apr 2009 - Jun 2009
In a seemingly random act of violence, ten missiles strike Japan. However, this unprecedented terrorist act, later to be known as "Careless Monday," does not result in any apparent victims, and is soon forgotten by almost everyone. Then, 3 months later Saki Morimi is rescued by Akira Takizawa while in the United States. Takizawa has no memory, no clothes and an AI controlled special phone with 8,200,000,000 yen in digital cash. Takizawa is charged with using this money to save Japan in any way he decides. Turns out, he is not the only person who has been given this challenge, 10 others, many of whom are prodigies in their own fields have also received this sum of money. What follows is a mysterious story full of twists, betrayals and even murder in the quest to save Japan.
Takizawa comes to rely on the help of the famous NEET prodigy, Yutaka Itazu in his quest to unravel the mystery of the phones and who took his memories away. Itazu is a shut away computer programming otaku, who has cut off all communication with the outside world beyond brief contact via the internet. His home is a tech otaku’s paradise with countless computer components, as well as piles of manga anthologies. Itazu was once feared by the government due to his hacking ability, but due to an unfortunate incident where he lost his pants and didn’t have a spare pair to go buy a new set, the newly nicknamed, Panties, hasn’t left his apartment since.
8.Gakuto from Prison School
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul 2015 - Sep 2015
Being trapped in a maximum security prison doing manual labour when you thought you were attending a new all girls school as the only 5 guys? Sounds like everyday adolescent males dream turned into a terrible nightmare. Especially when your prison guards are three insanely attractive but maniacally man hating female members of the secretive disciplinary committee. Kiyoshi, Andre, Gakuto, Joe and Shingo must simultaneously survive the hellish prison treatment, but also ensure they are not permanently expelled from the academy, so they can fulfil their dreams of attending the summer camp and their hopes of seeing an imaginary wet T-shirt competition.
Gakuto is the mastermind behind any of the groups daring plans to escape or to trick their enforcers. He is an otaku for Chinese military history and all of the manga and video games based around this period of history, so much so that he risks the expulsion of all of the group members when he assists Kiyoshi in escaping so he may spend time with his darling Chio-chan. His request for helping with this, is the limited edition Chinese warrior figurine that is releasing in Akiba on that day. He even suffers the indignity of soiling himself loudly in front of the entire IT class during a rare venture into the main academy approved by the council, just so he can obtain his precious statue. Putting your hobby above ever having a sex life is pretty damn otaku.
7. Shimura Shinpachi from Gintama
- Episodes: 201
- Aired: Apr 2006 - Mar 2010
After he unexpectedly inherits the family Dojo, despite lacking the fighting prowess of his elder sister, Tae, Shinpachi finds himself bullied by others. He is in fact an accomplished swordsman, despite lacking the necessary attitude which leads to him being an unlikely recruit for Gintoki’s group. Shinpachi wishes to further learn about the way of the samurai from the masterful Gintoki, however, he is often forced to play the straight man and make responsible decisions for the pair of them.
So why exactly is Shinpachi an otaku, in feudal Japan of all places? Well Shinachi is in fact a hardcore Idol otaku and is completely obsessed and infatuated with the idol, Otsu. So much so, in fact, that he is the proud and noble leader of the Otsu Imperial Army fan group. Shinoachi’s serious and thoughtful façade drops whenever he is speaking about or let alone sees his favourite Idol performing. With many hilarious nods to modern day idol otaku, Shinpachi shows that this level of dedication and obsession to a hobby has existed in Japan since Feudal times.
6. Sora from No Game No Life
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr 2014 - Jun 2014
No Game No Life is all about a sibling pair of gaming otaku, Sora and Shiro. Abandoned by his parents, Sora is a brilliant NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) shut-in gamer along with his stepsister, Shiro. He does not take life very seriously and is pretty much a good-for-nothing gamer. One day, he and his sister are called into an alternate world in order to save its people and unite them by taking part in high stakes games that have real consequences.
Sora’s apathy towards general life is washed away by the prospect of playing games brought to life in the alternate world. Possessing substantial intelligence, Sora could have a successful future in many different fields in the real world; however he prefers the life of a hardcore gamer, and something many of us can relate to. Sora using his gaming talents to become the unlikely and hilarious champion of another world is every otaku’s dream.
5. Ken Kubo from Otaku no Video
- Episodes: 2 OVAs
- Aired: Sep 1991 - Dec 1991
Otaku no Video is a loose adaptation of the real life story of the founding of major anime studio Gainax, and serves as a documentary detailing all aspects of the otaku lifestyle. It features a unique blend of the animated story of protagonist Ken Kubo and his journey into the realm of otaku life. We can watch here real life live action interviews with many prominent otaku, addressing all aspects of the hardcore otaku life. This film not only details anime and manga otaku, but many other sub cultures including, but not limited to, sci fi and military geek cultures.
The main character of Otaku no Video is Ken Kubo, a young man in his twenties in Toyko, living a fairly normal life, working a salaried job until he inadvertently becomes mixed up with a group of otaku. Although he initially doesn’t understand their passions for anime and manga, he slowly changes, becoming more like them, until he finally decides to cast his formal ‘normal’ life aside and aims to become the king of all otaku – the otaking! Deciding to detach yourself entirely from the rest of the world to fully embrace your passion is the sign of a true hardcore otaku.
4. Walker Yumasaki from Durarara!!
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Jan 2010 - Jun 2010
In the Tokyo district of Ikebukuro, things are not always as they seem. As well as being one of the well known otaku districts of Tokyo, Ikebukuro is home to many strange groups and individuals. Mysterious powers pull the strings of its populace from the shadows, violent gangs that associate with a colour code clash in the streets, and mobsters and civilian’s alike whisper about sittings of the legendary headless rider. Throughout Durarara!! many characters are revealed to have hidden lives and allegiances to the different groups, such as the Dollars or the Yellow Scarves. This is also true for Kadota’s group, who appear to give advice and hang out with Masaomi, Anri and Mikado.
One member of this group is Walker, who along with his close friend Erika, makes few references that aren’t rooted in the world of manga or anime. During serious conversations he is often discussing a comic signing or a voice actor’s personal appearance in the otaku hub of Ikebukuro. Walker is far from just a manga obsessed otaku, he is prone to acts of extreme violence including petrol bombing cars in order to save damsels in distress. He also likes to perform torture by letting the victim to choose a light novel or manga, and carrying out the contents. During a conversation with his gang, Walker even says “I can’t afford to be picky about food if I’m going to end up in the 2D world one day! So I’ll eat anything, even insects!”
3. Hajime Tsunashi from Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken (I Can’t Understand What my Husband is Saying)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Oct 2014 - Dec 2014
A hilarious short form anime series that examines what happens in relationships between a full blown otaku and a ‘norm’. Kaoru is a serious office lady who's passionate about her job. Her husband Hajime, on the other hand, is a hardcore otaku who lives a nearly shut-in lifestyle. What follows is examples of the misunderstandings that can take place when your significant other doesn’t quite share your hardcore passion for hobbies.
Hajime on the surface appears to be a normal member of society, however his otaku tendencies have lead him to becoming a shut in from society, and thus putting pressure on his wife Kaoru to be the main bread winner for the two of them. Hajime does, however, make somewhat of a living from his passion for anime, he runs an anime review blog that is popular in the community, and it makes him some spare yen on the side. When asked by a friend if anime is interesting, he replies with ‘more than this fleeting world’. The true otaku will always seek to make their hobbyist lifestyle into their method for earning money, take it from us here at Honeys Anime!
2. Hifumi Yamada from Danganronpa: The Animation
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul 2013 - Sep 2013
Danganronpa: The Animation is the anime adaptation of the cult classic detective visual novel PSP and VITA game. Makoto Naegi is an average student with extraordinary luck when he is invited to join the prestigious Hopes Peak Academy, home to the brightest group of ‘ultimate’ talents in the country. However, after awakening with no memories, Makoto and 15 other classmates, each with a unique personality and ultimate talent, are confronted by the deceptively evil teddy bear MonoKuma. What unfolds from here is a game of despair, where the only way to escape being trapped in the school forever is to kill one of your classmates and escape being caught by the rest of the group. If this isn’t enough motivation to kill, then MonoKuma is more than happy to provide Makoto and the others with ample motives.
Bearing the title of Ultimate Fanfic Creator, Hifumi’s identity as an extreme otaku is apparent from the start. Hifumi is heavily overweight due to the amount of time he spends reading comics and drawing his own fan made content. Suffering from a supremely inflated opinion of his own intelligence and importance (chuunibyou), and unique obsessions with the mascot character princess piggles. Hifumi often exclaims that he is only interested in 2D females and people in general. Sporting some of the best lines of dialog both in the game and in the anime series, Hifumi is a god tier otaku and worthy of his title of Ultimate.
1. Daru from Steins;Gate
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Apr 2011 - Sep 2011
Based upon the awarding winning visual novel game of the same name, Steins;Gate is a mind bending science fiction about creating the world’s first time machine set in Tokyo’s otaku haven, Akhihabara. Okabe Rintaro and his fellow future gadget lab members inadvertently create the world’s first time machine and accidentally incurring the wrath of scientific research organisation SERN. In the future, SERN have obtained ultimate power of the world due to their time machine research. There is no war, no famine and no strife, however freedom of will and joy is also entirely absent. The future gadget lab members battle to avoid this future by changing their own past with the ability to send D-Mails (text messages) to the past in order to influence decisions and change the present.
Okabe’s trust right hand man and lab member No.3, Daru the ‘super hacker’ is also an otaku of extreme notoriety. Daru openly refers to his 2D wives who he spends time with in his PC eroge (erotic games) on multiple occasions, while spending all of his spare time hanging out at NyanNyan MayQueen Maid Café admiring the otaku princess, Faris Nyan Nyan. When he doesn’t full understand some of Makise Kurisu’s scientific explanations, Daru asks things to be explained in either eroge or RPG terminology to hilarious results. Daru’s obsessive tendencies has also lead to him becoming an advanced level hacker, even capable of cracking the toughest security networks in the world.
Kota Hirano (Highschool of the Dead)
Being an otaku may have some negative connotations in Japan, however it shows a level of passion and dedication to a chosen hobby that must be respected and admired. Given that the otaku culture is spreading from Japan to the rest of the world, the word otaku is quickly being adopted as a badge of pride for geek culture everywhere.
I’m a proud otaku along with this list of the best otaku in anime. Who are your favourite otaku characters? What’s your opinion on otaku culture? Leave us a comment and otaku everywhere unite!