Two words anime fans will always find themselves being called are weeb and otaku. Let’s look at what exactly these terms mean and whether they are being used in good faith or as a slur.

Ever since my infatuation with anime many years ago, I’ve only begun to notice the crude disposition many people feel towards those who enjoy Japanese games, comics and of course anime. To be even more specific, this degrading viewpoint of an entire fanbase is primarily targeted to those who enjoy the aforementioned cultures of Japan, but are not of Japanese ethnicity themselves. This unfair and hostile treatment towards a select group of people who happen to have an interest outside of their own culture is an ongoing occurrence that needs to be properly analyzed and discussed.

Nobody is safe on the internet

Whenever I’m browsing YouTube, Reddit or Twitter, my personal holy trinity of websites at any given time, there are always two words that get thrown around when anime becomes the main topic of discussion. The terms weeb or weeaboo is the first phrase that always attracts my attention. I’ve seen friends call each other this name in a joking manner, but I’ve also seen it used as a direct insult in online arguments between two complete strangers. According to Japan Powered, a website that discusses everything Japanese and anime related, the word weeaboo is a slang term derived from the two words “wannabe” and “white.” Its earliest usage dates back in the infamous online chat rooms of 4chan, when they would use it to insult obsessive and obnoxious anime fans.

In a 2012 study of weeaboo culture by author Jennifer Mcgee, she claims a weeaboo is “simply a Westerner who is an overly-enthusiastic fan of Japanese culture.” If that’s the case, then how exactly did it manifest to become such a derogatory slur against the anime and Japanese culture communities? Mcgee continues by stating the term is used for those who “break social boundaries,” such as poor usage of the Japanese language and overusing terms that are commonly used in anime. In other words, it’s when anime fans butcher the Japanese language or culture in an attempt to imitate their favourite characters, but in turn, sound and appear as nothing more than a mockery of Japan. These overbearing fans became such a nuisance that weeaboo was created in order to disrespect and, in some extreme scenarios, dehumanize them.

To my surprise, I still get called a weeb by my friends and online users from time to time. I too am not exempt from this term used to shun fans of Japanese culture who are not of the same ethnicity, or so I thought. In actuality, the term weeb and weeaboo have become so overused all throughout social media and other popular websites that it has become a generic term used to describe all fans of Japanese culture, mainly anime fans. This Reddit post seems to understand my pain all too well. However, one of the commenters from that post explains the term weeb has been self-used by the anime community for some time now, and that it is used to separate occasional watchers from die-hard fans.

From my understanding, the term has gained so much traction that it has lost most of its meaning. The misuse of the term weeb, which originated as an insult to annoying fans of Japanese culture but has since shifted to simply anyone who consumes anime or manga, is a troubling development that transforms a demeaning phrase with a prolifically racist history to an uplifting status, which apparently some people take pride in.

Origins of Otaku

The second term I see time and time again is otaku. Although they are sometimes used interchangeably, otaku is an actual Japanese word that originated years before weeb came into existence. According to Tofugu, a website focused on learning the Japanese language, “media and cultural trends have shaped the term’s popular perception over time.” They continue by stating otaku was used by Japanese people as a term for those who consume a ton of anime and manga. Tofugu explains how Japanese people needed a word to connect with others of similar interest and otaku fit the bill perfectly. In general, the word otaku appears to be a mutual and friendly term used by experienced anime fans.

“I think folks outside of Japan use the term otaku to generally refer to folks who enjoy anime culture,” said Japanese culture enthusiast and TV personality Danny Choo. “Generally speaking, more folks outside of Japan would call themselves an otaku.” Despite otaku being generally received as a positive representation of anime fans, it unfortunately still gets misused as an insult directed towards those who are obsessed with Japanese culture, much like the term weeb. Tofugu explains how the degrading connotation associated with the word otaku might have a lot to do with the wicked 1988 to 1989 murders in Japan by Tsutomu Miyazaki, described by local reporters to be an otaku. Ever since then, otaku were perceived to be those who stayed alone in their homes for months at a time, doing nothing else other than watching anime, reading manga or playing games. Although otaku started off as a positive remark for anime fans, it gradually changed to possess some derogatory notions suggested towards someone’s recluse and potentially sociopathic lifestyle

Hatred breeds more hatred

The two words otaku and weeabo were created for distinct purposes, but since then their meanings have evidently been reshaped to convey the opposite. Where weeaboo was once coined to insult overly-enthusiastic fans of Japanese culture, it has now become a title anime fans have found pride in. On the contrary, otaku was made to help identify and connect with other anime and manga fans but has now turned into yet another derogatory term for those passionate about Japanese culture. It is without a doubt the perception of these two words have changed significantly, but one thing remains certain, they are two of the most commonly used words to blatantly disrespect fans of anime and Japanese culture in general.

I try my best to not let the words of others irritate me, especially when they are the ones casted over the endless boundaries of the internet, behind the comfort of anonymity, but I can’t deny the terms weeb and otaku irritate and possibly offend me to no end. I had no idea two words could conflict this much hate and animosity towards a particular group of people with niche interest, but that is apparently what it has come down to. Anime fans have faced this type of persecution for years and will continue to bear the onslaught of derogatory terms, with the main perpetrators being weeb and otaku, for as long as the internet is around, and that is deeply concerning.

My advice to those caught in the receiving end of this backlash is to ignore it and move on. The people who purposely try to insult or humiliate the interest of others for any reason are a special breed of individuals who don’t deserve your attention. It’s not a foolproof method for defending one’s self against the legion of baseless haters, but it is the reality we as a contemporary society live in, and one that we must overcome at all cost. 

Let’s break down some of the finer aspects anime has to offer as an entertainment medium, and how the circumstances in which you watch it majorly affect the overall experience.

Anime is a unique type of entertainment medium that not everyone can easily enjoy. They are drawn in a variety of different ways and have premises that range from the wackiest of ideas to absolute masterpieces. If you’re unaccustomed to anime or Japanese visual culture itself, these uncommon animations may be unappealing from the very start. Or, on the other hand, you might have actually watched an anime or two but didn’t really enjoy it, consequently setting aside Japanese animation as a whole forever. It’s not uncommon for either of those reactions to occur. Anime, as a form of entertainment, usually falls under the realm of liking it from the start or giving it a shot but with no success.

This article will hopefully guide those who are on the fence about watching anime as a hobby or for those who gave up on it long ago due to a lackluster past experience. Use the advice below to help better understand the unique interest anime provides. All anime, much like any other TV show or movie, each have their own values worth watching. However, if you never give something a proper chance, their values will never reach you. 

Watch it for your own sake 

It’s as easy as it sounds. Although recommendations are great, they will not always match your preference or expectations. We are all vastly different from one another, so the ways we react to shows will differ as well. The people offering anime recommendations may have your best interest in mind, but don’t be surprised if your opinions differ from others. Instead, choose an anime for your own sake. There doesn’t need to be any logical reasoning as to why. The simplest of reasons, such as a well-drawn cover art, an interesting synopsis, or even a catchy theme song are all perfectly understandable motives to watch an anime.

The more popular method of sorting by top rated or most popular anime and choosing from there is also a valid reason to watch something. However, when you pick out something from the top of a list, your expectations will more often than not skyrocket tremendously. You might find yourself nitpicking at every little flaw of the show and make it your duty to find a million and one reasons why the show is ‘overrated.’ It’s not uncommon for extremely popular shows to be disliked by a vocal minority, but it does occur and they’re opinions are just as justified as anyone else’s.

Also, it’s important to never shy away from watching something that is outside of the norm, or something that is not ‘targeted’ towards you. Never let anyone question why you started watching a show. It’s a show, they exist to be watched. As long as you were the one to choose it, there can never be a wrong or right answer as to why. Choosing an anime on your own free whim helps to reduce the limitations on all the shows you can watch. There are no borders to cross, just pick an anime and continue watching. 

Give it the attention it deserves

More often than not, people will have no idea what’s happening in their anime because they are too distracted on their phones or on another tab. It’s disheartening but understandable. If an anime does not show enough to warrant the viewer’s immediate attention, then it’s arguable to call out their rather lackluster storytelling. But on the other hand, to actually enjoy a show, you must give it your full, undivided attention. When you’re watching an anime, it’s assumed that you’ve got enough free time to simply pay attention to what you’re watching.

Essentially, when you’re watching an anime, do try to keep your eyes on the show and avoid any unnecessary pauses or distractions. One of anime’s key traits is the ability to immerse the viewers into the fictional realm. That, of course, will not be possible if your mind is already drifting elsewhere. If you’re giving an anime every chance to start becoming interesting but are still bored to death, then it’s time to rethink your strategy. Although there is some criticism to this train of thought, the anime community generally gives a show up until episode 3 before they axe it.

Free time is valuable but often very limited. It’s understandable to want to enjoy yourself during these well-needed rest times, and being bored to death from an anime doesn’t sound appealing in the slightest. Do give the anime a chance, but if it passes the 3rd or 4th episode and it still doesn’t strike your fancy, then simply move on. We don’t want to be forced to watch an anime we find no connection with, so feel free to drop it and move on. As mentioned before, when you can, always watch anime for your own sake and never feel obliged to complete a show for the sake of finishing it. You will probably end up hating the anime even more.      

It’s not a race, pace yourself

Most anime are on a one-episode a week format. Seasonal watchers are given an entire week to think about what transpired in the latest episode and to speculate on what happens in the next. This lengthy cooldown is sometimes needed to give the viewers a chance to appreciate each episode, rather than just skipping ahead to the next one. The build-up is a real phenomenon and viewers have something to look forward to the following week. Depending on how you look at it, the fortunate part about watching shows that have already aired is the ability to watch everything in one sit through.

Just remember to pace yourself. There is no race to see who watches an anime the fastest. Ruining a watching experience over something so trivial is just nonsensical. If you want to binge an anime because you’re enjoying it on all levels, then go ahead. But don’t watch it in one sitting because you want to simply get over it, or ‘skip’ to the good parts. Watching anime, or any show, at speeds faster than its intended rate should also be used sparingly, especially if it’s your first time watching. Even at a 1.25x faster rate, the dialogue sounds higher pitched and the pacing of the show will inevitably feel rushed. Always remember to watch in moderation and for your own enjoyment, not for speed-run achievements. 

Get a feel for the Japanese language

Pretty self-explanatory. Although anime is rich with English dubs, not all anime is fortunate enough to get translated. If you continue to actively watch anime, then you should at one point accept watching in its original Japanese voice work with English subtitles. This may ruin the immersion for some, considering that reading while trying to watch the visuals could be somewhat of a nuisance. Unfortunately, English natives will simply have to endure the subtitles. However, not all is lost. The Japanese language sounds rather soothing once you get used to it. Also, with a few hours of watching anime, you’ll begin to familiarize yourself with some of the common words, giving your brain a rest from all the reading. It’s a learning process but it’s simply something all anime fans must endure. Again, you can get away with just watching anime in English. However, you will be depriving yourself of some of Japan’s most spectacular stories and characters.  

Never skip openings/endings

Last but not least, never under any circumstances should you skip openings/endings. Alright, maybe it’s not that serious of an offence, but do try to listen to the songs. More often than not, anime themes are performed by the voice actors themselves, adding even more sentimental value to a show. They are catchy works of music that set up and close out each and every episode. At times, they even show the story’s plot through it’s (SPOILER WARNING) 1 minute and 30 second intro. The songs make up an anime, just as a story or characters would. They are a central piece to identifying a show, without revealing any names or premises.

They don’t provide the same weight as the aforementioned do, but at the same time they are not something you should be wilfully skipping. How else would you feel the excitement when an anime’s first opening plays as the final episode’s ending? If you actively skipped all songs, no connection would be made, missing out on an opportunity that is cherished among many anime. The opening and ending themes are part of the episode, so try your best not to skip them. Anime has grown more popular over the years but still continues to be somewhat of a niche medium. The show’s animation quality is getting more refined every year, but the same wacky premises and out-of-this-world plotlines are still very much the same. Although anime may not be for everyone, there is most likely an anime show out there that everyone can enjoy. 

Esports has blossomed into the mainstream spotlight with teams and players earning up to millions of dollars in prize winnings. However, as the competition continues to heat up, athletes resort to anything to secure the victory, even if it means taking performance enhancements.

Video games have always been a passionate hobby of mine. I have been gaming for what feels like an eternity now, almost as if a controller was placed firmly in my hands the moment I was born. They serve as bundles of entertainment, with each game bringing a different feeling or sensation that may not always be replicated with other hobbies or activities.

Depending on the title, games have the ability to incite powerful reactions that leave players feeling excited, accomplished, saddened and even extremely motivated. These works of fiction act as gateways to worlds that we could never hope to venture in real life, at least not in this lifetime. However, as I grow older and as technology continues to take its inevitable course on the gaming industry, there are some serious issues that we need to address before they get out of hand. I have and will continue to believe that video games serve as the ultimate remedy to counter most of life’s stresses and are truly good in nature. Unfortunately, gaming has inherited a multitude of problems that will continue to persist, with some requiring the implementation of strict regulations or laws.

The esports problem

The rise of professional esports has opened a path that leaves thousands of aspiring gamers willing to risk their health in pursuit of successful performances in their respective titles. With professional contracts on the line and expectations at an all time high, pressures build up and some esports athletes resort to performance enhancements to heighten their senses in-game. It is ludicrous to think that someone would sacrifice their physical well-being and reputation for momentary glory, but that is the case in the highly competitive esports scene. The article ‘Nobody talks about it because everyone is on it‘ brings a focus to the prevalent substance abuse problem esports has kept hidden away.  

Washington Post writer Coleman Hamstead starts his feature with an anecdotal view of an aspiring semi-pro gamer and his weekly routine involving his favourite game, Fortnite. The gamer makes sure to take his Adderall, a pill usually prescribed for patients with hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), just before logging in because he feels as though it gives him an edge on the battlefield. With esports being a relatively new scene, it has gotten a lot of traction regarding its athletes using performance-enhancing drugs. 

Competitive gaming leagues have grown into a billion-dollar industry where it can actually rival traditional sports leagues in terms of popularity and revenue. However, as esports continues to become commonplace in society as opposed to an outlier, there are some grey areas that must be addressed before it gets problematic. The most commonly used drug among gamers, Adderall, a pill containing amphetamine, is often prescribed to those with both impulsive and attention disorders as it helps enhance focus by increasing the effects of dopamine and serotonin found in the brain. Esports athletes who play titles that heavily rely on their reflexes and ability to react to fast interactions, such as the first-person shooter genre, are notorious for taking Adderall to give them superior levels of attentiveness. 

No rules means no limits

Regulations and rules vary depending on the esports title, but most of the popular leagues, including Overwatch, League of Legends and Dota 2, have completely nothing that bans nor allows the usage of performance enhancing drugs. This absolutely questions esports athletes regarding their integrity and professionalism among their colleagues. Adderall has been proven to help players line up their crosshairs in first-person shooter titles.

With that being said, it should no longer be swept under the rug when addressing the empirical advantages it gives over athletes who do not rely on medical interventions. Hamstead reassures us that no one is willing to openly talk about drug usage in esports because, well, everyone is on it. In the feature, former and current esports athletes from Overwatch, Call of Duty and Counter Strike express the overwhelming usage of Adderall among their communities and that drug abuse was one of the reasons why they stopped playing competitively. No one can fully prohibit Adderall from being used in esports leagues simply because it is a prescription drug, and there are some athletes who truly need it to be on an even playing field with the rest. Despite that, there are no fines or post game drug tests that esports athletes most undergo to ensure that they are drug-free.

Enforce new rules

The negligence shown in regulating performance-enhancing drugs is yet another way to encourage players to take the plunge and swallow the pill, without any fear of the consequences given out by the higher-ups. It sets a precedent that anything goes, as long as there is no one there to enforce or stop it completely. Not only does it damage the athlete’s health over time, but it ruins the spirit of the sport and the comradery shared by the player and the fanbase. 

In the end, Hamstead is a crossroads with how to properly handle Adderall. “An outright ban on ADHD medications risks hurting players with legitimate prescriptions. But if organizers begin testing for Adderall but allow those with a prescription to use it, they risk encouraging players to seek a prescription illegitimately,” he writes. Although the usage of drugs in esports is indeed in a state of ambiguity and unrest, esports leagues need to do their part in providing absolute transparency as to what is and what is not allowed in terms of using drugs, prescription or not. For the time being, esports athletes and those aspiring to become professional will continue doing “whatever it takes to make it big in esports.”