We have heard so often about the term otaku which can be equated to the English term “geek.” There are many types of otaku; some otaku love anime and manga while there are others who love robots, trains, idol groups and so on. However, there is also a similar term to otaku which is called mania. Mania is derived from the same word in the English language and it refers to a person who is enthusiastic or obsessed with something. The words mania and otaku seem to carry the same meanings, but there are some distinctions which differentiate the two terms.
While people may come to think of otaku as being equivalent to a geek and some foreigners in or outside of Japan are actually proud of being otaku, in Japan, otaku actually carries some negative connotations. This is mainly due to stereotypes about what an otaku is. Also, in the past, there were gruesome murder cases committed by one man titled the “otaku murderer”, thus leading the media to unfairly link otaku to such behavior. Unlike otaku, mania does not carry any negative connotations so you can look at it as a euphemism for otaku.
The hobbies of otaku are deemed to be less socially acceptable by the public in general, so otaku is kind of like mania who has been socially rejected. The hobbies of otaku typically include obsession with manga, anime, cosplay and games which can be misunderstood by non-fans as unhealthy obsessions due to the content which can sometimes include pornography and violence. The hobbies of mania are deemed as milder and “harmless”, for instance, mania for anything related to Disney, or mania for sports such as baseball.
The word otaku has come to carry the connotation of people who are socially awkward and spend too much time indoors. Some people also think of otaku as slobs who do not take good care of their personal hygiene and appearances, or even have strange behavior.
On the other hand, mania individuals can balance their social lives and hobbies. Despite being obsessed with their hobbies, mania people have proper jobs and get along well with others. In other words, mania individuals do not treat their hobbies as excuses to be too self-indulgent until they forget to live a normal life.
That sums the differences between otaku and mania. It is doubtful that people will suddenly come to think poorly of otaku though after reading this article, as most of the serious negative connotations associated with otaku are mainly brought up by the media. After all, there are many otaku who love anime and other related things who are totally pleasant! Hence, if you are a proud otaku, don’t worry and carry on being proud!