Whenever you talk about anime, and in particular, the anime fandom, the term “otaku” almost always comes up. Those new to the anime scene have probably been bewildered by the conflicting uses of the term, so I will try to clear up some of the confusion here.
The reason why it is difficult to grasp the meaning of “otaku” is because there seems to be two main definitions that contradict each other. In Japanese, the word evolved into slang to describe people obsessed with a certain hobby, not necessarily related to anime (ie: military, idols, games). Calling someone an otaku in Japan was similar to calling someone a geek in the 80’s, before it became cool for everyone to call themselves a geek as they do now. It’s mainly used as an insult and conjures up images of smelly, fat, pedophilic men that may or may not be child killers (a famous string of crimes from 1989 is to blame for that).